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John Emerich Edward Dalberg, Lord Acton, Selections from the Correspondence of the First Lord Acton, Vol. I (Cardinal Newman, Lady Blennerhassett, W.E. Gladstone) [1917]

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John Emerich Edward Dalberg, Lord Acton, 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). http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/2247

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About this Title:

A selection from Acton’s large mass of correspondence including a number to Gladstone on the budget, foreign affairs, Acton’s library, and women’s suffrage.

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The text is in the public domain.

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Table of Contents:

Edition: current; Page: [i]
SELECTIONS FROM THE CORRESPONDENCE OF THE FIRST LORD ACTON
Edition: current; Page: [ii]

A friend sends me La Flandre Libérale of Ghent for August 21st, with this article marked in heavy blue pencil. I publish it without any comment whatever.

catholic tolerance _____

“The punishment of death for heretics.

“Fr. Lepicia, professor of theology at the College of Propaganda in Rome, is the author of a text-book in common use by the future priests who study at Rome. The book is entitled: Concerning the Stability and the Progress of Dogma. It was reissued with augmentations in 1910. A new edition has just appeared, bearing the approbation of high Church authorities. And here is what one reads on page 193:

“ ‘Q. Can heretics be tolerated, and if so, on what conditions?’

“ ‘A. As soon as one proclaims in public a heretical doctrine, and tries to corrupt others by words or example, he can not only be excommunicated (to speak abstractly) but he ought to be killed, in all justice, to the end that he may not corrupt a very great number by contamination. For a bad man is worse than a wild beast, and he does more harm, as Aristotle says (Ethics I, vii, in fine). So as it is not evil to kill a noxious beast of the forest, it is good to take away the life of a heretic who denies divine truth and hinders the salvation of others.’

“And on page 200 this sentence is to be found:

“ ‘To the Church returns, in truth, the right of pronouncing sentence of death against heretics.’ Who then can say that the Roman Catholic Church is becoming more tolerant? Nunc erudimini!

Edition: current; Page: [iii]
SELECTIONS FROM THE CORRESPONDENCE OF THE FIRST LORD ACTON
EDITED WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY JOHN NEVILLE FIGGIS, Litt.D. honorary fellow of s. catharine’s college, cambridge
AND REGINALD VERE LAURENCE, M.A. fellow and senior tutor of trinity college, cambridge
VOL. I
CORRESPONDENCE WITH CARDINAL NEWMAN, LADY BLENNERHASSETT W. E. GLADSTONE AND OTHERS
LONGMANS, GREEN AND CO.
39 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON
FOURTH AVENUE & 30th STREET, NEW YORK
BOMBAY, CALCUTTA, AND MADRAS
1917
All rights reserved
Edition: current; Page: [iv] Edition: current; Page: [v]

PREFATORY NOTE

Thanks are due to the owners of many letters in this volume. In particular we desire to thank the representatives of Mr. Gladstone, Cardinals Newman and Manning, Dean Church, Mrs. Drew, Lady Renouf, Lady Blennerhassett.

This volume is only an instalment. Acton’s letters to Döllinger are the most important that he wrote. Of these we made a selection some years ago. This will be published as soon as the translator is ready.

We would add that the selection is our own choice, and that the views expressed in the Introduction must be taken as our own interpretation. We desire to take full responsibility for our choice.

J. N. F.
R. V. L.
Edition: current; Page: [vi] Edition: current; Page: [vii]

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . page ix
    • I. EARLY LETTERS . . . . . . . 1
    • II. ECCLESIASTICAL CORRESPONDENCE—
      • A.—Newman, Döllinger, Dupanloup . . . 31
      • B.—The Vatican Council and the Vatican Decrees 84
    • III. GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE—
      • A.—Mr. Gladstone . . . . . 158
        • (a) Budgets . . . . . . 158
        • (b) University Education . . . . 162
        • (c) Acton’s Peerage . . . . . 169
        • (d) Acton and Office . . . . . 170
        • (e) British Museum . . . . . 173
        • (f) Ireland . . . . . . 175
        • (g) Foreign Affairs . . . . . 188
        • (h) Liddon . . . . . . 196
        • (i) Dean Church . . . . . 201
        • (k) ‘Robert Elsmere’ . . . . . 206
        • (l) Old Testament Criticism . . . . 218
        • (m) Bishop Butler . . . . . 223
        • (n) Mr. Gladstone’s Romanes Lecture . . . 227
        • (o) Acton’s Library . . . . . 232 Edition: current; Page: [viii]
        • (p) Women’s Suffrage . . . . . 234
        • (q) Mr. Gladstone’s Retirement . . . 236
        • (r) Mr. Gladstone’s Biography . . . . 242
        • (s) The Naval Estimates of 1894 . . . 245
        • (t) Anglican Orders and Reunion . . . 252
        • (u) Miscellaneous . . . . . 254
      • B.—Lady Blennerhassett
        • (a) Madame de Staël . . . . . 268
        • (b) Talleyrand . . . . . . 283
        • (c) George Eliot . . . . . . 288
        • (d) Miscellaneous . . . . . 293
      • C.—Miscellaneous . . . . . 302
  • INDEX . . . . . . . . 317

ERRATA

Edition: current; Page: [ix]

INTRODUCTION

Out of a large mass of letters we have chosen those which throw most light on Acton’s development. We do not offer them as affording a complete account. Indeed, two volumes of Acton’s letters have already appeared. Light is thrown on many of the topics here discussed in the letters to Mrs. Drew, and also in those to Richard Simpson and others, which Cardinal Gasquet has published in the volume, Lord Acton and his Circle.

This book begins, naturally, with the letters of early youth. Some of these were needed in order to show what were Acton’s surroundings and education. At Oscott he was not happy. Nor was his sojourn in Edinburgh with a few uncongenial companions much more satisfying. In later life he used to say, “I never had any contemporaries.” This lack we can trace at an early age. Always Acton suffered from want of the “give and take” of English school life. In all societies in which he moved he remained a somewhat aloof figure.

Döllinger captured him from the first. The friendship remained unbroken until the death of the elder man. Latterly, at least, Acton was aware of an increasing gulf between himself and his teacher. These letters take Acton to Munich. One letter, that to his stepfather, Lord Granville, sets out his own plans for the future. It will be useful to all who desire to appreciate the peculiar affinities and exclusions of Acton’s mental life.

Passing from these early letters, we were faced with the problem of arranging the material, which is very diverse, Edition: current; Page: [x] and does not represent all seasons equally. We thought it unwise to keep a purely chronological order. Instead, we have preferred an arrangement under topical headings. These are grouped into two main classes—ecclesiastical and general. Some overlapping has been inevitable. But we hope that something like a clear picture will impress itself. All this has been the more difficult, that letters of Acton appear in biographies previously published, more especially in Mr. Lathbury’s two volumes of the Ecclesiastical Correspondence of Mr. Gladstone, and in Wilfrid Ward’s Life of John Henry Newman.

Many readers will need no further introduction. Yet, since Acton has been often misunderstood, we may be pardoned for proceeding a little farther in the way of interpretation. These letters afford evidence of the mingling in Acton of political and religious interests with those of the enthusiastic scholar and with a certain flair for getting to know about people. Incidentally they witness to the beginning and the gradual growth of the intimacy with Gladstone. We see, too, how great and how long continued was his influence on him. We see Mr. Gladstone sending him writing after writing, in order to have the knowledge and judgment of the younger man at his disposal: and the minute and elaborate criticisms which resulted.

The key to the development and to some of the limitations of Acton lies in his association with Döllinger. The letter to Lord Granville, beginning on page 23, shows how deep and vital was that influence at the most impressionable period of a boy’s life. This influence did not cease when tutelage was over, but grew for a long time in intensity, waning a little after 1870. The same letter shows that thus early was Acton clear about his purpose. He would follow knowledge, but the pursuit must have a practical end. The notion of Acton as a dry-as-dust is ludicrous. Edition: current; Page: [xi] Elsewhere he prides himself on his elaborate study of political thought. The principles which he had adopted at Munich form a criterion for all his later judgments, and determined his course alike in religious and in political controversies. This is not to say that he underwent no further development. Even in theology his critical bent developed more as years went by. There was a subtlety of mind which was reflected in the subtlety of his later style, so unlike the pedestrian English of his earlier days. It is possible that the Acton of the eighties and the nineties would not have seemed intelligible to the enthusiastic knight-errant of the Church, who thought in 1860 to win the whole world to a synthesis of learning, Liberalism, and Catholicism. This may or may not be. What is certain is the unity of the main thoughts which governed Acton.

That thought is the idea of freedom as an absolute end for all men. Freedom is not to Acton one among many human goods to be balanced with others by the politician. Rather it is the governing principle of true statesmanship, the determining element in political thought, the criterion of all constitutions. This sense that freedom is a spiritual principle made for Acton a religion of politics. He felt that he was divided by a gulf from men who might put wealth or social comfort, or power, or efficiency, or even intelligence, as of superior or even concurrent importance. With such principles, it was natural that Acton should dislike Bismarck, condemn Carlyle’s cult of strong men, and regard Prussian domination with something more than mistrust. “It is the greatest danger which remains to be encountered by the Anglo-Saxon race,” were his prophetic words at a Cambridge lecture.1 Yet we should get a one-sided Edition: current; Page: [xii] picture if we think of Acton as mainly haunted by the dangers of monarchical militarism. Hardly less marked was his fear of State-absolutism in the form of a centralised democracy. “Liberty depends on the division of power” was his cry.

That is the origin of Acton’s sympathy with the South in the American Civil War, and also (it may be now admitted) with the Boers in 1899. Acton dreaded the all-devouring autocracy of State-absolutism whenever and wherever he found it. Needless to say, Acton had no sympathy with slavery. This he regarded not as the cause of the war, but as the reason of its failure. He saw, or thought he saw, in the assertion of State rights by the South the essential qualities of liberty in a state. In the North he discerned the principle of Imperial domination.

In this same sense of the paramountcy of the principle of liberty lay his admiration for Madame de Staël. Madame de Staël, in Acton’s view, stood really for liberty in itself, and not for the politics of expediency, nor the Jacobin and Girondin immoralities. Therefore he sets her high, and enters into minute detail about her history (p. 268). For the same reason Acton emphasised the importance of the American Revolution. This is brought out in an interesting letter to Lady Blennerhassett. In that letter he gives it as his opinion that the service of the revolting colonies to the cause of liberty was in inverse proportion to any practical grievance. They were not fighting for money (the taxes were a trifle), nor for historical precedents and legal rights (like the men of 1688), but for liberty, as a principle. They had this merit in Acton’s view, the recognition of liberty as an ideal, not as an expedient or as an heirloom, and the revolutionary, catastrophic nature of the claim, as against the doctrine of slow development.

This doctrine of inevitable progress and continuous Edition: current; Page: [xiii] amelioration Acton never held strongly. In this he was unlike many of the historical school of that day.

Precisely the same cause attracted Acton to Gladstone. Rightly or wrongly, Acton discerned in Gladstone a knight-errant of freedom. That is why he set him so high. For a similar reason, he used his influence with Gladstone on the side of Home Rule and Disestablishment. Acton seems to have believed that the Disestablishment of the Irish Church was a landmark in the history of liberty. He indicates this in the paper setting forth the aims of the North British Review, which we print at the close of this volume. Acton believed in Home Rule, because he thought that the form of government most favourable to liberty was Federalism. He did not hold the sanctity of the nationality principle, i.e. he did not desire to make racial unity the natural foundation of states, whether German, Italian, or Irish. Rather he desired a state in which several nationalities, each in a measure autonomous, should limit and control one another and check the tendency to centralised and concentrated authority.

Naturally, then, he held that infractions of liberty were the primal offence in a statesman. His interest was always predominantly ethical; but it was the ethics of the statesman as statesman, not as a private person, with which he was concerned. Thus he would have condoned the O’Shea divorce case, but would never pardon Disraeli. Even Lord Rosebery’s Pitt he regarded as dangerously heretical.

With this predominantly ethical interest, it is not a matter for wonder that Acton should desiderate a principle of historical judgment, independent of those religious organisations which form part of the historical process. That principle he thought that he had found in the sanctity of human life. (See the letter to Lady Blennerhassett, printed Edition: current; Page: [xiv] page 53.) Whoever violated this without just cause he regarded as supremely guilty. It is worthy of note that Acton was a strong opponent of capital punishment.

It is this principle of the sanctity of human life, and the rigid condemnation of those who transgress it, which help us to understand the ecclesiastical antipathies of Acton. To many people the hardest problem connected with the name of Acton is that aroused by the Vatican Decrees. In view of Acton’s relentless opposition to the ultramontane propaganda, and his horror at the idea of the proclamation of Papal Infallibility as a dogma, they deem it strange that he should have claimed to be a loyal Catholic, and, perhaps yet stranger, that he should have cared to continue in his own communion. His friend and revered teacher, Döllinger, had been insulted and excommunicated. Other friends, like the French historian Michaud, were for denying the name Catholic to the Infallibilists. The old Catholic movement was a definite attempt at a Church continuous with the ancient order and free of this calamitous innovation. Why did not Acton join that? Why at least—unless for family reasons—should he be so anxious not to be excommunicated, if he could help it. Why should he make that evasive answer which we have printed on pages 152-53, to Manning’s inquisitorial examination? Had not Acton, in the Sendschreiben, brought up against the Bishops their earlier and more uncompromising utterances, and implied his disgust at their fainéant policy, now that the enemy had triumphed? Yet was Acton in truth any better?

To answer these questions is beyond our province. The ethics of conformity is not an easy subject. It ill becomes those who are not subject to the Roman obedience, to judge of a delicate problem on this head, in regard to another communion. Yet grounds may be mentioned, based Edition: current; Page: [xv] on the letters here printed, which demand a view somewhat different from the common.

Acton, it must be admitted, had been one of the leaders—so far as a layman could be—of the opposition to the party of the Curia. In no uncertain language he had descanted on the dangers that would ensue, alike in religion and politics, should the dogma of Papal Infallibility become authoritative. Further, his opposition was due to principle. It was not without a certain contempt that he acted with the Inopportunists, who based their opposition solely on expediency.

He was beaten. At first he felt the shock of this. In a sense he was never the same man. After a time he began to think things over, and to see that there was no occasion for him to desert the Church of his baptism, communion with which, he said truly enough, was dearer to him than life itself. He began to see—what many people have seen since—that the triumph of his adversaries was no more than partial. The dogma as defined (we print it on page 119) is very different in its implications from the kind of thing that W. G. Ward had talked of. Infallibility is there, it is true, and irreformability, but it is all very much qualified. These qualifications were analysed by Newman in his letter to the Duke of Norfolk, which is the ablest defence the doctrine has yet had in English. Acton was struck by this. In a letter here printed, he wrote that “Newman’s conditions would make it possible, technically, to accept the whole of the decrees.” Later on, when Newman was raised to the purple, Acton may well have thought that this minimising view of the doctrine was in favour even at Rome. Certainly, it has never been condemned.

Another point there is, hardly less important. Acton was a layman. He had no teaching office, and had not to ask himself whether he was prepared to commend the Edition: current; Page: [xvi] doctrine to others. All he need ask was this, Was this step (which in Acton’s view was calamitous) calamitous in such a way that he was bound in conscience to renounce his communion? Was this decision, in Acton’s view, the sole crux? He may have thought so for a brief time, but soon he saw that he was not so well satisfied with previous official action that this new dogma made much difference. Acton, in truth, was not finally staggered by the Vatican Decrees, for the very reason that he was radically opposed to the policy which had in them its latest triumph. As he said, he thought worse of the Church before the decision of July than did others, and therefore was less despairing of its recovery afterwards. The same causes which had largely nullified the worst aspects of authoritative evil in its official centre would continue to operate, as against the dangers inherent in the Vatican Decrees. “The great heart of the people,” the whole Christian people throughout the world, was right; and that would bring to naught the worst evils of officialism, That is the gist of his letters to the Times. He belonged, as he had once said, to the soul of the Catholic Church. With its official government he was not in sympathy. Nor would he have been so, save for brief intervals, since the days of Innocent iii. Yet this disagreement was to Acton no more a reason for renouncing communion, than dislike of His Majesty’s Government is a ground for a man throwing off the duties of an English citizen.

Acton may have reflected that this disagreement was not novel. From the time of his early struggles in regard to the Rambler and the Home and Foreign Review, he had done his best to secure prominence for his ethical doctrines and his intellectual ideas. Like all Liberal Catholics, he desired to bring his Church into living touch with the best knowledge and criticism of the day. In the interests of Edition: current; Page: [xvii] historical truth he was anxious for the facts to be known. In the interests of moral rectitude, he was concerned that blame should be given where blame was due, even though that might be to Popes and Saints. For years he had worked in the hope that he would win the educated members of his communion in this country, just as Döllinger and his Munich friends had hoped to win the educated Catholics of Germany. Indeed, he had thought that he had yoked Newman to his chariot. Acton never forgave the latter for refusing to be driven in the team.

In Acton’s view the supreme evil is the telling of lies and the shedding of blood in order to secure ecclesiastical power. The Papacy he condemned in so far as it organised persecution; but he condemned the same spirit wherever it was to be found. He wished to attack Ultramontanism, not in “the flowering top, but in the root and stem.”

The flowering top is the Vatican dogma. The root and stem are, in Acton’s view, a certain corruption of the conscience. Christianity to Acton is primarily a system of ethics; whatever violates that on principle is anti-Christian. What Acton felt to be the root of the evil was the notion that acts otherwise reprehensible could take on a different colour if they were done to promote religion, e.g. the notion that truth may be suppressed for the sake of edification. Out of this main root grows the notion that the Church in self-defence, as an organisation, may develop a machinery for putting assailants out of the way. Such machinery was developed under the aegis of the Papacy in the mediaeval Inquisition. This was what Acton meant when he spoke of the system of austere immorality established at Trent. Austere in the sense that it condemned sexual vice, and enjoined self-denial, the system of Trent was immoral in that it enjoined persecution and the suppression of inconvenient truth.

Edition: current; Page: [xviii]

Here we see the causes of Acton’s amazing hostility to those whose principles in this matter he disliked. Owing to this predominantly ethical interest, he treated persons who took different views on the matter of persecution as belonging to different religions. Some of the letters about Döllinger here printed serve to illustrate this. An even better instance is the controversy about Dupanloup.

In the year 1879 Lady Blennerhassett wrote an article on Dupanloup, which was published in the Nineteenth Century, together with an introductory note by Döllinger. The article was kindly, though not panegyric. Acton was shocked. Dupanloup, though an inopportunist and one of the leaders of the opposition during the Vatican Council, was far from being animated by that hostility to Ultramontanism which consumed Acton. It was natural that at difficult moments such a man should defend the syllabus of Pio Nono. To Acton Liberalism was an article of faith, and every truckling to the persecuting spirit seemed an unpardonable sin. One letter in this group (p. 52) marks his displeasure. The article was the occasion for a more entire exposition of his whole doctrine than any he had yet put on paper. What, however, disturbed him most acutely was the attitude of his master, Dr. Döllinger. Acton had imbibed from Döllinger the principles of toleration, and supposed that they were entirely at one in the matter. This, however, was not so. Döllinger was not prepared to go all those lengths which Acton desired to go in condemning not merely the principle of persecution, but every one who said a word in its favour or allowed sanctity in its supporters. Thus to praise Dupanloup, or even to refuse to condemn him, appeared to Acton a breach of moral order. There was revealed a gulf hitherto unsuspected between himself and his old master. This division remained a topic of frequent discussion between the two friends. Acton, who knew that Edition: current; Page: [xix] very few persons accepted his doctrine, was now driven back on himself, and felt, as he said, without an object and completely isolated.

Acton was not a Gallican. No ultramontane could have more strongly repudiated these claims of the supremacy of the civil power, which had come to be the main purport of Gallicanism. It was in opposition to these claims that had been developed, the earlier movements of the nineteenth-century Ultramontanism, as represented by Lamennais, Lacordaire, and Montalembert. But not only was Acton opposed to Gallicanism in its political aspects. He set no special store on its ecclesiastical polity. He had no more faith in the infallibility of Councils than in that of Popes. The burning of John Hus by the Council of Constance was no less a crime in his eyes than that of Giordano Bruno.

This evil, which springs from the love of power, he had seen in all ages and in all polities. What he saw in the State, he saw in its most developed form in the Church, for if the springs of religious action be tainted, there is no place for repentance. Yet in spite of politicians, he despaired not of politics, and in spite of Churchmen he despaired not of religion. His political doctrine he called the theory of liberty. This was by no means identical with modern Liberalism in any of its forms. Party Liberalism had some aims which he disapproved, especially its attitude to religion, and it leaned often to a democratic tyranny, which he detested. Yet faute de mieux he stood with the Liberal party. It was the nearest thing he could get to his ideal. For the same reason he desired to maintain the leadership of Mr. Gladstone, whom he deemed to be much of his own way of thinking, both in politics and religion.

Somewhat like this was Acton’s feeling in regard to the Church. The faults he saw at Rome he could see in every Edition: current; Page: [xx] other organised Christian society. It may have been that, as a result of the débâcle of 1870, he subjected all the theology that he had learnt systematically, to a more disinterested test. Letters here printed, and some of those in Mr. Lathbury’s book, show how completely he was aware of all the trend of modern critical inquiries. Such testing, however, had result in a conviction of the supreme need of sacramental religion. He had no mind for Quakerism, which is its logical antithesis. Despite his quarrels with authority, which were never in the strict sense theological, he did not believe in a subjective religion, or desire an unorganised mass of competing sects. Grateful to the sects for their influence on civil liberty, he displays no sign of attraction for their religious systems. Essentially a cosmopolitan, he was more at home in a cosmopolitan religious body than any other.

In his inaugural lecture at Cambridge he had gone out of his way to use these words: “The action of Christ who has risen on the world which He redeemed fails not, but increases.” These words represent not the enthusiastic religionism of growth and temperament, nor the mere acquiescent submission in an inherited system, but the trained and tested conviction of a mature man. Acton was more than sixty when he spoke thus. A man of such intellectual power would not have said this without grounds. As we said, he tried and tested all this, and did not take things merely on authority. But having tested them, and being still convinced of the Incarnation, his adhesion to his own communion was to him a thing of course.

J. N. F.
R. V. L.
Edition: current; Page: [1]

LORD ACTON’S CORRESPONDENCE

I.—: EARLY LETTERS

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
February the 12th.
Dearest Mamma,

I received your letter this morning; and shall tell you what you told me—nothing but good news. I am getting on very well with my class, and like my master, Mr. Green, very much. There is one—only one—thing relating to your play which I particularly wish to know: was the water with which King Charles scalded Georgiana’s fingers really hot, or sham? I am now much happier here than I have ever been. I am very much liked by the boys, and excel in two principal things: I am the best chess-player of all the boys except four, and am the best pick-pocket (of pocket-handkerchiefs) ever known. I hope you will soon be here. Mr. Swift, whom you have often heard of, has left, and is gone down to the Old College, where he teaches the boys. I went to communion the Sunday after the anniversary of Papa’s death. Pray give my love to Lord Leveson.1 When did you arrive at London?—Good-bye, dear Mamma, ever your aff. Son,

John Emerich Dalberg Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
February 15, 1844
Dear Mamma,

I hope I write enough now, though I have some trouble in writing every week. I have had a pound taken out of my dormitory, so that I have no money scarcely left. The coffee question is decided, to my great satisfaction. I am a perfect linguist, knowing perfectly—that is, so as to be able to speak them—English, French, German, and can almost speak Latin. I can speak a few words of Chinese, Greek, Italian, Spanish, and Irish. I also know Chemistry, Astronomy, Mechanics, and many other Edition: current; Page: [2] sciences, but do not know botany. I am very happy here, and perfectly reconciled to the thoughts of stopping here seven more years.—I am in a hurry, therefore good-bye,

Caesar Agamemnon John Dalberg Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Oscott
My dear Mamma,

It is now a week since I arrived here,1 last Thursday, safe and sound. I have heard that Mr. Fullerton and Lady Georgiana,2 are gone to be received into the Church: is it really true? I shall be very glad if Granville comes to Oscott; I think he would like it better. There are so many new converts here, that I do not know half their names. I wear the mourning as you told me.

I have improved vastly in my studies already, as well as the whole class.

I am going to write a sort of compendium of the chief facts, in history, for my own occasional reference. Dr. Logan3 told me the other day that he wished me to renew the Astronomical society. I hope you have no objection, as it will not in the least interrupt my studies.

The weather is remarkably warm. Yesterday, the coldest day of the month, was, in the thermometer 50 degrees. I have not yet begun to play diligently at chess, but I soon shall. Mr. Wheble has received a letter from Rome, lately, in which Dr. Grant sends me his love, and says that everybody is well.

How long do you stay at Walton? I must direct this letter to Bruton Street, as I am not sure of the direction of Walton;—is this it:

Walton,
Esher,
Surrey?

Pray give my love to Lord Leveson, and everybody.—Good-bye, dear Mama,

J. E. E. D. Acton.
Edition: current; Page: [3]
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
June 3rd.
Dear Mamma,

We went to Bridgenorth on Monday, and we enjoyed ourselves very much. I will give you an account of the journey. I must, however, in the first place, inform you that one of the party is my great friend; he is in the class above mine and comes from a place near Richmond and Hampton Court. We rose at four o’clock in the morning, ate something at half-past, started soon after five, on foot, and arrived at one of the stations on the Birmingham and Wolverhampton lines, two miles and a half, a little before six. It was already getting warm. The train left at ten minutes past six, and we were at Wolverhampton in half an hour. We breakfasted at the Star and Garter at seven, and started for Bridgenorth in an open vehicle at half-past. Half-past nine at Bridgenorth, alighted, walking round the tower and saw the church (not St. Mary’s). At a little after ten we left for Aldenham, where we arrived at half-past. The first person we met was of course Mrs. Carr. We said we should like dinner soon, as we wanted to go on to Wenlock and back to Bridgenorth by five o’clock. Figurez-vous Mrs. Carr’s astonishment! Where will you sleep? At College. Why, all the beds are prepared as her ladyship wrote me word the six gentlemen were coming from Oscott to spend a few days here. Really it is a pity, but it can’t be helped. Please to give us some wine and water in half an hour, for we are very hot and thirsty; the whole way from Wolverhampton the weather was the hottest we have had yet. I took them round the house, and upstairs, but the thing that struck them most was my portrait, in cap and frock, when I was one year old. We had our wine, and with all becoming civility I left them in the library and went to see Mrs. Gearing, who has been very ill lately, and sends her love to Lord Granville. Mr. Ker came soon and we were going to see Mr. Fisher, for we all knew him, but as we were going into the garden I happened to see him standing there not knowing where we were going. He showed us the chapel, his house and lion, and we returned to the house and had dinner. We had a very good one, and very pleasing conversation. It was soon after time to go off, but they Edition: current; Page: [4] wished to see King Charles’s coat, and then it was that we found out from Mrs. Carr that it had been her mistake—the note contained a few hours, not days. We then went about the park, and took Mr. Fisher with us to Wenlock Abbey. We inscribed our names duly in the same page as were yours and Mrs. Craven’s. We soon after started for Bridgenorth. The bells were ringing the whole time for us.

At Bridgenorth we had some lemonade and asked Mr. Nock for the bill; but he showed your letter, and to their great surprise they found that they had gone to Wenlock and back without paying. Since then each boy has begged of me at least ten times to thank you very much for your kindness. I also must thank you for having given us leave to go and having ordered the dinner at Aldenham. Good-bye, dear Mamma,

J. E. E. D. Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Oscott
Ma chère Maman
Maman, Ma chère
Ma chère Maman,

On dit que nous allons avoir de grands changements ici. J’espère que je serai autant plus vite parlour-boarder, car ce n’est qu’alors que je pourrais être établi et studieux. Nous venons de voir d’étranges événements ici. Un nouveau garçon s’est enfui six fois en quinze jours. On l’a toujours rattrapé, mais une fois il est parvenu jusqu’à Bath. Nous avons, dans notre classe une espèce de Société déclamante; où nous discutons quelque point d’histoire, ou de littérature. J’ai composé un speech en faveur de la conduite de Louis 16—débat où j’étais seul contre cinq—et un autre sur les mérites de Lord Byron. On commence à bruiter que dans les changements qui vont avoir lieu M. Whitehouse va redevenir professeur ici, et que notre maître, Mr. Morris,1 ne nous enseignera plus; nous le regretterons beaucoup comme maître. Je suis dans l’ignorance la plus profonde sur le sujet de votre whereabout. Je lis beaucoup les histoires françaises; je les aime mieux que les histoires anglaises, parceque il n’y a pas de bonne middling class d’histoires anglaises—il faut lire ou Robertson—ou Edition: current; Page: [5] quelque misérable. L’histoire des papes est la seule qui me manque, mais j’ai assez à faire en lisant les autres, avant de chercher celle-là. J’aime beaucoup la rhétorique, et cet amour donne un charme même au grec d’Aristote. Quand est ce que Gogotte va trouver, en Angleterre, son bonnet?—Adieu ma chère Maman,

J. E. D. Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
23 mai.
Oscott
Ma chère Maman
Maman, Ma chère
Ma chère Maman,

Notre grande déclamation a eue lieu vendredi passé. J’ai déclamé le “Bard” de Gray, avec éclat, mais je ne crois pas que j’aurai le prix. Ma voix qui devient basse, m’a beaucoup aidée, elle était la plus forte de toutes; mais ce n’est pas assez. Nos courses ont lieu mardi prochain, mais je ne vais pas courir.

Il n’y a plus de grande compétition en classe, aussi n’ai je pas la première place. Il y aura un théâtre à Pentecôte, je n’y figure pas, mais celui que je vous ai dit être mon grand ami, et qui a joué l’été passé, a pris ma place dans les farces françaises et il les joue très bien, quoique, étant Irlandais sa prononciation est barbare. Je déclamerai probablement quelque chose cet été, mais je ne sais quoi.

Je comprends bien que vous voudriez que je sois ici, mais en écolier, et soumis à toute la rigeur de la discipline, je ne l’aime nullement. Mais il y a un projet que peut être vous aimerez, mais peut être Dr. Logan ne le voudrait pas. C’est de me faire parlour-boarder, où on me donnerait un précepteur particulier, et je ne serais plus soumis à la discipline, mais on my good behaviour. Je donnerais tout au monde pour pouvoir devenir cela. Si vous voudriez en parler à Dr. Logan il n’y aurait que mon âge que serait obstacle. S’il ne le permet pas, j’espère que j’aurai un précepteur à la maison, jusqu’à ce que je sois assez âgé. De tous les projets de mon cours futur, il n’y a que celui de cours de collège que je ne voudrais pas poursuivre; après cinq ans j’ai du gagner tout ce qu’on gagne de plus à une collège qu’à la maison.—Adieu ma chère Maman,

J. E. D. Acton.

P.S.—Trés mauvaise plume.

Edition: current; Page: [6]
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
1848
Edimbourg
Ma chère Maman
Maman, Ma chère
Ma chère Maman,

J’ai lu la lettre du prof. Döllinger avec la plus grande joie. Elle me prouve qu’il propose me faire suivre mes études dans la manière même que je désirais, seulement il se prépare a me donner beaucoup plus de liberté que je ne désirerais avoir chez lui. Je vois que c’est un homme dans lequel je pourrai avoir la plus parfaite confiance, et je mettrai avec plaisir toute la direction de mes études et de ma conduite entre ses mains. J’espère que vous ne mettrez pas de limite au temps que je resterai chez lui. S’il faut que cela me serve au lieu de Cambridge, j’y resterai volontiers jusqu’à ce que j’aurai fini toutes mes études. Quant au temps de mon départ je désire seulement parler beaucoup avec vous et Lord Granville au sujet de mes études, faire quelques arrangements de livres et d’argent, et partir afin d’arriver à Munich la fin de la semaine de Pentecôte. Comme cela j’aurai bien assez de relâchement entre Edimbourg et Munich, c’est à dire depuis le treize jusqu’au vingt quatre. Si vous préférez que je parte plus tôt, je le ferai volontiers. J’expliquerai plus en détail tout ce que je pense à l’égard de Munich lorsque je reviendrai à Londres.—Adieu ma chère Maman, votre affné fils,

J. Dalberg Acton.

J’ai reçu le gilet, et je vous en remercie bien.

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
1848
Munich
Lord Granville
Lord Granville
Dear Lord Granville,

What I have seen of Munich and of Dr. Döllinger has fully realised all my expectations. The course of life and of study upon which I am now entering pleases me as much as the most sanguine prospect I have ever entertained. As I have but lately returned from Tegernsee, I am only now regularly beginning my studies. The plan which the Professor recommends, generally coincides with what I had myself proposed. He wishes me to pursue with him a course of classical study embracing nearly the whole literature of Greece and Rome. This can, of course, be effected only by perusing portions of each author. As by this means I shall enjoy the benefit of Dr. Döllinger’s remarks and assistance in a wider and more varied Edition: current; Page: [7] field than if I confined my attention at first to the historians, as I had proposed, I willingly relinquish my former plan. I shall continue, however, to make history my chief study, independent of the classic writers. The Professor wishes me, as soon as possible, to learn so much German as will enable me to attend some of the lectures at the University. For this purpose he has already given me, as German master, a person of whose attainments he speaks very highly. I did not suppose you would object to this, as the instructions of some of the professors will partly compensate for Dr. Döllinger’s inability to bestow much time on me himself. He very much encourages me to pursue the design of which you approved, that, by frequent exercise and the careful study of the chief models, I may obtain a good English style. He also thinks it profitable to practise the memory by learning select passages by heart. Altogether his advice pleases me extremely, and contributes to give me a high esteem and admiration for himself. His personal appearance is certainly not prepossessing. His forehead is not particularly large, and a somewhat malevolent grin seems constantly to reside about his wide, low mouth. Even in conversation his superiority is not immediately manifest. He never makes the least effort to display his powers or his learning, and I am inclined to think that he owes more to his character and industry than to his innate genius. He is unquestionably the most cool-headed man I ever knew, and probably the most dispassionate. His judgment is singularly original and independent—he prefers Byron, and probably Dryden and Moore, to Milton, and thinks Wellington the greatest of modern generals. He is minutely conversant with English literature—and indeed is like a book of reference upon every question I have had occasion to propose—yet he gives no more than the requisite answer. He appears to have in some degree the imperfection of neglecting to complete what he has begun. His history is said to be full of chivalrous sentiments and enthusiasm: I have seen no signs of such qualities in him. He despises the comfort and elegancies of civilised life for himself, but affords me all manner of indulgences. On principle I have avoided asking for anything, and was surprised at the plentiful and convenient Edition: current; Page: [8] furniture of my rooms from the first; yet he has since added innumerable superfluities—besides a fine book-case with a glass front—he has already lent me several books, and has allowed me the permanent use of a unique set of historical maps. His cuisine seems very good—and his establishment is very conveniently arranged. His library is as dusty and as valuable as the most fastidious taste could desire. I have free access to it—and he can procure me any books from the great library which is close by. I am reading his own classics now—he has promised to tell me whenever a good edition of a valuable work is on sale, but prefers that I should use his books until then. His chamber1 is now over, and he will, I hope, be able to give me more time. I like Munich exceedingly—fortunately I am not skilful enough to be displeased with what is incorrect in architecture, and the general effect is certainly very fine. The gymnastic grounds are splendidly arranged—for a florin I have the power of spending two hours a day in it—till October. My day is portioned out something in this manner—I breakfast at 8—then two hours of German—an hour to Plutarch, and an hour to Tacitus. This proportion was recommended by the Professor. We dine a little before 2—I see him then for the first time in the day. At 3 my German master comes. From 4 till 7 I am out—I read modern history for an hour—having had an hour’s ancient history just before dinner. I have some tea at 8 and study English literature and composition till 10—when the curtain falls.

Altogether I am as comfortable here as I could possibly desire, and I trust I shall not fail to profit to the utmost by the great advantages of my position.—Believe me, dear Lord Granville, ever affectionately yours,

J. Dalberg Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Munich
Ma chère Maman
Maman, Ma chère
Ma chère Maman,

J’ai remis ma réponse à votre lettre d’un ou deux jours, afin que je puisse vous donner plus de détail sur mes études, etc. J’ai passé une semaine à Tegernsee. Il est impossible d’être plus aimable que ma Tante et le Comte. Tous les enfants sont très gais, ils m’ont beaucoup Edition: current; Page: [9] plu. Mr. Spink vous présente ses respects. Il croit qu’Edmonds possède encore une boîte de ses livres—qui a été transportée autrefois en Bruton St. Il va venir en Angleterre quand les Arco partent pour l’Italie. Tegernsee est charmant. Nous avons fait plusieurs expéditions aux montagnes voisines. Quand est ce que vous viendrez en Allemagne? Je n’ai pas encore parlé au professeur du voyage qu’il compte faire, mais je crois qu’il ira à Tegernsee d’abord. Il parle très bien l’Anglais—et ne me parle jamais une autre langue. Il m’a donné pour professeur d’Allemand un Suisse, dont il loue beaucoup le mérite, mais qui ne prononce jamais y comme y. Je traduis les exercices d’Ollendorf—deux heures par jour. L’Université finit bientôt, et ne recommencera qu’a Noël. Je pourrai bien, j’espère, alors comprendre les professeurs. Mr. Döllinger me plait infiniment. Il a les connaissances les plus étendues dans l’histoire et la littérature de tous les pays et de tous les temps. Je ne sais pas s’il est fort dans les sciences physiques. Il est excessivement simple. Il est très franc et libre en parlant avec moi et d’une bonté infinie. Il m’a prêté une foule de livres et m’en a été chercher dans la grande bibliothèque. Il me fait voir Galignani. Quand il a le temps il m’emmène faire une promenade dans le jardin Anglais. Sans cela je ne le vois qu’a dîner. Cependant il aura bientôt plus de temps à me donner. Il a arrangé ainsi que je n’ai que cinq heures par jour pour les classiques et l’Allemand. Le reste de la journée est à ma disposition pour l’histoire et la littérature. Je ne sais pas bien quelles sont les opinions politiques de Mr. Döllinger, mais il déteste Lord Palmerston. Il ne me parle jamais de l’Archevêché de Salzbourg, je ne sais pas encore qu’elle en est la fin. Je vous remercie beaucoup pour la gazette et les lettres que vous m’avez envoyées. Une des lettres était de Mr. Lamb, avec l’autographe de Paley. La Comtesse de Degenfeld m’a fait écrire qu’elle désire me voir—je passerai chez elle aujourd’hui.—Adieu ma chère Maman, votre affné fils,

J. Dalberg Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
4 décbre
Munich
Ma chère Maman
Maman, Ma chère
Ma chère Maman,

J’ai écrit à Lord Granville à peu près en même temps qu’à vous, la dernière fois. S’il n’a pas Edition: current; Page: [10] reçu ma lettre, je lui écrirai encore. Dans le cas où il l’aurait reçue, et n’y répondrait pas tout de suite, j’ai un supplément au contenu, que je vous communique immédiatement pour lui sauver la peine d’une seconde réponse. Si le plan d’Aldenham que j’ai proposé, et qui je pense finira par être adopté, l’est, il me faudra une bibliothèque plus ou moins grande, surtout de livres classiques et d’histoires. Il n’y a qu’un petit nombre de livres à Aldenham qui me seront utiles, surtout au commencement. Si même, ce qui ne me paraît pas probable, un autre arrangement que celuici est préféré, il me sera impossible de me fier à la chance que je trouverai les livres qui me seront le plus utiles dans la bibliothèque d’un autre—surtout les livres en langues étrangères. Ici même la collection du Professeur, la plus belle de Munich, ne me suffit pas, et je suis obligé d’avoir toujours une vingtaine de livres de la bibliothèque royale—ce qui ne se permet pas dans aucune bibliothèque anglaise. Je ne puis dépenser qu’une très petite somme sur les livres de ma propre fortune, et la permission de Lord Granville ne s’étend que sur un petit nombre de livres, et jusqu’ici je n’en ai profité que pour trois ouvrages, car je ne sais pas si je puis l’appliquer à des livres qui se trouvent ici, et dont j’aurai besoin plus tard. Je suis donc obligé de demander si c’est possible de me donner un allowance pour les livres, qui serait payé périodiquement, comme il est impossible d’acheter beaucoup de livres à la fois, mais il faut le faire selon les occasions qui se présentent. En même temps je demanderais jusqu’où s’étend la permission accordée, et dont j’ai presqu’entièrement abstenu de me servir. Naturellement je n’acheterai que des livres recommandés par le professeur, et comme il sait mieux que moi où on trouve les livres bon marché, la plupart de l’argent passerait par ses mains. Ainsi il n’y a pas le moindre danger que la somme quelque grande qu’elle soit, soit mal dépensée. Je me permets de suggérer que peut être il serait plus commode de faire de la permission déjà accordée, une partie de la somme totale. Cela me sauverait des scrupules. Je vous prie de pardonner cette longue begging letter. C’est un sujet que je n’aime pas à traiter inutilement, mais cette fois ce n’est pas du tout égoiste—et vous avez toutes les securités possibles. Edition: current; Page: [11] Si ceci m’est accordé cela me rendra bien heureux, et me donnera le moyen de suivre les conseils du professeur.

La mort de la petite Marie m’a fait bien de la peine. Ma Tante1 n’en a pas reçu les détails, à ce qu’elle me dit. Je vais presque tous les dimanches chez elle, et comme je vois les garçons et Mr. Spink en toutes les circonstances, je puis apprendre à peu près leurs idées les uns des autres, et je suis quelques fois utile à ma Tante dans cette affaire qui l’a beaucoup ennuyée. Le résultat de mes observations n’est nullement favorable à Mr. Spink comme précepteur, mais son trustworthiness et conscientiousness rendent ma Tante1 aveugle au mauvais effet qu’il produit sur mes Cousins.2

Je viens d’assister à une scène très intéressante. Le professeur ayant été beaucoup prié de faire un cours d’histoire de l’église depuis la Révolution a annoncé sa première leçon pour aujourd’hui. J’y suis allé. L’enthousiasme était très grand et la salle qu’il avait choisie n’a pas pu contenir tout le monde. Nous sommes allé dans la plus grande salle de l’Université. Une telle foule s’est très rarement assemblée à cette Université. Le sujet de ce cours n’a jamais été traité encore en Allemagne. Il n’était pas sans interêt d’entendre le plus célèbre historien ecclésiastique hors des Alpes sur un sujet si nouveau et si important. Il arrive quelque fois en Allemagne qu’une cours à une Université produit un aussi grand effet que la publication d’un important ouvrage. Quand j’ai pensé à la haute renommée du professeur, à l’influence qu’il possède sur tout le clergé de ce pays, dont un grand nombre a été formé par lui, à la grandeur du sujet, et l’enthousiasme de la foule, j’ai été frappé de l’importance de l’occasion. Il a parlé très lentement, et d’une manière sérieuse et presque triste. Mais le charme et la simplicité de sa parole, la beauté et l’originalité des idées, et le consciousness qu’il avait évidemment de la dignité de sa position ont produit une profonde impression sur moi et sur la plupart de son auditoire, qui consistait Edition: current; Page: [12] en grande partie de prêtres déjà âgés. J’ai obtenu de lui que j’irai régulièrement à ces leçons. En prenant soigneusement des notes, je gagnerai beaucoup d’information qui ne se trouve pas dans les livres. Je crois que je vous ai dit que ce n’est que le malheureux arrangement des heures qui m’a empêché de suivre son cours sur l’histoire générale de l’église, ainsi c’était la première fois que je l’entendais. J’ai présenté Jerningham à ma Tante, mais il a reçu son brévet, ce qui l’a obligé de repartir tout de suite pour Londres. L’affaire Kossuth et Lord Palmerston1 a été critiquée de la manière la plus sévère par les journaux Allemands. L’hiver qui a commencée très tôt, est devenu humide au lieu de froid. C’est désagréable, mais cela ne m’empêche pas de me porter parfaitement bien.—Adieu ma chère Maman, votre affné fils,

J. Dalberg Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
9
Munich
Ma chère Maman
Maman, Ma chère
Ma chère Maman,

Je viens de reçevoir votre lettre du 4 décembre. Ce que je voulais dire dans ma dernière lettre, c’est qu’il me semble vraiment important que le Professeur arrange mes études selon le temps probable de mon séjour avec lui. Je suis à peu près sur qu’il s’attend à ce que je reste chez lui bien au delà du mois de mai. Je ne détesterais pas cela le moins du monde. Je comprends à present mieux qu’auparavant l’importance que vous attachez à ce que [je] ne reste pas trop longtemps hors de l’Angleterre—mais je ne puis me figurer aucun endroit hormis l’Université qui offrirait les mêmes avantages que Munich. Cependant je ne puis m’empêcher de désirer savoir un peu mon futur probable. Cela a été un des plus grands drawbacks sur mon progrès que pendant plus de deux ans je n’ai jamais été sur de demeurer plus que quelques mois dans l’état où je me trouvais. La quantité d’invitations que je reçois m’ennuie beaucoup. Il est vrai qu’elles ne sont pas nombreuses, mais les Arco ne sont pas encore de retour, et Munich n’est pas encore au plus gai. Je n’ai pas encore fait des promenades à cheval avec le Baron Venningen. Il veut me faire danser, Edition: current; Page: [13] mais il ne réussira pas. Je vois que Ferdinand a raison quant à son neveu. Ils ont tout les deux eu Mr. Spink beaucoup trop longtemps, j’en suis sur. Je n’ai plus aucune difficulté à comprendre le Professeur Lasaulx1 à l’Université, et j’espère que bientôt le Professeur congédiera mes maîtres. L’hiver commence, et je m’attends tous les jours à pouvoir patiner. J’ai reçu tout l’argent d’Edmonds. J’en suis bien reconnaissant. Les tailleurs sont bien bon marché ici.—Adieu ma chère Maman, bien de choses à Lord Granville, votre affné fils,

J. Dalberg Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
3 novembre
Munich
Ma chère Maman
Maman, Ma chère
Ma chère Maman,

Je viens de recevoir votre lettre. Je suis bien aise d’apprendre que vous allez toujours mieux; et je vous remercie bien des shillings supplémentaires. Cet habit m’a été fort utile en voyage. J’ai fait la traversée d’Ostende et vous serez étonnée de savoir qu’elle n’était pas meilleure que celle de Boulogne à Folkestone. J’ai été bien malade, mais je suis resté sur le pont. A Cologne j’ai trouvé un bateau du soir qui m’a conduit jusqu’à Mannheim où je suis arrivé vers sept heures mercredi soir. J’ai été obligé d’y passer la nuit, et j’ai dormi à l’hôtel du Rhin, après avoir joué aux dominos avec l’hôte, et après avoir bu de l’excellent Marcobrunner pour lequel nous jouions. Le lendemain par Durlach à Stuttgardt, où j’ai été encore obligé de dormir. Vendredi matin à la station d’Ulm, j’ai rencontré Jerningham, et nous avons fait le reste du voyage ensemble. Il était pendant cinq ans dans ma classe à Oscott, il a beaucoup d’ésprit; et il est l’héritier présomptif du Lord Stafford actuel. Il a à peu près 22 ans. Arrivant ici vers dix heures du soir, j’ai trouvé qu’on avait dérangé la porte, et qu’il n’y avait pas moyen de sonner. Alors j’ai commencé à frapper vivement avec mes poings et mes souliers, et le tapage a été entendu du professeur qui après avoir fait une reconnaissance de sa fenêtre, est descendu pour m’admettre. Comme il ne m’attendait pas, il avait donné mon appartement Edition: current; Page: [14] à Mr. Jones,1 mon prédécesseur ici, qui lui faisait visite; et nous avons eu beaucoup de difficulté à arranger cela commodément. Les cours commencent cette semaine, ainsi je suis venu juste à temps. Il n’est pas encore décidé lesquels je suivrai. Charles et Ferdinand sont ici avec Mr. Spink—qui vous présente ses hommages. Son mariage est un secret, et personne, excepté Mr. Raby, son ami, et le professeur ne sait le nom de la fiancée qui, du reste, n’est pas encore fiancée, et tout cela est extrêmement vague et incertain. Ce ne sera pas tout à fait de son propre choix qu’il quittera les Arco l’année prochaine; mais s’il peut trouver quelque chose qui lui convienne, il les quittera sans beaucoup de peine. Il espère que Lord Granville aurait la bonté de trouver quelque chose pour lui, mais il ne dit pas clairement ce qu’il désire; je crois qu’il ne tient pas à être précepteur. Dois je lui demander quelle espèce de chose il voudrait avoir? Les deux garçons vont à l’école et ils l’aiment beaucoup. Le reste de la famille est toujours à Bautzen, et ils ne reviendront qu’en 15 jours. Newman va incessament faire paraître des Lectures on the present state of Catholics in England, que le professeur est très curieux de voir. Peut-être ils vous intéresseront aussi. Mr. Spink dit que les journaux Allemands ont annoncé la nomination de Lord Granville à Dublin. Je ne sais pas s’ils tiennent cela des journaux Anglais ou s’ils l’ont inventé. Le professeur a été bien attaqué par les journaux ici à cause de ce qu’il a donné l’admission, mais cela lui est fort égal. Quand mes études seront arrangés je vous en donnerai le détail.—Adieu ma chère Maman, votre affné fils,

Dalberg Acton.

A propos de Jerningham comme ma Tante n’est pas encore ici, vouliez vous avoir la bonté de lui dire un mot de lui, pour la préparer un peu? Je viens d’écrire moi même à Bautzen et je ne manquerai pas d’écrire aussi à Grandmaman.

J. D. A.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
17 novembre 1853
Munich
Ma chère Maman
Maman, Ma chère
Ma chère Maman,

Des occupations tout inattendues m’ont empêché de vous écrire ces derniers jours. Mr. de Edition: current; Page: [15] Cetto est toujours ici à attendre le roi qui chasse dans les montagnes et ne sait pas l’ardeur avec laquelle on désire son retour. Je dine chez lui samedi prochain. Son fils demeure chez nous et suit certains cours, mais tant que son père est ici il n’est pas tout à fait établi. Au fond, quoique d’une très bonne pâte, mon compagnon est un peu ridicule, et je doute fort que le professeur ait envie de le garder bien longtemps avec lui. Du reste nous ne nous voyons que très peu, mais nous sommes très bons amis. Dimanche dernier j’ai diné chez les Spaurs. Leur fils commence ses études à l’Université et la Comtesse Spaur reste ici pendant l’hiver pour le soigner. Malheureusement elle parait avoir du penchant pour moi, et l’effet en pourrait être des invitations fort ennuyeuses. Elle a beaucoup d’ésprit, et ne me plaît pas du tout, ce qui m’arrive ordinairement avec les dames qui n’ont pas bien d’autres qualités pour contrebalancer le talent. Son mari est peu entreprenant. J’ai appris de lui ce que je n’ai jamais su et ce qui m’a beaucoup intéressé, que Lord Shrewsbury avait été très mécontent de l’établissement de la hiérarchie.1

En Amérique2 pendant que je passais quelques jours au fond du Maryland avec Brownson, je lui ai beaucoup parlé de Munich, et il a résolu d’envoyer son troisième fils, qu’il se destine comme successeur dans la publication de sa Revue,3 étudier ici. Comme il ne paraissait pas je croyais qu’on avait changé d’avis, et je n’y pensais plus, lorsque dimanche dernier il entre dans ma chambre, ayant quitté Boston quatre semaines auparavant. Je l’ai tout de suite présenté au professeur. Il est un peu plus jeune que moi. Il loge dans la même maison que nous, et il dîne avec nous. Je lui fournis les livres. Ces derniers jours j’ai été obligé de beaucoup m’occuper de lui, puisque je suis cause qu’il soit venu. Ainsi nous voilà toute une colonie d’étudiants sous la protection du Professeur. Mr. de Cetto4 a la bonté de se charger de plusieurs paquets outre le livre que vous avez demandé. Edition: current; Page: [16] Il y a deux petits livres que le professeur Höfler1 qui m’a montré beaucoup d’amitié à Prague, m’a chargé de faire parvenir au Dublin Review. Comme le Cardinal2 est absent voudriez vous avoir la bonté de les envoyer chez Dolman. Ensuite il y a deux livres de Radowitz et un de Görres3 que j’envoie à Brownson4; si vous voulez les faire remettre également à Dolman, il les enverra à Brownson avec lequel il est en communication régulière. Je lui avais donné un ouvrage de Radowitz qui lui a tellement plu qu’il a écrit un article dessus. Ces livres-ci doivent augmenter sa connaissance de la littérature politique Allemande qui lui sera très utile. Je crois que le Professeur lui envoie un de ses ouvrages par la même occasion. C’est son Hippolyte dans lequel il ne ménage nullement le Chevalier Bunsen. Je crois que Dr. Russell compte le traduire.

