John Henry Newman


Life
1801-1890; b. London; ed. Trinity College, Oxford; Fellow of Oriel, 1822; ord. 1824; tutor at Oriel, 1826; vicar of St Mary’s, at Littlemore, Oxford, 1828 [var. 1827]; assisted Vice-Principal Dr. Whateley on his Logic; wrote Lyra Apostolica in Rome (1834); “Lead Kindly Light”, his famous hymn, composed on an orange boat from Palermo to Marseilles, publ. 1833; with John Keble, fnd. Oxford Tractarian Movement [aka ‘Oxford Movement’]; commenced Tracts for the Times (1833-41), Dr. E. B. Pusey joins the Movement, 1835; came to believe the Anglican Church was in schism from Rome, 1839; wrote ninetieth and last “Tract for the Times” in 1841 establishing the compatibility of the Thirty-Nine Articles with Catholicism and recognising apostolic succession;
 
deemed inconsistent with the statues of Oxford University; defended by William George Ward, who thereby lost his tutorship at Balliol and was condemned especially for his Ideal of a Christian Church (but shortly after brought ignominy on the Movement by his marriage); Newman retained his Oriel fellowship and retired to Littlemore; resigned his Anglican living, 1843; the 90th Tract escaped condemnation through veto of the Proctor (Sheldonian, Feb. 1844); published his intention of being received into Roman Catholic Church and so received by an extraterritorial Italian missionary at Littlemore [7 Oct.] 1845; converted to Catholicism, 1 Nov. 1845; ord. a Catholic priest, Rome 1847 [var. 1846]; fnd. Oratorian Congregation, Edgebaston, Birmingham (‘The Oratory’); persuaded by Paul Cullen, Archbishop of Dublin, to come to Dublin for the purpose of setting up a Catholic alternative to the Queen’s College Scheme (the so-called “godless colleges” established by Prime Minister Robert Peel), 1850-51;
 
Rector of the Dublin Catholic University 1854-58, having accepted the post and been formally appointed in 1851; Discourses delivered at Rotunda before the hierarchy and others, 10 May-7 June 1852, and afterwards printed in Duffy’s The Catholic Guardian, formed the basis for The Idea of a University Defined (1873) in which he sees such institutions as nurturing Christian gentlemen who embody ‘intellectual culture’ and recognise through breadth of knowledge the ‘relative disposition of things’; insisted on appointment of English professors; supported and subvented publication of Eugene O’Curry’s professorial lectures on ancient Irish customs and manners; resigned 12 Nov. 1858; issued Apologia pro Vita Sua (1864) in response to accusations of lying made by Charles Kingsley; corresponded with Archbishop Daniel Murray of Dublin; lectured on ‘Literature’ and ‘English Catholic Literature’; on his return to England, Newman was denounced to Rome by Cardinal Manning as an agent of Catholic Liberalism; appt. Cardinal by Leo XIII, May 1879 -viz., Cardinal-Deacon of San Giorgio al Velabro, with encouragement of the Duke of Norfolk and other English Catholics;
 
he is author of (Hymn 587 in Church of Ireland Hymnal (“Lead, Kindly Light”); bur. at Rednal near Birmingham in the grave of his life-long friend Ambrose St. John, with a joint memorial; James Joyce calls his prose ‘cloistral, silver-veined’ in A Portrait of the Artist; there is a prominent statue outside Brompton Oratory [the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary], London; there is also a Cardinal Newman Catholic School in Coventry and a Cardinal Newman College [3rd Level] in Preston, and an International Centre for Newman Studies, devoted to theology at UCD where he founded the Literary and Historical Society [L & H]; as a cardinal his heraldic motto was ‘cor ad cor loquitur [heart speaks to heart’]; James Joyce writes of his ׃lucid cloistral prose’ in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916);
Newman was declared Venerable by the Church in 1991 and was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI at Birmingham, during his papal visit to Britain in 2010, with qualifying evidence of a miracle from America; Archbishop Diarmuid Martin (Dublin) addressed the influential Catholic lay group Communione e Liberazione on the topic of “John Henry Newman: Faith and Reason, The Ireland of Newman and the Ireland of Today” at Rimini in Aug. 2010. ODNB ODQ DIH OCEL OCIL
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Works
Works [sel.], Lectures on the Present Position of Catholics in England, Addressed to the Brothers of the Oratory [3rd edn.] (Dublin: James Duffy, 1857), x+376pp.; Frank M Turner, ed., The Idea of a University (Yale UP [new edn. 1996]), 366pp.; John Henry Newman, Collected Poems [and] The Dream of Gerontius, ill. Mary Tyler (Sevenoaks: Fisher 1992), 169pp.

