1862 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Card. John Henry Newman

Thomas Arnold, in Manual of English Literature (1862; 1885) 475-76.



John Henry Cardinal Newman, the son of a gentleman who was a member of a London banking firm, received his early teaching either at home or in a private school near London, and thence passed to Trinity College, Oxford. Elected a fellow of Oriel, he became vicar of St. Mary's, the University church, in 1828, and between that date and 1845 preached his Parochial Sermons. As Vice-Principal of Alban Hall, under Whately as Principal, he for several years enjoyed the friendship, and profited by the stimulating conversation of that remarkable man. But no form of Liberalism contented him; the mutual toleration of sectaries had no charms for him; the essential oneness and permanence of the original type of Christianity rose clearly before his mind; — and this doctrine, together with those of the unity of the Church, the necessity of sacraments, and the regular descent and devolution of spiritual authority upon the lawful successors of the Apostles in every age, so possessed his mind that, in concert with a number of like-mindod men, nearly all of whom belonged to Oxford, he carried on, from 1833 to 1844, the famous series of Tracts for the Times, in which these principles were expounded. Recognising in due time the Roman communion as the natural home, of such convictions and aspirations, Dr. Newman was in 1845 received into the Catholic Church by Father Dominick, the Provincial of the English Passionists. He joined the congregation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, and founded an oratory at Edgbaston, near Birmingham, where he has since chiefly resided. For all the ordinary purposes of prose style, Dr. Newman's manner of expression, considered as a singularly direct and lucid medium of thought, has probably never been surpassed. In 1846 appeared his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, a masterly treatise in which he distinguishes that "profectus," or wholesome growth, which Vincent of Lerins admitted must be a characteristic of true doctrine, from the misgrowths which tend to destroy the original life of the germ. Cardinal Newman has tried his hand at fiction in three different forms, Loss and Gain, or the Story of a Convert (1848), Callista: a Tale of the Third Century, and The Dream of Gerontius, a poem. Among his other writings the most important seem to be these: The Arians of the Fourth Century, the Lectures on the History of the Turks, Discourses on the Nature of Universities (1854), The Office and Work of Universities (1856), his Apologia pro Vita sua (1864), commenced as a reply to Mr. Kingsley, his Poems (1868), The Grammar of Assent (1870), and several volumes of Sermons and Essays. Of late years Cardinal Newman has sanctioned the collection and republication — in some cases with corrective notes — of nearly all his earlier writings.