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John Henry Newman and the uses of antiquity

  • Graham John Wheeler (a1)
Abstract

John Henry Newman’s engagement with classical antiquity is one of the less fully researched areas of his work. An examination of Newman’s shifting relationship with the classics sheds valuable light both on his own religious concerns and on broader tensions and trends in Victorian Christian culture. This article initiates three lines of inquiry. First, it examines, one by one, several distinct and competing conceptions of classical pagan antiquity which Newman employed in his writings. Second, it considers Newman’s views on the continuing practical application of classical literature and learning. Third, it looks specifically at the novel Callista, the only book that Newman wrote which is set wholly against the backdrop of the pagan Graeco-Roman world. It may be seen that Newman’s relationship with the classics forms a microcosm of how Victorian Christian society struggled by turns to align itself with and to distance itself from differing visions of classicism and paganism. His works exemplify the diverse ways in which his culture could praise and criticise the classical world.

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1 Yates, Nigel, Anglican Ritualism in Victorian Britain 1830–1910 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 69 .

2 Strachey, Lytton, Eminent Victorians (Garden City: Garden City Publishing Co., [1928]), 16-17 . Strachey borrowed this phrase from Arnold, Matthew, Discourses in America (London: Macmillan, 1885), 142 .

3 Bernal, Martin, Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization: Volume 1: The Fabrication of Ancient Greece, 1785–1985 (London: Vintage Books, 1991), 322.

4 On this issue, see e.g. Pitt, Valerie, ‘Demythologising Newman’, in David Nicholls and Fergus Kerr, eds. John Henry Newman: Reason, Rhetoric and Romanticism (Bristol: Bristol Press, 1991), 13-27 at 16-18. See also, more equivocally, Harrold, Charles F., John Henry Newman (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1945), 246-254 and Beer, John, ‘Newman and the Romantic Sensibility’, in Hugh S. Davies and George Watson, eds. The English Mind (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1964), 193-218 . For a contrary view, see e.g. Martin, Brian, John Henry Newman: His Life and Work (London: Continuum, 2000), 9-10 .

5 Reardon, Bernard M. G., Religion in the Age of Romanticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 14 .

6 Joseph Cronin, ‘The Medievalism of the Oxford Movement’, Reinvention 3(2) (2010), http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/iatl/reinvention/issues/volume3issue2/cronin/ (accessed June 23, 2017).

7 Stephen Halliwell, ‘Kenneth Dover and the Greeks’, n. xvi, https://www.academia.edu/2581374/Kenneth_Dover_and_the_Greeks (accessed June 23, 2017).

8 Goldhill, Simon, Victorian Culture and Classical Antiquity (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011), 243 .

9 Tristram, Henry, ‘The Classics’, in Michael Tierney ed. A Tribute to Newman (Dublin: Browne and Nolan, 1945), 246-278 at 249-59.

10 See e.g. Tristram, , ‘The Classics’, 273-274 ; Ker, Ian, John Henry Newman (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 447-8, 537 .

11 See Weatherby, Harold L., Cardinal Newman in His Age (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1973), 129-131 . ‘Apologia Pro Vita Sua’ is, of course, itself a Graeco-Latin title.

12 Tristram, Henry, ed. John Henry Newman: Autobiographical Writings (London: Sheed and Ward, 1956), 151 .

13 See Ker, Ian, ‘Newman the Satirist’, in Ian Ker and Alan G. Hill, eds. Newman after a Hundred Years (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999), 1-20 at 3-4; and, in the same volume, Hill, Alan G. and Ker, Ian, ‘Newman as a Letter-Writer’, 129-151 at 130, 134.

14 Newman, John Henry, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1903), 363-371 . This article uses the uniform Longmans edition of Newman’s works (save where it is necessary to make reference to other, specific critical editions). Each volume from the Longmans edition is cited as a separate work, even where it forms part of a multi-volume set, as the individual parts of multi-volume sets were not necessarily published at the same time. The same practice is followed for volumes of Newman’s Letters and Diaries.

