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True Mode of Meeting Mr. Kingsley
What shall be the special imputation, against which I shall throw myself in these pages, out of the thousand and one which my accuser directs upon me? I mean to confine myself to one, for there is only one about which I much care—the charge of untruthfulness. He may cast upon me as many other imputations as he pleases, and they may stick on me, as long as they can, in the course of nature. They will fall to the ground in their season.
And indeed I think the same of the charge of untruthfulness, and I select it from the rest, not because it is more formidable, but because it is more serious. Like the rest, it may disfigure me for a time, but it will not stain: Archbishop Whately used to say, "Throw dirt enough, and some will stick;" well, will stick, but not stain. I think he used to mean "stain," and I do not agree with him. Some dirt sticks longer than other dirt; but no dirt is immortal. According to the old saying, Prævalebit Veritas. There are virtues indeed, which the world is not fitted to judge about or to uphold, such as faith, hope, and charity: but it can judge about truthfulness; it can judge about the natural virtues, and truthfulness is one of them. Natural virtues may also become supernatural; truthfulness is such; but that does not withdraw it from the jurisdiction of mankind at large. It may be more difficult in this or that particular case for men to take cognizance of it, as it may be difficult for the Court of Queen's Bench at Westminster to try a case fairly which took place in Hindoostan; but that is a question of capacity, not of right. Mankind has the right to judge of truthfulness in the case of a Catholic, as in the case of a Protestant, of an Italian, or of a Chinese. I have never doubted, that in my hour, in God's hour, my avenger will appear, and the world will acquit me of untruthfulness, even though it be not while I live.
Still more confident am I of such eventual acquittal, seeing that my judges are my own countrymen. I think, indeed, Englishmen the most suspicious and touchy of mankind; I think them unreasonable and unjust in their seasons of excitement; but I had rather be an Englishman (as in fact I am) than belong to any other race under heaven. They are as generous, as they are hasty and burly; and their repentance for their injustice is greater than their sin.
For twenty years and more I have borne an imputation, of which I am at least as sensitive, who am the object of it, as they can be, who are only the judges. I have not set myself to remove it, first, because I never have had an opening to speak, and, next, because I never saw in them the disposition to hear. I have wished to appeal from Philip drunk to Philip sober. When shall I pronounce him to be himself again? If I may judge from the tone of the public press, which represents the public voice, I have great reason to take heart at this time. I have been treated by contemporary critics in this controversy with great fairness and gentleness, and I am grateful to them for it. However, the decision of the time and mode of my defence has been taken out of my hands; and I am thankful that it has been so. I am bound now as a duty to myself, to the Catholic cause, to the Catholic priesthood, to give account of myself without any delay, when I am so rudely and circumstantially charged with untruthfulness. I accept the challenge; I shall do my best to meet it, and I shall be content when I have done so.
I confine myself then, in these pages, to the charge of untruthfulness; and I hereby cart away, as so much rubbish, the impertinences, with which the pamphlet of Accusation swarms. I shall not think it necessary here to examine, whether I am "worked into a pitch of confusion," or have "carried self-deception to perfection," or am "anxious to show my credulity," or am "in a morbid state of mind," or "hunger for nonsense as my food," or "indulge in subtle paradoxes" and "rhetorical exaggerations," or have "eccentricities" or teach in a style "utterly beyond" my accuser's "comprehension," or create in him "blank astonishment," or "exalt the magical powers of my Church," or have "unconsciously committed myself to a statement which strikes at the root of all morality," or "look down on the Protestant gentry as without hope of heaven," or "had better be sent to the furthest" Catholic "mission among the savages of the South seas," than "to teach in an Irish Catholic University," or have "gambled away my reason," or adopt "sophistries," or have published "sophisms piled upon sophisms," or have in my sermons "culminating wonders," or have a "seemingly sceptical method," or have "barristerial ability" and "almost boundless silliness," or "make great mistakes," or am "a subtle dialectician," or perhaps have "lost my temper," or "misquote Scripture," or am "antiscriptural," or "border very closely on the Pelagian heresy."—Pp. 5, 7, 26, 29–34, 37, 38, 41, 43, 44, 48.
These all are impertinences; and the list is so long that I am almost sorry to have given them room which might be better used. However, there they are, or at least a portion of them; and having noticed them thus much, I shall notice them no more.
