Chapter Three. The Onslaught on the Philistines

decorated initial aesthetic 'T'he preceding chapter drew out certain aspects of Newman's view of human nature and of the human powers that were the basis for Arnold's attraction to Newman in the eighteen-sixties. Dover Wilson some years ago suggested the outlines of Newman's more specific influence on Arnold in this decade:

the spirit of the Oxford Movement, which he associated with the traditions and beauty of the city itself, ... may be seen in everything he wrote. And but for Newman's Idea of a University it is likely that Culture and Anarchy would never have seen the light; different as the two works are in tone and in the circumstances which produced them, their hearts beat as one.... when he [Arnold] speaks of "culture" he is thinking of the "liberal education" of which Newman writes made available for the whole of England by an indefinite multiplication of non-residential Rugby schools under state supervision. [Culture and Anarchy, p. xiii.]

Oxford, the Oxford Movement, and Newman's Idea of a University are the acknowledged channels of Newman's influence upon Arnold during these years. Yet, except to study certain long-recognized similarities of style, that influence has never been examined in detail. This lack of analysis is all the more surprising because Arnold himself, while writing Culture and Anarchy, was aware that (as his letter of January 1868 indicates) Newman's "influence and writings" were "mixed up with all that is most essential in what I do and say." Newman's influence [39/40] extends far beyond a rather generalized coincidence of attitude.

The key to Arnold's renewed and intensified interest in Newman was the publication of Newman's Apologia Pro Vita Sua, which appeared in weekly pamphlets between April 21 and June 2, 1864, with an Appendix on June 16, and in book form later in June. The work would have held Matthew Arnold's fascinated attention for several reasons. First, it threw light on the man Newman, whose career Arnold had followed with great interest, and on his personal quest for religious truth. Next, there was the evocation of Oxford and its history, as well as the complex of intellectual, aesthetic, and spiritual values which Arnold habitually associated with Oxford. Further, Newman reconstructed the mood of theological debate at Oxford during the thirties and forties, in which Arnold's father had figured prominently. Again, the Apologia, appearing as it did at the precise moment of Arnold's most intensive concern over his own critical stance and tone, represented in itself a highly distinguished example of a public controversial manner. Finally, the Apologia apparently sent Arnold back to earlier writings of Newman, and increasingly through these years what can be called Newman's theory and practice of criticism becomes the model of Arnold's own critical theory and practice.

Several of these claims on Arnold's attention converge in the use to which Arnold put the Apologia in his crucial essay, "The Literary Influence of Academies," which appeared in August 1864. Arnold seems at first to introduce Newman's name obliquely, parenthetically, in order to make a minor logical point:

In a production which we have all been reading lately, a production stamped throughout with a literary quality very rare in this country, and of which I shall have a word to say presently — urbanity; in this production, the work of a man never to be named by any son of Oxford without sympathy, a man who alone in Oxford of his generation, alone of many generations, conveyed to us in his genius that same charm, that same ineffable sentiment which this exquisite place itself conveys, — I mean Dr. Newman, — an expression is frequently used which is more common in theological than in literary language, but which seems to me fitted to be of general service; the note of so [40/41] and so, the note of catholicity, the note of antiquity, the note of sanctity, and so on. [CPW, III, 244]

Only later does Arnold more directly discuss Newman's qualities: "In England there needs a miracle of genius like Shakespeare's to produce balance of mind, and a miracle of intellectual delicacy like Dr. Newman's to produce urbanity of style" (CPW, III, 250). Two major themes are sounded here — first, that Newman represents, supremely, the "charm" and the "ineffable sentiment" of Oxford; and second, that his writings display the "intellectual delicacy" and the "urbanity of style" which come close to the center of Arnold's developing definition of criticism and culture.

What should also be stressed is that the first quoted passage concerns a matter, central in Arnold, in which he closely, if implicitly, followed Newman: "I say that in the bulk of the intellectual work of a nation which has no centre, no intellectual metropolis like an academy... . there is observable a note of provinciality" (CPW, III, 244-245). Sainte-Beuve and Renan are invoked as sponsors of the ideal of "a centre of correct taste," as against pervasive English provinciality, but just as clearly it is to Newman, with his "urbanity of style," that Arnold also looks for his ideal in practice. Almost certainly Arnold would apply to the Apologia the qualities he sums up in the term "urbanity": "the tone of the city, of the centre, the tone which always aims at a spiritual and intellectual effect, and not excluding the use of banter, never disjoins banter itself from politeness, from felicity" (CPW, III, 249). Clearly, Arnold would have been very much taken by the matter and the lively manner of Newman's first two pamphlets, "Mr. Kingsley's Method of Disputation" and "True Mode of Meeting Mr. Kingsley," published on April 21 and April 28 — so lively that Newman entirely changed his tone in subsequent pamphlets, and suppressed the two sarcastic pieces in the second edition (1865) of the Apologia. (Wilfrid Ward, II, p. 18-19.) Much of Newman's attention in these two pieces was devoted to a scathing analysis of Kingsley's method of disputation" — for example, how, "By insinuation, or by [41/42] implication, or by question, or by irony, or by sneer, or by parable, be enforces again and again a conclusion which he does not categorically enunciate" (Apologia, p. 378). In one especially brilliant section Newman puts words into Kingsley's mouth ("he seems to make answer"), and has him call himself "'the immaculate lover of Truth, so observant (as I have told you) of "hault courage and strict honour," — and (aside) — "and not as this publican" ' " (Apologia, p. 377). This of course is neither banter nor politeness and cannot quite be called urbanity, although it has much of felicity. What it recalls is the Matthew Arnold of Essays in Criticism and Culture and Anarchy, providing long and devastating fictitious speeches for his opponents — whether the egregious Alderman-Colonel Wilson, or the fictitious "eloquent advocate" of the middle class who "cries": "'We are all ... Philistines together ... Let us have no nonsense about independent criticism, and intellectual delicacy, and the few and the many'," the very qualities Newman himself represented (CPW, V, 131-132; CPW, III, 276).

