t is not known whether Arnold sent Newman a copy of Literature and Dogma when it was issued in February 1873, and his engagement with Newman's thought is never again as prolonged or intense. Nevertheless, Arnold's interest in Newman remains strong during the remainder of the eighteen-seventies; the two chief foci of the interest are his concern for the future of the Roman Catholic Church — its religious character, its dogmatic claims, and its public role — and his concern for the Catholic position on the education question, especially in Ireland. Conversely, Newman's return of interest in Arnold is based on "that sympathy you have for what you do not believe" — for supernatural Christianity, and specifically for the Roman Catholic Church.
Nowhere in the seven articles appearing from October 1874 to September 1875 in the Contemporary as a "Review of Objections to 'Literature and Dogma'," and reprinted late in 1875 as God and the Bible, does Newman's name appear. However, Arnold seems to allude to him in the Preface written for the book. Arnold's rhetorical stance, in repeating the arguments of Literature and Dogma against dogma, is that of contempt for "the want of intellectual seriousness" among the dogmatists. As an example, he gives Cardinal Manning's defense of "the miraculous resuscitation of the Virgin Mary" on the grounds that the story is "beautiful" and "a comfort and help to pious souls" (GB, p. xix). Later, he adopts a similar attitude toward Papal Infallibility: "But the same levity is shown by more cautious Catholics discussing the Pope's infallibility, seeking to limit its extent, to lay down in what sense he is really infallible and in what sense he is not; for in no sense whatever is or can he be infallible, and to debate the thing at all shows a want of intellectual seriousness." Characteristically, Arnold's retort [121/122] is more petulant than logical: "there is plainly no such thing existing as the said infallible Church" (GB, p. xxvi). It seems likely that Arnold is referring to Newman's Letter to the Duke of Norfolk, issued in January 1875, which was a careful and qualified defense of infallibility against the pretensions of the ultramontanes like Cardinal Manning, W. G. Ward, and Edward Talbot in England, and Louis Veuillot in France. Also of interest to Arnold in Newman's letter would have been the discussion of the Catholic Church and "Liberalism," at least in the Continental sense of the term. Newman accepts the collapse of "the whole theory of Toryism" (defined as "loyalty to persons") as a fait accompli:
The Pope has denounced the sentiment that he ought to come to terms with "progress, liberalism, and the new civilization." I have no thought at all of disputing his words. I leave the great problem to the future. God will guide other Popes to act when Pius goes, as He has guided him. No one can dislike the democratic principles more than I do. No one mourns, for instance, more than I, over the state of Oxford, given up, alas! to "liberalism and progress," to the forfeiture of her great medieval motto, "Dominus illuminatio mea." [DofA, II, 268]
And yet as if further answering the question put to him in Arnold's letter of November 29, 1871, Newman sees a distant hope of reconciliation: "in centuries to come, there may be found out some way of uniting what is free in the new structure of society with what is authoritative in the old, without any base compromise with 'Progress' and 'Liberalism'" (DofA, II, 268). This is Newman's mature "conservative" stand on the future of the Catholic Church in a democratic, pluralistic society.
Early in 1874 Arnold issued selected chapters of an earlier volume, Schools and Universities on the Continent (1868), under the title of Higher Schools and Universities in Germany. For it, he wrote a long and important introduction on his educational, religious, and social views. Late in 1875 he issued an augmented version of A Bible-reading for Schools (1872) under the new title, Isaiah XL-LXVI, With the Shorter Prophecies allied to it, with a rewritten Preface from which the [122/123] original reference to Newman had been expunged. Both of these volumes were sent to Newman at different times before January 3, 1876, the date of Newman's acknowledgment, his longest known letter to Arnold. (I have numbered paragraphs in order to facilitate annotation.) (This letter and Arnold's reply of January 10, below, are presented through the assistance of Father Dessain.)
P.S. A happy New Year to you.
Jan 3. 1876
Dear Mr Arnold
 I owe you thanks for two of your books, the former of which I ought to have acknowledged long, long ago, but it did not require an acknowledgment any particular day and other things did, and so I put it off from day to day.
