According to David J. DeLaura, whose magisterial Hebrew and Hellene (1969) stands as one of the great works of Victorian studies,

Arnold's interest in Newman the man and the thinker is intense at every period of his life. There is no other relationship quite like it in Arnold's career: no other man of the nineteenth century — neither Goethe, nor Sainte-Beauve, nor Emerson, nor Carlyle, nor Wordsworth — evoked from Arnold such a continuious and detailed intellectual response combined with such an intense personal veneration. [152-53]

Despite his ultimate dismissal of Newman's most cherished religous beliefs, Arnold looked to this founder of the Oxford Movement for many of his main ideas and attitudes. Newman, De Laura explains, "provides Arnold with many of his basic notions" [61], including a fundamental dualism. Despite his frequent statements about perfected human nature as an ideal, "Arnold was fundamentally too conservative ever to give up . . . the historic Christian dualism between nature and grace, morality and reason — the dualism that also provided the rock on which Newman's view of 'intellectual culture' also foundered" [78].

From Newman Arnold takes his characteristic intellectual style as well as two other key points --his belief in "the existence of a privileged spiritual elite" and his emphasis upon "the sharp discrimination of moral and intellectual truth" [28] And, "not surprisingly," as DeLaura points out, they shared "contempt for radical, religiously and politically subversive solutions to the problems of the century — for example Benthamism and Comteanism, which might be regarded as extreme extensions of Liberal principles" [56].

Suggested Readings

Buckley, J. H. The Victorian Temper: A Study in Literary Culture. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1964.

DeLaura, David J. Hebrew and Hellene in Victorian England: Newman, Arnold, and Pater. Austin: U of Texas P, 1969. [full text]


Victorian
Overview John Henry Cardinal
Newman Matthew Arnold

Last modified 25 November 2006