More substantially, the matter of a "centre of correct taste" as an antidote to "provinciality" is one that Arnold undoubtedly had seen in Newman's writings. The chief burden of "The Literary Influence of Academies" is that an academy, by providing "an authority" and 11 a standard higher than one's own habitual standard in intellectual matters," promotes Arnold's favored qualities — a quick and flexible intelligence," an urbanity not excluding banter, balance of mind, moderation, proportion, "the fitness, the measure, the centrality, which is the soul of all good criticism — and resists those enemies of the critical spirit, "hap-hazard, crudeness, provincialism, eccentricity, violence, blundering" (CPW, III, 238, 236, 237, 249, 252, 253, 241). Similarly, in Culture and Anarchy Arnold seeks a "strict standard of excellence," harks back to his earlier remarks on an "authoritative centre" of "correct information, taste, and intelligence," calls for "a high standard of right reason," and speaks (in a passage otherwise bearing Newmanesque overtones) of excellence dwelling "among high and steep rocks" (CPW, V, 147, 150, 152). For the most part, ity," the representative of our "best self," to be the State (CPW, V, in his later writings Arnold conceives this "sound centre of author [42/43] 155, 134-135). In his Idea of a University Newman, whose concern is everywhere with the totality and unity of knowledge and with the existence of a central historical tradition of learning and intellectual formation, had asserted that at Oxford and Cambridge there is to be found "a characteristic tone of thought, a recognized standard of judgment" (Idea, p. 130). He insisted that for the student the scope and result of "the cultivation of the intellect" for its own sake, which he calls "Liberal Education," should be made the "standard of excellence." "To set forth the right standard, and to train according to it" — this, says Newman, is "the business of a University" (Idea, p. 135). Dwight Culler has reminded us that "the whole effort" of Arnold's mature thought in such matters as an English Academy or the idea. of the State "was to establish some standard or source of values, larger than the self and perfectly distinct from it." His effort, however imperfect, "is of the same character in the field of humanism as Newman's was in the more decisive sphere of religion." (Apologia Pro Vita Sua, pp. xvii-xviii.) As the preceding citations indicate, Newman's search for a center of authority extended into areas of secular, intellectual culture as well; the parallels thus become all the more striking.

The process whereby Newman was absorbed into the total texture of Arnold's thought was next significantly furthered in November of 1864, in the most important statement of the Essays in Criticism, "The Function of Criticism at the Present Time." Newman is not mentioned by name, but his presence is very marked. Midway through the essay, Arnold prosecutes the case for disinterestedness by complaining that the various political and religious journals of England — unlike the Revue des Deux Mondes — stifle the free play of mind by subserving partisan and sectarian interests:

And so on through all the various fractions, political and religious, of our society; every fraction has, as such, its organ of criticism, but the notion of combining all fractions in the common pleasure of a free disinterested play of mind meets with no favour. Directly this play of mind wants to have more scope, and to forget the pressure of practical considerations a little, it is checked, it is made to feel the chain. We saw this the other day in the [43/44] extinction, so much to be regretted, of the Home and Foreign Review. Perhaps in no organ of criticism in this country was there so much knowledge, so much play of mind; but these could not save it. The Dublin Review subordinates play of mind to the practical business of English and Irish Catholicism, and lives. [CPW, III, 271]

Arnold must have been fully aware that Newman was deeply involved in the controversy over the Home and Foreign Review, a controversy that had far-reaching effects on the freedom of intellectual life within the Roman Catholic Church in England. although Arnold misstates the exact issues, he knew that Newman had, for several months in 1859, edited the Home and Foreign's predecessor, the Rambler. And he knew that Newman was deeply committed to the intellectual freedom for which Sir John Acton, as editor, had made the Home and Foreign a byword. The first issue had appeared in July 1862, and Newman's letters indicate that he sympathized with many of the periodical's aims, even though he was still pained by the flippancy and bishop baiting of such contributors as Richard Simpson, whose tone resembled that which had earlier led to the extinction of the Rambler (Ward, Newman, I, 538, 539).4.