 The volume on Prussian Schools is of standard value, and does not admit of nor call for any remark from readers like myself. But what specially interested and pleased me was your Preface, advocating the claims of the Irish Catholic University on State recognition. Your argument, as deduced from the Prussian policy and system, is clear and good, if it really is the fact, as I understand you to say, that Catholics have in Prussia two State-recognized Universities. I suppose they are Munster and Braunsburg. And if this really is the case, the hardship of obliging Seminarists to receive University Education before they are instituted as Parish Priests, is much diminished.
 It must be recollected, however, that the present strict Seminary System, as existing among Catholics, has been a reaction from the license of ecclesiastical education before the Council of Trent, which, being mainly in Universities, had filled the Church with a lax and disreputable clergy. Ever since, the Holy See has been suspicious of a University life, as dangerous to the priestly character. And I cannot help thinking that the education of men for any profession, legal, medical, as well as clerical, must in a certain sense be narrow, if it is to be effective for the purposes of that profession, and that absolute freedom of word and deed in religious matters, is as inconsistent with the duties of a parish priest as a like liberty in military matters with the duties of a soldier, or in parliamentary action with those of a [123/124] member of the Cabinet. It may be well to have also, a class of clergy who receive a liberal education, but I doubt whether they would (on a large scale) answer, whether as parochi or as regulars.
 And then, moreover, there are difficulties inherent in your plan, though I do not mean to say that they are insurmountable.
 For instance, allowing that the Government might be allowed the appointment of Professors, still I do not see how, in a University formally Catholic, the ecclesiastical authorities can surrender their claim to possess a standing Veto on Professors. Surely the Government cannot be allowed the liberty of appointing whom they wish, provided he calls himself a Catholic; — of appointing or upholding a man, who, like Arius or Apollinaris, is, or becomes, unfaithful to the Catholic Creed. Not only the theory, but the philosophical and historical teaching of such men, as Arius or Apollinaris, would be unCatholic.
 As to what the Catholic Bishops claimed of Lord Mayo, I do not see why they might not have asked, in your words, "the government of their University," for it is only what Oxford has on the whole, though some Visitors of Colleges are laymen, and some Professors are appointed by the Crown. We used to say that the Archbishop of Canterbury was Visitor of the University.
 Nor can I follow you in thinking that by the Church "ought to be meant the laity," any more than the word is equivalent to "the clergy." I think the people are the matter, and the hierarchy the form, and that both together make up the Church. If you object that this virtually throws the initiative and the decision of questions into the hands of the clergy, this is but an internal peculiarity of the Catholic religion. The Anglican Church is also made up of a like form and matter; though here, in consequence of the genius of Anglicanism, the power of the matter predominates. But if you attempt to destroy the existing relation between form and matter, whether in Anglicanism or Catholicism, you change the religion; it is more honest to refuse to recognize Catholicism, than to refuse to take it as it is.
 By the bye, I don't acquiesce in your definition of a truism, which I conceive to be a truth too true for proof or for insistence. Triteness is at best an accident of it. If this be so, a falsism is a falsehood too false for refutation, not a trite falsehood. [124/125]
 Now is it not ungracious in me to have said all this, when I am really grateful for your advocacy of us?
 As to your other Volume, your Edition of Isaiah, I will only say that it is a most attractive book — and your (excuse me) standing aloof from Revelation does not mar its beauty. It is that sympathy have for what you do not believe, which so affects me about your future. It is one of my standing prayers that you and your brother may become good Catholics.
Very Sincerely yours
John H Newman
Par. 2. Arnold refers to Bismarck's Catholic policy on pages ix and following. The two Catholic Universities are Münster and Braunsberg, which Newman misspells. (Higher Schools and Universities in Germany, p. 147.) As early as 1860 Newman had expressed nearly the same reservations as to the possibilities for a wide training in general culture in the Seminaries. (Ward, The Life of John Henry Cardinal Newman)
Pars. 5 and 6. Discussed by Arnold (pp. xviii ff.): "The Irish bishops claimed from Lord Mayo the government of their Irish university, the right to veto on the appointment of professors, the right of dismissing professors. This would make the university simply a continuation of the seminary with a State payment. But what is the object of a university? To diffuse the best culture by means of the best professor" (p. xviii). Arnold grants that Catholics are correct in demanding Catholics to teach theology, philosophy, history; he insists, however, that this is best done "by the whole nation in its collective and corporate character, by the State acting through a responsible minister" (p. xix). (On page xvi of his copy, at Arnold's comment on "the best culture which the nation has to give," Newman sharply queries in the margin: "What culture? is it best because infidel?")