Les Arco sont de retour depuis quinze jours, très bien tous. Mon filleul n’est pas beau, mais il a beaucoup d’intelligence. J’ai dîné samedi dernier chez eux—Montalembert vient d’écrire une très longue lettre au professeur qu’il m’a donné à lire, ou il renonce définitivement à son alliance avec l’empereur, et se plaint beaucoup de la conduite adulatoire de l’Univers et de tout l’épiscopat, à l’exception de l’évêque d’Orléans. Le pauvre Schulthess-Rechberg5 que j’ai vu au Vincentius Verein m’a beaucoup parlé de vous et de Carlsbad qui lui a fait du mal; il est presqu’entièrement sourd et dans un fort mauvais état de santé. Les cours ont commencé. J’en ai quatre. Outre ceux du Professeur je suis celui du professeur Hermann,6 que vous avez vu à Londres. Edition: current; Page: [17] Il est un des professeurs protestants à l’Université. Son cours d’économie politique est admirable, très clair, beaucoup plus philosophique que les livres Anglais que j’ai pu comparer notamment Malthus et Macculloch. Il passe pour le prémier savant dans cette branche en Allemagne. Ranke ne vient ici qu’à Pâques, de sorte que je n’ai pas d’autre cours d’histoire que celui du professeur sur l’histoire de l’église. Je passe quelques heures par semaine à travailler dans la bibliothèque très riche de l’Université, ou j’ai d’excellentes occasions d’étendre mes connaissances bibliographiques. J’ai confié aussi à Mr. de Cetto un ouvrage de Lasaulx pour Sir Charles Lyell qui m’en a parlé. Voudriez vous avoir la bonté de le lui envoyer? Nous venons d’être alarmé par les nouvelles heureusement fausses de la mort de Radowitz. Il est cependant bien malade. Il se passe dans le pays de Bade des événements qui rappellent ceux de Cologne en 1837. On est très curieux de savoir comment cela finira. C’est notre évêque de Mayence1 qui est l’âme du clergé de toute la province Rhénane.—Adieu ma chère Maman, croyez moi votre affné fils,

J. Dalberg Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Paris
Ma chère Maman
Maman, Ma chère
Ma chère Maman,

Je vous remercie beaucoup de m’avoir fait envoyer par Herries & Co., l’argent nécessaire. Je regrette infiniment que vous ne veniez pas, et surtout puisque c’est la santé de Lord Granville qui en est en partie la cause. N’ayant pas vu les journaux je n’ai su que par le lodger, après ma dernière lettre, combien il avait été malade. Je suis bien aise au moins que cela ne vous empêche pas de faire une tournée à la Campagne. Votre décision contre Paris me détermine aussi à n’y pas rester, quand même je n’aurais pas l’espoir de vous trouver à Londres. La vie d’auberge quand on est seul à Paris ne me convient pas à la longue, et après une si longue absence je suis avide de revoir Aldenham et de me remettre à mes occupations régulières. J’aimerais aussi à y être pendant les derniers jours de la Semaine Sainte. Si vous n’allez pas à Windsor est ce que vous n’avez pas un peu le projet d’y Edition: current; Page: [18] venir aussi? La semaine que j’ai passée à Paris a été pleine d’intérêt de toute espèce. La Semaine Sainte n’en aurait que de spirituels, et pour cela je me contente de la tranquillité d’Aldenham. Je me propose donc de partir dimanche soir, et d’aller mardi à Aldenham. Vous ne serez plus à Londres. J’espère au moins y trouver l’annonce que vous venez au “Heim” Salopien. Je dîne et “rout” demain à l’embassade, ayant déjà vu Lady Cowley. Je ne suis pas encore parvenu à voir Mr. Henry Greville. Je vous ai dit que je dînais deux fois en Brignole.1 La seconde fois il y avait plusieurs notabilités Catholiques secondaires, mais surtout Falloux,2 le plus distingué, à mon avis, de tous ces messieurs. J’ai beaucoup causé avec lui et nous sommes allés après chez Montalembert. Pour cela j’avais du renoncer à escorter Louise au théâtre voir la Ristori, ce qui m’a valu bien des reproches de la Tante. La soirée chez Mont[alembert] était fort agréable; j’y ai vu tous les collaborateurs du Correspondant, les hommes avec lesquels je m’entends le mieux, surtout le prince A. de Broglie3 et mon vieil ami Eckstein,4 de tous les savants de Paris celui qui m’aime le mieux. La veille, mardi, après un dîner chez Maimette, j’ai dû assister à une terrible lecture chez Rio d’un écrit qu’il va publier. Il y avait mon ami du Dauphiné, Mr. Du Boys, dont il m’a été plus facile de mesurer la force à Paris que chez lui, et Mr. Laurentie que j’ai été content Edition: current; Page: [19] de connaitre. Hier encore j’ai dîné chez les Rio1 fort bien, avec Du Boys, le très ennuyeux Bonnetty, que j’avais été voir à cause d’une dispute dans laquelle il s’est engagé, et Louis Veuillot,2 le chef de l’Univers et d’un grand parti en France qui est dans les idées de mon adversaire Mr. Finlayson. Le dîner était arrangé pour que je fisse sa connaissance et j’ai été ce matin encore chez lui. L’évêque d’Orléans3 a passé deux jours à Paris, mais il est parti ce matin et je ne l’ai pas vu. Ce soir j’ai dîné chez Mr. de Caraman avec Ferdinand et ses filles, et Mr. de St. Priest. Jeanne est en retraite. Je la verrai ainsi qu’Antonin dimanche, lorsque j’y vais déjeuner pour aller avec Ferdinand ensuite entendre le père Félix. Il paraît que même la Tante Brignole does not know what to make de Jeanne de Caraman. Elizabeth me plaît beaucoup; je la trouve très gentille, très simple et sérieuse, mais sans un très grand charme. Pour les matinées j’ai fait de très longues visites à Eckstein. Tous les autres sont des pygmées en comparaison de lui. Ensuite j’ai vu longuement l’abbé Sisson que nous avons trouvé à Orléans, et qui rédige l’Ami, et espère le rendre plus intéressant. Ce matin j’ai été chez l’Abbé Gratry, qui m’a donné un image pour vous, et que je trouve toujours également amical. Je dois aller encore chez le père Ventura4 aussi à cause de la dispute de Bonnetty.5 Ils sont d’une école, ces messieurs, qui détruit la Raison en philosophie, par opposition à l’école plus nombreuse Edition: current; Page: [20] de nos jours qui nie la Foi. Il y a eu certains articles promulgués par Rome sur cette question qui est assez importante, et je suis curieux de voir ce que ces messieurs en disent. Voilà les principales choses que j’ai faites. Ajoutez que je fouille tous les jours le quartier Latin à la recherche d’anciens livres, et vous verrez que je suis très actif. Je n’ai pas même eu le temps d’aller chez Thiers, au fond de la place St. Georges. Les Brignole m’ont invité pour aujourd’hui et demain mais je n’ai pas pu accepter. J’ai perdu tout espoir de retrouver les effets perdus. Il y avait un article pour le Correspondant1 d’un professeur de Fribourg, et on est inconsolable de l’avoir perdu. Mullins a été fort occupé d’une servante Anglaise qui demeurait avec une famille Anglaise dans notre hôtel, et qui avait soupé à côté de lui. Le lendemain on l’a trouvé ayant coupé sa gorge et les artères des deux bras quelque temps auparavant. Il a été avec elle à l’hôtel et on espère la sauver, mais il croit qu’elle recommencera la même chose plus tard. L’hôtel est très sec et rempli de monde, cependant quelque grandiose qu’il soit je n’y suis pas à mon aise, et je crois que je ferai une autre fois le chagrin à Mullins de demeurer dans le fau[bourg] S. Germain. Ceci sera surtout inévitable si jamais je passe un peu plus longtemps à Paris. Ce matin encore j’ai eu une longue causerie avec Montalembert qui est très mécontent qu’on ait attaqué son livre sur l’Angleterre, J’ai trouvé Lord Campden chez lui l’autre soir. Mme. de Montalembert m’est toujours très sympathique quelque desagréable qu’elle puisse être.—Adieu ma bonne, chère Maman, votre affné fils,

J. D. Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
1 février 1856
Munich
Ma chère Maman
Maman, Ma chère
Ma chère Maman,

J’ai bien souvent voulu répondre à votre bonne lettre du 10, et par différents empêchements je n’y suis pas encore parvenu. Ma vie ici est assez monotone cependant, et ne présente pas beaucoup d’événements qui vous intéresseront. La quantité de matériaux et de renseignements que j’ai trouvés à la bibliothèque et chez plusieurs savants m’a obligé à étendre au delà de mon intention Edition: current; Page: [21] mon séjour à Munich. J’aurai fini ce que j’ai en main la semaine prochaine, et j’espère être vendredi à Herrnsheim. J’ai eu pour récompense de mes travaux, plusieurs bals. J’ai été à celui de la Comtesse Léopoldine, et j’irai encore à celui des Waldner. Les Apponyi et les Wallenstein m’ont aussi invité, sans que j’aie accepté. Anna a donné un grand et très beau bal où je ne suis arrivé que tard d’une soirée savante chez le professeur. L’autre jour j’ai donné à mes anciens amis et professeurs un dîner qu’ils ont trouvé assez bon. J’ai fait la commission de Grandmaman chez Steigerwald, et on va faire les bouteilles, qui y étaient inconnues. J’ai vu le livre de Vera1 dont vous m’avez parlé, sur la philosophie de Hegel, mais sans le lire. Il me semble que Mr. Van de Weyer m’a dit que Vera était venu pour tâcher de faire propagande pour cette philosophie en Angleterre. C’est une mauvaise plaisanterie: car sur le continent il n’y a plus de philosophes Hegeliens et c’est se moquer des Anglais de vouloir leur donner un système qui ne trouve plus d’adhérents ailleurs. Si c’est Sir G. C. Lewis2 qui vous en a parlé il faut se souvenir qu’il n’est pas philosophe mais historien et politique, et que ces caractères se réunissent rarement. Quand on ne suit pas le progrès et les phases de la philosophie dans un pays, on court risque de s’attacher à un écrivain ou un système qui a été dépassé depuis longtemps, mais chez nous on s’est tenu à l’écart de tout ce mouvement. Je me suis porté très bien tout ce temps quoiqu’il ait fait assez mauvais temps. A présent il y a énormément de neige. Mon appartement Hirsch est à côté de celui que vous aviez en 1852. Mme. de Spaur se marie avec le Ministre de Prusse à Naples, à ce qu’on dit. Ferdinand a fait lithographier un portrait de la Tante Marescalchi qui a fort bien réussi, et dont il me donnera j’espère un exemplaire pour vous.—Mille choses à Lord Granville, et croyez moi, votre affné fils,

Emerich.

Je pense rester quelques jours à Paris et arriver en à peu près trois semaines en Angleterre. Adieu!

Edition: current; Page: [22]
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
26 octobre
Munich
Ma chère Maman,—

J’ai trouvé votre lettre ici à mon retour de St. Martin, ainsi que celle de Lord Granville, à laquelle je viens de répondre. Comme je pense toujours plus au devoir qu’au droit, il m’a paru que ce qui décide de la question c’est le fait que ceux auxquels l’école est destinée sont presque sans exception protestants. Il est donc plus juste qu’ils aient un maître protestant. Les Catholiques n’y perderont rien, si la personne choisie est modérée et libérale dans ses opinions, et si elle ne se mêle pas de sujets dans lesquels la controverse peut entrer. Sur un maître semblable un maître Catholique n’aurait aucun avantage; les Catholiques n’y gagneraient rien puisque tous les deux laisseraient la religion aux pasteurs, et il est probable que les protestants en préféreraient un de leur foi. Je ne me suis pas occupé des détails de l’instruction, je suppose seulement que l’instruction est donnée à part et séparément par les clergymen. Quant au Government Inspection il est tout clair que ce sera un avantage. Si Lady Georgiana a déconseillé cela, je n’en vois pas la raison.

Nous avons passé une semaine très agréable à Prague. Je me réjouis surtout d’y avoir fait la connaissance du Professeur Höfler avec lequel j’ai eu de longues conversations. Il m’a présenté ses ouvrages. C’est un des historiens Catholiques les plus éminents. J’ai aussi vu plusieurs fois les deux plus grands savants Slaves, Palacky2 et Schaffarik.3 Le professeur a trouvé dans les bibliothèques une grande foule de manuscrits qui lui seraient très utiles, en langue Slave qu’il ne comprend pas malheureusement. Si on sait une de ces langues on peut lire la littérature de toutes les autres, ainsi de la Russie, de la Pologne, de la Bohème et des Slaves méridionaux. Ces littératures sont si riches que j’aurais voulu apprendre le Russe ou le Czech dès à présent, mais Edition: current; Page: [23] je n’ai pas de temps. J’espère pouvoir une fois passer un ou deux mois à Prague ou à Petersbourg. De Prague nous sommes allé à Dresde, par Aussig. A Dresde nous sommes resté qu’un jour pour voir la galerie, et le lendemain nous sommes partis pour Leipsic et Munich. Nous arrivâmes ici le 11 du mois. Je suis parti le 13 pour St. Martin. J’y ai passé une semaine très agréable, et qui l’aurait été encore d’avantage s’il n’y avait pas eu un tas d’officiers dans le voisinage qui venaient tous les jours, et qui ne me plaisaient pas du tout. Le Comte Arco pousse à l’excès le principe de la tolération dans sa maison. Ils ont une Victoria Regia dans leur jardin qui était justement en fleur, et que beaucoup de monde venait voir. Ma Tante se portait très bien ainsi que toute la famille. J’ai trouvé les enfants fort developpés, surtout les aînés. Mon filleul est rempli d’intelligence. Je suis revenu samedi dernier avec Charles et Ferdinand qui rentraient à l’école. Le reste de la famille arrivera au commencement de novembre. Les cours ne recommençent qu’en quinze jours. J’ai reçu une lettre du Leander de Lisbonne. Je leur écrirai à [word missing] et j’enverrai les lettres en Bruton St. Voulez vous avoir la bonté de faire dire qu’on les paie et qu’on les envoie à Malte. Les gazettes Irlandaises sont heureusement arrivé par l’ambassade. Mr. de Cetto est encore ici; Son fils ne vient demeurer avec nous que lundi prochain. Je suis très content d’avoir fait la connaissance de Sir Charles Lyell en Amérique. C’est grâce à ses lettres que j’ai été si bien reçu par les savants de Boston.—Adieu ma chère Maman, votre affné fils,

J. Dalberg Acton.

Acton to Granville on his Studies

If the end of education is to learn as much and as good things as possible, it seems hardly questionable that it is much better for me to continue my studies at Munich. The argument drawn from the superiority of German learning to English, in my pursuits, would be sufficient to prove this, unless other considerations weigh more heavily in the scale, in this case. After I had mastered the German language and got tolerably advanced in the classics, during my Edition: current; Page: [24] first year at Munich, I soon began to confine myself to those subjects which appeared most useful to me. From the opportunities I had it became possible for me to push these studies far in several directions, and I resolved to make them in some degree my occupation for life, and to aim not at accomplishment but at learning. Judged by the standard of what constitutes an educated man, my studies were in great part superfluous and extraneous, and were appropriate only when looked upon in the light in which I viewed them. This I consider to have been the case when I made antiquity and English history and literature my chief study no longer, but devoted myself at the same time to the history of the Middle Ages and of the Church, to theology and the history of philosophy. In the study of all these subjects there was unity both in the matter itself and in my intention and method. I sought to store up what would be most instructive if I should ever in the course of many years become an author, and I also believed that all these studies would be of use in public life. This was the unity of purpose; I did not study as a dilettante or a literary epicure. And if a common name is to be given to all these branches, I would call them historical. This is what really is important, that I did not pursue them as a preparation for public life only, but as the beginning of a literary career, though not of the usual kind, as my political life is also not likely to be like that of most other people. The consequence is that I have covered a much larger space than I have been able to cultivate to any high degree; because I looked forward to completing these studies late in life, and did not try to turn out a finished scholar at twenty or twenty-one. Now this impulse could not have been given me in England, nor could I here have matured my plans. I can pursue them in England well enough, when the start is given, when I have measured out my course, and when I have acquired a sufficient knowledge of foreign books. All this is impossible without such assistance as I have had. Now it is clearly best that I should enjoy as long as possible the advantages which have enabled me so far to form my plans. During this summer I should be able to hear a course of lectures on the history of philosophy since the Edition: current; Page: [25] decline of Rome by a most able man whose lectures on Greek philosophy I have heard, and who initiated me in the writings of Plato and Aristotle, whom he understands as few men living do. This is one of the most important continuations, because I have felt very keenly the difference between studying that part on which I had not heard him and that on which I had. Moreover, there is a great dearth of good books on the later history of philosophy, and it is a subject completely unknown in England. If the utility of philosophical studies be questioned, I reply that it is the only weapon of discussion with a great mass of persons, with all who reject Christianity, and to a certain extent with all who are not of one’s own religion. But I do not understand by philosophy those disputes which disgust most people with the name, such as have been treated of in part by Kant and such men. The writings of Plato and Bacon, Pascal and Leibnitz, can hardly be deemed unworthy of study. Another course will be on history by a new professor. Since I have been at Munich the professors of history have been so feeble that I did not care to hear them. But a new historian has been appointed who has written a work on the history of Dante which is a masterpiece. Ranke also is coming to lecture for two years, and he is the best known in England of all the German historians. It is not easy to learn how to study history without seeing some examples, and Ranke is in the habit of directing a kind of historical school from which several good historians have gone forth. A course of somewhat minor importance is that by Riehl,1 a young man whose works on society and history have made a great sensation in Germany and would be very highly valued if they were known in England. He lectures on the history of manners, beginning this month for the first time. To me it will be of the utmost importance to hear a course by Professor Döllinger on the Philosophy of Religion, for it is a subject I find it most necessary to pursue and it is most thorny and obscure. These are the principal lectures which I remember to have noted in the programme which was printed just before I left. It is very Edition: current; Page: [26] difficult to explain how they are of so much importance to me. I must trust on being taken a little on my word. But there are other things which are of as great consequence as the lectures. I cannot obtain out of Germany that knowledge of literature which is indispensable to the successful continuation of my studies, and to the pursuit of which great part of my time was devoted. It was the discovery how far I was from having collected all the necessary matter in this respect that was a chief reason for my being convinced of the necessity of remaining during the summer. This is a more laborious pursuit than would appear. It requires to have an immense library such as the Munich one at hand, and plenty of learned men to consult.

There are also very many things on which I am still anxious to speak with Dr. Döllinger. It has been of such immense use to have him to advise me in my studies that it is worth a great deal to prolong that advantage as long as possible. It is manifest that when a very young man enjoys the friendship of one of the greatest scholars and has the opportunity of constantly consulting him on the points which interest him most in his studies, he should not relinquish such an advantage unnecessarily.

The danger of a purely German education is not, I think, as great as appears. It is not German ways of thinking that I go there to seek, but in the pursuit of my chosen branches of learning I must go to German sources, and the longer I stay in Germany the better I shall know them and know how to discriminate them. Everybody who knows German is very glad to use German books in his researches. I can quote many instances perfectly appropriate. Mr. Hallam in his literary history devotes some pages to Mediæval literature, and quotes almost exclusively German authorities. Mr. C. Lewis devotes a chapter of his work on political philosophy to political history and quotes an immense number of German writers, and few besides. Even parts of English history have been best treated by Germans, as the reigns of Alfred,1 of Henry II2 and his sons. Therefore either I must Edition: current; Page: [27] give up my studies, or pursue them under great disadvantages, or else, if I am to make use of all the means in my power, I must possess the greatest possible knowledge of German books. It cannot be said that there is some general character in German writers likely to impress itself injuriously on any one who devotes great attention to them. They are of every variety of political opinions. If they have an almost universal characteristic, it is the absence of artistic management, a defect no one can acquire by studying them. The only effect they have produced on a class of persons in other countries is to make them infidels, like Carlyle. To this danger I attach no importance. As to ways of thinking in philosophy or in politics, I repeat I am in no danger from the Germans. I should consider any opinions on such subjects formed already premature and liable to change. So far as I seek direction in religious questions, it is right that I should go to the best sources, and any English Catholic theologian would refer me to the very place I come from. I might urge in defence of my studies at Munich, that you have hardly had an opportunity of judging them unfavourably. It is perhaps unfair to quote in their favour the opinion of several persons in England, as I am myself unconscious of having spoken in a way to enable persons to judge correctly how far and how well I have carried on my studies. It is my knowledge of German learning that is my principal advantage over people of my own age, and my principal means of gaining the good opinion of older ones. On it I shall have chiefly to rely to be of some service to my country and to my religion in this country. It is my best chance, and I owe it to my residence in Munich; and unquestionably the longer I stay there the better the chance will be. I have pursued my work at Munich during these years with a good purpose—a great prospect has opened out before me, I have sought the best means of succeeding, and have always tried to combine the closest application to my studies with the performance of my duties both with my instructors and at home. It will be extremely painful to me to be removed from what I deem the best course to attain the end at which I am aiming in full sincerity and with a good conscience, and it will be the more so if it is Edition: current; Page: [28] decided upon in spite of my efforts to avoid giving any dissatisfaction and if almost the last important question of my minority be decided against my most earnest entreaty and my strongest conviction, after having so often been permitted to carry my point even when there was less probability of my reasoning quite fairly and judiciously.

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
6 mai, 1854
Londres
Lord Granville
Lord Granville
My dear Lord Granville,

I must leave it to you to judge whether I can honourably accept your assistance in coming into Parliament. It is an opportunity for which I am very grateful to you, and I should be a fool to throw it wantonly away. It is not likely that another chance will ever present itself, as there is no political party with which I could act so well as with yours, and my opinions and character are not of a kind to ensure the support of the Irish Catholics. Moreover, in the present state of parties, and considering the constitution of the present ministry, I should not feel that I am committing myself to a very definite set of principles by supporting the Government. I mean that, for instance, Lord Palmerston’s rejection of Reform shows that this is the case now compared with Lord John Russell’s administration. There is a sort of fastidiousness produced by long study which public life possibly tends to dissipate, but although the profession of anything like independence of party appears ridiculous, I am of opinion that to a Catholic a certain sort of independence is indispensable. Reasons of religion must separate me occasionally from the Whigs, and political convictions from the Irish party. I am free, moreover, from the motives which generally make decided partisans, for I am conscious of no political ambition, and I have an aversion and an incapacity for official life. I must therefore most positively declare that I cannot undertake always to vote with Lord Palmerston’s Government or with any other. This would be enough to exclude me from Parliament, as I have neither personal reputation nor local influence, and I should never have thought of putting myself forward. Your note of yesterday therefore offers me the only hope I possess of ever entering the noblest assembly in the world. But I am bound Edition: current; Page: [29] to tell you at once that you would be rendering an uncertain service to your party by supporting my election with Government influence. I put this in the most uncompromising way, because I know your great kindness for me, and your desire of helping me to distinction, and I should feel disgraced if you could ever say that I had taken advantage of your kindness to deceive and disappoint you. If under these circumstances you abandon the thought, I shall be more grateful to you than if you entertain hopes which I shall be unable to fulfil, and my studies will give me full compensation for a career in which I was less sure of success. If, however, you do not consider these obstacles insurmountable, I hope you will make no secret of their existence, and that you will not allow others to expect more than I can perform. There are of course very many important questions on which I have no knowledge and no opinion. If I am elected I shall bestow upon them the same industry and care which I have hitherto given to other studies. The most serious matter that occurs to me on which I differ from the Government would be any interference in the affairs of the Pope. I mention this because I once heard you read a passage in a letter from the Duke of Argyle expressing views which I should oppose with all my heart. I could not of course promise the Catholics of Clare more than I have promised you. I hope, if I am Whig enough for the Government, that I shall be Catholic enough for them.

You do not say whether the Clare election is to be soon, or whether it is in anticipation of a dissolution. Two elections in the course of a year or two would be a very heavy charge. All this latter part of my letter is hypothetical and very possibly superfluous; but as I have always been silent on political matters, I have thought it best to explain this much at least to you. I cannot at this moment give you a complete confession of faith.—Believe me, ever most affectionately yours,

John Dalberg Acton.
N. Card. Wiseman
Wiseman, N. Card.
Nov. 27th, 1857
London
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
My dear Sir John,

It would give me the greatest pleasure to see you in Parliament. I am sure you would discharge Edition: current; Page: [30] your duties there with independence, and in a thorough Catholic spirit. If this expression of my high opinion of you can be of any service to you in your efforts to attain an honourable position, which I think you well deserve, you are at liberty to make use of what I write with any of our Bishops and Clergy. Should any of them wish for a more direct communication from me, I shall be most happy to give it.

With my hearty good wishes for your success.—I am ever, your affectionate,

N. Card. Wiseman.
Edition: current; Page: [31]

II.—: ECCLESIASTICAL CORRESPONDENCE

A.—: NEWMAN, DÖLLINGER, DUPANLOUP

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
June 4, 1861
John Henry Newman
Newman, John Henry

Sir John Acton to John Henry Newman.

. . . My books have an irresistible attraction for me which makes me miserable in London. I feel very painfully that I am altogether unworthy to be regarded as the champion of the cause which is yours, and the cause suffers from its identification with me. Faber, quitting the ground of argument, has set up his own claims as the sole teacher and authority, on the grounds of sanctity and humility; and thus disturbs people’s consciences. Very holy and distinguished priests, whom I shall name to you as soon as I am authorised, offer me materials and support, but refuse to share responsibility, and therefore to give the authority of their views which is wanting in my hands. Gratry and Lacordaire are so intimidated that I found Montalembert ignorant of their real opinions. We are still listening in vain for the voice we most reverence and most love to hear.

John Henry Newman
Newman, John Henry
June 7, 1861
Birmingham
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg

J. H. Newman to Sir John Acton.

My dear Sir John,

As to Manning, I cannot quite follow you. I am sure he has a great respect for you. His Lectures contain scarcely a sentiment surely which you could not accept. The Register spoke of them as if they even agreed practically with writers like Döllinger. In consequence he wrote a letter, which appeared in the Register of May 25, in which he so explained his views that it would Edition: current; Page: [32] be very difficult to find the fault of them. He said (if I recollect) that the possessions of the Holy See had been lost and recovered again and again—and so it would go on till the end of time. This quite removed any idea of his predicting the speedy end of all things. Then again, instead of any strong declaration on the subject of the temporal power, he said that two things were attributes of the Pope, first, that he could not rightly be a subject; secondly, that he had a spiritual jurisdiction over Kings. People who don’t know him well, seem to me to misunderstand him. He is most sensitively alive to the enormous difficulties, political, social, and intellectual, in which we are.

And now as to myself, since you evidently wish me to say that I am not an advocate of the Temporal Power. I really do not feel there is any call on me to give my opinion—rather, duty lies the other way. It is difficult to state all my reasons.

1. The Duke of Wellington said that a great power cannot have a little war—and I say that a great subject cannot have a little book. Such a theme would require a whole treatise in order to bring out what I thought and why I thought it.

2. I simply have no right to speak. I am not called to do so by position, or any external relation. Why should I speak more than another? If I had deeply studied the subject, that might be a reason, est cuique in suâ arte credendum. But what is the fact? Why, that my life has been cut up so that I have followed out nothing, and have got just a smattering of many things, and am an authority in none. I might have pursued history, or theology, or metaphysics; but I am at the end of life, and have no claim to give an opinion in any one of them. You can’t think how this weighs upon me. Every one has his primâ facie view of things, and I have mine. I have a right to have it, no right to obtrude it on others. This would not justify me to pretend to hold what I do not see my way to hold, but it does oblige me not to profess what I do not see my way to prove.

3. Accordingly I think I fulfil my duty in keeping silence. You may be sure that people wish me to speak on the other side, and to maintain the Temporal Power. That I have Edition: current; Page: [33] not done; and the omission itself is going a great way. People take words in the last Rambler to allude to me; and the very fact that I do not repudiate the sentiment ascribed to me there is in some measure avowing that sentiment myself. You may be sure that there are people watching me very narrowly, and who would rejoice if I brought out in any tangible form what they believe I hold in my heart.

4. I cannot but feel bound to consult for my body here. An imprudent act might get them into great trouble. To tell you something in confidence, already has Propaganda been on the point of inflicting a most serious injury on us, by altering, without telling us, our Rule, at the suggestion of others. It might destory us by a stroke of the pen. The Pope out of kindness appointed me Head fourteen years ago. If I died, Propaganda would have a precedent, if it chose, of dispensing with our Rule, and choosing a second head for the body (please not to mention this) and in a number of other ways it might be our ruin.

5. But lastly, who saved us, in our late danger? It was the Pope himself, and the Pope only. I am bound in gratitude to him.

But the post is going.—Ever yours affectionately,

John H. Newman.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
June 9, 1861
John Henry Newman
Newman, John Henry

From Sir John Acton.

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 Edition: current; Page: [34] 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.

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
June 6, 1861
John Henry Newman
Newman, John Henry

From Sir John Acton.

. . . I must ask leave to retract anything in my letter which seemed to you expressive of impatience or of importunity Edition: current; Page: [35] regarding your silence on the present crisis of the Church. I gave in the Summary what seemed to me very good reasons and a sufficient explanation of the reserve of persons in your position. I know too well that the Temporal Power is but a very small part of a very vast question. It is in this way that Döllinger treats of it in the book he is just finishing, and which I still hope may provoke you to some criticism in our September number. What I feel is, not that I am unjustly accused and attacked, but that it is a presumption against the principle I represent that I should be the head and front of the offending cause. Half the arguments you use for keeping aloof disturb me; because, if you have no call or right to speak, I personally have none. And I believe too that you see more distinctly the signs of a coming reaction against the popular Catholic views than I do in the midst of my opposition to them. But the latter part of your letter imposes silence on me on this topic, both towards yourself and others; and I hope you will consider all this said by way, not of urgency, but of explanation. The session will be over early and I shall be impatient to get to my books, . . . which I continue to hope will some day tempt you over to Aldenham.

Monday Morning.

I have just received your note with a Letter on the Council of Trent, which will, of course, find its place in the next number. But I must express to you my astonishment that it should come with your recommendation, seeing that it altogether ignores what is really meant by receiving the Council of Trent, which is a very definite matter, on which long controversies have been carried on, in France, for instance. Again, to suppose that the Bishops are censured, when it is said that the Council of Trent is not accepted, seems to me the most unjust mode of argument, trying to interest religious reverence in a question merely of fact and history. Nor does the writer deal with the enormous consequences which follow from his statement, such as putting England and Ireland on one footing in regard to marriage.

Without your note, I should not have thought of admitting the letter. With your note, I do not of course hesitate.

Edition: current; Page: [36]
John Henry Newman
Newman, John Henry
June 20, ’61
Rednall
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg

From Dr. Newman.

. . . . . . .

P.S.

I am not the fit person, nor perhaps would you ask me, to give any opinion on Manning’s proposal. If I were you, nothing would bully me into giving up the Government, if I felt I ought to go with them. The case of Simpson is far more delicate. It is impossible if you can leave him to bear the brunt of responsibilities, which you share; but what Manning aims at, I suppose, is the suppression of the Rambler. I confess, I should not be sorry at your literary undertakings (if such is to be your course), taking a less ephemeral shape than the pages of a magazine. Gibbon, in the beginning of his Autobiography, refers to Aldenham—might it not become more classical (and somewhat dearer to a Catholic) than Lausanne? Gladstone, in the dedication of one of his early works to Lord Lyttelton, talks of his writing in the classical groves of Hagley; yet what is the History of Henry II to the opus magnum which might be identified with Aldenham? My own feeling is that the Rambler is impossible.

The patrons of a new Quarterly will find it a difficult task. There cannot be life without independence.

John H. Newman.
John Henry Newman
Newman, John Henry
January 13, 1863
Mr. Monsell
Mr. Monsell

From Dr. Newman to Mr. Monsell.

My dear Monsell,

I will send you the correspondence in a few days; you need not return it to me.

Other persons besides your Bishop think that Dr. U.1 is hard upon Simpson, and misunderstands him. However, to put the case as most favourable to S., Dr. U. is as likely to understand him as the run of the Catholics; and as he offends Dr. U., so he may scandalise and mislead them. The question is, what is the effect of his writings? The Rambler is essentially a popular work, as being a periodical. It addresses, not the few and learned, but the many. Moreover, the articles themselves were in no slight measure of a controversial cast. The attack on the Temporal Power, Edition: current; Page: [37] that on St. Pius’s policy towards England, were not wrought out from premisses to conclusion, but views thrown out, and expressed in terms which were not defined or explained. This, of course, is an evil connected with the periodical press, and the Church is not slow to meet it with a vigour corresponding to that which that new description of literature exhibits.

And this leads me to say, secondly, that I believe the very passages of Simpson which our Bishop censured were specified by Propaganda. Moreover, I think I am right in saying that the Acts of Propaganda are the Pope’s, in an intimate manner,—a privilege which the other sacred Congregations do not share. It gives great weight to the words of the Bishop of Birmingham that the substance of them has the direct sanction of the Holy See.

Nor have I any difficulty in receiving them as such. It has ever, I believe, been the course of proceeding at Rome to meet rude actions by a rude retort; and, when speculators are fast or flippant, to be rough and ready in dealing with them:—the point in question being, not the logical rights and wrongs of the matter, but the existing treatise or document in concreto. The Pope is not a Philosopher, but a Ruler. “He strangles while they prate.”

I am disposed, then, to think that Mr. Simpson has no cause to complain, though he has been hardly treated. Why did he begin? Why did he fling about ill-sounding words on sacred and delicate subjects? I should address him in the words of the Apostle: “Quare non magis injuriam accipitis?—quam non magis fraudem patimini?” I think he might have written a better pamphlet.

I will tell you what seems to me to be the real grievance, viz., that in this generation the Bishops should pass such grave matters (to use the Oxford term) by cumulation, i.e. in taking D.D. degrees. The wisdom of the Church has provided many courts for theological questions, one higher than another. I suppose, in the Middle Ages (which have a manliness and boldness of which now there is so great a lack) a question was first debated in a University, then in one University against another, or by one order of friars against another—then perhaps it came before a theological Edition: current; Page: [38] faculty; then it went to the Metropolitan; and so by various stages and through many examinations and judgments, it came before the Holy See. But now, what do the Bishops do? All courts are superseded, because the whole English-speaking Catholic population all over the world is under Propaganda, an arbitrary, military power. Propaganda is our only court of appeal; but to it the Bishops go, and secure it and commit it, before they move one step in the matter which calls for interference. And how is Propaganda to know anything about an English controversy, since it talks Italian? by extempore translation (I do not speak at random) or the ex parte assertion of some narrow-minded Bishop, though he may be saintly too. And who is Propaganda? Virtually, one sharp man of business, who works day and night, and despatches his work quick off, to the East and the West; a high dignitary indeed, perhaps an Archbishop, but after all little more than a clerk, or (according to his name) a Secretary, and two or three clerks under him. In this age at least, Quantulâ sapientiâ regimur!

Well, if all this could be said of any human institution, I should feel very indignant; but it is the very sense and certainty I have of the Church being divine which at once makes it easy to bear. All this will be over-ruled; it may lead to much temporary mischief, but it will be over-ruled. And we do not make things better by disobedience. We may be able indeed to complicate matters, and to delay the necessary reforms; but our part is obedience. If we are but patient, all will come right. I should say all this without any reserve to my own Bishop, if he gave me the opportunity, for, I think, to do so is a duty of loyalty. But I do not expect any Bishop will try to find out what I, or any one who sees what I do, thinks on the matter; and therefore I leave it to God. The logic of facts will be the best and most thorough teacher as He shall dispose. Meanwhile, it is a grave consideration, that in England, as things are, upon theological questions the Pope and the individual Catholic meet each other face to face, without media, in collision, without the safeguard of springs or cushions, with a jar; and the quasi-military power of Propaganda has the jurisdiction and the control of the intellect.

Edition: current; Page: [39]

And this is what I have to say, and you will say that it is enough, in re Simpson.

As to your question about your continuing your contributions to the H. and F., I should be very glad that such as you should do so; but, at the same time, I think you ought, and have a right, to bargain that there should not be the smack of Protestantism in the Review, which is unmistakable in the article you remark upon. It was a smack of something or other, which I should call a tone—which ruined the Rambler; not its doctrines; but a tone in stating or alluding to them; and a Protestant smack will be fatal to the H. and F. The article may be the writing of a free-thinking Catholic, but it is more like a Protestant’s. The distinction between Catholic and Christian morality which you notice, is unintelligible till explained; and it is not explained, but left, though enemies will be sure to explain it in their own way. Then he speaks of “so-called orthodoxy,” which is very suspicious. Pusey got himself into a scrape thirty-five years ago by speaking of “orthodoxism.” This, however, is worse, as suggesting that “so-called” has been inserted by the Editor to improve matters. Then, what he says, page 87; of “Christianity being the pure and living truth,” but in particular ages it is “mingled with foreign ingredients,” and “distorted [sic] impure glosses,” is most suspicious, till explained; and it is not explained, but offered neat deliberately to the jealous criticism of the whole Catholic body, who are fast enough to criticise what even does not need explanation: “Essential truth!” “human ideas!” it is as if they wished to ruin their own work. It keeps up the traditions of the Genesis article in the foregoing number; nor is it, as you observe, a sufficient answer to say that it is “communicated.”

If; then, you continue to write for it, you really must insist on this ambiguous, uncomfortable style of writing simply coming to an end. I know how great are an Editor’s difficulties, but articles in a tone like this will merely serve to write up the Dublin by contrast. I am not speaking against the author of it; who, if he is a Protestant, is a candid and dispassionate, as well as an able man, but against its appearance, as it stands, in a Catholic Review. It is intolerable.

Edition: current; Page: [40]

And so am I too, I am sure you must be saying; so stop.

John H. Newman.

P.S.—It would be a great thing, if Simpson’s separation from the Home and Foreign were known, but Acton of course will feel delicate about seeming to cast him off.

W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Aug. 22, 1872
Chester
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
My dear Lord Acton,

Granville sent me yesterday your interesting letter about the Papal Election, and I made the brief answer which suggested itself at the moment. But on thinking the matter over I am struck with what seems to me something like an essentially false position in the case of the Italian Government. From the formation of the Italian Kingdom, or at any rate for a great many years, the Italian Government has refused to take any cognizance of the state of parties in the Roman Church. Tros Tyriusve mihi nullo discrimine habetur. There is a party there which is at war with liberty and civilisation. There is another party which holds principles favourable to both. The first party is strong, the other weak. The Italian Government has done nothing to uphold the weak and nothing to discountenance the strong. And now with the Papal Election in view it desires to find means of averting the mischiefs which are too likely to follow from an election conducted by the dominant or Papal party. Its arguments, criticisms, and wishes seem to me to be in hopeless contradiction with its own conduct. Were it indeed possible to treat the question as purely religious, their attitude might be justified by logic. They might say governments do not interfere in theological questions: we want our Ultramontanes to be good citizens, and such they may be, however extravagant their merely ecclesiastical or theological opinions. Do they then hope to convert and pacify Ultramontanism in the civil sphere by letting it alone in the religious sphere? That may be possible, although I do not think it free from doubt, in England. But it is utterly and evidently impossible in Italy until the idea of restoring the temporal power shall have been utterly abandoned. Meanwhile temporal means, the powerful engine of starvation, are Edition: current; Page: [41] freely used by the ecclesiastical power against any priest who makes peace with the Kingdom of Italy. And nothing (as I believe) is done to sustain such priests in their unequal conflict. If this is so, how can the Italian Government wonder that its deadly and irreconcilable enemies should act towards it in conformity with the policy which it allows them to enforce against its own loyal subjects? The German Governments (I do not speak of the law against the Jesuits, on which I am ill able to give an opinion) are surely far nearer the mark, for they give some kind of support and countenance to what may be called the rational party in the Church. I feel deeply the reasonableness of the views of the Italian Government about the new election, but I also feel that it lies with itself to take the first step towards causing such views to prevail by giving countenance within its own sphere to loyal and right-minded priests.

These are the impressions which your letter leaves upon me.

I have sometimes had an idea of serving three or four purposes at once by running to the Continent for a fortnight or three weeks, perhaps as far as Munich, altogether unseen. But I know not whether it can come to anything.—Believe me, sincerely yours,

W. E. Gladstone.

I have tried in vain to reconcile myself to your opinion that Ultramontanism1 really exists as a definite and genuine system of religious faith, providing its own solutions of ethical and metaphysical problems, and satisfying the conscience and the intellect of conscientious and intelligent men.

It has never been my fortune to meet with an esoteric Ultramontane—I mean, putting aside the ignorant mass, and those who are incapable of reasoning, that I do not know of a religious and educated Catholic who really believes that the See of Rome is a safe guide to salvation.

They no doubt think their own communion the best and safest help to sinful men, and they wish its system and authority to be thought of as favourably as possible both outside and within. They will therefore deny, or conceal, Edition: current; Page: [42] or explain away the things that are its reproach, but they do not believe in or approve them. Generally, in confidence, they will admit that they do not accept the responsibility of the enormities imputed to them. Some are unwilling to avow their disbelief, or the limitations and exceptions in their belief in those things to which the Papacy is committed; but even among these I know none who really entertain the convictions they wish to impose.

When I alluded to a decree of Urban XI encouraging people to murder excommunicated persons, a letter was published which met the case with the example of Phinehas. The writer either meant that Urban was right, or he meant nothing. I happen to know him intimately. He is a most self-denying and estimable priest, near eighty years of age. I found, on talking to him, that he meant nothing at all, but only to put dust into the public eye. “You know,” he said to me, “allusions to Scripture always make an impression on Protestants,” and he laughed like an haruspex.

It required great pressure to bring Newman to admit that he disagreed with Liguori. He made it appear that he thought Liguori a saint, and his doctrine not so very wrong. I am quite sure that Newman thinks it a sin to lie; and he must therefore think that the Holy See promotes a sinful and erroneous doctrine with a fervour it shows in favour of no other system.

I might go on with examples for ever. These men all accept the Pope with their own conditions and interpretations.

Athenæum Club, Pall Mall.

Now the essence of Ultramontanism is that the Pope—or that system of authorities concentrated in him—decides the points on which salvation depends.

That principle is rejected by those who believe that it is wrong to tell lies or to commit murder for the good of the Church. Practically they may not choose to act against their own people, like the Emigrés, but in their consciences they give up the whole principle. Many motives array them on that side, but with reservations and saving clauses, by which the whole thing is surrendered. With those motives it is impossible to deal. Apart from them there Edition: current; Page: [43] is little to discuss. I could scarcely imagine how it could be right or reasonable to argue with a professed Ultramontane; it would seem an impertinence to ask him to put off his uniform and speak in his real character.

In short, I do not believe that there are Catholics who sincerely and intelligently believe that Rome is right and that Döllinger is wrong.

And therefore I think that you are too hard on Ultramontanes, or too gentle with Ultramontanism. You say, for instance, that it promotes untruthfulness. I don’t think that is fair. It not only promotes, it inculcates distinct mendacity and deceitfulness. In certain cases it is made a duty to lie. But those who teach this doctrine do not become habitual liars in other things.

I should also have a point to raise on the other side, as I think you do scant justice to Pantheism, or at least to the Hegelian doctrine.

I say nothing of other parts, because I agree with them too thoroughly.

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
12 juillet [1873]
Munich
Lady Blennerhassett
Lady Blennerhassett
Chère Lady Blennerhassett,

J’espère que Madame de Forbin recevra un exemplaire de l’ouvrage publié en Angleterre à son retour en France. C’est un livre qui n’est pas très commun, mais le libraire a promis de le trouver. Du reste, il était connu au Cardinal Pallavicini. Le meilleur manuscrit de Massarelli1 est celui que Mme de Forbin possède en extraits. S’il ne va pas plus loin, il n’y a plus rien à y faire. Il y en a bien un autre exemplaire à Rome, anciennement dans les mains de la famille Ludovisi, je crois. Mais il est probable que c’est la même chose, ou à peu près. Le Summarium est très court, et ne va pas plus loin que le Diario qui se trouve dans Le Plat.2 La Décrétale Omnes3 est authentique. C’est à dire, elle n’appartient pas à la collection Edition: current; Page: [44] du faux Isidore qui est beaucoup plus ancienne. Sans doute elle est basée sur les fausses Décrétales et inspirée par elles. Du reste, il faut se souvenir qu’à Trente tout le monde croyait que les fausses Décrétales étaient authentiques—excepté le seul évêque de Lérida.1

Le professeur2 embrasse avec joie l’idée de venir à Reichenhall, si vous vous décidez à y rester. Seulement il est lié à Munich pendant quinze jours encore, et ne peut partir qu’après le samedi 25. Qu’en dites-vous? Que feriez vous autrement du mois d’août? Et pourrait-on trouver à le loger convenablement? Je ne sais encore ce que feront vers ce temps-là les miens. En tous cas j’accompagne le professeur et j’espère que ce ne sera pas pour m’en aller trop tôt. Nous en causerons à notre aise—car j’espère venir vous trouver un de ces jours. J’ai proposé au Probst de m’accompagner, à vol d’oiseau, mais il est trop occupé de son discours. En attendant j’espère vos nouvelles demain par Emerich.3—Croyez-moi, chère Lady Blennerhassett, votre bien dévoué,

Acton.
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Oct. 19, 1874
Chester
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
My dear Lord Acton,

When I was at Munich lately I commended to Dr. Döllinger’s particular attention a scheme, or rather an idea, for it has not grown to be a scheme, which has been in my mind for many years. It is a republication in series of the best works of those whom I would call the Henotic or Eirenic writers on the differences which separate Christians and Churches from one another.

He appeared to approve much of the idea. But it is no trifling enterprise, especially as if done now it should be done well, and done internationally.

I have been reading Pichler’s Théologie des Leibnitz, which I daresay you know. It is, as it could not fail to be, a most interesting book. But Pichler’s own mind has evidently Edition: current; Page: [45] been veering during the composition of it, and in such a manner as sometimes to suggest the idea that it is Pichler rather than Leibniz whom he gives to his reader. It seems to me, too, very defective in form: his references and citations too few, his dissertations too many. In the “Schluss” he seems to give to German Protestantism a “clean bill of health” in rather suspicious terms.

It was delightful to me to see Dr. Döllinger first so well and secondly so inaccessible to the influences of religious passions. My opinion of him, formed twenty-nine years ago, was not altered, but simply heightened and confirmed.

Circumstances have made me feel it necessary to say a few words, meant to be emphatic, in a recent paper on Ritualism, with respect to the actual Church of Rome in its relation to mental freedom and civil loyalty. I cannot yet judge whether it will be necessary for me to sustain, by reference and expansion, what I have said.

If you go to London, and can call on Panizzi,1 I am sure the attention will be much felt. He is lonely and rather giving way in strength.—Believe me, very sincerely yours,

W. E. Gladstone.

I am aware of Pichler’s personal miscarriage.

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
October 21, 1874
Aldenham
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
My dear Mr. Gladstone,

I am sorry to learn that Panizzi is not so well. I will try to do what I can to cheer him.

Döllinger wrote to me how much pleasure your visit, shortly followed by one from Strossmayer, had given him. What you say of him fully confirms my own feeling. When I first came to him, nearly a quarter of a century ago, there was some eagerness and sharpness about him, which time and trials have mellowed into an admirable gentleness and serenity. What I am beginning to apprehend is a falling off of the producing power. He seems clogged and Edition: current; Page: [46] overwhelmed by the vastness of the knowledge he has acquired, and a book which I have long been urging him to write is, unfortunately for religion, still unwritten.

You are undoubtedly right in thinking that there would be much instruction in a collection of the Eirenic writers since the Reformation. Pichler,1 with all his knowledge, was intensely partial and narrow in his sympathies. Three volumes of Leibniz’s letters, which have just been published by Klopp,2 put his negotiations in a much clearer light—and, by the way, are interesting also in connection with the Act of Settlement and the Hanoverian succession. It seems that Bossuet’s3 stiffness at last was due to political influences as much as to theological opinion.

A curious point which I propose to exhibit in the history of Union and Separation is the willingness of Rome at one moment to accept the Confession of Augsburg, as a reasonable basis for negotiation and reconciliation. I have got the papers.

I know pretty well what you wrote the other day, although the reading of the actual essay is a treat reserved for an early visit to London; and I can easily believe that you will find it necessary to say more. In such matters it is best to be as definite and as explicit as possible. No reproach can be too severe. The difficulty is to point and limit it with perfect justice. I am persuaded that there are many loud and ardent adherents of Rome who know not what they adhere to, and are unconscious of the evil they are really doing, besides many who take a more or less honest refuge in inconsistency. This, I think, ought to be distinctly recognised. Real Ultramontanism is so serious a matter, so incompatible with Christian morality as well as with civil society, that it ought not to be imputed to Edition: current; Page: [47] men who, if they knew what they were about, would heartily repudiate it. I don’t see why what you have to say should offend any honest man or peaceable citizen in Ireland.

Some one has written to me, “I suppose you were not taken by surprise at Ripon’s conversion”—from which I conclude that some of his friends knew what was going on. For my part I certainly was taken by surprise.

The new Edinburgh reminds me that Reeve1 has been rather persistent in proposing Disraeli at the Club. Walpole was to sound you and Lowe. Lowe tells me that he would stay away altogether if Disraeli is elected. I propose to give Walpole a hint to move no farther in the affair.—I remain, yours faithfully,

Acton.
I hope Lenbach did himself justice.
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Oct. 26, ’74
Chester
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
My dear Lord Acton,

What you have said on the subject of Ultramontanism and of the mode in which it should be handled appears to me to be as wise and as good as is possible. It is really a case for hitting hard, but for hitting the right men. In anything I say or do on the subject, I would wish heartily and simply to conform to the spirit of your words.

But I feel myself drawn onwards. Indeed some of your words help to draw me. The question with me now is whether I shall or shall not publish a tract which I have written, and of which the title would probably be “The Vatican Decrees in their bearing on Civil Allegiance: a Political Expostulation.” I incline to think that I ought to publish it.

If it were in your power and will to run over here for a night or two I should seek to profit by your counsel and should ask you to read as much of the MS. as your patience would endure. I have got Mr. de Lisle2 (who desires his Edition: current; Page: [48] best remembrances) here now, and I hope to get from him something of a like service. A more substantial attraction would be that I could go over much of my long and interesting conversations with Döllinger.

I have a letter from him to-day: he is uneasy on the question of Peace and War.

He has entered seriously into the notion of publishing the Henotic or Eirenic writers, and wants it to be started in this country. Your counsel would be essential.

My belief is that no friend was in the slightest degree aware of Ripon’s1 intentions, until they were virtually consummated. He is an excellent fellow: at least he has been: may it all continue . . . .—Ever sincerely yours,

W. E. Gladstone.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Dec. 16, 1874
Bridgenorth
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
My dear Mr. Gladstone,

There has been a grievous pressure on my time and energy for the last week or two, and I much fear that I have left your letter unanswered until the answer has become superfluous.

On the question of the Syllabus, which is not clearer to me than it was at Hawarden, I consulted the most intelligent and independent layman among the Catholics, and I send you his answer, with this qualification only, that the idea that the sacrament is conferred by the parties contracting, though the opinion of the pars sanior, has never, I think, been adopted at Rome to the exclusion of the sacerdotal theory.

Döllinger became professor of theology at Munich in 1826. I enclose a passage concerning him, from the work of Werner,2 who is probably the best known and most considerable writer on Divinity in Austria, who has written an Ethik, 3 vols., on St. Thomas Aquinas, a Life of Suarez, a History of Apologetic Literature, in 5 vols., etc.

Edition: current; Page: [49]

I have really failed—when I came back here—to find my Sendschreiben,1 but I will make a better search.

You spoke to me of Döllinger’s sense of despair for Rome, and what you said struck me the more, because something like it was indicated in some of his recent letters. I have entered into the question with him, in reference to the position I have taken up in the midst of the waters you have troubled, and I find that the difference I had feared does not exist between us. He agrees with me in hoping for the ultimate recovery of Rome, for the triumph of the better elements lying almost concealed and inoperative in the Church; and he accepts my view that Ultramontanism should be attacked in the root and stem, rather than in the flowering top. Although this is what I am doing, there is very little chance of my escaping excommunication.

Newman has been writing to me very kind but unsatisfactory letters. He does not mean to embark on the present controversy.

I agree and rejoice in every word you say about your wish to separate yourself from the theological fray. It is due to your position, and it is the only way in which good can be done. Considering the extreme profaneness of the Liberal mind, it is very important to make it clear that you are doing the work of a statesman, and to divest them of the uneasy feeling that you are acting as a divine.

Of the people I have seen or heard from, I find Cardwell and Playfair the most entirely favourable to your letter; Coleridge and Hartington and Lord Granville, almost as favourable; Carlingford not quite so favourable; and Lowe and Goschen rather silent.—I remain, yours very truly,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
February 21
Torquay
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
My dear Mr. Gladstone,

Döllinger has just sent me Sicherer’s Eherecht in Bayern. Probably you have also received a copy. Sicherer is one of the ablest, most moderate, and most sincerely religious of the opponents of Infallibility in Bavaria, and what he says can be trusted. He cites Edition: current; Page: [50] things which are pertinent to your discussion of the Matrimonial question. Perrone, for instance, says that it is a distinct advantage to Protestants that they can keep their wives or marry others, at will, when they are converted. The very words of the decree, establishing your point, are given by Sicherer, p. 12, and he shows that, while upholding the principle, they tried to dissimulate for fear of consequences.

I hope you will not publish without examining what Sicherer says pp. 12-14. If you have not got the book, telegraph to me for it.—Yours very truly,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Lady Blennerhassett
Lady Blennerhassett

Dupanloup.

Dear Lady Blennerhassett,

I remember now that you are right and that there are cases in which the hat was refused or withheld on the ground you mentioned.

Everybody in England compares him to the late bishops of Exeter1 and Winchester. He had Exeter’s fire and zeal, and Wilberforce’s charm, gift of adaptation, artfulness, and power of influencing high and low.