15 Todd, Robert B., Dictionary of British Classicists, 3 vols (Bristol: Thoemmes Continuum, 2004), 2:711-712 .

16 A political enemy like Cardinal Patrick Francis Moran could call him a ‘bad Latinist’, see Stockley, W.F.P., Newman, Education and Ireland (London: Sands & Co, 1933), 64 .

17 ‘What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?’ (Tertullian, Prescription, 7.9) and ‘Preparation for the Gospel’ (the title of Eusebius’ well known work). Newman himself explicitly accepted the ‘Preparation for the Gospel’ theory: Newman, John Henry, Historical Sketches, vol. 3 (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1909), 85 and Apologia Pro Vita Sua (London: Oxford University Press, 1913), 128.

18 Hutton, Ronald, The Triumph of the Moon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 5, 11 .

19 Prickett, Stephen, Modernity and the Reinvention of Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 180 . On rhetoric in Newman’s writings generally, see Jost, Walter, Rhetorical Thought in John Henry Newman (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1989).

20 Newman, John Henry, Historical Sketches, vol. 2 (London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1906), 190-191 .

21 Newman, John Henry, Sermons on Subjects of the Day (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1902), 214 .

22 Newman, John Henry, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 3 (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1907), 43 .

23 Newman, , Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 1 (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1907), 16 .

24 Newman, John Henry, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 2 (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1907), 236-238 .

25 Newman, John Henry, Discussions and Arguments on Various Subjects (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1907), 88, 200-201 .

26 He alludes to Ps. 106:37 and 1 Cor. 10:20 in Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 5 (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1907), 171-2 and Fifteen Sermons Preached Before the University of Oxford (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1909), 240.

27 Newman, , Apologia, 111 .

28 Newman, John Henry, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 6 (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1907), 204 .

29 Bellarmine, St Robert, De Laicis, chapter 20 .

30 Gay, Peter, The Enlightenment: An Interpretation: The Rise of Modern Paganism (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1967), 32, 44 .

31 Newman, , Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 1, 16.

32 See Newman, John Henry, Sermons Preached on Various Occasions (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1908), 27; Historical Sketches, vol. 3, 105-6.

33 Newman, John Henry, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1909), 240, 245 .

34 Newman, , Grammar of Assent, 395-396 ; see also Sermons on Subjects of the Day, 120.

35 Newman, , Historical Sketches, vol. 3, 81.

36 1 Cor. 15.32.

37 Dawson, Gowan, Darwin, Literature and Victorian Respectability (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 86 .

38 The standard treatment is Hutton, Triumph of the Moon. See also e.g. Davis, Philip G., Goddess Unmasked (Dallas: Spence, 1998), from a conservative Christian perspective; and Barnett, Suzanne, ‘“The great God Pan is alive again”: Thomas Love Peacock and Percy Shelley in Marlow’, Essays in Romanticism 21(1) (2014): 65-87 .

39 Newman, , Discussions and Arguments, 71 .

40 Newman, , Sermons Preached on Various Occasions, 207-208 .

41 See Ker, Ian and Gornall, Thomas, eds. The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, vol. 3 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1979), 292 ; also Newman, John Henry, Essays Critical and Historical, vol. 1 (London: Longman, Green, and Co., 1907), 304 .

42 Newman, , Historical Sketches, vol. 1 (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1908), 306 .

43 Newman, , Historical Sketches, vol. 3, 34 .

44 Newman, , Fifteen Sermons, 28 .

45 Newman, John Henry, The Arians of the Fourth Century (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1908), 109-110 . For other examples of the same attitude, see Newman, , Sermons Preached on Various Occasions, 18, 22-23 .

46 Newman, John Henry, The Idea of a University (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1907), 194-196 . On Julian as a type of the Antichrist, see also Discussions and Arguments, e.g. 57-8.

47 Newman, , Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 1, 275-6.

48 Newman, , Essay on Development, 402-403 .

49 Weatherby, , Cardinal Newman, 100 .

50 See Rowan Williams’s comments in ‘Newman’s Arians and the Question of Method in Doctrinal History’, in Ker, Ian and Hill, Alan G., eds. Newman after a Hundred Years (Oxford: Clarendon, 1999), 279-282 and Newman, John Henry, The Arians of the Fourth Century, Rowan Williams, ed. (Leominster: Gracewing, 2001), xxxvi-xli .

