Chapter VII. "Rambler," New Series, 1859-1860

Josef L. Altholz, Professor of History, University of Minnesota


Chapter seven of the author's The Liberal Catholic Movement in England: The "Rambler" and its Contributors, 1848-1864, which Burns and Oates (London) published in 1962. It has been included in the Victorian Web with the kind permission of the author, who of course retains copyright.

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decorated initial 'N' EWMAN's editorship had accomplished one thing: it had preserved the "Rambler" for Acton and Simpson. Newman gave up the Rambler as quietly as he had taken it, making no public announcement of the fact, for as Newman wrote to Simpson, "I have refused all along to recognize any change of Editors" (29 June 1859, Newman MSS). He continued to serve as an unofficial adviser and occasional contributor. It was some time before his resignation became generally known, and meanwhile his association with the Rambler "made him for a time appear as the leader and guide of a Catholic opposition" (2 CUL Add. MS. 4988).

This popular view was not justified by the facts. Newman's continued association with the Rambler was hedged about with conditions and uncertainties. His assistance was not as great as Acton and Simpson had expected: Newman did not wish to become too much involved in the conduct of the magazine. He would, upon request, advise on the admissibility of specific articles or letters; but he refused to act as a general censor, and returned unread the proofs which the printer sent him. Newman agreed to allow his name to be associated with the Rambler as one of its patrons, but only on condition that he would be joined by other eminent priests, Döllinger, the Belgian Jesuit de Buck (one of the editors of the Acta Sanctorum), and the French Oratorian Gratry. It was more important to secure their names than their assistance, and in fact only de Buck ever contributed any articles. Newman hoped that the use of their names would relieve him of some of the odium which the Rambler might incur and by giving evidence that it was under priestly supervision, increase its acceptance by the Catholic public. It is doubtful to what extent these names would have served the latter [113/114] purpose: Newman and Döllinger had already been delated to Rome, and de Buck and Gratry were eventually to be denounced. Newman was more interested in ensuring the existence of theological supervision than in the quality or repute of the supervisors. The Rambler had fallen into disfavour, Newman thought, because it had become involved in questions of theology; therefore he demanded, as another condition of his assistance, that it abstain from theology and theological allusions. It was for this reason that he welcomed the proposal to make the Rambler mainly political in its emphasis. Even though his own politics were rather different from Acton's,3 Newman urged Acton to concentrate on political articles, so as to keep the Rambler away from theology. Acton was in full agreement on the necessity for the Rambler to become "secular" and political in order to keep out of trouble (A to N, 23 June 1859, Newman MSS).

Simpson recognized the necessity of avoiding theology, but he was not happy about it. He had been trained as a minister in the Church of England, and he had not abandoned his theological interests on his conversion. It was natural for him to write in theological terms; and when Acton insisted on his abstaining from theology "he felt as if he was beginning to write for the first time" (A to N, 15 Aug. 1859, Newman MSS). Simpson was to continue on the staff of the Rambler as a proprietor and contributor; but Newman was determined that he should not share in the editing of the magazine and made it a further condition of his support that Simpson should not be sub-editor. Simpson's name would prejudice conservative Catholics against the Rambler; more important, his style of writing was bound to give offence. Newman did not disapprove of Simpson's theology in itself, but rather of his habit of making theological allusions and writing on theology without revision or censorship by a priest. "I have the greatest opinion of Simpson as an able and honest man, and sincere gratitude for the way in which he has ever spoken of myself; but I deliberately thought [114/115] him unfitted for the office of conductor of a work which was necessarily exposed to such jealous criticism" (N to A, 20 June 1859, cited Ward, I, 636). Simpson unselfishly accepted the necessity of a public self-effacement, but he had no intention of relinquishing his active role as a conductor of the Rambler. A nominal sub-editor might be appointed to satisfy Newman and the Catholic public, but he desired to do the work himself (S to N, 8 July 1859, Newman MSS). The nominal subeditorship was suggested by Acton (A to S, July 1859, Gasquet, p. 75).

Newman, however, insisted that the sub-editorship should not be a sinecure, but should be filled by some responsible person. Acton could not edit the Rambler without assistance. His responsibilities as a member of Parliament, his active social life, and his frequent travels on the Continent would prevent him from exercising continuous supervision over the conduct of the magazine. In fact, Acton left at the beginning of September 1859 on a Continental journey which was to keep him abroad until the beginning of 1860. If an active sub-editor. could not be found, Simpson would necessarily be left in charge of the Rambler.

