Friday, February 25, 2011

03Nov1879, Long Talk With Cardinal Newman

KEBLE COLLEGE, November 3rd-9th, 1879.
—Came Monday afternoon to Keble College, and for the 1st time managed to spend as much as 4 nights there. All beautifully prosperous; even the dear Warden has not his usual term-look of tire, and darling Lavinia as brisk and strong as if she had nothing to do with the thumping fellow of 10 weeks old, by name Neville Stuart,[FN: Now Bishop of Pretoria.] who kicks and crows upstairs. Nevertheless she is nursing him 5 times a day; but whips about the town and does all manner of jobs between whiles. The most notable event of the week was the arrival on a morning call of no less a personage than Cardinal Newman! An historical event it was, to see him sitting in the house of the Warden of Keble College. About 2 years ago he was made honorary Fellow of his old College, Trinity, which deeply gratified him; and since that he has occasionally come to Oxford, which he had not done before since he forsook the English Church. Oh dear ! the sight of this flourishing College, with all that it represents of English Churchmanship striking deep roots and spreading far and wide, must, one would think, prove to him that there is some Divine life in the Church of his Baptism. He has said that he considers the Church of England a main bulwark against infidelity, which is something! Very soon I saw how it was that he was such a master of men's hearts, so winning, noble, and simple was his manner; his voice still flexible and musical, and such keen blue eyes, and eagle nose rather like Uncle W.'s. He is infirm and looks very old (he is about 79, I believe), but seems quite unchanged in mind. His business was to bring Edwarden some letters of Keble, which he didn't like to trust thro' the post; and he had to explain certain erasures he had made in them. This he did by word of mouth, Edward being at home; but there was also a most touching and interesting mem. to the same effect in his hand-writing along with the letters. He said the erasures were only of passages expressing such vehement self-depreciation as would certainly be misunderstood, and which Newman said he "could not" leave standing. He called him his "dearly, deeply beloved friend," and attributed the strong self-blame to the way his tender heart had been tried and wrung beyond what it could bear; enumerating the long list of public and private agonies which he, in common with all the great High Church pioneers, had had to undergo in the course of their noble fight. Amongst other unwarrantable self-accusations, said Dr. N., "he used to say that my 'becoming a Catholic' was his fault," which it certainly was not: "he had nothing to do with it." We asked him the date of the letters, and when he went back to those old heart-stirring dates —1822-1845—such a mournful, far-away look came into his eyes, and he fell into a muse while we all sate silent. He spoke of Dr. Pusey, and of his wonderful way of reading up vast quantities of matter and bringing them all to bear upon one proposition. Edward heartily agreed, and cited as an instance Pusey's book on The Real Presence. But Dr. N. wouldn't pursue that topic; he merely acquiesced, and there was a pause, which he broke by giving Edward the packet, with a most courteous, kind manner. He was drest in a very long coat (perhaps it was a cassock), and wore a red skull-cap under his shovel-hat.

One evening we had Dr. Acland and Dr. Liddon and Miss Wordsworth (the Head of the infant "Lady Margaret Hall" for women) to dinner. Very pleasant, tho' Dr. Acland rather monopolized the talk; but it was interesting, as he is just back from the United States. Dr. L. said he was in favour of a sensible "Home Rule," viz., one applying to England and Scotland as well as Ireland, and merely providing that each of the 3 kingdoms should have special Committees for the settling of their own matters. A mighty comfort it would be, for instance, not to have Scotch Presbyterians and Irish Romanists legislating on Church concerns!

Lavinia took me to see Ly. Margaret Hall [FN: The recently founded first Women's College in Oxford.] (I wish it didn't sound like a lady who has made a dowdy marriage), which is full already, and will flourish finely when once they have paid off the debt on the house and the starting expenses. Miss Wordsworth is delightful. We also called at "Somerville Hall," which is the same thing, only colourless in religion, but the Head, Miss Lefevre, (one of the daughters of old Sir John, who is lately dead), was out. Likewise visited Miss Bishop, late of Chelsea High School, now at the High School here ; and Lavinia so took to her that she there and then nearly settled to send little May there some day. Said little May most quaint and charming but alas ! entering the inevitable phase of self-consciousness. Warden minor [FN: E. K. Talbot, now Superior of the Anglican Community of the Resurrection.] a jolly, darling ugly-mug with red curls, very like Bob ; F. took to him much the most of the two!

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