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One man’s meat is another man’s poison’.1 The Rhetoric of Dissent in John Henry Cardinal Newman’s Apologia pro Vita Sua (1864)

Bertrand Lentsch


John Henry Newman has been blamed for being highly strung. A man who would make amends, to atone for a lambasted decision to abide by a rule, which he now deemed honourable though he then branded it as dishonest, could only be expected to keep his secrets secret. His thereafter feeling impelled to deliver Apologia pro Vita Sua, to rebut the charge of deluding himself and beguiling the throng of well-wishers, raised eyebrows. The diary of his conversion is yet no anticlimax, since he wilfully enshrined his apology in apologetics. A proud British, and an Oxbridge divine, with a lifelong pledge to make out the truth in the maze of a schism, needs must when the devil drives. His counterevidence stemmed from his pious assent that his detractor’s doubt was not devoid of acumen, so his asseveration was redolent of his indebtedness to forefathers, whose authority he made it a point of honour of ascertaining. That self-styled self-assertion has hence a ring of truth, for making much ado about nothing, as befits truth, which is stranger than fiction. A return to the fold for the prodigal son was thus his way of cutting the long story of Anglican erring ways short. The rhetoric of his dissent is therefore but his will and his way to emphasize the artless beauty of antique simplicity.

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  • 1 John Henry Newman, Apologia pro Vita Sua (London: Penguin Books, 2004) 146, 160.

1An outstanding controversialist, the sensitive and self-conscious Oxford don, John Henry Newman (1801–90) suffered the indignity of a resounding miscarriage of justice, when he was found guilty in a libel action brought against him, after a series of lectures on ‘The Present Position of Catholics in England,’ (1851) wherein he controverted Giacinto Achilli’s anti-Roman exhortation. He instigated and energized the Tractarian Movement, in the aim of restoring the ancient doctrines which the Anglican church had gradually abandoned, as it only acquiesced in baptism and the Eucharist, rather than the integral seven sacraments. The other purpose of the Oxford Movement was more political. It was to stave off the threat of a liberal reform handselled by the Duke of Wellington (1769–1852), whose Tory government enacted the highly contentious Catholic Emancipation Act, in 1829. For the first time since Elizabeth I’s Act of Uniformity (1559), the law henceforth made it possible for Catholics to sit as Members of Parliament, but it also promulgated that the constitution should become Christian, albeit non-denominational. Matters came to a head when Charles, second Earl Grey, (1764–1845) passed the Reform Act of 1832. It was the first systematic alteration of the constitution. Sixty of the smallest boroughs were disfranchised, while the representation of the people of forty-seven others was diminished, amidst much popular uproar and riot. The seditious ‘Days of May’ (9–15, 1832), in favour of ‘taking effectual Measures for correcting diverse Abuses that have long prevailed in the Choice of Members to serve in the Commons House of Parliament,’ were the closest to a revolution which the Kingdom came to. Separate bills were, in the aftermath, enacted to reduce by ten the number of bishoprics in the Church of Ireland. In 1833, John Keble (1792–1866) inveighed against the proposal, which he labelled a ‘National Apostasy.’ With liberalism in theology their bugbear, High Church Anglicans, most of whom were residents at the University of Oxford, sided along Edward Bouverie Pusey (1800–82) : ‘His Tract On Fasting appeared as one of the series with the date of December 21. He was not, however, I think, fully associated in the Movement till 1835 and 1836, when he published his Tract On Baptism and started the Library of the Fathers. He at once gave to us a position and a name. Without him we should have had little chance, especially at the early date of 1834, of making any serious resistance to the Liberal aggression’ (71). Keble, a pulpit-orator, paved the way for Newman, the inductive logician. After delivering lectures on the Via Media of Anglicanism, between Catholicism and Protestantism, he began work on the monophysite heresy, which was condemned at the third Council of Constantinople, in 680–81. That heathen theology asserted that the nature of Christ was divine, and only so. The denial of his human identity would have implied the impossibility of any atonement of sin for humanity, since no true man had therefore died on the Cross, for our pervertedness. Newman then went on publishing the Tracts for the Times, whose end in view was a definite doctrine and discipline for High Churchmen who seceded from the Establishment, given the state’s reputedly high-handed posture with the Church of Ireland. In Tract 90, he examined the Thirty-nine Articles (1563), that were designed to lay down Queen Elizabeth I’s national apostolic faith, by comprehending some of the insights of the Protestant creed, and thereby achieve a balance between theology and doctrine. That would but circumvent the excesses of dogmaticism, and thus take the middle course, or Via Media, of a ‘Reformed Catholicism.’ The separatists’ central objection was to the corruption of the Roman credo, in the Middle Ages. They also raised eyebrows at the Anabaptist tenet, which was a belief in immersion as a manifestation of baptism. It should nonetheless coexist with an intelligent assent, namely an avowal of faith, on the part of the recipient. In the introduction to the Remarks on Certain Passages in the Thirty-Nine Articles, Newman stated his ecumenical stance, in no uncertain terms,

Religious changes, to be beneficial, should be the act of the whole body; they are worth little if they are the mere act of a majority. No good can come of any change which is not heartfelt, a development of feelings springing up freely and calmly within the bosom of the whole body itself. Moreover, a change in theological teaching involves either the profession or renunciation of erroneous doctrine, and if it does not succeed in proving the fact of past guilt, it, ipso facto, implies present. In other words, every change in religion carried with it its own condemnation, which is not attended by deep repentance. Even supposing then that any changes in contemplation, whatever they were, were good in themselves, they would cease to be good to a Church, in which they were the fruits not of the quiet conviction of all, but of the agitation, or tyranny, or intrigue of a few; nurtured not in mutual love, but in strife and envying; perfected not in humiliation and greed, but in pride, elation and triumph.

2He later reached the conclusion that Catholicism was of a piece with the Church of England, since its criticism was directed against popular misconceptions and overemphases, and not the official position of the Church of Rome. Inured to aspersions as he was, indomitable and obdurate in his gradual awakening to truth though he claimed to be, ‘The truth lay not with the Via Media, but with what was called “the extreme party,”’ (134) the soothsayer was nonetheless dumbfounded when he ‘received three blows which broke’ him (133). Among them, the worst was the smear stuck on his proud Britishness, ‘it was that I was actually in the service of the enemy’ (164). Tract 90 was repeatedly, and with a vengeance, indicted for originating conversions to Rome, in droves:

If conversions to Rome take place in consequence of the Tracts for the Times, I do not impute blame to them, but to those who, instead of acknowledging such Anglican principles of theology and ecclesiastical polity as they contain, set themselves to oppose them. Whatever be the influence of the Tracts, great or small, they may become just as powerful for Rome, if our Church refuses them, as they would be for our Church if she accepted them. (358)

3Such was the divvying up of twits and taunts, that the unkindest cut of all came when the Anglican minister of Eversley, Reverend Charles Kingsley (1819–75), a poet, novelist and historian, who belonged to the Christian Socialists, attacked the Catholics for dishonesty and went fault-finding with Newman, for allegedly commending improbity among the clergy (358).

4Truth, for its own sake, had never been a virtue with the Roman clergy. Father Newman informs us that it need not, and on the whole ought not to be; that cunning is the weapon which Heaven has given to the saints wherewith to withstand the brute male force of the wicked world which marries and is given in marriage. Whether his notion be doctrinally correct or not, it is at least historically so.

  • 2 Henri Suhamy, Les Figures de Style (Paris: PUF; 1981) 121.

5What with Kingsley’s onslaught on Newman’s evil eye and occult deception of well-wishers, the seasoned defender might have retorted a Roland for an Oliver, but the wilful, profane mixture of a vindication for truth and a defamation of the priest’s sexual mores, which is to be read throughout the article in Macmillan’s Magazine, (January, 1863) stung him to the quick. A rumour was afloat about the Oxford Movement’s preferably virile, homoerotic attraction, and Newman’s emotional friendship with Richard Hurrell Froude (1803–36) and Ambrose St John (1815–75). There is indeed more to it than meets the eye, in the preterition (a figure by which summary mention is made of a thing, in professing to omit it),2 which introduces a beastly comparison in the castigating derivation, ‘the brute male force of the wicked world which marries and is given in marriage.’ Apparently a reminder that ‘A deed might be a crime, or no crime at all—like Henry the Eighth’s marriage of his brother’s widow—according to the will of the Pope,’ (358) it is all grist to the enquirer’s mill, but such verbal legerdemain becomes a slap in the face, in the diasyrm (a figure expressing disparagement or ridicule), which brings his disquisition to an end:

ever since the first monk forged the first charter of his monastery, or dug the first heathen Anglo-Saxon out of his barrow, to make him a martyr and a worker of miracles, because his own minster did not ‘draw’ as well as the rival minster ten miles off;—ever since this had the heap of lies been accumulating, spawning, breeding fresh lies, till men began to ask themselves whether truth was a thing worth troubling a practical man’s head about, and to suspect that tongues were given to men, as claws to cats and horns to bulls, simply for purposes of offence and defence. (359)

  • 3 Pierre Fontanier, Les Figures du Discours (Paris: Flammarion, 1977) 107.