To avoid this, Newman busied himself in finding a subeditor. His choice fell on a young convert, Thomas F. Wetherell. Wetherell, an Oxford graduate, had been converted in 1855; his conversion had cost him the loss of an inheritance and resulted in serious financial difficulties (see Wiseman to Patterson, n.d. [1855[, cited Ward, II, 191). His friends had secured him, in 1856, a post as a clerk in the War Office. In 1857, he had performed a useful service to Cardinal Wiseman. The "corporate reunion" movement, a group of Anglicans and Catholics who discouraged individual conversions in favour of remaining in the not in print version Church of England to effect its reunion as a body with the Roman Catholic Church, had made use of some early writings of Wiseman in support of its position. Wiseman arranged for Wetherell to write an article in the Dublin Review, "Catholic Unity and English Parties," to show that his writings did not support the "unionist" position and that it was [115/116] disapproved by the Church (XLIII Sept. 1857, 172-206); see als Ward, II 483. The Rambler had taken a similar position. Newman was aware of Wetherell's association with Wiseman and believed that this would provide a safeguard against the Rambler's getting itself into further trouble with the hierarchy. Newman knew, also, that Wetherell's main interests were political: he had written, in Newman's first issue of the Rambler, an article against the policies of Napoleon III. Newman, himself favourable to Napoleon, knew that Acton was opposed to him and thought that this would make Wetherell a congenial sub-editor. Wetherell had briefly acted as editor of the Weekly Register during Henry Wilberforce's absence earlier in the year, but a disagreement with Wilberforce left him free to join the staff of the Rambler.

Actually, Newman knew rather little of Wetherell. At first a not in print version Tory, Wetherell was a great admirer of not in print version Gladstone and had followed him into the Liberal camp (A to Gladstone, I Jan. 1867, BM Add. MS. 44093 ff. 55-58) He supported the cause of Italian nationalism and had proposed in 1857 to dedicate to Gladstone a translation of Gualterio's Gli ultimi rivolgimenti italiani (Wetherell to Gladstone, 7 Sept. 1857, BM Add. MS. 44388 ff. 157-58). He Could not, however, secure a publisher. In both home and foreign politics, Wetherell's position was more advanced than that which Acton was then ready to take. Newman was unaware that he was introducing onto the staff of the Rambler one who might lead it further into opposition to Rome; he was interested only in keeping Simpson out of the sub-editorship by putting Wetherell in.

Acton was willing to have Wetherell as sub-editor: "We want him for show and we want him to help us: (A to S, 10 Aug. 1859, Downside MSS). Wetherell, however, was reluctant to be associated with the Rambler, about whose conductors he knew little and with whose previous conduct he did not sympathize. He was afraid of getting himself into a false position by associating with it: "I should dislike to find myself involved in a sort of systematic antagonism to established authorities and prejudices" (W to N, 2 Aug. 1859, Newman MSS). [116/117] Wetherell stated that he would be reassured about the Rambler provided Newman retained a connection with it and could assure him that its policies would not be hostile to the general opinions of the English Catholics. Newman wrote back: "I think you will find yourself able to give your confidence to Sir John Acton, the editor. I am sure he wishes to keep clear of what is likely to give offence to Catholics, and has no wish to make the Rambler the organ of a party" (Gasquet, liii). This removed Wetherell's doubts, and, after some further persuasion by Acton and Simpson, he agreed to become subeditor.

Acton stated the principles on which he would conduct the Rambler in a letter to Northcote: "peace among Catholics; for Protestants of good will a golden bridge; polemics to be directed chiefly against freethinkers" (A to Northcote, 28 Aug. 1859, cited Gasquet, p. 85n). The motto which he eventually selected for the Rambler, at DbIlinger's suggestion, was Seu vetus est verum diligo, sive novum (I seek the truth, whether it is old or new). Acton accepted Newman's advice to emphasize politics, because it appeared to be a less sensitive subject than theology and also because there was much useful work to be done in that field: "The great point is to open men's minds-to educate them-and to make them logical.... If you make them think in politics, you will make them think in religion" (N to A, 9 Aug. 1859, Woodruff MSS.). Acton's first issue, September 1859, was predominantly (though not exclusively) political. Newman was pleased with it: "The whole number seems to me a good one-and quite inoffensive-though there are persons who can make anything a difficulty" (17 N to A, 6 Sept. 1859, Newman MSS). It also received "a flamingly favourable notice" in the Saturday Review (S to A, 4 Nov. 1859, Woodruff MSS).

