When John Henry Newman revised the Apologia pro vita sua in 1865 for publication as a book, he replaced the original parts I and II of his text, "Mr. Kingsley's Mechod of Disputation and True Mode of Meeting Mr. Kingsley," with a brief summary of the events that had occasioned rhe work. In his original response to Kingsley, published serially from 21 April to 2 June 1864, Newman had begun by confronting the charges against him, referring directly to the accusation that he had denied truth to be a virtue for its own sake and refuting as well the implicit charge that he had acted with deceit during his years as an Anglican priest. In his revision, however, he chose to omit specific details of rhe controversy and emphasize instead his intellectual and spiritual development. "He {Kingsley} asks what I mean," Newman generalized, "not about my words, not about my arguments, not about my actions, as his ultimate point, but about that living intelligence, by which I write, and argue, and act."1 Accordingly, Newman decided that rhe Apologia should give the "true key" to his lire, in order to "show what I am, that it may be seen what I am not"; "I mean to be simply personal and historical: I am not expounding Catholic doctrine" (11-13).

Given this emphasis upon the "personal" and "historical" nature of the account, this desire to interpret a "living intelligence" to a public [93/94] audience, one could hardly ask for a more explicit declaration of autobiographical intention. The alteration of the title, moreover, from the original Apologia pro vita sua to the History of My Religious Opinions suggests an attempt to make the work's intention as a Spiritual autobiography clear, the combination of "history" and "religious opinions" signaling two fundamental elements of the genre.2 Yet in critical discussions of the Apologia the misconception still lingers that, in some fundamental way, the work is not a true autobiography. This assumption may be stated explicitly, as in Robert A. Colby's comment that the Apologia is generically a "fusion of theological disputation, epic, and biography" or in Martin A. Svaglic's that the work, lacking details of Newman's family life, student activities, and intellectual interests, is thus neither "the autobiography of Newman from 1841 to 1845," nor 'even a spiritual autobiography of those years except in a limited sense."3 More frequently, the assumption remains implicit, nonetheless controlling critical analyses of the work that rely on the terminology of other literary genres, including the epic, the drama, or the novel.4

The circumstances under which the Apologia was published certainly add to the suspicion that the work is not an autobiography in the usual sense: rather than the calm, retrospective account of the traditional autobiographer, Newman's work was dashed off in seven weekly installments to counter a public attack. Yet despite the generic misconceptions of its readers, and despite the circumstantial evidence of publication, the Apolngia is a classic example of the spiritual autobiography—indeed, the culminating English example. Newman's motivation for composing the work, and hence his rationale tor handling his materials, are characteristic of autobiography as a genre; as he states in the 1865 preface, lie intends not only to "draw out, as far as may be, the history of my mind," but also to "give the true key to my whole life" (12). More important, the works to which Newman responds consciously as he shapes his personal history are models of the spiritual autobiography in not one tradition, but two: the first, a Protestant tradition that informs English autobiography generally; the other, an Augustinian and Catholic tradition that Newman re-introduced to the Victorians. [94/95]

Newman's goal as autobiographer is to negotiate successfully between these two traditions. And he uses the conventions of both to shape his argument, as well as to define the specific problem he faced as a Catholic autobiographer writing within an English generic tradition that was inseparable from its Protestant theological origins and that imposed its conventions upon his process of self-composition and self-interpretation.

Decorated initial W

hen Newman wrote the Apologia, the dominant form of selfwriting in England was the spiritual autobiography, descended, as we have seen, from accounts such as John Bunyan's Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners and continued by Methodists and evangelicals such as George Whitefield, John Newton, William Cowper, and Thomas Scott. Newman was familiar with this tradition of spiritual autobiography, particularly in its evangelical manifestations. In the opening pages of the Apologia, he refers to Thomas Scott as "the writer who made a deeper impression on my mind than any other, and the man to whom (humanly speaking) I almost owe my soul," and he cites Scott's autobiography. The Force of Truth, not simply as a book he possessed, but as a book he "had been possessed of" since his boyhood (17). Moreover, in an autobiographical memoir written in 1874 to supplement the Apologia, and thus to supply the details of his evangelical phase at Oxford, Newman refers specifically to Scott's The Force of Truth, Beveridge's Private Thoughts, and Doddridge's The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul as crucial influences. These seminal works of English evangelical thought, he notes, "had sheltered and protected him in his most dangerous years" and "brought him on in habits of devotion till the time came when he was to dedicate himself to the Christian ministry."5

If Newman was familiar with the standard works of English Protestant spiritual autobiography, he also knew intimately the pattern of conversion they represented. In the supplementary memoir of 1874, Newman tells of a private memorandum written years before, in 1821, in which he used these standard autobiographies, along with [95/96] scriptural texts, to draw up "an account of the evangelical process of conversion" (80). His description of the stages in the process—'conviction of sin, terror, despair, news of the free and full salvation, apprehension ofChrisc, sense of pardon, assurance of salvation, joy and peace, and so on to final perseverance"—reads like an outline for a classic spiritual autobiography. Indeed, it might have been taken directly from Philip Doddridge's The Rise and Progress which, although not an autobiographical work per se, attempts to describe the stages in a Christian's journey from sin to salvation.7

Although Newman was familiar with this tradition of spiritual autobiography, he was not experimentally knowledgeable (to use an evangelical phrase) of the intense, often violent process of conversion it described. In a footnote to the private memorandum, he observed that his own experience had nor been characteristically evangelical: "I Speak of conversion with great diffidence, being obliged to adopt the language of books. For my feelings, as far as I remember, were so far different from any account I have ever read, that- 1 dare not go by what may be an individual case." Five years later, he noted more emphatically on the same memorandum: 'I wrote juxta praescriptum. In the matter in question, viz. conversion, my own feelings were not violent, but a returning to, a renewing of, principles, under the power of the Holy Spirit, which I had already felt, and in a measure acted on, when young." Finally, when he wrote the autobiographical memoir in 1874, thirty years arrcr his conversion to Catholicism and ten years after the publication of the Apologia, he stressed again that he "had ever been wanting in those special evangelical experiences, which, like the grip of the hand or other prescribed signs of a secrer society, are the sure token of a member" (Tristram 80). The added footnotes suggest the power which "the language of books," the written tradition of spiritual autobiography, had upon Newman's way of thinking and writing about his life. He felt compelled to record three times that the evangelical pattern of experience did not represent his own, a denial of "experimental knowledge" that could scarcely have been more insistent.