6Comparisons are misleading, and the bestial metaphor, which the epanorthosis (a figure of speech in which something is corrected and commented on) on ‘spawning,’ and then ‘breeding,’ superimposes on the lofty, mythical aganectesis (deep indignation), cannot blur the lines enough as to conceal the inverted commas, which are no stroke of luck, that enhance the verb ‘draw,’ in its common use as ‘being quick on the draw’ or repartee, but also in its narrower meaning of ‘alluring,’ if not ‘draw dry’ (to empty or exhaust of liquid; also fig., OED, 1989). The concluding animal reference caps it all. The syllepsis (a trope by which the literal and figurative meanings are mixed)3 on ‘forge,’ as ‘effect’ and ‘distort,’ which is insidiously expanded into a ‘heap of lies,’ so as to arraign the zealot’s hypocrisy, might have passed muster, for being akin to the reviewer’s questioning his arguable commitment to truth. But a distraught Newman could not but notice the iron hand in a velvet glove, and take up the gauntlet; for truth’s sake, but also to prove that he was the soul of honour. Apologia pro Vita Sua is to be read against a background of unpalatable mud-slinging, and skulduggery, no holds barred.

7This autobiography is the why and wherefore of his conversion to the Roman Catholic Church, in 1845. He was ordained a priest in 1847, and created a cardinal in 1879. The juxtaposition of the Apollonian and the Dionysian, the sunny and serene account of an inbred evolution, which is the counterpoint of the stormy and restless exculpation of himself, is at once akin to an apology and apologetics. No stone is left unturned, to whitewash the blot on his reputation; a Brit, a scholar and a priest, till the way is cleared for a more moderate litigation of the counterevidence, which is gradually turned into an evidence, of the compulsion of the Primitive Church. Hence, his iterative call to Antiquity, (103)

Thus was I brought on to the subject of Antiquity, which was the basis of the doctrine of the Via Media, and by which was not to be understood a servile imitation of the past, but such a reproduction of it as is really new, while it is old.

  • 4 Samuel Coleridge, The Major Works (Oxford: OUP, 2008) 314.

8For him, the crux of the matter was theoretical, as he felt uncomfortable with the ‘doctrine of transsubstantiation,’ which he opined that it was ‘not primitive’ (177). His was a studious and erudite reconsideration of such a basic dogma: the actual change of the substance (i.e. what something is in itself) of bread and wine into the real Body and Blood of Christ, and not a symbolic one. It raised the issue of His Real Presence in the Eucharist. But beyond the theological postulate, one cannot but read the very process of symbolization, the bodying forth of the unfathomable into realness, the dislocation from essence to existence, which requires what Samuel Taylor Coleridge in Biographia Literaria (1815–17), construed as a ‘wilful suspension of disbelief for the moment.’4

9Least said, soonest mended: my aim in this article is to try and show that Newman’s retort to the never-ceasing abuses heaped upon his head was not merely impelled by a reputedly compulsive need to silence lies, but that he accepted the accusation levelled at him, as not lacking in moral acumen, though he subsequently proved that it was unreasonable. Detractors are not to be summarily dismissed as unequal agitators. By first raising the conundrum of truth in faith, opposition demanded that its very fear of mistake be allayed; the don accordingly chastised, the better to redress. He scrutinized both figment of the imagination, and fact: the gay coat makes not the gentleman. He therefore endeavoured to gauge the acumen of the influence which had allegedly shaped his own worldview. That anxiety was the price to pay, to be at peace with his dual, theoretical and poetic self. Once relieved of the pangs of indeterminacy, his mind was set, he took the auspicious step which made him return to the fold, against the Anglican grain and the talk of the town. That was also a way of freeing the multitude from ominous conformism:

My protest also against the Jerusalem Bishopric was an unavoidable cause of excitement in the case of many; but it calmed them too, for the very fact of a Protest was a relief to their impatience. And so, in like manner, as regards the Four Sermons, of which I speak, though they acknowledged freely the great scandal which was involved in the recent Episcopal doings, yet at the same time they might be said to bestow upon the multiplied disorders and shortcomings of the Anglican Church a sort of place in the Revealed Dispensation, and an intellectual position in the controversy, and the dignity of a great principle, for unsettled minds to take and use,—a principle which might teach them to recognize their own consistency, and to be reconciled to themselves, and which might absorb and dry up a multitude of their grudgings, discontents, misgivings, and questionings, and lead the way to humble, thankful, and tranquil thoughts;—and this was the effect which certainly it produced on myself. (146)

10All in all, Apologia pro Vita Sua pores over and wades through a lifetime of fastidious enquiry into the history of religious interpretation, so as to draw the line between essence and existence, and thereby achieve an esthetic dissimulation of error, the odds and ends of a culture eroded by the wear of time and the force of habit, within an all-encompassing, antique truth that ‘beginning was the word.’ A reordering and a resurrection.

1 ‘Answer a fool according to his folly’ (58)

11John Henry Newman’s main concern in his apologetic autobiography was truth. His intent was to bear out his truthfulness, so as to demonstrate the visible evidence of God’s Catholicism rather than His Anglicanism, and thereby posit orthodoxy as universality. It was a radical posture, which was made all the more demanding, as it coerced him into giving up a moderate middle-course, which the Thirty-nine Articles would it were restrained and temperate, the very soul of composure and a time-setting compromise, but one which he gradually came to view as Laodicean, non-committal, impersonal and unmanly. His reaction antagonized many a one, as for three centuries since the Reformation, the Penal Laws of 1647, which inflicted punishment upon Nonconformists and Papists, purposed to ostracize Catholics. Priests had to work in secret, for fear they risked being jailed or sentenced to death. There was no entering the legal or medical profession, or any office of state for a Romanist. Their offspring was barred from Oxford and Cambridge. They were only allowed to vote in 1829. As Pope Pius IX (1846–78) restored the Catholic hierarchy in Britain in 1850, the Ecclesiastical Titles Act of 1851 meant to prevent the newly formed dioceses from taking abiding Anglican parish names. But widespread disparagement of the ‘mummeries of superstition’ had by the mid-nineteenth century reduced the ultramontanists to a stray band. They were held in contempt and distrusted by the majority. On his return from Rome, as the new primate, Archbishop Nicholas Wiseman (1802–65) had his effigy burnt, and his carriage pelted with dung. He exerted a strong influence on Newman’s conversion, and later Henry Manning’s (1808–92, 1851).

  • 5 Michel Foucault, Les mots et les choses (Paris: Gallimard, 1966) 13.

12It is no wonder therefore to notice that Newman’s penitential apocalypse is full of the strife, gall, doubt, expostulation and deprecation of a man who is deeply hurt, feels abused and at loggerheads with Mr or Mrs Average. He was often blamed for being over-sensitive, thin-skinned and touchy; and one of the closet difficulties of Apologia pro Vita Sua is the requirement it makes on the reader’s experience, to draw the line between the coherence and conclusiveness of his Pilgrim’s Progress to the fundamental and ultimate Church of Rome, and on the other hand, the restlessness, impatience, elegant fretting and fuming of a harrowed, angst-ridden and ill-used man. That is a stunning combination of storm and stress, and also an explicit probe into the mind of an intellectual, who resolutely ran against the grain of what he had come to consider as the prejudice of tepidness, and actual pusillanimity. The manifest bewilderment, and also endearment for his confessional endeavour, stems from the balance, which one feels in front of his scholastic uprightness, despite his sufferance, at being misunderstood and rejected. There is, as a matter of fact, no shirking the reality of his writerly reach. This diary is epistemic, in the classical meaning of a defining structure of the speech practises prevailing at a given period, whose historical a-priori principles represent the necessary conditions fostering knowledge. They thereby become exemplary.5

De quelle manière, en remontant, comme à contre-courant, le langage tel qu’il était parlé, les êtres naturels tels qu’ils étaient perçus et rassemblés, les échanges tels qu’ils étaient pratiqués, notre culture a manifesté qu’il y avait de l’ordre, et qu’aux modalités de cet ordre, les échanges devaient leurs lois, les êtres vivants leur régularité, les mots leur enchaînement et leur valeur représentative; quelles modalités de l’ordre ont été reconnues, posées, nouées avec l’espace et le temps, pour former le socle positif des connaissances telles qu’elles se déploient dans la grammaire et la philologie, dans l’histoire naturelle et dans la biologie, dans l’étude des richesses et dans l’économie politique.

13In order then to make truth prevail, the rationalist first had to stand up to the test of ‘cunning.’ A conventional, if not hackneyed stricture against popish conspiracy, in Anglican-spirited Britain, but also a cast of mind that could be endlessly deciphered in any assertion, as the overhanging, ominous feel of antiphrasis (use of words in a sense opposite to their proper meaning), was bound to crop up, whichever the delivery, the course, or the sermon. It was therefore a time-devouring drain on energy, since there is no smoke without fire. Hence, Newman’s almost lifetime commitment to standing his ground, with the inevitable loss of nerves that behoves thereof, through thick and thin. But the censure of wiliness also proved to be a ‘provocation,’ (Preface, 3) which he had to reciprocate, whilst taming it; and he guilelessly owned up to it, from the outset:

Sensitive then as I have ever been of the imputations which have been so freely cast upon me, I have never felt much impatience under them, as considering them to be a portion of the penalty which I naturally and justly incurred by my change of religion, even though they were to continue as long as I lived. (3)

14His moving pledge to unremitting humility thus entailed a basic rebuttal of the underhand, flawed symbolization of the antiphrasis. Cunning and the honeyed, misleading word, being the realm of the devil, Newman at once went eyeball to eyeball with the insinuator, and like for like, reminded each and any, that he was definitely in for having :

come from a divine source, viz. the doctrine of final perseverance. I received it at once, and believed that the inward conversion of which I was conscious, (and of which I still am more certain than that I have hands and feet), would last into the next life, and that I was elected to eternal glory. (25)

  • 6 Henri Suhamy, Stylistique anglaise (Paris: PUF, 1994) 12.
  • 7 Christopher Marlowe, The Complete Plays [1588–9] (London: Penguin, 2003) 357.