Significantly, Newman would not allow his name to be associated with the Dublin, Wiseman's official organ and the preserve of Wiseman, Manning, and William George Ward, the extreme ultramontanes, from whom Newman wished to be dissociated, especially on the question of the Temporal Power of the Papacy (Ward, I, 548). Newman's aims, basically Acton's own, were (in Newman's words) "to create a body of thought as against the false intellectualism of the age, to surround Catholicism with defences necessary for and demanded by the age, to take a Catholic view of the theories, and give a Catholic interpretation to the discoveries of the age." (p. 549.) This ideal was not, to be sure, the exact equivalent of Arnold's disinterestedness, but it did lead, in both the Rambler and the Home and Foreign, to the dissemination of a great deal of "knowledge" (concerning, for example, the work of the [44/45] Munich Catholic historian, DÖllinger) and to "a free play of the mind" unprecedented in an English religious journal. Through the whole controversy over ecclesiastical condemnation of the Home and Foreign Newman sought, as Wilfred Ward says, "to prevent collisions between the Dublin and the Home and Foreign, earnestly desirous that variety of opinion should be tolerated." (p. 556) The important point for the present study is that Arnold is closely linking Newman's ideals and associates with his own ideals of criticism — as the disinterested pursuit of the best that is known and thought in the world, in order "to create a current of true and fresh ideas" (CPW, III, 270) — in its most central and explicit statement.

Moreover, the words given by Arnold to his archetypal British Philistine — " Let us have no nonsense about independent criticism, and intellectual delicacy, and the few and the many" (CPW, III, 276) — are all associated with Newman. Further, this essay of Arnold's contains a famous passage that echoes Newman:

The British Constitution itself, which, seen from the practical side, looks such a magnificent organ of progress and virtue, seen from the speculative side, — with its compromises, its love of facts, its horror of theory, its studied avoidance of clear thoughts ... seen from this side, our august Constitution sometimes looks ... a colossal machine for the manufacture of Philistines. [CPW, III, 275]

In a series of letters published in 1855 on the Crimean War and titled "Who's to Blame?" Newman had analyzed the British constitution and the character of John Bull in terms that clearly anticipated Arnold's view of the constitution and of the British Philistine. Newman's point was that John Bull was illogical in blaming military and political leaders for the disasters of the War, since it was the British constitution itself, the very mirror of John Bull's intense and eccentric individualism and his abhorrence of centralization, which hampered the leaders in conducting the war that John Bull had called for. His main contention is that "a constitutional government cannot efficiently control a war, and should therefore be slow to enter into one." (Ward's summary, p. 353.) Again [45/46] and again these letters suggest Arnold's view and his characteristic methods, nowhere more than in the following satiric passage:

England, surely, is the paradise of little men, and the purgatory of great ones. May I never be a Minister of State or a Field-Marshall! I'd be an individual, self-respecting Briton, in my own private castle, with the Times to see the world by, and pen and paper to scribble off withal to some public print, and set the world right. Public men are only my employés; I use them as I think fit, and turn them off without warning. Aberdeen, not in print version Gladstone, Sidney Herbert, Newcastle, what are they muttering about services and ingratitude? were they not paid? hadn't they their regular quarterday? Raglan, Burgoyne, Dundas, — I cannot recollect all the fellows' names, — can they merit aught? Can they be profitable to me their lord and master? [D&G, 343]

As Henry Tristram notes: "Philistinism, as a political force, is the object of attack in the Pamphlet 'Who's to Blame?' (315)." The reader at once thinks ahead to the chapter "Doing as One Likes" in Culture and Anarchy, where "the old ways of the Constitution . . . . our system of liberty," are subjected to very close scrutiny, and the middle class is made responsible for the collapse of civil order because of its insistence that the "Government must neither have any discretionary power nor act resolutely on its own interpretation of the law if any one disputes it." [CPW, V, 117, 119, 123]

Several final and important parallels link "The Function of Criticism" to Newman. Near the close of his essay Arnold, in a long and complicated sentence, sums up his views of the unity of European culture:

But, after all, the criticism I am really concerned with, — the criticism which alone can much help us for the future, the criticism which, throughout Europe, is at the present day meant, when so much stress is laid on the importance of criticism and the critical spirit, — is a criticism which regards Europe as being, for intellectual and spiritual purposes, one great confederation, bound to a joint action and working to a common result; and whose members have, for their proper outfit, a knowledge of Greek, Roman, and Eastern antiquity, and of one another. [CPW, III, 284] [46/47]

In "Christianity and Letters," a lecture in the second half of the Idea of a University, Newman had, as Father Tristram saw, "anticipated Arnold in his specifically Arnoldian message that the 'Apostolic Succession' in culture is to be traced through Rome to Greece, and in particular to Athens." ("Newman and Matthew Arnold," p. 317.) In Newman this was, as Dwight Culler remarks, "the image of Civilization as a great, distinct, and objective fact, an orbis terrararum which was co-extensive with Christianity and more than coeval in point of time." (The Imperial Intellect: A Study of Newman's Educational ideal, p. 235.) This vision of losing the self in the object of knowledge, also found in "The Literary Influence of Academies," Culler sees as "the truth upon which the humanism of Matthew Arnold is based": the whole effort of Arnold's critical essays was to give to the body of world literature the character of an objective standard of excellence. The diseases of his countrymen were all diseases of self — on the one hand, the eccentricities of Romantic individualism, and on the other, the partisan zeal of political and religious conflict — and the cure for these diseases was a system of value which was larger than the self and perfectly distinct from it. Such a system Arnold found in culture, 'the best that is known and thought in the world'" (p. 234).