Coming then to the subject, which is to furnish the staple of my publication, the question of my truthfulness, I first direct attention to the passage which the Act of Accusation contains at p. 8 and p. 42. I shall give my reason presently, why I begin with it.
My accuser is speaking of my sermon on Wisdom and Innocence, and he says, "It must be remembered always that it is not a Protestant, but a Romish sermon."—P. 8.
Then at p. 42 he continues, "Dr. Newman does not apply to it that epithet. He called it in his letter to me of the 7th of January (published by him) a 'Protestant' one. I remarked that, but considered it a mere slip of the pen. Besides, I have now nothing to say to that letter. It is to his 'Reflections,' in p. 32, which are open ground to me, that I refer. In them he deliberately repeats the epithet 'Protestant:' only he, in an utterly imaginary conversation, puts it into my mouth, 'which you preached when a Protestant.' I call the man who preached that Sermon a Protestant? I should have sooner called him a Buddhist. At that very time he was teaching his disciples to scorn and repudiate that name of Protestant, under which, for some reason or other, he now finds it convenient to take shelter. If he forgets, the world does not, the famous article in the British Critic (the then organ of his party), of three years before, July 1841, which, after denouncing the name of Protestant, declared the object of the party to be none other than the 'unprotestantising' the English Church."
In this passage my accuser asserts or implies, 1, that the sermon, on which he originally grounded his slander against me in the January No. of the magazine, was really and in matter of fact a "Romish" Sermon; 2, that I ought in my pamphlet to have acknowledged this fact; 3, that I didn't. 4, That I actually called it instead a Protestant Sermon. 5, That at the time when I published it, twenty years ago, I should have denied that it was a Protestant sermon. 6, By consequence, I should in that denial have avowed that it was a "Romish" Sermon; 7, and therefore, not only, when I was in the Established Church, was I guilty of the dishonesty of preaching what at the time I knew to be a "Romish" Sermon, but now too, in 1864, I have committed the additional dishonesty of calling it a Protestant sermon. If my accuser does not mean this, I submit to such reparation as I owe him for my mistake, but I cannot make out that he means anything else.
Here are two main points to be considered; 1, I in 1864 have called it a Protestant Sermon. 2, He in 1844 and now has styled it a Popish Sermon. Let me take these two points separately.
1. Certainly, when I was in the English Church, I did disown the word "Protestant," and that, even at an earlier date than my accuser names; but just let us see whether this fact is anything at all to the purpose of his accusation. Last January 7th I spoke to this effect: "How can you prove that Father Newman informs us of a certain thing about the Roman Clergy," by referring to a Protestant sermon of the Vicar of St. Mary's? My accuser answers me thus: "There's a quibble! why, Protestant is not the word which you would have used when at St. Mary's, and yet you use it now!" Very true; I do; but what on earth does this matter to my argument? how does this word "Protestant," which I used, tend in any degree to make my argument a quibble? What word should I have used twenty years ago instead of "Protestant?" "Roman" or "Romish?" by no manner of means.
My accuser indeed says that "it must always be remembered that it is not a Protestant but a Romish sermon." He implies, and, I suppose, he thinks, that not to be a Protestant is to be a Roman; he may say so, if he pleases, but so did not say that large body who have been called by the name of Tractarians, as all the world knows. The movement proceeded on the very basis of denying that position which my accuser takes for granted that I allowed. It ever said, and it says now, that there is something between Protestant and Romish; that there is a "Via Media" which is neither the one nor the other. Had I been asked twenty years ago, what the doctrine of the Established Church was, I should have answered, "Neither Romish nor Protestant, but 'Anglican' or 'Anglo-catholic.'" I should never have granted that the sermon was Romish; I should have denied, and that with an internal denial, quite as much as I do now, that it was a Roman or Romish sermon. Well then, substitute the word "Anglican" or "Anglo-catholic" for "Protestant" in my question, and see if the argument is a bit the worse for it—thus: "How can you prove that Father Newman informs us a certain thing about the Roman Clergy, by referring to an Anglican or Anglo-catholic Sermon of the Vicar of St. Mary's?" The cogency of the argument remains just where it was. What have I gained in the argument, what has he lost, by my having said, not "an Anglican Sermon," but "a Protestant Sermon?" What dust then is he throwing into our eyes!
