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(N): MR. GLADSTONE’S ROMANES LECTURE - 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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MR. GLADSTONE’S ROMANES LECTURE
10 Downing Street,Whitehall,
My dear Acton,—
The strange miscarriage and loss of an official box has delayed the formal appointment of Lords-in-Waiting, but they will now go forward. I cannot but think yours will bring you to England before the year is out.
My lecture at Oxford, planned several months ago, is to come off in October. Now that it is on paper I could much have wished for the advantage of perusal by you. But it is not yet verbally quite complete: and I should not like to trust it to the post.
One or two points of literary conscience I may submit to you. 1. I have got together tolerably the great Oxford men of the Middle Age. I have difficulty in doing the like for Paris: though Budinszky’s book1 gives the foreigners who repaired thither to teach or learn. I do not know if you can tell me any names—besides William of Champeaux, Abelard, Stephen Langton.
2. I have given Cambridge the credit of a trio unapproachable by Oxford for the seventeenth century, in Milton, Bacon, and Newton. Will European opinion justify placing Bacon by the side of the other two? Evidently Locke had much greater influence: but I could not pit him against Bacon. I should think that as philosopher Boyle came nearer Bacon.
3. I have been reading Zart.2 He does not even mention Butler. I think you believe that Kant does. He is honourably mentioned by Lotze, but I think only as an apologist.
We are due at Hawarden on Wednesday. I have got Michael’s book on Döllinger.3 So far as I have got he makes no grounds against his subject.—Ever yours,
W. E. Gladstone.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,—
The Franciscans have no distinct record of Occam having studied at Oxford.
Merton has no record of his having been there.
Oxford generally has no record of him. Wood, after writing the passages in question, privately admitted his doubts. Hauréau,1 who knows the scholastic MSS. better than any one, knows nothing to the point. Of the passages quoted by Little, Grey Friars 224, only one has weight.
So that the statement that Occam was reared at Oxford would have to stand, as far as I know, on the Lambeth MS. and on what may be called common report, as indicated in the Mazarine MS. For Bartholomæus de Pisis is no authority for anything.
The thing still seems to me very uncertain; but I will not deny the force of the Lambeth dictum.
2. I enclose the passage not quite literally copied by Hallam from Wood’s Hist. and Antiquities of the University of Oxford, ed. Gutch 1792, i. 160.—Ever yours,
Athenæum,October 8, 1892.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,—
I wish I knew enough about it to propose some change, in the ultimate text, to justify my privilege this time. I can make no suggestion worth considering before delivery, excepting one, which I shall reach in its order.
Page 2. (Where I have put a slight pencil mark.)
It is not quite clear what age is meant, between the third and fifth centuries, so that a man might raise objections and find that you thought of some other time. Perhaps some such tinge of chronological indefiniteness occurs again.
26. R. Bacon was the most original, progressive, and independent British intellect; but when you say the highest, there is a recoil, and one remembers how fanciful he was, and how incapable of sustained reasoning. In argument he is not much better than the author of De Monarchia. Whereas Scotus is the most perfect dialectician of the Middle Ages, and as full of ideas as St. Thomas is of common sense; and his influence was enormous.
Herschell is the modern who prefers him to his namesake—for your praise of him will be challenged.
28. Within the limit—is an important clause, meaning produced, not harboured.
31. The woful decline is not obvious, as 700 is a later number, and the disproportion, compared to population, is even now not quite apparent. 700 : 50 :: 28 : 2.
38. De Dominis1 is not only popularly supposed to have renounced his previous action, but he did renounce it, in a tract which I have read. He was nevertheless burnt after death and burial; and no doubt he had not renounced all his objections to Rome, or all his favour to England,—in what measure they survive we cannot tell. But the renunciation is distinct as far as it goes. The preference for the Anglican system was abandoned. What remained is conjecture. Le Courayer2 reminds me of him more than anybody. You are obliged, in this note, to say “perhaps,” and “it may be” too often for any clean impression.
42. It is hard on Locke to attribute his success so much to opportunity and current. In the history of thought, especially of thought bearing on action, he is, not the greatest certainly, but the largest of all Englishmen, looming tremendously, and filling an immense space. The Lettres sur les Anglais, which put England into continental circulation, deal most with him and Newton, and he is the master of Voltaire and Condillac. As the—unscientific—inventor of the division of power, he is the master of Montesquieu. By his theory of Education and the Social Contract, he is the master of Rousseau, the most powerful political writer that ever lived. By his political economy he is the master of Adam Smith, and, in a sense, of Turgot. He gave to Whiggism whatever general ideas it mixed with the specific national elements, and is the theorist of government by the great families. Lastly, in the Catena of tradition on Toleration, he is very nearly the principal classic.
46. If Cambridge was not Whig by the counting of noses, I fancy it was, in the weighing of brains, and therefore in influence. I remember discussing it with Blakesley, who convinced me.
47. Note. I have said too much already about Butler’s influence abroad. I dimly remember that there are instances the other way, to be set against James Mill.
51. Wiclif—Germany. This is the passage I take to be wrong. His influence was immense, but in Bohemia, producing the Hussite movement. You will be understood to speak of the Reformation as a result produced by Wiclif. That would be inaccurate. We trace no influence of Wiclif on the inception, which is the whole thing. Hussitism he did directly produce.
The point has some importance. His central idea, that authority requires virtue to attest it, is in very direct contradiction with Luther’s notion, that he himself was the discoverer of divine right.
54. You call Laud a tolerant theologian; but the examples follow, and exhibit him as a comprehensive theologian, within the Church, which is different and does not show that he ever separated himself from the atrocities with which Andrewes1 and Buckeridge and Ussher were associated.
60. What you say about Universities rising up as a shield against ecclesiastical authority seems a little vague, unless times and circumstances are distinguished. Paris was, for a long time, under the thumb of Rome, and the Pope and his legates played ducks and drakes with Aristotle. Later on, Paris was partly independent of Rome, but was still a great hierarchical instrument. It is the University of Paris that brought Joan of Arc to the stake. Bologna was still more hierarchical, by how much canonists were more absolutist than theologians—a locus communis of ecclesiastical controversy.
6. Certain seed of all human culture—implies very much indeed, somewhat excluding parallel and independent growth, and cases of repression and collision, as well as those in which Christianity was dependent and a borrower.
Zart is scarcely important enough for your purpose to deserve mention twice.
[1 ] Budinszky, Die Universität Paris und die Fremden an derselben im Mittelalter (Berlin, 1876).
[2 ]Zart, Gustav. Einfluss der englischen Philosophen seit Bacon auf die deutsche Philosophie des 18 Jahrhunderts.
[3 ]Michael, Emil. Ignaz von Döllinger, eine Characteristik.
[1 ]Hauréau, Jean Barthélemy, author of Histoire de la Philosophie scolastique, 2 vols., 1877-80.
[1 ]De Dominis, Marco Antonio (1566-1624), was a Roman Bishop who was for some time a convert to the English Church. Ultimately he went back and made his submission. The tract is Consilium Reditus.
[2 ]Le Courayer, Pierre François (1681-1786), a Roman theologian who wrote strongly in favour of Anglican Orders. He lived for some time in England on easy terms with Archbishop Wake, but he died in the Roman faith.
[1 ]Andrewes and Bishop Buckeridge sanctioned the burning of Leggatt for Arianism, and voted for the divorce of Essex. Archbishop Ussher argued before the Council the right of enforcing the act de heretico.