Newman in fact exaggerates the exclusivity of the pattern. In the preface to The Rise and Progress, Philip Doddridge states quite clearly [96/97] that the dramatic process frequently described in spiritual autobiographies is nor the only possible form of conversion. The renewing of principles acquired in youth, which Newman describes as his own experience, resembles an alternative Doddridge explicitly suggests:

I would by no means be thought to insinuate, that every one who is brought to that happy resolution, arrives ar it through those particular steps, or feels agitations of mind equal in degree to those I have described.... God is pleased sometimes to begin the work of his grace on the heart almost from the first dawning of reason, and to carry it on by such gentle and insensible degrees that very excellent persons, who have made the most eminent attainments in the divine life, have been unable to recount any remarkable history of their conversion. [vi]

But to cite Doddridge as counterevidence is to miss Newman's motive, for it was more than a lack of personal experience that prevented Newman from writing an autobiography in the standard English mode. His Catholic theology inclined him against using literary forms, however popular, that held the stain of Protestant dogma, and the English spiritual autobiography certainly had been shaped, if not stained, by its Protestant theological origins.

The Apologia does nevertheless respond to the dominant tradition of English autobiography, both by imitating and diverging from it. Newman's model in the first two chapters is, I suggest, Thomas Scott's The Force of Truth, the autobiography of the writer who, according to Newman's testimony in the opening pages of the Apologia, "followed truth wherever it led him" and thus "planted deep in my mind that fundamental truth of religion" (17). Scott's emphasis upon truth and truth-seeking appealed in a crucial way to Newman, who had been accused of condoning falsehood in theological teaching and thus might be suspected of practicing falsehood in his autobiography. Kingsley's attack, as Newman realized, had attempted "to cut the ground from under my feet;—to poison by anticipation the public mind against me, John Henry Newman, and to infuse into the imagination of my readers, suspicion and mistrust of everything that I may say in reply to him" (6). But equally important was Scott's [97/98] variation on the pattern of conversion. Rhetorically, Newman needed a model that his readers would recognize as a legitimate form of spiritual autobiography, but not one they would associate with the common evangelical pattern of conversion.

Decorated initial W

cott's autobiography. The Force of Truth, is a modest, carefully documented account of conversion from Socinianism to evangelical Christianity. Unlike the autobiographies of Bunyan and later of Cowper, Newton, and Whitefleld, all painfully introspective tales that dwell upon conviction of sin and despair of salvation, this is an eminently rational work. Scott stresses his wrestling with biblical and ecclesiastical texts, not with angelic messengers or demonic voices. "I never was taught any thing," he insists, "by impulses, impressions, visions, dreams, or revelations; except so far as the work of the Spirit, in enlightening the understanding for the reception of rhose truths contained in the Holy Scriptures, is sometimes styled revelation."10 Instead, as we saw in Chapter 1, Scott presents his conversion as the Outcome of extensive reading in the Anglican divines, begun in 1775 to shore up his defenses of Socinianism and continued until 1777, when the old theology he had "proposed co repair, was pulled down to the ground, and the foundation of the new building of God laid aright" (87).

Scott organizes his account in terms of books read and doctrines derived. An episode typically begins with a statement of what he read ("In January, 1777, I met with a very high commendation of Mr. Hooker's works"); includes a doctrine or passage that iron bled him ("I had no sooner read this passage, than I acquired such an insight into the Strictness and spirituality of the divine law,... that my whole life appeared to be one continued series of transgressions"); and concludes with an alteration he made in his religious beliefs ("Thus was I effectually convinced, that if ever I was saved, it must be in some way of unmerited mercy and grace" [45-48]). Typically, too, Scott insists upon the orthodoxy of the doctrine he has discovered. Conscious of the prejudice of Churchmen against Methodists and Dissenters, he is [98/99] careful to point out that he avoided sources not purely Anglican:

Had I at this time met with such passages in the writings of dissenters, or any of those modern publications, which under the lirand ofmethodisrical publications, are condemned without reading, if perused with invincible prejudice, I should not have thought them worth regard, but should have rejected them as wild enthusiasm. But I knew that Hooker was deemed perfectly orthodox. [51-52]

Given this extreme (inter)textuality, it seems odd that The Force of Truth should have become one of the most popular conversion narratives of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries: the book is orally a debate among theological texts. But the conversion of Socinians to a more orthodox understanding of Christian tenets, especially the doctrine of the Trinity, was a major preoccupation of evangelicals, and Scott himself, as the author of an influential commentary on the Bible, exerted a special attraction in evangelical circles like those Newman mixed with during his early days at Oxford. When Newman wrote the Apologia, however, The Force of Truth was attractive not only for its author's sake, but for the solution it provided to the problem of generic form. Scott's model allowed Newman to write within the English autobiographical tradition without acquiescing, in narrative pattern, to radical Protestant notions of conversion.

In the first two chapters of the Apologia, Newman makes his account almost exclusively a series of encounters with theological texts. Like Scott, Newman chronicles the sources of his beliefs in "The History of My Religious Opinions to the Year 1833," beginning with those he acquired from evangelical associates or writers: the need for conversion and "a definite Creed" from the Rev. Walter Mayers, one of his masters at Ealing (16); an informed belief in the Holy Trinity from the essays of Thomas Scott and Jones of Nayland (17); the doctrine of the final perseverance from the works of William Romaine (16); and a zealous anti-Romanism from Joseph Milner's History of the Church of Christ (18). He continues with the more general Anglican tenets that he learned at Oxford from tutors and friends: that of baptismal regeneration from Richard Whately (20), of tradition from Dr. Hawkins (20), of apostolical succession from the [99/100] Reverend William James (21), of analogy and probability from Butler's The Analogy of Religion (21—22), and so on throughout the first chapter. "I am all along engaged," Newman writes in explanation of his method, "with matters of belief and opinion, and am introducing others into my narrative, not for their own sake, or because 1 love or have loved them, so much as because, and so far as, they have influenced my theological views" (31-32).