The most important article in the issue was one by Simpson on English parties, with reference to the political conduct of Catholics. While there was little to choose from between Liberals and Conservatives, Simpson said, the two parties were necessary to the parliamentary system and balanced [117/118] and complemented each other. Catholics should not form a party of their own, but should join one of the existing parties. There were no essential political differences between Catholics and Protestants which warranted the formation of a distinctively Catholic party, and it was the duty and interest of Catholics to remove all religious passions from the political sphere: Simpson thus argued in "The Theory of Party," "The separation of religion from politics can do no harm to the Catholic mission in England" (I Sept. 1859, 347). Catholics sought only the redress of particular grievances and disabilities and for this they should work through the existing parties rather than risk an outbreak of anti-Catholic prejudice by forming one of their own. These arguments of Simpson were so close to Acton's views that, when Acton was credited with the authorship of the article, he did not disclaim it.

Simpson's article had a special reference to the actual political situation of the English Catholics. Their traditional alliance with the Whigs had been broken, and it could not be restored because of the Italian policy of Palmerston and Gladstone, which menaced the existence of the States of the Church. The Catholics had for a time flirted with a policy of "independent opposition"; but this had become entangled in the snares of Irish politics and had collapsed by 1859. Attracted by the promises of Derby and Disraeli to redress Catholic grievances, Wiseman had given his support to the Tory government in 1858 and 1859. Catholic support helped the Tories win a majority of the Irish seats in 1859, but it did not help them in the election generally, as the Liberals won a narrow majority. Only three English Catholics were elected, two of them -- Acton and Sir George Bowyer -- for Irish constituencies. Nearly all the Catholic members, Irish and English, were nominal Whigs, but few had any genuine allegiance to the party. With parties so delicately balanced, there was much temptation for the Catholic members to organize themselves into an independent group, shifting their support from one party to the other as might best serve Catholic interests.

The danger to the Pope's Temporal Power after the [118/119] Italian War of 1859, and the support given by the government to Italian nationalism, affected the position of the Catholic members. Wiseman, still sympathetic, with the Tories., encouraged Bowyer, his spokesman in Parliament, to embarrass the government at every opportunity. Acton opposed this policy. Although he distrusted Palmerston and Gladstone and opposed the government's Italian policies, he rejected the notion that Catholic members should oppose the Liberal government as a matter of general policy, merely because they disagreed with it on particular matters of Catholic interest. "It is a precarious experiment," the Rambler warned, "for Catholic members of Parliament to exhibit themselves professionally as mere Catholics instead of English or Irish statesmen and gentlemen" (345). Catholic members should be guided, not by the immediate interests of their Church, but by the political principles which they shared with all Englishmen.

Acton was not an especially prominent member of Parliament. Henry Wilberforce told Gladstone that "his religion and that alone excludes him from all chance of political distinction."10 It was his religion which determined the course of Acton's Parliamentary career, despite his differences from the other Catholic members. He confined his activity to issues of Catholic interest: Catholic schools, the legalization of bequests for Catholic charities, and the provision of chaplains for Catholics in workhouses and prisons. Perhaps because of his connection with Granville Acton preferred to negptiate privately for concessions rather than to make speeches and present petitions. For this reason he rarely spoke in Parliament-only three times in seven years.

When the session of Parliament ended in September 1859, [119/120] Acton went abroad and was therefore unable to take part in the preparation of the November issue of the Rambler. The issue was to be edited by Wetherell, but he found himself overworked at the War Office, where he had charge of the Volunteer movement. The result was that Simpson was practically left in charge of the magazine, with only a very general supervision by Wetherell. On Acton's advice, Simpson had begun to write frequently for the Weekly Register and the Correspondant; but his main interest was still the Rambler and he had no hesitation in accepting the unexpected opportunity to edit it again. Newman was not told about this: "He so fears my want of prudence that I doubt if he would have his articles published in a number for which I alone was practically responsible" (S to A, 27 Aug. 1859, Woodruff MSS.).

