f Newman's role in the unfolding of Arnold's view of intelligence and its place in human development was very far-reaching, his presence in Arnold's religious writings of the eighteen-seventies, especially in St. Paul and Protestantism and Literature and Dogma, is even more explicit and continuous. William Robbins expresses the received opinion when he says, "Newman was a spiritual ally in Arnold's prolonged campaign against hard, unlovely Puritanism and crassly utilitarian Philistinism, one of the spiritual fathers of Culture and Anarchy rather than of the later and distinctively religious works." (The Ethical Idealism of Matthew Arnold, p. 56.) This is no doubt substantially correct, but it fails to suggest either the sheer bulk of direct references to Newman in the religious works, or the complexity of tone in Arnold's response to and use of Newman's religious writings. In fact, the later relationship has almost entirely escaped discussion; and this is all the more serious an omission in any account of Arnold's intellectual development since Newman would seem to be, next perhaps to Bishop Butler, the most extensively quoted specifically theological writer in Arnold's religious works.
Arnold's most elaborate discussion of Newman's thought anywhere in his writings occurs in "Puritanism and the Church of England" [81/82] (Cornhill, February 1870), later a chapter in St. Paul and Protestantism, which was published in May of that year. It is important to note that from the first Arnold conceived his religious writings to be a continuation of the work of his father's generation. On November 13, 1869, Arnold wrote his mother, noting that the major work of Dr. Arnold's and S. T. Coleridge's time had been "the exploding of the old notions of literal inspiration in Scripture, and the introducing of a truer method of interpretation." He explains that his two recent articles entitled "St. Paul and Protestantism" (Cornhill, October and November 1869) had contended that the "old notions about justification will undergo a like change." The articles had in fact attacked the whole Christian "economy" of salvation, especially in the commercial metaphors with which Dissenting theology had imaged forth that process. Now, he says, his purpose in the forthcoming essay will be "to show how the Church [of England], though holding certain doctrines like justification in common with Puritanism, has gained by not pinning itself to those doctrines and nothing else, but by resting on Catholic antiquity, historic Christianity, development, and so on, which open it to an escape from all single doctrines as they are outgrown" (L, II, 2 3-24). The key word is "development."
Late in 1869 Arnold was obviously reading closely in Newman's An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (1845), for the center of "Puritanism and the Church of England" is occupied by the appropriation and judgment of Newman's ideas. The Church of England, Arnold argues, does not exist for "special opinions" as Non-conformism does; instead, it serves "religious progress" in "proceeding by development" and allowing "much greater freedom of mind" on the essentials of Christian theology. This is the idea of the "development and gradual exhibiting of the full sense of the Bible and Christianity," which goes forward by "growth and gradual illumination" (SPP, pp. 120, 121). This is also the idea, continues Arnold, set forth "persuasively and truly" by "an admirable writer," Dr. Newman, "in a book which is one of his least known works, but which contains, perhaps, even a greater number of profound and valuable ideas than any other -one of them" (SPP, p. 121). With the reader favorably disposed, Arnold then gives three substantial quotations, conflated. and revised, [82/83] from the Essay on Development, in which Newman speaks of apparent variations of Church doctrine under the figures of growth, increase, expansion, and development (SPP, pp. 121-123; EDD, pp. 26, 27, 61-62, 95). Arnold accurately enough sums up this "admirably expounded" notion as that of "a gradual understanding of the Bible, a progressive development of Christianity"; moreover, Arnold's three supporting quotations from Butler are also to be found in the Essay (SPP, pp. 123-124; EDD, pp. 111, 114). Arnold concludes this exposition on a note of high praise: "All this is incomparably well said; and with Dr. Newman we may, on the strength of it all, beyond any doubt, 'fairly conclude that Christian doctrine admits of formal, legitimate, and true developments'; that 'the whole Bible is written on the principle of development' " (SPP, p. 124; EDD, pp. 113, 103).