Arnold's doctrine of criticism and culture, especially in its characteristic dualism, levied extensively upon Newman's though. "The Function of Criticism," Arnold's most important statement of his critical principles, is suffused with Newmanesque thinking and phrasing. Everywhere the parallels are striking. When Arnold says that the object of criticism is, in all branches of knowledge, "to see the object as in itself it really is" (CPW, III, 258), he echoes Newman's assertion that a university training teaches a man "to see things as they are, to go right to the point" (Idea, p. 157). Arnold further argues, "A polemical practical criticism makes men blind even to the ideal imperfection of their practice, makes them willingly assert its ideal perfection, in order the better to secure it against attack; and dearly this is narrowing and baneful to them" (CPW, III, 271). Newman had similarly said that those who lacked a harmonious unity in their thought will display "narrowness [47/48] of mind," since "Men, whose minds are possessed with some one object, take exaggerated views of its importance, are feverish in the pursuit of it," whereas "the intellect, which has been disciplined to the perfection of its powers... cannot be partial, cannot be exclusive, cannot be impetuous, cannot be at a loss" (Idea, pp. 120, 122). Finally, the limited exterior goal of Arnold's criticism, as "a dis-interested endeavour to learn and propagate the best that is known and thought in the world," was "to establish a current of fresh and true ideas" (CPW, III, 282). Newman's statement of the goal of a university training is strikingly similar: "it aims at raising the intellectual tone of society, at cultivating the public mind, at purifying the national taste, at supplying true principles to popular enthusiasm and fixed aims to popular aspiration, at giving enlargement and sobriety to the ideas of the age" (Idea, p. 157).

The full extent of Newman's influence on Arnold's Essays in Criticism can be measured only by the great rhapsodic invocation to the spirit of Oxford in the Preface, published in February 1865:

Beautiful city! so venerable, so lovely, so unravaged by the fierce intellectual life of our century, so serene!

"there are our young barbarians, all at play!"

And yet, steeped in sentiment as she lies, spreading her gardens to the moonlight, and whispering from her towers the last enchantments of the Middle Age, who will deny that Oxford, by her ineffable charm, keeps ever calling us nearer to the true goal of all of us, to the ideal, to perfection, — to beauty, in a word, which is only truth seen from another side? — nearer, perhaps, than all the science of Tübingen. Adorable dreamer, whose heart has been so romantic! who hast given thyself so prodigally, given thyself to sides and to heroes not mine, only never to the Philistines! home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names, and impossible loyalties!... Apparitions of a day, what is our puny warfare against the Philistines, compared with the warfare which this queen of romance has been waging against them for centuries, and will wage after we are gone? [CPW, III, 290]

Surely Arnold, in referring to the "ineffable charm" of Oxford, is speaking here as that "son of Oxford" who had seen in Newman the representative par excellence of the "charm" and the "ineffable sentiment which this exquisite place itself conveys" (CPW, III, 244). [48/49]

Moreover, the attack on Philistinism and the implicit reference to the Oxford Movement in "lost causes" and "forsaken beliefs" point ahead to the famous passage on Newman in Culture and Anarchy, shortly to be considered. How essentially Essays in Criticism was associated in by a comment in Arnold's 1883 essay on Emerson; referring to Newman's Oxford sermons, Arnold remarks: "Somewhere or other I have spoken of those 'last enchantments of the Middle Age' which Oxford sheds around us, and here they were!" (DA, p. 142). It is not surprising that he sent Newman a copy in March 1865, inscribing it, "From one of his old hearers" (L, I, 292).

Newman must have entered Matthew Arnold's thoughts more than once in 1865, since, after a break with Newman and a relapse into religious skepticism, Tom Arnold left Newman's Oratory school in Birmingham and re-established himself at Oxford. (Passages in a Wandering Life, pp. 179-180, 185-186, 191.) However, Arnold's next public reference to Newman occurred in the first of the lectures on Celtic literature, delivered on December 6, 1865. Referring to Eugene O'Curry's lectures delivered at the Catholic University in Dublin, Arnold remarks in passing,

it is touching to find that these lectures, a splendid tribute of devotion to the Celtic cause, had no hearer more attentive, more sympathising, than a man, himself, too, the champion of a cause more interesting than prosperous, — one of those causes which please noble spirits, but do not please destiny, which have Cato's adherence, but not Heaven's, — Dr. Newman. [CPW, III, 305; and see Apologia, p. 194]

Arnold here reflects a judgment made not infrequently during the last decades of Newman's career, that he was a noble but wasted talent somewhat after the pattern in which Arnold liked to present Christ. It seems Newman's disastrous "cause" is not, in Arnold's mind, merely the Catholic University, but the Roman Catholic Church and the whole of Newman's spiritual career. (See Tristram, p. 319.)