15The blending of strategic, inaugural self-deprecation, which is typical of the captatio benevolentiae,6 and parenthetical, it-goes-without-saying, nigh trite assertion of humaneness, was here to put an end to the catty, eye-catching hint that his language might be of the fiend’s. The professor and the theologian knew what he was talking about: not of Doctor Faustus’ ilk, he was no shape-shifter, ‘had I as many souls as there be stars, / I’d give them all for Mephistopheles’ (I, 3, 104–5).7 That was to be a man-to-man, straight as a die encounter. The charge of ‘cunning’ was thereby reversed, and Francis Bacon’s fully-fledged definition of it, ‘Of Cunning,’ in his Essays and Counsels, Civil and Moral (1625), was at once borne out, not only for its moral ruth, but for its figurative purport as well:

  • 8 Francis Bacon, The Major Works (Oxford: OUP, 1996) 383.

We take cunning for a sinister or crooked wisdom. And certainly there is a great difference between a cunning man and a wise man; not only in point of honesty, but in point of fallibility. There be that can pack the cards, and yet cannot play well; so there are some that are good in canvasses and factions, that are otherwise weak men. Again, it is one thing to understand persons, and another thing to understand matters; for many are perfect in men’s humours, that are not greatly capable of the real part of business; which is the constitution of one that hath studied men more than books.8

  • 9 Bacon, op. cit., 217.

16His contention, which was hence a badge of compunction rather than arrogance, was no recantation of his integrity since he shaped it as a rebuttal that paved the way for a disquisition. It was suffused with the single-minded perseverance of a disapproving sufferer, but also the credentials of the flawless, discursive reasoner, from exordium, down to peroration. A tantalizing admixture of storm and stress and logic, which strengthens the readerly sense of a double style, that is not Janus-visaged double-entendre, and not to be conceived of, as an overripe, yielding, politic Via Media, but the testimonial that the Golden Means is first and foremost a clear-sighted adherence to the purity and obviousness of the theological creed: a belief in the unique and creative God, in His son Jesus-Christ, in the Trinity, the resurrection, the Catholic Church, and baptism. That was the result of years and years of fastidious pondering. The biography of his evolution does not conceal his doubts and revolts. In true Anglican firebrand, Newman began by declaring the Pope was Antichrist, the adversary of Christ who came on earth before him (I John 2: 22–23): ‘22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. 23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.’ A believer could not but be susceptible to the cogency of that imprecation. The strength of Saint John’s anathema was therefore enough to structure his incipient, sincere acquiescence in the schismatic, anti-Roman denomination of a so-called prevaricator. But this misgiving turned out to be more political than authentically fundamental. He later read all Episcopalian divines, and was deeply imbued with their pious, austere and florid ejaculations. Yet Newman was, in his heart of hearts, the outcome of his education. In the second Book of The Advancement of Learning (1605),9 Francis Bacon shaped his view of things, by providing him with the referential meaning of knowledge. No disunion of sense from sensibility, no separation between emotion and reason, could ever be surmised therefrom. it even united them by grounding the latter into the former. The scholar’s Sturm und Drang was not only the by-product of his fitfulness. It was the distinctive feature of the rhetoric of his dissent, a necessary tension that kept him abreast with the need to hit back by disproving, so as to lay down the rule, by proving,

The knowledge which respecteth the Faculties of the Mind of man, is of two kinds; the one respecting his Understanding and Reason, and the other his Will, Appetite, and Affection; whereof the former produceth Position or Decree, the latter Action or Execution. It is true that the Imagination is an agent or nuncius in both provinces, both the judicial and the ministerial. For Sense sendeth over to Imagination before Reason have judged: and Reason sendeth over to Imagination before the Decree can be acted; for Imagination ever precedeth Voluntary Motion: saving that the Janus of Imagination hath differing faces; for the face towards Reason hath the print of Truth, but the face towards Action hath the print of Good; which nevertheless are faces, ‘Quales decet esse sororum.’ Neither is the Imagination simply and only a messenger; but is invested with or at leastwise usurpeth no small authority in itself, besides the duty of the message.

  • 10 John Maynard, Victorian Discourses on Sexuality and Religion (Cambridge UP, 1993) 91.
  • 11 Chaïm Perelman, Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca, Traité de l’Argumentation (Éditions de l’Université de Brux (...)

17His creative identity was then to embed the theological authentication of his change of mind into the shame which rankled him when he was thus disparaged. More than one was being referred to, to be appraised or contrariwise, to be upbraided. In the Preface, he would admit to having for twenty years suspected ‘a vague impression to my disadvantage,’ (3) then he made it a point of honour not to get down to nit-picking, ‘False ideas may be refuted indeed by argument, but by true ideas alone are they expelled. I will vanquish, not my Accuser, but my judges.’ (15) A determination which was the inexorable printout of the conjoined prevalence of Bacon and the Bible (23). He was without a doubt, a man of heart and mind, but also someone who declared that he was spell-bound by Ann Radcliffe’s (1764–1823) gothic The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), and conversely, perplexed by Thomas Paine’s (1737–1809) attack on the Old Testament, The Age of Reason, (1795) if not David Hume’s (1711–76) anti-Christian Philosophical Essays concerning Human Understanding (1748). A well-read man but besides, one whose initial drive was to abstain from the madding crowd, ‘I thought life might be a dream, or I an Angel, and all this world a deception’ (23). His encounter with the real thing, the bellicose, destructive aspersion that is liable to bring some to the verge of a condition, was therefore not to his liking, as it made him invalidate, ‘answer his charges and criticisms on me one by one,’ (15) in ‘What, Then, Does Dr. Newman Mean?’ (375–516). His aim there was to deconstruct so as to declutter, and the teacher went at it methodically, by quoting so as to single out the mistake, which he corrected in order to restore accuracy. It was at the same time a necessary step, and an anguished quest of probity, a meticulous exploration not to let any detail slip unnoticed, but all in all, a dangerous demonstration of intellectual power, that could not ingratiate him to the multitude. That was indeed the drama of a man at bay, who was fighting tooth and nail, with full sail on, to cleanse the wound before it destroyed him. It was also a dramatization of the immense force of a mind, which was forced to show off the efficiency of the tools it had perfected, during long hours of study. Yet the sense of unease cannot be suppressed, as this drilling is not the hoped-for part of education, which is more relaxed as it is meant to show through example rather than blot out through remonstrance. Hence, the sense of an aggressive education that leaves the reader slightly sorry that the quest of truth should not proceed without a modicum of dismembering, wordplay cum swordplay, in what looked like a final countdown in the educational ethos. The dominie had a bone to pick. Now a schoolmarm, he lectured. It implied reducing impertinence to nil. In the Answer in detail to Mr. Kingsley’s Accusations, (438–516) the first blot which he set down to erasing was, unsurprisingly, the innuendo that was said to be felt in his declaration that ‘the humble monk and the holy nun’ be ‘Christians after the very pattern given us in Scripture.’ Reverend Kingsley was in the throes of a difficult decision about his bachelorhood, after his having fallen in love with Fanny Grenfell, whom he would draw, making love to him, tied up on a cross, in fantasies which were but overwrought rituals of sleeping together: ‘my hands are all perfumed with her delicious limbs, + I cannot wash off the scent—it has made itself what it should be, a part of myself! And every moment the thought comes across me, of those mysterious recesses of beauty, where my hands have been wandering.’10 The punctiliously trenchant streak was therefore given vent to, and the scholiast went at it unremittingly. The tell-tale mistake was tracked down, even to a nicety. Such a doggedness is yet not to be ascribed to mere bone-picking, but to the soreness of one who had drained his cup to the last dregs. Kingsley’s equivocation was rendered blatant, his manic, unhampered sensuous hovering was brought to the fore, no matter how respectable and forgivable it may otherwise seem. But the artificial, lurking connotation, which is the realm of demagoguery, could not cut ice with a mentor who was keen on the exacting denotation. ‘This is his definition of Christians.’—p. 378. ‘This is not the case. I have neither given a definition, nor implied one, nor intended one, nor could I, either now or in 1843–4, or at any time, allow of the particular definition he ascribes to me. As if all Christians must be monks or nuns!’ (439). It is a commentary, a decryption and a confutation. In order to expose the pursuer’s sophism (a specious but fallacious argument, either used deliberately in order to deceive or mislead, or employed as a means of displaying ingenuity in reasoning), the restorer commenced by an anthorism (a counter-definition, a description differing from that given by one’s opponent), whose intent was hammered into, by a reinforcing epanorthosis on both his motive and his chronology. The disapprover’s end was to wipe out the hypocrite’s asteism (ingenuous mockery), by the steadfastness of his absolute conviction. A power play that led to an ironic anticatastasis (reversal of the situation), wherein the caviller’s blame was erased by a distorting hyperbole, the better to be deflated by a generalizing parody. True to form, and still his old self, Newman had not made a secret of his sincere desire, from the outset. In the epigraph to his answer, he immediately declared, ‘it is not more than a hyperbole to say, that, in certain cases, a lie is the nearest approach to truth’ (375). When all was then said and done, there was nothing left of the would-be internecine stickler. His very right to utter a sound was annulled, since that selfsame phoneme was proved to be useless, meaningless, hence, ridiculous. A grotesque situation had thereby been delineated by the retorter, and tit-for-tat, mutatis mutandis, a ludicrous state of fact could only stem from a despicable spirit, wont on mixing the figment of his imagination with the real world. Reverend Kingsley was thus proved to be hoodwinking people, by confusing a sophism with an enthymeme (a syllogism based on transitivity).11