But at this very moment, Arnold decisively parts company with Newman. The reasons for Arnold's extended demurrer, and the way in which the rejoinder is managed, are indicative of the relations of the two men as well as of the grounds of Arnold's religious humanism. Newman's use of the idea of development "in support of the pretensions of the Church of Rome to an infallible authority on points of doctrine" is, Arnold begins, "arbitrary and condemned by the idea itself" (SPP, p. 124). He admits that Newman "with much ingenuity" can challenge Protestants with the fact that their characteristic doctrines are as much developments of the post-Nicene Church as are the characteristically Catholic doctrines of Purgatory and the Canon of Scripture: "And thus Dr. Newman would compel Protestants to admit that which is, he declares, in itself reasonable, — namely, 'the probability of the appointment in Christianity of an external authority to decide upon the true developments and practice in it' " (SPP, p. 125; EDD, p. 117.) (The other relevant passages alluded to here by Arnold occur in EDD, pp. 6, 16 ff., 98-99.) But here Arnold suddenly retorts: "Now, as inserted in this absolute way, and extended to doctrine as well as discipline, to speculative thought as well as to Christian practice, Dr. Newman's conclusion seems at variance with his own theory of development" (SPP, p. 125). What follows is a fascinating example of Arnold's argumentative methods, especially in the religious writings. For it seems evident that Arnold never fully understood, or allowed himself to understand, the real and internal drift of Newman's argument. For example, Arnold's use of "absolute way" merely exploits popular prejudice. Moreover, the Essay on Development dealt with "doctrine" and "speculative thought" primarily and from the first and was not 11 extended to those areas." Finally, what is more suspicious, Arnold simply refuses to follow Newman's argumentation through. He seems to accept Newman's initial arguments, against Protestants, that characteristically Protestant and Catholic doctrines are equally "developments" of the Church. But Newman had gone on to argue, on the basis of probability, that the appointment of an infallible external authority, to safeguard developments of Christian doctrine from error, is simply a "reasonable" extension of the doctrine of development itself. True or false, the argument is cogent and demands examination and, if false, refutation. Clearly, Newman's conclusion is antecedently unacceptable to Arnold; and instead of examination or rejoinder Arnold gives an alleged refutation, in Newman's own words, that development "comes of its own innate power of expansion within the mind in its season, though with the use of reflection and argument and original thought, more or less as it may happen, with a dependence on the ethical growth of the mind itself, and with a reflex influence upon it" (SPP, pp. 125-126; EDD, p. 113). This, Arnold approvingly comments, is "the natural, spontaneous, free character of true development" (SPP, p. 126). For Newman, these were exactly the perennial qualities of the devout theologizing mind; but of course, for Arnold, they were precisely the qualities most unlikely to reside in an orthodox Christian theologian, especially in a Roman Catholic. Hence the effective rhetoric of "natural, spontaneous, free," the qualities that, as Newman had clearly seen twenty years before in the Present Position of Catholics, popular English prejudice would refuse to acknowledge in the Roman Church.
For Arnold himself, though able on occasion to exploit such prejudice, the issue was much wider than contemporary Protestant-Catholic polemics. He now turns to the ultimate grounds for his refusal to analyze Newman's arguments. At stake was Arnold's view of history and the nature of Christianity. Implicitly, he recognizes the inherent and [85/86] inevitable limitations of the argument of the Essay on Development; in that work Newman develops an argumentum ad bominem against Protestants who of course already accepted the fundamental dogmas of Christianity and, presumably, the notion of a Providence safeguarding and guaranteeing the truth of those doctrines. (See Anthony Stephenson, p. 531.) Arnold's strategy is to develop a counterargument that attempts to resolve any dispute by transcending parties and bringing into question the validity and truth of all Christian theology. Theological development, says Arnold, "may often require vast periods of time," and he insists "that for its true and ultimate development in this line more time is required, and other conditions have to be fulfilled, than we have had already. So far as Christian doctrine contains speculative philosophical ideas, never since its origin have the conditions been present for determining these adequately; certainly not in the mediaeval Church, which so dauntlessly strove to determine them" (SPP, p. 126). In fact, never yet have the "great questions of philosophy and of scientific criticism" which Christianity admittedly raises been answerable within the Christian Churches. The Middle Ages were utterly inadequate to "historic criticism, criticism of style, criticism of nature," and the entire corpus of medieval philosophy and theology is written off at a stroke because its opinions, "being philosophical developments.... are made in an age when the forces for true philosophical development are waning or wanting" (SPP, pp. 127, 128). In Arnold's drastically simplified and schematized view of intellectual history, there had been in Greece before the appearance of Christianity a "favouring period" for such matters as "a philosophy of theology" or "a philosophical criticism," and only with the Renaissance did "the movement of philosophy and criticism" resume its progress:
this movement was almost entirely outside the Churches, whether Catholic or Protestant, and not inside them.... Philosophy and criticism have become a great power in the world, and inevitably tend to alter and develop Church-doctrine, so far as this doctrine is, as to a great extent it is, philosophical and critical. Yet the seat of the developing force is not in the Church itself, but elsewhere; its influences filter strugglingly into the Church, and the Church slowly absorbs and incorporates them. And whatever hinders their filtering in and becoming incorporated, hinders truth and the natural progress of things. [SPP, pp. 128-30]
The agency of this true development is harder to define. Arnold at one point says, "Thought and science follow their own law of development, they are slowly elaborated in the growth and forward pressure of humanity, ... and their ripeness and unripeness, as Dr. Newman most truly says, are not an effect of our wishing and resolving. Rather do they seem brought about by a power such as Goethe figures by the Zeit-Geist or Time-Spirit, and St. Paul describes as a divine power revealing additions to what we possess already" (SPP, pp. 130-131). Arnold's rhetorical shift toward the postulation of a "divine power" superintending the development of the human intelligence, is, as it often is with Arnold in these matters, breathtaking. He wants a "natural, spontaneous, free" development of religious doctrine based on "Philosophy and criticism," a process the conditions of which have never been achieved within the Churches, although since the Renaissance the means are available outside the Churches and are now "filtering" or -struggling" in, so as to bring a reluctant Christianity into line with the large movement of the Western mind which is "the natural [87/88] progress of things." This argument is of course a corollary of Arnold's view that Christianity "has practice for its great end and aim"; the Churches, quite literally, have no mind of their own. Seemingly, Arnold's moralized and deintellectualized Christianity will have for its permanently and intellectually viable substance a small body of ethical truths. For a typical summation, see the catechism Arnold provides in "A Comment on Christmas" (1885), added in 1887 to the popular edition of St. Paul and Protestantism, p. 166. See also SPP, pp. 132-134, and LECR, pp. 229-231. deprived of any inherent intellectual substance, method, or dynamic, Christianity must submit and adapt itself to the "developing" and (presumably) changing standards of the "philosophy and criticism" of each age for any metaphysical description of the reality that Christianity admittedly speaks to. This is virtually a protodefinition of theological Modernism.
It is not surprising, then, that Newman, elaborately saluted with one hand for statements on the development of doctrine, is with the other rather roughly handled in the deeper implications of his argument and is in fact swept aside either as tiresomely reactionary or as the representative of an a priori "impossible" position. Moreover, Arnold's first careful paraphrases of Newman's view as that of "a gradual understanding of the Bible, a progressive development of Christianity," soon enough give way to the view that philosophy and criticism "tend to alter and develop Church-doctrine" (my emphasis), a scheme of progress effected by the Time-Spirit, "a divine power" that reveals "additions" to what already exists. Substantial alteration and addition are precisely what Newman is eager to deprecate in his concept of development. (See Stephenson, pp. 531-532.) A final and significant paradox is the fact that Newman, though of course holding that the history of doctrinal development is ultimately under the rule of Providence, guaranteed and sanctioned by the authority of the teaching Church, nevertheless clearly holds that the internal mechanism of doctrinal development proceeds from man's "use of reflection and argument and original thought"; on the other hand Arnold, the professed advocate of "philosophy and criticism," is far more "mystical" in delivering the whole process to a quasi-Providential "divine power" that "reveals" additions and superintends "the natural [87/88] progress of things." This is what Arnold seems to have meant when he wrote his mother in November 1869: "It is not man who determines what truths shall present themselves to this or that age, or under what aspect; and until the time is come for the new truth or the new aspect, they are presented unsatisfactorily or in vain" (L, II, 23).
In the light of St. Paul and Protestantism as a whole, as well as of Arnold's other religious writings, it is fairly clear what Christianity's "true and ultimate development in this line" will be: the jettisoning of the entire metaphysical apparatus and methodology of traditional theology as literally meaningless. Arnold's "additions" tend to be deletions, his ultimate theology being a collection of religiously tinged moral maxims from the Bible. Arnold's instinct of course is never to awe directly, but to insinuate, to slip behind an opponent by undermining the opponents type of argument. For example, the characteristic method of Literature and Dogma and God and the Bible is to meet all theological objections by denying that metaphysical questions have any meaning. At any rate, this first use of Newman's religious thought is typical of Arnold's treatment of Newman in the religious writings: the man is treated with considerable deference, and his words are quoted, usually somewhat out of context, when Newman's literary and intellectual authority seems helpful to Arnold's argument; but Newman is impatiently thrust aside as soon as his more "arbitrary" and "impossible" and central — views are glimpsed Newman on "development" is invoked as a kind of elaborate red herring to endorse a view of theological history which he would abhor, a rationalization and "de-supernaturalization" of Christianity, the emptying out of the content of most of the characteristic doctrines of orthodox theology, and the retention of a Pelagian scheme of self-induced moral transformation using Jesus as a model.