Par. 7. Arnold asks (p. lii): "But who are interested in the Church, that is, in the society formed of those concerned about religion? The clergy only? No, as we have seen, the whole people. And who are [125/126] really the Church? Evidently the whole religious society, and not its ministers only. The ministers exist for the sake of the community to which they minister; the clergy are for the people, not the people for the clergy. A national church is what is wanted." This is stated even more unambiguously at page liii, where Arnold denies the view that "the clergy are the Church and the community are the State"; instead, "the community ... is the Church." Newman's citation, then, seems a rough paraphrase of Arnold's argument; he had written in the margin of page liv in his copy: "The Church is not mere matter, but form and matter, clergy as well as laity."
Par. 8. "A truism, as is well known, is something true and trite. Now, the principle in question ["that the State ought to have nothing to do with religion"] is not exactly a truism, but it is next door to it; it is what Archbishop Whately used to call a falsism. A truism is something true and trite, and a falsism is something trite and false" (p. xx).
Par. 10. As for Arnold's "sympathy" for what he does not believe, his tone in Higher Schools is generally sympathetic to religion, and especially to Roman Catholicism, Religion, he says, "is a natural human need which will manage to satisfy itself" (p. xxiii). "All forms of religion are but approximations of the truth. Your own [Protestantism] is but an approximation. It is true, one approximation may be better off than another. But all great forms of Christianity are aimed at the truth" (p. xxxv). Roman Catholicism is "that form of Christianity which has most penetrated the societies where it lived, most laid hold on the multitude and been reacted on by the multitude" (p. xxiii). "The Roman Catholic religion is the religion which has most reached the people. The bulk of its superstitions come from its having really plunged so far down into the multitude, and spread so wide among the the two great ideas of religion are the idea of conduct and the idea of happiness; and no religion has equalled Catholicism in giving on great scale publicity to the first and reality to the second" (p. xxxv). Also, although the two great disadvantages in Roman Catholicism are said to be "its load of popular error" and "its Ultramontanism," Arnold concedes: "Long before the Reformation serious and intelligent [126/127] Catholics could, for their single selves, separate these accretions ["the accretions and superstitions inseparable" from "the great popular religion of Christendom"] from their religion ... Serious and intelligent Catholics can do for their single selves the same thing still" (p. x1iii). (It should be noted that this last is an about-face of the position developed in Literature and Dogma [LD, p. 261], that the Catholic system was "all of one order" and must be jettisoned as a whole.) Of course it should be borne in mind that Arnold desired for the future a Catholicism of a very special cast; as he put it in a letter of April 1874: "My ideal would be, for Catholic countries, the development of something like old Catholicism, retaining as much as possible of old religious services and usages, but becoming more and more liberal in spirit" (L, II, 132). The reference to Arnold's brother Tom recalls that 1876 was the year of his return, after a decade, to the Catholic Church; Newman may at this time have received some intimation of the change. In a letter of July 1876, Arnold refers to Tom and immediately repeats "what I often say to Liberals, that Catholicism cannot be extirpated; that it is too great and too attaching a thing for that; that it can only be transformed, and that very gradually. It is easy for me to say this who look at Catholicism from a distance and see chiefly its grandeurs and sentimental side" (L, II, 154). Arnold knew of course that the process would not be rapid; just a month before, in June, he remarked: "... it is curious how utterly the religiously disposed people in Catholic countries are without belief in Catholicism's power to transform itself. I, however, believe that it will transform itself " (L, II, 151).
As further background to this letter, it may be remarked that Newman had discussed the defeat of Gladstone's Irish University Bill of February 1873 in his Letter to the Duke of Norfolk (DofA, II, 181 ff.). Lord Eversley explains Gladstone's intentions: (Gladstone and Ireland: The Irish Policy of Parliament from 1850-1894, p. 53.)