Simpson had prepared an article on toleration, which he admitted that Newman would probably dislike, because it would necessarily deal with controversial topics; this prompted Acton to some remarks about Simpson's perverse ingenuity" and the "Perilous ardour" of his pen (A to S, 28 Aug. 1859, Gasquet). Acton feared that Simpson would make some references to the possibility of an episcopal censorship over the Rambler However, when he saw Simpson's draft of the article, he liked it, and even wanted it to be published as "editorial," an honour which Simpson declined (S to N, 22 Oct. 1859, Newman MSS). Newman had contributed an article on St. Chrysostorn for the November issue, and when the proofs were sent to him in mid-October, he saw on the back of them the first page of Simpson's article on toleration. It contained a criticism of Pope Gregory XVI's condemnation of Lamennais in the encyclical Mirari vos, and seemed to revive the controversy about "the famous questions which he made so much excitement with, several years ago, in the article about the future state of Non-Catholics" (N to A, 24 Oct. 1859, cited Ward, I, 506). The reference is to the letters on Original Sin in 1855-56. Newman did not object to the theology of the article itself: "I should myself hold your conclusions under correction of the Church -- but in working them out I cannot say for certain that you [120/121] have not run aground" (Quoted in S to A, 4 Nov. 1859, Woodruff MSS). What he objected to was Simpson's writing on theological subjects at all) and especially his doing so without submitting to revision by a priest: "My immediate and critical difficulty with that article was ... that, wherever theological, it had not been submitted to any censor. I have never made anything but the censorship a sine qua non, and that rule I have ever observed myself (N to A, 20 Feb. 1860, Woodruff MSS).

Newman wrote to Simpson to ask if the article had been submitted to censorship. Simpson said it had not, and sent Newman the proofs. Newman declined to revise it himself, but wrote back: "If the new article on Toleration appears in the Rambler without a bona fide revision, I must ask you to be so good as not to publish mine" (N to S, 24 Oct. 1859, cited in Ward, I, 506). He later explained that "I could not, consistently with my understanding with the Bishop or my responsibilities as head of the Oratory, let any writing of mine appear with a theological article which had not had revision" (18 N to A, 20 June 1860, Woodruff MSS). This ultimatum placed Simpson in a difficult position'. The November Rambler was already in print, and was to be distributed within the week; it would be difficult to recast it without the article on toleration. On the other hand, it was still considered necessary to keep Newman's goodwill for the Rambler, and Simpson had no wish to offend him. Simpson therefore suppressed his article on toleration.

Simpson was unhappy and somewhat embittered about the incident. He still revered Newman and told him that " . . . I had rather suppress it, than carry it on against your deliberate judgment, whatever pain it may give me to destroy it" (S to N, 27 Oct. 1859, Newman MSS.). but he resented Newman's last-minute ultimatum to the Rambler. He insisted that the article was not theological, but rather dealt with the mixed area between theology and politics. "It seems to me that it is just on -that debateable land between theology proper and life that we are called on to debate. If we may not, it would be better to give up all pretence of Catholic [121/122] literature at once" (S to A, 4 Nov. 1859, Woodruff MSS). It appeared to him that Newman's prohibition against theology was unlimited in extent:

If I am not to meddle with education because it is the question which the bishops decide upon, the same rule will apply to politics, for they are certainly prescribing opinions and actions.... Where is that indifferent common ground on which I may expatiate, when you deny altogether ... the indifference of any secular functions at all? [S to A, 4 Nov. 1859, Woodruff MSS]

Even the cautious Wetherell had not supposed "that anything so obvious could possibly give offence" (S to N, 25 Oct. 1859, Newman MSS). But Newman maintained that the article "would simply have dished US" (N to A, 24 Oct. 1859, Woodruff MSS). and regretted that Simpson could not keep clear of theology.

Newman later said that he was "all along in a state almost of hostility to Simpson."34 It seemed to him that neither Acton nor Wetherell was fulfilling the duties of the editorship, and that, "after all that had been said, Simpson was Editor" (N to A, 20 June 1860, Woodruff MSS.).35 Simpson assured Newman that he had only served in an emergency as Acton and Wetherell's delegate, and that such an occasion would not arise again; but Newman was suspicious of Simpson's intentions and believed that he was using Wetherell's name to conceal his own editorship. He wrote to Wetherell "to say that I could not let my name be longer associated with the Magazine, while its arrangements were so incomplete" (Ibid). From this time, although he continued to contribute to the Rambler and to advise its editors, Newman assumed a position external to it and acted more as a critic than as a collaborator.