Newman's emphasis on the sources of his religious opinions, to the omission of details of family and student life, has led some literary critics to exclude the Apologia from the canon of English autobiography. But it is precisely the work's omission of secular concerns and its consistent attention to the development of Newman's theological beliefs that provide the most conclusive evidence of its generic intention. In dram Abounding, for instance, Bunyan mentions his wife and her father only to explain Ins familiarity with The Plain Man's Pathway to Heaven and The Practice of Piety. Similarly, John Newton tells of his courtship and its effect upon his life only to satisy the queries of one of his patrons.15 Scott, Newman's immediate model, mentions his "increasing family" and his lack of "private fortune" in an appendix, but only to argue that his situation in life rendered a conversion to evangelicalism for personal gain improbable. The generic precedent, in other words, inclined against the mention of personal details superfluous to the development of the autobiographer's soul or intellect.

Just as Newman's method of constructing his autobiography follows Scott's model, the motives informing the method are Scott's as well: he intends to demonstrate that his religious opinions derive exclusively from orthodox Anglican theology. To The Force of Truth Scott had appended some "Observations on the Foregoing Narrative," in which he argued the validity of his conversion to evangelical Christianity on the grounds that, first, as a Socinian, he was "a most unlikely person to embrace this [evangelical] system of doctrine" and that, further, he had changed his religious beliefs "without any teaching from the persons, to whose sentiments I have now acceeded" (93,108).

) Like other evangelicals, Scott believed that anyone who disinterestedly studied the Scriptures and Anglican theology would adopt, [100/101] sooner or later, the evangelical position. Newman uses the same sort of argument implicitly throughout the Apologia to counter the prejudices of his anti-Catholic readers, on whom the allusions to Scott's autobiography and its principle of truth would not be lost. Late in his account, Newman explicitly repeats the point made in Scott's "Observations": "My opinions in religion were not gained, as the world [has] said, from Roman sources, but were, on the contrary, the birth of my own mind and of the circumstances in which I had been placed" (82). This combination of a divinely endowed mind and divinely ordained circumstances is Newman's adaptation of Scoti's argument and, indeed, a revision of the evangelical formula for conversion.

Decorated initial W

hether or not contemporary readers of the Apologia recognized the allusions to The Force of Truth, the deliberate repetition of Scott's method and argument suggests that Newman himself felt the need to engage the dominant English tradition of autobiography and shape it to his own ends. Newman records, as we have seen, that he "had been possessed of" Scott's essays and autobiography "from a boy" (17). This way of phrasing the matter suggests that Scott's work had somehow possessed the young Newman—possessed, if not his very self, at least his self-conception.

In the autobiographical tradition, prior works of the genre do somehow possess each new autobiographer's self: they determine how he views his experience, how he understands the self, how he orders the contours of his personal history. Yet if the autobiographer cannot escape the power of the generic conventions to shape his self-conception, it is equally impossible to imagine an autobiography (that is, a history of an individual self) that merely repeats the conventions. In order to write an autobiography, the autobiographer must in some way violate the generic tradition or deviate from it—and, in so doing, discover the self.

For Newman the violation of generic predecessors is a self-conscious literary act, one that extends to autobiography a technique he [101/102] had used before in arguing against evangelical critics. Newman explains it this way:

"Two can play at that," was often in my mouth, when men of Protestant sentiments appealed to the Articles, Homilies, or Reformers; in the sense that, if they had a right to speak loud, I had the liberty to speak out as well as they, and had the means, by the same or parallel appeals, of giving them tit for tat... .1 aimed at bringing into effect the promise contained in the motto to the Lyra, "They shall know the difference now." (82)

Newman calls his means in religious controversy "by the same or parallel appeals," and it describes as well his use ofThe Force of Truth. Even as he adopts Scott's model to present his own history, his method is tit for tat: a repetition of its major structural patterns (what the repetition of the consonantal t's in Newman's metaphor suggests), but with the intended effect of difference (what the variation between the vocalic em>i and em>a creates). The models and methods of rhe evangelicals are, in Newman's hands, to be turned to different ends.

Newman creates this difference in the Apologia by maintaining Scott's narrative structure, while replacing Scott's fundamental principle of interpretation with one of his own. In the closing "Observations," Scott had designated the crucial factor in his conversion as "the great influence which the study of Scriptures had in producing [the] change" (110). Men were too apt, he complained, to borrow their "schemes of divinity from other authors" or to think they possessed sufficient proof of their doctrines if they could "produce rhe sanction of some great name" (110-11, 114).18 Given his conversion to evangelicalism, Scott is thoroughly predictable in the principle he enunciates: evangelicals believed the Bible, not any ecclesiastical interpretation, to be the ultimate authority in matters of faith and practice. In contrast, Newman makes his principle as thoroughly Catholic as Scott's is Protestant. In the final exposition of his religious beliefs, "Position of My Mind since 1845," Newman assigns to the Church "the means of maintaining religious truth in this anarchical world": its judgment "must be extended even to Scripture, though Scripture be divine." The Bible itself, he allows in acknowledgment of testimonies like [102/103] Scott's, "may be accidentally the means of the conversion of individuals," but by attempting to ground religious interpretation solely in the Bible, Protestants make it "answer a purpose for which it was never intended" (188).