It was a great merit not being a scholar, to promote classical studies, even a Greek play, in face of the opposition there was in the clergy. He cannot have known Greek, for at Rome it came out that he had never seen a Greek Testament. He knew Latin fairly, not elegantly. The Hungarians were shocked at the Latinity of his protest, and made many alterations.

Nothing proves better his real want of culture than his proposal that you should write a life of St. Paul. He cannot even have known why it would be well to write such a book, or he would have known how much minute Greek scholarship was required.

“Surtout, méfiez-vous des sources,” is the most characteristic of all his sayings.

When he came to Herrnsheim to see the Professor in September 1869, I was appalled at his ignorance. After he was gone I said to the Professor, with some emotion: Edition: current; Page: [51] “What is to be expected, if this is one of the best specimens?” Under this impression he [Döllinger] wrote his Erwägungen,1 which impressed Dupanloup very much, though, on the Roman question, he had a very strong feeling indeed against the Professor. Perhaps the expression, in 1840, was, that Affre2 was less exaggerated—which might apply to politics as much as to religion.

Don’t forget that, in 1871, he refused the Archbishopric of Paris. Rémusat’s3 words to me were stronger than I said last night. He said that the French Government appoints, and does not present for papal approbation, and that of course they were ready to appoint him; but he himself dissuaded them, on the ground that the Pope would not like it.

When he wanted Thiers to come to the Council, he said to me: “Il les charmerait tous.” They had become friends in 1848 about Falloux’ laws.4

He also wanted Broglie to come; and when I said “mais il est orléaniste,” he did not see at first what I meant, and then rather liked it.

Down to 1855 I trace a coldness between him and Montalembert, perhaps as long as Lacordaire lived. There is a Biographie du Clergé, par un solitaire, about 1840. When the life of Dupanloup appeared in it, he was spoken of as a failure.

You may be quite sure that to a man accustomed an das strenge Denken,5 to Scherer, Taine, St. Hilaire, he appears a mere windbag—otherwise pour les beaux esprits, I can fancy Sainte-Beuve or Renan (his disciple) taking delight in him.

Edition: current; Page: [52]

Observe his outwardness, his belief in the influence of the press, his constant articles in newspapers during the Council, his petty polemics. All his thoughts were for influence in his own time and country.

He was a very patriotic Frenchman, knowing very little of other countries or other languages. I don’t tell you the gross mistakes I corrected for him in his book on the Sovereignty of the Pope.

“Cela déshonorera les Jésuites, mais on ne peut plus l’éviter,” he said to me about the scheme of enlarged Erwägungen.1 That shows how little his mind was clear, how little he moved on lines self-traced, towards an understood goal. But I think he was more under the influence of circumstances than of conversations—flottant plus que faible. I once expressed my astonishment at his quoting De Maistre as an authority, meaning of course that if De Maistre is any authority it is on the other side. I came away with the impression that he did not know what I meant. I did not observe that he always attributed bad motives to adversaries, but he was suspicious that people were actuated with national motives.—Ever yours faithfully—in haste—packing up,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
17 février, 1879
Mentone
Lady Blennerhassett
Lady Blennerhassett
Chère Lady Blennerhassett,

Nous avons su par la voix de la presse unanime le véritable succès de votre travail, avant même de le voir. Nous ne l’avons même presque pas Edition: current; Page: [53] vu, puisque Madame Minghetti1 l’a immédiatement emporté, et en fait des extraits, la nuit, au lieu de dormir.

Je comprends naturellement, que la voix de l’amitié reconnaissante ne se fait pas entendre pour dire le lendemain de la mort tout ce qui appartient à l’impitoyable histoire. Le duc d’Audiffret-Pasquier2 sera, je suis persuadé, aussi scrupuleux que vous de ne pas franchir la ligne, ou plutôt l’abîme, qui sépare l’éloge funèbre du jugement lointain de l’avenir. Heureux s’il réussit autant que vous à faire reconnaître les traits personnels.

Vous m’avez souvent dit que je suis un naïf, et je m’en aperçois à la manière dont vous devez avoir parlé de l’évêque d’Orléans. Que le Professeur, en adoptant votre article reconnaisse dans un défenseur du pape, du syllabus, et du pouvoir temporel, un chrétien, plus ou moins éclairé, représentant l’église Catholique, et jouissant du bienfait de ses sacrements—reconnaisse, par conséquent, qu’au delà de cela il y a autre chose—voilà ce qui me donne bien à réfléchir, et m’ouvre des horizons imprévus. Newman a très bien dit que la plupart des controverses provient de ce que les gens ne se donnent pas la peine de définir exactement leurs points de vue.—Croyez moi, votre très dévoué,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
February 1879
Lady Blennerhassett
Lady Blennerhassett
Dear Lady Blennerhassett,

After writing in half a dozen Reviews and having published many letters and lectures, monotonous, as they appeared to me, by perpetual Edition: current; Page: [54] iteration of the very few ideas for which I care and upon which I trade, I never apprehended that I could still be obscure. When misrepresented, I have generally supposed that such misconstruction was nothing but the usual veil of disagreement. You show me that I was mistaken and overvalued my own perspicuity or the perspicacity of others; and certainly if not clear to you whom I have so emphatically bored, I must have puzzled many. A wide vista opens, showing a somewhat altered world.

Let me try as briefly as possible and without argument to tell you what is in fact a very simple, obvious, and not interesting story. It is the story of a man who started in life believing himself a sincere Catholic and a sincere Liberal; who therefore renounced everything in Catholicism which was not compatible with Liberty, and everything in Politics which was not compatible with Catholicity. As an English Liberal, I judged that of the two parties—of the two doctrines—which have governed England for 200 years, that one was most fitted to the divine purpose which upheld civil and religious liberty. Therefore I was among those who think less of what is than of what ought to be, who sacrifice the real to the ideal, interest to duty, authority to morality.

To speak quite plainly, as this is a confession, not an apology, I carried farther than others the Doctrinaire belief in mere Liberalism, identifying it altogether with morality, and holding the ethical standard and purpose to be supreme and sovereign.

I carried this principle into the study of history when I had the means of getting beyond the common limit of printed books.

There I presently found that there had been a grievous evil in the Church consisting of a practice sanctioned by the theory that much wrong may be done for the sake of saving souls. Men became what we should otherwise call demons, in so good a cause. And this tendency overspread Christendom from the twelfth century, and was associated with the papacy, which sanctioned, encouraged, and employed it. Associated, not exactly identified, for I do not find that the Gallicans were better than the Ultramontanes. But Edition: current; Page: [55] they had not quite the same retrospective interest or moral solidarity. The Ultramontane, desiring to defend the papacy, had to condone and justify its acts and laws. He was worse than the accomplices of the Old Man of the Mountain, for they picked off individual victims. But the papacy contrived murder and massacre on the largest and also on the most cruel and inhuman scale. They were not only wholesale assassins, but they made the principle of assassination a law of the Christian Church and a condition of salvation.

Was it better to renounce the papacy out of horror for its acts, or to condone the acts out of reverence for the papacy? The Papal party preferred the latter alternative. It appeared to me that such men are infamous in the last degree. I did not accuse them of error, as I might impute it to Grotius or Channing, but of crime. I thought that a person who imitated them for political or other motives worthy of death. But those whose motive was religious seemed to me worse than the others, because that which is in others the last resource of conversion is with them the source of guilt. The spring of repentance is broken, the conscience is not only weakened but warped. Their prayers and sacrifices appeared to me the most awful sacrilege.

The idea of putting on the same level an Ultramontane priest and a priest of licentious life was to me not only monstrous but unintelligible. I understood the movement for the glorification of the papacy as a scheme for the promotion of sin. Arbues1 and Liguori2 seemed to me the normal and appropriate associates of the Syllabus and the Council; and I was uneasy and perplexed when I saw that the honours paid to them were regarded as special, additional facts with a significance of their own.

I heralded the Council by pointing out that the Popes had, after long endeavours, nearly succeeded in getting all Edition: current; Page: [56] the Calvinists murdered.1 It meant: give them any authority or credit that may be their due, but let it be always subject to that limit and condition. Let everything be conceded to them that is compatible with their avowed character and traditions; but see that you do nothing that could shelter them from the scorn and execration of mankind.

It is well that an enthusiast for monarchy be forced to bear in mind the story of Nero and Ivan, of Louis XIV and Napoleon; that an enthusiast for democracy be reminded of St. Just and Mazzini. It is more essential that an enthusiast of the papacy be made to contemplate its crimes, because its influence is nearer the Conscience; and the spiritual danger of perverted morals is greater than the evil of perverted politics. It is an agency constantly active, pervading life, penetrating the soul by many channels, in almost every sermon and in almost every prayer book. It is the fiend skulking behind the Crucifix. The corruption which comes from revolutionary or absolutist sympathies is far less subtle and expansive. It reaches the lower regions of the mind and does not poison that which is noblest.

That is my entire Capital. It is no reminiscence of Gallicanism. I do not prefer the Sorbonne to the Congregations or the Councils to the Popes. It is no reminiscence of Liberal Catholicism. Rosmini2 and Lacordaire, Hefele3 and Falloux seem to me no better than De Maistre,4 Veuillot, or Perrone. It is nothing but the mere adjustment of religious history to the ethics of Whiggism.

It seems to me that this is very plain sailing, that each step of the process is easy and natural, that those who think Edition: current; Page: [57] it utterly wrong must admit the unity and consistency and simplicity of the exposition; that they may think it a reductio ad absurdum of Liberalism more easily than an obscure, a difficult, an unintelligible argument. That is why, hitherto, I have had much difficulty in believing that my doctrine required comment or explanation. I have not felt that it required defence, because I have never really perceived that it was attacked. My impression has rather been that people thought it inconvenient and likely to lead to trouble, and, of course, solitary and new.

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
August 11, 1890
Tegernsee
Roland Blennerhassett
Blennerhassett, Roland

To Sir Roland Blennerhassett

My dear Blennerhassett,

It proves impossible to recover the Professor’s earlier letters to me. You may be able to help me over a stile or two if you carry your thoughts to the time when you were at Munich in 1863 and 1864, Oxenham being there too.

You then wrote to me that Döllinger could not understand why Newman hesitated to throw over Liguori. Is it your impression that that is a tenable, or only a highly-coloured, account of his then state of mind? He became sensitive afterwards to misinterpretation and censure. Do you think he had no sense of it whatever in 1864?

Of course I see a sort of truth in what you wrote; but I cannot make up my mind how far that numbness or denseness went.

What is your impression, looking back now, as to how far he was then conscious of existing or threatening differences? It is certain that insight came to him late. There is the political difference, with what it involves since 1861. There is the German opposition to Roman scholasticism, since the Gelehrtenversammlung1 in 1863, and there is the Inquisition in 1867.

But my impression is that in 1864 he was unconscious of the yawning gulf. At that time, though there were theological issues superadded to the original political one, it is certain to me that there was no ethical issue before Edition: current; Page: [58] him, and the question of the Inquisition seems to me to have been pressed upon him by the French.

I find very little trace of external influences on the course of his life. But at this moment I do suspect that Persecution was made a topic of meditation, by Montalembert and his friends, who were much occupied with it in the Malines days1 and often speak of it in letters.

I should be really much obliged if you would rack your memory, which is much better than mine, as to this series of questions.

You perceive my point:

Since 1861 he is aware that he condemns Rome politically, but not expressly more than politically.

Since 1863 he becomes dimly aware that Rome backs the theologians who are against him; but this is still mere theory.

In 1867 he embarks on the question of Persecution, declares an ethical opposition, and goes almost all lengths.

This last step, to my certain knowledge, was not dreamt of in 1864.

What I cannot tell is, how wide was the theological gulf, how clear the perception of it in ’64? and how did persecution, which gave him no concern in August 1864, become so important in the days of Arbues2?

It is a fact that it vexed the French in those days, and was much dwelt upon in Montalembert’s letters. Is there any objection to that apparent and plausible derivation?—Ever yours,

Acton.
Edition: current; Page: [59]
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
August 14, 1890
Tegernsee
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

I earnestly hope that you will remember me at Hawarden, and my great need of the correspondence in the tower. For several weeks I have been laid up at Kissingen, and unable to do any serious work. But I have succeeded in collecting a good many letters from different quarters, and still have a delicate and unpromising negotiation with the representatives of Montalembert. Some transitions in the progress of Döllinger’s thought are still obscure to me, especially between 1864 and 1867. There as elsewhere I count firmly on light to come from you.

This has been an opportunity for reading many old letters from Newman, which I shall have less scruple in quoting since the sad news of his death. If Wemyss Reid is the man I take him for, there will be something in your hand on the greatest of your English contemporaries.

You know that in this instance I am forced to use the ambiguous word great as I should in speaking of Napoleon or Bismarck, Hegel or Renan. But I should quarrel with every friend I have, in almost every camp or group, if I said all I know, or half of what I think, of that splendid Sophist.

You know that the Dean of St. Paul’s has a book on the Oxford Movement ready in type. I believe he had a compact with Newman not to publish in his time. I hope he will be induced now to do it. I have read the book with very great interest, and with that admiration which belongs to all the Dean ever writes.—Ever yours,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
18 août, 1890
Tegernsee
Lady Blennerhassett
Lady Blennerhassett
Chère Lady Blennerhassett,

Impossible de vous dire combien votre envoi1 m’a été précieux, et combien je vous en suis reconnaissant. J’ai parcouru à vol d’oiseau ce qui est personnel, et avec le plus grand soin ce qui est réél et par conséquent caracteristique. Je n’ai pu achever qu’aujourd’hui et j’ai regretté de laisser partir vos enfants sans vous rendre ce que votre fille m’a remis.

Edition: current; Page: [60]

Cela vous attend et ne vous attendra pas longtemps, j’espère. Autrement je vous apporterai tout cela à Munich, ainsi que les Montalembertiana, qui ont été pleins d’instruction pour moi.

Il y a bien des choses que je sais et que je ne savais pas avant de lire ces letters. D’abord ce sont les meilleures qu’il ait écrites. Elles ont bien plus de mouvement et de couleur que toutes celles que j’avais vues de lui. Je constate cependant une diminution d’intérêt vers 1869 ou 1870.

Ensuite je m’aperçois que non seulement il y avait des choses que je ne comprenais pas, mais que je comprenais mal, comme Michelet—que j’ajoutais l’erreur à la simple ignorance. Je suis heureux d’être à temps, grâce à votre très grande bonté et amicale confiance, de changer une partie de ce que j’avais—plus ou moins—écrit.

Pour la plupart, sa vie m’est intelligible et claire; et je vois venir, grandir l’antagonisme avec le Catholicisme usuel, depuis 1861 jusqu’en 1867.

Mais je ne sais pas fixer le jour où il l’a compris lui-même; je ne vois pas encore bien combien l’histoire contemporaine y a ajouté à l’histoire du passé, et je ne puis pas exactement déterminer jusqu’à quel point il s’est jamais dit qu’il s’agissait d’une guerre au couteau.

Si je devais terminer aujourd’hui, je dirais, sur ces trois points restés douteux, que la rupture intérieure consciente date de l’été 1867; que l’histoire contemporaine n’y est pas pour grand’chose; et qu’il ne s’est jamais dit que, par exemple, Sailer1 et Catherine de Medicis sont de religions différentes.

Si ajoutant les souvenirs aux Correspondances vous croyez que je me trompe, sur ces trois points, ou sur ceux qui ne me paraissent pas incertains: que le véritable mouvement, en sens inverse de celui de Rome, n’a pas commencé avant 1861 et était achevé en 1867—avertisez-moi je vous en prie. Les lettres que le Professeur m’a écrites dans les premiers temps ont disparu.

Edition: current; Page: [61]

Je suis frappé de ce que les Français sentaient tellement plus profondément que lui, la grandeur et la profondeur de l’abîme qui les séparait. Si j’avais ce que je n’ai pas ici, le Testament de Lacordaire, le discours de Malines, et l’article de Montalembert sur l’Espagne, je pourrais mieux le montrer.

En vous écrivant comme dans une lettre que Montalembert cite, et en parlant de moi aux dames de céans, il dit bien souvent qu’on est d’accord au fond, qu’il n’y a pas de différence de principes, etc.

Je me demande si c’était sincère? Je crois bien que la discussion l’ennuyait, surtout par écrit. Mais aussi je me demande s’il ne craignait pas de trop creuser les choses. Il est sûr qu’il a mieux aimé s’éloigner de moi et rabattre de notre intimité que d’envisager tout à fait franchement le problème que je lui posais pendant des années à toute occasion et sous toutes les formes.

Corrigez-moi encore si mes souvenirs m’égarent lorsque je ne vois qu’une personne, Baader, qui a eu, directement, de l’influence sur son développement. Il y a bien un moment très critique, l’entrée en scène de l’Inquisition, où je soupçonne un peu l’influence des Français. Mais cela c’est toute une situation; ce n’est pas l’action d’un esprit sur un autre.

Croyez à toute la reconnaissance de votre dévoué,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
19 août 1890
Tegernsee
Lady Blennerhassett
Lady Blennerhassett
Chère Lady Blennerhassett,

Tini1 vient de me dire que vous avez désiré savoir ce qui en est de Montalembert, dont Mlle Jeannette n’aurait pas trouvé quatre cahiers.

Il est vrai que trois cahiers manquent au manuscrit que vous avez eu l’insigne bonté de m’envoyer. Je n’y avais pas songé, étant dans une partie que je n’avais pas à étudier. Après le No. 4 sans titre, il n’y a rien jusqu’au No. 8 voyage d’Allemagne, etc. Vous devez avoir cela parmi vos papiers à Munich. Ce sont les Nos. 5, 6, 7.

Avec les copies des lettres de Montalembert on m’a envoyé celles d’Eckstein ainsi que quelques autres du même Edition: current; Page: [62] format. Cela m’a beaucoup intéressé, et je vous en parle de peur que vous ne vous demandiez ce que c’est devenu. Cela attend vos ordres et plutôt votre présence à Tegernsee.

Je n’ai pas trouvé les originaux des lettres de Montalembert parmi les papiers du Professeur. Il soupçonnait une fois en vous ecrivant, qu’on l’avait volé. Il se pourrait que quelqu’amateur eût emporté ces précieux autographes. Je suis d’autant plus reconnaissant de vos copies.

Deux lettres manquent entièrement.

Dans l’une il parlait de son discours à l’Académie et de la réponse de Guizot. Dans l’autre de Mgr. de Ségur1 qui l’aurait calomnié, et auquel il tenait à répondre. Je dois vous avoir raconté cela dans le temps.

J’ai remarqué que le Professeur ne vous a pas dit qu’il écrivait sur l’Inquisition, dans l’été de 1867, acte par lequel il tranchait tous les fils. Bientôt après il cite de vous ce mot, not to burn his ships.

Je me demande ici s’il s’est expliqué avec vous alors sur ce thème absolument décisif, et si vous pensez qu’il s’en rendait compte. Vous voyez, je reviens sur un de mes points obscurs, et je devine que c’est à ce propos que vous aurez parlé des vaisseaux.

Laissez-moi vous demander encore une fois de vouloir bien contrôler mes souvenirs: Pensez-vous comme moi (ou autrement), qu’il mettait Moehler2 au-dessus de tous ses amis, avec ou après Goerres—que c’était là le jugement permanent et final; et que tout en aimant beaucoup Montalembert, il ne mettait pas ses amis Français sur la même hauteur?—Croyez-moi, votre dévoué,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Lady Blennerhassett
Lady Blennerhassett
Chère Lady Blennerhassett,

Ce que vous avez eu l’extrème bonté de chercher pour moi, avec peine et de Edition: current; Page: [63] m’envoyer avec difficulté est arrivé hier au soir, et ce matin j’ai tout extrait.

Je vous en remercie le plus sincèrement possible. Ce qui manque ne fait vraiment rien. Tout est clair dans le mouvement d’esprit de Montalembert, qui l’a isolé en France, et l’a ramené vers le Professeur, par des causes extérieures pour la plupart. J’ai assez de preuves pour la pointe de lumière que ce parallélisme fait jaillir sur le changement qui s’est opéré chez le Professeur entre 1866 et 1867.

Et ce que j’ai, c’est à vous que je le dois, que je dois de comprendre ce que je crois aujourd’hui comprendre, et ce que certainement je n’ai pas compris de son vivant.

Ce qui ne m’en console pas du tout c’est d’avoir appris, aussi par vous, que lui, au fond, ne me comprenait pas du tout, et ne savait pas pourquoi en histoire, je mets en avant autant que je puis, l’idée de crime au lieu de celle d’erreur et de péché. Je ne lui ai parlé que de cela pendant dix ans, et je m’humilie de reconnaître que, avec les hommes les plus intelligents, les plus instruits et les moins disposés à entretenir des préjugés contre ma doctrine, le plus sérieux et le plus médité de mes discours ne vaut qu’une chanson.

Ma jeunesse se fait une grande fête d’accepter votre bonne invitation, le jour où elle ira à Munich, et nous vous en sommes très reconnaissants. Le jour où elles viendront n’est pas établi encore, ou le mauvais temps et l’approche menaçante de l’oncle d’Amérique. J’espère que ce sera la semaine prochaine.

Je prends S. pour Sicherer et j’en conclus que ma doctrine n’est pas sûre d’être agréée d’avance, sur l’influence de la docte Italie du XVIIIe siècle sur l’Allemagne du XIXe. Raison pour soigner mes paroles sur ce chapitre.

L’Epilogue1 aurait eu ceci d’intéressant que Rio2 était du Edition: current; Page: [64] dîner des artistes aux pèlerins (de l’église et de la liberté), pendant lequel Lamennais a appris sa condamnation. Le Professeur en était aussi et il est allé après avec les trois à la Menterschweige, où ils étaient fort gais. Il n’a jamais su ce que Lamennais avait ce jour-là dans sa poche. Il m’a dit que Lamennais lui a écrit en partant, c’est-à-dire le lendemain, pour lui dire adieu, et s’excuser de ne pas venir le voir.

Cette lettre est-elle encore entre les mains de ces demoiselles1?—Votre dévoué,

Acton.
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Sept. 1, 1890
Hawarden
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
My dear Acton,

I have been asked from many quarters to write about Cardinal Newman. But I dare not. First I do not know enough. Secondly, I should be puzzled to use the little knowledge that I have. I was not a friend of his, but only an acquaintance, treated with extraordinary kindness, whom it would ill become to note what he thinks defects, while the great powers and qualities have been and will be described far better by others.

Ever since he published his University Sermons in 1843, I have thought him unsafe in philosophy, and no Butlerian, though a warm admirer of Butler. No: it was before 1843, in 1841, when he published Tract XC. The general argument of that tract was unquestionable: but he put in sophistical matter without the smallest necessity. What I recollect is about General Councils: where, in treating the declaration that they may err, he virtually says, “No doubt they may—unless the Holy Ghost prevents them.”

But he was a wonderful man, a holy man, a very refined man, and (to me) a most kindly man.

I have written to Dr. Reusch about getting a translator for the Döllinger Briefe, etc., lately published.

It is most pleasant to infer from your letter that you have the great subject before your mind, and mean to take it in hand. When you write again, I hope you will be able to report yourself absolutely well.

I have the fear that my Döllinger letters will disappoint Edition: current; Page: [65] you. When I was with him he spoke to me with the utmost freedom; and so I think he wrote, but our correspondence was only occasional. I think nine-tenths of my intercourse with him was oral: with Cardinal Newman nothing like one-tenth. But with neither was the mere corpus of my intercourse great, though in D.’s case it was very precious, most of all the very first of it in 1845.

It is profoundly interesting to think of you at Tegernsee: but how it brings back the great figure.—Ever yours,

W. E. Gladstone.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
10 septembre
Tegernsee
Lady Blennerhassett
Lady Blennerhassett
Chère Lady Blennerhassett,

Vous êtes toujours trop bonne de continuer à penser à moi et mes incertitudes et mes énigmes. Il m’a semblé que certainement des choses manquaient, et le voisin Friedrich1 les tenait probablement. Du reste il m’a donné de son mieux toutes les informations que je lui ai demandées.

Sicherer a beau jeu s’il me reproche d’avoir appris peu de choses et fort lentement. C’est vrai, et cela ne me fait pas honneur. Mais cela ne change rien à mon problème.

Je n’ai jamais su, du vivant du Professeur s’il comprenait et repoussait ma pensée, ou s’il ne la comprenait même pas. C’est là-dessus que, grâce à vous, la lumière—tardive—s’est faite. Et cela donne à réfléchir, quand on pense que ma doctrine est simple, claire, tranchante, que je l’ai fait connaître avant le Concile qu’elle a seule inspiré mon opposition et n’a pas été, par conséquent, sans quelque influence dans le monde. Ajoutez que, depuis que j’ai remarqué, vers 1879, que nous ne nous entendions pas, je n’ai fait qu’en parler au professeur; et que tant d’autres n’ont pas trouvé cela dûr à comprendre, ou difficile à repousser.

Ma femme me fait observer que plusieurs personnes ont de la peine à comprendre qu’on s’agite beaucoup, pendant des années, non pas pour convaincre un adversaire, mais pour apprendre son point de vue. Il se peut qu’il y ait de cela dans l’obstacle contre lequel je me suis heurté.

Edition: current; Page: [66]

Loin de vouloir dire chose pénible, je vous dois la plus sincère reconnaissance, en général d’abord; mais surtout au moment où je dois écrire, et où il serait fâcheux de ne pas voir clair. Il y avait, jusqu’ici toujours cette possibilité, qu’il ne tenait pas à approfondir, ou qu’il me supposait d’autres motifs, tels qu’un Ultramontanisme inconscient, ou un rationalisme caché. Et puis je croyais que, n’écrivant rien, je passais à ses yeux pour avoir étudié moins que je l’ai fait, et qu’il ne prenait pas toujours fort au sérieux ce qui était le résultat d’un bien long et rude travail.

Tous mes doutes n’ont pas disparu, car tout n’est pas conséquent. Mais votre témoignage a le plus grand poids.—Votre dévoué,

Acton.
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Oct. 6, 1890
Hawarden
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
My dear Acton,

Having one thousand subjects to speak to you about, I reduce them to nine hundred and ninety-nine by discharging on you a copy of what I have written to Mr. Hutton (R. H.) about Cardinal Newman, and I think you will not resent it, though the letter is written from my personal and perhaps peculiar point of view. I shall be glad to have it again, only when we meet: perhaps you will bring it!

It is certainly the extinction of a great luminary, and so many have died lately, that it seems as if the century ought now to die too.

I have a vehement desire to show you, when I may, my new library, as it is called: though I trust it is only a nucleus or a germ. I have moved about half my books there, say 12,000. At some time I want you to do me a very great service, if you will assume the burden. That is, to furnish me with some suggestions towards supplying the gaps in some leading branches. The ultimate capacity of the building as I have made it is, I estimate, 40,000 volumes.

Perhaps before long I shall hear from you what you intend about the life of Dr. Döllinger. I even hope you may perhaps have written to Murray, or to somebody, direct.

Edition: current; Page: [67]

I had both the ex-priest librarians, Law1 and Hutton,2 here last week, very able men, whose interests are by no means estranged from religion; but I cannot quite make out their exact positions.—Ever yours,

W. E. Gladstone.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
October 12th, 1890
Tegernsee
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

I return with very sincere thanks—not the letters, but—your letter to Hutton. He is an excellent critic, and a most able man, and Dick will have to send me his book.

You are undoubtedly right on that point, of Newman’s inacquaintance with the sixteenth century, both English and foreign. I think he knew his English—Anglican—seventeenth century pretty well. But then Hooker and Andrewes and Hammond were not the root of things.

Allowing for only four great gaps of imperfect knowledge, for knowledge always imperfect except when got up for a purpose, as the fourth century undoubtedly was, and also for that sophistical tendency natural to a man who was always looking for a view, for something tenable logically, whether tenable historically or not, I do think it is very difficult to speak too highly of his capacity. He is so much better when he is wrong than most men are. For good and evil he greatly reminds me of Fénelon; but Newman was the stronger man. I cannot help thinking that you will, one of these days, for your own satisfaction, put on paper your recollections of him and the way you stood towards each other. And I shall be sorry if you do not do it while the iron is hot.

The letters are infinitely more precious than you suppose, and it is quite impossible to say how great a debt of gratitude I owe you for trusting me with them.

I have used them only slightly in my essay, and have ventured to keep them longer, as I could not make final extracts until I got some leisure. Be sure that they are in Edition: current; Page: [68] the hands of one who knows their value, and what is involved, in the sending of them.

They bring up to about 300 the number of the Professor’s letters that have been in my hands. I have used only about a dozen out of the whole number; and you will see that my paper, though unreasonably long, is one chain of omissions.

I have ventured to refer to your conversations of 1845, although, unfortunately, I know them only by oral report.

And you will see, by the side-lights, that my notion would be to place Döllinger in the centre of a vast circle of chiefly friends. I have not written to Murray, and have not spoken of anything more to anybody; but having now gone over the ground and examined the materials, I think it might be in my power to write a more complete memoir.

If, therefore, I may again appeal to you for aid and intervention, and you would be generously willing to move Murray on the matter, and to make him propitious, I shall once more be deeply grateful to you.

I have had all his papers and manuscripts communicated to me, and have seen, as I said just now, the best of his correspondence. I was constantly with him, or in correspondence with him, for forty years; and have had the fortune to find that he had kept all my letters from 1852, and I may cite to you this passage from his letter to me of June 27, 1869: “Wenn Sie bedenken dass Sie der Einzige sind gegen den ich mich ganz offen auch bis auf die innersten Gedanken aussprechen kann, so werden Sie begreifen wie sehr ich mich sehne, Sie zu umarmen.”1

I put myself in your hands: but whether Murray or another is best, you must say. Perhaps you will be so extremely good as to think this over—after Dalmeny.—I remain, ever truly yours,

Acton.

I have been puzzled about the Huttons, for I fancy the other committed himself about J. H. N.

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
March 22, 1891
Cannes
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

The accounts of Lord Granville have been very alarming, when one knows his weak Edition: current; Page: [69] condition, and Dick, calling two or three times last week, was not allowed to see any member of the family. Freddy Leveson now tells us that things look better; but we are left a good deal to conjecture.

Séché asks me for letters of Döllinger to you, without actually saying that he has your promise. I shall not feel bound, or even distinctly authorised, to send them, until I have your injunctions. His book, founded on new material, is in part interesting. His purpose is to show that Liberal Catholicism, of which he takes Döllinger as the type, originated in a development, or a transformation, or a decomposition of later Jansenism.

I do not think that this is good history, still less good biography. Döllinger had so great a dislike of the essential doctrine of Jansenism that it amounted to a prejudice against some writers of the party, and especially against Pascal. What is more decisive is this, that he never did proceed, in the characteristic actions of his life, from any dogmatic system, or from any particular theory. He got, no doubt, to be in touch, successively, with the considerable writers of every school, and one can trace the impress or the stimulus of each. But it was not so much by preference as by the necessities of history which compelled him to take in all sorts of things.

It is as a scholar, not as a theorist, by the study of facts, not by attachment to dogmas, that he became what he was. The Döllinger of the Vatican Council and the Bonn Conference is not the product of certain opinions in the past, but of a certain level of present knowledge. He acted under the impression made on his mind by the state of learning at that time, by particular books published between 1863 and 1868, and the enquiries they enabled him to pursue. The mark of just that time was upon him to the end. He went on with his own studies upon those lines. But he did not follow contemporary discoveries in the eighties as efficiently as in the sixties.

I would say not only that Döllinger was not a Jansenist or a product of Jansenism, but that he also was not a Liberal. There was, I think, a moment in his later life when he was conscious of the tremendous consequences to the Church Edition: current; Page: [70] of Liberal thinking, and recognised that what is essentially a political principle becomes equivalent to a religious principle when applied to the Catholic Hierarchy. It was when you were at Tegernsee last, on the day after your expedition. He had had a seizure, and he came into my room, and spoke some very solemn words which I have never repeated. But excepting that occasion, he kept Liberal theories quite out of his theological system, and was always a little impatient of the ways in which I applied them. I could hardly make some of my historical judgments intelligible to him without much explanation; and when he knew what I meant he certainly did not like it.

But it is enough to say that it was the mark of a Jansenist, to be influenced, especially, by St. Augustine; and of Döllinger, to be influenced by St. Vincent, and strangely independent of St. Augustine.

Therefore I can hardly imagine a more disputable thesis than that of our French friend; and what I shall have to say will be very distinctly opposed to him. And I wait your directions before satisfying his request.

Until Aston Manor1 I thought that all my friends at home made too much of the evil done by Parnell to the cause. I am sorry now to be obliged to suspect you were all right. But his breakdown at Cork, if it is confirmed, is a serious blow to his confidence and credit. Can you imagine that I was invited to stand for Creighton’s chair2? I venture to ask your indulgence for Talleyrand in the next Knowles.3—I remain, yours ever truly,

Acton.
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
March 26, 1891
St. Leonards
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
My dear Acton,

Your account of Dr. Döllinger4 is intensely interesting. With my inferior faculty and means Edition: current; Page: [71] of observation, I have long adopted your main proposition. His attitude of mind was more historical than theological. When I first knew him in 1845, and he honoured me with very long and interesting conversations, they turned very much upon theology, and I derived from him what I thought very valuable and steadying knowledge. Again in 1874 during a long walk when we spoke of the shocks and agitation of our time, he told me how the Vatican decrees had required him to re-peruse and re-try the whole circle of his thought. He did not make known to me any general result, but he had by that time found himself wholly detached from the Council of Trent, which was indeed a logical necessity from his preceding action. The Bonn Conferences1 appeared to show him nearly at the standing point of Anglican Theology.

I thought him more Liberal as a Theologian than as a politician. On the point of Church Establishment he was as impenetrable as if he had been a Newdigate.2 He would not see that there were two sides to the question.

I long earnestly to know what progress he had made at the last towards redeeming the pledge given in one of his letters to me that the evening of his life was to be devoted to a great theological construction.

I once proposed to him the idea of republishing in series the works of (so to call them) the Henotic writers. He entered into it warmly. I then propounded it to Dr. Mozley, the Regius Professor, who did the like. I wanted it done by the Oxford faculty, but Dr. Bright took some sideways objection which “blocked it,” and Mozley’s life was unhappily soon cut off. Disraeli provided a very inferior successor.3

I should have called Dr. D. an anti-Jesuit, but in no other sense, that is in no sense, a Jansenist. I never saw the least sign of leaning in that direction.

Edition: current; Page: [72]

When Séché1 applied to me for his letters, I used you rather as a screen or buffer, and gave no consent. I could not see that they entered legitimately within his precinct. He was surely built upon-quite other lines. Jansenism was too narrow for such a profound and comprehensive historic mind.—Meantime, and ever yours,

W. E. Gladstone.
Lord Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Dec. 1, 1891
Oxford
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

The fires of Hawarden have so many irons in them, that I did not succeed in saying half the things I had in my mind, or thanking you in the least possible degree for all I have to thank you for.

I should have told you, as I owe it to you, that I propose so to write the life of the Professor as to give a substantive chapter dealing with each of the matters that engaged him. As for instance: Döllinger and his Church history would be an occasion for describing where Church history stood, how it got so far, when he began.

Döllinger and the Frankfort Parliament2 would be a reason for describing Church policy, and the rise and meaning of Liberal Catholicism; Döllinger and the Vatican Council would contain all I know about that event.

Döllinger and Reunion, a short view of that question, with some extracts from your letters to him, after submitting them to you for permission.

Döllinger and the Roman question, in like manner, the natural history and fall of the temporal power.

Döllinger and England—both his personal relations with contemporaries and his points of contact with the Anglican and the English Catholic theology of the seventeenth century—and so on. I would try in each case to give only new matter, of which there is a good deal, and to set him in a very large frame, embracing all his main subjects. I see a moment coming when I should be glad to go into some detail with you as to certain points.

Edition: current; Page: [73]

Oxford has been a mine for me, the literature of the English Catholics being otherwise so rare. In London, where I go to-morrow, I propose to take the great liberty of calling on your editor Hutton, at the National Liberal Club, and asking after your collected speeches, and how they get on.

Rosebery has forgotten to put before his book the motto which contains it all: “Latet anguis in herba.”1 I have seen a good deal of Morley, and found him admirably reasonable, practical, and clear. But very fearful indeed about Harcourt’s condition.—Ever sincerely yours,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
February 1st, 1892
Munich
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

It has been a sacrifice to be away this time, but I rejoice to see that the two aspects of Southern France have both justified themselves, and that you have been doing well while so much has happened at home.

Manning3 had certainly mellowed lately, and much of his early feelings towards you had been revived by his calculated liberality on the Irish question. He used to tell me that he was a Liberal from his Colonial Office days, much differing therein, as in most things, from the greater but so much less efficient colleague. The choice of Hutton for his immediate biographer, in defiance of Catholic feeling generally, makes it likely that his animosity and distrust will not be buried with him.

I certainly regret that things have been so managed at Oxford as to do dubious honour to the memory of Newman. It is true, he was not a great academic personage, and he may have done harm as well as good to the University. But he was great enough to obtain national celebrity, and to stand above contention. The site was so badly chosen that it seems to have been done on purpose, slily to represent Edition: current; Page: [74] the burning of the bishops as a thing condoned, if not deserved. I don’t think the town ought to consent to that.

The principle being admitted, the spot that occurs to me is that place in the railings of the Camera that is opposite the second entrance to St. Mary’s. It is not a region frequented by townspeople, it is not obtrusively conspicuous, and it would be like a monument to a general on his greatest field of battle.1

Indeed this is one of several points on which I should have much to say and to hear, if we were to meet soon. Letters of Newman have reached me from strange quarters enabling me, I hope, to say something worth the saying in the process of describing all the most notable men and the most considerable lines of thought that touched or crossed the Professor’s path. I don’t suppose you ever knew it, but in 1859-1862 Newman was much nearer you on the Italian question than Döllinger was. Both Hutton and Tom Arnold tell me that they were not aware of it.

I will at once see Sicherer, late Rector of the University, and my best friend among those on the Committee, and inform him of your generous intention of subscribing to the monument, and I will, with your permission, make it twenty pounds. You will be perfectly safe if you send a draft to him, Königinstrasse, or, in his name, to and through me.

Rossendale will, I suppose, retard the Dissolution to the natural end of the Session. Dick and I thought it a proper occasion to drink your health in a glass of champagne. It has made a greater impression on ministerialists than even those elections which showed, last winter, that Parnell was not strong enough to injure you. I have always been trembling, lest a new reign, or a European war, might slur and confuse the issues at the General Election; but I was hopeful all through, and I thank God now, that the earthly crown of your glorious life is very near.

We have been less fortunate than you, out there, three of us having been down with influenza; but it is nearly over, and has not been severe at Munich.—I remain, ever yours,

Acton.
Edition: current; Page: [75]
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Feb. 9, 1892
Munich
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone.

I have received your cheque for twenty pounds towards Döllinger’s monument, and will to-day hand it over to Professor Sicherer. The Committee will, I am sure, be deeply impressed by the way in which you mark your early friendship.

What was obscure in my letter must have been an allusion to the Gladstone-Librarian Hutton.1 Manning was so well pleased by his article on Newman, and by what he said of Newman’s relations with himself, that he at once resolved to have his own biography written by Hutton, and gave him several interviews during the autumn for that purpose. The book is now announced, if not actually advertised. I took for granted that your own Librarian had consulted you upon the matter. For he asked me to revise his book for him, and I was obliged to explain that it would not do. But perhaps it would be right that he should know what Manning said to you, as throwing light on the condition of fortune in which he lived and died.

I see that Oxford accepts the statue, but refuses the Broad Street site. There can be no doubt that it was intended to balance the Martyrs’ Memorial.

I have only just discovered that Montalembert, after the coup d’État, not only condoned it, which was public, but privately asked the bloodstained Dictator for certain concessions to the clergy, in return for their support. So that he was ready to sell the liberties of the nation for a price to be paid to the Church. Walewski2 told Houghton that he had asked for the ministry of Foreign affairs; and although I have no proof of that, I really come very near it. Napoleon refused his demands, and so he had to make the most he could of the Orleans confiscation, to justify his breach.3

Artom, Cavour’s Jewish secretary and confidant, has written to assure me that the scheme of the Libera Chiesa was not merely an expedient and machine of war, but a Edition: current; Page: [76] political dogma with him. I used to think that Minghetti had made more of it than Cavour intended, but I am obliged to accept this assurance. If Döllinger had understood this, he would have spoken otherwise than he did in 1861.

His letters to Loyson have been published by our friend Séché.—I remain, ever yours,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Munich,
May 20, 1892
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

It seems to me that the Government would make a mistake in dissolving now, in their party interest; but I shall be glad if they do. I hear that we are generally prepared, and am not very apprehensive, except of the remaining Irish split.

I wish Rosebery would make an excuse to go to some German waters, and get better acquainted with post-Bismarckian Prussia. So much is changed since he made friends there with the fallen giant. But the strangest change of all is their quarrel with their friend Leo XIII, and his rash speculation in French Republicanism.

If I am fortunate enough to see you, I shall come as an honest restorer of property. Also I bring the receipt for your donation to Döllinger’s monument, which was accompanied by verbal acknowledgments such as you can well imagine. One of the Committee was deputed to make them, and to ask me to convey them to you.

My collections are growing rapidly, and I see my way to what will, I hope, be an interesting book. The Dictionary of National Biography has offered me Newman; but I should not get access to the necessary papers; and I cannot discover the secret of his quarrel with Manning, typical of his quarrel with ecclesiastical authority generally. All that I know about him, I mean of the richer and more exquisite species of knowledge, comes into my book in connection with the Roman question, and serves as a very appropriate foil. As I shall never have another opportunity, I propose to extend that half chapter out of proportion. I fear that Hutton’s book, nor yet Purcell’s—will not tell me what I want to know; and they will surely not tell the world what I want to say.—Ever truly yours,

Acton.
Edition: current; Page: [77]
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
14 avril 1894
Briennerstrasse
Lady Blennerhassett
Lady Blennerhassett
Chère Lady Blennerhassett,

Vous avez raison. J’oublie bien des choses quand je vous vois. N’ai-je pas oublié votre travail dans la Rundschau, sur Newman, que je connais bien?

Votre mari me donne un Newman très habile, éclairé, rationnel, délié, très éloigné du commun des Ultramontains, par son intelligence.

Vous m’en offrez un autre, spiritualiste encore plus que spirituel, séparé de Rome par sa profondeur religieuse.

Je voudrais, par le moyen de l’un ou de l’autre, échapper à un troisième Newman que ni la religion ni l’esprit ne sépare de l’Ultramontanisme pur et simple, défenseur prédestiné de l’autorité temporelle et spirituelle, mais empêché, repoussé, irrité par son expérience personelle des autorités contemporaines. Lequel ne me satisfait pas, parce que s’il était intérieurement aussi autoritaire que je le trouve, on ne voit pas bien pourquoi les autorités actuelles l’ont repoussé, ont négligé d’en faire leur profit. J’arrive à croire qu’on le soupçonnait à cause du Développement qui était, en effet, une révolution, et qui lui donnait un peu l’air d’un personnage qui exigeait, pour le satisfaire, une théorie imaginée exprès pour lui et qui justifiait sa première manière, ses attaques, et la lenteur de sa conversion, jusqu’à ce qu’il l’eût découverte.

Car en Angleterre comme en Amérique, elle était toute nouvelle, et on sentait qu’elle renversait l’ancienne défensive Catholique en faisant droit à ses adversaires.

Wiseman a dit ce mot significatif. Il est d’une arrogance impossible.

Ce même développement emprunté à Tübingen et confirmé, soutenu, encouragé par tout le mouvement Romantique et Historique, est évidemment l’une des choses qui ont distingué, et ensuite séparé, le Professeur des siens, en abaissant les cimes et déconsidérant, en grande partie, la théologie Catholique et la Gallicane en particulier.

L’autre est sa théorie de la Tolérance. Celle-ci mène encore beaucoup plus loin. Mais on comprend que, de 1820 à 1850 à peu près, on pouvait croire la doctrine opposée Edition: current; Page: [78] morte. Rome semblait y avoir renoncé, par mille témoignages indirects.

Le plus grand mystère chez le Professeur c’est de s’expliquer comment il n’a pas compris qu’il s’agissait de deux systèmes religieux, de deux morales, de deux Dieux—lui qui voyait si clair dans les choses qui diffèrent, et qui n’aimait pas les brouillards qui confondent, les ressemblances qui rapprochent ou qui identifient.

J’ai dit: Ce même développement. Je sais bien que la théorie de Newman n’est pas la même; mais pour la rupture avec l’ancienne théologie cela revient au même.—Votre dévoué,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
16
Lady Blennerhassett
Lady Blennerhassett
Chère Lady Blennerhassett,

Nous avons été tous reconnaissants d’avoir de vos meilleures nouvelles, et moi de ce que vous avez bien voulu m’envoyer. J’étais chez Dick, et le messager de vos bontés n’a pas attendu mon acknowledgment. Je conclus de ce que vous m’envoyez Lacordaire que le Montalembert de Foisset,1 commencé au Correspondant, n’a pas paru séparément.

Pour Eckstein il me revient ce souvenir que le Comte de Menton2 vous a écrit que ses lettres ne méritaient pas d’être reproduites, à cause d’une certaine originalité ou indépendance malsonnante. J’en prends une pointe d’opposition dans son attitude religieuse, au delà de ce qui paraît dans ses écrits; mais il se peut qu’il s’agissait seulement de ses jugements personnels.

Il me semble aussi que la Marquise voulait écrire sur Brownson: mais je crois qu’elle ne l’a jamais fait. Je suis occupé d’un petit épisode, d’une Einschaltung sur Newman; et dans la carrière de Newman il y a un petit rôle pour Brownson.

Je suis effrayé de voir combien je me suis toujours contenté d’une connaissance sommaire des Français plus ou moins Libéraux. Vos cahiers sont pleins de nouvelles Edition: current; Page: [79] lumières; et si jamais vous aviez d’autres secours littéraires sur l’un ou l’autre de toute cette école, à partir du Génie du Christianisme,1 songez à moi.—Votre dévoué,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
13, 1894
Briennerstrasse
Lady Blennerhassett
Lady Blennerhassett
Chère Lady Blennerhassett,

Vous me promettez une bonne nouvelle, et puis vous m’en donnez une mauvaise, en remettant la rencontre espérée. Pourvu que ce ne soit que jusqu’à ce soir.

Que vous êtes bonne et admirable de me confier les précieux extraits sur le regrettable Chateaubriand. Je vous en suis d’autant plus reconnaissant que j’y ai trouvé des choses inconnues, et très utiles pour l’usage que je fais de lui.

Il entre dans la vie du Professeur plus que celui-ci, qui ne s’intéressait pas à lui, ni soupçonnait. Car c’est lui qui a inauguré en France le mouvement des Catholiques Libéraux, et une bonne partie de leurs bagages vient de lui, tandis que lui, à ce qu’il me semble, a puisé sa doctrine nulle part sinon dans les péripétiés de sa carrière. Il précède Lamennais de trois ou quatre ans.—Votre dévoué,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Jan. 28, 1895
Munich
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

As you are setting to work on Butler, I will venture to submit two or three things for consideration:

1. To bear in mind that the doctrine of the Sermons on the infallible Conscience, is not only borrowed from Sarasa,2 but is also indefensible.

2. To take notice of Sidgwick’s remarks on the Sermons in connection with Utilitarianism, and of Matthew Arnold’s on the argument of the Analogy.

3. To view Butler in connection with his immediate predecessors, Leibniz, and especially Malebranche, in order to Edition: current; Page: [80] determine the degree to which he can be considered an improver or strengthener of evidences.

4. To examine his relations with Kant, who never mentions his name, but who comes very near him in questioning demonstration and in exalting conscience. This must have been set as a Thesis in Universities; but I cannot find that any book treats of it.

In reply to your kind question about Döllinger, there has been much progress in the quietude of the Recess. Several necessary episodes require very full treatment and occupy excessive time and space. One is the rise of the science of ecclesiastical history, which, in our Church, has never been described. For Döllinger was formed not by the divines, but by the ecclesiastical historians, and one can trace the growth and establishment amongst them of those precepts and ideas which are distinctive of him alone among his contemporaries. Another topic that I have had to go fully into is the history of the Liberal Catholics in France. They were in constant touch with him, and many of them came to Munich, and it is a common notion, partly countenanced by the Professor himself, that he agreed with them, and that that was the key to events. Their history, also unwritten, and leading into many recesses, political and religious, will show that there was a well-defined difference between them. But I have to show the possibility that what passed with Montalembert in the decisive years, 1863-1867, may have had something to do with Döllinger’s own attitude. Regarding Montalembert I have much new matter.

Newman claims a chapter to himself, with regard to the line men of note took in the Roman question. I have had two hundred of his letters in my hands, and you will be surprised to find to what lengths of opposition he went, during a series of years. This will be a new Newman, who would otherwise be in some danger of passing into oblivion. A fourth substantive topic is the Roman question. Stanmore has allowed me to see his father’s papers, and the Elliots offer me Lord Minto’s. In my last talks with our good friend Lacaita I obtained much, and among other things a certain paper of advice of yours, of 1865. Even the question you Edition: current; Page: [81] touched in writing to Burns has to be discussed. For those rather obscure writers of our Church in England influenced Döllinger at one time. They began the method of eliminating school opinion from dogma—Holden1—which was the root of all reunion; and another, Davenport2—whose collected works, I am afraid, will never be found for St. Deiniol’s—anticipated No. 90. To bring into light the unity in the Professor’s life I have to be careful of past detail—showing how it might appear to a man looking into Church matters about 1820, that very many old defects had been expiated and purged away, that there had been a sort of Conversion of Rome, compared to the days of Sixtus; and how this illusion led him to become an Ultramontane of a peculiar kind. The main point is, that he was always cut off from what we understand by the term, by his theory of Development and of Toleration. I have to tell, for the first time, the history of the theory of Development, which made men reject the old theology, and admit to a high place in their Councils the Protestants of the seventeenth century. Toleration was a still larger cause of division; and the point most difficult to bring out clearly is, why Döllinger never came to see it, and imagined himself holding the same fundamentals as Bellarmine or Bossuet. It is only by bringing forward many things, and employing, for light or shade, all the ecclesiastical writers of his time, that I can hope to make all this intelligible. For the Council, I have not only his Roman Correspondence, but also that of the Prussian Government, including that of 1873 which led to the Kulturkampf.

It seems unnecessary to say that I have spoken of all this to nobody but yourself. I have sent to the Museum a list of the books I have still to consult, and they have promised to buy any they have not got.

A complete Newman came out as my Christmas gift to Edition: current; Page: [82] my daughter Annie, and in going over many volumes again I have been struck by the art with which he tries to make believe that he holds opinions of which, in private, he professed the contrary.

Esther Waters, I blush to say, is the only one of the books you name that I have before me. But I have not had time for more than fifty pages, and have not discovered I will not say the charm, but—the spell. Also, blushing, I confess to having broken down in the first volume of Marcella; so that my daughters, in their indignation, have lent it out to friends.—Ever yours,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
13 sept. 1900
Tegernsee
Lady Blennerhassett
Lady Blennerhassett
Chère Lady Blennerhassett,

Je profiterai avec reconnaissance, à mon retour en Angleterre de vos informations sur les lettres de Newman à Mozley. Je n’en avais rien vu. Lilly a reproduit les siennes dans ses Essays and Speeches, et il me dit que les Pères1 ont fini par lui savoir gré de cette publication. La masse de ses lettres Catholiques est, à cette heure, assez considérable.

Je vois clair dans le problème de la vie de N.—Pourquoi profondément Romain lui-même, était-il en lutte avec tous les représentants de l’Ultramontanisme officiel? D’abord, parce qu’il n’aimait pas à être contrôlé et empêché déjà comme Anglican. Ensuite parce que l’Ultramontanisme officiel gâtait son plan de rapprocher Catholiques et Anglicans. Enfin parce que les diverses formules de son développement effrayaient les gens les plus sincères.

Mais je ne sais pas dans quelle proportion il faut faire la part des trois motifs.

Avez-vous jamais vu la traduction allemande des Discours on the Present Position of Catholics? Il y a une Préface par Döllinger. Dans la 5e Lecture Newman mit, à sa façon, à peu près comme Perrone, les bûchers de Rome. Il serait curieux de voir si le Professeur a laissé passer pareille énormité. Cela prouverait combien, en 1851 encore, il avait peu approfondi ces choses, et vivait encore dans son idéalisme primitif.

Edition: current; Page: [83]

J’ai averti Friedrich de ne pas trop appuyer sur le voyage de Rome. Mais il se trouve une notice de 1887 où le Professeur dit que c’est depuis son retour de ce voyage qu’il est arrivé aux conclusions qu’il tenait encore. Je crois qu’il veut dire: depuis les recherches auxquelles il s’est livré dès lors, et non en conséquence des choses qu’il y a vues.

Il me dit qu’il achèvera cet hiver, avec le troisième volume.

Vous me donnez une bien mauvaise nouvelle de cet ami vraiment supérieur. Je vois bien pourquoi ce mal doit lui être dangereux. Ce serait une grande perte, en Allemagne, pour la littérature Catholique—je crois, la plus grande.

