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(I): DEAN CHURCH - 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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My dear Lord Acton,—
I do not feel that I sufficiently expressed yesterday how sincerely grateful I am to you for the trouble which you took with my papers, and your very instructive remarks on them. They will be of more service to me than any observations which I have yet had from any friends to whom I have shown these papers. I am sorry that the unrevised condition of these papers gave you the trouble of noticing smaller mistakes. If I ever publish them, I must say beforehand distinctly what I want to do; which is, not to pretend to write a history of the movement, or to account for it, or adequately to judge it and put it in its due place in relation to the religious and philosophical history of the time; but simply to preserve a contemporary memorial of what seems to me to have been a true and noble effort which passed before my eyes, and to prevent, so far as I could, the “passing away as a dream,” of a short scene of religious earnestness and aspiration, with all that was in it of self-devotion, affectionateness and high and refined and varied character, displayed under circumstances which are scarcely intelligible to men of the present time; so enormous have been the changes in what was assumed and acted upon, and thought practicable and reasonable, “fifty years since.” For their time and opportunities the men of the movement with all their imperfect equipment, and their mistakes, still seem to me the salt of their generation. Those who did not know their times and them, can hardly be expected to think this of men so unlike to our times, which are in many ways so much an advance on what was possible in theirs. But I wish to leave behind a record that one who lived with these men, and lived long beyond most of them, believed in the reality of their goodness and height of character, and still looks back with deepest reverence to those forgotten men, as the companions to whose teaching and example he owes an infinite debt; and not he only, but religious society in England, of all kinds.
I give this account of what I want to do, because of your very just remarks on the prominence given to men and books, now scarcely known even by name. Bowden’s book, e.g., came when there was no other book which took up the cudgels for a Pope like Hildebrand: any one can do it now, with due distinctions and reserves, but there was novelty in doing so in those days when Milman on the Middle Ages was still in the future. So, again, about Marriott, no one can, as you say, understand how he could have been the influence which he was. But nevertheless he was unique both for his oddness and his high goodness. Personally, I owe to him the being dragged out of mud, and the first wish and effort to think; and what I owe him, numbers of other men also owed him. R. H. Froude would have been even more forgotten, as he died early, but for his name and his more famous younger brother. But long after his death, his name was in the mouth of Newman and his special friends all day long, as the friend and brother whose courage and impatience of unreality had given them heart for an enterprise which seemed a wild one. I have not attempted a complete criticism of Newman, partly because I feel it beyond me, partly because it is so against the grain, partly because he has himself put himself before the world, and possibly may do so still more. I had rather leave that to others less prepossessed than I must be. I agree that the contract about Luther for a private letter had best go out. But, though I have always had a liking for Luther, I still venture to ask whether he was what one usually means by a divine. He supplied the force and energy to the Reformation, and the great idea of Justification. But was he not a man of one idea, like Carlyle—and was not Calvin really the divine who told us the religious thought of the Reformation? Was Luther read as Calvin was, anywhere but in Germany? Was he read much in France, England, Scotland, Italy?
With respect to Liberalism, perhaps the word had better be banished, if one could find a better. But it is a name claimed as an honour, as much as given as a nickname. And I have no prejudice against the name, for in many ways I have thrown in my lot with the Liberal side. But still I must say that the men who called themselves emphatically “Liberals” in the early days of the movement, were very much what I have described them, in the passage you have noted. In their attitude towards religion, and it is in that respect that I speak of them, they were what I have said. Of course, they had many good qualities; but as religious teachers they were men to extinguish quietly a creed and a church, and be bitterly intolerant of any effort to resist them. You must not think I am writing in a mere loose way. I have names before my mind in writing so.
And I am afraid that I must still hold that the charge of dishonesty, thrown out wholesale as it was, was—well, I won’t say dishonest, for people no doubt persuaded themselves they were right—but grossly discreditable to men who had the means of knowing, both what Newman, Keble, etc., were, as men and clergymen, and what had been said and taught in the Anglican Church by some of its highest authorities. If they did not know these things, the facts were before their eyes, and they might have known them: they chose to ignore them and they chose to ignore also what was difficult in their own position. Forgive me, if, when I remember what Newman and Keble were, and what Hampden,1 Faussett,2 and even Hawkins3 were, and what these last allowed themselves to say of their opponents, my heart is sometimes hot within me.