Newman's divergence from Scott may seem to be merely the doctrinal divergence of a Catholic from an evangelical Protestant. But it involves much more than a rejection of an evangelical tenet that Newman had earlier held. The "purpose for which it was never intended" includes a purpose to which English evangelicals put the biblical text in the writing of spiritual autobiography; their commitment to the Bible as the authority in matters of interpretation directly influenced the form and method of the autobiographies they composed. In diverging from Scott in principle, then, Newman had also to diverge in autobiographical method.19

Decorated initial I

n writing spiritual autobiography, English Protestants from Bunyan through Newton, Cowper, and Scott had depended upon the hermeneutic method of biblical typology. Bunyan justified the publication ofGrace Abounding, as we have seen, by treating the wanderings of the Israelites as prefigurarive of his own experiences and Moses' record of these events as prefigurative also. His use of scriptural texts had been necessary for his own autobiographical act: as Sacvan Bercovitch has observed for American Puritan writers, without the biblical model the writing of autobiography would have been impossible, its goal being not to proclaim the self but, as for Bunyan, to efface it, to "dissolve [it] into the timeless pattern of spiritual biography" (15). Bunyan's use of the Exodus had, in turn, a profound effect upon the tradition of spiritual autobiography that followed. As history made literary classics of Grace Abounding and The Pilgrim's Progress, and as the latter became what might be called a prospectus for any man's autobiography, subsequent autobiographers came to follow the narrative patterns and system of interpretation that Bunyan had introduced.

A generation after Bunyan, the Quaker Alice Hayes described her [103/104] spiritual experiences just as Bunyan had—as a repetition of "the Miscery [of} what Israel of old passed through, while in Egypt's land, and by the Red Sea; and their Travels through the Deeps with their coming up on rhe Banks of Deliverance" (31). Nearly a century later, John Newton began his "Authentic Narrative" with "reflections upon that promise made to the Israelites in Deuteronomy viii,2":

"Thou shalt remember all the way, by which the Lord chy God led thee through tins wilderness." Like Hayes, Newton interpreted this text "in a spiritual sense," as "addressed to all who are passing through the wilderness of this world to a heavenly Canaan" (I, 79.). and like Bunyan, he used it and a variety of other biblical types to interpret his spiritual predicament. While enumerating the disasters he faced on board a foundering slave ship, for instance, Newton viewed himself not only as an Israelite, but as a Jonah, reproached by the captain as "the cause of the present calamity" (95-98). And Newron's sometimes mad contemporary Alexander Cruden interpreted his life using an even greater variety of types, ranging from Joseph (whose life he believed was "emblemarical and typical" (39) of his own) to Alexander the Great (after whom he titled his autobiography, The Adventures of Alexander the Corrector).

The possibilities for such acts of self-interpretation were numerous, limited only by loosely defined principles of typological hermeneutics and by the interpreter's imagination. It was probably the excessiveness of the evangelical imagination, displayed so frequently in spiritual accounts like Crudcn's, that made Newman shun typology as his mode of interpretation in the Apologia—that and its cause, the Protestant dependence on private judgment and on what was known in matters of biblical interpretation as rhe inspiration of the Holy Spirit."

Newman did not object to typological interpretation in itself. As an Anglican priest, he had used biblical typology in his Plain and Parochial Sermons, applying types to both individual experiences and historical events.25 As a Catholic autobiographer, he might legitimately have continued a method that had originated in Patristic hermeneutics, one that even Augustine had used in the Confessions. In the nineteenth century, however, typology was so intricately bound to the tradition of the evangelical conversion narrative that Newman [104/105] I could not have used it without seeming to acquiesce in the theology with which it was associated. Newman had once spoken of his evangelical years ar Oxford as "a type of Protestantism": zeal, earnestness, resolution, without a guide; effort without a result." They were "a pattern instance of private judgment and its characteristics (Memoir 53). Surely he had no desire to propagate in the Apologia a pattern of private interpretation he had rejected as insufficient for his life.

Biblical allusions, then, because of their associations with evangelical spiritual autobiography, do not dominate the text of the Apologia, and those that do appear are not typological in intention. When Newman compares his indecision before his conversion to Catholicism with the uncertainty Samuel felt "before 'he knew the word of the Lord,'" he uses the Old Testament character to explain a psychological state, not to establish a typological link between the prophet's life and his own. So, too, when he discusses the difficulty of keeping young disciples under control and remarks that "a mixed multitude went out of Egypt with the Israelites" (86), he intends to illustrate his predicament as leader, not to provide a pattern for the history of the Oxford Movement. Such biblical allusions (and they are few) focus upon the audience's understanding, not the autobiographer's, and in tins focus they resemble Newman's allusions to classical myths or historical events. When Newman echoes Achilles' words on returning to battle, "You shall know the difference, now that I am back again" (40), or repeats Dido's cry on her funeral pyre, "Exoriare aliquis!" he is using a classical echo to explain a predicament or to illustrate a state of mind, here his emotional state on rhe return from his Sicilian journey. These allusions, like the biblical ones, do not represent a mode of self-scrutiny or a method of autobiographical interpretation. To put it another way, the purpose of both kinds of allusions is primarily rhetorical, not hermeneutic: they involve neither a systematic approach to interpretation nor a self-conscious stance toward the interpretive act.

Decorated initial T

he most telling evidence of Newman's rejection of evangelical patterns of autobiography, however, is the absence of a specific set of [105/106] allusions: allusions to the Exodus, the biblical type fundamental to the genre. Newman had used the Exodus frequently in the verse of the Lyrica Apostolica, especially in his best-known autobiographical poem "Lead, Kindly Light." In the Apologia, however, he does not case his account as a spiritual pilgrimage, despite the fact that he wandered for years before finding his peace in the Catholic church. Quite distinctly, he avoids allusions to exile, exodus, or wilderness wandering, and substitutes an alternative method of interpretation. Newman bases this new hermeneutic on the analogy of ecclesiastical history rather than on the more characteristically evangelical correlations of biblical typology.

Because the argument of the Apologia depends upon the Anglican origin of his religious knowledge, Newman links his hermeneutic method to standard Anglican divines. In chapter I, he points out that he learned from Bishop Bull "to consider that Antiquity was the true exponent of the doctrines of Christianity" (33) and this belief, coupled with the principle of analogy that he learned from Butler, prepares for the view of ecclesiastical history that eventually leads to Rome. In chapter I, too, Newman emphasizes the "doctrine of Tradition": both Hawkins and Froude taught him, he notes, to view Tradition as the teacher and Scripture as the verifier of truth (20, 33). Moreover, as Newman describes his participation in the Tractarian Movement, he again points out that he found his arguments in the writings of the early Church: "my stronghold was Antiquity" (96).