51 See e.g. McGrath, Francis, John Henry Newman: Universal Revelation (Tunbridge Wells: Burns & Oates, 1997) and ‘John Henry Newman and the Dispensation of Paganism’, International Journal for the Study of the Christian Church 1 (2001): 26-42; also Merrigan, T., ‘Newman and Religions’, Louvain Studies 35 (2011): 336-349 .

52 Newman, , Arians, 80-81 . See also Connolly, John R., John Henry Newman (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005), 54 n.51 ; McGrath, Francis J., ed. The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, vol. 9 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 118 n.6; and Newman, John Henry, Fifteen Sermons Preached Before the University of Oxford, James David Earnest and Gerard Tracey, eds. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 349 .

53 Newman, , Fifteen Sermons, 16-36 .

54 Ker, Ian and Gornall, Thomas, eds. The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, vol. 2 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1979), 281-283 .

55 Newman, John Henry, Verses on Various Occasions (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1903), 134 .

56 Newman, , Arians, 90-91 .

57 For example, the influential eighteenth-century Catholic theologian Luke Hooke wrote: ‘The Christian religion has the unique honour of being as old as the world.... All pagan religions, to the extent that they differ from the true religion, are novel.... The Romans, the Greeks and the Egyptians knew what the origins were of almost all their superstitions: they knew at whose behest, at what time and in what circumstances they were established.’ (De Vera Religione, Pt. 2, Quaestiones subsidiariae, Chapter 2).

58 Newman, , Sermons Preached on Various Occasions, 97-98 . See also the references in n. 17 above.

59 Newman, , Discussions and Arguments, 200 ; Arians, 83-4; Sermons Preached on Various Occasions, 211; Fifteen Sermons, 247-9, 329; Faith and Prejudice (New York: Sheed & Ward, 1956), 125.

60 See Kidd, Colin, The World of Mr Casaubon (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016).

61 Newman, , Arians, 83 .

62 Newman, , Sermons Preached on Various Occasions, 18 .

63 Newman, , Historical Sketches, vol. 3, 105-106 .

64 See de Achaval, Hugo M. and Holmes, J. Derek, eds. The Theological Papers of John Henry Newman on Faith and Certainty (Oxford: Clarendon, 1976), 138 .

65 See Dessain, Charles Stephen and Gornall, Thomas, eds. The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, vol. 30 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976), 105 .

66 Newman, , Idea of a University, 65-66 .

67 Newman, John Henry, Essays Critical and Historical, vol. 2 (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1907), 232 .

68 Newman, , Sermons on Subjects of the Day, 214 .

69 Newman, , Essay on Development, 371-372 .

70 Newman, , Sermons Preached on Various Occasions, e.g. 203-207 .

71 Newman, , Historical Sketches, vol. 1, 259 .

72 Newman, , Sermons Preached on Various Occasions, 97-98 .

73 See e.g. Newman, , Historical Sketches, vol. 2, 461-474 ; and, in similar vein, Idea of a University, 260-1.

74 Newman, , Historical Sketches, vol. 2, 408 .

75 Newman, , Idea of a University, 256-259 .

76 See Froude, James Anthony, Short Studies on Great Subjects, 3rd ed. (London: Longmans, Green, and Co. 1868), 334-362 .

77 See e.g. Newman, , Idea of a University, 6 .

78 Newman, , Apologia, 128 .

79 See Tristram, , ‘The Classics’, 272-273 ; Dessain, Charles Stephen and Gornall, Thomas eds. The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, vol. 26 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974), 389 .

80 Newman, , Idea of a University, 259-260 .

81 Newman, , Idea of a University, 258 .

82 Newsome, David, Two Classes of Men (London: John Murray, 1974), 62 ; see generally 57-72 on Newman’s Aristotelianism in the English context. See further on Aristotle’s influence on Newman (and its limits) Jost, Rhetorical Thought and Magill, Gerard, Religious Morality in John Henry Newman (Cham: Springer, 2015), 65-66 , with bibliography.