Arnold seems momentarily to throw Newman a crumb by stating: "What may justly be conceded to the Catholic Church is, that in her idea of a continuous developing power in united Christendom to work upon the data furnished by the Bible, and produce new combinations from them as the growth of time required it, she followed a true instinct." But he at once withdraws his tribute: "But the right philosophical developments she vainly imagined herself to have had the power [88/89] to produce, and her attempts in this direction were at most but a prophecy of this power, as alchemy is said to have been a prophecy of chemistry" (SPP, p. 131). Strictly speaking, then, "development" operates exclusively in secular "thought and science," which "follow their own line of development" (SPP, p. 130). In fact, for Arnold the question of doctrinal development was a kind of intellectual will-o'-the-wisp. Presumably modern thought, on the one hand, and religion on the other, will go on undisturbed, each in its own sphere, a position obviously related to Arnold's view of the extreme dichotomy between the moral and intellectual spheres in the sixties. This desirable severance will be hastened as the churches drop all pretensions to the metaphysical validity of traditional theological categories. Where by "development" Newman meant (among other metaphors) something like the unfolding of the implications of an original germinative thought, Arnold (despite his use of the word "addition") tends to mean something closer to the alteration, deletion, and eventual extirpation of Christian theology.
Arnold's peculiar imperturbability in the face of such seriously incompatible definitions is evident when, later in the essay, he once more invokes Newman on development. Arnold is arguing that the Nonconformist churches are wrong to separate from the Church of England over matters of discipline, since individual "fancies" must be sacrificed to the life of the religious community, or over matters of dogma, since, the Church lacking the means of settling philosophical points, people should "concede" them and unite in the moral principle, "Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity" (SPP, p. 139). In the midst of this argument, Newman is brought in again:
All that Dr. Newman has so excellently said about development applies here legitimately and fully. Existence justifies additions and stages of existence. The living edifice planted on the foundation, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity, could not but grow, if it lived at all. If it grew, it could not but make developments, and all developments not inconsistent with the aim of its original foundation, and not extending beyond the moral and practical sphere of its original foundation, are legitimated by the very fact of the Church having in the natural evolution of its life and growth made them. (SPP, p. 136) [89/90] The interesting fact is that, with the exception of "additions," all of Arnold's key words here — "stages of existence," "living edifice," "grow," "developments," — evolution — are compatible with Newman's metaphors of organic growth. And yet, Arnold's words "excellently" and "legitimately" conceal — how consciously is hard to tell — not merely the difference in the two men's concepts but their near opposition. Newman was discussing precisely the development of doctrine, while Arnold holds that Christian "dogma," "theological philosophy," "speculation," and "opinion" have nothing to do with the essence of Christianity and must in fact be jettisoned since "the moral and practical sphere ... was the sphere of its original foundation."
This inverted parallelism of Newman's and Arnold's ideas is strikingly followed up in the remainder of "Puritanism and the Church of England." Newman is brought in, seconding Hooker in support of the proposition that "the Bible does not exhibit, drawn out in black and white, the precise tenets and usages of any Christian society; some inference and criticism must be employed to get at them" (SPP, pp. 145-146; EDD, pp. 94 ff.). With Newman, Arnold argues that church discipline and church doctrine were both arrived at by "a process of reasoning and collection" (SPP, p. 146). Newman, in the Essay on Development, had worked out an ad hominem argument against Protestants, that since Protestant and Catholic doctrines were both developments, the existence of some external authority to judge the merits of conflicting Christian claims is probable and reasonable. Arnold, also developing an ad hominem argument against Protestants, accepts Newman's claim that both sets of doctrines are "developments," only to argue then that both are "unsound developments," and that therefore Protestants should be comprehended into the Church of England, which "does not identify Christianity with these unsound developments." It does not require that members believe in either the Protestant "received doctrine of justification" or the Catholic "doctrine of priestly absolution and of the real presence": "She thus provides room for growth and further change in these very doctrines themselves" (LD, p. 147). For "growth" and "change," read "removal" and "repudiation." In effect, Arnold, using a kind of elaborate parody of Newman's argumentation, has undercut all historic Christian positions, Protestant [90/91] and Catholic, and made of the Church of England a non-*doctrinal mediatorial Church of the Future beyond the dreams of all but the most aggressive Latitudinarians. His vision, reminiscent of his father's, is that of a totally comprehensive National Church in which Anglicans and Dissenters could dose ranks: "Then there might arise a mighty and undistracted power of joint life, which would transform, indeed, the doctrines of priestly absolution and the real presence, but which would transform, equally, the so-called Scriptural Protestantism of imputed righteousness, and which would do more for real righteousness and for Christianity than has ever been done yet" (SPP, pp. 150151). For "transform," again, read "discard."