He proposed to constitute a single great University for Ireland, for teaching as well as examining purposes, on a purely unsectarian basis, to which [127/128] colleges of either sectarian or unsectarian character were to be affiliated.... No endowment or grant was to be given to the Catholic College, but the University was to be endowed with £5O,OOO a year from Trinity College, and partly by a State grant.... Professorships were to be provided by the University, subject to a proviso, which came to be described as "a gagging proposal," that there were to be no Professors of Religion, Morals, or History. These subjects were to be left to the Colleges to deal with, in any manner that they might think best.
Archbishop Cullen opposed the University, while Manning favored it; the Presbyterians of the North of Ireland denounced it, as did the Governing Board of Trinity College. (Ibid.,, p. 54.) Arnold's letter to The Times of July 31, 1879 (ELR, pp. 212-15), concerns the Irish University Act of that year, which "substituted for the Queen's University an examining University on the model of that of London." (Ibid., p.90.)
Arnold replied to Newman's letter within a week:
Pains Hill Cottage.
Jan. l0th 1876
My dear Dr Newman
It gives me the most sincere gratification to send you my books, whenever I feel that I can do so without impropriety, and my sending them is in no wise meant to put you to the trouble of writing an acknowledgment. But of course I feel always pleased and honoured at receiving a letter from you. All that you say on the subject of a Catholic University is valuable and interesting to me. The difficulty about conceding to a Catholic University in Ireland the same amount of self-government that Oxford and Cambridge have, comes, I suppose, from the Irish University needing to be supported by direct grant from the State. However, I would gladly, for my part, see a Catholic University established in Ireland with the same kind of independence which the English Universities have, if Catholics could be brought to demand no more and the British Parliament to concede as much. But the matter is one where, unhappily, reason has even far less part in determining the settlement, than it has in our politics generally.
I will do no more than express my grateful thanks for the tone of [128/129] kindness in which your letter concludes, and I beg you to believe me, with a deep sense of esteem and obligation,
ever most sincerely yours,
Matthew Arnold. —
Arnold's list of books to read in 1876 includes "Newman's Discussions" (NB, p. 591) — the Discussions and Arguments, which Newman had sent him in 1872, including above all, "The Tamworth Reading Room." The only explicit reference to Newman in Last Essays on Church and Religion, published early in 1877, occurs in "A Psychological Parallel" (November 1876), and the source is a surprising one. Arnold has been asked whether a man who holds the view of religion set forth in Literature and Dogma can justifiably take orders in the Church of England. His answer is that since ordination requires at least "a general consent" to the Thirty-nine Articles, and since the view of Literature and Dogma is that the Prayer Book's claim — that the Creeds are "science" and the true formulation of Christianity — is false, such a man cannot "at present" be ordained. Arnold goes on to attack subscription to the Articles as a condition of Church of England orders, and in fact to any "test which lies outside the Ordination Service itself":
The Ordination Service itself, on a man's entrance into orders, and the use of the Church services afterwards, are a sufficient engagement. Things were put into the Ordination Service which one might have wished otherwise. Some of them are gone. The introduction of the Oath of Supremacy was a part, no doubt, of all that lion and unicorn business which is too plentiful in our Prayer Book, on which Dr. Newman has showered such exquisite raillery, and of which only the Philistine element in our race prevents our seeing the ridiculousness. (LECR, p. 211)
Arnold is referring to the first of Newman's lectures on The Present Position of Catholics in England, published in 1851.7 In what was perhaps the finest sustained comic performance in his writings, Newman [129/130] illustrated the difference between "knowing what is said and thought of Catholics" in the traditional English Protestant view, and "what they really are," by showing that hyperpatriotic "Anglo-mania" and "John Bull-ism" might be treated by the Czar of Russia as a dangerous secret society. Here, again, Newman is Arnold's model in his conflicts with "modern Liberalism and Dissent," for the religious prejudices of the British middle-class Philistine were of a piece with his social and political prejudices. Moreover, the closing remark of Newman's lectures (Present Position of Catholics, p. 41.) might have been made by Arnold himself: "Such is the consequence of having looked at things all on one side, and shutting the eyes to the others."