On June 7, 1867, Arnold delivered his farewell lecture as Professor [49/50] of Poetry at Oxford, "Culture and its Enemies," later to become, as "Sweetness and Light," the first chapter of Culture and Anarchy. The famous passage on Oxford, the Oxford Movement, Liberalism, and John Henry Newman is at the heart of the lecture's thesis. Arnold is arguing that "beauty and sweetness are essential characters of a complete human perfection":

When I insist on this, I am all in the faith and tradition of Oxford. I say boldly that this our sentiment for beauty and sweetness, our sentiment against hideousness and rawness, has been at the bottom of our attachment to so many beaten causes, of our opposition to so many triumphant movements.... We have not won our political battles, we have not carried our main points, we have not stopped our adversaries' advance, we have not marched victoriously with the modern world; but we have told silently upon the mind of the country, we have prepared currents of feeling which sip our adversaries' position when it seems gained, we have kept up our communications with the future. Look at the course of the great movement which shook Oxford to its centre some thirty years ago! It was directed, as any one who reads Dr. Newman's Apology may see, against what in one word may be called "Liberalism." Liberalism prevailed; it was the appointed force to do the work of the hour; it was necessary, it was inevitable that it should prevail.... But what was it, this Liberalism, as Dr. Newman saw it, and as it really broke the Oxford movement? It was the great middle-class Liberalism, which had for the cardinal points of its belief the Reform Bill of 1832, and local self-government, in politics; in the social sphere, free-trade, unrestricted competition, and the making of large industrial fortunes; in the religious sphere, the Dissidence of Dissent and the Protestantism of the Protestant religion. I do not say that other and more intelligent forces than this were not opposed to the Oxford movement; but this was the force which really beat it; this was the force which Dr. Newman felt himself fighting with. (CPW, V, 106-107)

Arnold sees "this great force of Philistinism" as "thrust into the second rank" by a new power; in other words, "the world of middle-class Liberalism" seemed, in this year of the Second Reform Bill, to be superseded by "the world of democracy," the way for which had been prepared by "the currents of feeling created by Dr. Newman's movement, the keen desire for beauty and sweetness which it nourished, the [50/51] deep aversion it manifested to the hardness and vulgarity of middle-class Liberalism, the strong light it turned on the hideous and grotesque illusions of middle-class Protestantism" (CPW, V, 107). Thus Arnold sees "the sentiment of Oxford for beauty and sweetness," embodied above all in "Dr. Newman's movement," as ultimately the long-term civilizing and even "political" force for which Culture and Anarchy, Friendship's Garland, and all his social essays of the late seventies and eighties were to argue. Again and again he was to speak of "the pedantry, bigotry, and narrowness of our middle-class, which disfigure the civilisation we have to offer [the Irish]," the class "with a defective type of religion, a narrow range of intellect and knowledge, a stunted sense of beauty, a low standard of manners; and averse, moreover, to whatever may disturb it in its vulgarity" (IE0, pp. 329, 400). In his well-known letter to Newman of November 29, 1871, Arnold avowed that Newman's influence consisted in "a general disposition of mind rather than in a particular set of ideas" and immediately added: "In all the conflicts I have with modem Liberalism and Dissent, and with their pretensions and shortcomings, I recognise your work" (UL, pp. 56-57).

The question remains, was Arnold fully justified in considering Newman an ally in his lifelong campaign to civilize the English middle class? Arnold's lecture was printed in July 1867, and in August Henry Sidgwick, the future Cambridge philosopher, tellingly pursued the theme of Arnold's "dilettante humour," carefully searching out the ethical flaw in Arnold's argument. One of his main contentions was that by making religion merely the subduer of "the obvious faults of our animality, ... a sort of spiritual police," Arnold had neglected both the emotional and the intellectual dimensions of religious experience. ("The Prophet of Culture," Macmillan's Magazine, p. 275.) So sensitive was Arnold to the truth of this charge that in his writings from 1869 onward he worked precisely to eliminate from his view of religion the taint of aestheticism and self-centeredness. Sidgwick went on to argue that a proof of the inadequacy of Arnold's "languid patronage to religion" was his quite mistaking Newman's conception of "Liberalism" and his views of "the functions of religion [51/52] and its place in the social organism": "Dr. Newman fought for a point of view which it required culture to appreciate, and therefore he fought in some sense with culture; but he did not fight for culture, and to conceive him combating side by side with Mr. Matthew Arnold is almost comical. " (Ibid, pp. 276-277.) Certainly there seems, at first glance, a good deal of justification for Sidgwick's charge. For example, the antitheses that Arnold invokes are almost entirely aesthetic — beauty, sweetness, feeling, as opposed to hideousness, rawness, hardness, vulgarity, the grotesque. Moreover, a reading of the Apologia seems to support Sidgwick, too, and to suggest that Arnold was illegitimately extending Newman's definition of "Liberalism."