83 See e.g. Harrold, , John Henry Newman, 13 ; Gilley, Sheridan, Newman and his Age (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1990), 35-36 .

84 Newman, , Historical Sketches, vol. 1, 274 .

85 Newman, , Essays Critical and Historical, vol. 1, 7 .

86 Cf. Keble’s Lectures on Poetry, trans. E.K. Francis, 2 vols (Oxford: Clarendon, 1912), 2: 216-9.

87 Newman, Essays Critical and Historical, vol. 1, 4, 10. There is probably also an allusion to Plato’s theory of forms.

88 Ibid, 26.

89 Newsome, , Two Classes of Men, 58-59 .

90 Newman, , Essay on Development, 49, 52, 113 .

91 See Newman, Grammar of Assent, e.g. 353-5. For some background and context, see e.g. Aquino, Frederick D., Communities of Informed Judgment (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2004), 69-70 , with notes; and Ker, John Henry Newman, 618-25, 636-50.

92 Richardson, Laurence, Newman’s Approach to Knowledge (Leominster: Gracewing, 2007), 125 . No attempt is made here to settle the technical debates on Aristotle’s influence on Newman in this regard: for example, whether Newman’s reading of Aristotle was mistaken (see e.g. Jay Newman, The Mental Philosophy of John Henry Newman (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1986), 171-2).

93 On the history here, see generally Pereiro, James, Theories of Development in the Oxford Movement (Gracewing: Leominster, 2015), esp. 19-24 (the relevant material originally appeared in ‘Ethos’ and the Oxford Movement (Oxford: Clarendon, 2008)). Interestingly, Pereiro observes (22) that Newman’s ideas in this area may also have been influenced by St Athanasius.

94 Newman, , Arians, 30-31 .

95 Newman, , Essays Critical and Historical, vol. 2, 42 .

96 Newman, , Idea of a University, 383 .

97 See Griffin, John R., A Historical Commentary on the Major Catholic Works of Cardinal Newman (New York: Peter Lang, 1993), 71 .

98 Newman, , Idea of a University, 109-110 . See also 414-5 for a curiously similar passage about Aristotle’s teaching on rhetoric.

99 Newman, , Fifteen Sermons, 28-29 .

100 On the relationship between the two books, see e.g. Dorman, Susann, ‘ Hypatia and Callista: The Initial Skirmish between Kingsley and Newman’, Nineteenth-Century Fiction 34 (1979): 173-193 ; and Lankewish, Vincent A., ‘Love Among the Ruins: The Catacombs, the Closet, and the Victorian ‘Early Christian’ Novel’, Victorian Literature and Culture 28 (2000): 239-273 .

101 See Crawford, Charlotte E., ‘Newman’s ‘Callista’ and the Catholic Popular Library’, Modern Language Review 45 (1950): 219-221 .

102 See Lankewish, ‘Love Among the Ruins’. Cf. DeLaura, David J., Hebrew and Hellene in Victorian England (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1969), 315 .

103 See Goldhill, , Victorian Culture, 156 ; Vance, Norman, ‘The Novel’, in Norman Vance and Jennifer Wallace, eds. The Oxford History of Classical Reception in English Literature, vol. 4, 1790-1880 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 279-298 at 285-91.

104 Newman, , Essay on Development, 211-219 .

105 Newman, , Callista (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1904), 326 .

106 Ibid, 26.

107 Ibid, 113-4.

108 Newman, , Historical Sketches, vol. 3, 18 ; see also 40-3 for another purple passage.

109 Ibid, 33, 65.

110 Newman, , Callista, 193 .

111 Ibid, 192.

112 Ibid, 249-50.

113 Ibid, 271. See further, Hutton, , Triumph of the Moon, 43-51 .

114 On this aspect of the book, see e.g. Wolff, Robert Lee, Gains and Losses (New York: Garland, 1977), 69-70 .

115 Newman, , Callista, 242-243 .

116 Ibid, 90.

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