Front Page Titles (by Subject) From Sir John Acton. - Selections from the Correspondence of the First Lord Acton, Vol. I (Cardinal Newman, Lady Blennerhassett, W.E. Gladstone)
Return to Title Page for Selections from the Correspondence of the First Lord Acton, Vol. I (Cardinal Newman, Lady Blennerhassett, W.E. Gladstone)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
From Sir John Acton. - John Emerich Edward Dalberg, Lord Acton, Selections from the Correspondence of the First Lord Acton, Vol. I (Cardinal Newman, Lady Blennerhassett, W.E. Gladstone) 
Selections from the Correspondence of the First Lord Acton, edited with and Introduction by John Neville Figgis and Renald Vere Laurence. Vol. I Correspondence with Cardinal Newman, Lady Blennerhassett, W.E. Gladstone and Others (London: Longmans, Gree and Co., 1917).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
From Sir John Acton.
June 9, 1861.
Your letter is a great encouragement to me, and would be a great consolation, but for the desponding manner in which you speak of what you have done and are yet to do.
I have been often very sorry to think that I was taking a line in politics in which I was not sure of your approbation. On some points, I suppose, I must acknowledge that you would really disagree with me; but I sometimes flatter myself that it is my way of putting things that repels you rather than the views themselves. I have studied politics very elaborately, and more as a science than people generally consider it, and therefore I am afraid of writing like a doctrinaire, or of appearing zealous to force a particular and very unpalatable system down people’s throats. This would not be the right way to convert them, and my plan has been from time to time to put forward a fragmentary view on one subject, and then another separate fragment, without pointing out the connection or interdependence of the two, and especially without trying to derive them from the fundamental general truths from which I believe them to proceed.
I am very much more troubled by what you say of Simpson’s1 treatment of Pius V. It must be remembered that the Papers on Campion are Chapters of a history, not Articles in a Review; that simple truth, therefore, and not effect is the guiding consideration, and that scientific treatment requires to be pursued sine acceptatione personarum. Only a Jansenist can say that a Pope or a Saint was not liable to sin and error, and that the Church has the same infallibility in Government as in faith. When such personages appear in history, they cannot be treated as subject to different laws from other men; and in the Life of a Saint, written even for religious instruction and edification, I suppose the account of his faults is as instructive, or at least as necessary for instruction, as the account of his virtues. Here, however, is a matter not affecting his sanctity, but his judgment as Ruler of the Church; and nobody, I suppose, will say that Saints are necessarily wise in the wisdom of the world. In the saying of your Dominican friend, I can discern nothing but a dread of that which is one of the foundations of religion and holiness, and a spirit which seems to me more pernicious and more important to oppose than anything which is outside the Church. I really cannot discover a bridge by which I can hope to get over the very wide chasm that seems to me to separate me from you on this point; and, when you can find time to write about it, I earnestly hope you will give me the chance of finding my way to you.
[1 ] Richard Simpson contributed to the Rambler four articles on ‘Edmond Campion.’ It is to these articles that Newman is referring.