When Simpson's article was withdrawn, it was necessary to replace it with another article, a review of not in print version John Stuart Mill's essay On Libery by Thomas Arnold, Jr., the convert son of the headmaster of Rugby. Arnold's article also dealt [122/123] with the subject of toleration, but its tone was political rather than theological. While he did not accept Mill's rationalist viewpoint, Arnold gave a general adherence to his criticism of persecution. In the existing state of European civilization, persecution would do more harm than good. "Once for all, coercion is an educational instrument which Western Europe has outgrown; and the citizens of her commonwealth are all bound to assume, and must be permitted to assume, the burdens and the dangers of freedom."37 The article was safe theologically, since it dealt with actual political needs rather than with doctrine; and Newman let it pass.

Simpson's acceptance of Newman's demands did not result in any improvement of the relations between Newman and the Rambler. A new difficulty soon arose. The Dublin Review, still under the feeble editorship of Bagshawe, was in a precarious condition, and the rumour became current that it was about to be discontinued. Bagshawe wrote to The Tablet denying this. In his letter he referred to Newman as if he were still editor of the Rambler. Newman felt that he could no longer keep his resignation a secret, now that it had been openly stated that he was responsible for the Rambler. "I could not in honour or in duty, after I had given up the Editorship at the Bishop's wish, allow this to pass without contradiction. Not to have denied it, would have been to have implied the affirmative" (N to A, 20 June 1860, Woodruff MSS. 3 9 Cited in Ward, I, 511). 38 Newman therefore caused the following notice to be published in The Tablet of 16 November 1859:

We are requested to state that the reference to Dr. Newman as Editor of the Rambler, contained in the recent letter of the respected Editor of the Dublin Review, which has appeared in our columns, is founded on a misconception, as Dr. Newman has no part in conducting or superintending that able periodical. [Cited Ward, I, 511]

>

The language of this notice was strictly correct, but it [>123/124] implied, what was not the case, that Newman had completely dissociated himself from the Rambler. The result was that the circulation of the Rambler, which had increased in previous months, fell by forty per cent between November andjanuary. Acton, on the Continent, was unable to believe that the notice had been authorized by Newman, as it seemed to be in contradiction to the arrangements that he had made. When he later learned that Newman had authorized the statement, Acton was very indignant (A to N, June 1860, Newman MSS).

Acton was detained in Germany by his mother's illness there, and Wetherell was still busy at the War Office; therefore Simpson had to undertake the January 1860 issue of the Rambler, despite Newman's warnings and his own reluctance to place himself again in an awkward position. Simpson kept clear of theology in the issue, which was largely political. Acton contributed two articles. One of these contained Acton's first public expression of opinion on the question of the Temporal Power of the Pope. Recent events in Italy had placed the Temporal Power in serious danger, and Catholics in all countries were called upon to take a position in favour of preserving it.

Acton also called upon Catholics to support the Temporal Power; but he did so with a difference. He regretted that many Catholics should set their religious doctrines at variance with their political ideals, and proclaimed himself an adherent of that "Ultramontanism" which

signifies the conscious harmony of all our opinions with our belief; the habit of viewing profane things through the medium of religion, and of judging them by the standard which it supplies. ["The Roman Question," Rambler, n.s., 11 (Jan. 1860), 139.]

It was unfortunate that many Catholics failed to support the Temporal Power for political reasons; but equally unfortunate was the policy of those Catholics who supported it merely because of their religion:

This line of thought is not only false, but also eminently injudicious and unsafe. It narrows the ground on which the cause can be defended. . . . It would be an act of the greatest [124/125] injustice, to deny the subjects of the Pope, on account of a religious interest which they do not consider paramount, a right which is acknowledged to belong to the rest of mankind. It is invidious to assert that the subjects of the Pope must be necessarily less free than those of other princes. Can any spiritual necessity be an excuse for so gross a political wrong"? On the contrary, the cause of the temporal power is the cause of other religions and of all other states, and it is in the interest of them all to preserve it. [140]