Votre mari m’a envoyé une indication qui m’est précieuse sur le père Finlay et je l’en remercie, si vous me le permettez, par ces présentes.—Votre dévoué,

Acton.
Edition: current; Page: [84]

B.—: THE VATICAN COUNCIL AND THE VATICAN DECREES

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
1869
Oxford
E. B. Pusey
Pusey, E. B.
My dear Sir,

It has been suggested to me that I might take the liberty of sending some copies of my Is Healthful Reunion Impossible? to you, and that if you thought good you would give it with my respects to any Bishop to whom you should think it desirable. My aim has been to follow Bossuet1 as closely as I could. Unhappily, where one is altogether agreed, what one has to say can be written in small space, when there is difficulty, explanation is necessarily long. And so nearly half of my volume is occupied with the subject of the Pope. But it was suggested to me that it might not be without its use at this crisis, if your hierarchy were to see how injurious the declaration of Papal infallibility would be to the hope of reunion. I have, therefore, dwelt largely upon it, as was suggested to me.

I hope that you will excuse this liberty.—I beg to remain, your faithful servant,

E. B. Pusey.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Nov. 24
Via della Croce
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.

To the Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone

My dear Mr. Gladstone,

I have been obliged to wait for a safe opportunity to write to you on one of the topics touched upon in your letter.

Everything is prepared here for the proclamation of Papal Infallibility, and the plan of operations is already laid Edition: current; Page: [85] down, in a way which shows an attentive study of Sarpi’s History of the Council of Trent. They are sure of a large majority.

For some time hopes were entertained that it would be possible to gain the object by a sort of surprise. The zealous conformity of the bishops had been fully tested, and there was a widely spread ignorance as well as much indifference and apathy to be relied on among the laity. This plan broke down when the alarm began to be sounded at Munich and the Bavarian Government made itself the organ of the Faculty of Theology. In June the Pope already declared that he had no hand in the Civilta, and the Declaration of the German bishops at Fulda accidentally coinciding with the appearance of Janus1 caused a great fear. About the same time Dupanloup made a journey in Germany and Switzerland, and it was announced that he had come to an understanding with a great mass of opposing bishops. Soon after, Maret’s book2 was published. From that time the Court of Rome became anxious to conceal its design, and to make it appear that there was no such project in existence. This language is still held, and they have considered whether it would be better to get the substance in another form or to commit the bishops by private assurances, without insisting on a formal decree. All these subterfuges will be vehemently opposed by those bishops who have been ardent apostles of the doctrine in their own countries.

No bishop has hitherto declared publicly that he rejects the doctrine as erroneous, and the opposition intends to take its stand on the ground of expediency. At present a majority of French, German, and Austrian bishops mean to take that line. Some, no doubt, will give way under the influences of Rome; and the rest will find their position very difficult to defend. It will be very easy to drive a wedge between those who deny the expediency of the decree and those who deny the truth of the doctrine. If the Court Edition: current; Page: [86] of Rome is defeated, it can only be by men of principle and of science.

This position has been occupied, so far, by one man only, and that is Janus. You have no doubt recognised the same inspiring mind in the articles of the Allgemeine Zeitung which were reproduced in the Saturday, in the answer of the Munich divines,1 in the letter2 of Hohenlohe3 and the recall of the Bavarian Minister at Rome, in the Pope and the Council, and in the little pamphlet on Infallibility which has since appeared.

I thought the book of Janus very important because it alters the position of the Catholics towards those who are not in communion with Rome, and I don’t know any book from which I have learned so much. But it seemed to me very insufficient for the purpose of arresting the Roman current and projecting a great reform. For that I think it is necessary to trace the growth of many errors besides that of Infallibility, to bring down the inquiry strictly to the present time, and to make a clear and complete confession of all that it behoves a pure Catholicism to renounce. I have good hopes that such a book will be written and published before Easter. It will not influence Rome; but it cannot fail to act widely and deeply on public opinion in Europe.

Dupanloup intends to make use of the English argument both in reference to Union, and, I hope, in respect of the social and political danger to the Catholic subjects of the Queen of any measure which would weaken their defenders Edition: current; Page: [87] and strengthen, and even justify, as well as exasperate their enemies. In all this he will be contradicted by Manning, who will make the most of his acquaintance with you, and will give all manner of assurances that the Irish and English Catholics have much to gain and nothing to lose by the establishment of his favourite doctrines. If you should think it not impolitic to allow your own opinion on this, the secular side of the question at least, to be known, in case of need, authentically to the bishops, who would know how to use it properly, you might, I think, exercise a very considerable influence at a critical moment. I hope there will be something of the sort in Russell’s instructions. A letter from yourself, proceeding from the existing condition of things in the United Kingdom, would be still more efficacious. If you don’t think it proper to write it, I am sure you do not underestimate the magnitude of the approaching crisis for all Christendom, or the stress of the feelings with which I am writing.—Believe me, very truly yours,

J. D. Acton.
Odo Russell
Russell, Odo
6 Dec. ’69
Pal Chig.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
My dear Acton,

Mr. Gladstone desires me telegraphically to let you know that you may use the strongest language you think fit respecting his opinion on the subject about which you desire it should be known.

Mr. Gladstone will write by early opportunity.

I fear this may reach you too late, for instead of reaching Rome on the first of December we only arrived late last night, having been detained by snow between Piacenza and Parma, and again by the state of my son’s health and my wife’s anxiety about him.

I hope to call on you to-day or to-morrow, to congratulate you on Her Majesty’s acknowledgment of your value and merits.—Sincerely yours,

Odo Russell.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Dec. 19, 1869
Rome
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
My dear Mr. Gladstone,

Your most welcome letter, received by the courier, supplies the desired weapon. I Edition: current; Page: [88] shall keep it in reserve for the contingency with a view to which you wrote, but I shall be able at once to make effective use of your remarks on the direct influence of Ultramontanism on the prospects of educational legislation.

All my anticipations fell short of the reality, so far as the intentions and preparations of the Court of Rome are concerned. A resolute attempt is being made to restore all that is most obnoxious, all that has been most pernicious, in the maxims and the policy of the Popes. The claim to Infallibility forces them to accept the responsibility of the most monstrous words and deeds, and they seek to anticipate objections by their boldness in acknowledging the worst of their traditions. A Bull published on Friday virtually revives the Bull In Coena Domini, which has slumbered since Ganganelli. It will be explained away on the plea that it contains nothing new. I hope you will find time to read it. I cannot understand the position of a Liberal Ministry in France which should continue to buttress and patronise an authority so misused.

There is reason to believe that another Bull is in preparation directly condemning the scientific as this does the liberal element in the Church.

The Congregation De Fide, which is to report on the dogmatic question, contains no name taken from the list of the opposition.

A conjuncture is very probably approaching where the French Government will no longer enjoy the undivided support of the Episcopate in its Roman policy.

I cannot estimate the opposition higher than 200. That number will be reduced, if they allow the question of Dogma to be separated from the question of expediency, to a score or two. If they manage to hold together, and conduct their resistance in such a way as to make each section of their party seek the help of the other, they could at least prevent the fatal decree and give the impulse to a great reaction. But their force is likely to be exhausted rather than confirmed by such a victory, and they would probably give their consent to those secondary decrees which would be the consequence and object of Papal Infallibility, and its alternative and compensation if it is rejected. One of the Edition: current; Page: [89] most eminent prelates in Europe said to me the other day, that he had come to Rome with little hope and great fear, but that he had found things far worse than he had expected.

The traveller who will post this letter in Germany is just starting, and I must close it. Lord Romilly has written to me, with the sanction of the Treasury, about materials for English history in the Roman archives. I hesitate, at this moment, to take any step which would involve the English Government in obligations.—I remain, yours very sincerely,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
January 1, 1870
Rome
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
My dear Mr. Gladstone,

The events at Paris, coincident with the change in the position of things at Rome, suggest a possibility of exercising some influence on the progress of the Council. Each step taken by the Roman Court has added to the danger and increased the need for prudent and intelligent action on the part of the States.

The Regulations which were the first document issued, assumed to the Pope the right of making decrees and defining dogmas, and left to the Council only the function of approving. It has not even a right to propose questions for its own consideration, as nothing can be submitted to the Council without the permission of a Committee representing the Pope. Only eighteen French bishops signed a remonstrance against these arrangements.

On the 30th of December a bishop, Strossmayer, objected to the title of a decree, and to the formula which excluded the Episcopate from all real share in the defining authority, and he was stopped by one of the presiding Cardinals, Capalti,1 on the ground that this point had been settled by the Regulations. He passed to another topic and the other bishops submitted in silence.

The position therefore is this, that the Pope alone proposes decrees, that he can refuse his sanction to any act of the Council, that the Council cannot prevent, invalidate, or rescind, any act of his. This is now no longer merely a claim of the Roman Court: it has been accepted and implicitly acknowledged by the Council. The sole legislative Edition: current; Page: [90] authority has been abandoned to the Pope. It includes the right of issuing dogmatic decrees, and involves the possession of all the infallibility which the Church claims.

This is not distinct or final, but it is an important step towards the intended dogma, and an indication of the amount of resisting power among the bishops.

The second manifestation of policy was the Constitution reciting the excommunications directed against the spirit of civilised governments. It is nothing less than a revival of the Bull In Coena Domini,1 which was dropped by Ganganelli2 when he suppressed the Jesuits, and which naturally appears again, now that the Jesuits are in power. Everything is done to mollify foreign Powers, and especially France, on the ground that States having a Concordat are exempt from these censures, which is utterly untrue and cannot be said officially.

The Irish bishops wish to have the Constitution modified in this particular, that they shall have authority to absolve in all the reserved cases; by which, in fact, they would accept the principle and incur the complicity. They will hardly protest, as it is not submitted to the Council, but is an independent, sovereign act of the Papacy.

Thirdly, a paper was distributed, containing censures upon a great number of opinions. It anathematises those who deny several of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity, but it includes a condemnation of secular science. It declares that human science cannot be independent of divine Revelation, and explains this by saying that science has no certainty and no authority apart from that of the Church and her organs. It follows that the opinions received and approved here may lawfully be supported by Edition: current; Page: [91] censures against any disturbing conclusions of historical or physical science.

This would revive the action of the Index in its extreme form, not only against opinions, but against mathematical discoveries and historical documents.

In these three papers the papal absolutism reveals itself completely, in its hostility to the rights of the Church, of the State, and of the intellect. We have to meet an organised conspiracy to establish a power which would be the most formidable enemy of liberty as well as of science throughout the world.

It can only be met and defeated through the Episcopate, and the Episcopate is exceedingly helpless.

There is indeed a considerable minority opposed to the Papal Infallibility, and to the other enormous claims of Rome, and its numbers have been increasing up to the present time. There are even signs of organisation. An international committee has been appointed, consisting of the most enlightened bishops of France, Germany, and America. They have concerted a plan of action in case of an attempt to proclaim the Dogma by acclamation; and they have brought their numbers to something like two hundred. The two first discussions, on Tuesday and Thursday, were entirely occupied by speakers of this party. To the surprise of everybody several Italians were amongst them. I have before me now the notes made for Menabrea on the character and probable opinions of the Italian bishops, and they are not entirely unfavourable.

It is not likely that the opposition will add further to its numbers. The disintegrating influences will soon begin to tell. The most ardent opponents feel their helplessness, and look for encouragement to the laity. The Constitution, containing so many political censures, awakened hopes that the Governments at home would be roused from their apathy and that the opposition would have something to fall back upon. This idea has begun to show itself lately in several unexpected quarters. It was expressed to me by one of the most conspicuous and moderate of the Prussian prelates. These men find themselves abandoned to the wiles and threats of Rome. All that hope and fear can do Edition: current; Page: [92] will be done to break down their resistance, and it is sustained by no human inducements whatever. I know that one of those who showed courage and vigour in the opening debate, on the 28th, has since complained that he is left to his fate, that he is a ruined man.

The result of the first two days of discussion has been to make it certain and notorious that the elements of a real and sincere opposition exist, an opposition which is worth supporting, which is almost sure to prevail if it is supported, and almost sure to be crushed if it is not. The position is therefore essentially altered, since Hohenlohe’s proposal fell to the ground, and the policy of indifference was adopted by the Powers.

That policy was adopted by other States in consequence of the determination of the French Government to take no part, and to send no ambassador. Prussia, Bavaria, Portugal, and, I presume, other States, waited to follow the example of France. The Emperor put himself in communication with the bishops who were likely to exercise influence at the Council, even with some who are unfriendly to the Empire, such as Dupanloup, and showed them clearly what his hopes and wishes were. Maret saw him also, and was at one time confident that an ambassador would be sent. But the Prince de la Tour d’Auvergne,1 advised by M. Armand, late Secretary at Rome, and a strong partisan, appears to have prevented it. M. Ollivier2 is a man of another stamp. He has seriously studied religious questions, and entertains views on the old French Church, and the Concordat which destroyed it, which he will very probably keep secret for some time. But his views on the Roman question are known, and he has lately confided to Nigra3 his sentiments regarding the French occupation. It Edition: current; Page: [93] will certainly not be his own wish to follow in this respect the line of his predecessors. He will have the support of at least half the French Episcopate if he abandons it. At this moment Dupanloup relies on about forty, of near seventy who are in Rome. When the crisis comes there will not be quite so many. But it may come in such a shape that Darboy,1 Dupanloup, and their friends will have to look for the aid which the State alone can give. The idea of proclaiming the Pope infallible by acclamation is not given up, and if the Roman party attempts to carry it by a mere vote and to crush the minority, few bishops will dare to risk a schism. They will know that they can protest without fear of isolation and schism, if they are backed by their Government. The ablest and most popular of the French bishops will meet the new minister half-way if he gives them the least encouragement. I know that they have been considering what their position would be if they had to leave the Council, with a public protest.

The States, at present, are exerting little or no influence. The Austro-Hungarian Episcopate, indeed, is nearly united, but not by reason of any advice from the ambassador, who has little weight, or from Beust,2 who seems to have no ideas about the Council, either from ignorance of Catholic matters or from natural levity. Spain is unrepresented at Rome. The Prussian Minister is a Protestant, and on that account, probably, the few Prussian bishops do not bestow their confidence on him. One of them has admitted this to me, and both Baron Arnim3 and other members of the Legation have spoken of it to me with much regret and annoyance. During the summer Arnim advised Bismarck to send an ambassador to the Council, and he is still strongly of the same opinion, although he would be, to some extent, eclipsed. The experience of the last few weeks has confirmed his original idea. It would certainly be satisfactory to him and to his Edition: current; Page: [94] Government, which fully entered into his view in the summer, if the example of France made it possible to send an ambassador for Germany. As Bavaria would unite in accrediting the same ambassador, there would even be a slight point gained in the existence of one representative for all extra-Austrian Germany. Count Lavradio1 arrived with credentials as ambassador for the Council, but he put them in his pocket, and declared himself only a Minister when he found what the other Powers have done. Spain, of course, will be guided by the consideration whether it would or would not be convenient to reopen its embassy here under cover of the Council.

The question will be a very anxious one for Italy. Menabrea2 was not prepared with any definite plan of action for the Council. The new Ministers, Lanza and Sella, are both impatient of Church questions, and have never attended to the Roman difficulty. It is left entirely to the Foreign Secretary, Visconti Venosta. He has already arranged with Lanza that he shall be free to use what means he can to assist the better portion of the bishops. Their property is still in the hands of the Government, and their position is very trying and unsettled. Arrangements will be made for regulating their affairs as speedily and as favourably as possible, giving the preference to those who best deserve it. There is even some idea of giving back the unsold property of the Church, to be administered by lay trustees. But this is a legislative, not an administrative question, and cannot be undertaken without interference of Parliament. I don’t even know what Visconti thinks of the plan. It has much occupied his Segretario Generale, Albert Blanc. But I know that Visconti is alive to the importance of doing something for the Council. Lavradio has charge of Italian interests here, and the Pope has said something to him of his wish to reopen negotiations on ecclesiastical questions. If they Edition: current; Page: [95] send an envoy for the Council, the probable failure or at least delay of his negotiations with the Vatican would not so much matter. By sending him for the Council they would avoid the affront or awkwardness of having no Nuncio in return. And, in appearance, the mission would have a conciliatory effect, and might be a step towards an understanding. There will be a great difficulty about the title of the sovereign to be represented; but that alone will hardly prevent the sending of an Italian ambassador.

It is the French, not the Italian, whom they will be afraid of at Rome. The change of Ministry has already caused much alarm, though the ambassador Banneville declares that there will be no change of policy. I am told, confidentially, that nobody would do better, or would be less distasteful than Rouher. If the new Ministry makes some general profession of an intention to bring about the recall of the French troops, the presence of Rouher would have a positively reassuring effect upon the Court as well as the Council. Indeed any ambassador to the Council would be a new security, for the time. Yet I can imagine that a time may come when Dupanloup himself will look for the departure of the French as the way to save the Church.

My very gloomy view of the prospects which are before us is not the effect of a momentary change for the worse. On the contrary, the opposition are jubilant to-day. Cardinal Rauscher,1 who was supposed to be thoroughly Roman, has circulated a paper against Papal Infallibility, and led the attack on Tuesday. He was supported by Italian prelates. Two whole days have been entirely occupied with speeches against the decrees proposed in the name of the Pope, and there are still eighteen speakers to be heard on both sides of the same question. Time has been gained for the preparation of a paper which the bishops have asked me to obtain from Germany, and which they think will be decisive. The arrival of Hefele, the new bishop of Rottenburg, with whom no Roman divine will bear comparison for a moment, is expected daily, and the bravest of the Edition: current; Page: [96] bishops, the Croatian, Strossmayer,1 has made a very great impression by his eloquence. I live almost entirely with the opposition, and seeing and hearing what I do, and knowing the bishops as I have learned to know them before and since coming here, I am bound to say that I do not believe that the means of preventing the worst excess exist within the Council. In the case of almost every bishop it would be possible to point out the way in which his position may be forced or turned. The only invincible opponent is the man who is prepared, in extremity, to defy excommunication, that is, who is as sure of the fallibility of the Pope as of revealed truth. Excepting Strossmayer and perhaps Hefele, I don’t know of such a man among the bishops; and some of the strongest admit that they will accept what they do not succeed in preventing. It is to give these men strength and courage that the help of the State is needed. The time seems to have arrived when the counsel of England, or of other Powers speaking in concert with England, would effect the necessary change in the policy of France. I understand that the Emperor hesitated, and was alarmed at finding that some prelates deemed hostile to the Empire—Bonnechose, for instance—recommended the sending of an extraordinary envoy, while some of his own friends gave opposite advice. Lavalette,2 I am told, was not favourable to the proposal. If anything is done it would probably be better that it should be done at Paris, or at least not through Lavalette alone.

I now hear that the international Committee has been dissolved by the Pope, as savouring of clubs and revolution; and that the Regulations will be made stricter, so as to take away all liberty of speech.

If you do not altogether reject the idea even of indirect action, the time has unmistakably arrived when it is most likely to take effect,—I remain, yours very sincerely,

Acton.
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Necessary precautions have delayed this letter till to-day, the 4th. Twenty-five Germans have protested, like the French, and no addition to the Regulations has yet been made public. On the third day of debate the opposition continued to speak, and an Eastern Patriarch pronounced against all innovation, in the name of the Oriental Christians.

W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Jan. 8, ’70
Chester
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
My dear Lord Acton,

I take the opportunity of a messenger from the Foreign Office to write a few lines.

My answer to your appeal was written on the instant, and I stated that which first occurred to me, namely, the additional difficulties which the rampancy of Ultramontanism would put in the way of our passing measures of public Education which should be equitable and not otherwise than favourable to religion.

But in truth this was only a specimen. There is the Land Bill to be settled, and there are the wings of the Church Bill: one the measure relating to Loans for Building, the other having reference to the Ecclesiastical Titles Act. Even the first will be further poisoned, and either or both of the two last may become the subject of fierce and distracting controversy so as to impede our winding up the great chapter of account between the State and not the Roman Church or Priesthood but the people of Ireland.

The truth is that Ultramontanism is an anti-social power, and never has it more undisguisedly assumed that character than in the Syllabus.

Of all the Prelates at Rome none have a finer opportunity, to none is a more crucial test now applied, than to those of the United States. For if there, where there is nothing of covenant, of restraint, or of equivalents between the Church and the State, the propositions of the Syllabus are still to have the countenance of the Episcopate, it becomes really a little difficult to maintain in argument the civil right of such persons to toleration, however conclusive is the argument of policy in favour of granting it.

I can hardly bring myself to speculate or care on what particular day the foregone conclusion is to be finally Edition: current; Page: [98] adopted. My grief is sincere and deep, but it is at the whole thing, so ruinous in its consequences as they concern Faith.

In my view the size of the minority, though important, is not nearly so important as the question whether there will be a minority at all. Whatever its numbers, if formed of good men, it will be a nucleus for the future, and will have an immense moral force even at the present moment, a moral force sufficient perhaps to avert much of the mischief which the acts of the majority would naturally entail. For this I shall watch with intense interest.—Believe me, most sincerely yours,

W. E. Gladstone.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
January 8, 1870
Rome
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
My dear Mr. Gladstone,

You will have heard some days before this can reach you of the strange plan for the abdication of the Pope. I believe he has thought of it for some time, but its execution, of course, will depend on several contingencies. If the Council does not prosper, he will be unwilling to close his career in the midst of so great a failure. And if he cannot fill all the vacant hats, he will not feel so sure of controlling the election. This may be a serious difficulty. He can hardly appoint any Cardinals as long as he refuses the Archbishop of Paris. It would be dangerous to defy the Emperor in that way just before a Conclave where he exercises a protectorate and a veto. Probably if the plan is announced in the papers before it is ripe, it will be denied and abandoned. I am anxious to keep this weapon in my hands for use in case of necessity. If it becomes known, it will greatly diminish the influence of the Pope over the bishops, as it is, in fact, a conspiracy against the Council, and an attempt to preserve the party now in power from the natural vicissitudes of elective monarchy. All the suppressed expectant jealousies would be vigorously aroused.

There are many curious points of analogy between the Pope and Lewis XVI, between what is passing now and what passed in the days of the National and the Legislative Assemblies. The discovery of this design before the time would have some effects like the flight to Varennes.

Edition: current; Page: [99]

But there is one contingency in which they may be tempted to make it known themselves much sooner than they could wish. If the new Ministry in France1 show any signs of wishing to recall the troops, at some indefinite but not distant period, or at the death of Pius IX, to whom personally the Emperor is so deeply committed, then they may reply by playing this card almost at once. An idea so much like it presented itself at Paris last summer, that the full significance would be keenly appreciated in France; and the Emperor might not find it easy to disengage himself when he expects to do so.

There is no doubt this consideration also, that the Infallibilist party would make great capital out of the Pope’s resolution to carry the Dogma for the see and not for himself, to abdicate as soon as he has obtained it.

For these reasons it may be right that you should warn the French Government. Their embassy here is curiously ill informed, and probably does not enjoy the confidence of Ollivier and Daru. They might not believe it if we were to send it in that way. And as the French are jealous of Russell, it would be in your power to refer to other sources of information.

It may happen at any time that I may publish the design, after consultation with the best of the bishops.

Although our information is good, it would of course be enough, should you think it right to communicate with France, to warn them of this possible answer to their policy. Meantime, I have tried to prevent the news getting to Paris, until you have considered its bearings. But I could not prevent its being sent to Munich.

The time is not come for Dupanloup and the others to accept a policy hostile to the temporal power, but it will come soon.

I shall soon have occasion to use your letter. Count Apponyi, who is here on leave, and assures me of his hearty sympathy with our cause, tells me that a priest of some note, who is intimate with Manning, told him in London Edition: current; Page: [100] that you quite agree with the Syllabus, which the credulous diplomatist began to read over again, with much surprise.

The bishops are taking an active and open initiative for Infallibility, and I hope that those whom I see will take some strong immediate step the other way. If not, the topic of my last letter gains seriously in importance.

Pusey’s new book1 may do some good, if anybody has patience to read it. I have distributed several copies.

In haste, to catch the Prussian Courier.—I remain, most truly yours,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
February 2, 1870
Rome
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
My dear Mr. Gladstone,

I will not take up your time, at the eve of the opening of Parliament, longer than I can help. Your two letters are invaluable weapons in our hands for the purpose of awakening bishops to the terrible realities of the position, and there has been a very remarkable progress among them in the right direction. At the same time they are becoming aware that they can only save the Church at the expense of the papacy. The Pope is now so openly identified with the scheme for promoting the new Dogma that the failure will involve a very serious loss to the authority and consideration of Rome. Therefore, although the opposition has gone on increasing in numbers and in determination, there are many who would still shrink from the only measure that can ensure victory, a public protest in Rome and an appeal to the Church among the nations. The able and courageous men who lead the party, Darboy and Strossmayer, have forced their colleagues to look that bitter alternative plainly in the face. It is doubtful at this moment whether they would be supported by sufficient numbers in taking such a step, and they must at any rate reserve it for a decisive occasion.

The mass of the opposition would be relieved if the crisis is avoided through some event that would interrupt the Council or change all the chief conditions. Within the last few days the resolution of the French Government to recall the troops in the event of the Dogma being carried, has Edition: current; Page: [101] become known here. Everything will be done to diminish the effect of this announcement. There will be comfort in the letters of the Nuncio, and some hope that the Ministry may fall. Probably they will try to frighten the French with the bugbear of Malta. If they are still able to do so, if that offer is still open, it will have an injurious and unfair effect on the course of things in the Council and in Italy. It very nearly frustrates the new policy which the Ollivier Ministry has adopted in concert with England, and it increases enormously the difficulty, and removes the prospect of an understanding between Rome and Italy, which is absolutely necessary for the restoration of confidence and financial prosperity in the Kingdom. The language of many leading Italian prelates in the Council has afforded a good opportunity for the Government to take up a more conciliatory position towards them, and to obtain the support of a considerable part of the Episcopate. This may lead to very important consequences if the Court of Rome is compelled to make terms.

The Maltese refuge would seriously disturb all these favourable conditions.

Used as a threat, it will prolong the occupation, through the inevitable jealousy of France, and render nugatory all conciliatory measures of the Italian Government. The actual flight of the Pope would break up the Council, either after a fatal vote by the majority, or else without any definite success of the minority.

But if things are allowed to go on, with the certainty that, in case of the Dogma being defined, the Pope will be left to the care of the Italians and the protesting bishops will have the support of France, then, I do not doubt, the better part of the Church will prevail, and there will be a vast change in religious prospects.

M. Daru’s1 recent conversation with Lord Lyons on the Roman question seems almost to involve the request that you should join in giving efficacy to the threat of recalling the troops.—I remain, yours very sincerely,

Acton.
Edition: current; Page: [102]
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
February 16, 1870
Rome
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
My dear Mr. Gladstone,

The opinion which I expressed to you many weeks ago, that the opposition would prevail with aid from the European Powers, and would fail without it, has been adopted by the leading bishops of the party. I am writing now not only with their knowledge, but at their express and most urgent request, renewed several times during the last week. It is better that I should mention no names; but Lord Granville will easily remember one bishop with whom I have long been on intimate terms.

The habit of exercising absolute authority, and the habit of submitting to it, have reached such a point in the Catholic Church that the prophecy in the last pages of Janus is very nearly realised. There is very little hope that the Council, left to itself, will have sufficient vigour and consistency to resist the pressure of the Court. There is a determined minority, but it is so small that it will be overwhelmed if it stands alone. It carries with it a considerable group of undecided, perplexed, and ignorant men, who will resist only up to a certain point. They are impressed with the discouraging belief that the Governments abandon them, and that public opinion, except in part of Germany, is indifferent to their struggle. Rome is determined to carry things to extremity, and it is certain that many of the opposing bishops are prepared to yield before coming to extremity. Efforts are being made by them to check the demonstrations which Döllinger has provoked, and the action of France has hardly been perceptible.

The question of Infallibility will be brought forward shortly. Yesterday and to-day French bishops urged that it should be introduced immediately, as it was the only question they were brought here to decide.

The language of the French Government has been clear enough, but its effect has been weakened by the Nuncio at Paris, by the ambassador here, and by the belief that there is no understanding between France and Italy as to the settlement of the Roman question.

Two days ago a definite message was sent by the Emperor to Cardinal Antonelli, in which the Emperor declared that he could not afford to have a schism in France where all Edition: current; Page: [103] the employé class, all the literary class, and even the Faubourg St. Germain are against the Infallibility of the Pope. He added that it would dissolve all the engagements existing between France and Rome. They are unmoved by these threats, because they expect to obtain an apparent unanimity among the bishops, and they think that if the bishops yield the rest will follow.

Hitherto, it appears, the French Government have shared this opinion. Seeing at the head of the opposition men notorious as defenders of the Syllabus and agitators against the recall of the French troops, they must have suspected that they would not resist to the uttermost the proposal to sanction and dogmatise propositions which scarcely go further than the Syllabus, and that they would not support the Emperor in a course of action adverse to the temporal power. That such a man as the Bishop of Orleans should be really willing to sacrifice the Roman State, which he has so warmly defended, out of aversion for the ideas of the Syllabus, which he has defended not less warmly, implies so vast a change that they might reasonably hesitate.

But the change has really occurred, and the proof will be in the hands of the French Government before this reaches you. I have induced the bishop alluded to at the beginning of my letter to commit himself explicitly, and I forwarded yesterday to M. Daru a paper drawn up under the bishop’s eye exposing the anti-social character and the political danger of the Schema de Ecclesia. The bishop says quite truly that it only requires to be understood in order to rouse the indignation and anger of every Government in Europe. For the Canons which have been published are the most innocent part of the Schema. It makes civil legislation on all points of contract, marriage, education, clerical immunities, mortmain, even on many questions of taxation and Common Law, subject to the legislation of the Church, which would be simply the arbitrary will of the Pope. Most assuredly no man accepting such a code could be a loyal subject, or fit for the enjoyment of political privileges. In this sense the French bishops have written to the French Government, and that is what they ask me to write to you.

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They see no human remedy for this peril other than the intervention of the Powers.

They say that as long as the question at issue was Infallibility, which is a question of dogmatic theology and only indirectly dangerous to society, the abstention of the Governments might be justified. But it is not now the only question, and the Schema de Ecclesia, to be followed by a yet extremer Schema de Romano Pontifice, proves what the object, what the consequence of exalting the attributes of the Papacy would be for the civilised world. They therefore desire, through me, to make a direct appeal to the Government of the Queen. They believe that you cannot have read the extracts published by the German press without understanding as they do the purport and the peril of the measures proposed to the Council by the Pope. They believe that you are as much interested as Catholic States can be in preventing the results that would ensue, and that you are in a position to act in the matter without offending susceptibilities. They do not wish to give to their appeal the undue form of actual suggestions. But I can say that the idea in their minds is that England should urge the Great Powers to take united action, in the shape of a joint—or identical—note upon the subject of the new Schema, and of the Dogma which would include it. Of course this implies the hope that a new settlement will be come to with Italy, as to the temporal power—a settlement which cannot well be entirely contingent on the result of the Council.

I have the best reason to believe that Prussia would be willing to join in such a step as this; though the co-operation of Bavaria might not now be obtainable. Austria has been, as far as its Government is concerned, an impediment to our cause. The Emperor Napoleon would have great influence on the Court of Vienna, and they would only have to be invited to support their own Episcopate.

The thing could probably be done by means of a good understanding between England and France; more especially as France does not profess to wish that you should act directly on the Court of Rome.

The Archbishop of Paris is not one of those who are in the secret of this appeal. His relations with the Emperor Edition: current; Page: [105] prevented me from consulting him upon it. Whatever may be his political sentiments in the matter, I am able to say positively that, in the interest of the Council, he substantially agrees.—I remain, dear Mr. Gladstone, very faithfully yours,1

Acton.
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
March 1, ’70
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
My dear Lord Acton,

I have waited for an opportunity to answer by messenger your letter of the 16th. Immediately on its arrival I sent it to Lord Clarendon. He has had every desire to forward your views though with little hope of effecting any considerable result. In truth I am myself sorrowfully conscious that it is in our power to do little or nothing with advantage beyond taking care that the principal Governments are aware of our general view, and our repugnance to the meditated proceedings, so that they may call on us for any aid we can give in case of such. However, Lord Clarendon has gone beyond this and has conveyed to the German Courts the kind of intimation you wished. But Bismarck apprehends positive mischief from his taking a forward position, and the King of Bavaria is, I suppose, disabled by the overthrow of Hohenlohe. He (B.) points to the attitude of Austria as indecisive, and I understand him to say the only thing to be done is to exhort the Austrian bishops to work with their German brethren, and that as far as Prussia is concerned they may rely upon being thoroughly supported by the Government on their return home. As respects France, you know we have done the little that in us lay.

I never read a more extraordinary letter than that of Newman2 to Bishop Ullathorne, which doubtless you have seen: admirable in its strength, strange in its weakness, incomparable in speculation, tame and emasculated in action.

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The Irish Land Bill is to be attacked, as it is said, on the second reading, from the extreme Irish quarter, by a motion to the effect that nothing short of carrying the Ulster custom throughout Ireland will meet the wants of the country. It does not follow that because they make this motion they will desire to poison the public mind in Ireland with respect to the Bill. But they are probably under pressure from knots of their constituents; those probably who are more or less affected by Fenian sympathies. And to Fenian pique it is absolutely vital to disturb and break up the remedial process. Hence probably the manifestations of violence at elections in Ireland. For this is a case where violence, instead of being used for an end, is itself its own end. To disturb the country is the way to assert the remedy. But the Irish members are at the best playing with edged tools: and I make no doubt the prelates will do all in their power to discountenance any proceedings that could even by possibility favour the pernicious purposes of Fenianism.

Apprehending that fear will be the governing agent in determining the issue at Rome, I can only desire, as I do from my heart, that the fears of the majority may be more violent than those of the minority. A great courage, I suppose, may win, on that side. Nothing else can.—Ever yours sincerely,

W. E. Gladstone.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
March 10, 1870
Rome
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
My dear Mr. Gladstone,

You have already seen, by the production of the decree of Infallibility on Sunday, that the position of things has altered in Rome.

The Pope has at last openly identified himself with the extreme party, at the very moment when France is beginning to use sterner language, and the minority is protesting against the Regulations in terms that threaten the authority and the Oecumenicity of the Council. The change was sudden, and probably the deciding motive was the desire to be beforehand with the Germans, whose protest was expected to be more threatening than the one which the French presented on Friday. But there was also the Edition: current; Page: [107] publication of Daru’s letters in the Times of Thursday, and the fact that the Pope had shown a disposition to accept a formula proposed by the archbishops of Rouen and Algiers, and others of the Centre.

If you have seen the French protest—I sent it on Sunday to the Perseveranza, and I suppose it has been copied in the other papers—you will understand how flagrant an insult to the minority is the proposal of the new Dogma at such a moment and in such a form.

In Chapters VIII and IX the Protest affirms the principle that no Dogma can be proclaimed which does not command a moral unanimity among the bishops representing churches. The Germans have added, at the end of VIII, where those words occur, a very significant passage, which I can only communicate to you in strict confidence: Haec conditio pro Concilio Vaticano eo magis urgenda esse videtur, quum ad ferenda suffragia tot patres admissi sunt de quibus non constat evidenter, utrum jure tantum ecclesiastico, an etiam jure divino ipsis votum decisivum competat. It is obvious that, if the office of the bishops in Council is to bear testimony to the faith of their respective flocks and to the tradition of their several churches, the numerous bishops made out of Roman Monsignori, who have no jurisdiction and no flock, are a foreign as well as an arbitrary element in the Council.

The last paragraph of IX, where the bishops say that the claim to make dogmas in spite of the minority endangers the authority, liberty, and Oecumenicity of the Council, was inserted by me. These two passages supply materials for further action, in reply to the invitation to discuss the new decree. I have proposed a declaration in which the bishops would say that they cannot admit this topic for discussion until the doubts they have just expressed as to the authority and legitimacy of the Council, in the eyes of the world and of posterity, are removed by an explicit explanation of the points which are ambiguous in the new Regulation.

There is no immediate prospect that this measure will be adopted. The minority are in great confusion and uncertainty, and disposed to rely on external help.

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There is no doubt, I think, that the issuing of the proposed decree puts the Governments in a position more favourable for action. The prerogative of inerrancy or infallibility in all questions of morals, that is, in all questions of conscience, gives to the Pope the ultimate control over the actions of Catholics, in politics and in society. We know also, from the Schema de Ecclesia, in favour of what principles and of what interests that supreme and arbitrary power will be exerted. The Catholics will be bound, not only by the will of future Popes, but by that of former Popes, so far as it has been solemnly declared. They will not be at liberty to reject the deposing power, or the system of the Inquisition, or any other criminal practice or idea which has been established under penalty of excommunication. They at once become irreconcilable enemies of civil and religious liberty. They will have to profess a false system of morality, and to repudiate literary and scientific sincerity. They will be as dangerous to civilised society in the school as in the State.

Divine truth cannot long be bound up peaceably with blasphemous error, and the healthy forces in the Church will end by casting off the disease. But there would be a disastrous interval and a formidable struggle. We know something of the vitality of religious error. Rome taught for four centuries and more that no Catholic could be saved who denied that heretics ought to be put to death.

The proposed decree makes the Infallibility of the Pope embrace everything to which the Infallibility of the Church extends. But in the twenty-one Canons de Ecclesia the Church is declared infallible in all matters that are necessary to the preservation of the faith. The Infallibility of the Pope would therefore be unconditional and unlimited, as he alone would have to decide what is necessary for the preservation of the faith. My letter has just been interrupted by a visit from the most learned prelate in Rome, Hefele, bishop of Rottenburg. He says distinctly that the Pope would have no limits to his Infallibility, and therefore to his authority, but such as he might choose to set himself.

There was no exaggeration in that which I wrote to you last December of the political dangers involved in this insane Edition: current; Page: [109] enterprise. Its bearings on English affairs, and on some of the measures which you have in hand, especially its consequences for the conflict against sin and unbelief, are incalculable. I am convinced that you see this as clearly as if you had passed the winter here, and I only wish that you might deem it consistent with policy and duty to speak a word of warning in Parliament, or in a letter that might be published, such as would sound the alarm far and wide.

I hope we shall yet succeed in preserving the Church from this great calamity. But the papacy itself cannot cast off the guilt and the penalty or recover the moral authority it enjoyed before.—I remain, my dear Mr. Gladstone, ever faithfully yours,

Acton.

I am obliged to mark this letter private both on account of the quotation from the Protest, and of the mention of Hefele.

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
March 11, 1870
Rome
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
My dear Mr. Gladstone,

Since I wrote to you I have had some conversations with bishops, which strongly confirm what I said in my letter.

Antonelli is reported to have assured Beust that there is nothing to apprehend, on the part of the State, from the Schema de Ecclesia, as it is merely matter of dogmatic theology. The bishops say that this is quite untrue, that the Schema bears on politics in many ways, that the Canons, giving infallible authority to the Pope in all matters needful for the preservation of faith and in questions of morality, give him an arbitrary power of the most unlimited kind in everything with which he chooses to deal. They are entirely in contradiction with the conditions of allegiance which the Catholics formerly accepted in England. I don’t give this as a discovery of the bishops, and it would not do, of course, to quote them, but the fact that they openly acknowledge it is very remarkable.

I told them that I had written to you, and had spoken of the utility of some public utterance of your view on these particular points. They said that it would be of the greatest use; that it would make a deep impression if you spoke of the danger to the interests of religion in the legislative questions Edition: current; Page: [110] coming on; and that, if you expressed your confident belief that the English and Irish bishops would be careful not to renounce the principles by virtue of which their toleration was obtained, and not to make the carrying of liberal, tolerant, and remedial measures impossible, those words would have great weight among the Irish bishops in particular. The last suggestion was made to me by one of the prelates, in a way that showed that he deemed it of the highest practical importance. I think he is right; but speaking from a strictly Roman, local point of view, I should be afraid of the effects here of a debate in the House, which should bring out the violence of Protestant feeling and the blind folly of the Catholics.

I am persuaded that nothing would have greater effect here than some declaration of that kind, made in Parliament and not diplomatically.

Count Daru appears anxious to influence the Council usefully, but hardly knows how to set about it. The Archbishop of Rheims has just told me that the ambassador is skilfully managed by certain prelates of the Vatican party, and there is no doubt that he succeeds in blunting every blow.

I believe that Daru also could do more in the Chamber than in Rome. But it is very weak not to compel an immediate and definite settlement of the question of the ambassador. I wish he would do so by telegraph. If they cannot gain time, they will probably refuse; and then things will have been carried forward one step.

The Italian Ministry seems determined to propose further measures of confiscation against the property of the Church. That will settle the question of the attitude of the Italian bishops. It will not only neutralise Italian influence for all good purposes, but it will supply the Court with very welcome and efficient arms.

You will probably see Dr. Moriarty1 on his way home. With excellent intentions and much common sense, he has proved quite unequal to resist the subtle and deceptive influences at work in Rome. These internal divisions are intolerable to him, and he is ready to accept anything that Edition: current; Page: [111] will satisfy Rome and prevent a conflict.—I remain, yours very sincerely,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
March 15th
Rome
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
My dear Mr. Gladstone,

A Protest on the question of Papal Infallibility was presented to-day by certain bishops of the United Kingdom.

They exhort the Legates to pause before they put that doctrine to the vote. They state that the English and Irish Catholics obtained their Emancipation, and the full privileges of citizenship by solemn and repeated declarations that their religion did not teach the dogma now proposed; that these declarations, made by the bishops and permitted by Rome, are in fact the condition under which Catholics are allowed to sit in Parliament and to hold offices of trust and responsibility under the Crown; and that they cannot be overlooked or forgotten by us without dishonour.

I have reason to believe that one at least of the prelates who have signed this most significant paper would not be among the theological opponents of the Definition, but that he regards this consideration of morality and public integrity as an insuperable barrier for men enjoying the benefit of the Act of Emancipation.—I remain, yours very sincerely,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
March 20
Rome
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
My dear Mr. Gladstone,

It appears to be ascertained that the ambassadors will be refused. Meanwhile M. de Banneville has gone to plead his own cause at Paris; and Bismarck has telegraphed that he has never opposed the joint action of the Powers, as nothing of the kind has been proposed, so that Arnim has seen the Bishop of Orleans and has despatched a courier urging his Government to take a more active part.

The French Government, having accomplished nothing hitherto beyond giving the minority some hope of future aid, will have to make up its mind decidedly on the line to take, and it will be a good opportunity to bring neighbourly influence to bear.

The Powers have a distinct claim upon France, as France Edition: current; Page: [112] is responsible for all the evil that the Council may do. Since the Schema de Ecclesia and the Decree de Infallibilitate Pontificis were published, there can be no uncertainty as to the designs of Rome. We know that it seeks to be made absolute over the consciences of men, and we know for what civil purposes it will employ its power.

The danger which thus threatens religion and society is made possible by the French occupation, and would be impossible without it. The French Ministry do not profess to be indifferent to the consequences, or to deny the danger for which they are responsible. It threatens other countries quite as seriously as France, and they have good ground for remonstrance and a perfect right to insist in the strongest way that such troubles should not be caused by a Power professing to be liberal and friendly.

The religious pretext for the occupation cannot be urged at a time when it is indirectly producing effects injurious to religion, and is continued only on account of the interest which France has in dividing Italy. The liberal Ministry of Ollivier and Daru are preparing grave internal difficulties for England and Germany in order to keep up difficulties of another kind for the Italians.

If they do not send an ambassador, they have no other security to offer to Europe, except the recall of the troops. To give up the Concordat and all the system of the French Church would be, at least for the time, an injury rather than a benefit to religion, and a blow struck not so much at the Pope as at the Episcopate.

It is easy to show that the financial embarrassment of Italy is increased by the Roman question. It excludes the conservative element from political life, and makes it a merit with great part of the population to resist the law. The Government is driven to the resource of confiscating Church property by the Roman difficulty itself. The religious houses are suppressed, the schools of divinity reduced, the priesthood almost starved, because France is determined to keep the Pope on his despotic throne. It is a policy which degrades the Italian Government in the eyes of the nation, nurses the revolutionary passion, and hinders the independence of the country, and which can no longer be Edition: current; Page: [113] defended on the score of religious liberty. The French protectorate has become as injurious to Catholicism as to the Italian State, and it is about to prove as pernicious to other countries as it is to Italy.

I find one part of the Episcopate busily trying to find sophisms that will justify persecution, despotism, regicide, and the other things to which the Church is committed if the Popes are infallible; and I find others anxiously awaiting the active intervention of the European Powers. Both seem to me to suggest the same moral.

All the Governments that dislike to act now, and look forward to some mode of self-protection after the Dogma is adopted, must prefer that the necessity should be averted, that the Definition should be prevented before it involves them in struggles and disputes at home.

If it is true that Count Daru is nearly alone in the Ministry in the view he takes of the Council, it will be impossible for him to stand the refusal of his ambassador. His resignation would greatly weaken the Ministry. Probably he will either insist, or seek some alternative.—I remain, yours very sincerely,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
1870
Rome
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
My dear Mr. Gladstone,

There is one way in which you might notably aid our cause at this moment.

The Archbishop of Paris tells me that the French Government has copies of the stenographic reports of the debate on Infallibility. He says that M. Guizot has read them. This is confirmed from other quarters. Can you not obtain communication of these Reports? At least, can you not get hold of the speeches of English subjects, of Cullen,1 Manning, MacHale,2 Macevilly,3 Clifford,4 Connolly,5 which Edition: current; Page: [114] must be of the greatest interest to you as head of the Government?

And if you see them, would it be possible to allow some use of them to be made for the purpose of enlightening the Catholic public? Several of the bishops send me their speeches, and it would be of the utmost importance to make them known. But those who give them are all on one side. To publish them would be to expose the speakers, and this danger can only be avoided by giving at the same time some speeches of the other side, which are, indeed, often quite as instructive and as significant as the best speeches of the opposition. Nothing would throw more light on the present position of things than Manning’s speech, for instance. It would be a very powerful assistance to our side of the question if you could help me in this matter. I would make known about a dozen speeches, and the worldly would be rather surprised at what would be in them.

The collapse of the French influence has been a serious matter, and things are looking ill. I shall spring one more mine this week and then leave Rome. If you can give me any hope, pray, send it to me, Hotel d’Italie, Florence, where I shall be till the 13th, and then chez le Comte d’Arco, Tegernsee, Bavière.—I remain, yours most sincerely,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
July 10, 1870
Tegernsee
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
My dear Mr. Gladstone,

Can I entertain any hope that you will obtain the Reports of the debates in Rome? I am obliged to trouble you with the question because I am writing to some of the bishops on the subject, and what I write depends in some degree on the prospect in France. Two Englishmen, Errington1 and Connolly, made nearly the most effective speeches in the last stage of the discussion.—I remain, yours very sincerely,

Acton.
Edition: current; Page: [115]
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
July 18, 1870

Memorandum Appended

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.

Earl Granville
Granville, Earl
Oct. 12 [1870]
Walmer Castle
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
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,

Granville.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Nov. 3, 1871
Paris
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
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.

Edition: current; Page: [116]

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,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
[1872]
Pall Mall
Blenner
Blenner
Dear Blenner,

. . . 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 Edition: current; Page: [117] 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,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
August 24th [1872]
Tegernsee
Lady Blennerhassett
Lady Blennerhassett
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.

Edition: current; Page: [118]

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,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Sept. 2, 1872
Tegernsee
Lady Blennerhassett
Lady Blennerhassett
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 Edition: current; Page: [119] 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,

Acton.

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.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Nov.-Dec. 1874

LETTERS TO THE TIMES ON THE VATICAN DECREES

To the Editor ofThe Times.
Sir,

May I ask you to publish the enclosed preliminary reply to Mr. Gladstone’s public Expostulation?—Your obedient servant,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
November 8
Athenæum
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

I will not anticipate by a single word the course which those who are immediately concerned may adopt in answer to your challenge. But there are points which I think you have overlooked, and which may be raised most fitly by those who are least responsible. The question of policy or opportuneness I leave for others to discuss with you. Speaking in the open daylight, from Edition: current; Page: [120] my point of view, as a Roman Catholic born in the nineteenth century, I cannot object that facts which are of a nature to influence the belief of men should be brought completely to their knowledge. Concealment is unworthy of those things which are Divine and holy in religion, and in those things which are human and profane publicity has value as a check.

I understand your argument to be substantially as follows:—The Catholics obtained emancipation by declaring that they were in every sense of the term loyal and faithful subjects of the realm, and that Papal Infallibility was not a dogma of their Church. Later events having falsified one declaration, have disturbed the stability of the other; and the problem therefore arises whether the authority which has annulled the profession of faith made by the Catholics would not be competent to change their conceptions of political duty.

This is a question which may be fairly asked, and it was long since made familiar to the Catholics by the language of their own Bishops. One of them has put it in the following terms: “How shall we persuade the Protestants that we are not acting in defiance of honour and good faith, if, having declared that Infallibility was not an article of our faith while we were contending for our rights, we should, now we have got what we wanted, withdraw from our public declaration and affirm the contrary?” The case is, prima facie, a strong one, and it would be still more serious if the whole structure of our liberties and our toleration was founded on the declarations given by the English and Irish bishops some years before the Relief Act. These documents, interesting and significant as they are, are unknown to the Constitution. What is known, and what was for a generation part of the law of the country, is something more solemn and substantial than a series of unproved assertions—namely, the oath in which the political essence of those declarations was concentrated. That was the security which Parliament required; that was the pledge by which we were bound, and it binds us no more. The Legislature, judging that what was sufficient for Republicans was sufficient for Catholics, abolished the oath, for the best Edition: current; Page: [121] reasons, some time before the disestablishment of the Irish Church. If there is no special bond for the loyalty of Catholics, the fact is due to the deliberate judgment of the House of Commons. After having surrendered the only real Constitutional security there seems scarcely reason to lament the depreciation of a less substantial guarantee, which was very indirectly connected with the action of Parliament, and was virtually superseded by the oath.

The doctrines against which you are contending did not begin with the Vatican Council. At the time when the oath was repealed the Pope held the same right and power to excommunicate those who denied his authority to depose princes that he possesses now. The writers most esteemed at Rome held that doctrine as an article of faith; a modern pontiff had affirmed that it cannot be abandoned without a taint of heresy, and that those who questioned or restricted his authority in temporal matters were worse than those who rejected it in spirituals, and accordingly men suffered death for this cause, as others did for blasphemy and Atheism. The recent decrees have neither increased the penalty nor made it more easy to inflict.

That is the true answer to your appeal. Your indictment would be more just if it was more complete. If you pursue the inquiry further, you will find graver matter than all you have enumerated, established by higher and more ancient authority than a meeting of Bishops half a century ago. And then I think you will admit that your Catholic countrymen cannot fairly be called to account for every particle of a system which has never come before them in its integrity, or for opinions whose existence among divines they would be exceedingly reluctant to believe.

I will explain my meaning by an example:—A Pope who lived in Catholic times, and who is famous in history as the author of the first Crusade, decided that it is no murder to kill excommunicated persons. This rule was incorporated in the Canon Law. In the revision of the Code, which took place in the sixteenth century, and produced a whole volume of corrections, the passage was allowed to stand. It appears in every reprint of the Corpus Juris. It has been for seven hundred years, and continues to be, Edition: current; Page: [122] part of the ecclesiastical law. Far from having been a dead letter, it obtained a new application in the days of the Inquisition, and one of the later Popes has declared that the murder of a Protestant is so good a deed that it atones, and more than atones, for the murder of a Catholic. Again, the greatest legislator of the mediæval Church laid down this proposition, that allegiance must not be kept with heretical princes—cum ei qui Deo fidem non servat fides servanda non sit. This principle was adopted by a celebrated Council, and is confirmed by St. Thomas Aquinas, the oracle of the schools. The Syllabus which you cite has assuredly not acquired greater authority in the Church than the Canon Law and the Lateran Decrees, than Innocent the Third and St. Thomas. Yet these things were as well known when the oath was repealed as they are now. But it was felt that whatever might be the letter of the Canons and the spirit of the Ecclesiastical Laws, the Catholic people of this country might be honourably trusted.

But I will pass from the letter to the spirit which is moving men at the present day. It belongs peculiarly to the character of a genuine ultramontane not only to guide his life by the example of canonised saints but to receive with reverence and submission the words of Popes. Now Pius V, the only Pope who had been proclaimed a saint for many centuries, having deprived Elizabeth, commissioned an assassin to take her life; and his next successor, on learning that the Protestants were being massacred in France, pronounced the action glorious and holy, but comparatively barren of results; and implored the king, during two months, by his Nuncio and his Legate, to carry the work on to the bitter end until every Huguenot had recanted or perished. It is hard to believe that these things can excite in the bosom of the most fervent ultramontane that sort of admiration or assent that displays itself in action. If they do not, then it cannot be truly said that Catholics forfeit their moral freedom, or place their duty at the mercy of another.

There is waste of power by friction even in well-constructed machines, and no machine can enforce that degree of unity and harmony which you apprehend. Little fellowship Edition: current; Page: [123] and confidence is possible between a man who recognises the common principles of morality as we find them in the overwhelming mass of the writers of our Church, and one who, on learning that the murder of a Protestant sovereign has been inculcated by a saint, or the slaughter of Protestant subjects approved by a Pope, sets himself to find a new interpretation for the Decalogue. There is little to apprehend from combinations between men divided by such a gulf as this, or from the unity of a body composed of such antagonistic materials. But where there is not union of an active or aggressive kind, there may be unity of defence; and it is possible, in making provision against the one, to promote and confirm the other.

