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Memorandum Appended - 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).
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Lord Lyons thought that, on many grounds, it would be very undesirable that the French Government should be asked to furnish copies of the speeches at the Œcumenical Council.
July 18, 1870.
My dear Acton,—
I did not like to tell you by telegraph that I had any instructions for you.
But if you will show Blomfield this letter he will show you confidentially the despatches which bear upon our position as Neutrals, and the necessity we have found ourselves in of declining the pressure put upon us by France, Austria, and Italy to take a more active part.
With regard to Italy, our advice to the Pope has been not to leave Rome.
Our instructions to the “Defence” have been to protect British subjects and property and to afford an Asylum to the Pope, if he made a formal demand for it, but not to offer it to His Holiness.
I shall have much to tell you, and to learn from you when we meet. In the meantime send all the news you can, when you have safe opportunities.—Yours sincerely,
Hotel Westminster, Rue de la Paix,
Dear Mr. Gladstone,—
I don’t know whether you will remember a topic I wrote about to you more than a year ago, when the Council was the thing still uppermost in our thoughts. Archbishop Darboy had told me that the stenographic reports of the debates at St. Peter’s, at least on the question of Infallibility, had been sent to Paris, and that Ollivier had shown them to Guizot. It would be of the greatest importance to obtain exact knowledge of these reports, and you were good enough to sound Lord Lyons about it. Lord Lyons disliked the notion of asking Gramont for that sort of thing, and there was an end of it.
Lord Lyons’s objection probably holds good still. So does the extreme importance of these papers. They would probably have as much interest for you as for me; and I presume they are still in the hands of the Government. I should like to make an attempt to get at them, but I do not see any prospect of succeeding unless I can make the request for you, and in your name, when I see Rémusat. If the relations subsisting between you and Thiers admit of it, I should be glad to be able to say that I had your authority to make this request, for the communication of the reports, obviously of great value to you for many reasons.
May I, within any limits and under any restrictions, open this matter with Rémusat?
I know nothing that could contribute more to the ultimate, though very distant, restoration of unity and truth. I remain, yours most sincerely,
Athenæum Club,Pall Mall,
. . . Here we are disturbed by alarmists with stories of approaching war. But it does seem that Thiers would be crazy to fight while the Germans are in the Departments, and while Russia, the one possible ally, remains so inaccessible.
The Government is floundering with the Ballot Bill and Forster is losing much of the prestige he got by Education. But there are hopes of saving the American treaty1 after all, as opinion seems to be coming round, out there.
Does any Frenchman you see contemplate a possible combination with Germany for the dismemberment of Belgium?
Your conversations with that wise old man Guizot must have been very interesting. He seems to me to write now as well as he ever did.
Oxenham writes this Saturday a warm panegyric on our friend Michaud’s new book.2 I need not tell you that I cannot agree with him, and I perceive that the difference which existed between us at Herrnsheim1 is one of fundamental principle. The new book explains what was obscure in his first steps. Deeming Rome heretical, he did not wait till his archbishop put the knife at his throat, but took the initiative of that operation on himself. So that, in fact, he is renouncing communion with us who wish to remain in communion with Rome. He must mean that there was nothing heretical in the Church before 1870, if the Decrees of July make such a difference—and that is the most direct contradiction of my theory that the decisive objection to these decrees lies in the previous doctrines which are sanctioned and revived thereby. I think very much worse of the Vor Juli Kirche than he does, and better of the Nachjuli Kirche.2 . . .
I am very curious about Mme. de Forbin’s3 Council of Trent. The fact is, whoever writes on that subject ought to be able to dispense with the two famous historians,4 and to make up his account with the very documents. I wonder how she has tested Pallavicini’s testimony, and with what result. . . .—Ever yours,
Tegernsee,August 24th .
Dear Lady Blennerhassett,—
. . . I hope you will be at Munich in the course of next month. The professor5 seems to be enjoying himself here, and we have been deep in past times. But the actualité is beginning to assert itself. Michaud was here yesterday, with Wassiliew. He will come again to spend some days, and will probably bring Langen6 with him, who is studying at the Munich library.