2 An Anxiety of Influence

18Yet Newman did only grudgingly give in to the lure of eristics. His design was to account for his cathartic return to the fold, even at the cost of reminding each and any, friend or foe alike, that he was not of such sluggish and spineless characters as would change with the weather. He might moreover have felt exhilarated and perplexed, at once, at the very idea of imagining he be, according to St John, in Jerusalem, (2: 14) ‘And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables.’ Though one should not set too great a store by a psycho-biographical reading of his furtherance towards the original Church, there is yet a feel of Hamlet, engrossed with a heavenly, healing mission of retributive justice, in the arch-protester he loathsomely came to stand for. That curriculum vitae of his, is sonorous with his fight against adversity and his trial of strength against intellectual and moral complacency. It was as such, a cautionary tale of manly fortitude. That mirror was streaked with a worry though, that he may not be up to the task, without the assistance of an array of learned credentials, who would, in true academic style, stymie criticism on behalf of a credit-worthy, forceful argumentum ad baculum. For all that, his appropriation of primary sources questions origin and the legitimacy of tradition. He redeemed them from a controversial silence due to oblivion, so as to serve as now befitted, to legitimize the scandalous decision of begging to differ which he made, and the uncanny step which he took when publishing his remedial penitence and propitiation. Yet the scope of intertextuality at work, within this narrative and his very self, is also the yardstick by which the reader is allowed to measure the cogent infection of the influence which he had to, and accepted to submit to. It nonetheless highlights the necessary wandering of the meaning which he intended to convey, so as to disprove any swings-and-roundabouts impression that he may give, lest it be remanded to an alleged effeminacy or a blamable fickleness. There nevertheless remains, in the text, a lurking sense of indeterminacy, if only about his eventual resolution to come out and take the plunge. He tried to countermand it by composing that tell-tale life-story of his. It is therefore his rendering of the truth and falsehood of knowledge which literature expresses. So his feeling of belatedness and his subservience to his precursors, i.e. his spiritual fathers, is the rule of thumb by which one is invited to gauge his literariness:

  • 12 M.H. Abrams, A Glossary of Literary Terms (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1981) 82.

The ‘belated’ poet’s attitudes to his precursor, like those in Freud’s analysis of the Oedipal relation of son to father, are ambivalent; that is, they are compounded not only of love and admiration but also (since a strong poet feels a compelling need to be autonomous and original) of hate, envy, and fear of the father-poet’s pre-emption of the son’s imaginative space. The belated poet safeguards his own sense of autonomy and priority by reading a parent-poet defensively, in such a way as to distort it beyond his own conscious recognition. Nonetheless, he cannot avoid embodying the malformed parent-poem into his own doomed attempt to write an unprecedented original poem; the most that even the best belated poet can achieve is to write a poem so ‘strong’ that it effects an illusion of ‘priority’—that is, both of preceding the father-poem in time and of exceeding it in greatness. 12

19Now then that the slate was clean, the butt of his criticism was all other. In keeping with his scholastic nature, he first grounded his ultimate belief in the Primitive Church, in a discriminating examination of two heresies, which were intriguing as they were not devoid of acumen; monophysitism and donatism. His dissent from them was not a matter of sabre-rattling or sheer rhetoric, but a rational elimination of radicalism. Newman is to be understood as being at variance with Liberal Theology, which he deemed self-serving, but he was not a reactionary, since he shunned fervent pietism and die-hard fundamentalism alike. Unlike Christina Rossetti (1830–94), he was not a mystic, but he was no gnostic either, since he shirked the view that the world may be produced by an inferior being, and was consequently doomed to evil. God being absolutely transcendent and alien to the world of sin, only those who were gifted with knowledge, or gnosis, could escape from their material condition and free their soul from the flesh, through ascetic or mystical practices. The hitch with such two heresies was that both led to a stultification of the Christian dogma, no matter how congenial they appeared to be, with Newman’s ultimate hope in Illumination, or with the possible theoretical development of his wisdom. The monophysite heresy was Christological, it questioned the heart and soul of faith; donatism was institutional. After Donatus, (-c.355) it claimed that the forcefulness of the sacraments resulted from the virtue of the minister; a sinful priest would therefore invalidate the baptism which it were called to perform. The problem was that no one is ethically pure, and by allotting the bestower such a prominent role, it contravened the omnipotence of God, who works in and through him. It also scaled down the potency of the sacraments, which are visible traces of spiritual realities, by making them subservient to human free will. When Donatus started gaining recanters, a division appeared in the Catholic Church. Rebaptism became particularly worrying, as it destroyed the authority of the institution. That false creed was condemned at the Council of Arles (314), then at Carthage (411). What yet brought donatism to a standstill, was Saint Augustine’s (354–430) thorough censure of its tenet. In his aim to understand the origin of evil, he had been a Manichæan (373–83), since he temporarily relished the dualist vision of two opposed principles: Light as good absolute and Darkness as utterly bad. He was nonetheless to reject it, on his conversion to Christianity, when he came to concur with the notion that there was no efficient cause to badness, but only a deficient one. Wickedness was only the deprivation of Good, as they were intimately linked in any deed whatever, since wronging was efficient in the good it was bound to reveal, at heart. Evil was therefore subservient to goodness. That is the reason why he had devoted all his vibrancy and energy to undoing on-going heresies. His was, that one must believe to understand, Crede ut intelligas, which is not unlike Coleridge’s subsequent ‘willing suspension of disbelief.’ He therefore debunked the New Academy, which was sceptical, and pelagianism, from Pelagius (c.360-c.422), who favoured free will against Grace, thereby affirming that man was capable enough to choose God, and simultaneously do good or evil without His divine interference. From that cause, he denied the original sin, and considered God’s grace as a mere help to come to Him. Augustine retorted by laying down man’s inability to deserve his salvation, and at the same time, the omnipotence of Grace. Adam did not only stain himself by falling, thus leaving his offspring hale and sound and pure from his lapse, but man is by nature weak. (Romans 5: 12; 14): ‘12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed all men, for that all have sinned: [. . .] 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression who is the figure of him that was to come.’ Augustine likewise castigated the donatists though they were labelled the Church of the Pure, by reminding them of the anti-selective, hence universal vocation of the Church.

20John Henry Newman’s theological query was none other. It was, at the same time, fundamental and practical. Beyond the day-to-day story of all such as fostered the Oxford Movement, his plan gradually became axiomatic. He did not actually forbear from taking an ecumenically principled stance, and he stuck to it. He discarded any schismatic cast of mind, as it bereft him of a coherent religious perspective, by excluding the dogma, the visible church, and the Pope, ‘My own Bishop was my Pope, I knew no other; the successor of the Apostles, the Vicar of Christ.’ (63) Although he was, at that juncture, referring to the Anglican hierarchy, his very harping on the unarguable existence of the Pope, was a foreshadowing of his reach for above: Pius VIII (1761–1830: 1829–30) whose short pontificate corresponded to the emancipation of British Catholics, or later, Pius IX (1792–1878), the 253rd Pope, (1846–78) who summoned the first Council of Vatican (1869–70), which proclaimed the dogma of papal infallibility, on the eighteenth of July, 1870. Augustine of Hippo’s battling with heresies proved his coherence and boldness, since it coerced him into berating the wrong intellectuality of extremism, that would enhance man, to the detriment of divine grace. An attractive position, in all likelihood, but a hubristic, hence inefficient one, and a warmongering one that was, all in all, uncongenial with charity. The anti-Roman attitude which Newman held, in 1841, could henceforth but mellow:

By ‘Roman doctrine’ might be meant one of three things: 1, the Catholic teaching of the early centuries; or 2, the formal dogmas of Rome as contained in the later Councils, especially the Council of Trent, and as condensed in the Creed of Pope Pius IV.; the actual popular beliefs and usages sanctioned by Rome in the countries in communion with it, over and above the dogmas; and these I called ‘dominant errors.’ (84–85)

21As he then declared, the Protestants were adamantly up against all three, but his demonstration convinced him not to reject them, by and large, as for instance, in his 1841 study of the Thirty-nine Articles, he finally acquiesced in, or at least did not raise any caveat against, their logical cohesiveness:

‘Roman doctrine’ was condemned in the Articles: I thought that the Catholic teaching was not condemned, that the dominant errors were; and as to the formal dogmas that some were, some were not, and that the line had to be drawn between them. (85)

22His scholarly ability to sort matters out, to separate the wheat from the chaff, in other words, to put aside the popular inflation of behaviourial customs or shortcomings, and to focus on the doctrine, led him to try and be coherent with his perennial assumptions:

While I am now as clear in my acceptance of the principle of dogma, as I was in 1833 and 1816, so again I am now as firm in my belief of a visible church, of the authority of Bishops, of the grace of the sacraments, of the religious worth of works of penance, as I was in 1833. I have added Articles to my Creed; but the old ones which I then held with a divine faith, remain. (63)

23If only his brinkmanship is anything to go by, his bespoke craft at antagonizing by standing his ground, Newman’s dissidence might thus be declared to be against dissidence itself. His position there was that of an academic who needed to be thoroughly persuaded, so as to be intellectually prevailed upon, by the structural logicality of arguments, rather than by the show of force, or the strength of habit, ‘my method of inquiry was to leap in medias res. I wished to institute an inquiry how far, in critical fairness, the text could be opened’ (86). That combination of emotion and intelligence, of leaping into the middle of things, in order to unravel the mysteries and unlock the recesses of a text, induced him to see things as they are, or the Thirty-nine Articles as being open-minded, lifelike and true to type rather than unlike, atypical and unconformable. It was the classical, erudite appeal to tolerance, which was the idiosyncrasy of a genuinely level-headed character, who was hoping to become a proselyte thereafter:

Putting altogether aside the question how far these separate theses came under the matter to which subscription was to be made, it was quite plain, that in the minds of the men who wrote the Homilies, and who thus incorporated them into the Anglican system of doctrine, there was no such nice discrimination between the Catholic and the Protestant faith, no such clear recognition of formal Protestant principles and tenets, no such accurate definition of ‘Roman doctrine,’ as is received at the present day:—hence great probability accrued to my presentiment, that the Articles were tolerant, not only of what I called ‘Catholic teaching,’ but of much that was ‘Roman.’ (89)

  • 13 John Donne, The Major Works (Oxford: OUP, 1990) 322.