Newman was, of course, as deeply influenced by Catholic sources, including Augustine, as he was by the Anglican divines he cites. But whether the influences were Anglican or Roman Catholic, the effect on the course of his life is well known. It was in reading a segment of early Church history, the fifth-century controversy between the Monophysites of Alexandria and the Chalcedonian Catholics, chat Newman came to understand the impossibility of holding the Anglican position of the Via Media. In that fifth-century controversy, he found the doctrinal and ecclesiastical issues of the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries foreshadowed: "I saw my face in that mirror, and I was a Monophysite. The Church of the Via Media was in the position of the Oriental communion; Rome was, where she now is; and the Protestants were the Eutychians" (96). [106/107]

Not all readers of the Apologia can understand how Newman reached the conclusion he did or, to continue his metaphor, how he received anything but an extremely distorted reflection from the mirror of church history. As Henry Chadwick has explained, both the Roman Chalcedonians and the African Monophysites adhered co legitimate doctrines, both positing reasonable definitions of the nature of Christ and both articulating formulae about the union of the human and divine (the Chalcedonian, "in two natures," and the Monophysite, "out of two natures" or sometimes "one nature of the incarnate Word") that were "fully orthodox in intention and fact."28 But this is to ignore Newman's perspective. For if his face and not our own reflects from the mirror of history, that is as it should be in the Apologia. For Newman, the essential issue was not one of doctrine, but of attitude and action. In the refusal of the African Church to honor the decree of the Council of Chaldedon, in its acquittal of the heretic Eutyches, and in its defiance of Leo, the Bishop of Rome—in all these acts, Newman found parallels to the acts of the Anglican Church in the modern period.

In the middle chapters of the Apologia, then, Newman introduces a new hermeneutic principle, one derived from Anglican and Patristic sources and formulated specifically for the autobiographical situation he feels compelled to understand. According to the interpretation this principle generates, ir is the Anglican Church, not the Roman, that has fostered heresy and dissension, and his own participation in the Anglican-Roman controversy, however well-intentioned, has contributed to the dissension:

What was the use of continuing the controversy, or defending my position, if, after all, I was forging arguments for Arms or Eutyches, and turning devil's advocate against the much-enduring Athanasius and the majestic Leo? Be my soul with the Saints! and shall I lift up my hand against them? Sooner may my right hand forget her cunning, and wither outright, as his who once stretched it out against a prophet of God! (97)

The basis of self-interpretation here is ecclesiastical rather than biblical. Newman equates himself with religious sects, the Arians and [107/108] Eucychians: "I was forging arguments" and "turning devil's advocate." The biblical parallels—from Psalm 137, which laments Israel's exile in Babylon, and I Kings 13, which narrates Jereboam's paralysis for opposing God's prophet—become secondary, following as rhetorical emphasis, as elaboration and verification of the truth that Tradition has authoritatively taught.

Decorated initial B

y replacing biblical with what might be termed "ecclesiastical hermeneuncs," Newman moves the Apologia away from the tradition of Bunyan and nearer that of Augustine. This movement will not be complete—nor, indeed, even figurally obvious—until the opening lines of chapter IV in which Newman invokes the Augustinian topos of the medical crisis. Before he can turn to a specifically Augustinian topos, however, Newman must undergo a generic crisis. For the movement from one tradition to another represents a matter of both uneasiness and desire—the uneasiness of a convert from Protestantism about an autobiographical method tainted by old patterns, the desire of an advocate of Catholicism for an account thoroughly orthodox in principle and method.

The uneasiness appears as Newman draws the analogy between Christendom in the fifth and nineteenth centuries. He admits surprise (even in retrospect) chat the Monophysite concrovery should have instigated his conversion:

Of all passages of history, since history has been, who would have thought of going co the sayings and doings of old Eutyches, that delirus senex, as (I think) Petavius calls him, and to the enormities of the unprincipled Dioscorus, in order to be converted to Rome! [97]

In this admission Newman virtually undermines the validity of his self-interpretation by drawing attention to inconsistencies within the original analogy: not only is Eutyches, the pro-figuration of Protestantism, a "crazy old man," but Dioscorus, the man whose position is analogous to his own, is a leader "unprincipled" in the extreme— [108/109] the very charge the Apologia seeks to refute. And if the analogy creates uneasiness, Newman seems doubly uneasy as he insists that he is not writing "controversially," but is merely telling his story, narrating the events "with the one object of relating tilings as they happened to me in the course of my conversion" (97). With this statement he tries to deny that he has made any interpretation at all, at least any for which he is accountable. He claims his object to be narration — something controlled by chronology, not by autobiographical intention.29

Why should Newman write with such uneasiness? In one sense, his response typifies the uneasiness of all spiritual autobiographers who formulate interpretations upon which their souls depend. As Bunyan searches for an appropriate type in Grace Abounding, for instance, he runs through the list of possible Old Testament precursors not once, but twice, each time trying desperately to find one who, like himself, having sinned greatly after receiving God's grace, has yet been forgiven. In his Memoir William Cowper, too, is riddled with guilt about faulty interpretations he has made in the past; central to his account, as the sin that led to attempted suicide, is a failure in hermeneutics, a failure to believe in the possibility of providential interpretation. Some of Newman's uneasiness is of this general sort. Newman admits that "on occasion," when he readied new interpretations of ecclesiastical material, he felt "a positive doubt" whether "the suggestion did not come from below" (100), the same fearful thought that plagues Bunyan and Cowper.30

If Newman's uneasiness is typical of the genre, however, it is also particular to the Apologia—that is, to the Apologia as a Catholic autobiography in the English tradition. Protestant autobiographers had extended typological hermeneutics, after all, to correlate the events of biblical history with episodes in their own lives, and Newman perhaps feared that his method would simply seem a modification of theirs, one that drew on post-biblical history rather than on biblical narrative. As Martin J. Svaglic has pointed out, among the readers whom Newman felt he must reach were "his fellow Catholics," so many of whom "had begun to have doubts about him."31 It is one thing for Newman to declare that it does not matter to him "if [109/110] any Catholic says... that I have been converted in a wrong way, I cannot help that now" (157). It is another for him to demonstrate, as he composes his autobiography with a new hermeneutic method, that it does not matter. What he needs as a Catholic autobiographer is a validation of his method.