The Temporal Power must be defended on the same political grounds on which all other governments are defended, for "the revolution" which menaced it ultimately menaced all lawful authority. The essential question was not whether the Pope governed Rome well or badly, but whether he should continue to govern Rome at all; therefore Acton did not attempt either to conceal or to justify the defects of the Pope's government. The Temporal Power was founded on the sacred rights of property and sovereignty. It had arisen under historical conditions which made those rights the only security for the liberty of the Church, and was justified by the necessity of preserving the independence of the Pope and the freedom of the clergy. But "it is not absolutely essential to the nature and ends of the Church; it has its source in causes which are external to her. . . . It is not so much an advantage as a necessity, not so much desirable as inevitable" (149).

The politics of this article, as Acton admitted, were rather antiquatedly conservative" and Burkeian: "I am afraid I am a partisan of sinking ships, and I know none more ostensibly sinking just now than St. Peter's." But the Temporal Power could not be defended on religious grounds, for the argument from religion would raise up more enemies than friends in Protestant England and was unsound in principle: "We cannot absolutely identify an accident with the essence of the Church, and if all at once the Temporal Power goes, one would look foolish." Therefore it must be defended on political grounds, for the sake of the states Which would be menaced by "the revolution" once it had [125/126] overthrown the government of the Pope. "But who has political instruction enough to comprehend this?" (A to S, 7 Dec. 1859, Gasquet, pp. 113-14). Simpson had induced Acton to withdraw an earlier article on the subject, prepared for the September issue; Acton at that time was still unsure of his position. Acton to Döllinger (29 Sept. 1859, Woodruff MSS).

The English Catholics, it soon appeared, had not. The only arpument that appealed to them was the religious one. They had no patience with a complex argument which treated the Temporal Power as a political necessity rather than as a religious essential, envisioned the possibility of its termination and spoke of the denial of self-determination to the Roman people as a gross "political wrong." In political as in intellectual matters, Acton was out of harmony with the English Catholics.

For different reasons, the article on the Roman question also displeased Wetherell.Writing as "Sigma" in Napoleonism and its Apostolate," Wetherell supported Italian nationalism did not involve direct opposition to the Temporal Power, which he had called "the rock on which great principles of social wrong have Split" (II Nov. 1859, 86). But he could not agree with Acton's Burkeian conservatism. He thought that Acton had maintained the abstract principles of legitimism, denying the propriety of any change of government and asserting that the Temporal Power possessed a sacred quality as well as a merely political justification. He had seen little of Acton since he accepted the sub-editorship, and he was not fully acquainted with Acton's views. "In consequence of this, and of the obscurity of what he wrote in the January number, he understood him to be supporting the Temporal Power to a degree to which he was not prepared to go with him. Wetherell consequently thought it best, as his official work left him no time for discussion, to withdraw from editorial responsibility" (Gasquet, p. 115n. Gasquet consulted Wetherell before writing, and this passage may have been suggested by Wetherell). He submitted his resignation to Acton.

Acton wished to retain Wetherell as sub-editor, but for several months Wetherell refused to withdraw his resignation. In July of 1860, the misunderstanding was finally [126/127] cleared up: "as it turned out that he had not meant what I thought he had," said Wetherell later, "and that we were substantially in agreement on the subject, I willingly withdrew my withdrawal, and all went on as before" (Note by Wetherell, Downside MSS). But in fact all did not go on as before. Wetherell required Acton "to give up the right of publishing all his own opinions editorially" (W to N, 9 Aug. 1860, Newman MSS), that is, to place himself in the position of an ordinary contributor with regard to his political articles, unless Wetherell approved them. Wetherell seems to have regarded himself not as a sub-editor but as joint editor "with a full equal share of authority, responsibility and management" (Note by Wetherell, Downside MSS). Wetherell says that he had always been "co-editor" and had never accepted any other position. Yet in the letter to Newman of 9 Aug. 1860, Wetherell stated that he has "again taken the Subeditorship" (Newman MSS). There was a source of further misunderstanding here, for neither Acton nor Simpson acknowledged Wetherell's assumed status; but the difficulty did not arise for some time, as Wetherell soon learned to get along with Acton. Meanwhile Acton, who had returned to England, had edited three issues without him in the first half of 1860.