24His strategic position was however, awe-inspiring. By underlining the high-principled tenor of the Thirty-nine Articles, so as to make an application of their scriptural propriety, to root his conversion back to the orthodox Church but also away from the secessionist one, he was turning the enemy’s own weapons on another Establishment, which he belonged to, but which he symbolically presented as a golden calf, come hell or high water. He therefore ran the risk of being at cross purposes with all and sundry. ‘When a correspondent, in good faith, wrote to a newspaper, to say that the ‘Sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist,’ spoken of in the Tract, was a false print for ‘Sacrament,’ I thought the mistake too pleasant to be corrected before I was asked about it.’ (58) The question which was raised there, was of a momentous importance, since the ceremony of the Holy Communion and the nature of the sacred wafer always perplexed Newman. It was one of the points of differences, between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglicans, which required a foundational clarification. That controversy was rendered all the more acute as the Christians consider it as a sacrament, while some Protestants call it an ordinance, or a religious, ceremonial observance. The former view it as an inlet for divine grace, while the latter see it as both an expression of faith and obedience to God. The divergence rests, again and again, between the present of Grace, which God tenders through the sacrifice of the physical and spiritual body of His son, or on the other hand, man’s free will to comply or secede. That central element of doctrine was the footbridge which Newman crossed, and he had to put up with the drawbacks of a situation which he himself had created. It later incited a reconciliation among Romanists and Episcopalians. For the Catholics, the Eucharist was a reminder of Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection. That anamnesis made such torments essentially present. The bread and wine which were hallowed thereby changed nature, and became Christ’s Real Presence. The mystery of that transsubstantiation was the primordial tenet of man’s belief in God and the Catholic Church, whose genuine priests, acting in persona Christi, were the only ones allowed to solemnize the rite, by sanctifying the Eucharist. Anglicans, in rebuttal, believed in the Real Presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper, after the twenty-eighth Article, and the Book of Common Prayer (1549), ‘the Supper of the lorde, and the Holy Communion commonly called the Masse.’ High Church clergy accepted transsubstantiation, as entailing an adoration of the Breaking of the Bread, while Low Church pastors, or Evangelicals, would credit a spiritual presence, which might not necessarily be dependent on the reality of His presence, but was the result of a knowledge of God by natural reason, a gnostic one, therefore. John Donne (1572–1631), who was inflexible in his opposition to the Papists, ‘If you will mingle a true religion, and a false religion, there is no reconciling of God and Belial in this text,’13 summarized the conundrum, which that uncanny transmogrification stood for:

  • 14 John Donne, op. cit., 375.

That bread which thou seest after the consecration, is not the same bread, which was presented before; not that it is transsubstantiated to another substance, for it is bread still, (which is the heretical riddle of the Roman Church, and Satan’s sophistry, to dishonour miracles, by the assiduity and frequency, and multiplicity of them) but it is severed, and appropriated by God, in that ordinance to another use; 14

25It is thus slightly convenient and expeditious to lay too heavy a stress on Newman’s settling of scores with Charles Kingsley, who proved he was not on a par with that one-off sparring partner of his. More imposing figures were hovering above, so that the withdrawer’s rebellion was not one of arrogant or tetchy one-upmanship, but a desperate attempt at stemming the tide of what he suspected to be fervent obscurantism. His expectation was to enhance the limits of destructive enthusiasm, no matter how influential it was, in shaping general opinion and how personable it proved to be through the sublime, moving exclamations of the divines. His deliberateness was then to mitigate the rapture of opinion and extol the neatness and smoothness of ideas. His apology, the lowly and firm confession of the scapegoat, was therefore inherently apologetic, a defense of religion and a rationalization of an unblurred faith in God, by a return to the antique Church of Rome:

I wish, of course I do, that our own Church may be built up and extended, but still, not at the cost of the Church of Rome, not in opposition to it. I am sure, that, while you suffer, we suffer too from the separation, but we cannot remove the obstacles; it is with you to do so. You do not fear us, we fear you. Till we cease to fear you, we cannot love you. (176)

26The outrage which some may have felt in his position was that beyond the inevitable verbal skirmishes, there was a discerning, scholarly understanding of the meaning of words. The dogma may have sounded narrow-minded, backward and dictatorial for everyman, it was, in fact, the accurate, fundamental principle in which a true love of God began; Liberalism may have had an attractive, realistic and adaptable ring for the long and the short and the tall, it was nothing but a dangerous negation of that very love for the Lord of Hosts. Thomas Carlyle’s grim irony about Professor Diogenes Teufelsdröckh of Weissnichtwo’s ontological loneliness down under, and his spiritual crisis about the absence of a divine voice, which subsequently prompted him to be desperately self-sufficient, as a man who could only rely upon self and will, was nothing but a hoax to him, for its implied hubristic risk:

  • 15 Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus [1836] (Oxford: OUP, 1991) 146.

Es leuchtet mir ein, I see a glimpse of it!’ cries he elsewhere: ‘there is in man a HIGHER than Love of Happiness: he can do without Happiness, and instead thereof find Blessedness! Was it not to preach forth this same HIGHER that sages and martyrs, the Poet and the Priest, in all times, have spoken and suffered; bearing testimony, through life and through death, of the Godlike that is in Man, and how in the Godlike only has he Strength and Freedom? Which God-inspired Doctrine art thou too honoured to be taught; O Heavens! And broken with manifold merciful Afflictions, even till thou become contrite, and learn it! O thank thy Destiny for these; thankfully bear what yet remain: thou hadst need of them; the Self in thee needed to be annihilated. By benignant fever-paroxysms is Life rooting out the deep-seated chronic Disease, and triumphs over Death. On the roaring billows of Time, thou art not engulphed, but borne aloft into the azure of Eternity. Love not Pleasure; love God. This is the EVERLASTING YEA, wherein all contradiction is solved: wherein whoso walks and works, it is well with him.’15

27By negating everything that was sacred in man, everything that was beyond the immediate fulfilment of inescapable drives, be they the call of the flesh or a fascination for dissolution, the mind was at the mercy of narrow means and loose ends. The scholar was well aware of the attraction of incoherence, whose inevitable outcome was nothing but the meanderings of despair. As a man, he paid the dearest of prices for his unpopular reaction against lexical and conceptual sloppiness; as a thinker however, he could not but teach and preach, beyond the confines of Oxford, and into the City of God:

The men who had driven me from Oxford were distinctly the Liberals; it was they who had opened the attack upon Tract 90, and it was they who would gain a second benefit, if I went on to abandon the Anglican Church. But this was not all. As I have already said, there are but two alternatives, the way to Rome, and the way to Atheism: Anglicanism is the halfway house on the one side, and Liberalism is the halfway house on the other. (186)

28The philosopher’s call to tolerance was hence different from any middling betweenity, which a loud-mouthed, perfectionist Anglican zeal tried to formalize, the better to validate it, so as to ingratiate the multitude. That was legitimate only as it stood against a so-called and much vaunted opponent. Its positiveness however turned out to be mere window-dressing, and Newman gradually resolved to remand that antithetical excess to a vested interest. The horns of the dilemma were not the difference between a true religion and a false one, but betwixt realness and nothingness. Such was indeed the hotbed of eventual violence.

3 Ars est celare artem

  • 16 T.S. Eliot, Selected Essays [1932] (London: Faber & Faber, 1999)
  • 17 John Milton, The Major Works (Oxford: OUP, 2003) 730.