An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent / by John Henry Newman, (London: Burns, Oates, & Co. 1870), viii,485, [1]p.., 8°; edns. incl. [new imp.] (1903), viii, 503pp.; ... Do., with an introduction by Nicholas Lash (Notre Dame UP 1979), viii, 396pp., et al.  

Correspondence, Francis J. McGrath, ed., The Letters of John Henry Newman, Vol. X: “The Final Step / 1 Nov. 1843-6 Oct. 1845” (Oxford: OUP 2006), 864pp.

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Criticism
  • Michael Tierney, Aubrey Gwynn, Roger McHugh, et al., A Tribute to Newman, essays (Browne & Nolan 1945), nihil obstat/imprimatur [McQuaid];
  • Newman’s Way, The Odyssey of John Henry Newman (Longmans 1952);
  • M[ichael] Tierney, Struggle with Fortune, A Miscellany for the Centenary of the Catholic University of Ireland 1854-1954 (Dublin 1954);
  • Michael Ryan, ‘The Question of Autobiography in Cardinal Newman’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua’, in [Georgia] Review, 31 (1977), pp.672-99 [infra];
  • Nora M Kelley, ‘Newman’s Difficult Dublin Years’, Eire-Ireland 12, 4 (Winter 1977), pp.43-55;
  • Robert Sencourt [pseud of Robert Esmonde Gordon George], The Life of Newman (Westminster: Dacre Press 1948), xi, 314pp., pls. & ports., 8o.;
  • ‘John Henry Newman et L’Université catholique d’Irlande’, premier partie, [Etudes Irlandaises] Cahiers, 5, 1980, pp.19-34;
  • deuxième partie, ibid., 6, 1981, pp.79-87;
  • Louis McRedmond, Thrown Among Strangers: John Henry Newman in Ireland (Dublin: Veritas Publications 1990);
  • Thomas Norris, Only Life Gives Faith, Faith, Theology and Praxis according to Cardinal Newman (Columba 1995). Note also citations from ‘The Idea of the University’ and other lectures in D. J. Palmer, The Rise of English Studies (OUP 1965);
  • Frank M. Turner, John Henry Newman: The Idea of a University (Yale UP 1996);
  • John Cornwell, Newman’s Unquiet Grave: The Reluctant Saint (London: Continuum Press 2010), 273pp.;
  • Dermot Mansfield, Heart Speaks to Heart: The Story of Blessed John Henry Newman (Dublin: Veritas 2010), 224pp.
  •  

    See also remarks on Newman and the Irish bishops in Sean O’Faolain, The Irish: A Character Study (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1947), pp.119-21 [also under Cardinal Cullen, supra.]; Brian Martin, John Henry Newman: His Life & Work (London: Continuum Press 2000) [pb. reiss.]; Frank M. Turner, John Henry Newman: The Challenge to Evangelical Religion (Yale UP 2002), 740pp., 14 b/w ills. [review]; Colin Barr, Paul Cullen, John Henry Newman and the Catholic University of Ireland, 1845-1865 (Leominster: Gracewing 2003), 306pp.; Kevin J. Cathcart, ed., The Letters of Peter le Page Renouf, 1822-1897, Vol. 3 (UCD Press 2003), 368pp. [Professor of Ancient History at Catholic University]; Foreign Affections: Essays on Edmund Burke (Cork UP/Notre Dame UP 2005) 300pp. [incls. essay-chap. on Newman].