For instance: in 1844 I lived at Littlemore; two or three miles distant from Oxford; and Littlemore lies in three, perhaps in four, distinct parishes, so that of particular houses it is difficult to say, whether they are in St. Mary's, Oxford, or in Cowley, or in Iffley, or in Sandford, the line of demarcation running even through them. Now, supposing I were to say in 1864, that "twenty years ago I did not live in Oxford, because I lived out at Littlemore, in the parish of Cowley;" and if upon this there were letters of mine produced dated Littlemore, 1844, in one of which I said that "I lived, not in Cowley, but at Littlemore, in St. Mary's parish," how would that prove that I contradicted myself, and that therefore after all I must be supposed to have been living in Oxford in 1844? The utmost that would be proved by the discrepancy, such as it was, would be, that there was some confusion either in me, or in the state of the fact as to the limits of the parishes. There would be no confusion about the place or spot of my residence. I should be saying in 1864, "I did not live in Oxford twenty years ago, because I lived at Littlemore in the Parish of Cowley." I should have been saying in 1844, "I do not live in Oxford, because I live in St. Mary's, Littlemore." In either case I should be saying that my habitat in 1844 was not Oxford, but Littlemore; and I should be giving the same reason for it. I should be proving an alibi. I should be naming the same place for the alibi; but twenty years ago I should have spoken of it as St. Mary's, Littlemore, and to-day I should have spoken of it as Littlemore in the Parish of Cowley.
And so as to my Sermon; in January, 1864, I called it a Protestant sermon, and not a Roman; but in 1844 I should, if asked, have called it an Anglican sermon, and not a Roman. In both cases I should have denied that it was Roman, and that on the ground of its being something else; though I should have called that something else, then by one name, now by another. The doctrine of the Via Media is a fact, whatever name we give to it; I, as a Roman Priest, find it more natural and usual to call it Protestant: I, as all Oxford Vicar, thought it more exact to call it Anglican; but, whatever I then called it, and whatever I now call it, I mean one and the same object by my name, and therefore not another object—viz. not the Roman Church. The argument, I repeat, is sound, whether the Via Media and the Vicar of St. Mary's be called Anglican or Protestant.
This is a specimen of what my accuser means by my "economies;" nay, it is actually one of those special two, three, or four, committed after February 1, which he thinks sufficient to connect me with the shifty casuists and the double-dealing moralists, as he considers them, of the Catholic Church. What a "Much ado about nothing!"
2. But, whether or not he can prove that I in 1864 have committed any logical fault in calling my Sermon on Wisdom and Innocence a Protestant Sermon, he is and has been all along, most firm in the belief himself that a Romish sermon it is; and this is the point on which I wish specially to insist. It is for this cause that I made the above extract from his pamphlet, not merely in order to answer him, though, when I had made it, I could not pass by the attack on me which it contains. I shall notice his charges one by one by and by; but I have made this extract here in order to insist and to dwell on this phenomenon—viz. that he does consider it an undeniable fact, that the sermon is "Romish,"—meaning by "Romish" not "savouring of Romish doctrine" merely, but "the work of a real Romanist, of a conscious Romanist." This belief it is which leads him to be so severe on me, for now calling it "Protestant." He thinks that, whether I have committed any logical self-contradiction or not, I am very well aware that, when I wrote it, I ought to have been elsewhere, that I was a conscious Romanist, teaching Romanism;—or if he does not believe this himself, he wishes others to think so, which comes to the same thing; certainly I prefer to consider that he thinks so himself, but, if he likes the other hypothesis better, he is welcome to it.
He believes then so firmly that the sermon was a "Romish Sermon," that he pointedly takes it for granted, before he has adduced a syllable of proof of the matter of fact. He starts by saying that it is a fact to be "remembered." "It must be remembered always," he says, "that it is not a Protestant, but a Romish Sermon," (p. 8). Its Romish parentage is a great truth for the memory, not a thesis for inquiry. Merely to refer his readers to the sermon is, he considers, to secure them on his side. Hence it is that, in his letter of January 18, he said to me, "It seems to me, that, by referring publicly to the Sermon on which my allegations are founded, I have given every one an opportunity of judging of their injustice," that is, an opportunity of seeing that they are transparently just. The notion of there being a Via Media, held all along by a large party in the Anglican Church, and now at least not less than at any former time, is too subtle for his intellect. Accordingly, he thinks it was an allowable figure of speech—not more, I suppose, than an "hyperbole"—when referring to a sermon of the Vicar of St. Mary's in the magazine, to say that it was the writing of a Roman priest; and as to serious arguments to prove the point, why, they may indeed be necessary, as a matter of form, in an act of accusation, such as his pamphlet, but they are superfluous to the good sense of any one who will only just look into the matter himself.