One other passage in Last Essays, on the future of the Catholic Church, calls Newman to mind. In the Preface, Arnold argues his now-familiar case, "that Christianity will survive because of its natural truth," and that the historic forms of Christian worship will not be "extinguished by the growth of a truer conception of their essential contents" (LECR, p. 177). These forms, he explains,
will survive as poetry Above all, among the Catholic nations will this be the case. And, I eed, one must wonder at the fatuity of the Roman Catholic Church, that she should not herself see what a future there is for her here. Will there never arise among Catholics some great soul, to perceive that the eternity and universality, which is vainly claimed for Catholic dogma and the ultramontane system, might really be possible for Catholic worship? But to rule over the moment and the credulous has more attraction than to work for the future and the sane. [LECR, p. 178]
Is it not justifiable to suggest that Arnold's scarcely concealed impatience with Newman in the religious writings springs from his sense that Newman, perhaps the supreme "great soul" of Arnold's experience and very likely the most large visioned Catholic of the nineteenth century, had somehow culpably failed to see the future with Arnold's own clarity and bad in fact enlisted his extraordinary powers of mind, style, and personality in support of an "impossible" and scarcely "sane" system?
After the publication of Last Essays, Arnold turned again to the [130/131] consideration of the social and literary issues that had engaged him in the sixties, though his social views were permanently enriched by his wrestling with the religious perplexities of the age. In July 1878 appeared "Irish Catholicism and British Liberalism," in which Arnold once again takes up the question of the State endowment of a Catholic University in Ireland which he had discussed in the Preface to Higher Schools and Universities in Germany (1874). Almost certainly Arnold would have had Newman, and their 1876 exchange of letters, in mind through much of the essay. Arnold speaks of the desire of Irish Catholics for a University: "The Protestants of Ireland have in Trinity College, Dublin, a university where the teachers in all these matters which afford debatable ground between Catholic and Protestant are Protestant. The Protestants of Scotland have universities of a like character. In England the members of the English Church have in Oxford and Cambridge universities where the teachers are almost wholly Anglican. Well, the Irish Catholics ask to be allowed the same thing" (MxE, p. 76). And Arnold approves the Irish rejection of Gladstone's former offer of "a university without theology, philosophy, or history" (MxE, p. 76). Of course, what lies in the way of real State endowment is "the deep-rooted prejudices of the middle-class against Catholicism": "All they [Irish Catholics] feel is that they are kept from having what they want, and what is fair, and what we have ourselves, because the British middle class, being such as we have described it, pronounces their religion to be a lie and heathenish superstition" (MxE, p. 96). Newman had put the case in very similar terms as early as 1851, in the Present Position of Catholics (which Arnold was reading late in 1876). As an illustration of the "narrow and one-sided condition of the Protestant intellect" toward Catholicism, Newman says:
For instance, as regards the subject of Education. It has lately been forcibly shown that the point which the Catholic Church is maintaining against the British Government in Ireland, as respects the Queen's Colleges for the education of the middle and upper classes, is precisely that which Protestantism maintains, and successfully maintains, against the same Government in England — viz., that secular instruction should not be separated from religious, The Catholics of Ireland are asserting the very same [131/132] principle as the Protestants of England; however, the Minister does not feel the logical force of the fact; and the same persons who think it is so tolerable to indulge Protestantism in the one country, are irritated and incensed at a Catholic people for asking to be similarly indulged in the other. [p. 179]
Arnold repeats his own solution, which the Irish would be unreasonable to reject: "The professors should be nominated and removed, not by the bishops, but by a responsible minister of State acting for the Irish nation itself" (MxE, p. 93).