There has been, and I believe there is still, some exaggeration in the idea men form of the agreement in thought and deed which authority can accomplish. As far as decrees, censures, and persecution could commit the Court of Rome, it was committed to the denial of the Copernican System. Nevertheless, the history of astronomy shows a whole catena of distinguished Jesuits; and, a century ago, a Spaniard who thought himself bound to adopt the Ptolemaic theory was laughed at by the Roman divines. The submission of Fénelon, which Protestants and Catholics have so often celebrated, is another instance to my point. When his book was condemned Fénelon publicly accepted the judgment as the voice of God. He declared that he adhered to the decree absolutely and without a shadow of reserve, and there were no bounds to his submission. In private he wrote that his opinions were perfectly orthodox, that his opponents were in the wrong, and that Rome was getting religion into peril.1

It is not the unpropitious times only, but the very nature of things, that protect Catholicism from the consequences of some theories that have grown up within it. The Irish did not shrink from resisting the arms of Henry II, though two Popes had given him dominion over them. They fought against William III, although the Pope had given him sufficient support in his expedition. Even James II, when Edition: current; Page: [124] he could not get a mitre for Petre, reminded Innocent that people could be very good Catholics and yet do without Rome. Philip II was excommunicated and deprived, but he despatched his army against Rome with the full concurrence of the Spanish divines.

That opinions likely to injure our position as loyal subjects of a Protestant sovereign, as citizens of a free State, as members of a community divided in religion, have flourished in various times, and in various degrees, that they can claim high sanction, that they are often uttered in the exasperation of controversy, and are most strongly urged at a time when there is no possibility of putting them into practice—this all men must concede. But I affirm that, in the fiercest conflict of the Reformation, when the rulers of the Church had almost lost heart in the struggle for existence, and exhausted every resource of their authority, both political and spiritual, the bulk of the English Catholics retained the spirit of a better time. You do not, I am glad to say, deny that this continues to be true. But you think that we ought to be compelled to demonstrate one of two things—that the Pope cannot, by virtue of powers asserted by the late Council, make a claim which he was perfectly able to make by virtue of powers asserted by him before; or that he would be resisted if he did. The first is superfluous. The second is not capable of receiving a written demonstration. Therefore, neither of the alternatives you propose to the Catholics opens to us a way of escaping from the reproach we have incurred. Whether there is more truth in your misgivings or in my confidence the event will show, I hope, at no distant time.—I remain sincerely yours,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Nov. 21
Aldenham
To the Editor ofThe Times.
Sir,

Many persons have called on me, both in public and in private, to furnish the means of testing certain statements made by me in a letter of 8th November to Mr. Gladstone. Those statements are easy to verify. But I comply with their appeal in order to repel the charge that the facts were invented for a theory, or that a faithful Edition: current; Page: [125] narrative of undogmatic history could involve contradiction with the teaching or authority of the Church whose communion is dearer to me than life.

In my endeavours to show that the safety of the State is not affected by the Vatican Decrees I affirmed that they assign to the papacy no power over temporal concerns greater than that which it had claimed and exercised before, and that the causes which heretofore deprived those claims of practical effect continue to operate now. The instance I chose was the deposing power which was renounced by the Catholic oath, and which most assuredly was present neither in the language nor in the mind of the Council. The facts I alluded to are these: King James I, whose sympathies were strong on the side of ecclesiastical tradition, and whose queen was a Catholic, repeatedly manifested a desire to be reconciled with Rome. He lived in the incessant terror of plots, and he proposed, through the French ambassador, to favour the English Catholics and to recognise the primacy of the Holy See on condition that the Pope would renounce the power of deposing kings. His overtures were rejected. Paul V was willing to discourage conspiracies, but he replied that to surrender his temporal authority would be to incur the reproach of heresy. The French ambassador writes from Rome, 19th August 1609: “Il me dit ne le pouvoir faire sans être taché d’hérésie” (Notices et Extraits des Manuscripts, vii. 310; Goujet, Pontificat de Paul V, i. 309). Cardinal Bellarmine relates that his Controversies were put on the Index by Sixtus V, not for denying this power, for he vehemently asserts it, but for denying the direct and universal dominion of the Popes over the whole world: “Sixtus enim, propter illam propositionem de dominio Papae directo in totum orbe, posuit Controversias ejus in Indice Librorum Prohibitorum, donec corrigentur; sed ipso mortuo Sacra Rituum Congregatio jussit deleri ex libro Indicis nomen illius” (Vita Card. Bellarmini, 22). Baronius proclaims it heresy to deny that the ecclesiastical power enjoys, by Divine institution, the right of judging in the temporal affairs of men (Analecta Juris Pontificii, 1860, p. 281). And Suarez, writing against James in 1613, holds that the deposing power is an article Edition: current; Page: [126] of faith: “Propositio haec, papa potestatem habet ad deponendos reges haereticos et pertinaces suove regno in rebus ad salutem animae pertinentibus perniciosos, inter dogmata fidei tenenda et credenda est” (Defensio Fidei Catholicae, 742). At that time the Venetian divines were attacking the doctrine which attributed to the Popes political authority beyond their own dominions. Paul’s biographer, Bzovius, calls the theory of these writers omnium perniciosissima haeresis, and the Pope himself said that their books were worse than Calvin’s (Notices et Extraits, vii. 305). Above a century later, an Italian divine, replying to Bossuet, affirmed that there is no foothold for Catholicism if the Popes have erred for many centuries on such a point as this (Bianchi, Potestà della Chiesa, i. 20).

The attitude of James I towards Rome is to be seen in Beaumont’s despatch of July 23, 1603; in those of La Boderie, June 21, 1606, and July 1, 1609; and of Puisieux, July 22, 1609; in Gondomar’s despatch of February 18, 1621; in a report of the journey of the Archbishop of Embrun to England in 1624; in the letters of the Tuscan agent, Lotti, and in a joint letter of James and Andrewes which is among the epistles of Casaubon (Mercier de Lacombe, Henri IV, p. 490; Siri, Memorie, i. 239; La Boderie, Ambassades, i. 130, iv. 387; Gardiner’s Spanish Marriage, i. 406; Mémoires Particuliers, iii. 224; Istoria del Granducato, v. 194; Casauboni Epistolae, p. 389, and his Ephemerides, p. 807). There were proselytes less likely than James I and Bishop Andrewes. I have seen in the library of St. Mark a letter from the Nuncio Rossetti, dated Ghent, July 19, 1641, in which he states that Archbishop Ussher applied to be received into the Catholic Church, and to be allowed to end his days at Rome, with a pension from the bounty of the Pope.

It was my object to show that the principle of imputing to the Catholics whatever may seem to be involved constructively or potentially in the Vatican Decrees, and throwing on us the burden of disproof, would lead to extravagant consequences; and I drew attention to the acts of two famous pontiffs of the Middle Ages, Urban II and Innocent III. Urban lays down the rule that it is no Edition: current; Page: [127] murder to kill excommunicated persons, provided it be done from religious zeal only, and not from an inferior motive: “Non enim eos homicidas arbitramur, quos adversus excommunicatos zelo Catholicae matris ardentes, eorum quoslibet trucidasse contigerit” (Urbani II Epistolae, ed. Migne, 122). The words are copied by Ivo of Chartres (x. 54), and by Gratian in the second part of his Decretum (causa 23, quaestio 5, cap. 47). This may fairly be taken to be one of those passages of which Roger Bacon says that much of Gratian’s jurisprudence was already obsolete. But it stands in the revised edition to which Gregory XIII prefixed the injunction that nothing should ever be omitted; and the gloss gives the following paraphrase: “Non putamus eos esse homicidas qui zelo justitiae eos occiderunt.” The spirit of the rule survived in the sixteenth century. Several citizens of Lucca, having imbibed Protestant opinions, fled into foreign countries. The government of the Republic, acting under pressure from Rome, made a law that if any one should kill one of these refugees his reward should be three hundred crowns; that if he had been outlawed for previous crimes, his outlawry should be reversed; and that, if he was not in trouble himself he might transfer his freedom to another who needed it (Archivio Storico Italiano, x. App. 177). The date of the decree is January 9, 1562. On the 20th, Pius IV replied. He congratulated the Republic on this wise and pious law, esteeming, he said, that nothing could do greater honour to God, provided it was diligently executed: “Legimus pia laudabiliaque decreta . . . Gavisi admodum sumus tam pie et sapienter hec apud vos acta et constituta fuisse . . . Nec vero quicquam fieri potuisse judicamus, vel ad tuendum Dei honorem sanctius, vel ad conservandam vestrae patriae salutem prudentius. . . . Hortamur vos, et ceteros qui in isto munere vobis successuri sunt, ut diligenter ea servanda et exequenda curetis” (p. 178).

In the Bull Rem Crudelem Audivimus of 10th March 1208, Innocent III deprives and proscribes the Count of Toulouse in these words: “Cum juxta sanctorum patrum canonicas sanctiones, ei qui Deo fidem non servat fides servanda non sit, a communione fidelium segregato, utpote Edition: current; Page: [128] qui vitandus est potius quam fovendus, omnes qui dicto comiti fidelitatis seu societatis aut federis hujuscemodi juramento tenentur, auctoritate apostolica denuntient ab eo interim absolutos, et cuilibet Catholico viro licere, salvo jure domini principalis, non solum persequi personam ejusdem, verum etiam occupare ac detinere terram ipsius” (Teulet, Trésor des Chartes, i. 316). In the same Pontificate the Fourth Lateran Council determined that the Pope might depose any prince who neglected the duty of exterminating heresy, and might bestow his State on others (Harduin, Concilia, vii. 19). The same canon reappears in the Decretale of Gregory IX (lib. iv. tit. 7, cap. 13); and S. Thomas Aquinas declares that the loss of all claim to political allegiance is incurred by the fact of excommunication (Summa, 1853, iii. 51).

I have been asked whether I meant to hold Innocent III responsible for the maxim that faith must not be kept with heretics. He was speaking undoubtedly of the fidelity which is paid to princes, but the principle applied with equal force the other way, and was liable to be construed in a wider sense. In the days of the Council of Constance, Ferdinand of Aragon employed the same words to induce the Emperor to disregard the safe conduct he had given to Hus: quoniam non est frangere fidem ei qui Deo fidem frangit (Palacky, Documenta Joannis Hus, p. 540). A decree embodying this maxim, which is found among the Acts of the Council, is not authentic. But the theory remained. When Henry of Valois swore to respect the liberty of conscience in Poland, the Cardinal Penitentiary informed him that it would be a grievous sin for him to observe his oath, but that, if it was taken with the intention of breaking it, his guilt would be less: “Minor fuit offensio ubi mens ea praestandi, quae petebentur defuit” (Hosii Opera, ii. 367). At this time it was the common opinion of divines that a private person need not keep faith with a heretic: “Ob tanti hujus criminis pravitatem, communis doctorum sententia recepta est, fidem a privata praestitam haereticis servandam neutiquam esse” (De Roias, Opus Tripartitum, iii. 55).

In order to establish my point that a gulf divides the extreme opinions from the common sentiments of Catholics, Edition: current; Page: [129] I spoke of the conspiracy of Ridolfi and the massacre of St. Bartholomew. It would seem that a thoroughly consistent and unflinching partisan of those extremes must regard the slaughter of Protestants with feelings akin to favour if the act obtained the approval of the supreme authority, and could hardly look with horror on the murder of a queen if it was sanctioned by a saint. On the other hand, it would not be easy to point to a single English writer at the present day whom the prestige of canonisation and authority has inclined to applaud such deeds.

Queen Elizabeth had reigned ten years, and had nearly accomplished the suppression of the Catholic religion in England, when Pius V declared that she had forfeited her Crown, and forbade her subjects to obey her. The first insurrection failed, as the bulk of the Catholics pleaded that the Papal orders had not been brought to their knowledge. Many copies of the Bull had been delivered to Ridolfi, a Florentine who was the secret agent of the Pope (Acta Sanctorum, Maii, i. 661). By means of this man a new conspiracy was set on foot, and Ridolfi went to Rome to explain the details to the Pope, and to seek his aid. Pius earnestly recommended the matter to the King of Spain, assuring him that it was most important for religion. At Madrid Ridolfi was supported by the Nuncio Castagna, and he produced credentials which left no room to doubt that he spoke the real mind of the Pope, and presented truly the business on which he was sent. For Pius had accredited him in the following terms:—

“Has literas nostras Majestati tuae reddet dilectus filius Robertus Rodolphus, qui, adjuvante Deo, nonnulla ei praesens praesenti praeterea exponet, ad honorem ejusdem omnipotentis Dei reiquepublicae Christianae, non parum pertinentia utilitatem: super quibus ut ipsi, sine ulla hesitatione majestas tua fidem habeat vehementer illam in Domino requirimus ac rogamus a qua pro eximia sua in Deum pietate illud majorem in modum petimus, ut rem ipsam de qua cum majestate tua acturus est, animo ac voluntate suscipiens quidquid ad eam conficiendam opus atque auxilii ferre se posse judicaverit, id sibi faciendum esse existimet.”

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When Ridolfi had exposed his commission it became apparent that it resolved itself into little more than a plot for murdering Elizabeth. We read in the report of the deliberations of the Council: “Ridolfi aseguró que los Catolicos de Inglaterra estaban resueltos a apoderarse de la Reina Isabel y matarla” (Memorias de la Academia de la Historia, vii. 361). Feria, who received the first communication from Ridolfi, says the whole question was, how to get the Queen killed without open war: “La empresa se ha de hacer de la persona de la reina de Inglaterra, que hecho esto es acavado toto. . . . Conviene atender a despachar a la reina. . . . Conviene no venir a rotura.” Another councillor, Velasco, describes the death of Elizabeth as the real object: “El verdadero efecto es la muerte.” Philip himself wrote to Alva on the 14th of July 1571: “Il dit que le moment le plus favorable à l’exécution de l’entreprise serait le mois d’Août ou de Septembre; que la reine Elizabeth quittant alors Londres, pour aller à ses maisons de campagne, ce serait une occasion de se saisir de sa personne, et de la tuer. . . . Le Saint Père, à qui Ridolfi a rendu compte de tout, a écrit au Roi et lui a fait dire, par son Nonce, l’Archevêque de Rossano, qu’il envisage cette affaire comme étant de la plus haute importance pour le service de Dieu.” The man who finally undertook to do the deed was Ciappin Vitelli. The letter of Pius V, and the remarks of Feria and Velasco are printed from the archives of Simancas in Mignet’s Marie Stuart, Appendix K; and the letter of Philip to the Duke of Alva is calendared by M. Jachard, Correspondance de Philippe II, ii. 185.

In common with many who have raised objections to my letter, I was long tempted to doubt the accuracy of this story on two grounds—because it seemed inconsistent with the many virtues of Pius, and because it ought to have been an obstacle to his canonisation. Neither of these objections is valid. The first allows too little for the influence of the Inquisition, over which Pius presided in the years of its greatest activity, on the minds of humane and charitable men. Pius V declared that he was willing to spare a culprit guilty of a hundred murders rather than a single notorious heretic (Legazioni di Serristori, p. 443). His Roman panegyrist Edition: current; Page: [131] relates that he caused men to be kidnapped in foreign countries that they might be brought to trial and punishment at Rome (Catena, Vita di Pio V, p. 158). He assured the King of France that he must not spare the Huguenots, because of their offences against God (Pii Quinti Epistolae, p. 103). He declared that a Pope who should permit the least grace to be shown to heretics would sin against faith, and would thus become subject to the judgment of men (Catena, p. 325). He required that they should be pursued until they were all destroyed: “ad internecionem usque . . . donec, deletis omnibus, exinde nobilissimo isti regno pristinus Catholicae religionis cultus . . . restituatur” (Pii Quinti Epistolae, p. 155). It was a cruel mercy, he said, to spare the impious: “nihil est enim ea pietate misericordiaque crudelius, quae in impios et ultima supplicia meritos confertur” (p. 242). He appears to allude to a theory which was current, that it is a mercy to heretics to shorten their opportunities of sin: “expedit eos citius tollere e medio, ne gravius postea damnentur” (Lancelottus, Haereticum Quare, p. 579). A declared heretic was considered a public enemy whom any private person might rob or kill: “Si infidelitas peccatum est notorium, et judices dissimulant, tunc quidem a privatis occidi possunt haeretici” (Stephanus, Episc. Oriolanus, De Bello Sacro, 146; Jacobus Septimancensis, Institutiones Catholicae, 166). Nothing in the character or the position of Elizabeth exempted her from the rigorous application of these maxims. In the judgment of the entire Catholic world, she was a bastard and a usurper, and she was by far the most ingenious, the most powerful, and the most successful oppressor of the Church then living. If the summary punishment of contumacy could ever be justified, it was reasonable to apply it to her.

Sovereignty was no protection, for it had been forfeited by the Papal sentence, and the common belief was that the Pope may lawfully ordain that condemned princes be put to death. John of Salisbury, the divine who obtained from the English Pope Ireland as a gift to the Norman kings, introduced the theory of tyrannicide into Christian theology; and it became generally popular under the presumed but Edition: current; Page: [132] not undisputed authority of St. Thomas. Long after the death of Pius the Fifth it continued to be taught by the most renowned divines—by Gregory of Valentia, for instance, and Suarez. The language of Suarez is explicit: “Post sententiam latam omnino privatur regno, ita ut non possit justo titulo illud possidere; ergo ex tunc poterit tanquam omnino tyrannus tractari, et consequenter a quocumque privato poterit interfici” (Defensio, 721). In a work on moral theology which was widely popular, and which was printed after the middle of the last century, we still find the maxim that a person lying under the ban of the Pope may be killed in any place: “Bannitus autem a Papa potest occidi ubique” (Zacharia, Theologia Moralis, i. 260).

The case of Tyrrell, in the time of Gregory XIII, resembles that of Ridolfi, but Mr. Froude gives, I think, good reason to doubt the evidence on which it rests. But the lawfulness of similar actions was scarcely doubted. On the 13th of January 1591, the Nuncio at Paris reports that a young friar had applied to him for permission to murder Henry IV. The Nuncio replied that he would know whether the spirit that impelled him was from above by taking the opinion of the Pope on his design; at the same time he wrote to Rome that the man seemed to him really inspired. The letter is in the Chigi Library. An extract is printed in the North British Review, li. 62.

One piece of evidence exists, which has never, I think, been employed in this inquiry. A petition from Ridolfi to Pope Gregory is extant at Rome in which he describes his services and his claims, but does not say that the plot was aimed at the life of the Queen. This circumstance appears to me to throw not a feather-weight into either scale. But if it is cited at all, it can only be cited to exonerate the memory of the Pope.

Having stated that Gregory XIII approved the massacre of St. Bartholomew, but complained that too little had been done, I have been assured by a Doctor, and former Professor, of Divinity, who has devoted twenty years to these researches, that this is a hackneyed story, which the veriest bigot is ashamed to repeat. I submit to the later and better judgment of my correspondent the facts which Edition: current; Page: [133] I am about to prove. When Gregory was informed that the Huguenots were being slain over the whole of France, he sent word to the king that this was better news than a hundred battles of Lepanto. On the 11th of September the Ambassador, Ferrals, wrote as follows to Charles the Ninth: “Après quelques autres discours qu’il me feist sur le contentement que luy et le collège des Cardinaux avoient receu de ladicte exécution faicte et des nouvelles qui journellement arivoient en ceste cour de semblables exécutions en vostre royaume, qui, à dire la vérité, sont les nouvelles les plus agréables que je pense qu’on eust sceu apporter en ceste ville, sadicte Saincteté pour fin me commanda de vous escrire que cest évènement luy a esté cent fois plus agréable que cinquante victoires à celle que ceulx de la ligue obtindrent l’année passée contre le Turcq, ne voulant oublier vous dire, Sire, les commandemens estroictz qu’il nous a feist, mesmement aux françois d’en faire feu de joye, et qui ne l’eust faict eust mal senty de la foy.” The Pope proclaimed a jubilee, principally to thank God for His great mercy, and to pray that the king might have constancy to pursue to the end the pious work he had begun. This Bull has not, I think, been reprinted. I take the words from one of the original placards distributed in Rome from the press of the Apostolic Chamber: “Nos ipsi statim hoc audito una cum venerabilius fratribus nostris S. R. E. Cardinalibus, in templo Sancti Marci quas maximas potuimus omnipotenti Deo Gratias egimus, et ut pro sua immensa bonitate Regem ipsum in persequendo tam pio salutarique consilio conservare et custodire, viresque ei ad Regnum antea religiosissimum a pestilentissimis haeresibus omnino expurgandum, et ad pristinum Catholicae religionis cultum redigendum ac restituendum subministrare dignetur, ex toto corde, totaque mente nostra precari et obsecrare. . . . Pro felici Christianissimi Regis contra haereticos successu gratias agant ipsumque orent ut quae idem Rex auctore Domino facienda cognovit, ipso operante implere valeat.” A rumour gradually spread that the slaughter, far from being an act of religion, had been provoked by the discovery of a Protestant conspiracy. The Nuncio Salviati informed the Pope that this was an utter falsehood, too ridiculous to Edition: current; Page: [134] be believed: “Cela n’en demeurera pas moins faux en tous points, et ce seroit une honte pour quiconque est à même de connôitre quelque chose aux affaires de ce monde de le croire” (Despatch of September 2. The letters of Salviati are preserved in Paris in copies made by Chateaubriand, and I am quoting his translation of them). There were signs of intermission, and Gregory required the Nuncio to insist on the utter extirpation of heretics: “Je lui fis part de la très-grande consolation qu’avaient procurée au Saint Père les succès obtenus dans ce royaume pour une grace singulière de Dieu, accordée a toute la Chrétienté sous son pontificat. Je fis connaître le desir qu’avait sa Sainteté de voir pour la plus grande gloire de Dieu et pour le plus grand bien de la France, tous les hérétiques extirpés du royaume, et j’ajoutai que dans cette vue le Saint Père estimait très à propos que l’on révoquat l’édit de pacification.” Salviati wrote this on the 22nd of September. On the 11th of October he says: “Le Saint Père, ai-je dit, en éprouve une joie infinie, et a ressenti une grande consolation d’apprendre que sa majesté m’avait commandé d’écrire qu’elle espérait qu’avant peu la France n’aurait plus de Huguenots.” Cardinal Orsini having been despatched as Legate from Rome with extraordinary solemnity to congratulate Charles and to support the exhortations of Salviati, describes, on the 19th of December, his audience with the king. Orsini assured him that he had surpassed by this action the glory of all his forefathers, but he pressed him to fulfil his promise that not a single Huguenot should be left alive on the soil of France: “Se si riguardava all’ objetto della gloria, non potendo, niun fatto de suoi antecessori, se rettamente si giudicava, agguagliarsi al glorioso et veramente incomparabil fatto di sua Maestà, in liberar, con tanta prudentia et pietà in un giorno solo regno da cotanta diabolica peste. . . . Esortai . . . che non essendo servitio ne di Dio ne di sua Maestà, lasciar fargli nuovo pede a questa maladetta setta, volesse applicare tutto il suo pensiero et tutte le forze sue per istirparla affato, recandosi a memoria quello che ella haveva fatto scrivere a sua santità da Monsignor il Nuntio, che infra pochi giorni non sarebbe più un ugonotto in tutto il suo regno” (this letter may be found in the Egerton Edition: current; Page: [135] Manuscripts, 2077, and in the Paris Library, MSS. Ital., 1272).

This language is the expression of a spirit that has not passed entirely away, though it is no longer to be feared. Some months after the event the Cardinal of Lorraine, haranguing the king in the name of the assembled clergy of France, declared that he had eclipsed all preceding monarchs, not by the massacre only, but by the holy deceit with which he had laid his plans (Procés Verbaux des Assemblées du Clergé, i. App. 28). A writer of our day, distinguished by his valuable publications on the history of the Jesuits, describes the discourse in which these words occur as a favourable specimen of the tone which becomes a bishop. He compares it advantageously with the obsequious rhetoric of Bossuet, and he designates the speaker as a saintly and illustrious prelate, whose memory will ever be dear to Catholics (Documents Inédits Concernant la Compagnie de Jésus, xxii. 63-67).

From the midst of the applauding Cardinals one voice was raised in protest. Montalto, who was destined, as Sixtus V, to stand in the foremost ranks amongst kings and pontiffs, and who was a true type of the Catholic revival in its grandeur and in its strength, entreated the Pope to prohibit rejoicings which would convince the world that the Church was thirsting for blood. It was an act in keeping with the character of Sixtus, as an unsparing censor of preceding Popes. In spite of his deadly feud with Elizabeth he shared so little the feelings of Pius against her, that he spoke of her as the ablest ruler of her time, and commended her example to the King of France, for the plausible legality with which she achieved the ruin of Mary Stuart. He went so far as to say that Clement VII had upheld the marriage of Henry VIII with Catharine from a sordid motive, whereas it was a sinful and invalid union which Rome had no right to tolerate.

I affirmed that the apprehension of civil danger from the Vatican Council overlooks the infinite subtlety and inconsistency with which men practically elude the yoke of official uniformity in matters of opinion. I used the obvious illustration that astronomy flourished at Rome in spite of the condemnation of Copernicus and Galileo; and I stated Edition: current; Page: [136] that Fénelon, while earning admiration for his humility under censure, had retained his former views unchanged. “The Archbishop of Cambrai,” said Bossuet, “is very sensible of his humiliation but not at all of his error.” In his celebrated pastoral letter of the 9th of April 1699, Fénelon used these words: “Nous adhérons à ce bref, mes chers frères, tant pour le texte du livre que pour les 23 propositions, simplement, absolument, et sans ombre de restriction. . . . A Dieu ne plaise qu’il soit jamais parlé de nous, si ce n’est pour se souvenir qu’un pasteur a cru devoir être plus docile que la dernière brebis du troupeau, et qu’il n’a mis aucune borne à sa soumission.” Three weeks later, on the 1st of May, he writes to a friend: “Je n’admettrai rien d’ambigu ni sur la pureté de mes opinions en tout temps, ni sur l’orthodoxie de la doctrine que j’ai soutenue. . . . Si les gens de bien ne se réveillent à Rome, la foi est en grand péril.” These passages, as well as the others to which I made allusion, will be found among the letters at the beginning of the tenth volume of Fénelon’s works.

Lastly, in support of my contention that the policy of Rome in modern times has seldom prevailed, even with the most zealous kings and the most Catholic nations, against their own ideas of political interest, I pointed to the resistance of the Irish, and to the attitude of Philip II and James II towards the Holy See. The quarrel between Philip and the Caraffas, and the opinion of Melchior Cano touching a war with the Pope, may be studied in books as common as those which tell how Adrian invested Henry with an emerald ring, which was the symbol of his lordship over Ireland. That William of Orange secured the sanction of the Pope for his expedition in 1688 was a circumstance already known to Carte. We now learn that the Emperor wavered long between hatred of Louis XIV and alarm for Catholicism in England; but that Innocent XI relieved his scruples by assuring him that the Government of James II was inspired not by religion but by France (Droysen, Friedrich I, p. 42). For James, though advised by Jesuits, did not live on cordial terms with Rome. Just then, indeed, the bonds that attached the Society to the papacy had somewhat relaxed. Innocent had set himself against the system of Edition: current; Page: [137] ethics taught in most of their schools, and he reproached them with having degenerated from their old fidelity to the Holy See. The general of the Jesuits, Gonzales, in his evidence for the beatification of Innocent (No. 180), reports his sentiments in these words: “Quod Societas Jesu hoc tempore videretur, oblita sui primitivi spiritus, quo eam S. Ignatius instituerat ad defensionem Apostolicae sedis, pro quo quondam tanta cum laude se gessisse ejus filii, quorum degeneres viderentur qui hoc tempore viverent, dum tam alte tacebant, quando nunquam major adesset necessitas loquendi.” The Jesuits on their side would not undertake to defend the Roman theory against the Gallican articles of 1682, which, in France, they afterwards brought themselves at last to adopt (Declaration of the 19th of December 1761, Procés Verbaux, viii. App. 349). In these circumstances Innocent persistently refused the prayer of James to make Father Petre either a Bishop or a Cardinal. Petre threatened vengeance, and James was induced to write a curt and angry letter warning Innocent that Catholics could contrive to live without the Court of Rome: “Li Giesuiti havevano inteso cosi male le repulse di Sua Santità, di quale natura elle si fussero, che era tempo ormai di monstrare a Sua Santità qualche risentimento; e proposera a sua maestà la richiamata del suo ministro da Roma, la discacciata del di lui Nuntio d’Inghilterra, come che attribuiscano a questo l’obbietioni tutti e l’esclusive, che vengano da Sua Santità. Ma fu resoluto in fine, e messo in esequtione, che scrivesse a Sua Santità la Maestà de Rè una secca e compendiosissima lettera, con la quale rimostrasse al Papa la Maestà Sua che non era più il vescovato, ma che era il cardinalato che si pretendeva al presente, concludendo finalmente, che si poteva bener esser Cattolico Romano e passarsi della Corte di Roma.”

This passage from the despatch of the Florentine envoy, Terriesi, was printed by Madame de la Campana in her work on the later Stuarts (ii. 148). The king’s letter is not extant, but Terriesi had the information from Petre, of whom he says: “Cadde in seguito a raccontarmi quanto ho di sopra descritto.” This I take from the Florence Transcripts at the British Museum, Additional Manuscripts, 25,375. There Edition: current; Page: [138] also will be found recorded, in a despatch of 12th January 1688, the words of the Jesuit speaking of the Pope.

I know that there are some whose feelings of reverence and love, are, unhappily, wounded by what I have said. I entreat them to remember how little would be gained if all that came within the scope of my argument could be swept out of existence—to ask themselves seriously the question whether the laws of the Inquisition are or are not a scandal and a sorrow to their souls. It would be well if men had never fallen into the error of suppressing truth and encouraging error for the better security of religion. Our Church stands, and our faith should stand, not on the virtues of men, but on the surer ground of an institution and a guidance that are divine. Therefore I rest unshaken in the belief that nothing which the inmost depths of history shall disclose in time to come can ever bring to Catholics just cause of shame or fear. I should dishonour and betray the Church if I entertained a suspicion that the evidences of religion could be weakened or the authority of Councils sapped by a knowledge of the facts with which I have been dealing, or of others which are not less grievous or less certain because they remain untold.—I am, sir, your obedient servant,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Nov. 29
Athenæum

“The Times,” Monday, November 30, 1874

To the Editor ofThe Times.
Sir,

The Bishop of Nottingham thinks that I have misrepresented Pope Urban II and Suarez. I hope not. But if I have, I will endeavour promptly and fully to repair the wrong.

And, first of all, it is true that the words I transcribed from Suarez do not contain the definite and final statement of his opinion. I ought to have taken that from the paragraph of which the Bishop has quoted a part. Suarez states his own conclusion, a few lines lower than the point where the Bishop’s extract ends, in the following words: “Recte dixit Soto—licet Rex in solo regimine tyrannus non Edition: current; Page: [139] possit a quolibet interfici, Lata vero sententia quisque (inquit) potest institui executionis minister. Eodem moda si Papa Regem deponat, ab illis tantum poterit expelli, vel interfici quibus ipse id commiserit.”

It may be thought that there is little practical difference between the two propositions that a king deprived by the Pope may be murdered by anybody, and that he may be murdered only by persons commissioned by the Pope to do it; and for my purpose, which was to show that participation in Ridolfi’s conspiracy would be no bar to canonisation, they are of equal effect. But, for Suarez, there was probably this important distinction—that the former might have brought him under the decree of Constance against tyrannicide, a decree which the General of the Jesuits had pressed on the attention of the Society after the assassination of Henry IV. This difficulty might be avoided by making the lawfulness of the murder depend on the commission given by the Pope.

While I wish to make this correction in the most explicit way, I regret I cannot profit by the Bishop’s other criticism. Urban II says positively that he deems the killing of excommunicated persons no murder if done from religious zeal only. But he wishes a penance to be imposed, in case there may have been any intrusion of an inferior motive. It would hardly be possible to say more definitely that though there may be murder in one case there is no murder in the other.

It may be worth while to mention that the page I referred to in Droysen is 47, not 42; and that in citing Bianchi I have not given the page but the chapter, as the argument in question runs through several pages.—I remain, sir, your obedient servant,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
December 12, 1874
Aldenham
To the Editor ofThe Times.
Sir,

One whose distinguished position and character give him the strongest claim to be heard has expressed to me his belief that, “the charge of equivocation brought by” me, “against Fénelon, cannot be sustained.” In support Edition: current; Page: [140] of my contention that the agreement in thought and deed attainable among Catholics is not of a kind which justifies the apprehension of danger to the State, I described Fénelon as earning credit by his humility under censure while he retained his former views. I said: He “publicly accepted the judgment as the voice of God. He declared that he adhered to the decree absolutely, and without a shadow of reserve, and there were no bounds to his submission. In private he wrote that his opinions were perfectly orthodox and remained unchanged, that his opponents were in the wrong, and that Rome was getting religion into peril.” The doubt entertained by my correspondent may apply either to my account of the Archbishop’s public acts or of his private thoughts; I will therefore give the authority for both.

Fénelon explained his personal sentiments in a letter of the 9th October 1699: “J’ai toujours soutenu que je n’avois jamais cru aucune des erreurs en question. Le Pape n’a condamné aucun des points de ma vraie doctrine, amplement éclaircie dans mes défenses. Il a seulement condamné les expressions de mon livre avec le sens qu’elles présentent naturellement, et que je n’ai jamais eu en vue. Dire que je me suis retracté, ce seroit faire entendre que j’ai avoué avoir eu des erreurs, et ce seroit me faire une injustice.”

On the 3rd of April in the same year he wrote: “Je n’ai jamais pensé les erreurs qu’ils m’imputent. Je puis bien, par docilité pour le Pape, condamner mon livre comme exprimant ce que je n’avois pas cru exprimer, mais je ne puis trahir ma conscience, pour me noircir lâchement moi-même sur des erreurs que je ne pensai jamais.”

On the 17th he describes himself as “un archevêque innocent, soumis, qui a défendu l’ancienne doctrine sur la charité contre une nouveauté dangereuse.” He says on the 3rd of May: “Ne voit-on pas que je ne puis en conscience confesser des erreurs que je n’ai jamais pensées?” And on the 24th of April, speaking of his opponents, he says: “Ils n’ont rien de décidé sur le fond de la doctrine.” He continued to think that they, not he, were theologically in the wrong, and that Rome encouraged them. He wrote, on the 17th of April, that it was felt that all honest men thought him right and Bossuet wrong: “que tous les honnêtes Edition: current; Page: [141] gens me plaignent, et trouvent que j’avois raison, et M. de Meaux tort dans notre controverse.” On the 3rd of April he wrote: “Si Rome ne veut point rendre témoignage à la pureté de la doctrine que j’ai soutenue, et qui est tout ce que j’ai eu dans l’esprit, ils font encore plus de tort à cette doctrine qu’á moi.” On the 24th of April: “Le parti est d’une telle hauteur qu’ils entrainent tout. Rome a donné des armes à des esprits bien violens.” He writes on the 1st of May to his agent at Rome: “Il faut tâcher d’éviter les surprises dans une cour où tout est si incertain, et où la cabale ennemie est si puissante.” And again, on the 15th: “Vous connoissez l’esprit de mes partis, et vous ne savez que trop par l’expérience combien ils sont accrédités dans la cour où vous etes.”

That is Fénelon’s avowal of his opinions. I proceed to the account he gives of his submission.

On the 28th of April he wrote: “Ma soumission sera, moyennant la grâce de Dieu, aussi constante qu’elle est absolue, et accompagnée de la plus sincère docilité pour le Saint-Siège.” On the 8th of May: “On peut juger par là combien mon mandement est d’un exemple décisif pour la pleine soumission à l’Eglise Romaine.” In his letter to Innocent XII, of the 4th of April, he says: “Libellum cum XXIII propositionibus excerptis, simpliciter, absolute, et absque ulla nel restrictionis umbra condemnabo—Nulla erit distinctionis umbra levissima, qua Decretum eludi possit, aut tantula excusatio unquam adhibeatur.” It was, he declared, the most perfect submission a Bishop could make (April 3).

I know nothing in my remarks on Fénelon which these extracts, added to those which I have already given, leave unproved. In matters of history it is well to abstain from hazarding unnecessary judgments. I have not expended an adjective on Suarez, and have imputed nothing worse than subtleties to Fénelon. The reproach of equivocation, which I have not adopted, was made by his adversaries: “Ils disent que ma soumission si fastueuse est courte, seche, contrainte, superbe, purement extérieure et apparente; mais que j’aurois dû reconnoitre mes erreurs évidentes dans tout mon livre” (May 15).

Edition: current; Page: [142]

The agents of his accusers have recorded their impression as follows: “On croyait qu’il ne songeroit plus qu’a réparer le scandale qu’il avoit causé à l’Eglise par une rétractation publique de ses erreurs, mais on n’y trouva rien d’approchant, tout y paroissait sec et plein de paroles vagues, qui pouvoient n’exprimer qu’une soumission extérieure et forcée” (Relation du Quiétisme, ii. 278). “Au lieu d’en être édifié, j’en fus scandalisé au dernier point. Il ne me fut pas difficile d’en découvrir tout l’orgueil et tout le venin. On voit bien par là ce qu’on doit penser de la soumission, qu’il n’est plus permis de croire sincère, et qui ne peut être que forcée” (Abbé Bossuet to his uncle, May 5).

Bossuet, though he expressed himself with greater dignity, thought the pastoral evasive: “M. de Cambray ne se plaint que de la correction, en évitant d’avouer sa faute. On est encore plus étonné que, très-sensible à son humiliation, il ne le paroisse en aucune sorte à son erreur, ni au malheur qu’il a eu de la vouloir répandre. Il dira, quand il lui plaira, qu’il n’a point avoué d’erreur. Encore qu’il ne puisse pas se servir du prétexte de l’ignorance, il n’en manquera jamais” (May 25, April 19).

Of Fénelon’s explanations, he said (May 25): “Si elles sont justes, si elles conviennent au livre, le Saint Père a mal condamné le livre in sensu obvio, ex connexione sententiarum, etc. Il ne faut que brûler le bref, si ces explications sont reçues. Si sa doctrine est innocente, que devient le bref? C’est le Saint Siège et son decret qu’on attaque, et non pas nous.”

This was the general impression. Fénelon himself gave no public intimation that, as has been said, it was his grammar and not his theology that he condemned. Neither the decree nor the pastoral distinguished the doctrine of the author from the text of his book, and the people who read the condemnation, qualified by no saving clause, could hardly fail to suppose that Fénelon had been in error.

“Ce qui est certain c’est que les uns n’osent plus parler d’amour de pure bienveillance, et que les autres supposent tout ouvertement qu’il est condamné dans mon livre. Aussi disent-ils qu’il ne s’agit pas de mes expressions, mais de ma Edition: current; Page: [143] doctrine, qui est, disent-ils, condamnée, en sorte que je dois l’abjurer” (April 24).

Although Fénelon knew that this belief prevailed he let it pass; and the motives of the reserve which brought him exaggerated credit for humility under censure continue to be variously interpreted.

But in dealing with his own suffragans and with the Court of Rome he took care to explain that he deemed his orthodoxy unimpeached, and he even endeavoured to have it formally acknowledged. It would go against his conscience, he declared, to renounce his real opinions: “Tout le repos de ma vie roule sur l’acceptation de cette soumission, faute de quoi nous tomberions dans une persécution sur un formulaire captieux, qui nous mèneroit à d’affreuses extrémités.”

He speaks with alarm of “le danger d’un formulaire qui allât à me faire souscrire, contre ma conscience, la condemnation de sensus ab auctore intentus” (April 4, 17).

Fénelon’s position was understood at Rome. His friends wished to have his real sentiments expressly excluded from the condemnation of his book, and his opponents wished that he should be required to retract them. But neither party prevailed. The Pope appears to have hoped that he would recognise his errors, but admitted afterwards that he was not convinced of having erred. He said to the Abbé Bossuet, “qu’il falloit espérer que l’Archevêque de Cambrai reconnoitroit ses erreurs et s’humilieroit.” Three weeks later, when he had received Fénelon’s answer to the Decree, he said, “qu’il voyoit très bien qu’il n’étoit pas persuadé d’avoir erré” (April 14, May 5). Bossuet himself was of opinion that although the submission was illusory it ought to be accepted.

It is open to men to decline his harsh interpretation, and to prefer the milder judgment shown in the tolerant acquiescence of Rome. If I adopted the worst view of Fénelon’s conduct I should detract materially from the effect with which his example shows the difficulty of forcing upon men an iron rule of uniformity. To imagine that British institutions are secure because ecclesiastical authority may be evaded by those who choose to equivocate, or that Edition: current; Page: [144] conscience can be sheltered by duplicity, would be the part of an idiot. But it is a valid and relevant illustration of my argument to note that a famous controversy which raged for years between the ablest prelates in the Church, setting in motion all the influence of France and all the resources of Rome, and occupying for many months the anxious thought of the Pope and his Cardinals, a controversy which was decided by the unqualified triumph of one party and the defeat of the other, ended by leaving the feud unquenched, and each side persistent in maintaining the orthodoxy of its own exclusive opinion.—I remain, sir, your obedient servant,

Acton.
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dec. 3, ’74
Chester
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
My dear Lord Acton,

1. You will have seen the disparaging terms in which Bp. Ullathorne has spoken of Dr. Döllinger’s Theology. I want to be in a condition to say a word on this subject, if I write again, which Manning’s announced reply may perhaps force me to do. Can you tell me in what year he became Professor of Theology? I have read what is in Friedrich’s Documenta, 1, vi., about Card. Schwarzenberg’s1 testimony. Is there any other which I ought to quote?

2. You made no observation on my Prop. No. 14, from the Syllabus about Matrimony: I do not know whether you observed it. Coleridge the Jesuit2 has assailed me on it: MacColl propounded another interpretation. I am not satisfied with either of theirs, nor, I frankly admit, altogether with my own. Coleridge says the Syllabus No. 73, latter number, condemns a “bilateral proposition.” This proposition is:

“Aut contractus matrimonii inter christianos semper est sacramentum, aut nullus est contractus, si sacramentum excludatur.”

I have asked Coleridge: Who ever propounded this? What does it mean?

Edition: current; Page: [145]

To me, I own, it appears nonsense: and the two things not disjunctive, but conjunctive. Should we not say: If the contract (among Christians) is always a sacrament (which I understand to be the Roman doctrine) then of course no sacrament, no contract.

I have puzzled over this a good while; but Coleridge writes to me contemptuously, and seems to feel himself quite infallible.

Do not trouble yourself with this unless so inclined: my No. 1, for Döllinger’s sake, I am sure you will not grudge.

3. About the Sendschreiben1?

And now lastly a few words without a query.

This business is very serious. It certainly will please me, and I suppose it might not displease you, if others will take up the question of Ultramontanism theologically. But this is no business of mine, in the present conflict. It is my duty, on the ground of incompetence, and on other grounds, to keep out of it. I have another duty more difficult and delicate which I must not neglect. I see already, and feel, efforts to draw me (from the Protestant side) through interpretations put on this pamphlet, into the general anti-Roman controversy. All such I meet by saying that I shall abide by and prosecute if needful the argument to the best of my power within the limits which I have already marked out for myself.

I have been busy in many ways with the fruits of the pamphlet. Among other matters, I am reading the curious volumes of Discorsi di Pio IX,2 published at Rome. I may find it my duty to write, collaterally, upon them. I daresay you know the book.—Believe me, sincerely yours,

W. E. Gladstone.
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dec. 18, ’74
Chester
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
My dear Lord Acton,

1. When you were putting in caveats and warnings, you did not say to me “Now, mind, Edition: current; Page: [146] this affair will absorb some, perhaps many, months of your life.” It has been so up to the present moment—and it evidently will be so for some time.

2. But for me it is nothing compared with what it is for you. And I assure you, I have asked myself much and many times what was my duty to you, and others like you. And my answer to myself has been this:

(a) To move others, if I could, to take up their position abreast of you. For, in such a position, Defendit numerus. I have laboured at it, but as yet without effect.

(b) By carefully watching my own language, and making no attack on the R.C. religion such as an R.C. was required to hold it before July 1870. To this I have endeavoured rigidly to conform. A furious and inveterate Protestant foe of mine, Dr. Porter, or Potter, of Sheffield, has pointed this out in print. I might deviate by accident. If I do, pray pull me up. Of course I do not, and cannot hold myself tightly bound as to reserves of language in speaking of the Roman authorities who have done all this portentous mischief. You perhaps saw a letter of mine in the papers to some Nonconforming ministers. It was intended to mark out my province. Unfortunately they had misread “clearly” and printed it “thereby.”

(c) By curbing myself from all endeavours to turn to account this crisis in the interest of proselytism.

3. A thousand thanks for the admirable passage about Dr. Döllinger. I enclose my projected rendering of it. I would also print the original.

4. His words to me in English on the point you mention were to the effect that he despaired of any satisfactory change under the ordinary working of the Roman Curia, though it might, however, come by crisis or revolution. But you doubtless have heard from him in German, which in these nice matters is better.

5. I agreed with every word of R. S.1 till I came to “G. should own himself mistaken here like a man.” But it seems to me that I am exactly right. I put No. 13 to illustrate No. 14. I complain of No. 14. And simply because Edition: current; Page: [147] it condemns civil marriage as, per se, null and void, or, as the Pope calls it in his marvellous speeches, un concubinato. I manifestly cannot confess an error which I do not see.

6. On the Syllabus generally I have understated the case. It seems to be clearly a condemnation ex cathedra, which I did not venture to assume.

7. Pray do not think any more now about the Sendschreiben.

8. There is a notion that Manning’s rashness has been disapproved at Rome. I have a letter from Nardi this morning, but nothing to confirm this.

9. I keep R. S. until desired by you to return him. No, I return him—as you may want it should you read the Coleridge letters.—Always sincerely yours,

W. E. Gladstone.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
December 19-20
Bridgenorth
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
My dear Mr. Gladstone,

I do not know whether I ought to wish others to commit themselves in my behalf. Very few look on these questions exactly as I do, and the direct attack on the Council, when not absolutely inevitable, as it was made to the German divines, can hardly lead to any palpable results. The actual retractation of the Decrees is hopeless. What is not hopeless is to make the evils of Ultramontanism so manifest that men will shrink from them, and so explain away or stultify the Vatican Council as to make it innocuous.

I have brought my bishop to admit that I am quite in order as far as the Vatican Council goes, that I am not breaking the obligations of the Apostolic Constitution, or incurring any anathema; and I have tried to explain to him that my attack is directed elsewhere, and would, in fact, lose its real effect if I were to contradict the Vatican Decrees. I am not likely to succeed so well with Manning, who will probably think that the Council cannot practically be sustained if my course is allowed to be regular and will require something more than a merely negative conformity.

What I want people to understand is that I am not really dealing with the Council, but with the deeper seat of the evil, Edition: current; Page: [148] and am keeping bounds with which any sincere and intelligent bishop of the minority must sympathise. If I am excommunicated—I should rather say when I am—I shall not only be still more isolated, but all I say and do, by being in appearance at least, hostile, will lose all power of influencing the convictions of common Catholics.

I put the question on this ground only—Can a Catholic speak the truth or not?

The Italian translation is a good opening, and it would be interesting to take advantage of it. But I am compelled to give all my time to my own work, either for the purpose of meeting attacks, should any come which need attention, or, if my part of the controversy languishes, for the purpose of getting ready a revised and reinvigorated edition of my second letter, with a superabundance of proof. I have a vision of a tract containing in 100 pages the distilled essence of all my researches.

Although I cannot do what Bianchi wishes (and if I could, it would not be to throw you over except in the measure you knew at Hawarden), I should like to see it well done. The writer of the letter, which I return, is the author of some brilliant articles you must have read on D.’s Reform Bill in 1868, in the Chronicle. He is so able and so good a man that I should have liked him to see your correspondence with Coleridge. And he would be the most competent man I know to do what the Italians ask for.

Your translation is quite accurate. Werner’s importance must not be exaggerated. But he was the man chosen in all Germany to do for Catholic Theology what Dorner1 did for Protestant—that is, to be the rival of a writer of the first rank.

I think you are right (and I thought you were wrong) about the Syllabus. It is hard to prove that it is now an ex cathedra declaration. But it is impossible to disprove it, and it will be left in the twilight until wanted in the glare.

There are parts of your letter that call for a warmer acknowledgment than these few lines.—Yours most truly,

Acton.
Edition: current; Page: [149]
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
December 24th
Bridgenorth
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
My dear Mr. Gladstone,

I don’t see my way clearly about the Marriage question, and should be very glad if my friend, R. Simpson (of 4 Victoria Road, Clapham), succeeded in throwing light upon it.

I sounded him as to the Italian project, but I am afraid he does not bite. Newman is probably much attacked and worried in private by bishops and friends, and so feels compelled to speak. From his letters to me I gather that he will say that the Council has defined little or nothing in politics, that it does not sanction the Syllabus, that the more history speaks out the more it will be found that its facts are compatible with the Decrees, and that he accepts every word of them. I think I told you that he had at one time renounced the idea of writing.

With every good wish for this festive time.—I remain, yours very truly,

Acton.
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dec. 27th, ’74
Chester
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
My dear Lord Acton,

1. I am very sorry that Mr. Simpson is not available for Bianchi’s1 purpose. Can you suggest any other person? Do you know Rev. Mr. Case of Gloucester, and would he do? Capes or Suffield could write against one of the isms better than they could set up the other. Can I do anything except refer to Germany. And who is there that would do it so that it should be readable and effective? Dr. D. could not be expected to perform such a task.

2. Von Schulte2 on the Power of the Roman Popes is very difficult to read—in English: the German I have not Edition: current; Page: [150] seen. I believe he is very learned, and trustworthy as to facts and citations.

3. Can you tell me where I should find (in London, I suppose):

(a) The files of the Civilta Cattolica;

(b) Pius IX’s approval of it;

(c) The series of his Briefs and allocutions—or any book showing the cases in which he has condemned and annulled State laws and constitutions.

4. I fear I have conceded too much to the Papal party in three points:

(a) In not treating the Syllabus as ex cathedra.

(b) In allowing that the Popes have been apt to claim “dogmatic infallibility” for wellnigh a thousand years: p. 28.

(c) As to the Oecumenicity of the Vatican Council.

5. Manning hits out wildly like a drunken man. You see, however, he is obliged to pass by the letter in Macmillan. I am told it is confidently said in Rome that the Curia thinks he has been imprudent.—Yours sincerely,

W. E. Gladstone.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Dec. 30, 1874
Bridgenorth
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
My dear Mr. Gladstone,

I send you what I have got in the way of papal utterances, with the Sendschreiben and the denunciation of the Austrian constitution. As to the points conceded to Rome:

I believe it is very hard to prove that the Decrees literally and certainly sanction the Syllabus. Gigli, then Magister Sacri Palatii, told me that he considered the Syllabus an informal document. This is inconsistent with the terms of the encyclical, but, if it was technically possible for so high a functionary to say that, there may still be some formal or technical flaw—such as the absence of sanctions or penalties—enabling men to maintain that it is an open question whether the Syllabus is positively authenticated by the Council; as long as men can honestly deny it, without a too glaring inconsistency, one must give them the benefit of the doubt. I remember, indeed, that I expressed these Edition: current; Page: [151] doubts to Döllinger, and he overruled them, but I cannot recall the chain of his reasoning against me.

The genesis of Infallibility is the most obscure of questions. As long as the Popes anathematised Honorius1 they, of course, testified against it; but at the same time traces of the claim are surely a thousand years old. I fancy you know Langen’s excellent book on the Tradition of the Church in this matter. But Langen avoids the real question, which is, the succession of forgeries by which the claim was sustained. This point is only slightly touched by Janus.

The question of oecumenicity is very large. It is only since the Reformation that the Roman divines have accepted all the later Councils—four, or eight, were all that were commonly accepted as oecumenical before. But you must attack Trent if you attack the Vatican Council, and that at once shifts the ground of your contention. Even now there is no authentic list of Councils that Rome holds to be oecumenical; and I remember that Dupanloup left out Constance from his list.

The powerful writer in Macmillan might do for Bianchi, but there are very good reasons why we should not propose it to him.

Schulte is learned and trustworthy, but a very clumsy writer. Do you know Frommann,2 Geschichte und Kritik der V.C.?

I wish you a very happy and very peaceful New Year, and remain, yours sincerely,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Nov. 16, 1874
Westminster
Henry E.
Henry E.
My dear Lord Acton,

I have to thank you for your letter dated yesterday: from which I gather, with much Edition: current; Page: [152] satisfaction, that your answer to my first question, whether in your letter to the Times you intended to repudiate the Vatican Decrees, is in the negative.

I am not; however, able to gather what answer you desire to give to the second question, namely, whether you adhere to the doctrines defined in the Vatican Council: unless you intend to describe yourself as one of “Those who adopt a less severe and more conciliatory construction” of those decrees.

If I am right in this inference, I would still ask you to enable me to understand what that construction is.

I see with great pleasure in your note that you had written an emphatic repudiation of the statements of the Times: and I regret much that any advice should have defeated your judgment of what is at this moment urgently needed for your own sake. Let me therefore ask you to enable me to reassure the minds of a multitude of those who at this time believe of you what the Times has sent all over the world.1—Believe me, my dear Lord, yours faithfully,

Henry E., Archbishop of Westminster.
The Lord Acton.