Now, with respect to the so-called arguments which he ventures to put forward in proof that the sermon is Romish, I shall answer them, together with all his other arguments, in the latter portion of this reply; here I do but draw the attention of the reader, as I have said already, to the phenomenon itself, which he exhibits, of an unclouded confidence that the sermon is the writing of a virtual member of the Roman communion, and I do so because it has made a great impression on my own mind, and has suggested to me the course that I shall pursue in my answer to him.
I say, he takes it for granted that the Sermon is the writing of a virtual or actual, of a conscious Roman Catholic; and is impatient at the very notion of having to prove it. Father Newman and the Vicar of St. Mary's are one and the same: there has been no change of mind in him; what he believed then he believes now, and what he believes now he believed then. To dispute this is frivolous; to distinguish between his past self and his present is subtlety, and to ask for proof of their identity is seeking opportunity to be sophistical. This writer really thinks that he acts a straightforward honest part, when he says "A Catholic Priest informs us in his Sermon on Wisdom and Innocence preached at St. Mary's," and he thinks that I am the shuffler and quibbler when I forbid him to do so. So singular a phenomenon in a man of undoubted ability has struck me forcibly, and I shall pursue the train of thought which it opens.
It is not he alone who entertains, and has entertained, such an opinion of me and my writings. It is the impression of large classes of men; the impression twenty years ago and the impression now. There has been a general feeling that I was for years where I had no right to be; that I was a "Romanist" in Protestant livery and service; that I was doing the work of a hostile church in the bosom of the English Establishment, and knew it, or ought to have known it. There was no need of arguing about particular passages in my writings, when the fact was so patent, as men thought it to be.
First it was certain, and I could not myself deny it, that I scouted the name "Protestant." It was certain again, that many of the doctrines which I professed were popularly and generally known as badges of the Roman Church, as distinguished from the faith of the Reformation. Next, how could I have come by them? Evidently, I had certain friends and advisers who did not appear; there was some underground communication between Stonyhurst or Oscott and my rooms at Oriel. Beyond a doubt, I was advocating certain doctrines, not by accident, but on an understanding with ecclesiastics of the old religion. Then men went further, and said that I had actually been received into that religion, and withal had leave given me to profess myself a Protestant still. Others went even further, and gave it out to the world, as a matter of fact, of which they themselves had the proof in their hands, that I was actually a Jesuit. And when the opinions which I advocated spread, and younger men went further than I, the feeling against me waxed stronger and took a wider range.
And now indignation arose at the knavery of a conspiracy such as this:—and it became of course all the greater, in consequence of its being the received belief of the public at large, that craft and intrigue, such as they fancied they beheld with their own eyes, were the very instruments to which the Catholic Church has in these last centuries been indebted for her maintenance and extension.
There was another circumstance still, which increased the irritation and aversion felt by the large classes, of whom I have been speaking, as regards the preachers of doctrines, so new to them and so unpalatable; and that was, that they developed them in so measured a way. If they were inspired by Roman theologians (and this was taken for granted), why did they not speak out at once? Why did they keep the world in such suspense and anxiety as to what was coming next, and what was to be the upshot of the whole? Why this reticence, and half-speaking, and apparent indecision? It was plain that the plan of operations had been carefully mapped out from the first, and that these men were cautiously advancing towards its accomplishment, as far as was safe at the moment; that their aim and their hope was to carry off a large body with them of the young and the ignorant; that they meant gradually to leaven the minds of the rising generation, and to open the gate of that city, of which they were the sworn defenders, to the enemy who lay in ambush outside of it. And when in spite of the many protestations of the party to the contrary, there was at length an actual movement among their disciples, and one went over to Rome, and then another, the worst anticipations and the worst judgments which had been formed of them received their justification. And, lastly, when men first had said of me, "You will see, he