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    Commentary
    Robert Sencourt [pseud. of Robert Esmonde Gordon George], The Life of Newman (Westminster: Dacre Press 1948), p.157ff., represents latent conflict between Cullen, MacHale, and Newman; shows Newman, according to Strachey (in ‘Manning’, Eminent Victorians), ‘obliged to spend months travelling in remote regions of Ireland in the company of extraordinary ecclesiastics and barbarous squireens’. Sencourt writes, ‘One reason why Cullen had called Newman over was because he wanted to discredit the Queen’s colleges, and embarrass Sir Robert Peel’; yet, if Cullen ‘hoped that in Newman, he had found a useful hack ... he found himself, however, with a winged thoroughbred ..’. (p.161). Also cites Fr. Fergal McGrath, SJ, who has made a special study of Newman in Ireland: ‘His whole thesis was that a University should develop the growth of the soul and mind, not constraining them by narrow or pietistic discipline, but on the other hand cultivating them by free and nobel exercise in the pursuit of truth. This, as we saw, brought him into conflict with Cullen, who both distrusted Young Ireland and believed that the rigid rule and censorship of the seminary was a safeguard necessary to all.’ (This difference of opinion, in which Newman represents the University as a ‘mild mother’, is conveyed in his Campaign, pp.35-66.) Bibl., Roger McHugh, ‘Newman on University Education’ [prob. in contribution to Michael Tierney, et al., Tribute ... [ &c.] (1945)]. Also cites C. V. Duff [sic for Duffy] My Life in Two Hemispheres, on the simple, grave, and musical flow of Newman’s oratory. The subsequent foundation of the Oratory, producing ‘a delightful type of boy’, was one of Newman’s ‘essential contributions’ to English Catholicism. Cf. F. McGrath, Newman’s University, Idea and Reality (1951) [cited in F. S. L Lyons, Ireland Since the Famine, 1971, bibl., p.820.]

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    W. B. Stanford, Ireland and the Classical Tradition (IAP 1976; 1984), Owing to Catholic dissatisfaction with the constitution of the Queen’s Colleges, the Catholic University had been established under papal charter in 1854, with John Henry Newman, afterwards Cardinal, as its Rector. Formerly a Fellow of one of the liveliest Oxford colleges of that time, Oriel, Newman was a valiant advocate of a liberal education in the traditional sense and a vigorous opponent of what he called ‘low utilitarianism’. Both in his discourses to Dublin Catholics in 1852 and in his lectures to members of the Catholic University 1854-58 [published together as The Idea of a University, London 1902), he reiterated his belief in the supreme value of the classics in education ... , ‘to advance the useful arts is one thing, and to cultivate the mind is another. The simple question to be considered is, how best to strengthen, refine, and enrich the intellectual powers; the perusal of the poets, historians and philosophers of Greece and Rome, will accomplish this purpose, as long experience has shown; but that the study of experimental sciences will do the like, is proved to us by no experience whatever.’ (First lecture.) [62] Further: Newman in his Discourses (incl. in The Idea of a University, 366ff) described the kind of examination that a young candidate for matriculation might expect to encounter. [The examination, quoted fully by Stanford, revolves on the student’s grammatical analysis of the title Anabasis.] [63] in subsequent pages Newman with a characteristic sense of justice - and some sense of humour - went on to express the point of view of the candidate himself and of his father, who argues that ‘the substance of knowledge is far more valuable than its technicalities’. Stanford notes that Newman’s brief ascendancy greatly strengthened the liberal classical tradition in Dublin. He firmly opposed the view held by his friend ‘Ideal’ Ward that in Catholic education only ecclesiastical writers should be studied in Greek and Latin, not the pagan authors. He defended the classical writers as ‘prophets of the human race in its natural condition’ and championed Horace as ‘the complement of St Paul and St John who ‘arms us against the fallacious promise of the world’, condemning the harmful results which came from the French revolutionaries’ use of Plutarch’s Lives as if they were ‘a sort of Lives of the Saints’. His beautifully cadenced [64] tribute to the lasting value of passages from the classics ... is perhaps the finest in the English language (An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, 1881, pp.78-79; quoted by Tristram, [in Tierney, ed. 1954), pp.277-8). [65; notes, 71] Bibl, see C. S. Dessain, Letters and Diaries, &c., London 1965) [his view of low classical standards at Dublin, xvi, 321-22. Also F. McGrath, Newman’s University, Idea and Reality (Dublin 1951).