Interestingly, Arnold here repeats and expands his very sympathetic view of the historic Roman Catholic Church which had appeared in Higher Schools. Catholicism is "the religion which has most reached the people ... the great popular religion of Christendom" (pp. 86-87). Hence, his impatience with advanced Liberals "who have no conception of the Christian religion as of a real need of the community": "whoever treats Catholicism as a nuisance, to be helped to die out as soon as possible, has the heart, the imagination, and the conscience of Catholics, in just revolt against them" (pp. 85, 87). Of course, "Ultramontanism, sacerdotalism, and superstition" (that is, dogma, Papal claims, and so on) must be given up; but then the Church "is left with the beauty, the richness, the poetry, the infinite charm for the imagination, of its own age-long growth, ... unconscious, popular, profoundly rooted, all-enveloping" (pp. 88-89). It would be an error to view this panegyric as mere aesthetic sentimentality; at stake is Arnold's precise conception of "the Christianity of the future." His vision of man's future demands, for its integrity, a religious and specifically Catholic form of religious ritual and poetry: "The need for beauty is a real and now rapidly growing need in man; Puritanism cannot satisfy it; Catholicism and the English Church can. The need for intellect and knowledge in him, indeed, neither Puritanism, nor Catholicism, nor the English Church can at present satisfy. That need has to seek satisfaction nowadays elsewhere, through the modem spirit, science, literature" (pp. 101-102). Thus the Catholic Church-along with the Church of England, which "kept in great measure the traditional form of Catholicism and thus preserved [134/135] its link with the past, its share in the beauty and the poetry and the charm for the imagination of Catholicism" (pp. 99-100) alone succeeds in "investing" with beauty those "elementary truths of inescapable depth and value, yet of extreme simplicity," which are the center of Arnold's Christianized humanism (p. 102). This then will be the function of religion in the future:
I persist in thinking that Catholicism has, from this superiority, a great future before it; that it will endure while all the Protestant sects (in which I do not include the Church of England) dissolve and perish. I persist in thinking that the prevailing form for the Christianity of the future will be the form of Catholicism; but a Catholicism purged, opening itself to the light and air, having the consciousness of its own poetry, freed from its sacerdotal despotism and freed from its pseudo-scientific apparatus of superannuated dogma. (p. 90)
Thus, too, Arnold's separation of morality and reason, first evident in the sixties, remains intact, with morality and aesthetic experience linked on the one hand, and "the modern spirit, science, literature" unreconciled and unassimilated on the other. The essence of Arnold's view of religion in the religious works-as a small body of "elementary truths" of morality "lighted up" with Biblical poetry and incapable of metaphysical formulation-remains similarly intact.
The change lies in the fact that Arnold's view of religion, and especially the religion of the future, is now embodied historically and concretely in the Catholic Church. Of course this highly aestheticized Christianity of the future (which "invests" morality with charm, richness, imagination, poetry, beauty) will be conscious of being "purged," "opening itself to the light," "freed" from its own dogmatic pretensions-presumably it will have acknowledged the claims of the "modern spirit" and "science." But it is equally true that here, as in Arnold's peculiar theory of development, one cannot properly speak of reconciliation or assimilation but merely of the sweeping away of pseudo science. This decapitated Catholic Church (its long history of religious speculation lopped off as incapable of verification by the standards of the modern critical intellect) would remain as the external, institutional expression of a complex of aesthetic and moral experience [133/134] which, even in its reduced form, cannot be reconciled with contemporary views of man's place in the universe. Arnold is here on the way to the impasse of "Literature and Science" (1882). His discussion of the Catholic Church in this earlier essay (which he called " my argument for the Catholics" [L, II, 186; May 2 5, 1879]) is summarized here because it is developed in conjunction with practical matters of Irish educational policy on which he had communicated with Newman and which had long been of special interest to Newman, and because it helps the reader understand the precise tone of Arnold's treatment of Newman in the religious works. Arnold was convinced that "the Catholics are to be mended . . . by gradually inducing them to admit the influences of the time against them, and to feel their penetrative effect" (L, 11, 184 [Easter, 1879]). His impatience with, and sometimes near contempt for, Newman's dogmatic views, in St. Paul and Protestantism and Literature and Dogma, are all the more intense because Newman, despite the range of his gifts, was born a generation too soon to lead the Catholic Church into the "light and air" that is the medium of "the modern spirit."