P.S.—I must ask you to forgive the omission of date in my last letter.

It was written on Thursday 12.

✠ H. E., Abp.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.

Draft of Reply to Cardinal Manning.

My dear Lord,

I gave no answer to the question, which did not seem to me to arise out of the terms or the spirit of my letter to Mr. Gladstone.

But I must decline the inference which a passage in my letter of this last Sunday has suggested to you. I have no private gloss or special interpretation for the decrees of the Vatican Council. (Trent)

The acts of the Council are the law which I obey. I am not concernedbound to follow the comments of divines or to supply Edition: current; Page: [153] their place fromwith private judgments of my own. I am content to adhere implicitly with an absolute reliance on God’s Government of his Church to the construction she herself shall adopt in her own time.

Command. Submit to accept.

His Grace the Archbishop of Westminster.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
November 18, 1874
Pall Mall
My dear Lord,

I could not answer your question without seeming to admit that which I was writing expressly to deny, namely, that it could be founded on anything but a misconception of the terms or the spirit of my letter to Mr. Gladstone.

In reply to the question which you put with reference to a passage in my letter of Sunday, I can only say that I have no private gloss or favourite interpretation for the Vatican Decrees. The acts of the Council alone constitute the law which I recognise. I have not felt it my duty as a layman to pursue the comments of divines, still less to attempt to supersede them by private judgments of my own. I am content to rest in absolute reliance on God’s providence in His government of the Church.—I remain, my dear Lord, yours faithfully,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
December 1874
Blenner
Blenner
Dear Blenner,

The objectionable word is not in the original. Instead, the word Church. But I can get quite round the difficulty.

I cannot thank you sufficiently for the patient help you have given me.

A.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
December, 1874
Bridgenorth
Lady Blennerhassett
Lady Blennerhassett
Dear Lady Blennerhassett,

. . . Le mieux ne s’est pas soutenu chez Newman. Voici mon évêque qui perd patience à ma politesse, et fait la même demande que son métropolitain. Vous voyez que ça chauffe.—Revenez bien vite et bien sûr, votre tout dévoué,

Acton.
Edition: current; Page: [154]
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Feb. 28 [1875]
Torquay
Lady Blennerhassett
Lady Blennerhassett
Dear Lady Blennerhassett,

. . . From my bishop1 I have had notice of renewed contention, and at the same time the persistency with which some of my statements continue to be disputed, after three months, will oblige me sooner or later to write more. So that I have filled Torquay with old books, and am at work again. . . .—Believe me, faithfully yours,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
April 2 [1875]
Torquay
Lady Blennerhassett
Lady Blennerhassett
Dear Lady Blennerhassett,

. . . I did my bishop wrong, at least for the moment. It is clear that there has been some hesitation lately as to pushing things to extremity, and it has delayed any critical and decisive proceedings. The German bishops have repudiated the Vatican doctrine that the Pope absorbs the authority of bishops in every diocese; and they have not only been approved by the Pope, but he has declared that there is nothing new or changed in the Church. Stated in this connection his words are a virtual acknowledgment of the rule of faith, and preclude all interpretations that are inconsistent with tradition. Newman’s declaration on the authority of conscience necessarily implies that one may not build up one’s system on forgeries, or omissions, or forced constructions, and the results that can be obtained subject to this rule are such as none can quarrel about. So that Gladstone’s attack certainly has helped to produce a momentary reaction. It may not be voluntary or sincere, or lasting, and it is certainly ambiguous, and capable of being explained away, like other things. But it is a sign of what I have always said—to your husband, amongst others—that the way out of the scrape will yet be found in insisting on the authority of tradition as the only lawful rule of interpretation. There will be many variations and oscillations before that way is definitely adopted. Yet there is a faint glimmer of hope.—Believe me, dear Lady Blennerhassett, yours most faithfully,

Acton.
Edition: current; Page: [155]
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
April 13, 1875
Dover
Lady Blennerhassett
Lady Blennerhassett
Dear Lady Blennerhassett,

. . . Nothing can be more just than your estimate of the religious situation. It is simply at the choice of the authorities, Pope, Cardinal, bishop, or priest, when I am excommunicated. I cannot prevent, or even seriously postpone it, although Newman’s conditions would make it possible, technically, to accept the whole of the decrees. But if they take further steps, it can only be with the object of pushing things to a crisis, and then they would take care so to prepare their tests that there would be no possible protection. It can only be a question of time. . . .—Believe me, yours faithfully,

Acton.
John Henry Newman
Newman, John Henry
April 13, 1875
Birmingham
My dear Madam,

As to the present troubles among Catholics of these parts, to which you refer, Mr. Gladstone’s Pamphlet has thrown Catholics together in a most unexpected manner—and, though there will be always differences in a large body of men belonging to so many distinct classes and of so many distinct interests, about foreign Catholic politics, yet the present promise and prospect of things is much more cheering than it was some time ago. I do not think you should say what you say about Lord Acton. He has ever been a religious, well-conducted, conscientious Catholic from a boy. In saying this, I do not at all imply that I can approve those letters to which you refer. I heartily wish they had never been written.—I am, yours truly in Christ,

John H. Newman.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
February 11
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
My dear Mr. Gladstone,

I shall certainly take advantage of your authorisation and ask, as I hereby do, to be allowed to see the proofs of your rejoinder. I only hope it will be in type before the middle of next week, when I must leave town for Torquay.

Cartwright is at work on an article on the Controversy, which he has paid great attention to.—I remain, yours very truly,

Acton.
Edition: current; Page: [156]
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Jan. 28, 1896
Athenæum
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

I am sorry that, by my own fault, I am made to figure so preposterously in the Life of Manning. The Author applied to me for help, but I could give him none; for I had refused Hutton, not having been on such terms of intimacy with the Cardinal as would justify my intervention.

I certainly wrote to you once from Rome in the days of the Council, probably in April or May 1870, and at the request of one of the bishops. Once, also, on a personal matter connected with the Council, to Lord Granville. The fact may have come to be known to Odo Russell,1 who would say: I know that he writes, etc., and so the actual would become habitual, and the single, plural. Somebody once said to my wife: “Est-il vrai qu’il écrit toujours à la Reine?” Some such story may have got about.

Hohenlohe’s Circular was dated April 9, 1869. Odo Russell was on the best of terms with Manning, and treated the whole thing with cynical persiflage. Cartwright, who took a more serious interest in what was doing, came home and complained of Odo’s “short-sighted and tortuous policy,” attributing the sentiment, if not the words, to me. Clarendon wrote a disagreeable letter to Odo, asking for explanation. As I had used no such expression, and did not gravely suspect Odo, I easily came to an understanding with him, and even with Lady William, who thereupon called Cartwright Cartwrong. Although Odo was under Manning’s influence, he was a channel of information to the Press. Daru, just then Minister of Foreign Affairs, wrote two very strong letters, which I left in Odo’s hands. Through him they came to be published in the Times. For he showed them to Tom Mozley, who told me the story a few weeks before he died.

Edition: current; Page: [157]

I very much hope that now the holders of Newman’s papers will be stimulated to make them public.

Cambridge is really a haven of delight, and I am grateful to them all round for the way they tolerate and even accept me. My tendency to read everything I can get that relates to my subject, proves a drawback and a vice when I have to lecture, and I am always a little late and hurried.

My little Captatio meant that, late in ’49 or early in ’50,1 I attempted, through John Lefevre, to obtain admission as an undergraduate. But Magdalene, and two other Colleges, refused to have me. There is nobody there who remembers the circumstance, but they conjecture that Papal aggression had to do with it. I have not verified dates.

Hoping, in spite of delay, that this will find you at Biarritz.—I remain, ever truly yours,

Acton.
Edition: current; Page: [158]

III.: GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE

A.—: MR. GLADSTONE

(a): BUDGETS

W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
May 8, ’61
Whitehall
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
My dear Sir John Acton,

I have read your valuable and remarkable paper.1 Its principles of politics I embrace: its research and wealth of knowledge I admire: and its whole atmosphere, if I may so speak, is that which I desire to breathe. It is a truly English paper.

It does not seem to me to present anything at variance with the opinion that the seat of sovereignty properly so called is in the States severally.—I remain, sincerely yours,

W. E. Gladstone.
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Sept. 9, 1862
Penmaenmawr
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
addr. Downing Street.
My dear Sir John Acton,

There is a passage in your note of the 3rd on which I should like to say a word for fear of misapprehension. I am strongly for fewness of taxes where they are of a nature to involve interference with the operations of trade, viz. in customs and excise: and ever since the year 1845 I have in co-operation with others laboured strenuously for this end. But where taxes do not interfere of necessity with the operations of trade, where they only impose a payment of money, and where that payment is not of itself such as greatly to restrain and hamper business, then I think that another set of arguments come into play, which tell on behalf of multiplicity.

It occurs to me to mention to you Mr. Laing (if I have Edition: current; Page: [159] not already done so) as one who would probably write, if he undertook it, a very good review of Sir Stafford Northcote’s book.—Believe me, very sincerely yours,

W. E. Gladstone.

I think your doctrine about the shifting of taxes entirely sound: and blunders have been made in that respect; one or more by me.

Hahn’s book on Albania seems to me one of which a good and full account ought to be given in some periodical. Albanesische Studien.

W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
June 6, ’64
Hawarden
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
My dear Sir John Acton,

I write with the double purpose of thanking you for the article in the Home and Foreign Review on my volume of Financial Statements, and of congratulating you, if you are the writer of it, on so able a paper: one so full of thought that looks before and after, as well as of comprehensive knowledge of principles and of practised judgment in a subject which lies rather off the highways and even the byeways of literature.

I need not say that I have nothing to complain of in it, except its terms of eulogy, which pass much beyond the measure, not only of justice, but of usual indulgence. You will then think it strange that I am going to question the most important part of the adverse criticism it contains. I do this, not because I think there is not much to be said in the sense of the reviewer, but because the subject of the Budget of 1860, when viewed as a whole, is one of the few cases in which my fortunes as an individual have been closely associated with matters of a public, and even an historic interest. It is therefore worth discussion.

The greater part, however, of what I have to say I shall not now put on paper. It has never yet been even spoken: but if you are disposed I should like to tell it all out to you on some occasion when we can meet for the purpose. I shall here deal only with what may be called an exoteric view.

When I took my present office in 1859, I had several negative and several positive reasons for accepting it. Of the first, there were these. There had been differences and collisions, but there were no resentments. I felt myself to be mischievous in an isolated position, outside the regular Edition: current; Page: [160] party organisation of Parliament. And I was aware of no differences of opinion or tendency likely to disturb the new Government. Then on the positive side. I felt sure that in finance there was still much useful work to be done. I was desirous to co-operate in settling the question of the franchise and failed to anticipate the disaster that it was to undergo. My friends were enlisted, or I knew would enlist: Sir James Graham indeed declining office, but taking his position in the party. And the overwhelming interest and weight of the Italian question, and of our foreign policy in connection with it, joined to my entire mistrust of the former government in relation to it, led me to decide without one moment’s hesitation.

But I have often thought that, ample as are these grounds, yet if I had had more power of forecasting the early future, I must have either declined office, or somewhat disparaged myself by choosing a province other than that to which Sir Robert Peel had virtually bound me (rather against my will) so far back as in 1841. I should have said, if I had had the benefit of second sight, “No, the work is Titanic: get some Titan to perform it.” Or, there was another alternative: to get a man who would swim with the stream.

It was my misfortune and my fault, that I did not know (I had been out of the country during the previous winter, but this is scarcely a tithe of an excuse) the degree to which the public mind was fevered: its tendency not only to alarm, but to alarmism: the degree in which public men, including one or more of my nearest and dearest friends, were virulently infected with the disease: the readiness, if not eagerness, of the country to make a holocaust of all the old rules of thrift and good husbandry. I was scarcely in the boat, when the proposals of that year (1859) by Mr. Harman respecting Fortifications, and all that took place in connection with their reception, undeceived me.

Before Parliament met in 1860, the “situation” was very greatly tightened and enhanced by three circumstances. First the disaster in China. Secondly, a visit of Mr. Cobden1 Edition: current; Page: [161] to Hawarden, when he proposed to me, in a garden stroll, the French Treaty, and I, for myself and my share, adopted it (nor have I ever for a moment repented or had a doubt) as rapidly as the tender of office two months before. Thirdly, and the gravest of all, the Savoy affair. If, as is supposed, I have Quixotism in my nature, I can assure you that I was at this jucture much more than satiated, and could have wished with Penelope that the whirlwind would take me up, and carry me to the shore of the great stream of Ocean.

And the wish would in this point not have been extravagant, that the whirlwind was there, ready to hand. In and from the midst of it, was born the Budget of 1860.

The Article states very fairly the objections which lie against that Budget. It was exceptional, in many points, from the first. The Cabinet had agreed to adopt the French Treaty, before the Estimates were fixed. I think there is an analogy, which the Article overlooks, between the proceeding of 1860 and that of 1842. But the two were taken in very different states of the public mind, which in 1842 was composed, and in 1860 inflamed: a reason doubtless against tempting it gratuitously.

The Article rightly regards my volume as a challenge. I think the Budget of 1860 is justified by its results. It will not do to say, “why did you not wait till the surplus came, which notwithstanding all drawbacks you got in 1863, and then operate in a quiet way without disturbing anybody?” My answer is, the surplus would not have come at all; i.e. that is my full answer. But the only part of my answer which the book contains or suggests is, that the surplus would not have come because much of it has been created only by our legislation. The principle adopted was this: “We are now (1860) on a high table land of expenditure. This being so, it is not as if we were merely meeting an occasional and momentary charge. We must consider how best to keep ourselves going during a period of high charge. In order to that, we will aggravate momentary deficiency that we may thereby make a great and permanent addition to productive power.” Well, that was done: and I hold that it is a sufficient warrant for the Budget of 1860.

Edition: current; Page: [162]

There is another objection that the Article might have taken, founded on the fact that in that year of repealed taxes we (not only anticipated resources but) borrowed money for the Fortifications. I cannot answer that objection; except by saying that the Budget was in February, the final decision to borrow only in July.

The justification, however, which I think the book sufficiently suggests, and which I have here stated, may be sufficient, or may be inadequate. The matter which I have in reserve is quite of a different order. I shall only glance at it in the slightest manner, by the few following words. First, the whole Budget grew out of the French Treaty: not in my mind only, but in the Cabinet: and it requires to be considered, if we had had no Treaty in the winter of ’59-’60, what else we should have had. I think not improbably a war with France. Secondly, the craving for expenditure at that time was such, that it required extraordinary and unusual means to meet it: and I do not repent of their employment, while I think their general use would be highly blameable.—Believe me, always and very sincerely yours,

W. E. Gladstone.
Sir John D. Acton, Bart., M.P.

(b): UNIVERSITY EDUCATION

The following two letters come from the correspondence between Acton and Sir Peter Le Page Renouf. Renouf (1822-97) was a distinguished orientalist, who was received into the Roman Church in 1842. He contributed to the Home and Foreign Review and the North British. He was an opponent of Infallibility. From 1885 onwards he was keeper of the Egyptian Antiquities at the British Museum. As will be seen, Acton and he knew one another well.

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
November 14
Mr. Raby
Mr. Raby
My dear Mr. R.

I should have written to you sooner had I not heard from Döllinger, that you were detained in Germany. He also spoke of your wish to leave Dublin, of which I had already heard from Newman. I sincerely Edition: current; Page: [163] trust nothing will arise to induce you to leave this country, and that some plan may be devised to keep your proper and natural sphere of usefulness among us.

I have often discussed with Newman the chances of a Catholic University in England, and if I had not been afraid of injuring its prospects by mixing up the idea with the odious H. and F. I should have opened the question in the Review. The Edgbaston school is striking root, and the youths who complete their course so far as it extends will create both supply and demand: they will feel more than the others the want of a University education and they will furnish one necessary portion of the materials. Here is a basis and an opportunity for the growth of something like a Catholic University such as did not exist in Ireland when the institution which has passed through such pitiful phases was octroyée. The great improvement of Oscott by Northcote, and of Stoneyhurst by Pater are helps which such a scheme never possessed before. Newman has the leisure and the wish to assist a scheme which would crown his own work at Edgbaston and vindicate his work at Dublin, and the changes by which you find yourself emancipated make the present moment the most favourable which is likely to occur for a long time to come.

But the prospects of success are greatest if there is no flourish of trumpets to provoke alarm, envy, and opposition, or to offend the Bishops, Propaganda, and the inertia of our body. Many things would help to make a quiet, silent, practical beginning advance and prosper, whilst a plan demanding general co-operation would meet innumerable difficulties. It would be possible to make a beginning in such a way that you would be prepared for either of two contingencies—either to develop into a Catholic University, or to take advantage of the gradual throwing open of Oxford.

I cannot help thinking that the demand for a higher and better education is growing so strong among certain classes that if you would attempt to meet it there would be a very great probability of great and fruitful success. Several persons, like Dr. Waterworth, who have very imperfectly supplied this want, have succeeded as far as their abilities and ambition allowed. It would be very different if the Edition: current; Page: [164] thing were done by Oxford men, deep scholars, and experienced teachers.

If you were to undertake this with as much assistance as you might at first require, I am firmly persuaded that the young men would be quickly forthcoming, that your sails would be filled by all the winds that blow towards a university and all the currents created by the vacuum of higher studies amongst us. The best men would be ready to join you, you would have the whole support of Newman’s influence, and I can really see no quarter in which any susceptibilities would be wounded or any opposition excited. The only essential condition that seems to me quite necessary is that you should give the establishment something of an institutional character—though no more than it would have if you were joined by one or two other men whose names are known.

The increasing liberality of Oxford would perhaps make it important to begin there. I have promised Newman land for buildings at Bridgnorth, and explained to him the merits of the situation for a university—an agricultural country, a large river, a healthy position, a good feeling between Protestants and Catholics, and the vicinity of my very large library. I do not know whether it would be so suitable for a very limited number of Catholic students. Paley1 is succeeding extremely well at Cambridge as a tutor, and though his religion does not attract Catholic students it does not repel Protestants. I do not know whether he would be disposed to co-operate, but I have reason to believe that he would be glad to take part in a Catholic undertaking.

Darnell had some idea of this kind in connection with Oxford, and I dare say he entertains it still. I did not see my way to encourage a plan which was not sure of being supported by Newman; but I have no reason to think a reconciliation hopeless. The preparation of students for the London examinations might be combined with this plan—at least so I imagine. If you have no dislike of tuition I hope there is nothing in this idea which you would not Edition: current; Page: [165] accept if it could be shown that there was a real likelihood of a permanent success. If you entertain it as subject for consideration the chances will have to be gone into more fully and comprehensively than is in my power. But I am convinced, judging from all I know and have heard, and considering especially the peculiarity of the present conjuncture, that the germ of an English university can never be laid with so much hope that it will prosper as at this moment, when Dublin has lost all importance for England, when Edgbaston school has revived studies in all our colleges, and is about to turn out its upper class, when you are free to embark in the enterprise and Newman has not lost his vigour or even the better part of his influence.

Should you think it well to prepare men’s minds in some degree for a new effort to supply higher studies, the H. and F. will at any time be open to you for the purpose. I fought shy of a proffered article on the opening of Oxford in order not to injure this plan when its time should come.—I remain, ever sincerely yours,

J. D. A.
Peter Le Page Renouf
Renouf, Peter Le Page
22 Nov. 1862
Dublin
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
My dear Sir John,

I have thought a good deal about the contents of your letter.

The demand for university education on the part of English Catholic youth and the necessity of a supply being taken for granted, I have still very grave doubts as to the wisdom or even possibility of meeting the want by the foundation of an English Catholic university. In presence of such powerful growths as Oxford and Cambridge, and the ground occupied by the London University, a new university must ever remain a sickly plant. And it seems to me that the old universities would always have it in their power to put an end to the new one whenever they pleased by granting to Catholics advantages equivalent, and therefore on the whole superior, to what a purely Catholic university could afford. If they allowed, for instance, a Catholic college to be founded, or even Catholic halls to exist on equal terms with Anglican, the students being allowed to graduate in all degrees but theology—I do not see what Catholic Edition: current; Page: [166] students or their parents could desiderate or what more they would get in a purely Catholic university.

Newman had the strongest objection to sending Catholic students to Oxford, and I thoroughly agree with him as to the mischief of sending individuals to Protestant colleges, when even if directly anti-Catholic influences are not brought to bear on a man the whole set of influences to which he is necessarily subjected must be, to say the least, uncatholic. But I think quite differently of the case of a Catholic college or hall, particularly if numerously attended. Here the student would have Catholic tutors (and in spite of all changes tutorial teaching will always be dominant both at Oxford and at Cambridge), his society would be almost exclusively that of fellow-Catholics, and the other influences of the place are not different in kind from those to which every Englishman is subject through life. I know of no danger (not even that of extravagance) to which a student would be exposed in a Catholic hall at Oxford to which he is not equally exposed as a member of the Catholic university of Ireland.

These views are wholly independent of any idea of my own co-operation with the plans of which you speak in your letter. Ten years ago I would most heartily have joined in the least promising of the schemes. I have, however, now reached an age at which a married man eschews experiments (particularly if after ten years’ time he has no chance of repairing his mistake if it be one), and is rather inclined to look wistfully after a modest place in the Civil Service. I would be very sorry, however, if you took for cowardice what is only prudence, and I promise to give the most serious consideration to any definite plan that you consider as bearing with it the elements of success.—E.s.y.,

P. le P. R.
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Jan. 25, ’66
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
My dear Sir John Acton,

I would willingly dwell on the earlier parts of your letter: but, only stopping a moment to say I shall read your letter with great interest, I pass on to the subjects connected with the inclosure which comes, I presume, from Mr. Sullivan.

Edition: current; Page: [167]

It is a most delicate matter for us to become the champions of the Roman Catholic laity against their own Bishops, or to adopt any other criterion for estimating the wishes of the Roman Catholic people of Ireland than the judgment of their representatives. Nevertheless it is also most desirable for us to know your sentiments in full, and perhaps you would hardly trust yourself to give them in that manner by letter. Now we are at this very time in the thick of the question with respect to the University in Ireland and are shortly about to decide whether any and what provision shall be made for the representation of the religious element in the Senate. I should be very glad to hear that you are coming up, or otherwise to know your views as far as you can state them. I keep Mr. S.’s letter for the present, and remain,—Very sincerely yours,

W. E. Gladstone.
Sir J. D. Acton, Bart., M.P.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Feb. 14, 1873
Dover St.
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

I never could congratulate you more heartily than I do on the plan I heard you describe last night.

I have not read your speech, and write only from the memory of what I heard you say. The bishops, I think, will object to the establishment of a teaching body separate from the Colleges. Although I wrote strongly in favour of that scheme to Hartington, I have since thought that there might be University professors teaching in the Colleges—so that the staff of each College would consist of so many University professors, and so many College professors—a distinction which would probably fall into that between professors and tutors. This might even do more to vivify the College teaching than a separate University staff, whom it would be optional to hear, and whom the ecclesiastical authorities would be able to put aside together. The University Professors apart from the Colleges will increase the disadvantage of the provincial Colleges, and seem hardly necessary for the small number of independent students. The admission of these is, I presume, made necessary by the analogy of English university reform, and Edition: current; Page: [168] by the conditions of T. C. D. at present. But they, again, will weaken the weak College system of Ireland, and will hardly bring much strength to the University.

To those who heard you it appeared that you expelled the theological faculty of Trinity from the University entirely, and I could not catch whether you made full allowance for consequent loss of fees. But are they expelled without the chance of readmission? Surely Magee College is theological, and no principle of the bill prevents the admission of Maynooth, or the establishment of a theological faculty in Stephen’s Green College. I fancied, in listening to you, that the vagueness of your speech on this point was necessary management, and hope so.

The admission of Maynooth, and compulsory examination in Arts of the Church students at some point of their course, is nearly the only thing in my letter to Hartington which is not in your bill, and it might, I think, be of immense value.

T. C. has a magnificent library, with copyright privileges. You did not say anything about the University library and Museums.—Ever yours most faithfully,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
November 17, 1873
Bridgenorth
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
My dear Mr. Gladstone,

I was as anxious as anybody could be for the success of your University bill last winter, and for the same reasons I cannot refrain from congratulating you now on the late appointments, as well as on the tardiness and reluctance with which you have adopted the resolutions they seem to imply. It will be very difficult to avoid sooner or later a breach with the Ultramontanes, and my sincerest wish is that it may not be precipitated by the Liberal party, but may be forced on them; and I hope still more—though it does not seem a kind wish—that it may come in your time.

I was on the continent when you were good enough to write to me last summer. Döllinger was much gratified by your mention of his lecture, as he always is by what recalls your long and friendly acquaintance. The lecture has been translated, I think by the Editor of the Academy.

Edition: current; Page: [169]

You are a little hard on us in saying that we import knowledge but do not produce it for exportation. We are exporters of a commodity familiar enough to yourself—political economy. I was struck in reading Karl Marx’s new work1 by the extent to which he fetches his materials from England. It is a remarkable book, as the Koran of the new socialists. Have you not had time to look at it?

Sullivan, the new President, has been employed for some years on an Irish Glossary, of which the lines were laid by the late O’Curry. It is an important work, especially because much of it is taken from unpublished manuscripts. O’Curry’s papers were purchased by the Catholic University, and the work which Sullivan has prepared for publication belongs to them. It will hardly be possible to get it published. As a speculation it would not answer, and the owners of the MS. have neither funds nor zeal for learning.

It would be both more valuable, more national, and more congruous than some of the works published by Government. I mention this to you now in case the “ragion di stato” might recommend an undertaking which would be of great use to Ireland, and would put a few hundred pounds into the hands of the enraged University authorities. If you care to know more, I can find it out confidentially.—Believe me to remain, very faithfully yours,

Acton.

(c): ACTON’S PEERAGE

W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Nov. 6, ’69
Whitehall
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
My dear Sir John Acton,

I have to propose to you, with the Queen’s approval, that you should accept the dignity of a Peer of the United Kingdom.

I am sure it is needless for me to measure words in assuring you of the pleasure with which I make this offer. Suffice it to say I think you will confer honour by your acceptance, no less than you will receive it.

And I heartily trust your answer will be affirmative.

As dispatch is desirable in these matters, I will beg you Edition: current; Page: [170] to let me hear from you at your earliest convenience.—Believe me, with much regard, sincerely yours,

W. E. Gladstone.

What about Janus?

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
November 11th, 1869
Rome
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
My dear Mr. Gladstone,

Your very kind letter reached me yesterday on my arrival here.

I wish there were public services in the past to justify my acceptance of a peerage; but I cannot decline an honour, however undeserved, which is proposed by you, and carries a lustre with it which none of your predecessors could have conferred. I do not think there has been a time when a seat in the House of Lords was more really and practically useful, and I hope I shall see you victorious in it, through many sessions like the last.—Believe me, Yours most sincerely,

John Dalberg Acton.

(d): ACTON AND OFFICE

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
May 31, 1880
Tegernsee
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

When I was in Downing Street I met with a rebuke for having left unanswered a letter you sent me last autumn from Paris. I am anxious to say that I was silent from embarrassment, not from neglect. You spoke of the coming struggle, of the coming victory, of the call that was on all of us to share in it, in terms I could hardly respond to without feeling untrue to the sternest duty, and the deepest affection, and the controlling sorrow of my life. Last month, when the victory was won, our clouds were lifting, and I should have found London very attractive, but I thought it better to be away from Harley Street and Carlton House Terrace just then. Every traveller from the Riviera arrived with the presumption of office upon him, and it seemed possible, from your constant willingness to think too well of me, and perhaps from a wish to do what would be ostensibly gratifying to Lord Granville, that you might propose to give me employment. As I should be obnoxious to the majority of your supporters for one reason Edition: current; Page: [171] and to the minority for another, it would have been my duty to decline to being an element of weakness to the Government, and that could not be done without suspicion of having sought the opportunity, or of refusing because I wanted something better. With your unanswered letter in my mind I therefore thought it best to keep out of the way of trouble and temptation. The same objection might not apply to service abroad, but the only place where I could hope to be of any special use is Berlin, and I could neither look forward to the best prize of a profession not my own, nor contemplate so exorbitant a preference of private friendship over public service as would be more justly resented than the appointment of Ripon:—all which looks like a chapter of autobiography, but is in truth the explanation of the letter left without an answer, and the answer to much flattering reproach, the other day, in town.

I have found the Professor remarkably well, less deaf than last year, and passing more readily from the depths of one subject to the depths of another. Much reading of Church periodicals has bred a misgiving in his mind that one whom he took, at Tegernsee, for an amiable and well-disposed youth is little better than a demagogue and a destroyer of establishments.—I remain, very truly yours,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
March 25, 1893
Athenæum
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

I think that it would be better that the letter should not appear.

Some enemies would make an ill use of the attitude, of ceremony and respect, which you adopted towards the Pope.

Some even of our friends would find cause for stumbling at your having reported the particulars of the interview privately to the Italian Minister.

The passage from St. Augustine is a made-up passage, and is made here to appear as if it was a literal quotation.

Much less important objections occur to the opinion that the empire is too large; and that the Canadians have no idea of defending themselves.

Although my impression is quite clear, I submit it to you with great diffidence.—Ever yours,

Acton.
Edition: current; Page: [172]
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
December 10, 1893
Athenæum
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

My reason for troubling you is a very insignificant matter. But I have been taking part of the Irish business in the House of Lords, and the great stress I am in for time obliges me to ask Kimberley and Morley to relieve me of my share in it. It not only is reasonable, but has become imperiously necessary that I should complete, within calculable limits of time, the work I have undertaken. As long as I have constant occupation at the Irish Office—consequent on my native ignorance of the subjects to be prepared—the main employment of my life has to be indefinitely suspended. I have come to feel quite certain that my duty lies the other way.

Neither Kimberley, nor Morley, nor Spencer who is chiefly concerned, will object. But I am anxious to explain the matter to yourself in the first place.

I see my way pretty well to the end, in the course of next year, if I am free to devote my time.

I don’t think I need add that I have here told you my whole story.—Believe me, ever yours,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
1895
Munich
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

It is a most interesting enterprise to me. There is, I think, no great school of history there, and not much studious curiosity about it. And as my predecessor2 did not awaken it, there is no chance of my doing much. For he possessed the qualities that rouse attention and stimulate thought. He was full of literary power, never oppressed with raw material, and not above the employment of stirring paradox. In all these respects he justified your selection, and did far more than his predecessors. But I am afraid he suffered damage at Lightfoot’s hands in his character as a divine.3

There will be some delicate ground to traverse at first; in the endeavour not to clash too rudely with so considerable Edition: current; Page: [173] a writer I shall have to avoid his special topics; but I hope to clear the ground and sufficiently indicate my position in the Inaugural Lecture which I am to give at the end of May.

The regular lectures in the following term will have to be adapted to the settled curriculum. I should have liked to devote the first year to a rapid course, going through Modern History as a whole, from the Renaissance to a time “within the memory of men still living.” But as this would be useless for examinations, nobody would come to hear it. I am afraid they will fix me for the beginning in the American or the French Revolution. If so, I think of announcing Modern History from 1776 to 1796. Mayor, the most various scholar in the University, is justly indignant at the catchpenny decision. There may be some advantage in starting with an epoch that is entirely political.

I have a view that I ought—under the statute—to take Modern History literally, as excluding the Middle Ages—which is a seeming reproach to Stubbs and Freeman. And I think that teachable history does not include the living generation and the questions of the day, as Seeley maintained that it does.

The appointment, I am glad to think, did no harm to Rosebery. I was received at Cambridge, not exactly with warmth, but with as friendly a welcome as I could have hoped for. But then I had already many good friends there, as you know better than any one.

A tendency towards garrulity seems a natural consequence of having such a platform to speak from.

Before long my steps must take me back to Cambridge where Trinity has elected me an Hon. Fellow, and another College proposes a professorial Fellowship. And I shall have to alternate between Cambridge and Windsor, as we keep obstinately in.—Believe me, ever truly yours,

Acton.

(e): BRITISH MUSEUM

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
January 21, 1874
Bridgnorth
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
My dear Mr. Gladstone,

Lowe has just told me of the important decision you have come to about the two Edition: current; Page: [174] Museums. The Trustees are not equal to their present work, and would not be competent to undertake what it was proposed to add; but I hope that the inquiry will establish the necessity of a considerable change.

The board of Trustees is too weak for its work both in quality and in numbers—I mean of men who can attend. The weakness in numbers is felt on the sub-committees; the weakness in quality is always felt. The consequence is that the officers of the Museum are too strong for the sub-committees, and that the Standing Committee bullies and bothers the officers. The former evil is not very serious, as the officers know their work, for the most part, too well; but they are not the guardians of the public money, and their influence is expensive. I will give you one instance. The commentary on our Attic Inscriptions was prepared by a very good scholar, by status a country clergyman with pupils. It is under 200 pages, and most of the mechanical work on the stones was done for him. He got, I think, £500. This was awarded by a sub-committee consisting of the Bishop of London and the Dean of Windsor. I was in the chair. Newton had already committed us, and we could not recede from the bargain without inflicting some hardship. Lowe, a member of the sub-committee unfortunately did not attend. All I could do was to have it resolved that no further arrangement should be made with editors except by special order and authority of the Trustees. But both my colleagues thought the sum reasonable, and Walpole afterwards expressed special approval of our report.

The Standing Committee is very often represented by only four or five men, and the whole thing is sometimes managed by a group consisting of Lord Stanhope, Sir Philip Egerton, Dundas, Walpole, and one or two others.

The four men I have named agree, among other things, in thinking that all Greek statues should have Roman and not Greek names.

Once the Roman and Spanish Index was discussed, and it appeared that the British Museum has very few of the editions. I need not say that the history of the Index is one of the most curious things in the history of literature and of the Church of Rome. But the Chairman laid down that we Edition: current; Page: [175] need only have the latest edition of the Index, and that even that is hardly wanted since the fall of the temporal power.

The consequence of this is that the few incapable heads of departments are in good odour and harmony with the Trustees, and that there is an eager desire to snub those who are scientifically more competent.

I don’t wish to exaggerate the defects of a system which works quietly and fairly well; but if we had more good men on the Board, we should get more for our money.—I remain, yours most truly,

Acton.

(f): IRELAND

W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Nov. 18, 1873
Whitehall
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
My dear Lord Acton,

I entirely feel that, having now paid our debt to Ireland in Church and Land, and having offered full payment in the matter of Education, though the offer has been wantonly and contumeliously rejected, we are no longer hampered by Irish considerations in the direction of our general policy, and Ultramontanism should for us, wherever our orbits touch, stand or fall upon its merits. Whether the case will be one of standing or falling is a question not very difficult to make the subject of reasonable conjecture.

But I must in fairness add that the three appointments on which so marked a comment has been made, have been decided on separately, each on its merits, and without arrière pensée. At any moment, another appointment might, also without reason, be announced as harking back.

If you think the publication of the Irish-Celtic Dictionary (such I take it to be) is as a public object a thing desirable, we might be able to entertain it. But direct dealing would be awkward. Could not ex-Professor Sullivan make a hypothetical arrangement for a moderate sum? and we could then come from behind the scenes and either buy or aid.

Many thanks for your tidings of Döllinger. I have not Edition: current; Page: [176] seen Marx; but I quite agree in what you say of Political Economy, and it may, I believe, be extended to some other kinds of knowledge.—Ever sincerely yours,

W. E. Gladstone.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
15th Oct. 1881
Munich

[Copy.]

“The Irish speech (Leeds) on Friday and the economic speech on Saturday made the strongest impression on me. The treatment of Home Rule as an idea conceivably reasonable, which was repeated at Guildhall, delighted me. I felt less sure of the distinction between that as a colourable scheme, and the Land League (as now working) as one altogether revolutionary and evil.”

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Feb. 20, 1882
Cannes

On the Debate on the Address, Feb. 1882.

“I have long wished for that declaration about self-government, but I am persuaded there has been as much statesmanship in the choice of the time as of the terms. There is so much danger of being deserted on that line, and of one’s friends combining to effect a reaction. It will not do to make too much of the speeches of 1871. The occasion last week gave extraordinary weight to his words and he would not now say that the movement is superfluous, or that Ireland always got what she wanted. The risk is that he may seem to underrate the gravity of a great constitutional change, in the introduction of a federal element.”

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
July 10-11 [1885]
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

I write this in case I am unable to see you. Goschen wrote to you hurriedly, that it might not seem an effect of Argyll’s speech, and I did not know of it till too late. His correspondence with Hartington came to no conclusion, and so he turned to you—propelled by Chamberlain’s utterances and ignorant of the extent to which Chamberlain represents your views about Ireland.

He has heard Selborne repudiate the doctrine of Chamberlain’s late speeches vehemently. So he thinks the moment favourable to ask you to choose between them. When I say that correspondence is, in such cases, more Edition: current; Page: [177] dangerous than conversation, he says that he wants definite and available security.

When I say that the Left Wing cannot be repudiated at the moment when the new democracy is coming in, he says that he wants them muzzled, not repudiated. When I say that his position would be different if he saw more of you, he says that that is not his fault.

There is no combination between him and Argyll.

But his temper is dangerous; and if you send him a written answer—any written answer that I think possible—I expect that he will declare against you, and refuse to stand as the candidate of the Liberal party.

He is pursuing the obvious policy of the moderate Whigs, and is willing to force you to decide at once between the sections of the party. Probably, but not avowedly, counting on the want of a Conservative leader.

It is an occasion on which management, discussion, might avail to prevent the crisis so many are expecting. He is very willing to see you, it you will see him. I in some measure disturbed him when I represented the probable effects, not of a breach, if that is unavoidable, but of an uncompromising challenge.

He gives me no authority to speak for him, but he knows that I shall give you my account of what I understand him to mean, and shall plead for an interview between you, instead of armed letter-writing.

And I have my own reason for asking you to reflect how many of your late colleagues would be in sympathy with him in the step he has taken—and how needful it is, therefore, to apply personal influence.—Yours most truly,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
January 29, 1886
Cannes
Miss Gladstone
Miss Gladstone
Dear Miss Gladstone,

We fancy you have something to distract you from wedding preparations, and the days must be terribly crowded, with the interesting double event.2 Edition: current; Page: [178] I know nothing later than the division; and I conclude that Salisbury meant to be beaten, hoping that the G.O.X.P.M. would fail to construct an administration, and that the Moderados would then join him in a Coalition, or at any rate that he would soon be forced to dissolve and that the Conservative tide would continue to rise, and would make an anti-Irish Ministry possible next year. On the other hand, I see that your father was deliberately playing for victory; and so I suppose he sees his way to keep the Irish quiet until he can beat the House of Lords, and to form an administration on a new footing. I can see little that is hopeful in the attempt; and I don’t think I can be of any use in any direction therefore. I mean for this latter reason I do not come to your wedding. But I hope you will send for me if he thinks I could possibly serve him, in the absence of better men. I shall be too late for the feast, but in time for the fray.—I remain, yours most truly,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Jan. 9, 1887
Cannes
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

I have been afraid to write to you since you have got back into the midst of politics, partly from the dread of saying what you would not agree with. The sudden change of front gives me my opportunity.1

Goschen’s change cannot be a surprise to anybody who knows him well. He has been full of increasing soreness ever since you formed your Ministry in 1880. During his Turkish mission he was very little in harmony with the F.O. and felt on his return that he was rather left out in the cold. At the time of the Gordon debates he was eager to defeat the Government, and much disappointed at your victory.

I remember on that occasion calling at Devonshire House, and telling Hartington, who was to speak that evening, how he could disarm Goschen’s opposition. Hartington answered that it was not worth while, as the fall of the Ministry would clear the air. After that crisis I did not expect to see him approach you as nearly as he did during the summer of 1885. He came away from the ill-timed conference with you at Richmond Terrace more discontented Edition: current; Page: [179] and recalcitrant than ever, and I attributed his language during the election to a scheme to hold you and bind you to the limits of the umbrella then unfolded. When I last paid a visit to Seacox he avoided party politics and I made sure that he would go over at the first fair opportunity.

Many people have assured me that Chamberlain’s sense of spretæ injuria formæ is quite as keen as Goschen’s. But I am bound to say that I drew a different conclusion from a long and confidential conversation, sought by him, last summer. It was not explicit or significant enough to be mentioned at the time; but it left on my mind the decided impression that his course was not irrevocable, but like the proverb which says—blessure d’argent n’est pas mortelle, and I gathered that he wished to give me that impression.

So that, if I did not actually expect what has happened, I was not in the least taken by surprise, and my conclusion has been that you ought to put a favourable construction upon it, and to encourage the movement as far as you can.1

I do not venture to plead for confidence, but only for hopefulness, as I told Morley, going down to the Cabinet which decided to dissolve, that I thought it a mistake, and that you were likely to be beaten, and as, at Holmbury, I expressed to yourself my doubt of the extent and quality of the Home Rule feeling in Great Britain, you will not think me inconsistent if I feel now that we must not overestimate the strength of our cause, and that we should do well to concede something to unrighteousness.

There is one force at work in the country which you cannot, or at least which you will not, subject to exact measurement. That is, your own personal influence. People who ask themselves where we should be without you, and which wing of the party would predominate apart from the sword which you throw into the scale, have to face a bewildering problem.

I earnestly hope that the indications of your intentions given in Friday’s papers are near the truth.—Ever truly yours,

Acton.
Edition: current; Page: [180]
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
July 11, 1887
Mary Drew
Drew, Mary
Dear Mrs. Drew,

The tone of the paper is very severe, and the severity does not always strengthen the case. In several instances I think that the impression would be deeper if the statement alone was dealt with, and not the author.

Where I have set two marks, I have a doubt. Lecky1 is not before me; but I do not understand him to say that the colleagues were taken by surprise, as if they had learnt the dissolution by the newspapers, or after the irrevocable steps had been taken. His words may be ambiguous; but I understood him to mean something not very far, probably, from the truth. Namely, that the idea of the dissolution did not ripen in Cabinet deliberations as one expects so grave a thing to do. But that when the returns made a large surplus loom, a little pressure for economy was put on the departments, the idea, devised by the P.M., was adopted by an inner Cabinet, and was then accepted, rather suddenly and with scanty deliberation by the whole. The MS. argues as if Lecky said that the colleagues were informed after the Queen. Nobody thinks that. What people have said is that the vehemence of the P.M. carried away certain colleagues, and that the rest made little fight.

I remember that May brought the news in a veiled way to the Athenæum on the previous afternoon.

The formula: Mr. Lecky, I submit, is wrong, etc., is not very efficacious in discussing facts, especially when the facts are in the writer’s own autobiographical knowledge.

At the foot of the same page, a signal instance of needless asperity.

Later on I have marked another. I am assuming the figures as correct in the matter of 1874.

Perhaps I ought to say in disparagement of my testimony, that I never felt strongly the eagerness of 1853 for the ultimate abolition of the Income Tax.

Also, that the praise of Pitt somewhat weakens the position. That, however, is one of the Five Points. Not the special view of Pitt; but that view of Party which erected Edition: current; Page: [181] a monument to Disraeli and implies the severance of Politics and Ethics.

You remember that conversation with Jowett about Macaulay. I thought Macaulay thoroughly dishonest and insincere and had a variety of reasons, good or bad, for my opinion. At the first, I discovered that Jowett was surprised, almost hurt. So I shut up as soon as I could. They must have thought that I had not much to say, that I could not produce a single passage from his books in my support, that I came to conclusions too quickly, rather from a latent prejudice than on evidence.

What, in such a case, should a good man do? Surely he prefers discomfiture to a fight which is likely to be both tiresome and painful. He will put on no more steam than the thing is worth, and will not mind people being in the wrong, if he is not responsible for them. When no higher question is involved, he will not strive for victory. But such a man gets easily misunderstood. Discretion is taken for acquiescence and the like. Now I suspect that the ex-P.M. sometimes makes that mistake. I have in my eye cases where he has thought that people (not myself) who ceased to contend ceased to disagree.

And I ask myself whether that occurred in 1874, and whether he was quite conscious how much went for agreement and how much for dislike of vain resistance. But I speak from a vague speculation not on any basis of knowledge or report.

We shall hope to hear about your movements.—Believe me, yours most sincerely,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Feb. 18, 1888
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

Without waiting for daylight I scribble an answer to your letter.

Only two definite objections—about the number of German Parliaments, and Centralisation in France before the Revolution. And two strong notes of interrogation and doubt as to Nationality and Conscience, and as to the want of Parliaments in modern France. The rest is mere guarding the flanks against unforeseen attack.

That about the consolidation of France (and Spain) Edition: current; Page: [182] ending in instability is a saying of Tocqueville—that modern French governments are very powerful but very unstable. The changes in Spain since the Restoration have been just as numerous. But do not overlook the fact that the unitarian tendency which led to the Belgian insurrection of 1830, the Hungarian of 1848, the loss of Schleswig, etc., is awake still. Victorious Prussia suppressed Home Rule where it could in North Germany, and probably would like to carry that policy farther.

Just as in Switzerland the tendency to merge the Cantons is strong, and is only resisted by the difference of Nationality—the Cantonal system preventing the French minority from being swamped.—Ever yours,

Acton.

The argument seems to me perfectly sound and almost perfectly clear to the common reader. I see that what Salisbury said was the usual matter of foreign Conservatives. That nisus is very strong since successive forces, absolute monarchy, and democratic revolution have crushed diversities.

In speaking of Italy, I would keep in mind the case of Venice which would by no means merge into Italy in the time of Manin. The case of the Spirito Municipale against the Spirito Nazionale is expounded by Bonghi1 in one of his books—I think the life of Pasini. It might supply an illustration (? ? ?)

Page 2: ’01—

The comparing of Nationality to Conscience seems to me dazzling but confusing. So much has to be deducted. Nationality is the great carrier of custom, of unreflecting habit and transmitted ideas that quench individuality. Conscience gives men force to resist and discard all this. Nationality has to be dealt with discriminatingly. It is not always liberal or constructive. It may be as dangerous when its boundary is outside that of the State as salutary when inside.

Edition: current; Page: [183]

The sentence might suffer a Panslavist interpretation, or it might provoke tiresome questions about cases like Switzerland. If the τέλος of politics is Liberty, and what promotes, secures, and perfects it, there is peril in setting up anything else so high, as the Court of final appeal.

’02—

I don’t know exactly what Salisbury said, but in the case of Hungary we have to bear in mind that behind the Magyar there is another race, the Slav, and that the Home Rule principle is not settled there, but begins again beyond the settlement.

Page 5: ’03—

Not so many German Parliaments. One may say, all the principal German states, Saxony, Bavaria, Würtemberg, Baden, etc., have not only their own Parliaments but their own dynasties.

’04—

As to Germany, where there is no real diversity of Nationality, but where the divisions were produced by political weakness and misgovernment, there is no basis for a variety of Codes. But this point would require very delicate treatment. One object of a united German code is to get rid of the long prevalence of the Code Napoleon in Western Germany.

But in America the States have different Codes, in spite of the assumption of the Common Law.

And in Germany there are some real national diversities—in Mecklenburg, East Prussia, Silesia, etc.

Page 6: ’05—

France was not quite centralised under the old Régime. There was no uniform Code, but several Coutûmes. And, in the eighteenth century, the local Etats Provinciaux flourished in some places and exercised some measure of real autonomy in Bretagne, Provence, Dauphiné—especially in Languedoc. Many provinces had no such Etats. Then there were the—very ineffective—Parlements.

But there was no such dead-level as since the Revolution and the Empire.

Centralisation was immensely developed by 1789. One of Tocqueville’s main points.

Edition: current; Page: [184]

’06—

But is it right to say that France suffers from the want of local parliaments? It suffers from excess of centralisation in its administration. But I don’t know whether the local units exist that would supply materials for Parliaments, which imply legislation. At least I hope you will consider attentively what this sentence may imply. Observe the instability of government, the frequency of Revolutions in united France and Spain. Constant variation of the form in spite of unity.

You speak of misguided religious zeal in the papal recruits. By no means all religious. Some went in for Legitimacy, some for absolutism, some, like Surratt,1 to be out of the way. I suggest these reflections as a possible way to avoid the word misguided, which is needless, and might offend.

Love of authority, quand même, made men stand by the Pope. In Mecklenburg, where Catholics were not tolerated (practically) the Lutheran clergy agitated and collected money for defence of the temporal power.

One point occurs to me about Italian unity. Cavour offered federation to the King of Naples, I really believe because he dreaded what France, or Europe, or the Revolutionists might do during the process of absorbing Naples, rather than because he was sure it would be rejected. I daresay you remember the rights of the story. So that Federalism failed repeatedly in the time of Cavour as in that of Rossi, Gioberti,2 and Rosmini, whom Manzoni thought unpractical dreamers.

It failed because it gave the foreigner a foothold in the country.3

Edition: current; Page: [185]
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Feb. 26th (& 29th)
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

Don’t suspect me of denying the principle of nationality altogether. Only, if I were to say as much as you say, I should be afraid of being driven to admit the priority of National Independence before individual liberty,—of the figurative conscience before the real. We do not find that Nationalists are always Liberals, especially in Austria. We may pursue several objects, we may weave many principles, but we cannot have two courts of final appeal.

I meet Hervé1 this evening, the leading journalist of the Orleanists, and a man you made happy by quoting him. I will sound him about the propagandist tendency you speak of. If it exists, there will soon be unpleasant signs of its effect on Bulgarian opinion, or it might be a sop to Austrian opinion and influence. But there is no question that in France the Orleanists mean to play that card, so to disarm the extreme legitimists, and believing that the neglect of the Church was one of Louis Philippe’s worst mistakes.

They have offered the Germans the utmost securities about peace if they recover the throne; but they have only succeeded in irritating Bismarck into fits. And they are countenancing a scheme for a Zollverein between Germany and France, to the detriment of the non-continental countries.

Galimberti, the nuncio at Vienna, tells the Grand Duke of Baden—the father of the youth you saw—who told me, that the Pope seriously wishes to come to terms with Italy; that he will abandon all territorial claims for a strip of desert along the Tiber, connecting the Leonine city with the sea. He calculates that he would then employ all his influence at the elections, and become a political power through the Italian Parliament.—I remain, ever yours,

Acton.

Ad vocem Villari. There is this flaw in the book as it stands, that it no longer represents the author’s view as it Edition: current; Page: [186] was when he wrote it, and if it is not so completely rewritten as to express his present judgment, I fancy that Villari has become much more seriously anti-clerical than he was twenty-five years ago.

W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Feb. 24th, 1888
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
My dear Acton,

With your usual kindness and promptitude you have supplied all I wanted. Before receiving your answer I had misgivings on subjects comprised in your remarks, and especially I suspected that the impressions about the French Parliaments were liable to misconstruction.

I have “hedged about” nationality with more conditions. I think, however, that in its defecated sense it is one of those permanent and ultimate principles which in the last must become inappellable. I will send you the entire article in due course.

The stream of current events is strong and turbid. I am afraid the cloud that hangs over Europe will not clear, but sooner or later burst. Meantime I am greatly pleased at the attitude which has been defined by the Government. Future liberty of action is not to be hampered by premature engagements. There is a story that Salisbury has said, “Were such and such things to happen, and were I Minister at the time, I should think such and such things to be my duty.” This, whether prudent or not for him, is tolerably harmless for the country.

The course of opinion indicated in the Elections is on the whole highly satisfactory. It is gradually constructing a sorites argument, which must tell. Even the majorities in the House of Commons are dwindling a little.

MacColl’s fate is curious. He has had a triumph in being blackballed at the Athenæum through the unparalleled mass of condolences he has received from every quarter.

I am surprised, and not less pleased, with the address from seventy-five resident graduates at Oxford on behalf of a policy of Home Rule.

Yesterday I was startled on reading in the Standard that in Bulgaria Prince Ferdinand had announced himself as a propagandist of the Roman Catholic Church. If he has thus introduced such a new cause of trouble, it ought to be, Edition: current; Page: [187] and will be, fatal to him. Madame Novikoff, whom I saw yesterday, professed to treat it as a thing perfectly well known to her, and as the grounds of the Czar’s objection to him.

I told her I had received from Athens a curious communication. A society of some kind has been formed there for the union of all the independent Balkan States. She expressed great satisfaction at it.—Ever yours,

W. E. Gladstone.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Jan. 1, 1891
Villa St. Patrick
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,1

My illegible correspondent was Geffcken.2 I cannot bring myself to look on what has happened, and is happening, in such dark colours as you see. Our opponents have committed themselves to a disgraceful cause in a way nobody could have anticipated—not worse than in the case of the Parnell Commission, but in a more unmistakable and flagrant manner visible to all. It has purified our cause; and I fancy, pace Arnold Morley,3 that it will not weaken us long. Kilkenny, I suppose, has repressed the desire to dissolve.

There is so much to say about it. There never was a moment in your life when your health, and strength, and spirits, that give strength, were of so much value to your friends—in the larger sense—and so important for the higher national and political purposes.—Ever yours,

Acton.
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Jan. 9, 1891
Hawarden
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
My dear Acton,

To a greybeard in a hard winter the very name of the South is musical, and the kind letters from you and Lord Hampden make it harmony as well as melody. But I have been and am chained to the spot by this Parnell business, and every day have to consider in one Edition: current; Page: [188] shape or other what ought to be said by myself or others. A letter of mine to Hartlepool is just coming out which will speak out for Home Rule, but also tell that we think of trying a piece of legislation, viz. Registration, with the provision called one man one vote. On the 13th, Morley speaks at Newcastle.