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    Michael Ryan, ‘The Question of Autobiography in Cardinal Newman’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua’, in [Georgia] Review, 31 (1977), pp.672-99, describes the dynamics of memory and forgetfulness in Newman’s work. (Cited in Ronald Schleifer, ‘George Moore’s Turning Mind: Digression and Autobiographical Art in Hail and Farewell’, in Schleifer, ed., The Genres of Irish Literary Revival, Dublin: Wolfhound 1980, p.82.)

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    Brian Cosgrove, review of Frank M. Turner, John Henry Newman: The Challenge to Evangelical Religion, in The Irish Times (18 Jan. 2003), Weekend Review: ‘Frank M. Turner’s concern is primarily with Newman’s development up to his conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1845; and, as the title suggests, he takes his cue from the quarrel between the high-church Tractarians and evangelicals. [...] / What Turner fails finally to understand, in spite of his title, is why Newman and other Tractarians were so opposed to evangelical Christianity. For them, evangelical reliance on individual interpretation of Scripture could only generate further divisions in an already fissiparous Christianity. It was against such a centrifugal (and to Newman disintegrative) trend (“Protestants with their ever expanding theological novelties”, as Turner has it) that Newman sought a central Christian authority. In Newman’s view, Protestantism begets the exercise of Private Judgement, which in turn leads to a confused pluralism of separate perspectives, which finally generates scepticism leading to atheism. All of these insights are present in Turner’s account (his research is singularly impressive); but he seems unable to discern the pattern in the carpet. / Newman of course, provided his own account of the pattern of his development in the Apologia; but it is part of Turner’s agenda to cast doubt on the validity of that master-narrative. He is, first of all, wary of the “apparent teleology” in the Apologia’s account, because in reality “contingency after contingency determined the emergence of Newman’s character and thought”. But from Newman’s point of view (and that of many Christians), there is no necessary conflict between personal, existential experience of contingency, and simultaneous fulfilment of a providential plan.’ [...]. (For full text, see infra.)