It should be evident now that Arnold's claim of 1871, that Newman was a model in his conflicts "with modern Liberalism and Dissent, and with their pretensions and shortcomings," is true only with important qualifications. Of course Liberalism and Dissent were coupled as an object of attack in Arnold's mind as they could never quite be in Newman's. Arnold analyzes both forces in essentially aesthetic terms, since both are enemies of the complete human development he is sponsoring. It was the Oxford Movement's sentiment for "beauty and sweetness" which subtly undermined "the hardness and vulgarity of middle-class liberalism" and "the hideous and grotesque illusions of middle-class Protestantism" (CPW, V, 105-157); Similarly, in the seventies, "The need for beauty is a real and now rapidly growing need in man; Puritanism cannot satisfy it, Catholicism and the English Church can" (MxE, pp. 101-102). A passage in an essay of February 1879 ("Ecce, Convertimur ad Gentes"), clearly deriving from "The Tamworth Reading Room" (1841), suggests, nevertheless, that this important early attack of Newman's on Liberal pretensions very likely had lain behind Arnold's treatment of Liberalism in the [134/135] religious writings. For example, in Chapter X of Literature and Dogma Arnold's first concern is with "the special moral feature" of the day; he sees that for the first time the people are losing religion and the Bible and cannot be counted on to counteract the antireligious propaganda of "cultivated wits":
When our philosophical Liberal friends say, that by universal suffrage, public meetings, Church-disestablishment, marrying one's deceased wife's sister, secular schools, industrial development, man can live very well; and that if he studies the writings, say, of Mr. Herbert Spencer into the bargain, he will be perfect, he will have "in modern and congenial language the truisms common to all systems of morality," and the Bible is become quite old-fashioned and superfluous for him; — when our philosophical friends now say this, the masses, far from checking them, are disposed to applaud them to the echo. [LD, p. 282]
The question Arnold puts to destructive religious critics in the Preface to God and the Bible is this: when the "illusions" of the Christian past are forsaken what will we give men in their place (GB, p. xi)? However much "the voice of modern liberalism" may foretell the extinction of Christian belief, a popular reaction in favor of American revivalists is the answer: "It is so, because throughout the world there is a growing feeling, that whatever may have been amiss with the old religion, modern liberalism, though it confidently professed to have perfect and sufficient substitutes for it, has not" (GB, p. xii). In the body of his text, Arnold argues against the growing popularity of "a kind of revolutionary Deism, hostile to all which is old, traditional, established and secure" (GB, p. 6).
This line of thought is very close to the argument of "The Tamworth Reading Room," where Newman is concerned about precisely the Liberal attempt to find a new source of unity for society: "The old bond ... was Religion; Lord Brougham's is Knowledge" (D&A, p. 285). The passage from "Ecce, Convertimur" not only draws from "The Tamworth Reading Room," which Arnold was reading in 1879 (NB, pp. 326-327 ), but comments on it and qualifies it:
But above all, we are on our guard against expecting too much from institutions like this Working Men's College. We are reminded what grand [135/136] expectations Lord Brougham and other friends of knowledge cheap and popular, the founders of the Mechanics' Institutes, held out; what tall talk they indulged in; and we are told to look and see how little has come of it all. Nature herself fights against them and their designs, we are told. At the end of his day, tired with his labour, the working man in general cannot well have the power, even if he have the will, to make any very serious and fruitful efforts in the pursuit of knowledge. Whatever high professions these institutions may start with, inevitably their members will come, it is said, to decline upon a lower range of claim and endeavour. They will come to content themselves with seeking more amusement and relaxation from their Institute. They will visit its reading-rooms merely to read the newspapers, to read novels; and they are not to be blamed for it.
No, perhaps they are not to be blamed for it, even if this does happen. And yet the original lofty aspiration, the aspiration after the satisfactions, solace, and power which are only to be got from true knowledge, may have been right after all. In spite of the frequent disappointment, the constant difficulty, it may have been right. For to arrive at a full and right conception of things, to know one's self and the world, — which is knowledge; then to act firmly and manfully on that knowledge, — which is virtue; this is the native, the indestructible impulse of the spirit of man. All the high-flown commonplaces about the power of knowledge, and about the mind's instinctive desire of it, have their great use, whenever we can so put them as to feel them animating and inspiriting to us. For they are true in themselves; only they are discredited by being so often used insincerely. [IEO, pp-358-59]
The reference to Brougham and to reading rooms, the phrases "we are reminded" and "we are told," and the expressions "tall talk" and "high-flown commonplaces," all suggest Newman's scornful attack on Brougham and the "Knowledge School" in "The Tamworth Reading Room." Arnold's "mere amusement and relaxation" is a reference to Newman's denial of Brougham's and Peel's argument that curiosity, diversion, recreation, "utility and amusement," will somehow improve a man morally by putting "him above the indulgence of sensual appetite" (D&A, p. 276). Newman answers that knowledge "never healed a wounded heart, nor changed a sinful one; but the Divine Word is with power" (D&A, p. 270) — from the very passage Arnold cited in his notebooks. [136/137]
Arnold's response is complex, He is not only putting a higher value on "the original, lofty aspiration"; he is actually adopting, in a less blatant and "insincere" form, the view of the Knowledge School that knowledge leads to virtue. No doubt Newman's supernaturalist argument was severe, especially for the purposes of the occasion;"10 but Arnold here is implicitly marking the distance between Newman's religious position and his own naturalistic humanism. Arnold follows Newman, in his conflicts with Liberalism and Dissent, more in method [~and tone than in ultimate philosophical presuppositions.