This validation Newman finds in the Augustinian sentence, "Securus judicat orbis terrarum" (98). The words themselves derive from the Contra epistolam Parmeniani (III.iv.24), a minor polemical work in which Augustine urges the Donatists, a separatist sect, to rejoin their Catholic brethren and create a unified Christian community in Africa: "The world judges with assurance that they are not good men who, in whatever part of the world, separate themselves from the rest of the world."32 But Newman's immediate source is an 1839 essay in the Dublin Review, in which Nicholas Wiseman quotes Augustine in order to argue against contemporary Anglican claims of apostolical succession. According to Wiseman, it does not matter whether the case between contemporary Catholics and Protestants is precisely the same or "so simple as that of Donatists and the Catholics of their times." Augustine's words represent "an axiom," "a golden sentence," for the Church in all ages.33

Newman calls these words "palmary" (98), associating them with a key Catholic principle of interpretation and then with Augustinian autobiography itself, and his motives suggest a desire for assurance that his uneasiness has provoked. Obviously, Newman calls the words "palmary" because he rinds in them a superior interpretation of the Donatist and Anglican controversies—and of his own situation in 1839. But he also calls them "palmary," I suspect, because they remove the necessity of self-interpretation altogether. Securus judicat orbis terrarum": with their initial stress upon "securus," the words signal Newman's primary need for assurance, for certain judgment, for reliable interpretation. The Augustinian principle avoids the ambiguity of historical circumstances and the uneasiness of the interpreter, ecclesiastical or autobiographical, who musr understand them. The simplicity appeals. Newman concludes that the words "decided ecclesiastical questions on a simpler rule than than of Antiquity; nay, St. Augustine himself was one of the prime oracles of Antiquity.... What a light was hereby thrown upon every controversy in the Church!" (98, italics mine).

In this principle, articulated by the great Catholic divine of antiquity and repeated by a leading English Catholic of the nineteenth century, Newman finds validation for his use of ecclesiastical history in the Apologia. He recalls that Augustine's words struck him "with a power which I never had felt from any words before." They were "like the Tolle, lege,—Tolle, lege,' of the child, which converted St. Augustine himself" (98-99). The allusion co the unprecedented power of the Augustinian sentence revokes the power that Scott's text once had over Newman: he is no longer "possessed of" The Force of Truth. And the association of the Augustinian principle with the Confessions itself is crucial, for it supplies the autobiographical authority that Newman otherwise lacks. In this passage Newman effectively transfers the Apologia from an English Protestant tradition to a Catholic literary form, distinct from that tradition and chronologically prior to it. By the end of the third chapter he has prepared the way for an Augustinian version of the spiritual autobiography.

Decorated initial A

ugustine's Confessions has frequently been cited as a seminal work in the tradition of spiritual autobiography, but in the English tradition before Newman its formal influence was, in fact, negligible. English autobiographers might have read the Confessions in the original Latin or in a seventeenth-century translation by Tobias Matthew or William Watts, but they made little attempt, as Karl J. Weinraub has argued, to imitate its figural motifs or larger formal structure.34 It was Newman who re-introduced the Confessions to the English reading public through the editions of the Church Fathers he sponsored,35 and it was Newman, too, who through the Apologia reminded English autobiographers of the Augustinian figures and form they might use as alternatives to Bunyanesque patterns. Newman's version of an Augustinian autobiography takes shape in chapters IV and V through a repetition of two characteristic Augustinian figures—the deathbed motif of chapter IV and the elegiac closure of [111/112] chapter V—and, more generally, through an adaptation of the multiple forms of confession that organize Augustine's work and inform Newman's final statement of faith.

Chapter IV of the Apologia opens with Newman, as he puts it, "on my death-bed, as regards my membership with the Anglican Church" (121). This scene repeats the Confessions, book VI, which begins with Augustine bodily in Milan, under the tutelage of St. Ambrose, but spiritually still in Africa, in a srate of "grievous peril, through despair of ever finding truth" (79) To describe this state, Augustine introduces two figures: that of a dead man on his bier and that of a sick man on his deathbed. My mother "bewailed me as one dead," he begins, "carrying me forth upon the bier other thoughts, that Thou mightest say to the son of the widow. Young man, I say unco thee, Arise." A few 'sentences later, the figure alters: "she anticipated most confidently that I should pass from sickness unto health, after the access, as it were, or a sharper fit, which physicians call 'the crisis.'" (79-80). The figures originate in Luke 7:11-18, where Christ comes upon a funeral procession from the city of Nain and raises a dead man, "the only son of his mother," from Ins bier. For Augustine, the biblical account of a bodily resurrection lias come to stand for the spiritual regeneration of all Christians and, here, of himself as autobiographer. Augustine the protagonist may seen to be on his deathbed-cum-bier, but Augustine the autobiographer knows that his state is one of crisis-cum-conversion.

For Newman, the figures of deathbed and bier provide a crucial strategy: they reveal and they avoid. The figures explain why his actions seemed so erratic during the period 1841—45, wavering between Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism and going in both directions (and no direction) at once: "A death-bed has scarcely a history; it is a tedious decline, with seasons of rallying and seasons of falling back;... it is a season when doors are closed and curtains drawn, and when the sick man neither cares nor is able ro record the Stages of his malady. I was in these circumstances, except so far as I was not allowed to die in peace" (121). But the figures also avoid the stain of evangelicalism, the language of the Protestant conversion experience. As images of disease and debilitation, they provide an [112/113] alternative to the trope of wandering in the wilderness, and except for them, Newman's account might sound at this point like countless other evangelical conversion narratives. Instead of "seasons of rallying and seasons of falling back," the text might have read, for example, "periods of forging ahead and periods of losing my way"—as, indeed, out of habit, I used the more traditional spatial metaphor of wandering, adopting it implicitly in the phrase "going in both directions (and in no direction) at once."