29In his endeavour to put his house in order, after leaving Oxford and ‘much snap-dragon growing on the walls opposite my freshman’s room there,’ on February 23, 1846, (213) for having dissented, in deed and word, from a belief that was hallowed by custom rather than by logic, Newman was brought to bear the brunt of shame. He felt it to be the by-product of slander. It had, at long last, succeeded in substantiating a rumour that the strictness of his interpretation was but another heresy. His confession is therefore to be read as a last ditch fight against that antiphrasis. Hence, his dual commitment to redress, word for word, the wrong he suffered from, but also to justify his religious exile from a now unsatisfactory home-rule. The peculiarity of such a pledge was that he had to reassess the allurements of Anglican newness, after and against another sifting, that had already debunked a time-honoured tradition, Catholicism. He had thereby come to perceive and highlight the short shrift distortion of a doxa. In order to rebut the charge levied against him, he finally made up his mind to give the devil his due. It was neither a slap decision nor a new-fangled sacrilege. Reverend Kingsley is consequently to be appraised as an adjunct, who far from thwarting the philosopher’s reach, in all likelihood served the fictional function, which T.S. Eliot enhanced, in an essay on Hamlet (1919), that of ‘an «objective correlative»; in other words, a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that particular emotion.’16 Beyond the materialization of prudishness, it thence becomes fitting to apportion the shares, so as to notice that the blasphemer may have been other than one all too hastily proclaimed. Newman’s contention, in keeping with the mention of a warrant of justice, which he himself made in his detailed answer to what he considered as an unfair accusation, is thus not unlike a Puritan John Milton’s (1608–74). Another celebrated heretic, who unorthodoxically upheld the inequality of Father and Son, a dismissal of the Trinity, that the world was not created ex nihilo, but ‘was made out of some sort of matter,’ as well as mortalism, namely the death of the soul;17 but one with whom he concurred, in his specification of the truth. Notwithstanding their doctrinal divergence, ‘to hide its poverty, it has dressed itself out in a maze of words,’ (104) their agreement is stunning, unless one bears in mind that both thinkers were poets, deep within their souls. Where Milton’s definition is ethical, in the first paragraph, in the second, Newman’s deduction is practical:

Veracity is a virtue by which we speak true things to him to whom it is equitable, and concerning what things it is suitable for the good of our neighbour. . .. All dissimulation is not wrong, for it is not necessary for us always openly to bring out the truth; that only is blamed which is malicious. . .. I do not see why that cannot be said of lying which can be said of homicide and other matters, which are not weighed so much by the deed as by the object and end of acting. [. . .]
Here again veracity is due only on the score of justice towards the person whom we speak with; and, if he has no claim upon us to speak the truth, we need not speak the truth to him. (503)

  • 18 John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress [1684] (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976) 46.
  • 19 John Milton, op. cit., 726.

30That contiguity in intent, which is their common suspicion that truth must needs be alien to dogmatism, is the very definition of a work of art, and Newman applied it to the full, in his memoirs, by embedding the vilifying incident which set them going, within that lifetime dissertation about his sacramental change of mind, a mise en abyme which is more than an eloquent mirroring of a garrulous tiff, in defiance of a challenger, but a metaleptic figuring of the effect of lying, (the substitution of one word for another, which is itself figurative), on a creator, who feels thereby driven to use that unethical pretext as a textual esthetic, to redeem the sinner; less is more. Kingsley therefore got more than he deserved, and served him well, since Apologia pro Vita Sua is structurally a dissimulation of the offender’s lapse, within an exculpation of Newman’s awakening to truth, as if a friend indeed rushed to help a friend in need, mired in the sensuousness of his Slough of Despond,18 by magnifying him through his sublime answer to a stupendous blunder. It is, for once, fortunate that Kingsley did not know when to hold his tongue! In his rejection of mawkishness, his refusal to harp on the throes befalling his personal crisis, under the impetus of insisting on the minutiae of his own reformation, all foibles and quirks on the forefront, the benevolent castigator did not, in real fact, sidestep the issue that forgiveness is better than revenge. In his retort, no priggishness or witty backbiting mar his generous outlook, but an uncontrived self-respect, ‘We Englishmen like manliness, openness, consistency, truth.’ (123) His hereafter ensconcing the ignoramus’s detraction in his industrious, knowing ardour to ‘sift and winnow any doctrine, but also openly to give their opinions of it and even to write about it, according to what each believes,’19 proceeded from a desire to transcend everyday contingencies, with their inevitable battered hearts and bruised hopes, and subsequently, their axes to grind, so as to delineate and appraise his debt of honour to that knowledge, starting from what is obvious to foster his insight into the accuracy and authenticity of theoretical and ethical rightness:

And I hold this still: I am a Catholic by virtue of my believing in a God; and if I am asked why I believe in a God, I answer that it is because I believe in myself, for I feel it impossible to believe in my own existence (and of that fact I am quite sure) without believing also in the existence of Him, who lives as a Personal, All-seeing, All-judging Being in my conscience. (182)

31The dogmatic theology, which is exemplified here, is removed from uninspired dogmatizing. So, his pithy resorting to a hypotactic style (dependent, subordinate in construction), adorned by its clipped, single-minded clauses, concatenated by anaphoras (the repetition of the same word or phrase in several successive clauses), is another of his ways and means to reassert his unshakable self-esteem, which is a far cry from an inane, overweening pride. It led him to asseverate his subservience to a demanding, still likable Supreme Being, whom he made the more endearing as he discarded the imposing, overwhelming, descriptive synonyms such as befit the divine prerogatives of omniscience and omnipotence. A hymnic method which is not unlike Anselm of Canterbury’s (1033–1109) ontological proof of His existence, in Proslogion:

  • 20 Anselm of Canterbury, The Major Works (Oxford: OUP, 2008) 99.

You therefore permeate and embrace all things; You are before and beyond all things. You are before all things of course since, before they came to be, You already are. But how are You beyond all things? For in what way are You beyond those things that will never have an end?
Is it because these things can in no way exist without You, though You do not exist any the less even if they return to nothingness? For in this way, in a sense, You are beyond them. (1059)20

  • 21 William Wordsworth, The Major Works (Oxford: OUP, 2008) 611.
  • 22 St. Augustine’s Confessions, William Watts tr. (Harvard UP, 1989) 464–5.

32His quest for truth is thus a practice which is also revealing of his temptation for the irresistible trappings of a poetic diction, characterized by the oratory efficiency of the short, sharp shock, and the simple word. It is also a remembrance of a reality now unknown, well-known though it may have actually always been, as is encapsulated in the Preface to the Lyrical Ballads (1802), ‘I have said that Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity: the emotion is contemplated till by a species of reaction the tranquillity disappears, and an emotion, kindred to that which was before the subject of contemplation, is gradually produced, and does itself actually exist in the mind.’21 That is the reason why his conversion was beyond the acrimony of resentment. It was the consequence of an unpretentious, candid, sincere need to find a way out of it, by reading as many diverging points of view as he could muster, provided they were to that point, which he was trying to make out, within the maze of a schism, in which he felt more and more at his wits’ end. An epiphany, whose inspiration he readily reverted to, ‘tolle lege, tolle lege,’—Take up and read,—the very words of a child, which Augustine of Hippo overheard, when weeping upon his sins, ‘whereupon the floods of mine eyes gushed out, an acceptable sacrifice to thee, O Lord,’ which prompted him to open a Bible, to come across Saint Paul in his Epistle to the Romans, (‘13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. 14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.’) Thereupon, St Augustine’s misgivings were reduced to nil, ‘No further would I read; nor needed I. For instantly even with the end of this sentence, by a light as it were of confidence now darted into my heart, all the darkness of doubting vanished away.’22 Fulfil thereof – one man’s conversion is another man’s reformation, and John Henry Newman realized that once schismatic, always bellicose, hence uncharitable; his time had come to shield himself under the spiritual certainty which he found in him, whom he formerly made away with as Antichrist, and with whom he now aligned himself as magisterial. The principle of papal infallibility in doctrinal matters, was defined at the First Council of Vatican, in 1870. His nigh simultaneous conjoining the prevailing religious mood was no brazenness or declaration of war, it was the unarguable conclusion foreshadowing his in-coming serenity,—an illumination by the book, in more ways than one!

33In that day of reckoning, which was his endeavour to forestall melancholy, Newman, virtue incarnate who would not jettison anything he had stood by, wanted to make a clean breast of it. Beyond the holier-than-thou querulousness of those hamstrung by prejudice, sticklers and liberals lumped together, there was a spell which he could not but bring himself to confront, the Anglican divines with their winsome word, as was their incentive to adopt an over-scrupulous, ascetic, self-mortifying demeanour and henceforth their thorough, stark, overwhelming dominion over the minds:

I was in a humour, certainly, to bite off their ears. I will freely confess, indeed I said it some pages back, that I was angry with the Anglican divines. I thought they had taken me in; I had read the Fathers with their eyes; I had sometimes trusted their quotations or their reasonings; and from reliance on them, I had used words or made statements, which by right I ought rigidly to have examined myself. I had thought myself safe, while I had their warrant for what I said. I had exercised more faith than criticism in that matter. This did not imply any broad misstatement on my part, arising from reliance on their authority, but it implied carelessness in matters of detail. And this of course was a fault. (186)

  • 23 Arthur Rimbaud, Œuvres complètes (Paris: Gallimard, 1972) 251.

34Such has always been the stepping stone of educational freedom. Not that there be anything shady, hazardous or arguable that might justify his mincing matters with them, since their flawless, consummate ascertainment of compelling virtue, to atone for one’s original sin and propitiate God therefrom, was authoritative enough, for him and all, to set the pace and beckon each on the road to salvation. Yet the professor had ‘before I was sixteen,’ admired ‘unworldliness,’ and henceforth pledged himself not to deviate from ‘Growth the only evidence of life’ (26), a Darwinian principle that was but the implementation of another deeper existential tenet, which induced him to transcend acrimony, so as to transform the rhetoric of his dissent into a positive, and hopefully seminal expostulation, that would evidence and accrue his conformable goodness, to the benefit of all, ‘Holiness rather than peace.’ (26) A man who would furthermore, in ‘the autumn of 1816,’ realize that ‘my calling in life would require such a sacrifice as celibacy involved,’ (28) would then brook no Rimbaldian ‘long, immense et raisonné dérèglement de tous les sens’ (à Paul Demeny: 15 mai 1871.)23 Neither could he back moral dissoluteness or intellectual smugness; even at the cost of pitting himself against spiritual fathers, whom he, by then, refused to consider as the Church Fathers, but whom anyone could see lurking above his head and looming larger than him. Their austere word had, according to him, by and large, become a way to want the best of both worlds, by setting too rigid a law, steeling man against reality, and all in all, render him intractable to the nuance of an illumination, that could only be reached at the behest of a revelation, instead of a desiccation. A temperate man thus, advising against the rapture of asceticism, on behalf of the poise of stoicism, to keep one into the world, here and there, for want of a better world above. It was but a compliance with the divine doom.