I have tried not to shirk saying what I thought faulty and mistaken on my own side, in much of what happened, especially as time went on, and eagerness, and excitement, and also the sense of wrong, brought the too ordinary consequences of party action; especially party action, combined with grave and eventful changes in belief and sympathies. I have not consciously wished to suppress anything against my friends, though I have thought it fair to urge the consideration of the difficulties which beset minds undergoing these changes. But I am very grateful to you for strongly calling my attention to the duty of sincerity in dealing with matters on which it is not easy to avoid severe judgment: and, involved in the obligation of sincerity, the duty of taking the opponent’s point of view, of giving him credit as far as possible for all that he claims of looking all round, of remembering the faults, and the causes of offence and suspicion, of one’s own friends and one’s own party. No one feels more distinctly than I do my own share in what was to be condemned in the temper, or the line of conduct of my own side. Perhaps this is a strong reason for holding one’s peace now, and leaving the judgment on it all to others out of the fight. But at the same time, I cannot but feel that there is a debt due to what was at the time the defeated side, who certainly then paid to the full the Væ Victis penalty: and if I say that I think them, with all their faults, to have been the religious side, and their cause the cause of real and high goodness, I owe them a debt of justice, as against those who were so fiercely intolerant of them.
I do not suppose that Maurice would ever say what he knew to be untrue. But I have always, in spite of a very ancient admiration for Maurice, thought that he was a man of very strong antipathies, and in his enthusiastic confidence in his own theories contemptuous and unjust to those which seem to come into competition with them. He had a special theory of Baptism, and Pusey was unpardonable for maintaining one which crossed it. He always seemed to me to lose his temper, when talking of Oxford and the Oxford men.
Please forgive me this long story. It ought to have been inflicted on your ears yesterday, when you could have closed them if you liked, rather than on your eyes to-day, but I had a headache, and was glad to keep off questions. And let me thank you very much for all your kindness.—Yours faithfully,
R. W. Church.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,—
Next to the family, and to my son, who deeply and rightly feels his own misfortune, I thought most of your loss by Lord Granville’s death. There was an admirable fitness in your union; and I had been able to watch how it became closer and easier, in spite of so much to separate you, in mental habits, in early affinities and even in the form of fundamental convictions, since he came home from your first budget, overwhelmed, thirty-eight years ago. I saw all the connections which had their root in social habit fade before the one which took its rise from public life and proved more firm and more enduring than the rest.
Your last letter was so alarming that I was not unprepared, but it was only after his death that I learned the sad details. Freddy Leveson was very silent, and, from extreme discretion, told me that I could not arrive in time, when, in fact, it would have been quite possible. Apart from what is written here, I bear in silence the pain and the disgrace of having been absent even from his funeral.
The Temps, which is the best informed of European newspapers on English affairs, had a perfectly just article upon him. I was glad that some of his defects, the disorder of his papers, the lack of power to extract work, were lightly touched by Fitzmaurice.
I hope you will remember to claim your letters. I am afraid that too much of what is yours, of what is really yourself, is being dispersed by Arthur Gordon, in his coming biographies of your colleagues. Lady Herbert is here, and is grateful for her reception at Hawarden.
Your permission to retain the use of the Professor’s letters is invaluable, and I thank you for it very much. Without it I did not find that I was authorised to disappoint our French friend1 to whom merit of a certain kind cannot be denied. His notion that Jansenism left a deposit of opposition after the dogmatic brains were out, and that opposition is all the same whatever its motive or its derivation, is very misleading. The Dean’s charming book2 has brought home to me the difference in the meaning of Liberalism applied to Church matters in the several Churches, and the opposite sense in which we employ the term. With you it marks a diminution of churchmanship, and a dilution of true religious spirit. With us it is the beginning of real religion, a condition of interior Catholicism. The Papacy, as the source and the soul of the Inquisition, has a very qualified authority and repute with anybody who proceeds from political Liberalism. The attitude, in Church matters, is profoundly affected thereby; and the Liberal cannot look without moral disgust at men upon whom these considerations have no effect. That is a line of thought which Döllinger had the greatest difficulty in understanding, and he had come to disparage the papal see for other causes than those which offend us as political thinkers.
Childers has been here, and speaks of his health as improving. But there is a melancholy change in him, physically if not mentally. Excepting that I did not think he ought to be basking here during the Recess, Justin MacCarthy made a pleasant impression. He is faithful, hopeful, and tolerably practical. There is a looseness of reasoning, a want of scientific completeness and accuracy in the marshalling of arguments, which was rather depressing, and explained his tremendous bungling at the decisive moment.—Ever yours,
Cannes,April 20, 1891.
[1 ]Hampden, Renn Dickson (1793-1868), was Bampton Lecturer in 1832. His lectures on “The Scholastic Philosophy” were made the occasion of an outcry. When Melbourne made him Regius Professor, Newman wrote a pamphlet against him. In 1847 he became Bishop of Hereford, again not without a struggle.
[2 ]Faussett, Godfrey, Canon of Christ Church, Margaret Professor, was one of the leaders of the Opposition to the Tractarian Movement. He preached a famous sermon on The Revival of Popery, May 1838.
[3 ]Hawkins, Edward (1789-1882), was provost of Oriel. Newman had voted for him as against Keble. He quarrelled with Newman and Hurrell Froude, who wished to take their tutorship seriously, and on their resignation got in Hampden to do the official work. He was a hard and unattractive person, without sympathy, who despised devotion.
[1 ]i.e. Séché.
[2 ] Dean Church’s History of the Oxford Movement.