Arnold's most elaborate comment on Newman's view of Liberalism occurs in his Quarterly review of "De Maistre's Lettres et opuscules in6dits" (October 1879). Arnold considers a fictional M. Cherchemot, an extreme Liberal theorist, whose failing is not to recognize that "Things grow slowly, and in a gradual correspondence with human needs." Arnold proceeds, carefully dealing out approval and disapproval of Newman (who had been made a Cardinal in May):
Only, in their aversion to M. Cherchernot and his shallowness, Burke and Joseph de Maistre do not enough consider the amount of misinformation hamper, and stoppage, coming at last to be intolerable, to which human things in their slow process of natural growth are undoubtedly liable. They do not enough consider it; they banish it out of their thoughts altogether. Another trenchant and characteristic maxim of Joseph de Maistre, which Burke, too, might have uttered, is this: "ll faut absolument tuer 1'esprit du dixhuitème siècle" — "The spirit of the eighteenth century must be stamped out utterly." One is reminded of Cardinal Newman's antipathy to "Liberalism." And in a serious man a strong sense of the insufficiency of Liberal nostrums, of the charlatanism of Liberal practitioners, as also of the real truth, beauty, power, and conformity to nature of much in the past of which these practitioners are intolerant, is abundantly permissible. Still, when one has granted all that serious men like Joseph de Maistre and Cardinal Newman may fairly say against the eighteenth century and Liberalism, when one [137/138] has admired the force, the vigour, the acumen, the sentiment, the grace with which it is all said, one inquires innocently for that better thing which they themselves have in store for us, and then comes the disappointment. Joseph de Maistre and Cardinal Newman have nothing but the old, sterile, impossible assumption of their "infallible Church;" at which a plain man can only shake his head and say with Shakespeare, "Here is no such thing!"
It cannot be too often repeated: these eminent individualities, men like Burke, or Joseph de Maistre, or Cardinal Newman, are by no means to be taken as guides absolutely. Yet they are full of stimulus and instruction for us. We may find it impossible to accept their main positions. But the resoluteness with which they understand the prevailing ideas of their time, the certainty with which they predict the apparition of something different, are often a proof of their insight. Whatever we may think of Ritualism, its growth and power prove Cardinal Newman's insight in perceiving that what he called Liberalism, but what we may perhaps better describe as the mind of Lord Brougham, was in general, and in the sphere of religion more particularly, quite inadequate, and was not destined to have things for ever its own way. [ELR, p, 218]
The reference to Brougham indicates that this is a further qualification of Newman's severe position in "The Tamworth Reading Room." Arnold is acknowledging that his discipleship is fundamentally negative: as he had also said in Culture and Anarchy, the meaning and long-range success of the Oxford Movement was its indictment of Liberalism as, especially in religion, "inadequate"; but at bottom " Tory" thinkers like Burke, de Maistre, and Newman have unacceptable main positions, their chief positive virtue being their ability to stand against the triumphant Liberalism of the age and to project a faint vision of the future beyond Liberalism-presumably a reconciling vision, and presumably extending beyond their actual rather negative Toryism. and traditionalism. Whatever that future may be, it cannot be given to us by men who, almost perversely, continue to press the "old, sterile, impossible" claims of the Catholic system.
Last modified 27 March 2002