I do not know if you have seen Les Derniers Jansénistes by Leon Séché.1 He sent it to me, and asked advice as to sending it to others. I mentioned you, also John Murray. I find in it the most luminous account I have ever seen of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, and I have also learned or seemed to learn from it for the first time that Grégoire2 was a very high-toned, devout person, and also, say, nine-tenths of a great man. I take it for granted that you have his works.

I have been writing a full reply to Huxley, and I believe (truly or falsely) that it overturns all his contentions. It has cost me much labour, especially in hunting up and down about Josephus for the particulars of an obscure local history, which becomes full of interest in my eyes on account of its connection with the character of our blessed Lord’s ministry on earth.—Believe me, ever yours,

W. E. Gladstone.

(g): FOREIGN AFFAIRS

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Feb. 14, 1888
Cannes
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

I never regretted the shortness of time so much as last week. There were so many things that we could not talk over.

Nobody will take Ferguson’s answer3 for ready money, Edition: current; Page: [189] and no doubt you know better than I do whether the agreement as to our eventual protection of the Italian coast is substantially what the Neue Freie Presse has published.

It is clear that the French fleet appearing before Genoa, Spezzia, Naples, Palermo, would hold fast the Italian army, so that our intervention represents 200,000 men in the field besides the means of negotiating with France about Egypt. In the Austro-German treaty there is a point which I hope you will not disregard. That is, that a close alliance with Austria was the legitimate policy of Germany. The reproach against Prussian unification was that it diminished Germany, that it betrayed the national cause, and cast out the 12 or 15 millions of Germans whose vocation it was to extend the influence of the more civilised race over 20 or 25 millions of less favoured nations. And the first effect of German unity, as achieved by Bismarck, was the uprising of the non-German elements in Austria.

Until the two Powers became closely allied, Bismarck could not meet the Grossdeutsch argument against the Kleindeutsch policy. Now the enemy that always threatens, by process of disintegration and divided allegiance, to demolish Austria, is Russia. There could be no effective league with Germany unless it assured either defence against Russia, or expansion towards the Ægean.

The young Grand Duke of Baden assures me that his cousin, Prince William, is not at all the fire-eater we are told, but a studious, thoughtful, young man.1 I hope it is true, for I see that the doctors have become very unhopeful about the Crown Prince.

With respect to Salisbury’s argument, I think we must admit that there is a tendency towards concentration. It showed itself in the growth of absolute monarchy, and it is one of the characteristics of Democracy. It is the special mark both of Jacobinism and of Imperialism. The Democratic horror of limitations showed itself in the crushing both of the Sonderbund and of the Confederation, as in the Edition: current; Page: [190] suppression of the Girondins. And all the North German theorists are constantly writing against Federalism. Holst’s book,1 the best ever written on American Democracy, has no other object than to put down Home Rule in Germany.

It is precisely because Democracy can put up with no effective checks on the concentration and abuse of power, excepting the local division of Federalism, that Home Rule became the normal consequence of the last Reform Act, and the proof, in good statesmanship, of the healthiness and in-corruption of the British Democracy.

To establish, maintain, and strengthen a federal Compact became a moral necessity before, a physical necessity after, you refused to reduce the number of Irish members.

There are excellent remarks to this effect in Calhoun’s2 Disquisition on Government. Italy should be omitted from Salisbury’s list. There was no subject district, race or country or religion. I remember that Manzoni3 had no sympathy with the movement of 1848, because he said that independence without unity was untenable.

One should exhibit the effects of Unitarianism in Russia by the suppression of Poland, in Denmark by the loss of Schleswig, in Holland by the loss of Belgium, in Austria by the insurrections of 1848, and the military weakness of 1859 and 1866.

Norway, Iceland, and Beust’s policy towards Hungary, and Hohenwart’s4 towards the other Home Rule elements, are the examples on the other side.—I remain, ever yours,

Acton.
Edition: current; Page: [191]

June 18, 1888.

The animosity against the Empress is so great—apart from Mackenzie—that it might do her good to say that, as she represented English ideas in Germany, so she represents and personates Germany to us; so as to indicate that there is another balancing side to her imputed anglo-mania.

N.B. that this man, whose name is affixed to victories, incomparably grander and more fruitful than those of Frederick II, never was considered a mere professional soldier; but did his duty splendidly, in war as in all things.

I found that he had kept up his Greek—Curtius was his master.

His wish to get rid of duelling in the army is the most characteristic point—but it will hardly do to mention it.

It would be impossible to say too much, intellectually: one never perceived much initiative in him, and his very fine eye had little expression.

If not the greatest, the most lamented of his race. More than once, especially in 1866, he assuaged Bismarck.

N.B.—When there was a plan for doing without the Constitution which was not at all sacred in Bismarck’s eyes, it was the Crown Prince who made it impossible.

Bismarck told this to Bluntschli.

You remember Castelar’s parting testimony to King Amadeo as the faithful, the very faithful—fiel, muy fiel—observer of the Constitutional law.

I see one of the papers has got hold of his confidential interview, in England, with the Count of Paris, and his wish for an understanding founded on a Restoration—unlike Bismarck, who has always been so bitter against the Orleans.

I believe it was not till February he knew it was hopeless. The Grand Duke of Baden told me this just after seeing him a week or two before the death of William I.

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Jan. 18, 1890
Rome
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
My dear Mr. Gladstone,

I had not time yesterday to finish my letter.

The impression one receives here is that Crispi is strongly established, although his policy of alliances is not popular. Edition: current; Page: [192] He has got the press in his hands, even the Tribuna, which sells 100,000 copies. There is a general persuasion that the great Italian war vessels will not resist the Courbet; although those who foretold that they were to serve against France have proved right: they cannot find shelter in any Adriatic port. There is, for the moment, a desire to stand well with England. I do not think I was wrong in urging that they were driven into the Triple Alliance by France. The Vatican intrigue goes on vigorously, and puts arms into the hands of the Republic. I remember Jules Favre saying that the time might come to restore the Temporal Power. The point to press is that Italy sold herself to her disadvantage: there is real suffering from excess of taxation.

I think both Bonghi1 and Villari will write in the Speaker. It has begun well as to tone, temper and contributors, but without force or distinctness. Bryce’s description of the Liberal party without Liberals promises a doctrinaire basis.

There will be good ground of attack against the Government encumbered with a surplus. But the furious action against Portugal will, I expect, gratify the passions of the country, and the wishes of the City.

I hope you will have an opportunity of seeing George Lefevre, who has an eye for facts, and saw some very remarkable facts and signs only the other day in Ireland. He will not know how to employ them to advantage himself.

Asquith and Bryce, whom I quote as two of the ablest men in the party, certainly speak the sentiments of many when they complain of your not showing your hand, and they direct the Unionist attack to that point. In substance they are clearly wrong. But in point of policy it might be well to deal with this objection or aspiration, and make them understand, better than they do—what Herschell and Morley understand perfectly—the reason why.

I hear from friends that Döllinger was better on the 9th, wished to get up, but found he could not read. A stroke of apoplexy, or paralysis, came upon him in the afternoon. He said that he did not suffer, then lost consciousness, and died on the following evening.

Edition: current; Page: [193]

For several years, beginning with 1879, my impression has been that he seriously underrated those evils in the spirit of the Church of Rome which have nothing to do with the Vatican Council, and that Infallibility prevented him from recognising what was behind. There was something like a resolute charitable illusion in his judgments, in his way of distinguishing Roman and Gallican, in the forced and inconsistent allowance he made for individual men. I strove for years to make him see it; but I succeeded only once, when you were at Tegernsee. On the day after his mountain walk with you, when he felt exhausted, he came to my room and assured me that in reality he knew what I meant and did not disagree with me. Later, and especially in the essay on Madame de Maintenon as it originally stood, I saw that I had lost the ground I thought I had gained.

A mind so charged with knowledge and ideas could not remain content with an incomplete circle; but I cannot yet say that I know what he thought on some things which to me seemed decisive. Certainly he never admitted that a Dominican or a Jesuit must be assumed to be living in sin.

I have sent to ask for my letters to him, and my wife’s and mother’s; but I expect to learn that his correspondence was not in order. There must be many letters from you, which I will try to get.—I remain, ever yours,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
June 9, 1891
Tegernsee
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

I shall not be telling you anything new, but as I have had some conversation with a man who for years was next to Bismarck, I may say that there is this remarkable change in the Prussian tone, that they are no longer so presumptuous. They say that their superiority in men and armament reached its height in 1887, when Bismarck and Moltke wished to force on a war with France; but that the French are now beyond them in both, in fact, in everything except the incalculable element of military talent, as to which they are still hopeful. Edition: current; Page: [194] Ribot certainly has an auspicious opportunity to negotiate with Italy on the lines of Outidanos.1

I do not remember whether you knew that considerable man—of the second rank—Pressensé, who died lately of cancer. His son is the principal leader writer of the Temps, and keeps that paper, by far the best in France, so straight in Hibernicis.

A fortnight ago I asked Bunting2 why he does not have a scientific analysis of the bye-elections: and I wondered whether there was some unfavourable element which I, from afar, overlooked. My point was that, from the first, I have thought the Parnell disruption less formidable to party prospects than all my correspondents at home. The Contemporary replied that bye-elections depend too much on local conditions to be of much indicative value. That was before the two new ones; and I cannot imagine his holding fast to that view now.

You must have been much interested in the life of the late Primate [Tait]. I never succeeded in liking him much, but a certain strength he manifestly had.—I remain, ever yours,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
July 18, 1892

There are objections to the plan of utilising the German which seemed plausible at first. A form of words might easily be found which would be received with favour. But the present and immediate difficulty is with France. The French are ready to hail the new Ministry, at least with hopefulness. Advances made to Germany would check that disposition, unless they were followed by other explanations, on the French side of the question, and followed at once, not in consequence of remonstrances, or as yielding to various pressure.

The other difficulty is that I am representing to Rosebery that you start with the understanding that he is your Foreign Edition: current; Page: [195] Secretary. On the one hand, he might take such early deliverance on his department without consultation as a snub, and a proof of want of confidence. On the other hand, if you employ the German allusion to him, which would be the easiest way, he might think that it was done to nail him, against his will.

There is also this third objection, that it is dangerous to allude, without book, to Salisbury’s foreign engagements.

Might not something be written in reply to the effect that it would be premature to discuss the policy of a Ministry that does not exist, that has not deliberated, and possesses no official knowledge?

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
October 5, 1897
Tegernsee
Lady Blennerhassett
Lady Blennerhassett
My dear Blennerhassett,

Macalister is the Cambridge Scot of whom I spoke, as connected with Irish Commissions.

Would you remind Lady Blennerhassett of her kind promise to consult Stauffenberg1 when he comes to Munich as I suppose he has done for the Chamber. There was matter which he did not like to put on paper.

The question is this: The majority of both Houses, and the Committee of the deputies on the financial demands of Government being decidedly against the Casus Foederis on the morning of July 19, 1870, what made them vote for war that night?

I know all about the declaration of war at Paris, the supposed violation of territory, the noise in the streets, the indignation of the President. All that is not the vera causa.

Something was said or done by or in behalf of the Government which changed certain votes, and whatever it was it has been kept secret.

No secret lasts longer than 27 years.—Ever yours,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Sept. 16, 1898
Tegernsee
Blennerhassett
Blennerhassett
My dear Blennerhassett,

. . . There is no doubt about the Empress. But the story is denied on as good Edition: current; Page: [196] authority as it is affirmed on. I know she said it to the queen, but that is of no use to me.

Mme. de Handel seems decisive. But then Parieu1 has related the conversation in his book, and there gives materials to those who deny her story.

I wonder whether you will be able to explain what Bismarck so often said, that there was a clerical conspiracy at the root of it.—Ever yours,

Acton.

(h): LIDDON

W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Jan. 27th, ’85
Chester
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
My dear Acton,

We must have not one only, but two new Bishops, for Lincolniensis resigns at once: and, as the name of Dr. Liddon will not appear for either of the sees, I am desirous that you should know from me the cause. It is solely due to his own very strong unwillingness, amounting to negation, that I have not submitted his name to the Queen, backed by high ecclesiastical authority. So that he has really received a great recognition, and this is an important matter.

In his place I have recommended, and the Queen accepts, Dr. King, an admirable man, who has been for twelve or fourteen years Professor of Pastoral Theology in Oxford, and one of the mainstays of devout life in the University.

I understand that, in that much-loved place (I am an old idolater of Oxford), there is a current rather steadily setting in the direction of the highest religious interests. Of Edition: current; Page: [197] the five open fellowships last taken by a wide competition, four are filled by men who seek holy orders.

Mr. Gore,1 head of the Pusey Institute, a man of very high promise, has already a society of twenty Tutors formed for Theological study under or with him.

I really doubt (but this may be extravagant) whether there is any single place in Christendom which might—if any single place could be so honoured—be more truly termed its heart, than Oxford.

Do you despise me if I say that (having read a limited portion) I am much disappointed in Reuss’s Geschichte. I always thought Pusey on Daniel the worst written book I knew, till I tried to read this. But I think it wordy, oracular, dogmatic to a degree, and searching for his arguments amidst the ocean of words is the old way of seeking a needle in a bundle of hay.

In despair I turned to Reusch, Bibel und Natur, and that, so far as I have gone, I like extremely. The wife of one of my Lyttelton nephews has almost finished a translation of it.

I have just written to Bishop Temple, proposing to him the See of London.

There is every likelihood of a satisfactory arrangement, so far as France is concerned, as to Egyptian finance.

Wolseley is not at present anxious as to the Stewart column; and we have much faith in him.

Moderate measures, change of air, and partial remission of business, have much mended me, thank God, and I may now hope to go on until the early date when—you and I are to quarrel.—Ever yours,

W. E. Gladstone.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Feb. 2, 1885
Cannes
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

I try to console myself for what seems a loss to Religion by what you say of Oxford and the expanding sphere of action it promises to Liddon. On my last visit to Keble I obtained a glimpse of what is going on, and of Gore and his doings; and I saw that there are good men there, and opportunities that would be available Edition: current; Page: [198] and inviting if Liddon’s temper was not curiously unacademic. Some former misdoubts also occur to me, and I expel them with a weaker pitchfork now that there is less occasion for hope and fear.

In spite of your cause of complaint, it would be hard to find a more compendious exposition of recent work in biblical literature. Perhaps his Introduction to his French translation of the Old Testament, meant for general reading, is more attractive; but it is some years old. We can go a very little way in German literature if we attend to literary quality. Hegel and Baur have changed the entire current of religious thought with worse writing than Reuss’s, and every Bentham has not his Dumont.1

It is a severe disappointment not to see you out here, for I am persuaded that you would have renewed your strength as you can never renew it at home, and the troublesome ghost might be laid for a twelvemonth. You have certainly considered all the arguments I can give; but there is so much force in them that I hope they will not lose by coming from a friend whose sincerity you do not doubt.

You mean that the new Parliament, the first of our democratic constitution, shall begin its difficult and perilous course without the services of a leader who has greater experience and authority than any other man. You design to withdraw your assistance when most urgently needed, at the moment of most conservative apprehension and most popular excitement. By the choice of this particular moment for retirement you increase the danger of the critical transition, because nobody stands as you do between the old order of things and the new, or inspires general confidence, and the lieutenants of Alexander are not at their best. Next year’s change will appear vast and formidable to the suspicious foreigner, who will be tempted to doubt our identity. It is in the national interest to reduce the outer signs of change, to bridge the apparent chasm, to maintain the traditional character of the State. The unavoidable elements of weakness will be largely and voluntarily aggravated Edition: current; Page: [199] by their untimely coincidence with an event which must, at any time, be a blow to the position of England among the Powers; your absence just then must grievously diminish our credit.

The elections must be far more favourable, fought under your name and banner. There is no other to conjure by. There is no Lord Granville now to carry on your tradition and represent your ideas. Whatever Hartington does, he will not do that.

You alone inspire confidence that what is done for the great masses shall be done with a full sense of economic responsibility. Here is Chamberlain, with so little policy that he proclaims universal suffrage just before Household Suffrage comes into operation, and so little wisdom that he already calls on the labourers to use their new votes for their own class advantage; and he is so strong that without him the party will go to pieces. You alone prevent or postpone the disruption, just as you alone possess power in Ireland. A divided Liberal party, and a weak Conservative party, mean the supremacy of the revolutionary Irish.

You can make the country tide over this interval of peril by retaining office one year more. The Ministry will be stronger in a Parliament chosen under your flag and set in motion by yourself, strong enough, perhaps, to undergo reconstruction and to gather up the wasted and centrifugal forces. If you retire then, they will have time before them.

This is my appeal—in the name of the party, of the country, of the cause which is above them both, of impending socialism, of impending bloodshed, of impending revulsion towards semi-Conservatism, of the seven devils you have so often chained, choose for retiring not the moment when you are sated and weary of the good and evil of power, but that which will cost least to others and to the supreme objects of your own political life.—Believe me, ever yours,

Acton.
R. W. Church
Church, R. W.
April 13, ’85
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg

[Confidential]

My dear Lord Acton,

I regretted exceedingly that I had to forego the pleasure of meeting you at Sir James Edition: current; Page: [200] Paget’s. But I have not yet been allowed to venture out in the evening to dinner parties.

I am very grateful to you for what you have done. Liddon’s absolute refusal to allow me to say, even, that I believed that he would consider the subject if put before him in a definite shape, left me no room for even a doubtful answer to Mr. Gladstone’s enquiry about his willingness. I think that it was a pity that I had to ask him in general terms about his feeling, but I had no choice. I had to answer at once, and Liddon was in such distress and agony that it was impossible at the moment to continue the subject with him.

But after a time I think that he was not so inflexible. At least he one day spoke of the interest of carrying on at Exeter, in a higher spirit “Henry Exeter’s” work for the Church. And I am told that Dr. King thinks that he has extracted a promise from Liddon, that he would accept an offer, if made definitely. But Mr. Gladstone wants to be sure beforehand, and that, with a man of Liddon’s genuine reluctance for the work, is a difficulty.

But my opinion is that, if he were offered Salisbury, he would accept it: but I cannot say more than it is my opinion, though it is a strong opinion. I have written to Mr. Gladstone to say as much as this, and have given my reasons. But I cannot say that I am quite sure. Something, as, for instance, his coming to know that there was a strong feeling against him in some part of the diocese, might shake him at the last moment. I have been hoping every day to be able to send Mr. Gladstone something more than my opinion. But Liddon shrinks most sincerely from the thought: and he makes his Life of Dr. Pusey, which he looks on as sort of sacred trust, an excuse for his shrinking back. Of course, Liddon has had a good deal of time to think on the subject, and to know what his friends think: and I think he has come to see that they expect him, as a duty, to accept an offer. And this will have great weight with him. But still I am unable to say “I know.”—With most sincere thanks, believe me, yours faithfully,

R. W. Church.
Edition: current; Page: [201]

(i): DEAN CHURCH

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.

Edition: current; Page: [202]

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 Edition: current; Page: [203] 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 Edition: current; Page: [204] 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.
Edition: current; Page: [205]
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
April 20, 1891
Cannes
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
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 Edition: current; Page: [206] 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,

Acton.

(k): “ROBERT ELSMERE”

My dear Acton,

I do not like to let too long a term elapse without some note of intercourse, even though that season approaches which brings you back to the shores of your country. Were you here, I should have much to say on many things; but I will now speak, or first speak, of what is uppermost, and would, if a mind is like a portmanteau, be taken or tumble out first. You perhaps have not heard of Robert Elsmere; for I find, without surprise, that it makes its way slowly into public notice. It is not far from Edition: current; Page: [207] twice the length of our ordinary novel; and the labour and effort of reading it all, I should say, sixfold, while one could no more stop in it than in reading Thucydides.

The idea of the book, perhaps of the writer, appears to be a movement of retreat from Christianity upon Theism: a Theism with a Christ glorified, always in the human sense, but beyond the ordinary measure. It is worked out through the medium of a being—one ought to say a character, but I withhold the word, for there is no sufficient substratum of character to uphold the qualities—gifted with much intellectual subtlety and readiness, and with almost every conceivable moral excellence. He finds vent in an energetic attempt to carry his new Gospel among the skilled artisans of London, whom the writer apparently considers as supplying the norm for all right human judgment. He has extraordinary success, establishes a new Church under the name of “The New Christian Brotherhood”; kills himself with overwork; but leaves his project flourishing in a certain “Elgood Street.” It is, in fact (like the Salvation Army), a new Kirche der Zukunft.

I am always inclined to consider this Theism as among the least defensible of the positions alternative to Christianity. Robert Elsmere, who has been a parish clergyman, is upset entirely, as it appears, by the difficulty of accepting miracles; and by the suggestion that the existing Christianity grew up in an age specially predisposed to them.

I want as usual to worry you into helping the lame dog over the stile: and I should like to know whether you would think me violently wrong in holding that the period of the Advent was a period when the appetite for, or disposition to the supernatural was declining and decaying: that in the region of human thought speculation was strong and scepticism advancing: that if our Lord were a mere man, armed only with human means, His whereabout was in this and many other ways misplaced by Providence; that the Gospels and the New Testament must have much else besides miracle torn out of them in order to get us down to the Caput mortuum of Elgood Street. This very remarkable work is in effect identical with the poor, thin, ineffectual production published with some arrogance by the Duke of Edition: current; Page: [208] Somerset,1 which found a quack remedy for difficulties in what he considered the impregnable citadel of belief in God.

Knowles has brought this book before me, and, being as strong as it is strange, it cannot perish still-born. I am tossed about with doubt as to writing upon it.

In public affairs there is no recession, not much advance. The Dissentients quaking, but the bulk of them hopeless, and self-placed in a position more hopeless than that of the Tories. The Government have, I think, serious difficulties ahead of them in the Local Government Bill and in the Budget, both of them large, necessarily complex, in many respects good and liberal measures. But the Budget limps fatally in respect to the Death Duties.

Have you heard anything lately of Dr. Döllinger, and does all go well with him? Are you all thriving? We thank God we are prosperous, barring the inveterate disease and manifold subtle invasions of old age. On Thursday I expect to be at Oxford (Keble): back in London by the 9th.—Ever yours,

W. E. Gladstone.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
April 5, 1888
Cannes
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

The author of Robert Elsmere came out here this winter, but we had no talk about her book, and I have not seen it. Neither the Spectator nor the Dean of St. Paul’s,2 who has been reading reviews of it, has made the meaning quite clear to me.

In examining the appetite for the miraculous we have to distinguish the people and the age which produced the New Testament and the people and the age that received it; between the Jews of the first century and the pagans of 150 years later.

It would be clearly true to say that among the heathen of the time of our Lord, under Stoic and Epicurean influences, and during the utmost decline of religion, the thirst for the marvellous was weak. But that is not the atmosphere in which the Gospels arose, nor that in which they were accepted. Long before Christianity began to take much root in pagan Edition: current; Page: [209] society, by the beginning of the third century, Stoicism was nearly extinct, and Neo-Platonism and Neo-Pythagoreanism were growing into importance.

The Rationalism of the Augustan age had made way for systems as full of the marvellous as the old mythology which fades away in Livy. If the question is: Was not the sphere of thought in the midst of which the Gospels came to be written rationalistic, and averse from the miraculous, I should be afraid to answer in the affirmative, when I think of Philo just before, and of the vast apocryphal Ebionite-Clementine literature shortly after.

That the Gospels can justify themselves apart from miracle is very true, and only needs very guarded statement. Both because the miraculous has been the chief motive for their rejection, and because it would have to be shown that their teaching is superior to what men possessed before, and not only superior, but out of all proportion superior. “Nec deus intersit . . . .”

On the other hand, the Gospel, apart from miracle, is precisely what great part of mankind does now accept. It is the bequest of Schleiermacher divided among a hundred schools.

Pray guard your flank against those who will say that the miracles discredit the Gospels; that if you take them out, or think them away, the rest comes to pieces; against those who will say, it remains to be shown that the wisdom of the New Testament was far above that attainable by Philo and Seneca and the best Orientals; and against those who might say that a non-miraculous Gospel is the Gospel of great part of the more or less religious world.

I hear that the hero of Mrs. Ward’s book is Green,1 the Balliol metaphysician and editor of Hume, embroidered with traits from J. R. Green, the historian, from Kegan Paul, and, perhaps, from her own father,2 who followed Newman to Dublin and Birmingham, then followed Buckle into utter scepticism, and has Edition: current; Page: [210] since fluttered between Ultramontanism and the friendship of Addis.1

Green was steeped in Natural Science, and no doubt accepted the reigning maxim by which Natural Science has so largely subjugated philosophy: “Causa aequat effectum.” I can imagine a book written on this thesis:—Here is a man who has not been able to retain his religious belief. What will become of him? If he is of common clay, or propelled by resentment and disgust, he will find his consolation in atheism, materialism, and the scoffing philosophy. If he is of a higher type, and fairly casts himself upon the waters of modern thought, there are strong currents in it which will land him near the gates of the Church, in some sort of Socinianism.

This would not have been true twenty years ago; but I think it is nearly true now, taking a wide survey, as Green no doubt did, who knew as much of Virchow, Helmholtz, and Pasteur, as of Darwin and Spencer.

I see from your letter that you have no great patience with this kind of spiritualism. But it is all that the cultivation of physical science is likely to do under the dominion of the laws that are prevailing. It is more than any of the leading schools of Metaphysics that have thrown off Pantheism are doing yet. The probability is, on the whole, that a first-rate scientific man will be brought nearer to Christianity than an equally eminent metaphysician—as things are moving now. Though it is about equally improbable that either of them will be a Christian, at any rate in anything more than words.

We have to deal with a large portion of the world which, whether in an increasing area I know not, but with an increasing fixity and security, rejects revelation. For obvious reasons, the belief in the constancy of Nature’s laws, which is the motive of rejection, is peculiarly strong in our generation, and is gaining strength from the predominance of physical over metaphysical studies.

Society has less to fear from the Theism of modern Edition: current; Page: [211] Kantians, of French Eclectics, than from most of the unbelieving systems that now flourish. I know that you think generously of the Positivists; but I cannot think the Ethical order safe in their hands. There are shocking things in Comte.

You do not indicate that there is any glaring moral deficiency in Elgood Street.

I have heard that the skilled artisans of London are hostile to the clergy, but not to property. Stepniak, after visiting the East End, said: “Vous avez vaincu le Socialisme.” Dean Church spoke of an interesting review in the Guardian, not by a regular contributor, but also not by a friend of the writer.

We hear from Munich that the Professor has delivered a discourse on the history of religious liberty, which explains his having pillaged my materials on the subject for a long time. But I have only had messages from him, no letter for some months.

All well here, very glad to know that you are prospering, and if this reaches you at Keble, I hope you will remember me affectionately to Talbot.—Ever yours, in haste and disorder,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
April 11
Cannes
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

The passage you quote, about all schools craving for miracles, is absurd.

Besides, early Christianity addressed itself to men who belonged to no schools. Not a single eminent pagan writer knew anything about it until late in the second century. Plutarch, who knew most things knowable, seems not to have heard the name of it.

But if it spread for near a hundred years only among the unlettered classes, and was in touch with decaying religion, not with progressive philosophy, it is useless to speak of all schools.

Too much stress should not be laid on its having “spread at once among Greeks and Romans.”

It is true that the prevailing philosophies were not fundamentally theistic. Epicureanism, of course, not at all. Edition: current; Page: [212] Stoicism, not in strict theory; but practically, by their use of ambiguous terms, their attention never to define what they meant by God, the Stoics helped Theism. At first sight, every one would take Cleanthes, Seneca, Epictetus, Antoninus for believers in one personal God. Tacitus even relates imperial miracles.

To say that “the cont. Academy” taught universal doubt is hazardous. That had been; but there is a change in the time of Cicero, or of his teacher Antiochus; and the Academy diverged, after that, from the Sceptics.

When you say “aristocratic religion,” you say what is, of course, originally true. But the word seems to recall an age when the classes were strictly, theoretically, divided, and to present the religion of Flavian Rome as more perfectly organised and self-contained than it was, after the influx of manifold forms of worship, and even of belief.

And if it is true that portents were part of the machinery of State, I don’t think that went so far as a claim to exclusive possession. They did not deny that divine forces were at work for the behoof of other nations. They even became curious about some of them.

“Invited as no other religion”—that is too sweeping. The Romans did actually suppress, in those very days, two religions, the Celtic and the Tyrian.

Whether it invited at all in the eyes of a civilised and monotheistic—or Stoic—Roman, I am not sure. But no doubt it did threaten the established institutions, and their upholders, with eventual, though probably very remote and contingent, destruction.

Remember, the apologists, down to Origen, denied what you assert.

And when you say “every prejudice,” you disregard the craving for better things, the habit of looking abroad, to Greece for philosophy (and even mythology), to the East for schemes for reconciling polytheism with monotheism.

The strong current of monotheism was already undermining the established Cultus, and must have made straight some way for Christianity.

Something besides the decay of old forms of worship should be allowed for the Præparatio Evangelica. On that Edition: current; Page: [213] account I rather dread the sentence about what would have been an anachronism. As long as polytheism was strong in general belief there was little room for Christianity. It supposes a time when monotheism had made some way. Also a time in which ethical science had been thought out. And if there was some decline of belief in the marvellous, it was by no means extinct in the masses. “Prodigia,” says Livy, “quæque magis credebant simplices ac religiosi homines, eo plura nuntiabantur”—referring to a rather earlier time. But similar things occur later. Besides, I suppose the author would not object to the idea of an anachronism. There was nothing of that immediate, overwhelming success, that evident fitness of time and place, that bewilder us in Mahommedanism.

Beugnot’s1 estimate is that which is generally accepted by all who reject the declamations of Tertullian. It is very hard to believe that so small a minority became predominant in one generation, after so long an interval of obscurity and repression.

Not being a man of science I have no right to say what I am going on to; but I only want to raise a question and suggest a precautionary doubt:

“Neither philosophical nor scientific.” Not philosophical—although much of the most powerful philosophic thinking has been pantheistic and therefore averse from miracle. But undoubtedly that sort of philosophy has not prevailed, and the other has held its own, and enjoys an equality.

But that is not the case in science. We are very far from the epoch of the Kosmos.2 In our time physical science proceeds as it never did before upon principles that are opposed to miracle: continuous causation, simplicity, or unity, of force, permanence of laws. The progress has never been so rapid. Therefore the confidence in these axioms has gone on growing, without a check.

It is possible, but it is not easy, to find works of considerable Edition: current; Page: [214] mark written on other lines, On the whole, the vote of natural science is against miracle. We dispute this on ground furnished to us by metaphysics. We could hardly do so on ground exclusively scientific. Science may admit, it assuredly does not encourage, belief in the miraculous—I mean, as things now are, since Joule1 and Mayer,2 and the prodigious revolution that has ensued, to say nothing of Evolution and the law of great numbers.

If we think this erroneous, we do so apart from scientific teaching.

That makes me fear your use of the term scientific, lest it should be thought arbitrary and violent—as if you thought that the testimony of natural science so far as it has yet been definitely given, really favours miracle.

You say I referred to 250 bc as a time of progress. I fancy a misprint for ad Yes; I think that the progress before the third century was slow. But in that century there were long spells of partial tranquillity.—Ever yours,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
May 2, 1888
Cannes
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

The thesis that Christianity is due to the craving for miracle, and dies away with it, is so unhistoric, so unscientific, as to awaken a strong prejudice against the author’s integrity. A prejudice more than confirmed by what you say of the argument all on one side, and nothing but sentiment on the other.

It always seems to me a valid test of sincerity, whether a man begins by appreciating, and even if it may be, fortifying and strengthening the adversary’s position, supplying the gaps and correcting the flaws of his argument, before he declares it untenable. To set up an opponent like Newcome, mere material for demolition, betrays the infancy of art.

The suspicion you express at foot of p. 778 is not too severe applied to Mrs. Ward. But the passage may be subjected to hostile interpretation as implying that the decline of faith is mainly due to subjective causes, not to Edition: current; Page: [215] the operation of objective forces proper and peculiar to our age as compared with the eighteenth century, or to the antediluvian part of the nineteenth.

I am bound to admit that I do not gather from your essay that it is really an important book; unless more is made of the motives working for good outside of the Church. That might be an interesting theme.

Your impression that Christianity occupies a large area of Christendom is one which I should like to be able to verify. The Lutheran revival has done much to justify it, even in America. It might be possible to determine how many universities teach Christ, or what proportion in a given number of leading theologians believe in His divinity. The returns of the Unitarian body in England do not go very far. They have scarcely more than one eminent divine just now.

At top of p. 775 you have thoroughly guarded the flank. I still regret the word “scientific” on the previous page; and I think there is some objection to what you urge, there and again later on, about the pagan reluctance to receive a religion from the Jews.

This would apply to the first century, when the Jews were peculiarly odious, and when Christianity was preached by Jewish missionaries. But in that first century pagans did not accept their religion. Afterwards, when they did accept it, although the Gospel history was wrought and written by Jews, it was no longer preached by them. Christianity appeared without the Jewish husk, and there had been a considerable casting off of Judaism and its influence, both without and within.

The article is full of food for thought, and in one or two places I should like to plead for more care in understatement and definition; especially where you describe the moral action of Christianity. The saying of St. Augustine, p. 782, will hardly bear analysis; and the argument from Christian character, p. 778, is not obviously sound. We know only modern characters thoroughly. Men must have been dead some time for the whole truth to be told, and not long enough to fade into distance—say, about 500 years, from Dante or Petrarca to Carlyle. How many of these that belong to history will bear scrutiny? The better we get to know them, Edition: current; Page: [216] from letters, diaries, table talk, etc., the worse, as a rule, they appear. It is very difficult for the most keen-sighted Diogenes to detect a really good man—for instance, in the Reformation, or Revolution. We have to conclude backwards, from experience in the known to the less known age: and so are not dazzled by the halo of Fabricius and Decius.

There is some risk in sending a modern question to an ancient answer, as when you tell Mrs. Ward that she does not know the earlier apologists. The apologists of an age meet the difficulties they know, but they cannot anticipate the march of ages. There are leaps and bounds in the history of thought. We must not get ourselves into the position of those who objected to Luther that his propositions had been long since condemned; or of a man citing the Critici Sacri against Reimarus1 or Renan.

If we went to St. Thomas or Leibniz or Paley for rescue from Hegel or Haeckel, apologetics would be a record of disaster. The answer is in the next stage, not in any preceding one.

This may not apply to Mrs. Ward; but I imagine her difficulty to come from the Monistic philosophy, and nothing with the mould of ages upon it can help us against that. There are problems of which no man sees the crux unless trained up to date. Newman once said that in theology we had to meet questions the Fathers could hardly have been made to understand.

You will say that all this is mere skirmishing. But there is one thing which, I fear, may give an enemy his opportunity:—You insist, broadly, on belief in the divine nature of Christ as the soul, substance, and creative force of Christian religion. You assign to it very much of the good the Church has done; you urge the consent of ages; and you say that people have no right to deny this fundamental dogma. All this with little or no qualification or drawback, or allowance for the other side, or Catholic mea culpa.

Enter Martineau, or Stephen, or Morley (unattached), and loq.—Is this the final judgment of the Chief of Liberals? Edition: current; Page: [217] The pontiff of a Church whose Fathers are the later Milton and the later Penn, Locke and Bayle,1 Toland,2 Franklin, Turgot, Smith, Washington, Jefferson, Bentham, D. Stewart,3 Romilly, Jeffrey, B. Constant, Tocqueville, Channing, Macaulay, Mill? These men and others like them disbelieved that doctrine, established freedom, and undid the work of orthodox Christianity. They swept away that appalling edifice of intolerance, tyranny, cruelty, which believers in Christ built up, to perpetuate their belief. There is much to deduct from the praise of the Church in protecting marriage, abolishing slavery and human sacrifice, preventing war, and helping the poor. No deduction can be made from her evil-doing towards unbelievers, heretics, savages, and witches. Here her responsibility is more undivided, her initiative and achievement more complete.

Now the common run of Liberals are used to look on these transactions as the worst of all crimes. The Assassins did not kill in masses. The Terrorists generally inflicted a painless death. The Christian Church superadded the cruelty of Red Indians, by the use of torture and of fire.

It was the negation not only of religious liberty, which is the mainspring of civil, but equally of civil liberty, because a government armed with the machinery of the Inquisition is necessarily absolute. So that, if Liberalism has a desperate foe it is the Church, as it was in the West, between 1200 and 1600 or 1700. The philosophy of Liberal history which has to acknowledge the invaluable services of early Christianity, feels at the same time rather more strongly the anti-liberal and anti-social action of later Christianity, before the rise of the sects which rejected, some the divinity of Christ, others, the institutions of the Church erected upon it.

Liberalism, if it admits these things as adiaphora, surrenders its own raison d’être, and ceases to strive for an ethical cause. To speak with unabated reverence of the actual Edition: current; Page: [218] Christianity as it prevailed from Innocent III to Bossuet and Oates, would imply that the moral evil bore no proportion to the dogmatic merit, that so orthodox an institution could not be employed to do the devil’s work and people hell. Whatever we think of the faith, we must condemn the works. If the doctrine of Torquemada makes us condone his morality, there can be no public right and wrong, no political sin, no secular cause to die for, no damnation lurking in affairs of State.

Therefore it might be said that you care not to compare your earlier and later doctrines, your views on Church and on State; that you have lost some of your supreme Charisma, of knowing ab intra all the other side of the question, its restraining as well as its propelling elements; that you do not work really from the principle of Liberalism, but from the cognate though distinct principle of Democracy, Nationality, Progress, etc.

To some extent, I fear, you will estrange valued friends, not, assuredly, by any expression of theological belief, but by seeming to ignore the great central problem of Christian politics. If I had to put my own doubts instead of the average Liberal’s, I should state the case in other terms, but not altogether differently.—Ever yours,

Acton.

(l): OLD TESTAMENT CRITICISM

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Dec. 3, 1888
Cannes
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

Reuss tells his story best in his French Bible, Introduction to volume I. But that is as old as 1879.

In his German book the chief passages are 70-94 (especially 73-76); 251-257; 350-364 on Deuteronomy, and 460-474 on Ezra. Even this is not later than 1881. All this is so very compendious that I fear you will find it unsatisfactory if you have to allude to it in print.

I therefore venture to send some of the most recent books, amounting to not more than a morning’s work, if I may be allowed to propose the salient pages.

Edition: current; Page: [219]

Reuss is, as you know, the originator of the prevailing hypothesis, and put it forward in his lectures even before Vatke wrote. But he kept it turning over for more than forty years, feeling very uncertain and not interested in it theologically.

Wellhausen belongs to a different school, and was the last of Ewald’s pupils, and with Dillmann, the most eminent. The line he took, in editing Bleek’s Einleitung, 1878, involved a breach with Ewald’s tradition. 152-178 contains the kernel.

But Wellhausen’s own independent line of enquiry appears in his Prolegomena of 1883—312-384. This is the substance of his famous argument; and it would not do to take it from Reuss, who wrote before him, and who worked on different lines.

Stade,1 12—but especially 47-64—is a reluctant convert to Wellhausen, going over from a more conservative school.

That is still more the case with Strack, who represents the action of the critical theory on what we should call the Moderate High Church party among the Lutherans. See his Handbuch, 135-145, and his article in Herzog, with an allusion to yourself, 440-457.

For the substance, see the Prolegomena. For the succession of views, Strack’s Handbuch.

I am very sorry to say that I have not received the letter you mention, written after you were at Oxford—and a fortiori at Birmingham.

You are to be much envied going to Rome so easily and smoothly, and taking in Naples. I rather apprehend that you will find yourself in some trouble at Rome. Dufferin will be too new to be of much help; and there is the grave question about seeing the Pope, and being interviewed by him and others about Ireland. You will find the enmity between Italy and France the ruling consideration.

Most unluckily, after leaving Hawarden, I was in the same hotel as Archbishop Walsh, at Oxford, without knowing it.

I hope Cook’s tickets allow you to go one way and to come back another.

Edition: current; Page: [220]

Lowe is here, very merry, but weak and old, for a man who has been your contemporary.—Ever yours,

Acton.
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
April 28, 1889
Chester
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
My dear Acton,

I have long been wishing to write to you. But as a rule I never can write any letter that I wish to write. Any volition of that kind is from day to day exhausted by the worrying demands of letters that I do not wish to write. Every year brings me, as I reckon, from three to five thousand new correspondents of whom I could gladly dispense with 99 per cent. May you never be in a like plight.

Mary showed me a letter of recent date from you, which referred to the idea of my writing on the Old Testament. The matter stands thus. An appeal was made to me to write something on the general position and claims of the Holy Scriptures for the working man. I gave no pledge, but read (what was for me) a good deal on the laws and history of the Jews; with only two results, first, deepened impressions of the vast interest and importance attaching to them and of their fitness to be made the subject of a telling popular account; secondly, a discovery of the necessity of reading much more. But I have never in this connection thought much about what is called the criticism of the Old Testament, only seeking to learn how far it impinged upon the matters that I really was thinking of. It seems to me that it does not impinge much.

Of course, reading the books of the Pentateuch brings into view every sort of anomaly: it also suggests to me that the solutions offered substitute greater difficulties than they remove. But great historical results tower high over all. Is this irrational?

It is the fact that among other things I wish to make some sort of record of my life. You say truly it has been very full. I add fearfully full. But it has been in a most remarkable degree the reverse of self-guided and self-suggested, with reference, I mean, to all its best human aims. Under this surface, and in its daily habit, no doubt it has Edition: current; Page: [221] been selfish enough. Whether anything of this kind will ever come off is most doubtful. Until I am released from politics by the solution of the Irish problem, I cannot even survey the field.

With regard to Italy, after infinite tumbling and tossing the question about in my mind, I came to the conclusion that I was under what you will call “a valid obligation,” and I have sent Knowles an article. I have not, however, said in it what I should like somebody else to say about the madness of their Transalpine policy. I have not so much as glanced at their triple alliance, but have only preached peace and goodwill. On the other hand, I have gone savagely at the finance, which is, I think, frightful and most alarming.

I turn to the world of action. It has long been in my mind to found something of which a library would be the nucleus. I incline to begin with a temporary building here. Can you, who have built a library, give me any advice? On account of fire, I have a half a mind to corrugated iron, with felt sheets to regulate the temperature. My man here wants wood.

Have you read any of the works of Dr. Salmon? I have just finished his volume on Infallibility which fills me with admiration of its easy movement, command of knowledge, singular faculty of disentanglement, and great skill and point in argument: though he does not quite make one love him. He touches much ground trodden by Dr. Döllinger: almost invariably agreeing with him.

The egotism of this letter is your reward for your benevolent interest in the writer. Now for a bit of tu-ism. When are you coming? I thought the end of April was the farthest limit: your good faith is coming into question.—Ever yours,

W. E. Gladstone.
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Aug. 4, 1889
Chester
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
My dear Acton,

We made our journey hither yesterday with the double accompaniment, first of a very interesting public ceremonial and then of an affectionate personal reception from the people of Hawarden, which occupied the rest of the evening and ended in fireworks. The bridge over Edition: current; Page: [222] the Dee had a real opening, for when my wife touched a button with her finger a monstrous portion of the structure, weighing 700 tons, began majestically to turn upon its axis until it presented to us its broadside, and a steamer passed through the opening up the river.

It was most kind of you to give us a partial glimpse of the departing family in London. But I miss, and shall miss sadly, the Hawarden visit to which I had looked forward as almost a certainty. And this for two reasons, particularly, though not solely. The Temple of Peace1 is now so deluged with books that I must bethink me of some practical step with a view to its relief, and I had hoped to get benefit in this matter from your experience. The other was that old subject about the Old Testament Books and the Mosaic legislation, on which I have been so much pressed to write something with a special view to the working class. Now I think that the most important parts of the argument have in a great degree a solid standing-ground apart from the destructive criticism on dates and on the text; and I am sufficiently aware of my own rawness and ignorance in the matter not to allow myself to judge definitely or condemn. I feel also that I have a prepossession derived from the criticisms in the case of Homer. Of them I have a very bad opinion, not only in themselves, but as to the levity, precipitancy and shallowness of mind which they display; and here I do venture to speak, because I do believe myself to have done a great deal more than any of the destructives in the examination of the text, which is the true source of the materials of judgment. They are a soulless lot; but there was a time when they had possession of the public ear as much, I suppose, as the Old Testament destructives now have within their own precinct. It is only the constructive part of their work on which I feel tempted to judge; and I must own that it seems to me sadly wanting in the elements of rational probability. But outside of all this lies the question how far we may go past the destructives and their pick-axes and shovels, and deal with the great phenomenon of the Old Testament according to its contents, however put together, and its results actually achieved.

Edition: current; Page: [223]

I am by no means sure that much or all of this may not read to you like raving. If it does, you could not do me a more useful favour than by telling me so.

To a rationally destructive book, such as Bentley on Phalaris, I can yield my admiring homage.

I longed to talk also about the Boulanger breakdown (God be thanked for it)—about the Contemporary article on Leo XIII—and I know not how much more.

I had a long conversation with Mr., late Father, Mathew on Friday. I was not able to form an entirely clear idea of him. There was much that I liked. He is shaken out of the positives, but has not settled down among the negatives. In his appearance I thought he had too rapidly and completely sloughed off the priest. I wonder whether men in that condition pray a great deal.

Pray give my affectionate remembrances to the Professor, and shed our love all round you.—Ever yours,

W. E. Gladstone.

(m): BISHOP BUTLER

W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Nov. 17, 1890
Hawarden
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
My dear Acton,

1. Only a hard necessity has kept me silent so long after receiving the most welcome intelligence from Oxford that you had been elected Honorary Fellow of All Souls. This is the sort of act which is good for him that gives and him that takes: but I rather think the college gets the larger share of benefit. My faint hope and keen desire now are to visit the College and Oxford at the same time with you, if this can be brought about: though I could not carry you in my arms about Oxford so efficiently as you carried me about when we went to Germany together.

I yearn mainly for two things in Oxford:

  • (i) That the absurd omission of Theology in the allocation of Fellowships to different studies should be rectified.
  • (ii) That Bishop Butler should be restored to the high place which he held fifty and sixty years ago in the Schools.
Edition: current; Page: [224]

2. I lost no time in doing my small possible with Murray under the authority you had committed to me: and rejoice to find that he caught at the opportunity like a man of sense. I have not yet read you in the Historical Review, where I understand you appear; for my arrear of correspondence and business has been since I came back from Scotland more heavy than at any former time. Except my friends, mankind at large seem to consider that with my years my capacity for business and my store of time go on steadily enlarging.

3. I have the idea that you are writing on the Life of Milnes. The work has been sent me in proof sheets, and, yielding in some degree to the pressure of Mr. Wemyss Reid, I have written a Speaker article on the work, or rather on the man, and this I found in more ways than one no easy matter. But the book is very interesting: and the man was not commonplace, but was a study of human nature. . . . .

5. Scott’s Journal is a touching, soothing, and, on the whole, certainly ennobling specimen of human nature.

All, I trust, goes well with you abroad and at Oxford.—Ever yours,

W. E. Gladstone.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
September 23rd, 1892
Tegernsee
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

If I rightly grasp your question about Paris, my answer would be that almost all the great divines were there, as students, or teachers, or both. Every one would remember the following: Innocent III, Albertus Magnus, Alexander of Hales, St. Thomas, St. Bonaventure, St. Amour, Scotus, Ægidius, Bacon, Oresme, Grossteste, Ockam, Gerson. Let me remove your scruples about the other Bacon. He was no metaphysician; still less a divine; and he was the worst of politicians. He did not understand the science of his time, and on its subsequent course his influence was less than used to be supposed. For Harvey, Boyle, and Newton, it was as if he had never existed. But his position is immense as a destroyer of the Past, and as a writer of almost unexampled cleverness (esprit). It is not too much to say that he is the most famous Englishman, in prose. The man who claims a place next to those three at Cambridge is Barrow. At Trinity he is reckoned a good Edition: current; Page: [225] third. Apart from his prodigious successor,1 he is, I am told, nearly our greatest mathematician. And he is the most solid, complete, and unapproachable of scholars, among English divines.

I proceed cautiously to tread on treacherous embers. Butler is very little remembered, or read, in Germany, because of Kant. They do not know it, but Kant is the macrocosm of Butler. He is Butler writ very large. His main argument, founded on the deification of Conscience, came to him from the Analogy and the Sermons. I do not mean to say that Butler was the innovator and discoverer in ethical science that people (like Martineau) say he was. It is not impossible, I maintain, to show where he got that theory of Conscience which has so much influenced political as well as religious thought. But it is pretty certain that Kant, who was no great reader, took it from him, and dug no deeper into seventeenth-century literature. It is impossible to utter a greater heresy here; for his countrymen derive him from Hume, Adam Smith, and Rousseau. And his most famous saying, on the teaching of Conscience within us and the firmament above, is taken straight from the latter. But I do not despair of convincing German friends that what Butler compressed into a crowded and obscure volume is substantially expanded into the minute and subtle philosophy of his successor.

I have to spend a fortnight at the Museum, because Macmillan proposes to publish a volume of my Essays, and they have to be selected and revised. In revising one of them, I hope to say something of Butler’s importance where one seldom finds him, in political science.—Ever truly yours,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Oct. 3, 1892
Cologne
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

I did not mean to bear exclusively on the Sermons, although I do think their importance, if not their merit, greater than that of the Analogy. The appendix to the larger work points the connection and unity of the two.

Edition: current; Page: [226]

Kant stands on the shoulders of the Analogy when he elevates the probability into a substitute for proof; and on those of the Sermons, when he makes the infallible Conscience the basis of certainty and the source of the Categorical Imperative. And my point is that he hails really from Butler, directly or indirectly, and not as they say, and he seems himself to imply, from Rousseau.

Although Newman, in spite of Development, cared little for the pedigree of ideas, it was curious to see how, towards the end, the Butler of early life coalesced with Kant, whom he only got to know very late.

Your decision about Uganda covers a good deal more ground than that, and not only marks a policy, but improves Rosebery’s position, and strengthens him. Especially as he showed his own mind before the Cabinet met.

I have exchanged signals with Carrington, but have received no orders yet.

Bentley’s place is assuredly high; but then he is not only objectionable, but unsound as a critic. The beauty of Barrow is that you can so seldom pick a hole.

Let me thank you for your oriental address in the grand way in which the Pope acknowledges things, before reading it. It has just reached me here, in the midst of entertainments most unsuited to the study of anything that emanates from you.—Ever yours,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
April 12, 1896
Athenæum
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

The point that troubled me was Pitt’s remark. For you say, I think in a supplementary interpolation, that it cannot be true.

There were two conversations in which Butler was mentioned, according to the Biography. One was on November 24, the other was on December 3.

In the earlier conversation Pitt commends Butler and in the other apparently disparages him. There is no room for a change of opinion. But there is, in fact, no inconsistency.

I would undertake to praise Burke for an hour, one day, and to disparage him for just as long a week later. And the two treatments that Pitt is said to have applied to Butler Edition: current; Page: [227] might, with perfect sincerity, be employed on other great writers, such as Pascal or Vinet, whom everybody commends, but of whom anybody would think it obvious to say that they raise more doubts than they answer.

For myself I would say the same thing of Leibniz and of Newman; and I can remember when people said it of Kant. Bossuet says almost the same thing of Descartes, and Fénelon of Malebranche.

The change of tone is fully accounted for, something had happened in the interval. Wilberforce had written to tell Pitt that he had become serious, and scrupulous, and must not be accounted a follower.

Pitt comes to dissuade him, and to undermine his authorities. That is, assuming that the conversational fragment, p. 95, is inserted at the right place.

The original commendation is not connected with any serious or religious purpose, and Pitt so little knew at the time what was going on in his friend’s mind that Wilberforce only then began to think of telling him.

Some day, I shall say to a pupil: Read Burke, night and day. He is our best political writer, and the deepest of all Whigs—and he will answer: Dear me! I thought he broke up the party, carried it over to the Tories, admired the despotism of the Bourbons, and trained no end of men towards Conservatism? I shall have to answer: So he did. Both sayings are true. Or I may say: Read Newman; he is by far the best writer the Church of Rome has had in England since the Reformation. And the pupil will come back and say: But do you think his arguments sound, or his religion Catholic? I shall have to say: No; if you work it out, it is a school of Infidelity.—I remain, ever truly yours,

Acton.

(n): MR. GLADSTONE’S ROMANES LECTURE

W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Sept. 19, 1892
Whitehall
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
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 Edition: current; Page: [228] 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.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
October 8, 1892
Athenæum
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
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 Edition: current; Page: [229] 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,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
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.

Edition: current; Page: [230]

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.

Edition: current; Page: [231]

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, Edition: current; Page: [232] 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.

(o): ACTON’S LIBRARY

Dear Mr. Gladstone,

I am very sorry that I cannot get the right figures in answer to your questions. My numbers exceed those of Puttick because I include other departments, which they are not now dealing with. But my estimate falls below theirs for the part of the library on which they reported to you.

Probably English books are not ten per cent. in these divisions, chiefly devoted to France, Italy, Papacy, etc. Taking the entire library into account, and not only Puttick’s first load, I suppose that English History and Literature amount to six or seven thousand volumes.

One of my principles of selection was to avoid books that I was sure to find in every collection in the country.

Light literature would not be a tenth of the English books.