The figures of deathbed and bier are crucial in another way: they allow Newman to interpret his Anglican past with both truth and race. As Newman understood very well, the moment of "crisis" described in the Confessions was the moment of transition from Manicheanism to Roman Catholicism. As a Manichee, Augustine had been a heretic; as neither Manichee nor Catholic, his state was one of spiritual death. Once rescued from death, Augustine recognized the errors of the Manichean doctrines and the soundness of Catholic teaching; "with joy I blushed," he confesses, "at having so many years barked not against the Catholic faith, but against the fictions of carnal imaginations" (82). By adopting the Augusrinian figures, Newman passes judgment on his defense of the Via Media and on many of the doctrines he held previously, recognizing them in retrospect as heresy, as a source of spiritual death. But of course the word heresy is never invoked.

What follows in chapter IV of the Apologia is modeled on books VI and VII of Confessions. For Newman, as for Augustine, the transition from death to life involves a recognition of error and a confession of Catholic truth. The first half of the chapter (1841—43) describes the recognition, with the shattering of the Via Media as a tenable system. Like Augustine in book VI, Newman cannot yet embrace Roman Catholicism; he quotes a letter in which he had explained to a Catholic acquaintance, "That my sympathies have grown towards the religion of Rome I do not deny; that my reasons ^shunning her communion have lessened or altered it would be difficult perhaps to prove" (150). The second half of the chapter (1843-15) makes the confession, beginning with a formal retraction "of all the hard things which I had said against the Church of Rome" (158). Again like Augustine, who had [113/114] condemned the Catholic faith for what were in fact his own misconceptions, Newman traces the steps that led him to accept all the Church's teachings, including chose on the Blessed Virgin and the Saints that had initially been a stumbling block: "this I know full well now, and did not know then, that the Catholic Church allows no image of any sort, material or immaterial, no dogmatic symbol, no rite, no sacrament, no Saint, not even the Blessed Virgin herself, to come between the soul and its Creator. It is face to face, 'solus cum solo,' in all matters between man and his God" (154). With this confession, the dead man has been raised from his bier, an Augustinian pattern has replaced a Protestant one, and Newman is free to complete his autobiography in a Catholic mode.

This completion involves a second repetition of the Confessions in the elegiac inscription that closes the Apologia. Instead of concluding with a Pisgah vision, the traditional form of closure in Bunyanesque autobiography, Newman writes what he calls a "memorial of affection and gratitude" to his brother priescs of the Birmingham Oratory. Just as Augustine's text in book IX creates a substitute for the burial marker that his mother, who died in Ostia, was never ro have in her Numidian homeland, so the text of the Apologia carves the priests' names on the page in upper-case letters and their deeds beneath them in epitaphic clauses:

AMBROSE ST. JOHN, HENRY AUSTIN MILLS,
HENRY BITTLESTON, EDWARD CASWALL.
WILLIAM PAINE NEVILLE, and HENRY IGNATIUS DUDLEY RYDER [:]
who have been so faithful to me;
who have been so sensitive of my needs;
who have been so indulgent of my failings;
who have carried me through so many trials;
who have grudged no sacrifice, if I asked for it;
who have been so cheerful under discouragements of my causing;
who have done so many good works, and let me have the credit of them;
—with whom I have lived so long, with whom I hope to die.

Newman intends to pay tribute to the priests as examples of Christian charity, just as Augustine commends his mother as an example of [114/115] Christian piety, but the choice of the elegiac here has a more complex Augustinian purpose, redemptive as well as nostalgic and rhetorical.39 Augustine closes book IX of the Confessions, the biographical account of his mother, with a hope that his readers might in prayer "remember my parents in this transitory light, my brethren under Thee our Father in our Catholic Mother, and my fellow-citizens in that eternal Jerusalem which Thy pilgrim people sigheth after from their Exodus, even unto their return thither" (151—52). Newman closes the Apold^ui with a similar prayer for redemption and reunion: "And I earnestly pray for this whole company, with a hope against hope, that all of us, who once were so united, and so happy in our union, may even now be brought at length, by the Power of the Divine Will, into One Fold and under One Shepherd" (216). The biblical metaphor has been altered, once again to mute what might be mistaken for Protestant overtones, but paradoxically even this alteration demonstrates Newman's commitment to Augustinian autobiography. The traditional Protestant form of closure concerns itself with the redemption of the individual soul; the Augustinian form recalls the communion of saints.

Despite the similarity of the prayers, however, Newman's closure is curiously different from its original, and the choice of living priests for the subjects of elegy signals the problem. In the Confessions Augustine appropriately gives life through words to the woman who gave him life through flesh. His elegy pays tribute to a woman now dead who, as he so clearly states, "brought me forth, both in the flesh, that I might be born to this temporal light, and in heart, that I might be born to Light eternal" (141-42).

Newman can write no such tribute to his mother—nor to father, brother, or sister. His mother had died before his conversion to Roman Catholicism, but that was not, of course, the obstacle. Had she lived, his conversion might very well have caused an irreconcilable breach, as it did with his sisters. More to the point, had his mother lived, Newman might never have converted. Issac Williams, his curate at St. Mary's and author of a memoir supplementary to the Apologia, suggests that Newman's mother corrected "that want of balance and repose in the soul, which [was] the malady of both [115/116] brothers" (61); once she died, her sons lost this balance, Francis taking the direction of theological rationalism and John Henry, the direction of Roman Catholicism.