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    Denis Donoghue, review of The Water Babies: A Fairy Tale for a Land-Baby, by Charles Kingsley, ed. Brian Alderson, in The Irish Times (4 May 2013), Weekend, p.10: ‘[...] Kingsley published, in the January 1864 issue of Macmillan’s Magazine , a review of the seventh and eighth volumes of James Anthony Froude’s History of England . He was under no obligation to refer to John Henry Newman in the review, but he did: “Truth 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.” / Kingsley hated Newman, as many Anglicans did; they never forgave him for leading the Oxford Movement on the path to Rome. (Newman converted to Roman Catholicism on November 1st, 1845, and was ordained a priest two years later.) Kingsley hated Roman Catholicism, too, for many reasons, and he associated it with Mediterranean effeminacy and indolence. Rome’s insistence on celibacy in its priests particularly infuriated him. Newman regarded Kingsley’s reference to him in the review as a gross slander. He might have let it pass, but he had endured years of obloquy and the review touched a nerve; he was not willing to be called a liar. So he demanded an apology from Kingsley and got a half-hearted one. Both disputants issued pamphlets, Newman’s far more effective than Kingsley’s, but Newman remained unappeased. He was quick to take offence, but only when it was loudly given. He decided that the slander called for a large response. Kingsley had been “furiously carried away by his feelings”, but the quarrel could not end there, because Newman deemed the insult an equal reflection on Roman Catholicism, the church as an institution and the priesthood. A pamphlet was not enough. / Newman’s definitive response was Apologia pro Vita Sua (1864), a book in seven parts, the first two and the seventh being answers to Kingsley, the remainder “a history of my religious opinions” from boyhood to 1845. Later editions removed all reference to Kingsley. Newman went ahead on his own and achieved one of the greatest autobiographies of his age. Kingsley was wiped out; his repute never survived the blunder. He would have made a better showing if he had specifically recalled the history of equivocation in Catholic thought – the right to silence, privacy, verbal misleading and mental reservation, everything short of the palpable lie – as it was devised to save Catholic priests when they were charged with treason and in danger of being hanged, drawn and quartered, like the English Jesuits Robert Southwell, in 1595, and Henry Garnet, in 1606. Kingsley disgraced himself in scholarship and truth by calling Newman a liar and failing to bring up a single instance of his lying.’

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    Quotations

    Go see ...
    Newman Reader
    National Institute for Newman Studies

    Respect: ‘Those who think highly of me feel a respect, not for me, but for some imagination of their own which bears my name’. (Newman, quoted by Sean O’Casey in ‘Always the Plough and the Stars’, The Green Crow, 1957).

    James Joyce - in the person of Stephen Dedalus - admires his ‘lucid cloistral prose’ in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man [1916] (Corr. edn. 1968, p.175). See further under Joyce, Notes > Literary Figures - supra.

    Power & success: ‘With [257] Englishmen you should know success is the measure of principle, and power is the exponent of right. Do you not understand our rule of action? We take up men and lay them down, we praise or blame, we feel respect or [show] contempt according as they succeed or are defeated. You are wrong because you are in misfortune, power is truth.’ (Discourses to Mixed Congregations, p.xii; quoted in William Bullen Morris, Ireland and St. Patrick, London & NY: Burns and Oates; Dublin M. H. Gill & Son, 1891, pp.257-58.]

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    References
    Brian De Breffny, ed., Encyclopaedia of Ireland (1968): In 1854, the Cath. University of Ireland was established by the Hierarchy, who invited John Henry Newman to be its first Rector. Newman, imbued with the liberal principles embodied in his celebrated Idea of a University, was not quite at home amid the realties of Irish political and religious controversy, and his brave experiment failed ... curiously, its best success was in medicine. (See also Encyc. Britannica.)

    Margaret Drabble, ed., The Oxford Companion to English Literature (OUP 1986), calls Newman ‘rector of the new Catholic University 1854-58; his lectures and essays on university education appeared in various forms from 1852, and finally as The Idea of a University Defined and Illustrated (1873); in these he maintained that the duty of a university is instruction rather than to diffuse useful knowledge; he also defended theological teaching and the tutorial system.’

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    British Library (under ‘Relating to Ireland’) holds Works, 40 vols. (1874-1921), index by Joseph Rickaby; History of My Religious Opinions (1873); Discourse on the Scope and Nation of University Education, addressed to the Catholics of Dublin (Dublin 1852); The Dream of Gerontius, a poem (1866); Life of Appollonius Tyanaeus (1848) [[cf. Berwick].

    Belfast Public Library holds J. H. Newman, My Campaign in Ireland, [described by Sencourt as rare], first and only part, Catholic Univ. Reports and other papers (1896); Doctrine of University Education (repr. 1954).

    Whelan Books (Cat. No. 32) lists The Idea of a University, Discourses delivered to Catholics of Dublin and lectures and essays to members of the Catholic University (Longman 1925).