Huber1 also is here, so that there will be some opportunity of discussing Church questions and the Cologne meeting. Michaud is in a great state of mind about Montalembert. In France they are employing all means to suppress what they do not wish to be known. It will therefore be dangerous to consult French friends, if you persist, as I hope you do, in the idea of writing about him. On the other hand, it will be an excellent reason to obtain from Michaud what he cannot produce in his own country. Michaud certainly has good materials, and he was an independent observer. He does not confirm the stories about Hyacinthe,2 but says that he has become what Michaud calls half an Ultramontane. That is to say, he does not throw over the Hierarchy altogether.
The present is generally the enemy of the past, and brings interruption. But the topic of Montalembert ought not to stand in the way of Ganganelli3 more than a few weeks. It is extraordinary how different both will appear in the mere light of sincerity.
I ought to say that Döllinger disagrees with what I said in my letter about Staupitz.4 And I have no materials here to support my view that he never really renounced his Lutheran sympathies.—Yours very faithfully,
Tegernsee,Sept. 2, 1872.
Dear Lady Blennerhassett,—
. . . No actual, authentic publication of Montalembert’s papers is to be expected, and it is neither possible nor proper to make any collection of them without the consent of the family and literary executors. But a sketch such as you will write, fortified with new and original matter, will steady his reputation and frustrate the conspiracy.
Michaud has some precious materials, and will doubtless give them up to you. But Mrs. Craven1 would be the best of all helps. If Mrs. Oliphant’s2 book appears she might be provoked into giving you the letters she possesses.
Langen was with us yesterday, and left me a very favourable impression.—Believe me, dear Lady Blennerhassett, yours very sincerely,
It may be convenient to give the operative words of the Decree:—
Definimus: Romanum pontificem, cum ex Cathedra loquitur, id est, cum omnium christianorum Pastoris et Doctoris munere fungens, pro suprema sua Apostolica auctoritate doctrinam de fide vel moribus ab universa Ecclesia tenendam definit per assistentiam divinam, ipsi in beato Petro promissam ea infallibilitate pollere, qua divinus Redemptor Ecclesiam suam in definienda doctrina de fide vel moribus instructam esse voluit; ideoque ejusmodi Romani Pontificis definitiones ex sese, non autem ex consensu Ecclesiæ, irreformabiles esse.
Cf. Acta et Decreta Sacrosancti et Oecumenici Concilii Vaticanii, ii. 187.
[1 ]I.e. the Treaty of Washington, which settled the basis of the Alabama arbitration.
[2 ]Michaud, Eugène, was a historian, strongly opposed to the doctrine of Papal Infallibility; author of Louis XIV et Innocent XI, and many other works. In 1872 he published Comment l’Eglise romaine n’est plus l’Eglise catholique.
[1 ] Herrnsheim was the Dalberg estate on the Rhine which came to Acton through his mother and was sold in 1883.
[2 ] That is, the Church before and after the Vatican Decrees.
[3 ] La Marquise de Forbin d’Offède (d. 1884), began a monumental work on the history of the Council of Trent. She accomplished only the history of its first session. After much consultation it was withdrawn from the printer for fear of causing scandal. Cf. an article in Le Correspondant by the Marquis de Ségur, 1885.
[4 ] The two famous historians are Sarpi and Pallavicini.
[5 ] Döllinger.
[6 ]Langen, Joseph, Professor of Theology at Munich; wrote strongly against the Vatican Decrees.
[1 ]Huber, Alfons, historian (1834-98); conducted researches concerning the famous cantons Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden (1861); was professor in Innsbruck from 1863, afterwards at Vienna.
[2 ]Hyacinthe. This is the famous Père Hyacinthe, Charles Loyson (1827). He left the Roman Church after the Vatican Council, and married in 1872. He was intimately connected with Döllinger and the Old Catholics. His chief activities were at Geneva, and later at Paris.
[3 ]Ganganelli, Giovanni Vincenzo Antonio, was Pope Clement XIV, who suppressed the Society of Jesus in 1771.
[4 ]Staupitz, Johann von, Luther’s early friend and adviser, head of the Augustinian Order in Germany. He influenced Luther much in the doctrine of justification by faith, but he was not prepared to break with the Church.
[1 ] Mrs. Craven, the authoress of Le Récit d’une Sœur.
[2 ] In 1872 Mrs. Oliphant published in two volumes her Memoir of the Count de Montalembert. In 1875 Mme. Augustus Craven published a short Étude d’après l’ouvrage de Madame Oliphant.