If Williams is correct about the maternal influence, then the elegy that closes Newman's autobiography may be not only a conscious tribute, but also an unconscious series of substitutions. It substitutes first a memorial to his "dearest brothers of this House" for the elegy to his mother that he could nor write. In this substitution, Newman consciously brings to fruition a notion introduced in the preface — that he, like Abraham, had "left 'my kindred and my father's house' for a Church from which I once turned away with dread" (12) — and reiterated throughout the Apologia in a complex of metaphors involving the loss of home, family, and friends.43 He substitutes as well Ambrose St. John, "the link between my old life and my new,"for the many links, boch temporal and spiritual, that Augustine had to commemorate in book IX: his friend Alypius, his son Adeodatus, as well as his mother Monica, all of whom were "fellow-citizens in that eternal Jerusalem." Most significantly, Newman's elegy substitutes an apparent object of loss for the real object of loss. For it is not his brother priests (who are, after all, still alive) whom Newman mourns in this elegiac passage. Rather, it is the loss of his mother—absent from him now, perhaps absent eternally—that gives the elegiac closure of the Apologia its power.44

Decorated initial I

f the repetition of Augustinian figures allows Newman to bring the Apologia within a Catholic tradition, the repetition of a larger Augustinian form explains the final chapter, "Position of My Mind since 1845," and provides Newman with a means of reconciling a disjunction within the form of the English autobiography itself. In a seminal work on the genre, Wayne Shumaker has observed that the English autobiography, particularly in the Victorian period, is a "mixed mode": it combines exposition and narration—or, to describe it negatively, it represents something in between, a combination or an alternation of modes. Following Shumaker, most literary historians [116/117] have viewed the development of the genre as a process of purification: as the autobiography becomes self-conscious and self-assured, it moves away from exposition and toward narration; it moves closer, that is, to the novel.45 These versions of literary history assume that the most important characteristic of the genre is its factuality and the most important development, its blurring of the boundary between fact and fiction.

Newman, however, was a keener historian of the genre and a more perceptive interpreter of the disjunction between narration and exposition. He- understood the genre to be essentially hermeneutic, a category rhat supersedes the label of fiction or non-fiction. He recognized, too, that the primary concern of autobiographers had traditionally been to find an adequate hermeneutic method. Thus, the expository element was not dross to be refined, but the legitimate articulation of principles that had governed the autobiographer's interpretation of narrative all along.

This relation of narrative to exposition, of narrative to theology and philosophy, is most clear in the arrangement of the Confessions, and it is Augustine's clarity of generic intention and form that Newman brings to the final chapter of the Apologia. Augustine's narrative ends with book IX when, hearing the tolle lege of the young child, he decides to abandon his professorship of rhetoric and seek baptism at the hand of Ambrose. After the account of his conversion, the mode of the Confessions shifts radically, from the narrative of books I—IX to the exposition of X—XIII. John C. Cooper has explained this shift in terms of the two meanings of the word confessions'. Augustine engages in confessio peccati in the narrative of his life from birth to spiritual conversion; he shifts to confessio fidei in the personal reflections of book X and in the theological exposition of Genesis in books XI-XIII (42).

Although Cooper mentions only the common ecclesiastical distinction, he might also have cited evidence from the Confessions itself. In book VII, Augustine anticipates the distinct forms that his work will embody as he considers the value of past experience:

Upon these [false books] Thou therefore willedst that I should fall, before I studied Thy Scriptures, that it might be imprinted [117/118] on my memory how I was affected by them; and that afterwards when my spirits were tamed through Thy books, and my wounds touched by Thy healing fingers, I might discern and distinguish between presumption and confession; between rhose who saw whither they were to go, yet saw not the way, and the way that leadeth not to behold only but to dwell in the beatific country. [112]

The key distinction, as my emphasis suggests, is between presumption and confession. It would be presumptuous for anyone to write an exposition of doctrine, to make a confessio fidei, before undergoing personal experiences that teach the truth of Christian doctrine.48 Such an exposition would be mere presumption or assumption, a statement made before the fact or without the facts. For Augustine, in other words, experiential confession comes first; doctrinal confession, second. Hence the arrangement of the Confusions, with the narrative books preceding the expository.

Ne-wman observes this Augustinian arrangement in the Apologia by i-k'railing the process of his conversion in chapters I—IV and then systematically setting forth his theological beliefs in the "Position of My Mind since 1845." The tirsc line of the final chapter announces the cessation of narrative: "From the time I became a Catholic, of course I have no further history of my religious opinions to narrate" (184, italics mine). Like Pusey's translation of the Confessions, which introduces books XI—XIII with the headnote, "Augustine breaks off the In story of the mode whereby God led him to holy Orders, in order to 'confess' God's mercies," Newman's self-announcement signals a breaking off. He concludes the historical narrative in order to begin a confession of the "Creed of the Church" (185).

That Newman includes an explicit defense of Catholics who hold the creed against Protestants who charge deceit and hypocrisy in no way lessens the Augustinian impact. One obstacle to faith prior to Augustine's conversion, an obstacle implanted and then nurtured by the Manichees, was the Church's teaching on creation. Augustine's exposition of Genesis I in books XI—XIII represents, in this context, a confession of faith and a renunciation of former heresy, as well as a [118/119] direct defense of Catholic doctrine against its contemporary critics. If Newman's defense in chapter V addresses accusations of deceit and dishonesty, it is because they were, like the Manic luan perversions of the fourth century, the pressing issues of his clay. Just as the narrative of chapters I—IV answers charges of personal dishonesty, the exposition of the creed answers the more general Protestant charge that the Catholic church sanctions—and even encourages—deceit.

Newman's transition from narration to exposition at the end of the Apologia thus recognizes the formal mixture that had traditionally marked autobiography as a genre. More important, it represents an attempt to make the theological implications of narrative absolutely clear. At the conclusion of Grace Abounding, Bunyan had appended a list of "seven abominations in my heart" and seven good things that "the Wisdom of God doth order"—fourteen theological truths that his experience had taught him (102-03). Thomas Scott, too, had added his "Observations," some of which, like the influence of prayer or the study of Scripture, made doctrinal assumptions. But neither Bunyan nor Scott was self-conscious as an aurobiographer about the relation between the narrative he was presenting and the theology he espoused; indeed, Scott seems to assume that he has told his story in The Force of Truth "straight," uninfluenced by his theology (92-136). With the Apologia, the autobiography becomes self-conscious as a genre: it realizes its hermeneutic intention. By formally distinguishing between the two modes of autobiography, Newman paradoxically re-integrates them and, in the re-integration, reflects upon the hermeneutic enterprise on which both narrative and theology depend. [119/120]


Victorian Web Genre and Style Literary Technique Autobiography next

Last modified 10 February 2014