Finally, in the midst of pursuing, by the perverse aid of Newman's arguments, this line of unity against the "separatists ... for the sake of opinions" (SPP, p. 138), Arnold had also elaborately invoked, and very nearly burlesqued, a central contention of Newman's, this time from the Apologia:
Dr. Newman has told us what an impression was once made upon his mind by the sentence: Securus jadicat orbis terrarum. We have shown how, for matters of philosophical judgment, not yet settled but requiring development to clear them, the consent of the world, at a time when this clearing development cannot have happened, seems to carry little or no weight at all; indeed, as to judgment on these points, we should rather be inclined to lay down the very contrary of Dr. Newman's affirmation, and to say: Securus dehrat orbis terrarum. But points of speculative theology being out of the question, and: the practical ground and purpose of man's religion being broadly and plainly fixed, we should be quite disposed to concede to Dr. Newman, that securus colit orbis terrarum; — those pursue this purpose best who pursue it together. For unless prevented by extraneous causes, they manifestly tend, as the history of the Church's growth shows, to pursue it together. [SPP, p. 13 5; see Apologia, pp. 106 ff.]
Once again, then, a crucial idea of Newman's is treated with a kind of levity that seems at odds with the expressions of genuine respect for Newman the man which Arnold, here as elsewhere, employs. This complexity of response informs many of the references to Newman in Arnold's religious writing.
There is no evidence that Arnold sent Newman a copy of St. Paul [91/92] and Protestantism on its appearance in May 1870; and for the reasons given above, it seems unlikely that he would have done so. But in 1871 and 1872 an extraordinary burst of correspondence occurs between the two men which links their thought and cements their hitherto fragmentary personal relations.
Early in November of 1871 Newman issued the two volumes of Essays Critical and Historical, a reprinting of sixteen pieces from his Anglican days, with one exception. Arnold must have bought the volumes at once and have begun that close reading in the essays which the works of the next few years reveal. On November 29 he writes Newman, expressing his regret that he had not had time to call on Newman when in Birmingham. On October 16 Arnold had delivered at the Birmingham and Midland Institute the lecture, "A Persian Passion Play," which had now just appeared in the December issue of Cornhill. He tells Newman he is having a copy sent him, "because what is said about Mahometanism at the end seems to me to coincide very much with a strain of remark in a reprinted article of yours on Milman which I have just been reading, and to be an unconscious homage to the truth of what you have there said" (UL, pp. 55-56; I have (for the most part silently) corrected Whitbridge's text in the light of the original Arnold and Newman letters, photographic copies of which were kindly made available to me by Father Stephen Dessain of the Birmingham Oratory).
Arnold's remark seems to have been this one:
All religions but a man's own are utterly false and vain; the authors of them are mere impostors; and the miracles which are said to attest them, fictitious. We forget that this is a game which two can play at; although the believer of each religion always imagines the prodigies which attest his own religion to be fenced by a guard granted to them alone. Yet how much more safe it is, as well as more fruitful, to look for the main confirmation of a religion in its intrinsic correspondence with urgent wants of human nature, in its profound necessity! Differing religions will then be found to have much in common, but this will be an additional proof of the value of that religion which does most for that which is thus commonly recognised as salutary and necessary. [EC-I, p. 258) ["A Persian Passion Play" was added to the third edition of Essays in Criticism, 1875]
Arnold's implication is that Christianity will stand this test of "nature.," Newman's essay alluded to in Arnold's letter is an 1841 review of Milman's History of Christianity (1840). Newman was distressed by Milman's Latitudinarian facility for finding "the, resemblance between the Magianism of the East and Judaism after its return from captivity there" (ECH, 11, 197). Newman does not "deny the similarity between the two theologies" (ECH, 11, 197), but to him Milman seems to be saying "that the Jewish theology is worth no more than the Magian" (ECH, 11, 198); and Milman so presents Christian theology as to emphasize "how like Christianity is to heathenism" (ECH, 11, 204) and to imply "that great portion of what is generally received as Christian truth, is in its rudiments or in its separate parts to be found in heathen philosophies and religions" (ECH, 11, 231). From the admitted resemblance, Milman seems to argue, " 'these things are in heathenism, therefore they are not Christian:' we, on the contrary, prefer to say, 'these things are in Christianity, therefore they are not heathen'" (ECH, 11, 2 3 1 ). Newman expresses his frank fear, "Will Revelation have done more than introduce a quality into our moral life, not anything that can be contemplated by itself, obeyed, and perpetuated?" (ECH, 11, 242). He ends rather plaintively, asking, "where then, after all, and what is Christianity?" (ECH, 11, 245). At first glance, Arnold's comparison is rather surprising, since his own religious views were far closer to Milman's Broad Church theology, especially in Arnold's rationalizing insistence on Christianity's "natural truth." But apparently Arnold considered that his own views on the uniqueness of Christianity, even on this naturalistic basis, align him more closely with an orthodox dogmatic Christian than with a "comprehensive" liberal Christian like Milman. Perhaps it is on such perplexing grounds as this that Arnold would have justified some of his frequent and rather enigmatic assertions about Newman's influence on his own thought.