35That was another of his apprehensive questionings of the powers that be, the stance of a theologian, and none the least wiser either, whose intent was to echo a word in edgeways, along with Thomas Cranmer (1489–1556), who is held responsible for the Prayer Book and the Thirty-nine articles, or Richard Hooker (1553–1600), the meek, and yet noteworthy upholder of inclusiveness for Anglicanism after the Elizabethan Settlement (1559). He influenced John Locke and David Hume. Evidence yet suggests that a Tractarian could not but grow wary of the very indeterminacy, which one had too easily mistaken for tolerance. The binding incorporation of theology in politics, with the inescapable theoretical dissensions which the jarring notes of dissimilar reasonings sounded, prescribed moderation, namely a muting of the strictest culminations of both worldviews. But give and take is also an emptying out of the very nature of an assertion. It therefore sometimes becomes shady, where one would it were realistic. As such, it is demanding on the logician’s rhetoric. Once again, on behalf of his long hours of fastidious pondering, Newman begged to differ. He had nothing to object to Hooker’s belief that prayer was about ultimate issues, a will and a way to beseech so as to atone; but specializing theology into a social mission for the church, rang like empty talk, an alienation of religion with a view to nationalizing it. That was denaturalizing it. Indeed, against the obstinacy of the blistering attack on the Roman Church, notwithstanding its indisputable historical shortcomings, Richard Hooker tried to proffer a comprehensive survey of the relations scheduling the State and the Church. He enshrined it in a body of rules as to the interpretation of the Bible, the meaning of salvation, and the requirements of an ethical behaviour. What he yet never lost sight of, was the need to save the day, Henry the Eighth’s obduracy to secede, and the emergency to create for Queen Elizabeth I, the conditions fostering political quietude. His was a simultaneous predicament to placate Protestant intellectuals, circumvent Catholic leaders, as they had become politically unreliable, and take the Puritans’ prestige into consideration, after the defeat of the Armada (1588). Adamant anti-Spanish determination was then eulogized, while the anti-Englishness of Catholics was bawled out. His arguing for a pacifying middle course, which would stem from a combination of reason and tradition, made him highlight that the Bible was the result of a historical situation. It conformed to peculiar circumstances. He compared the working of the church and the organization of the state. Both were thus political, the ways and means of a social betterment. ‘Things indifferent’ were hence immaterial to God. A worldly-wise irreligion could then be ascribed to a beckoning to salvation. Good monarchies and good churches there were; what mattered was the piety of people. It was the result of authority, which was to be obeyed, provided it were corrected by reason, which was supposed to fit in with reality. Faith was, in other words, mimicry rather than accuracy:

  • 24 Richard Hooker, Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity [1593, 1662] (London: J.M. Dent, 1960) 189.

All men desire to lead in this world a happy life. That life is led most happily, wherein all virtue is exercised without impediment or let. The Apostle, in exhorting men to contentment although they have in this world no more than the very bare food and raiment, giveth us thereby to understand that those are even the lowest of things necessary; that if we should be stripped of all those things without which we might possibly be, yet these must be left; that destitution in these is such an impediment, as till it be removed suffered not the mind of man to admit any other care. For this cause, first God assigned Adam maintenance of life, and then appointed him a law to observe. For this cause, after men began to grow to a number, the first thing we read they gave themselves unto was the tilling of the earth and the feeding of cattle. Having by this mean whereon to live, the principal actions of their life afterward are by the exercise of their religion. True it is, that the kingdom of God must be the first thing in our purposes and desires. But inasmuch as righteous life presupposeth life; inasmuch as to live virtuously it is impossible except we live; therefore the first impediment, which naturally we endeavour to remove, is penury and want of things without which we cannot live. Unto life many implements are necessary; more, if we seek (as all men naturally do) such a life as hath in it joy, comfort, delight, and pleasure. To this end we see how quickly sundry arts mechanical were found in the very prime of the world. As things of greatest necessity are always first provided for, so things of greatest dignity are most accounted of by all such as judge rightly. Although therefore riches be a thing which every man wisheth, yet no man of judgement can esteem it better to be rich, than wise, virtuous, and religious. 24

  • 25 Henri Morier, Dictionnaire de Poétique et de Rhétorique (Paris: PUF, 1981) 549.
  • 26 Richard Hooker, op. cit., 152.

36What was there at stake for Newman was Hooker’s compromise with worldliness, as his layering of arguments testifies to. This emblematic excerpt is a dialectic enthymeme, in other words, a syllogism (a demonstration based on a probable postulate). He would the faithful took for granted that man’s fundamental drive be happiness. He thus enhanced a material existence to the detriment of a spiritual one, and extolled adaptability to compelling circumstances. He therefore scaled down the soul, while blowing up the importance of the body, whose demands could not but first be catered for. A conglobation (heaping up of proofs) may be spick-and-span, if only through the insistence which is to be felt in the anadiplosis of ‘life’ (the resumption of a word which concludes a sentence, at the beginning of the next), or the anaphora of ‘for this cause,’ or even the hammering polysyndeton of ‘that’ (the systematic use of link words). Its convincing power is yet more musical than logical. Hooker emphasized free will, and inductively berated grace, in an it-goes-without-saying implication, verging on the Sicilia amissa (the replacement of an abstract noun, followed by its complement, ‘the destruction of Carthage,’ by an implied, abstract past participle ‘Carthage destroyed.’25 That was a valid process of deduction, whose implicans were formally certified and the implicate too. Newman yet rebutted the materialistic premiss, as he objected to man’s subservience to sensuousness, and maintained his doom to expiate, above any other consideration. The ‘greatest necessity,’ which the divine supposed could in no way be given precedence over the ‘greatest dignity,’ as entailing a means to ‘judge rightly.’ For Newman, that was undignified, and no matter how moderate his fellow theologian’s concluding serial place of adjectives might be, ‘wise, virtuous, and religious,’ it was an allowance rather than an ascertaining deduction. The natural order was that religion be given pride of place, as man’s energy was transcendental, and not a tragic flaw or Achilles’ heel. Such a reversal of arguments was no mincing steps, when one bears in mind the subsequent Penal Laws, against the Catholics, who were pitilessly prosecuted, and ruthlessly sentenced and executed, on behalf of a makeshift pact, that flimsy shuffle, which was but a principle by proxy, whose purpose was to comply with a time-serving concession. By laying down a practical principle to the Lord, Hooker restricted Him, ‘If therefore it be demanded, why God having power and ability infinite, the effects notwithstanding of that power are all so limited as we see they are: the reason hereof is the end which he hath proposed, and the law whereby his wisdom hath stinted the effects of his power in such sort, that it doth not work infinitely, but correspondently unto that end for which it worketh.’26 By his magnifying that then ‘Natural Law,’ as both a product of instinct and reason, he aimed at serving another agenda, that the Queen and the Parliament stood for the Church, as much as for the State. It did not contravene the ‘essentials’ of the Christian dogma, and all miscellaneous, worldly considerations could be deemed ‘things indifferent.’ Yet the divine’s query almost subsumed that error was preferable to disunity, opposition and unrest. Untruth was thus the realm of such trivial matters, and nothing really essential. Doctrinal dissent there therefore was, among both religionists, and not a rhetorical one: the via media was to be defamed as middling, Latitudinarian means to an end. Charles Kingsley’s own hovering between his priestly duty and his amorous attraction to Fanny Grenfell furthermore proved it. The divergence was as to the postulate itself: to Hooker’s assertion of primordial bliss, Newman opposed the inexorability of ‘some terrible aboriginal calamity,’ (217) ‘what is theologically called original sin.’ (218) It made man’s stay down under a sincere quest for saintliness:

from a boy I had been led to consider that my Maker and I, His creature, were the two beings luminously such, in rerum naturâ. I will not speculate, however, about my own feelings. Only this I know full well now, and did not know then, that the Catholic Church allows no image of any sort, material or immaterial, no dogmatic symbol, no rite, no sacrament, no Saint, not even the Blessed Virgin herself, to come between the soul and its Creator. It is face to face, ‘solus cum solo,’ in all matters between man and his God. He alone creates; He alone has redeemed; before His awful eyes we go in death; in the vision of Him is our eternal beatitude. (179)

  • 27 Nicolas Lossky, Lancelot Andrewes, le prédicateur (Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf, 1986) 255.