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    Notes
    Dedication: Eugene O’Curry’s Lectures On The Manners and Customs of The Ancient Irish (1873) are dedicated to Newman [by ed. WK Sullivan]. See also Archbishops John McHale, and Paul Cullen.

    Louis Menand, The Future of Academic Freedom (Chicago UP [1996]), in which an essay by Edward Said commending the profundity of Newman on the grounds that his version of relativism respects the individual identities of academics as practitioners of particular cultures rather than cultural relativists and liberal hegemonists obliterating such differences. (See TLS, Jan. 14, 1997, p.9.)

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    Irish type: The so-called Keating Society type involved scholarly encouragements from John Henry Newman such that McGuinne has decided to rename it Newman Irish type. Irish clergymen, responding to a poll in 1823, declared their preference for a non-roman type as more efficacious in proselytism, ‘We have before us evidence ... that in some places Roman letter has been looked upon with the same suspicion as the authorised version ... Irish character will serve at least to add to the recommendation of the Irish Scriptures ...’ [Irish Times review of D. McGuinne, Irish Type Design, a history of printing types in the Irish character (IAP, ?1992); See Notice on Newman in Patrick Francis Mullany, quoted in Justin McCarthy, Irish Literature (Washington 1904).

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    National legacy: ‘The story of the development of Newman’s Catholic University into the modern University College Dublin is one of the most complex and fascinating chapters in the history of modern Ireland. At every stage the work of the College has been intimately linked with the slow but inexorable recovery of the national strength’. (Quoted in Maurice Harmon, review of Donal McCartney, A National Idea: The History of University College, Dublin, Gill & Macmillan, in Books Ireland, [May], p.69.)

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    Cadenza: The collapse of the Catholic University of Ireland within four years, having been established by the Catholic hierarchy under the rectorship of Rev. [later Cardinal] J. H. Newman in 1854, is attributed to lack of endowments and/or government subvention as well as the deficit of authority to give recognised degrees but also to Newman’s imperfect grasp of Irish educational politics. (See Oxford Companion to Irish Literature, 1996, “Universities”.)

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    Frank M. Turner (Yale Univ.) responds to criticism in Ian Ker’s review of his John Henry Newman: The Challenge to Evangelical Religion (Times Literary Supplement, 6 Dec. 2002) noting that Ker has ‘been active in the cause of Newman’s sainthood’ and ascribes Ker’s antipathy to his book to its argument that Newman’s Anglican career from 1830 to 1845 is ‘determined not by growth towards Catholicism, but rather by antipathy to evangelical religion, first among Dissenters and then within the Church of England’, further ascribing his conversion to ‘as series of analysable historical contingencies.’ (Times Literary Supplement, 20 Dec. 2002.) See also an answer from Ian Ker, objecting to the ‘impugning of [Newman’s] integrity’ (Times Literary Supplement, 3 Jan. 2003, p.15.)

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    The Elgar connection: From 1898 Edward Elgar and wife rented Birchwood Lodge, a cottage on a wooded hill at the north end of the Malvern Hills overlooking the Severn Valley, in in Herefordshire. There he composed his cantata Caractacus (1898), the Enigma Variations (1899) and The Dream of Gerontius (1900) - the last-named taken from a well-known poem by Newman about a soul's journey towards heaven. (Elgar reduced 900 lines to 400 for the purpose.) In the prelude to Part Two Gerontius awakes after death to “a strange refreshment ... an inexpressive lightness”. Later, his soul likens the sound of the angelic choirs to “the rushing of the summer wind among the lofty pines”. Around this time Elgar wrote in a letter to A. J. Jaeger: "The trees are singing my music - or have I sung theirs? I suppose I have.” (See “Irishman's Diary”, Irish Times, 26 May 2007.) [Note Jaeger - being German hunter - is the Nimrod to whom Elgar refers in speaking of his Enigma Variations.

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