At any rate, Arnold's second reason for writing Newman was "to give myself an opportunity of explaining, that the Spectator's assertion, in a review of your Essays, that some lines of mine were 'a portrait of Mr. Newman,' has its sole ground in the writer's own imagination. What is said in those lines is not what I should have said if I [93/94] had been speaking of you, and I should not like you to think it was; at any rate, said of you it was not; I had quite another personage in mind" (UL, p. 5 6). In the Spectator for November 11, R. H. Hutton had anonymously reviewed the Essays and had observed that these Anglican controversial writings show "an anxious and difficult movement," and have "less ease, less freedom, less richness of illustration, and less breadth of thought" than any other of Newman's works, Anglican or Catholic. These essays, says Hutton, explain "a celebrated portrait of Dr. Newman, drawn while he was still an Anglican"; he then quotes lines 182-190 of Arnold's "Scholar-Gipsy":
... amongst us one,
Who most has suffer'd, takes dejectedly
His seat upon the intellectual throne;
And all his store of sad experience he
Lays bare of wretched days;
Tells us his misery's birth and growth and signs,
And how the dying spark of hope was fed,
And how the breast was soothed, and how the head,
And all his hourly varied anodynes. [PW, p. 260]
Hutton speaks of this as a picture of "spiritual valetudinarianism." (Spectator, November 11, 1871, p. 1369.) Whatever the intended reference — and there is reason to think Arnold had in mind Tennyson, about whom he had complained to Newman in 1868 — Arnold hastened to disavow even the suspicion of so unflattering a portrait. (See Tristram, 311). Tinker and Lowry, Commentary, pp. 209-211, note that, a1though Arnold later referred the words to Goethe, all other evidence points to Tennyson. Moreover, Hutton's assertion that the poem was written while Newman "was still an Anglican" is simply incorrect since "The Scholar-Gipsy" was first published in Arnold's 1853 Poems.
At this point occurs Arnold's most extended and most moving acknowledgment of Newman's influence:
I cannot forbear adding, what I have often wished to tell you, that no words can be too strong to express the interest with which I used to hear you at Oxford, and the pleasure with which I continue to read your writings now. We are all of us carried in ways not of our own making and choosing, but [94/95] nothing can ever do away the effect you have produced upon me, for it consists in a general disposition of mind rather than in a particular set of ideas. In all the conflicts I have with modern Liberalism and Dissent, and with their pretensions and shortcomings, I recognize your work; and I can truly say that no praise gives me so much pleasure as to be told (which sometimes happens) that a thing I have said reminds people, either in manner or matter, of you. [UL, pp. 56-57]
The words "Liberalism and Dissent" alert us to the likelihood that Arnold now not only thought of Newman as an ally in the general battle against Philistinism, described in "Culture and its Enemies," but also considered with at least some justice, that Newman had been his guide in using arguments on "development" against the Dissenters in "Puritanism and the Church of England." Arnold then asks Newman two questions. The first, concerning Newman's use of Butler in the Essay on Development, indicates that Arnold was at work on Chapter X of Literature and Dogma late in November of 1871; its significance must await the discussion of the latter volume, below. The second involves the role of the Churches in modern society, and looks less to Arnold's immediate theological concerns than to his social writings of the late seventies. Apropos of Newman's 1837 essay on the "Fall of la Mennais," Arnold inquires:
Do not you think that what is Tory and anti-democratic in the Church of England (and undoubtedly her Tory, anti-democratic, and even squirearchical character is very marked) is one of her great dangers at the present time; and a danger from which the Catholic Church, with its Gregories and Innocents of whom you speak, is much more exempt? I mean, though the R. Catholic Church may in fact have been anti-democratic in modern times on the Continent, there seems nothing in her nature to make her so; but in the nature of the English Church there does; and is not this an additional peril, at the present day, for the English Church? [UL, pp. 57-58; see a letter of May 30, 1872, addressed to another correspondent: "I entirely agree with you that its Tory and squirearchical connexion has been and is of the greatest disservice to the Church of England" (L, II, 97). )