37Hooker’s foundational principle was man’s weakness for happiness, Newman’s tenet was his strength not to surrender. That bone of contention finally brought him nearer Lancelot Andrewes (1555–1626), whose Preces Privatae (1647) he translated in Tract 88, as foretelling the Tractarian Movement. He shared his misgivings about the Transsubstantiation. Andrewes compared and contrasted ‘good things’ to ‘perfect gifts.’ The difference was God’s grace, which he bequeathed to man, so as to enable him to reach spiritual perfection, provided he struggled against evil, pride, and the lure of the flesh. Such a commitment entailed humbleness, and a spirit of unity, by observing the Commandments. It was another definition of Newman’s lifelong attempt to join the intensity of his emotion to the vigour of his reason, since ‘He knoweth our metal and our mould.’27 There could henceforth be no fear whatsoever of death, which he deemed an accident rather than a misshap. A true knowledge of God was not so much a gnostic experience; Newman’s reasoning was no ‘cunning,’ but a spiritual experience, which was an accruing of the logical deduction that He should be found in Rome, to the poetic cogency of the Primitive Church:

  • 28 Nicolas Lossky, op. cit., 191.

Enfin, l’œuvre rédemptive a pour résultat la possibilité donnée à l’homme d’accéder à la vision de Dieu dans la chair. Cette vision de Dieu est l’aboutissement si l’on peut dire naturel de la vie chrétienne. Il ne s’agit en effet pour Andrewes ni d’une expérience réservée à quelques êtres exceptionnels, ni d’une contemplation béatifique cantonnée à l’intellect. Il s’agit d’une spiritualisation (au sens pneumatologique) de la chair, rendue capable de voir Dieu par les sens. 28


38With the benefit of hindsight, it is striking to notice that Reverend Kingsley’s stricture on John Henry Newman’s Tractarianism was not unlike Bishop Samuel Wilberforce’s aspersion on Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species (1859). At a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, in June 1860, he publicly derided the naturalist, ‘was it through his grandfather or his grandmother that he claimed his descent from a monkey?’ to be rebuked by Thomas Huxley for his will to ‘distract the attention of his hearers from the real point at issue by eloquent digressions and skilled appeals to religious prejudice.’ Beyond the unflattering remarks and their rebuttals, tit-for-tat, by knowledgeable and astute logicians, one is also invited to perceive the anguished query of more naïve questioners who, though confused nonetheless struck at the root of the debate. The real point at issue, in both Darwin’s Origin and Newman’s Apologia, was the problem raised by man’s free will, and its opposition to a dogmatic theology of grace. They apparently seemed to be at variance, as human decision is often alleged to run counter to God’s law. One is here in for a hopeful vision of the mind, or conversely, for a distressed subjection to fate. Had Kingsley’s slur been beyond the point, Newman might have let it pass unheeded, yet he found no satisfaction till he had sifted all the doctrines he was aware of, to rebut the charge. By blaming him for ‘cunning,’ the Reverend endowed him with a power to blur the lines of truth, to such an extent as it might stand up for it, instead; to which the don replied by reasserting divine grace, as the ultimate and impassable reach, which was not to be flustered by such a ‘thing indifferent’ as the accuser’s lie. His answer amounted to asserting again that God inhabits man to lead him on the path of salvation by grace, which enables him to follow Christ (gratia elevans) and go beyond fallen nature (gratia sanans). Newman therefore complied with his berater’s intimation to start from the risk he ran, of allegedly deluding his followers. He thus accepted his innate fallibility, and set down to ascertaining his faith in the Primitive Church, namely his acquired immaculateness. The very words of Jeremy Taylor (1613–67) were in his mind. Their ecstatic, hieratic, lowly and stately beauty, relieved his melancholy by legitimizing it in Ars moriendi:

  • 29 Jeremy Taylor, Holy Living and Holy Dying [1651] (Oxford: OUP, 1989) II, 87.

Then the Spirit stoops into the sobrieties of humble thoughts and feels corruption chiding the forwardnesse of fancy, and allaying the vapours of conceit and factious opinions. For humility is the souls grave into which he enters, not to die, but to meditate and interre some of its troublesome appendages. There she sees the dust, and feels the dishonours of the body, and reads the Register of all its sad adherences; and then she layes by all her vain reflexions, beating upon her Chrystall and pure mirrour from the fancies of strength and beauty, and little decayed prettiness of the body. And when in sicknesse we forget all our knotty discourses of Philosophy, and a Syllogism makes our heads ake, and we feel our many and loud talkings served no lasting end of the soul, no purpose that now we must abide by, and that the body is like to descend to the land, where all things are forgotten, then she layes aside all her remembrances of applauses, all her ignorant confidences, and cares onely to know Christ Jesus and him crucified, to know him plainly, and with much heartinesse, and simplicity. 29

39Hence the mixture of the biographical and the sacramental, in his detailed account of himself. It actually aimed at proving that the source of that ‘cunning’ which he was indicted for, was in the flesh, whereas his quest for truth found its origin in the spirit, ‘For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.’ (Galatians: 6, 8) In scope and style, that portrayal of himself, and his description of the causes which made it inevitable for him to convert, were devised to ensure those perplexed at the conundrum of faith, that the Ancient Church was more reliable, since it was more coherent, for excluding dissension and anger. The truth was thus in the word rather than in the wordiness of wiles. Newman had actually come to be imbued with the positiveness of one of his favourite Fathers of the Church, Origen (c.185–c.254), who died after being tortured, ‘I love, for instance, the name of Origen: I will not listen to the notion that so great a soul was lost; but I am quite sure that, in the contest between his doctrine and followers and the ecclesiastical power, his opponents were right, and he was wrong.’ Beyond mistake, there was in Origen, no antiphrasis, no ‘cunning,’ but an honest hope to wilfully suspend one’s understandable disbelief in an absence that could not be understood, the more so as it made the multitudes believe, in its being present. He conceived of his work as an attempt to present Christianity as a thorough theory of the universe, an idealist regarding all things temporal as indifferent, and all things spiritual as uniform:

  • 30 John Henry Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent [1870] (University of Notre Dame Press, 2 (...)

Origen even uses the language of prophecy. To the objection of Celsus that Christianity from its principles would, if let alone, open the whole empire to the irruption of the barbarians, and the utter ruin of civilization, he replies, ‘If all Romans are such as we, then too the barbarians will draw near to the Word of God, and will become the most observant of the Law. And every worship shall come to nought, and that of the Christians alone obtain mastery, for the Word is continually gaining possession of more and more souls.’ 30

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1 John Henry Newman, Apologia pro Vita Sua (London: Penguin Books, 2004) 146, 160.

2 Henri Suhamy, Les Figures de Style (Paris: PUF; 1981) 121.

3 Pierre Fontanier, Les Figures du Discours (Paris: Flammarion, 1977) 107.

4 Samuel Coleridge, The Major Works (Oxford: OUP, 2008) 314.

5 Michel Foucault, Les mots et les choses (Paris: Gallimard, 1966) 13.

6 Henri Suhamy, Stylistique anglaise (Paris: PUF, 1994) 12.

7 Christopher Marlowe, The Complete Plays [1588–9] (London: Penguin, 2003) 357.

8 Francis Bacon, The Major Works (Oxford: OUP, 1996) 383.

9 Bacon, op. cit., 217.

10 John Maynard, Victorian Discourses on Sexuality and Religion (Cambridge UP, 1993) 91.

11 Chaïm Perelman, Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca, Traité de l’Argumentation (Éditions de l’Université de Bruxelles, 1970) 309.

12 M.H. Abrams, A Glossary of Literary Terms (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1981) 82.

13 John Donne, The Major Works (Oxford: OUP, 1990) 322.

14 John Donne, op. cit., 375.

15 Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus [1836] (Oxford: OUP, 1991) 146.

16 T.S. Eliot, Selected Essays [1932] (London: Faber & Faber, 1999)

17 John Milton, The Major Works (Oxford: OUP, 2003) 730.

18 John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress [1684] (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976) 46.

19 John Milton, op. cit., 726.

20 Anselm of Canterbury, The Major Works (Oxford: OUP, 2008) 99.

21 William Wordsworth, The Major Works (Oxford: OUP, 2008) 611.

22 St. Augustine’s Confessions, William Watts tr. (Harvard UP, 1989) 464–5.

23 Arthur Rimbaud, Œuvres complètes (Paris: Gallimard, 1972) 251.

24 Richard Hooker, Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity [1593, 1662] (London: J.M. Dent, 1960) 189.

25 Henri Morier, Dictionnaire de Poétique et de Rhétorique (Paris: PUF, 1981) 549.

26 Richard Hooker, op. cit., 152.

27 Nicolas Lossky, Lancelot Andrewes, le prédicateur (Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf, 1986) 255.

28 Nicolas Lossky, op. cit., 191.

29 Jeremy Taylor, Holy Living and Holy Dying [1651] (Oxford: OUP, 1989) II, 87.

30 John Henry Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent [1870] (University of Notre Dame Press, 2008) 375.

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Bertrand Lentsch, « ‘One man’s meat is another man’s poison’. The Rhetoric of Dissent in John Henry Cardinal Newman’s Apologia pro Vita Sua (1864) »Cahiers victoriens et édouardiens [En ligne], 70 automne | 2009, mis en ligne le 11 décembre 2018, consulté le 19 juin 2021. URL : ; DOI :

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Bertrand Lentsch

Lycée Clémenceau, Nantes
Bertrand LENTSCH est professeur agrégé d’anglais au lycée Clemenceau de Nantes. Il a soutenu en 1996, une thèse, intitulée La création poétique chez John Ashbery: Thèmes, Structures et Style, sous la direction du Professeur Henri Suhamy. Membre de la SFEVE et de la Société de stylistique anglaise, il prépare un article sur Algernon Charles Swinburne.

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