Certainly Arnold was following the Apologia, verbally, when he said that Liberalism "really broke the Oxford movement" and that "this was the force which Dr. Newman felt himself fighting with"; for Newman explains concerning his departure from the Anglican Church:

The most oppressive thought, in the whole process of my change of opinion, was the clear anticipation, verified by the event, that it would issue in the triumph of Liberalism. Against the Anti-dogmatic principle I had thrown my whole mind; yet now I was doing more than anyone else could do, to promote it. I was one of those who had kept it at bay in Oxford for so many years; and thus my very retirement was its triumph. The men who had driven me from Oxford were distinctly the Liberals; it was they who had opened the attack upon Tract go, and it was they who would gain a second benefit, if I went on to abandon the Anglican Church. But this was all ... there are but two alternatives, the way to Rome, and the way to Atheism: Anglicanism is the halfway house on the one side, and Liberalism is the halfway house on the other. How many men were there, as I knew full well, who would not follow me now in my advance from Anglicanism to Rome, but would at once leave Anglicanism and me for the Liberal camp. [Apologia, pp. 184-85]

But even there, it is evident, Newman was defining Liberalism as "the anti-dogmatic principle"; and earlier he had called it "the principle of [52/53] the Movement of 1833" (Apologia, pp. 44-45). Further, in the long note on "Liberalism" added to the Apologia in the 1865 edition, Newman had defined Liberalism in precise and limited theological terms:

Now by Liberalism I mean false liberty of thought, or the exercise of thought upon matters, in which, from the constitution of the human mind, thought cannot be brought to any successful issue, and therefore is out of place. Among such matters are first principles of whatever kind; and of those the most sacred and momentous are especially to be reckoned the truths of Revelation. Liberalism then is the mistake of subjecting to human judgment those revealed doctrines which are in their nature beyond and independent of it, and of claiming to determine on intrinsic grounds the truth and value of propositions which rest for their reception simply on the external authority of the Divine Word. [Apologia, p. 261]

Newman sees "the rudiments of the Liberal party" in the "select circle or class of men" who had reformed and awakened Oxford in the first decades of the century (Apologia, pp. 260-261) — among them, of course, the Oriel Noetics, The first generation "introduced into Oxford a license of opinion" which was not, however, consciously heterodox theologically; but "The party grew, all the time that I was in Oxford, even in numbers, certainly in breadth and definiteness of doctrine, and in power. And, what was a far higher consideration, by the accession of Dr. Arnold's pupils, it was invested with an elevation of character which claimed the respect even of its opponents" (Apologia, pp. 261-262, 264). These, then, were the men, the theological Liberals associated with Matthew Arnold's father, and hence in a sense members of Arnold's own theological party, whom Newman referred to as the Liberals "who had driven me from Oxford"; this was the Liberalism "which Dr. Newman felt himself fighting with." There is nothing here directly about self-government, free trade, or the hideousness of middle-class Protestantism.

A further caution against accepting Arnold's apparently too easy identification of his sense of Philistinism and Liberalism with Newman's is suggested by Newman himself. Newman saw that Liberalism had changed greatly in the preceding three or four decades and that [53/54] even the circle around Hampden, Whately, and Thomas Arnold was not liberal in its theology "in the sense in which the bulk of the educated classes through the country are liberal now" (Apologia, p. 261). Liberalism had changed and broadened its character and influence through the century. He explains:

I am not going to criticize here that vast body of men, in the mass, who at this time would profess to be liberals in religion; and who look towards the discoveries of the age, certain or in progress, as their informants, direct or indirect, as to what they shall think about the unseen and the future. The Liberalism which gives a colour to society now, is very different from that character of thought which bore the name thirty or forty years ago. Now it is scarcely a party; it is the educated lay world. When I was young, I knew the word first as giving name to a periodical, set up by Lord Byron and others. Now, as then, I have no sympathy with the philosophy of Byron. Afterwards, Liberalism was the badge of a theological school, of a dry and repulsive character, not very dangerous in itself, though dangerous as opening the door to evils which it did not itself either anticipate or comprehend. At present it is nothing else than that deep, plausible scepticism, of which I spoke above, as being the development of human reason, as practically exercised by the natural man. [Apologia, p. 237]

This is, again, the Newman who frankly admitted that the tendency of "the faculty of reason actually and historically ... is toward a simple unbelief in matters of religion" (Apologia, p. 221).

What residue of truth, then, if any, remains in Arnold's claim that Newman's writings inform "all the conflicts I have with modem Liberalism and Dissent"? Certainly there is evidence that Newman did in fact extend his understanding of the term Liberalism to include non-theological matters, although religion remains — as it did not with Arnold — the central and controlling element, and other considerations are judged largely as they affect the status in society of supernatural Christianity. Here, as in so many other places, Arnold echoes Newman. To be sure, there is little enough in Newman of what Arnold calls the exact objects of "the great Liberal party in the last thirty years": "the advocacy of free-trade, of Parliamentary reform, of abolition of church-rates, of voluntarism in religion and education, of [54/55] non-interference of the State between employers and employed, and of marriage with one's deceased wife's sister" (CPW, V, 128). But Newman himself could on occasion deal a smart smack at Liberal politicians, as when he remarks of Lord Brougham, in "The Tamworth Reading Room," "after parsons no men quote Scripture more familiarly than Liberals and Whigs" (D&A, p. 287). 17 Even the Apologia at least glancingly suggests that opposition to such complex political causes as those for Catholic Emancipation and for the Reform Bill of 1832, both of which seemed to threaten the prerogatives and exclusiveness of the Established Church, was in fact a very strong motive in the formation of the Oxford Movement (pp. 263-264, 27-28). More specifically, when Arnold speaks of Bright's values, derived largely from "the world of middle-class liberalism," as leading to self-deluding praise of "cities," "railroads," and "manufactures" (CPW, V, 108), he recalls Newman's damning quotations from Sir Robert Peel on the glories of "steamboats and railroads," "producer and consumer" (D&A, p. 257); the comments of the two men on this frame of mind reveal the essential kinship of their own minds. Arnold remarks, just after the passage on Newman, "It is the same fashion of teaching a man to value himself not on what he is, not on his progress in sweetness and light, but on the number of railroads he has constructed, or the bigness of the tabernacle he has built" (CPW, V, 108). Newman's reply, too, stresses inwardness against what he calls "a chief error of the day" — that our true excellence comes not from within, but from without; not wrought out through personal struggles and sufferings, but following upon a passive exposure [55/56] to influences over which we have no control" (D&A, p. 266). Newman, like Arnold, is asking in essence what the sources of "satisfaction and inward peace" really are (D&A, p. 260).