Newman's reply of December 3 suggests that the previous correspondence between the two men had been more extensive than our present evidence reveals: "Your letter, as those which you have written [95/96] to me before now, is an extremely kind one." In the words "with quite as intimate an interest have I read what you have lately written and also what you now send me" Newman also indicates that he has kept abreast of Arnold's developing religious position, obviously alluding to the only two sections of Literature and Dogma to be published in periodical form (Cornhill, July and October 1871, comprising the Introduction and Chapters I-IV of the book). He adds, poignantly: "The more so, as regards your letter as well as your writings, for the very reason that I am so sensitively alive to the great differences of opinion which separate us" (UL, p. 59). In answer to Arnold's questions concerning Bishop Butler, Newman pleads a lapse of memory, but agrees with Arnold on "what you say about the Anglican and Catholic Churches relatively to democratic ideas." He recalls that Hurrell Froude had felt "that the Church must alter her position in the political world," and had followed Lamennais's progress with sympathy. He notes that there are at least "minute tokens which are showing themselves of the drawings of the Papal policy just now in the direction of the democracy," and that "it may be in the counsels of Providence that the Catholic Church may at length come out unexpectedly as a popular power" (UL, pp. 59-61). In his original review of Lamennais's Affaires de Rome, Newman had summarized Lamennais's anti-Gallican, ultrainontane view that the Pope should "take a high line, exert his spiritual powers, throw off the absolute courts who are his present supporters, and place himself at the bead of the democratic movement throughout Europe" (ECH, 1, 154). He says of Lamennais: "Believing that the Church Catholic was equal to any emergence or variety of human society, he desired her to throw herself upon the onward course of democracy, and to lead a revolutionary movement, which in her first ages she had created. She bad risen originally as the champion of suffering humanity; let her now return to her first position" (ECH, 1, 156). Newman is willing to grant "that popular influence is the life of the papacy," and that "while its carriage is aristocratic, the true basis of its power is the multitude" (ECH, 1, 162). Nevertheless, Newman's Anglican view — for all his hatred of the quasi-Gallican State domination of the English Church, is conservative, even reactionary, concerning any possible rapprochement [96/97] between the Churches and democracy The "democratical party of the day" resembles antichrist in its cry of "liberty," and yet Lamennais "does not seem to recognize ... that rebellion is a sin": in fact, "what we, in our English theology, should call the lawless and proud lusts of corrupt nature, he almost sanctifies as the instinctive aspirations of the heart after its unknown good" (ECH, 1, 157-58). Clearly, the Newman of 1871, now a moderate ultramontane himself, is less willing to condemn what in 1837 he called a "drugged and unwholesome" doctrine. At any rate, both Arnold and Newman, in this exchange of letters, seem acute prophets about the way the world was running.
In February and March 1872, three notes passed between the two men. On February 14 Newman wrote from the Oratory:
My dear Mr Arnold
I am going to ask your acceptance of a volume which is now close upon publication.
It is not one of any great interest to you-being made up of odds and ends already published-but I have no other way of showing you the gratitude, which I sincerely feel, for the various instances of your kindness towards me
Yours very sincerely
John H Newman.
[This and the following two letters are published through the assistance of Father Dessain.]
The volume, dated January 5, 1872, is Discussions and Arguments, a collection of six further essays by Newman, four of them from the period before 1845. The reference to "various instances" of Arnold's kindness may, again, indicate a greater incidence of earlier correspondence and exchange of writings than we can now prove. Arnold hastens to reply the following day, February 15, on Athenaeum Club stationery:
My dear Sir
I need hardly say what pleasure it will give me to receive from you the book you speak of, or how much I shall value it: I write this line, however, [98/99] to beg you, if the book is not yet sent off, to add to its value by yourself writing my name in it.
With the most sincere thanks and regard, I am always,
MY dear Sir,
Most truly yours,
Matthew Arnold. —
The Revd Dr Newman.
On March 7 Arnold wrote from Harrow, acknowledging the gift:
My dear Sir
I find your book with its kind inscription awaiting me here on my return home, after a period of much family trouble. To read you, always gives me high pleasure; and it always carries me back, besides, to some of the happiest places and times of my life; so the book is particularly welcome to me just now. Accept once more my cordial thanks, and believe me to be, my dear Sir,
Yours gratefully and sincerely
Matthew Arnold —
[The "family trouble" alluded to was the death of "Budge," Arnold's second son, Trevenen William, age eighteen, on February 16 (L,II, 90).]
The Revd Dr Newman.
P.S. I hope, if I send you from time to time any little thing of mine which I think may have interest for you, you will not put yourself to the trouble of writing to acknowledge it. To send would be a satisfaction to me; but it is a satisfaction I should deny myself if I thought I could not have it without compelling you to write a letter as the price of it.
