Decorative InitialWhen I entered at Oxford, John Henry Newman was beginning to be famous. The responsible authorities were watching him with anxiety; the clever men were looking with interest and curiosity on the apparition among them of one of those persons of indisputable genius who was likely to make a mark on his time. His appearance was striking. He was above the middle height, slight and spare. His head was large, his face remarkably like that of Julius Caesar. . . . In both there was an original force of character which refused to be moulded by circumstance, which was to make its own way, and become a power in the world; a clearness of intellectual perception, a disdain for conventionalities, a temper imperious and wilful, but along with it a most attaching gentleness, sweetness, singleness of heart and purpose. Both were formed by nature to command others, both had the faculty of attractinmg to thesmelves the passionate devotion of their friends and followers [230].

I had never then seen so impressive a person. I met him now and then in private; I attended his church and heard him preach Sunday after Sunday; he is supposed to have been insidious, to have led his disciplies on the conclusions to which he designed to bring them, while his purpose was varefully veiled. He was, on the contrary, the most transparent of men. He told us what he believed to be true. [233]

No one who heard his sermons in those days can ever forget them. They were seldom directly theological. We had theology enough and to spare from the select preachers before the university. Newman, taking some scripture characater for a text, spoke to us about ourselves, our temptations, our experiences. His illustrations were inexhaustible. He seemed to be addressing the most secret consciousness of each of us. . . He never exaggerated; he was never unreal. A sermon from him was a poem, formed on a distinct ideas. fascinating by its subtlety, welcome — how welcome! — from its sincerity, interesting from its orginality, even to those who were careless of religion; and to others who wished to be religious, but had found religion dry and wearisome, it was like the springing of a fountain out of the rock. [236]


James Anthony Froude. Letter III from The Oxford Counter-Reformation

Last modified 11 December 2006