Newman had also spoken in terms closer to Arnold's conception of Liberalism in his 1850 lectures on the Oxford Movement, called Certain Difficulties Felt by Anglicans in Catholic Teaching. Almost certainly these lectures lay behind the long passage on Newman and the Oxford Movement in Arnold's farewell lecture. For example, in asserting that the movement "has created a mere party in the National Church" and that there is an "extreme want of congeniality ... between the movement of 1833 and the nation at large," Newman had anticipated some of Arnold's argument by quoting from Hurrell Froude's Remains: "How is it we are so much in advance of our generation?" (DofA, I, 34, 35, 37). Even closer to Arnold, Newman had briefly connected the movement with a reaction against Liberal legislation; as part of his case on the Erastian character of the Church of England, Newman remarks: "As the nation changes its political, so may it change its religious views; the causes which carried the Reform Bill and Free Trade may make short work with orthodoxy" (DofA, I, 9). And in contending that the Catholic Church is "the one great principle of unity and concord which the world has seen," he adds somewhat sardonically: "In this day, I grant, scientific unions, free trade, railroads, and industrial exhibitions are put forward as a substitute for her influence, with what success posterity will be able to judge" (DofA, I, 304).

Not surprisingly, Arnold and Newman also coincided in their contempt for radical, religiously and politically subversive solutions to the problems of the century — for example, Benthamism and Comteanism, which might be regarded as extreme extensions of Liberal principles. In "The Tamworth Reading Room" Newman had spoken of Bentham, who "had not a spark of poetry in him," at some length and with entire scorn; and in the Idea of a University Bentham is seen, along with Hobbes and Hume, as "simply a disgrace" (D&A, 262263, 269-270, 272, 277; Idea, p. 276, and see p. 351). Arnold, too, spoke of Utilitarianism as being "doomed to sterility," and of Bentham as the "great, dissected master" of his disciples (CPW, III, 136, [56/57] 289). Only a few paragraphs below the discussion of Newman in the farewell lecture, Arnold speaks contemptuously of Bentham's claim to be "the renovator of modern society" (CPW, V. 111). Of "the ways of Jacobinism" Arnold found most objectionable "its addiction to an abstract system" (CPW, V, 109). This line of reasoning was, as suggested above, what attracted Arnold to Newman's views in "The Tamworth Reading Room," in which Letter 6 is devoted to the idea that men are not touched by reason, conclusions, opinions, logic, syllogisms, argument, inferences, proofs, evidences, analysis, demonstrations, or speculations. Instead, "man is a seeing, feeling, contemplating, acting animal"; "to act you must assume, and that assumption is faith"; and, as Arnold was to quote several times in his notebooks, "instances and patterns, not logical reasonings, are the living conclusions which alone have a hold over the affections, or can form the character" (D&A, pp. 292 ff.). Arnold thus prepares the reader to accept, though with reservations, Father Tristram's perhaps surprisingly unqualified view that

Arnold was always girding at what he called the Philistinism of the country, and Newman, although he avoids the terms, plainly anticipated Arnold by a decade in his assault upon the common enemy. Philistinism, as a religious force, is the object of attack in "The Present Position of Catholics"; Philistinism, as an educational force, is the object of attack in the "Idea of a University"; and Philistinism, as a political force, is the object of attack in the pamphlet "Who's to Blame?" ["Newman and Matthew Arnold," p. 315]

One might add that Philistinism, as a religious and educational and political force, is the object of attack in "The Tamworth Reading Room."