The postscript of this last letter is explained by a letter of Newman's dated May 24, 1872, in which he thanks Arnold for a copy of his A Bible-Reading for Schools, which had just been issued. Arnold's central argument in the Preface is that Isaiah, as a text in the schools, will serve the cause of "letters," and not in any special sense religion: "If poetry, philosophy, and eloquence, if what we call in one word letters, are a power, and a beneficent wonder-working power, in education, through the Bible only have the people much chance of getting at poetry, philosophy and eloquence." (A Bible-Reading for Schools: The Great Prophecy of Israel's Restoration, p. x.) He justifies this view by a distinction; [98/99] he insists that "the Bible's application and edification" is separable from "its literary and historical substance." (Ibid, p. xxx.) The former unleashes Arnold's bête noire, "religious differences," a point he explains by referring to an "application" Newman makes of a text from Isaiah in "The Protestant Idea of Antichrist" (1840), one of the pieces reprinted in Essays Critical and Historical:
To take an example which will come home to all Protestants: Dr. Newman, in one of those charming Essays which he has of late rescued for us, quotes from the 54th chapter of Isaiah the passage beginning, I will lay thy stones with fair colours and thy foundations with sapphires, as a prophecy and authorisation of the sumptuosities of the Church of Rome. Ibis is evidently to use the passage in the way of application. Protestants will say that it is a wrong use of it; but to Dr. Newman their similar use of passages about the beast, and the scarlet woman, and Antichrist, will seem equally wrong; and in these cases of application who shall decide? But as to the historical substratum, the primary sense of the passage Dr. Newman quotes, what dissension can there be? (Ibid, pp. xxx-xxi; ECH, II, p. 184.)
Thus Arnold had invoked Newman in a characteristically ambiguo s wa as, for all the "charm" of his writings, the mistaken promulgato of,religious "dissension." It is not surprising, then, that Newman, though polite ("The idea of your book is excellent"), takes exception to Arnold's thesis. He salutes Arnold as a "champion of 'letters' in popular education, as against science," and admits, "doubtless the Old Testament is the only book ... which can serve as literary matter in popular schools." Nevertheless, he cannot accept Arnold's program for the use of the Bible as primarily literature for younger readers:
On the other hand, I should dread to view it as literature in the first place-and there will be no time, in the years available for the education of the masses, to read it over a second time, viz. in its literary aspect. A devout mind, which loves the objects which are its ultimate scope, and which instinctively sees our Lord moving along the successive prophetical announcements, may and will (if cultivated) go on to admire its wonderful poetry, and will bear safely, in a critical and scholar-like way, to investigate its literal and first meaning. But how few children are devout! As things [99/100] are, the prophecies of Isaiah come to the young as their Creed in the garb of poetry. The great dogmatic truths of the Gospel are inculcated on them in the medium of the imagination and the affections. If the duty of mastering the literal text and its historical and geographical circumstances is put upon young minds, who have not learned to be devout, nor have the subtlety necessary for being at home with the method of type and antitype, either they will be perplexed and put out to find (e.g.) Isai liii means at once Jeremiah or an abstract prophet and our Lord, or they will never learn the secret sense of the sacred text at all. [UL, pp. 63-64]
Without apparent irony, however, Newman ends: "I must not conclude without taking grateful notice of the kindness with which, as on former occasions, you introduce my name at p. xxx" (UL, pp. 64-65).
Arnold's reply of May 28 is curious. He begins by speaking of the great pleasure Newman's letter has given him, and this at once leads to his most explicit acknowledgment of Newman's influence on him:
There are four people, in especial, from whom I am conscious of having learnt — a very different thing from merely receiving a strong impression learnt habits, methods, ruling ideas, which are constantly with me; and the four are — Goethe, Wordsworth, Sainte-Beuve and yourself. You will smile and say I have made an odd mixture and that the result must be a jumble: however that may be as to the whole, I am sure in details you must recognise your own influence often, and perhaps this inclines you to indulgence. [UL, pp. 65-66]
Thus the profound "impression" of 1868 and the "general disposition' of mind" of 1871, have become "habits, methods, ruling ideas." The reason for this strong acknowledgment here, on the heels of a letter in which Newman clearly does not endorse the central argument of the Preface to Arnold's Bible-Reading, is not at first apparent. The most likely keys are the date and the word "details." In May 1872 Arnold was undoubtedly deep in the composition of Literature and Dogma, which, in its numerous references to Newman, reveals that Arnold was reading rather heavily in Newman's works at this period. Whether these references support Arnold's view that the "habits, methods, ruling ideas" of even the religious works are indebted to Newman remains to be seen.
Last modified 29 August 2007