These first months of 1860 were an unhappy period for Acton. His mother died, after a long illness, in March; and personal difficulties were superimposed upon his other problems as editor and politician. The result was a transient mood of bitterness which is reflected in his correspondence with Newman.

In February, Acton went to the Birmingham Oratory to remonstrate with Newman for his apparent abandonment of the Rambler. Newman explained that he had not renounced his connection with it and differed from Simpson on the question of prudence rather than of principle. But other things were troubling Newman, Acton found. "I have never, heard him speak openly on affairs as in the bitterness of his spirit he spoke during the half-hour I was with him, and his language was-more vehement indeed-but in substance the same that I have been hearing and imbibing these nine [127/128] years from Döllinger" (A to S, 11 Feb. 1860, Gasquet, p. 117). The occasion for Newman's bitterness appears to have been the news which he had just received that his article "On Consulting the Faithful" had been delated to Rome. Because of this, he decided to suspend his contributions to the Rambler for a while.

Acton, convinced that the Rambler could not survive without Newman's assistance, talked of giving it up altogether. Newman urged him to carry it on, but to "eschew absolutely the treatment of theological questions and the theological treatment of questions" (p. 118). This Acton agreed to do, "but without any hope" (A to N, 29 June 1860, cited in Ward, I, 510). He sought to reconcile S to N and to obtain from Simpson "the comfortable assurance that in an emergency which may disable me for a time, a number can be brought out without overworking you" (A to S, 11 Feb. 1860, Gasquet, p. 119).

Acton also proposed to advance two hundred pounds to the funds of the Rambler, and an additional ten pounds per number, to pay contributors. But he was still unhappy about the situation. He had to face the continued opposition of the Dublin Review and The Tablet, and even the Weekly Register, which he had helped to revive and for which Simpson wrote regularly, failed to support the Rambler. The theologians whom Newman had proposed as censors for the Rambler were of no help. Acton had to reject a letter by de Buck for theological reasons, and Gratry offered an unacceptable paper on the difference between "Papism" and "Catholicism" of which Gratry himself said that if it were published with his name he should immediately be obliged to leave the Oratory. If even its chosen theologians could not be relied upon, the Rambler would have to avoid all discussion of the most important intellectual questions of the day. "This was a losing game" (A to N, 29 June 1860, cited in Ward, I, 570), Acton decided.

By June he was again writing despondent letters to Newman. Newman pointed out that his chief complaint against the Rambler had not been removed, for Simpson was [128/129] still doing the work of the editorship. "I am exceedingly desirous for the success of the Rambler, and to contribute to it, but I cannot., . . give my name to it (though for its talent and information it would do credit to anyone to be connected with it) unless it had a responsible Editor, and the countenance of such theologians as I have mentioned" (N to A, 20 June 1860, ibid., 636). Acton argued that he had done all that Newman required, and it still had not availed to keep the Rambler out of difficulty.

I beg of you, remembering the difficulties you encountered, to consider my position, in the midst of a hostile and illiterate episcopate, an ignorant clergy, a prejudiced and divided laity, with the cliques at Brompton, York Place, Ushaw always on the watch, obliged to sit in judgment on the theology of the men you selected to be our patrons, deserted by the. assistant whom you obtained for me, with no auxiliary but Simpson. [A to N, 29 June 1860, cited in Mathew, p. 122. "Brompton" was Faber's London Oratory; "York Place" was the residence of Cardinal Wiseman.]

This mood of bitterness did not last. Newman resumed his contributions to the Rambler, and Wetherell agreed to come back to its staff. But the high spirits with which Acton had begun his work on the Rambler were gone. The editorship of the Rambler had become a more serious task than Acton had expected.

References

Acton, Sir John. Essays on Church and State. Ed. Douglas Woodruff London, 1952.

Butler, Dom Cuthbert . The Life and Times of Bishop Ullathorne, 2 vols. London and New York, 1926.

Bokenkotter, Thomas S. Cardinal Newman as an Historian. Louvain, 1959.

Lord Acton and his Circle. Ed. Abbot Gasquet. London, 1906.

Mathew, David. Acton: The Formative Years. London, 1946.

Purcell, Edmund Sheridan. Life of Cardinal Manning, Archbishop of Westminster, 2 vols. New York, 1896.

Ward, Wilfrid. Life of John Henry Cardinal Newman. 2 vols. London, 1912.


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Last modified 8 September 2001