Certainly, then, Newman's writings did provide Arnold with many of the ideas, phrases, and strategies of his battle with Liberalism and Dissent. But one should be cautious in interpreting the role of the Oxford Movement in this central line of Arnold's thought. Despite the rhetoric of the farewell lecture, in which Arnold seems to associate himself with the Tractarians as with other Oxford causes ("we in Oxford ... .. our attachment to ... beaten causes," "we have prepared cur- [57/58] rents of feeling"), and despite the fact that Arnold clearly wishes to suggest that the Liberalism the Oxford Movement opposed is his opponent too, the evidence is strong that in no essential way did he ever see the Oxford Movement itself as his cause. In other words, when Arnold insists that "I am all in the faith and tradition of Oxford" (CPW, V, 106), that sense of a shared faith and tradition is felt to extend far more broadly than to the precise theological and ecclesiastical issues that exercised the Tractarians. On the occasion of his receiving the D.C.L. at Oxford in June 1870, Arnold wrote his mother, "I felt sure I should be well received, because there is so much of an Oxford character about what I have written" (L, II, 40). The reference is in very significant measure to crucial passages in, above all, Essays in Criticism and Culture and Anarchy in which the "Oxford sentiment" — conceived as the "sentiment for beauty and sweetness" and as a unique ideal of perfected human intelligence and character — is repeatedly associated with the person and writings of John Henry Newman. But with regard to the Tractarian Movement itself, of which Newman had been the leader, and to its fortunes after 1845, Arnold's habitual attitude is, with the one important exception of the passage in the farewell lecture, a combination of impatience, condescension, occasional grudging admiration, and almost unbroken intellectual contempt.

John Taylor Coleridge's Memoir of John Keble, published in 1869, impressed Arnold with the "narrow medium" in which the Oxford "set" of his father's generation lived.19 Arnold's impatience is obviously with the Oxford theological politics of both parties, and the charge against them all is that of provinciality, supposedly the very [58/59] quality from which Newman, the great exemplar of urbanity, had been declared exempt. It is certainly possible that Newman, at least in his role as intellectual and religious leader, would not have been excluded from that condemnation. For Ritualism, the High Church inheritor of the traditions of the Oxford Movement after the defection of Newman, Arnold had ill-concealed disdain. Speaking in 1877 of the English lack of "lucidity of mind and largeness of temper," Arnold gives as an example "that question of not the most strong-minded portion of the clergy and laity," the Ritualists. They are the camp of the "Simpletons, " as against the Dissenters, the camp of the "Savages" (ME, p. 175).20 More fundamentally at issue, however, was a question that went far beyond Romanizing enthusiasts within the Church of England; at stake was Matthew Arnold's gradually evolving picture of the future of human life. In an important letter of March 1881, written to Ernest Fontanès, the French Protestant theologian, Arnold ruthlessly rejected both orthodox Christianity and those alternative rationalized "religions of the future" which the nineteenth century spawned so optimistically. With a daring and imaginative scope he rarely permitted himself in public print, Arnold quite simply and radically rejected "the old religious theory of human life" and demanded a richer conception of human nature and man's "instincts," presumably in accord with the holistic theory affirmed in Culture and Anarchy in the sixties and enriched after the period of the religious writings in the seventies. He wrote:

I do not think Miss Cobbe has any real influence,21 neither do I think that the Ritualists, about whom you enquire, have any real influence. But the two [59/60] cases are different; the Ritualists have a large body of clamorous supporters, Miss Cobbe has a small body of earnest sympathisers. The force which is shaping the future is with neither; nor is this force, it seems to me, either with any of the orthodox religions, or with any of the neo-religious developments which propose to themselves to supersede them. Both the one and the other give to what they call religion, and to religious ideas and discussions, too large and absorbing a place in human life; man feels himself to be a more various and richly-endowed animal than the old religious theory of human life allowed, and he is endeavouring to give satisfaction to the long suppressed and still imperfectly-understood instincts of this varied nature.... The moral is that whoever treats religion, religious discussions, questions of churches and sects, as absorbing, is not in vital sympathy with the movement of men's minds at present. [L, II, 220-21]

This judgment is repeated and amplified in September 1882 in "A Liverpool Address":

Or take a very different movement from that of the Salvation Army, a movement of far higher dignity, reach, and import....The [Ritualist] movement is full of interest. It has produced men to be respected, men to be admired, men to be loved — produced men of learning, men of genius, men of goodness and charm. But can one resist the truth that lucidity would have been fatal to it? The movers of all these questions about apostolical succession, church, patristic authority, primitive usage, symbolism, postures, investments — questions so passionately debated, and on which I will by no means seek to cast ridicule — do they not all begin by taking for granted something no longer possible or receivable, build on this basis as if it were indubitably solid, and fail to see, that, their basis not being solid, all they build upon it is fantastic? [Five Uncollected Essays of Matthew Arnold, p. 92.]

The opposition between the humanisms of Matthew Arnold and John Henry Newman could not be stated more starkly; and this is the abiding opposition to be borne in mind through the massive physical bulk of Newman's evident influence on Arnold's ideas and practice. It prepares the critic, in the face of the almost reverential public references [60/61] of the sixties and in private correspondence until a far later date, for the complex and more negative use of Newman's works in Arnold's religious writings. When, in 1883, Arnold remarked that Newman "his adopted, for the doubts and difficulties which beset men's minds today, a solution which, to speak frankly, is impossible (DA, p. 139), Arnold is using language be habitually used in referring, not merely to Roman Catholics, but to all public religionists — both the orthodox and the compromising rationalists — those "mystics and such cattle" he had so despised in his Oxford days. Arnold could never quite reverse his contemptuous and almost angry opinion that they, unlike Matthew Arnold, bad not frankly acknowledged what be saw as insuperable intellectual obstacles to traditional supernaturalism in the nineteenth century, and had not spoken directly to "the doubts and difficulties which beset men's minds to-day."

Last modified 26 March 2002