I fear to claim the credit of having a complete or exhaustive collection on any branch of knowledge, though I came near it sometimes, if you take the term exhaustive to mean not what a bibliographer would understand but a wise and sufficient choice.

Greek Classics are, I think, above 1000 volumes—very rich, if not complete, in philosophy and history. But there are no Epigraphics, no Mathematicians, and many medical works are wanting. In Bullaria, I have not the Bullarium Franciscanum; in Jesuitica, I have not their Bohemian history; in the Reformation, I have hardly any books by Bucer.

The whole collection was made with a single view to understanding the public life of the time, and the world I lived in. There are no mere curiosities or fine copies, unless by chance.

The interest that governed one great part was the Church. This is the explanation, not only of the large number of works Edition: current; Page: [233] relative to the Papacy, but especially of the Provincial Histories, which amount to more than seven thousand volumes. The policy of Rome shows itself largely in the Italian towns—and in this department I got the cream of the Libri collection. The Reformation, in the same way, led one to another class of local histories; the wars of Religion and the Revolution to another.

Then there is a vast literature of early Politics, chiefly Latin and Italian, such as Mariana, etc. Besides the Papacy, Local Histories, Reformation, Council of Trent, Thirty Years’ War, Jesuitica, my favourite line was miscellaneous reviews, and Epistolæ Familiares.

Reviews, or Transactions, because they contain no end of matter not transferred to permanent books, and often lost to sight.

Letters, because they give the means of knowing character, as a man is not better than his word, and generally betrays low-water mark in his undraped private correspondence. About two thousand moderns, since Petrarca, may be known and judged in this way. I have, I think, 1600 or 1700 volumes in that division. It does not include such letters as Bolingbroke’s or Chatham’s, because they are English history; nor such as Bacon’s, which are in his Life, nor those which are in the Collected Works, like Burke’s, Descartes’, Bossuet’s, Arnauld’s, Fénelon’s, Lessing’s. So that, in fact, I reckon on 3000 volumes of Letters, instead of 1600, which are in situ. Properly catalogued, this would be more valuable than the Papalia, the Jesuitica, or the Theory of Politics.—I remain, yours most truly,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
June 13, 1890
Tegernsee
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

You will not think me ungrateful if I don’t know how to thank you. I did not believe that anything hidden in the future could add to the value and the pride of our long friendship.

I write before I have been able altogether to digest the surprise which your letter gave me, but nothing can add to the gratitude I feel, or take away from it. One day more, Edition: current; Page: [234] here and at Munich, will enable me to leave my present occupation in a condition to wait. Excuse me if I did not start at once. A better head than mine, and a stronger imagination would have failed to see the coming reality. On Wednesday at latest I hope to see you. I will not be so indiscreet as to invade your hospitality. My son, coming up from Oxford, will be with me for a few days in town.

Let me at once beg you to convey to the generous friend whom you do not name, and to convey in terms of your own choosing, this first acknowledgment, that his offer is practically inestimable, and that I am even more grateful for what it implies.—I remain, ever truly yours,

Acton.

(p): WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
April 26, 1891
Cannes
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

I was, somehow, never compelled to make my mind up about Women’s Suffrage, unless it is involved in the question of medical degrees, in which I took the side preferred by Cato.

But, for many years, I inclined to favour the change, and Miss Becker, I believe, counted me among her friends. It seemed most probable that the advent of the democracy would, in certain ways, introduce a reign of force, and that the stronger sex would submit to less restraint, in respect to marriage, property, and the like. There was an apparent reason for strengthening the hands of the weak, for making them a power which it was necessary to conciliate, and to consult. This has not proved to be a true calculation. Democracy, in some places, has raised the position of women; in others, it has given them privileges, in criminal law, which would not be scientifically defensible.

In England in the last twenty years, the preponderance of predominant man has not been abused. Women have obtained all sorts of occupations unknown to them formerly, and clearly to the detriment of the male competitor. There has been a vast increase in the sacrifices made, in a general way, for the weaker classes of society; and nothing Edition: current; Page: [235] has become more popular—apart from religious influence—than various kinds of good work, not always approved by Chancellors of the Exchequer, and bearing sometimes the character of a ransom, but decidedly favourable to the self-command, the self-denial, the generous and helpful spirit of the ruling democracy.

Chief surprise of all, the democracy has consented to set bounds to its power, to give up part of the area of authority possessed by the government of the classes. But this has been your personal work, and has not at all the same spontaneous character.

Therefore it now seems to me that there is no higher law deciding the question and that it falls within the computations of expediency. As I believe that the votes of women will be mainly Tory, I do not feel bound, by any superior consideration, to sacrifice the great interest of party.

If it can be shown that the majority of women will probably be Liberal, or that they will divide equally, I should say that the balance is, very slightly, in favour of giving them votes.

You will think my motives sordid; but the sordid element has only been brought to the front by a series of surprises. A few years ago it would not have weighed with me against the necessity I thought I saw of redressing the balance of power in favour of the perpetual victim of man.

Then since 1886 we have to think very seriously of the future of Liberal politics. We lost our majority by proposing to get rid of the Irish members. How should we have recovered it—in Great Britain—if we had succeeded in getting rid of them? And how is Liberalism to govern the Empire when its halo is gone, when no supreme hand represses the fouler elements, and there is nobody to play Hamlet? That is a perplexity for many of us: but I know you can hardly feel how it strikes men aware how much of the Liberal force is concentrated in you. Bertram Currie, by the by, would agree with what I have just said.

I cannot guess whether you will see grounds for attacking the financial basis of Goschen’s proposal; but the proposal Edition: current; Page: [236] itself, free education, will be very difficult to resist, now that it takes a practical shape. But there is so much more to say!—Ever truly yours,

Acton.

(q): MR. GLADSTONE’S RETIREMENT

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Dec. 20, 1881
Cannes
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

It is among latent Tories that you will obtain accomplices for the conspiracy to ruin the Liberal party, and nobody is bound to resist it more firmly than I am. But I do not adopt the words which were spoken to Nicole1 when he pleaded for rest:—“N’avezvous pas toute l’Eternité pour vous reposer?” I claim no more than the Quinquennium Neronis—that is, the probable duration of this, your own, Parliament, and perhaps a bittock.

When the next General Election has been fought under your flag, when the nation, which last year called you to power, has pronounced on the fulfilment of its mandate, then you will have earned your deliverance. Till then Puissance oblige. I will not allow all that you have done to blind me to the one thing you have left undone. If you have provided for the succession you have not tied up the estate. While leading Liberals, extravagantes, pursue eccentric paths, the party lacks the organisation and discipline that will secure the future. The remaining measure of Reform which will establish Democracy for good, and can hardly pass in the earlier years of a Parliament, will require all your grasp of principle and detail, your ascendancy in the House, and your power over the country to guide it in that arduous transit. Do not confound the definite and temporary motives for continuing with the general reluctance to lose you, or with disregard for your own wishes.

I know you, or rather I know myself, too well to rely on the efficacy of my arguments. But stronger forces are working on my side, and seeing as I do a distinct though not obvious obligation, and a real though not apparent Edition: current; Page: [237] sacrifice, I persist in my opinion and in my hope.—I remain, yours most truly,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
August 24, 1884
Tegernsee
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
My dear Mr. Gladstone,

I venture these lines, not to give trouble in the midst of labour, but as a stirrup cup before you mount for the North.

After giving Mamy a vision of the good things of England, I tried to redress the balance by taking my second daughter to the Styrian mountains—the country where the little blue Forellen grow—and there, at Aussee, I met Strossmayer, whom I had not seen for fourteen years. He came afterwards to pay us a visit at St. Martin, and we had a talk which lasted the better part of twenty-four hours.

The upshot of his conversation was that he entertains for you the sentiments proper to a Midlothian elector, and his greatest wish is to see you before he dies. He asked me how and where he would find you if he comes over to England next year, and I promised that your direction would be No. 10 Downing Street, until peace and order reign all down the Nile, and until a redistribution of the Electoral Map has so broken the evil-minded back of Toryism that the rest may be left to infra-olympian powers.

He hopes that he will be able to come next year, probably in June, and I have promised to introduce him to you, promising also that you would receive him gladly and with all honour.

Minghetti had announced himself here, and I had nearly persuaded the Bishop to come and meet him, when we learnt that he had to go to Bologna for a political meeting. I am here for a few days, alone with Döllinger.

I ought to add, because he wishes it, and not to tinkle the same bell always, that Strossmayer was very much impressed by Liddon.—I remain, most truly yours,

Acton.
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Aug. 31, 1884
Edinburgh
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
My dear Acton,

Your letter touches me in a tender place, for to have a visible and audible knowledge of Bishop Edition: current; Page: [238] Strossmayer is one of my great unfulfilled yearnings, and though I now begin to feel most averse to journeys, I sometimes wonder whether you would take me, when my neck is once fairly out of the yoke, to see him.

In the meantime, the prospect you hold out of his coming to England is delightful, but the address which you have given him is, as I trust, not to be depended on. I am under no bond to finish the Egyptian question, or that of redistribution: my only bonds are a bond to carry the Franchise Bill or end my official life in the attempt, and a bond in the event of carrying the Franchise Bill to make a serious effort to introduce and carry a measure of redistribution.

Is not this enough? And on what possible ground of equity can you maintain that while in other professions, even in the Government of the Church, there is a desire for an interval between the theatre and the grave, those who follow the profession of all others the most contentious, and “the most immersed” as Bacon truly says “in matter,” are to be denied this breathing time, this space for the exercise, in their case more necessary than in any other, for recollection and detachment? You have never explained this to me, and I am disposed to challenge you.

In the innermost cell of my soul I am inclined to believe that the prolongation of my official life (or my parliamentary life) is of very little consequence to this self-governing country, and that if anywhere it is of more value to the Slavs of the Balkan peninsula and their neighbours north and south than to any one else. But they have now tasted freedom, and like other freemen must defend it.

At this moment I am engaged in the serious but interesting task of setting forth the character of the present crisis to a people whose loyalty to the Liberal cause is equalled by their singular intelligence and the practical side of their understanding. They are no whit below the mark of 1879-80: indeed I think they are even more sensitive and keen.—Believe me, ever sincerely yours,

W. E. Gladstone.
Edition: current; Page: [239]
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Feb. 11, 1885
Whitehall
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
My dear Acton,

Since I received your kind letter, a heavy blow has fallen upon us in the capture of Khartoum, apparently by betrayal from within. The further announcement of the death of Gordon, in papers of to-day, has not up to this time been officially confirmed. The calamity is, in any case, great. As in the case of Hicks,1 our pacific policy was wholly thwarted, so now our confident hope of summary and conclusive action followed by prompt withdrawal has been dashed, and one of those crises created in which, whatever a Cabinet does, it can hardly be sure of doing right.

Now I turn to the polemical part of your letter. Your argument against letting the outworn hack go to grass depends wholly on a certain proposition, namely this, that there is about to be a crisis in the history of the Constitution growing out of the extension of the franchise, and that it is my duty to do what I can in aiding to steer the ship through the boiling waters of this crisis. My answer is simple. There is no crisis at all in view; there is a process of slow modification and development mainly in directions which I view with misgiving. “Tory democracy,” the favourite idea on that side, is no more like the Conservative party in which I was bred than it is like Liberalism. In fact less. It is demagogism, only a demagogism not ennobled by love and appreciation of liberty; but applied in the worst way, to put down the pacific, law-respecting, economic elements which ennobled the old Conservatism; living upon the fermentation of angry passions, and still in secret as obstinately attached as ever to the evil principle of class-interests. The Liberalism of to-day is better in what I have described as ennobling the old Conservatism; nay, much better, yet far from being good. Its pet idea is what they call construction, that is to say, taking into the hands of the State the business of the individual man. Both the one and the other have much to estrange me, and have had for many many years. But, with all this, there is no crisis. I have Edition: current; Page: [240] even the hope that while the coming change may give undue encouragement to “Construction,” it will be favourable to the economic, pacific, law-regarding elements; and the sense of justice which abides tenaciously in the masses will never knowingly join hands with the Fiend of Jingoism. On the whole, I do not abandon the hope that it may mitigate the chronic distemper, and have not the smallest fear of its bringing about an acute or convulsive action. You have me therefore rooted in my evil mind.

I have begun Mr. Cross,1 whom, I see, you generously helped. His work seems to have been executed with great care. I am as wroth as ever with Mary, and with you, for lifting her2 above Walter Scott (even this, I think, your Titanic audacity has attempted), or putting her on his level, yet I freely own she was a great woman. I have not yet got to the bottom of her ethical history.

I am exceedingly soothed and gratified by the praises from all sides of Dr. King as Bishop. He is, I believe, a saint, like Hamilton,3 and is, they say, much besides; not, however, a great man of business, so the rumour runs.—Ever yours,

W. E. Gladstone.
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
March 21st, 1890
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
My dear Acton,

I received at Hawarden your two most interesting and simultaneous letters. Every day I have wished to answer them. But the obstacle has been twofold. I had too much to say as well as too much to do. Since I came to London close and constant attention to the course of business in Parliament has weighed upon me, and especially the necessity of making myself master of the Report issued by the Parnell Commission, a task not serious to many, but serious to one of my age, for whom the memory Edition: current; Page: [241] has become sadly irretentive of recent matter. This was all vented in a very long speech last night, of which I have now no remains except in physical fatigue. So I am in a condition to write to you partially, and one special circumstance prompts me to do it without delay.

Just after Dr. Döllinger’s death a man unknown to me wrote to offer me a portrait of him. I allowed him to send it here for inspection. I have failed to obtain any skilled judgment upon it. It is not an agreeable picture. The costume, white and black over it, does not help to give a pleasant tone. I suppose this dress to be that of Stiftsprobst, and the date to be not long before the excommunication. But besides that it is singularly like, the head appears to me to be painted with a power quite extraordinary. The author quite unknown: not, I think, Lenbach.1 I have given the man fifty pounds for it, and I mean to send it to my new building, as yet only an incipient Library, at Hawarden. But your claim to possess a picture of Dr. Döllinger is infinitely beyond mine, though perhaps you prefer your living inward recollections. But if it should be your wish to step into my place and become its owner, you are most welcome to do so.

Next, I send you herewith a separate copy of a paper I have written in the Nineteenth Century on “Books and the Housing of Them.” You are named in it honoris causa.

I also send you a proof of an article on the Old Testament intended for Good Words. I do not feel at all sure that I have been right in undertaking to yield this testimony, though I feel I have something to say if I can only say it. The determining motive is a promise given eighteen months ago, and from which I should find it hard to get released.

In this paper I have endeavoured to state my relation to the negative criticism. Inwardly I am but a half-believer in it: and I suppose that in its larger developments it is much contested among critics. Nay, even in its smaller ones, as I infer from the opinion of Delitzsch given in his book on the Psalms, about the Deutero-Isaiah. But I am fully conscious that I have no title to appear in the field as a disputant Edition: current; Page: [242] against it. I therefore assume provisionally its results: and try to make my argument independently of them.

There will be a series of papers, with some of which I have made progress.

At Oxford my only drawback was missing many who were absent, and among them I was sadly vexed to count your son. I resumed the habits of pure college life, and found the place more intensely interesting than ever. How much of England’s higher future does Oxford carry in her bosom. I gave an address to a large assembly, chiefly of undergraduates, on the points of contact between Assyriology and the Homeric text, which are, I think, neither few nor unimportant.—Ever yours,

W. E. Gladstone.

The Lord Acton.

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Windsor Castle
Mary Drew
Drew, Mary
Dear Mrs. Drew,

I know Ponsonby has been put off. Both Empress and Queen at dinner, and the Queen in private, after dinner, spoke of your father’s eyesight.

They asked whether there was not incipient cataract—and the Empress said that did not much matter.

They showed they had no real knowledge of the state of things.

The Queen, alone, showed no greater knowledge, but some anxiety about his sight and hearing.

I answered, not apprehensively, and not with detail: but so as to prepare the Queen for very serious news, on that line. There is no danger, as I see, of their looking farther for other explanations.

The statement that has to be made will fall on prepared ground.—I remain, yours truly,

Acton.

(r): MR. GLADSTONE’S BIOGRAPHY

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
August 16, 1887
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

The turning of the tide is much more rapid than I thought possible, and I cannot refrain from writing to congratulate you on a change which is almost entirely your own work.

Edition: current; Page: [243]

I should be half sorry if it were to snatch you prematurely from the occupations you meant to turn to at Hawarden. For I think often of that American proposal which you spoke of at Grillion’s, and which seems to me full of important consequences.

The influence of your name, your ideas, your career, will be the greatest force sustaining and guiding the Liberal party in the next generation.

How many of those who would otherwise have been its appointed leaders have fallen or drifted away, and of those who have not, there are scarcely three or four who have had a grasp of the principle, and have been independent of the uncertain influence of combinations. Our most valuable possession will be the unity—unity of direction and progress—of your political life. That is a thing not at all apparent on the surface and easily missed by overlooking links that are neither obvious nor generally known.

Of those who have known you and lived near you and had your confidence not one is left who could do justice to the theme, which, besides, is infinitely richer and more varied than this central problem.

The materials will be partly inaccessible, partly unintelligible, to anybody but yourself. There is a terrible abundance of your letters, the correspondence of half a century in unfit hands from which you alone can recover it. And there is much to which no one else has the key.

And this is almost equally true of the religious part of your life, and of the literary, which is only part of the religious.

Lastly, apart from yourself, and from the future of that grand instrument for doing good, the Liberal party, how much other secret history, how much secret biography of eminent men, you hold locked in scrinio pectoris!

So that I heartily wish success to Mr. Putnam—if it is Putnam—so far as may be wished without detriment to the cause which is before us.—I remain, ever yours,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
June 3, 1891
Tegernsee
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

I take advantage of your note of interrogation to revert to a topic on which I do not think you feel as many of your friends do. In regard to your Edition: current; Page: [244] own correspondence, you have been generous to the verge of carelessness. It is scattered all about, serving the biographies—and the purposes—of other men. You are being expended in sixpences, and are acting as a subsidiary to very divergent views and causes. But the cause to be served is your own. Since you have built a Simancas, it ought to be filled with your own archives. Now one great branch of them, the private correspondence with the men most in your confidence, has been allowed to drift.

Sooner or later, almost every public man with whom you were associated went the way of Argyll and Selborne, Hartington and Forster. To all who look on your career as a whole, and as a possession for certain reasons precious to the nation and to the cause, it must seem important that the inner, the intimate and confidential history, should be manifested, explained, and proved by the decisive materials in your own hand.

In the next few years a score of books will be written in the interest of men, at least partially hostile to you. The stronghold of your friends would be such letters as those which were exchanged with Lord Granville. There is not the least security that much of this material will be allowed to serve the proper end.

Please also remember that the principle has been admitted of publishing correspondence between Ministers and the Sovereign.

Certainly, one cannot deprive people, or families, of their property. But one can request to have it communicated to oneself.

I think I have seen an announcement that the energetic editors of your speeches mean to give introductions. I did not mean summaries of the speeches, but of the situation from which they issued. It will make a great difference in their effect.

No, I certainly do not mean that you said what was inaccurate, but that you gave Disraeli what he did not deserve. I should not like to have to make the speech Fox made when Pitt died; but you went so far the other way that you seemed to exclude the higher aspect of political contests.

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I hope these hurried lines will find you still enjoying the salutary repose of Hawarden; for I am afraid the next things at Westminster will be trying. One can’t help seeing that that splendid adventurer1 is losing ground by mere force of things, and lapse of time.—Ever most truly yours,

Acton.

(s): THE NAVAL ESTIMATES OF 1894

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Jan. 22, 1894
Madrid
Mary Drew
Drew, Mary
Dear Mrs. Drew,

Spain is interesting, but less interesting than Biarritz. I was sorry to leave, and should be much more sorry, but that I should have become odious by breaking the law against insisting, repeating, and contradicting, and if I had not frankly spoken my thoughts about what seems to me a tragic and sinister catastrophe.

But I was out of touch when I found that two points were rejected which I imagined to be open to no discussion, one was, that whenever, after three or four years, we get into a quarrel with France, we shall be tempted to seek a refuge with the Triple Alliance, and that temptation will be strong if we are weak, and weak if we are strong, at sea.

The other point is still practically important, that is, the difficulty of giving to the Queen an explanation different from that which the whole country will know to be the true one. For myself I can conceive none that will not strain, to the utmost, fidelity to the Party. Assuming that difficulty disposed of, this consideration remains:—The colleagues to whom the shock will be most severe are those most intimately associated with him, and who have cared most and done most for the hopes and beliefs and aims that are to be shattered. It will make a serious difference to them, and to those hereafter who through their eyes will contemplate the history of the country, and of the Party, which is the country in the higher power, if that which is to be done is done with an endeavour to diminish the inevitable injury.

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At this moment, the absence from England, and the consequent want of confidential intercourse, with the difficulty of consultation in common, make the position much more awkward and uncomfortable than it would be if he were at home in good time. Business must go on at once when Parliament meets again, without any delay; and the interval allowed for Windsor and for the settlement of the new Cabinet is an almost impossible one. Nothing concerns your father so nearly as this, that no dangers should be put in their way, by act or omission of his, which he could have avoided. And the more the breach is accentuated by him, the more difficult it will be to preserve the Irish alliance.

I hope to be back for some hours on Thursday afternoon, or on Friday morning at latest.—Meantime, I remain, yours most truly,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Jan. 30, 1894
Mary Drew
Drew, Mary
Dear Mrs. Drew,

I am keeping back my Memorandum because they cannot find an obvious paper at the Admiralty. Nobody seems yet to have inquired how France stood, as compared to England, in 1859.

About one thing which was doubtful in my eyes I now see my way. There is absolutely no exception to the unanimity with which his conduct is deplored, by all who know what is going on. What interests me more is that all the colleagues are unanimous in hoping that he will not repudiate them.

When I arrived, I was not quite sure about this.—I remain, yours most truly,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
January 31, 1894
London

Let me deal first with a preliminary obstacle:—

When I urged, that naval armaments relatively weaker will, in the event of our being bullied by France, carry us full sail into the Triple Alliance, whereas a force sufficient to abolish the possibility of attack can alone secure a disentangled and independent policy of our own, and is therefore the best economy, I observed that the argument obtained no attention. When I left for Madrid you summed up my case, but did not notice this part of it. You showed me that you were open to new impressions as to opinion Edition: current; Page: [247] in Alsace, and the consequent French case for war. In the course of other, desultory, conversations at Biarritz I was confronted by the proposition that the Triple Alliance would in fact be our refuge, and that we eventually count upon it. It occurred to my mind that this view of the future, which I had associated with the Tories, may possibly be your own, and that your last word would be for alliances, not for detachment and impartial benevolence. If that is the case, it cuts the ground from under me. The point of deviation lies deeper than I can reach, and you ought not to be plagued with the rest of this statement. Otherwise, I proceed as follows to answer your several points:—

1. The demand exceeds national expectation. It would be essential to examine closely the source from which you derive this assurance. Nothing that I can learn confirms it; but of course I have had no means of pursuing that difficult sort of enquiry. Within the last week John Morley has written to two friends in the opposite sense. I have seen them both. He says that the tide is setting strongly against your view, that he has never held out any hope to the contrary, and that, if you are unconvinced upon that question of fact, it is by no fault of his. There has been no opportunity of speaking with Ripon, but on that question of public expectation, I learn that he is entirely in agreement with Morley.

The same information reaches me from the whole Cabinet, with one doubtful exception. In all this there is no question of persons. But I cite Ripon and Morley because I am sure that, in the case of each, you were tempted to make too little allowance for the difficulty men sometimes have in opposing a strong and vehement and declared determination, and for their reluctance and delicacy in adding, needlessly and unprofitably, to the pain of a tremendous rupture. I am even warranted in saying that, of all your friends, Morley is the one who has felt the shock of your action most deeply; but I give no prominence to this, not having it under his own hand.

2. Contrary to precedent, to the best tradition, inconsistent with your own constant policy, great and sudden increase of expenditure on armaments is a thing that has Edition: current; Page: [248] been done twice within my memory and before my eyes; twice by yourself, each time with an eye to France alone, with no other complication.

In 1860 nothing was urged by Palmerston in behalf of his fortifications but the danger from France. In 1859, the Admiralty spoke vaguely of Russia, but the real consideration was the rapid triumph over Austria, and the state of the French fleet.

That fleet was not then so near an equality with our own as it is to-day—I need not therefore speak of two years hence.

Having nothing to deal with but France alone, France relatively less formidable—at sea—than now, in the first month of office, you raised the Income Tax by fourpence, indeed, for one half-year, by eightpence.

The pressure of that tax was greater than now—the rich were only half as rich; the poor were only partially exempt.

The Government of that day adopted Cobden’s maxim—uttered in July 1859—that we ought to be always one-third stronger than the French at sea. We do not at present possess that superiority. The official figures are 22 to 15 first class line-of-battle ships. Fifty-nine to forty-four including all three classes. I restrict the parallel of 1860 to one point: fortifications at home are not directly aggressive; and besides you made it clear that you were averse to the measure. That is my point. That is your precedent for expenditure to which you assent reluctantly, but to which, contemplating all consequences, you do nevertheless assent. The consequences of refusal to-day are infinitely more serious to the country, to the party which is the better part of the country, and to the chief who is the best of the party.

I learn, from one of the Ministers whom I have not seen, that he understands that you would accept an increase on the Navy Estimates of £2,250,000. If that is true, your maximum is only three-quarters of a million below their minimum. Let me remind you that you said to me, therefore to yourself, that it is a question of degree which amounts to a question of principle like the difference between a pint of wine and six bottles. You would hardly maintain that Edition: current; Page: [249] proportion if you considered that all the impending ruin, the suicide after the manner of Samson, depends upon a rise of a farthing and a half Income Tax.

This I cannot urge, because I know not the truth of the report that reached me.

But I do urge what you did in 1859, at once, at the end of the session, on coming into office, as against danger from France alone—danger which, up to your Commercial Treaty, you yourself believed to be very real—with no other European, Asiatic, or American complication but that which consisted in the sinister ambition of victorious France.

3. It leads to unjust taxation. This point is met by what precedes, especially the change in the incidence and burden of the Tax. And I assume that there is no other resource than taxation, although I am not sure.

4. Government would capitulate to the Profession. No; for the plan of the Cabinet is not the plan of the Admirals.

The estimate of cost is less than the minimum of the Naval Lords by £3,992,000. Less than their maximum by £7,942,000. Spencer assures me that the whole sum that would be spent on the New Programme in the course of next year, 1894-5, would be about £1,300,000.

5. It would promote Militarism. Far less than what you did formerly. The proportion which our increase bears to the continental armaments is imperceptible now. It was something in 1859-60. The world is in arms already, and that depends on causes we cannot influence. A fleet with an army is an instrument of militarism. A fleet without an army is not.

6. Evils inherent in the plan, not in resistance to it. Ireland and the Liberal cause are in peril from resistance, not from the plan.

Let me end by saying that although I am as mad and as drunk as the rest, it is not from national pride or ambition. All that ministers to those feelings I admit to be a sin, and wars of conquest and aggrandisement are literally no better in my eyes than murder.

With that belief I hold as firmly as I ever held any view in practical politics that you have been proceeding on a Edition: current; Page: [250] misconception of the present facts and motives, and of the issues in the future, and I feel bound to say it.

A.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
February 5, 1894
Athenæum
Mary Drew
Drew, Mary
Dear Mrs. Drew,

I can further confirm what I wrote on Saturday as to the reception of West’s despatch.1 The terms of it would make a sudden and immediate change of front very difficult. The difficulty is much increased by the manner in which it has been generally understood and accepted by the country.

No doubt it is more pleasant to yield to your father than to resist him, and West had got to feel impatient of the strain before I left. He has nearly convinced the colleagues that the breach is irreparable, and they are in despair.

My figures were authentic. They were even official, and there were no other figures before me. I have enquired to-day, and they are confirmed. Your father has a return which includes only ships afloat, and omits those that are building.

My comparison between the First Lord and the Naval Lords was equally authentic and equally official.

Our figures do not differ. Discussing the point of submission to professional opinion, it was requisite to compare the schemes in full; and for that purpose the expenditure of the year was not the only matter at issue. I should have stated the case incompletely if I had confined myself to that.

I fancy your father conceives that I employ the example of 1860 to the same effect as that of 1859. The example of 1860 is valuable not because he then assented to armaments against France, but because he showed that his assent was reluctant. I think he not only avoided bringing in the measure himself, but remained silent during the debate.

It does not appear why he objects to the proposition that, in 1859, he increased the Income Tax for the purpose of Edition: current; Page: [251] defence against the French. But if he knows that there is no precedent, and even insists on the word, it may be better not to pursue the point. He probably means that the French were nearer an equality with us. I have not been able to see the report which the then First Lord laid before the new Cabinet.

It is weak to show no disposition to concede a point; but as I am writing to you and not your father, I may say that the figures of 1859, which are believed to be correct, but are not official, exhibit a greater numerical superiority on our part than we now possess.

This is a matter which has to go through some very careful treatment before figures can appear which would not mislead the public. There is the question of taking only ships afloat, or also ships in construction: only First Class, or all three classes. I make out that your father prefers First Class ships exclusively for purposes of comparison. If he has before him, or in his memory, the returns on which the Cabinet founded its policy in 1859, it may be that he knows more than they do at the Admiralty, where that document seems to be unknown.

As he says it is like catching me tripping in my history. I hope you will not let him understand that I professed to have caught him tripping, or had any figures of his before me. I had only some rather general propositions, which I tried to test by figures. I wonder where he thinks that I got these.

I see you lay some stress on West’s last journey to England, as if you thought that some of the Cabinet believed that there is but one way out of the crisis, and were ready to face it. Certainly, at first, the blow was a severe one, and some may have wavered. I can perceive no sign of such wavering now—nothing but entire fidelity on their part and feelings of profound depression.

Returning, for more clearness, to top of page 2: You understand that, to prove the reasonableness of the scheme for which your father’s approval was asked, the main point would be this year’s expenditure. But to meet his point, the yielding to professional influence, it would have been unfair not to take entire schemes. The difference between Edition: current; Page: [252] the two might be quite disguised in the Budget of the present year.

I was sorry to see your excellent account of him only in the Westminster.—Believe us, yours most truly,

Acton.

(t): ANGLICAN ORDERS AND REUNION

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
May 12, 1896
Cambridge
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone.

I thank you heartily for your great kindness in allowing me to see these very confidential papers, and am sorry that urgent pressure of local work made me so slow in mastering, and considering, and returning them.

The forces of resistance are great, for obvious reasons of ecclesiastical policy. A doubt as to the validity of orders sometimes disturbs men and impels them towards Rome, who otherwise have no inclination that way, and are beyond the reach of usual Romanising influences.

Then, the practice of Rome has been so constant that there is a powerful motive to dissimulate centuries of error.

I can hardly imagine a congregation strong enough to renounce and censure so many previous authorities. Any man who resolved to do it would be more conscientious than those concerned in such decisions can be expected, on the average, to be. The Pope himself, and those concerned in his renown, might have personal reasons to act independently of the past.

Duchesne, who is one of the most learned men in the world, has gone much out of his way to commit himself, declaring that Rome will gradually be obliged to conquer its prejudices.

I could imagine, and almost hope, that you might see your way to a letter to the Archbishop, to be enclosed in a cover of ceremony to Rome.

I rather dread his appearance in the discussion, as his quotation from St. Augustine is what, in our academic language, we should call an ancient howler. If you do take Edition: current; Page: [253] any step, let it be without sanguine hopes, and with the likely consequences of failure distinct before you.—Ever yours,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
June 28th
Pall Mall
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
My dear Mr. Gladstone,

It is satisfactory to find that Rhossis1 goes farther than the late Archbishop, whose letter you showed me, inasmuch as he admits the early Councils as a basis rather than a limit, and allows for later developments. Many of these are common to East and West, and tests and canons could be found. You no doubt know that the seven ancient Councils were all that the Latin Church recognised until after the Reformation. Some speak of Florence as the eighth, others of Trent. But a broad distinction was made, until about 1560, between the ancient and the mediæval Councils. The fusion was not completed till Bellarmine wrote, about 1585, but it began earlier. Questions of ritual cannot be settled in that way, but Rhossis states the very same principle as the Bonn Conferences. Bramhall, I think, would have gone with him.

Taking the actual declarations of the old Catholics, I should think the prelates of the Eastern Church could join in consecrating them, and that would certainly be a great step towards union.

As to this country, I should fancy that very little could be done with the State Church, and the theological bias of the Irish Church makes it unavailable. But like the enemy of the Universalists,2 I look for better things.

I should like to know Mivart’s3 inner views on two or three questions, and I feel sure they would put him out of all serious religion or would range him among the adversaries of the Papacy.—I remain, ever yours,

Acton.
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(u): MISCELLANEOUS

W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Oct. 16, ’76
Hawarden
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
My dear Lord Acton,

I think you will read with interest the enclosed letter from Bishop Strossmayer. I am sorry to say I cannot make out the German character, and have been obliged to have it not very perfectly copied out. What do you think of my asking him to allow it, minus the complimentary introduction and epilogue, to be translated and published? And if he agreed, would you translate it?

I am going to put into the Contemporary a notice of Schuyler’s1 Turkistan, which I am reading carefully for the purpose. His testimony concerning the Russians has been shamefully misrepresented by the Turkish press of London, at least by the Pall Mall Gazette.

It was an act of some self-denial on my part, when writing on the Eastern question, to abstain from all notice of the conduct of the Court of Rome respecting it. I urged Mr. de Lisle to stir up Manning to do something at least for decency’s sake in that quarter, and he tried hard, but of course without effect.

I am sure you will rejoice with me that Russia has blown up the six months’ Armistice. It is grievous to think that England is at this moment, in opposition to the sense of the nation, the grand tool of Turkey in the Councils of Europe, and the Metropolitan Press covers all with a cloud of dust raised by stirring anew the old Russophobia. Unfortunately foreigners think the press of the Metropolis is the press of England.—Ever sincerely yours,

W. E. Gladstone.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
November 8th
Aldenham
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
My dear Mr. Gladstone,

I cannot refrain from writing to congratulate you on your Edinburgh discourse, more particularly as I have to congratulate myself on my appearance in so noble a performance. Ever since you spoke to me, early in July, of the subject you had chosen to occupy the leisure of the recess, I have indulged expectations which the result has more than amply justified.

Edition: current; Page: [255]

It is surprising that so good a scholar as the author, I suppose, of the articles on your speech in the Times, should prove himself so deficient in historical judgment. The intellectual preparation of the world for the teaching of Christ is as specially and exclusively the work of the Hellenic race as the political preparation for the establishment of the Church is the distinctive work of the Romans. Other races may have had their own several educating and predisposing influences. The Teutons in particular had a remarkable prophetic element in their theology which announced its own temporary character and the coming of another system of Gods. But many things contributed to help portions of mankind to receive Christianity without helping them to act upon it.

Still I think there is a difference between the light in which I should look on the theology of pagan Greece and the view which predominates in your mind. I would admit with you the gradual decay of the moral action of their belief, but I assert, in compensation, an upward progress of thought and reason, from Heraclitus to M. Aurelius. It appears to me a deficiency in the work of Döllinger, and indeed in all literature so far as I know, that no attempt has been made to measure the approach of heathen speculation to the threshold of Christianity, and to define the extent and manner in which its ideas had been anticipated. Yet this seems to me a necessary preliminary before estimating the character and office of the Christian religion, and one of the most important problems in the philosophy of history. I dedicated the leisure moments of my honeymoon to this enquiry, and I hope in time to make something of it which will be less unworthy of your notice than my paper on the theory of human sacrifice. Alexandrian philosophers are not quite as pleasant reading as Ionic or Attic poets. But I am not without hope that Plato would bring our views into closer harmony.

W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Ju. 26, 1890
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
My dear Acton,

One line to remind you that you are bound by all that man holds dear to take up your abode here on your return from Oxford, inasmuch as you have Edition: current; Page: [256] now departed from the shadow of the Granville roof.—Ever yours,

W. E. G.

You put to me a penetrating question about my funeral speech on Disraeli in 1881. Never was there a more singular irony of fate than when I was called upon to perform that office for two men only, and those two Disraeli and Palmerston. I made it my purpose to say nothing of them but what was in my belief true. Of course, I did not draw a portrait even of Palmerston, much less of the other. Do you think that I said anything which was not true in itself? Nothing could excuse that. I am not sure what you mean by the “summaries” of the speeches.

The question of women must stand over. It is very large, a net cast very wide.

I shall hope to hear soon what are your plans and intentions. At present, I suppose, I am right in addressing to Cannes, although I fear you must be choked with dust. We do not expect to be settled in town again for ten days.—Ever yours,

W. E. Gladstone.

Parker’s Peel, vol. i., seems to me loyally, carefully, and well done, except that he largely suppresses and belies his own character of the present day, being indeed a very queer one, though a good fellow outside of politics.

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Nov. 21, 1890
Munich
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

Reusch has just published an important volume of Döllinger’s Kleinere Schriften, some of which were unpublished hitherto. Another volume of Vorträge will exhaust his work.

A highly influential nucleus of people, connected with the Academy, University, city, etc., are beginning to prepare the way for a monument. I thought it my duty to say that, if the matter is carried out by the proper persons, it would be their duty to communicate with you.

As I have begun my letter with the things for which I owe you thanks, this is the place to speak of All Souls, where, thanks to your favour, I have found unexpected welcome. I was in some difficulty. King’s was offering me a fellowship at the same time; also a famous college at Oxford; but the latter with the avowed intent of getting Edition: current; Page: [257] me to reside sometimes, and mix with the men. All this has flattered me unduly, as both universities refused me as an Undergrad.: I cannot say how much I should like to enjoy my privileges together with you, and while Dick is up.

I am particularly glad to know that you will write on Milnes. I found it unexpectedly difficult—the grotesque kept getting uppermost. But I owed him a great deal of kindness from early times; and I was anxious to serve Reid. My best service has been to send him longish lists of mistakes, for his private use. I only knew from the letters in the two volumes that you knew each other so well so long ago. I have very much understated the degree of his political estrangement from you, since the Bulgarian affair.

The Parnell case seemed doubtful to me at first, because the Eleventh Commandment ought not to supersede the others, and because attacks on private character ought to be kept out of politics. But it will not do to act as if the moral question was not the supreme question in public life, and, in a sense, the vera causa of party conflict. His remaining would be a source of evident weakness to the party, to the alliance, and an excuse for desertion, in time to come. I cannot quite gauge the talent and authority of Dillon; but I have had some talk with him privately, and seldom met a better man. Of course, a change of leader will also be a weakness for the moment. From your letter I incline to gather that you have not expressed an opinion, but that it will be in favour of change if you have to advise.—I remain, ever truly, yours,

Acton.
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Aug. 16, 1891
Hawarden
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
My dear Acton,

I have to thank you also for the Machiavelli sent by Frowde. What a marvellous, what a terrible—I almost add what a detestable—array of authorities you produce. Against such pricks as these I must kick a little. I affirm the identity of all moral laws, though I admit they apply with variations to different subject matters. Evidently there is no agency which in the case of the State has the same right to make what are termed sacrifices, as the Ego may for himself. The greatest of Edition: current; Page: [258] moral paradoxes known to me are those which touch truth—but these occur in private life as much or more than in public. I won’t admit politics to be so bad as all these bigwigs make them, or they could not attract and hold two such men as Frederick Cavendish and the last Dalhousie, two men whose minds were in political action of a truly angelic purity.

We are much pleased with the Elections: and Walsall, if it does not greatly add, is very far from taking away. Would God it were all over for me. The significance of the cry that Home Rule is extinct=0.—Ever yours,

W. E. Gladstone.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Nov. 9
Cannes
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

I hope you will listen seriously to the counsels of wisdom:—

Do not start off, announcing that you are going to Italy. You will not be quiet for a day there, if you are expected. But announce that you are going to spend a few weeks along the sunny Riviera.

Begin by coming here. It is on the way to Italy. It is a better climate—at this time of year—than the Italian, unless in places uncontaminated by Civilisation. Spend a few tranquil weeks near us at Cannes, with no end of pleasant books, and nobody to speak to but Dom Pedro1 and Charles Murray. There will be few people here until Christmas; and there are perhaps a few of our friends whom you would find socially agreeable. But there is no beau monde at this early season.

I will look out for a comfortable apartment neither high up nor facing the sea, like Château Scott, where I hope Mrs. Gladstone will not be disturbed. There is plenty of room everywhere, for another month.

When you have felt the benefit of this air, and have had enough of our company, and roamed enough about our neighbourhood, then make no announcement, but take the afternoon train and lunch next day at Rome. Going incognito unproclaimed, you would have a few quiet days. If I could be useful, I would take the opportunity of going Edition: current; Page: [259] as battes Frada.1 But Mamy has discovered a way of making me useful, at balls, and would not give me a long holiday. Of course your visit to Rome would end by certain interviews and audiences which would not be uninteresting, near fifty years after you met Macaulay there. But you could cut it short, by going off to Naples, Monte Cassino, or Florence. Only don’t believe in that story of Amalfi. There is no road to the hotel. There are no Christian comforts and no modern supplies.

Unintelligent, unstimulating solitude can be found here much better, in conjunction with butcher’s meat and clean linen.

Cannes is the only way to Italy for a traveller who wishes for a quiet journey. It would be a pied-à-terre, as nearly as we can make it, a home, from which to prepare ulterior measures at pleasure. The point that you cannot know, that I want to superadd to your impressions, is that there is more room than company until the end of December here. To go to Italy avowedly, at this moment, would be a public affair—apart from the very black cloud which is threatening Europe from San Remo.2 Take notice that Cannes prejudices nothing in any ultimate Italian scheme. It is only a first stage, and a very salutary one. You cannot be long in Italy without effort, fatigue, wear and tear. We don’t know of such things.

Of course I feel as strongly as yourself the magic of Italian memories in the Lebensabendstimmung. And I shall say not a word against the Italian trip.

But I should strongly advise putting it off until a real solid interval of health-giving repose has been taken in here. For I fancy you will give yourself at least six weeks’ rest, coming out next week. Telegraph to me that you expect to arrive such a day, and I shall have all things ready. Leaving London about half-past ten in the morning you will be here about one, next afternoon.

I have not left myself room to speak of the loss of our excellent, generous, kind-hearted friend, whom too many things here remind me of.—Believe me, yours most truly,

Acton.
Edition: current; Page: [260]
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
June 21st
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
My dear Mr. Gladstone,

There is nothing that a hostile critic can detect, except that every page bears your signature in legible characters. It will be, in almost all eyes, a most satisfactory estimate of Macaulay’s faculties, and everybody will understand him better for reading it.

I am not so sure as you are of his perfect honesty. There is not that vigilant suspiciousness of his own weakness, that look out for temptation, that betoken honesty. The same conduct, the same qualities, become different things according to the men. He never starts except for the end in view. His hook and bait will only catch a particular fish,—there is no vague cast of the net. I transpose the position, and fancy a man equally convinced of some other truths, which are deeper, more divine, more beneficent, more pure, than the convictions that filled and moved his mind, defending them with the same blinkers on, with the same narrowness and acrimony—and I should say that those are not the fruits of true and sincere convictions, that it is not the worship of the true God. Fancy More, or Laud, or Burke glorified as he glorifies Milton or William III. You would feel that the friend, who might be worshipping at your own altar, had not purified his soul adequately.

I often suspect that the dread of having his “circles” disturbed, of being compelled to revise assumptions or postulates, and to dig for a new bottom, make him overlook or omit necessary things.

You make a very just remark, that he was afraid of contradicting his former self, and remembered all he had written since 1825. At that time his mind was formed and so it remained.

What literary influences acted on the formation of his political opinions, what were his religious sympathies, and what is his exact place among historians, you have rather avoided discussing. There is still something to say on these points. The want of an estimate of his merits as the historian of the Revolution is nearest to a defect in your review. And you have hardly said enough of the crude Edition: current; Page: [261] bumptiousness of his remarks on St. Augustine, or Gieseler, on his being born to demolish the Germans, whom he could not yet read, of his defiance of those who said that he made no sufficient study of foreign history, especially of French books which would have helped him much, of his notion that his articles on Frederic and Barrère were fit to be joined with those on Chatham and William Pitt.

I would also say, he is dishonest by display; of the Reformation he knew almost nothing, yet he so pillaged Ranke as to make believe that he was a rival authority on that age.

Then, how materialistic is his mind, his imagination especially. A description of the English mind towards 1680, of the knowledge, ideas, mental habits of the people would have helped us to understand the Revolution and its place in history better than all he says about currency and trade, postboys and highwaymen. An account of even our criminal law alone, a thing he understood so well, would have explained the age admirably.

All which does not prevent me from thinking him one of the greatest of historians, and I am delighted with your criticism of him as a writer of English. In description, not in narrative, I think he is quite the first of all writers of history.

But the long and the short of it is that I like the whole of your article exceedingly and the first half best.—I remain, yours very truly,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Feb. 9
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,

I ought not to trouble you with Recess topics at this busy moment, especially as I have not seen the Life of Hope Scott1 yet. Only let me thank you for your letter, and for remembering how much the subject of it would interest me.

It strikes me very strongly that we seem to remember two different men. Common to both are the charm of manner, a noble and amiable disposition, quick intelligence, and a certain superiority. But I do not quite recognise a man capable of attracting and influencing you so deeply Edition: current; Page: [262] in the indifferent, languid, self-contained Hope that I knew from 1851 to 1864, who showed no care to strive for any higher or more distant aims than those of daily life, and whose power of purely disinterested mental work was gone. Although I was only seventeen and came to him with a good deal of ardour and reliance, I do not call to mind that I gathered anything, but the pleasure of good fellowship from his influence and contact. I am condemning myself in your estimation; but if there had been anything fruitful and original in his view of the system he had adopted with the immense advantage of having grown up outside and of having entered with full knowledge, I do honestly think that I should have got at, and have been grateful for it. There is even something to deduct from the pleasantness of tone, at the time when I knew him best, between 1851 and 1860, and lived much with him and Badeley. He was so much addicted to chaffing and bad jokes, that people were not impressed with his good nature.

I do not think I am confounding the impression of different times when I say this. But there is no doubt that, when the Roman question came to the front, he took a further step in religious change, and became an Ultramontane. We hardly ever met during the last ten years of his life, partly perhaps because Norfolk House was uncongenial. Ormsby has a perfect right to claim Hope, as much as Newman himself, for an adherent of papal views. Probably both went over reluctantly, as Falkland did to Charles: but there is no real difference between reluctance and enthusiasm when once the ethical objection is surmounted.

I have found the expedition of your ecstatic madman1 a famous opportunity for striking the imagination of my children with the facts of the day.—Believe me, yours most truly,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
April 25, 1897
Berlin
Mary Drew
Drew, Mary
Dear Mrs. Drew,

You must tell me later on, when the date is nearer, whether a visit would do after the middle of June. I can well imagine that your father may not think Edition: current; Page: [263] it right to promote my writing, before I have seen the Windsor papers, and know the worst. In that case, I could still manage to get the thing well done, by asking Bryce to do it. I have fixed Edmond Fitzmaurice with the Lansdowne papers, for 1846-1859; and I thought of Bryce for the chapter 1859-1874. But the other would be more important, giving the moral of our twelve volumes.

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg

Lord Acton on Paper respecting Authority1

(36) You say without qualification that Lewis proceeded to show that the rule of Vincent is inapplicable. It does not appear that you lay stress on the word literal application—you are too indulgent to an argument which is very far from strong, and comes from a man who never grasped the notion of continuity and fancies that all reformed Churches reject it. Lewis’s statement both of Catholic and Protestant doctrine is so hazy that your indulgence towards him goes much farther than he deserves.

In stating his 3 conclusions (36) you draw a distinction to the disadvantage of the 3rd, but none to the advantage of the first. But the consensus of antiquity that supports Theism adds something to the force of conclusion 1.

(37) The paragraph where you allude to this—“Regarded historically, etc.”—might, I fancy, be stronger or clearer. The Revelations which preceded Christianity are made to supply Christianity with a special treasure. One might object that it was, on that account, not their special treasure; or at least that the word therefore is not quite explained by what goes before it.

Touching Pecock2: the word Sacramentum was used in mediæval divinity in a much wider sense than now. Hugo Victorinus, for instance, uses it in the title of a book which does not deal with Sacraments in our sense. In the 12th Edition: current; Page: [264] century the number 7 was reached by a process of restriction as much as by a process of increase, in another sense. Also, 2 and 7 are not the only alternatives admitted by modern divines.

(38) In spite of your Caveat, I think you incline to underrate the value and elevation of pre-Christian Ethics. The image of the downward course of paganism is so much more strongly impressed on your mind than that of its upward course, that I fancy you hardly appreciate such an achievement as the Ethics of Seneca, Epictetus, and, from another quarter, Philo, wrought by men who had not the example of Christ’s life before them.

From that point of view I suspect that your argument that a religion is tested by its effects on morality, might give rise to much controversy. If by morality you mean the lives of men, modern society has not much to boast of, compared, for instance, with the practical morality of the Essenes. If you mean the doctrines of men, it would be very difficult indeed to show that the interval between the Ethics of Seneca and the Ethics of S. Ambrose could never have been bridged over by the progress and combination of Stoic, Alexandrian, and Chinese morality, as they stood, apart from the Gospel.

An opponent might say that many influences besides Christ’s teaching contribute to the moral enlightenment of the present world; that Christianity at first, in its outward purity, in its early writers, stood less high in some points than we do, and was not all progress over that which went before it; and that, taking the action of the Church, at times, apart from other influences, it has not always promoted a lofty ideal of duty.

(41) In Newman’s account of his life there is a passage vigorously and aptly confirming what you say about the duty of remaining where one is.

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
June 16, 1885
Mary Gladstone
Gladstone, Mary

To Mary Gladstone

Dear Miss Gladstone,1

Knowing what I know, I was much struck last night by a conversation at Grillion’s Edition: current; Page: [265] between Kimberley, Forster, and others on the defeat of last Monday. They seemed not to have heard more than everybody; and I ask myself whether the truth has reached the proper quarter.

The defeat was prepared by the Birmingham wirepullers to evade the impending collision between the two wings of the Government; and they induced their people to stay away and bring the Tories in for a time.

If you do not know or believe this, let me say that I have it on the best Birmingham authority1; and I intreat you to tell the P. M. straight away and without consulting anybody.

For reasons which, I assure you, are sufficient.

The transaction is not perfectly clear and limpid in the eyes of all men. The more the Whips defend themselves, and individual members justify their absence, the more a doubt arises as to the action and design of the P. M. himself, in refusing to adjourn the debate; as the critical difficulties of the moment are—in part—notorious, and also the zeal of several colleagues to get out of it. In my opinion this circumstance makes it difficult to persist, through thick and thin, if Salisbury breaks down and asks the late Government to resume office.

That he may do so seems likely from the rumour of an intended compact, and also from the manifest want of cohesion in the Conservative party yesterday.

Therefore, if power comes back to your father, he would, in accepting it, defeat an intrigue among his own followers at the same time that he would sweep away the appearance of having ridden for a fall.

And considering the contradictory elements composing the majority, I am persuaded that this would be the more patriotic course.

This is only the complement of what I have said before. I am tempted to insist because of the fact mentioned above, and also because May, the most central of men, and G. Russell, the most intelligent of the Whigs, agree with me.—Yours most truly,

Acton.
Edition: current; Page: [266]
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
January 30, 1886
Cannes
Herbert Gladstone
Gladstone, Herbert

To the Right Hon. Herbert Gladstone

My dear Herbert Gladstone,

I don’t know whether your father is to be congratulated upon either of the two events1 which make these days memorable—and I will not molest him. Turning to you—in your political capacity—I ought to tell you how much Bryce struck me, out here, by the knowledge and courage he brought to bear on the Irish question. You know it too, of course, as he tells me that you have conferred more or less confidentially, and I daresay he has discussed a Knowlesian article with you. I know nobody so thorough-going, to say nothing of his great American information. As he has a safe seat I am sure he may be very useful to the new Government. As I found Lefevre ready to go all lengths, I intreated him to write to your father and give him needed assurances of hearty support. If he has not done so from a grievous lack of familiarity, as well as from more grievous lack of a seat, let me bear my astonished testimony.—With all good and best wishes, ever yours,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Feb. 19, 1875
Torquay
W. E. Gladstone
Gladstone, W. E.
My dear Mr. Gladstone,

It is probably impossible to test Gordon’s references. Some of them may not have found their way into literature, but possess only an administrative existence. They might therefore be unknown to Döllinger. The best chance of finding out something would be in Schulte’s Eherecht; in Dove’s new edition of Richter’s Kirchenrecht; and in Friedberg’s Recht der Eheschliessung. But I would not dispute these detailed facts on the strength of a general statement of Döllinger’s.

It will not do to press the point too far as a practical question. I don’t think that Protestant marriages are renewed in case of conversion, although on the ground of the uncertainty of baptism in England they ought in consistency Edition: current; Page: [267] to be. I rather think the best thing will be to insist on the particular instance.

In the very unlikely extremity of my having to send to Princess Wittgenstein I think I would try to reach her through her nephew Hohenlohe, the Ambassador at Paris.

No fault could well be found with your description of Newman.1 I myself remember calling him, in a speech which I made to Kenealy’s2 constituents, the greatest man our Church had had in England since the Reformation. I should only hesitate about the comparison between his earlier and his later books, I think—if you add his Justification—that it is quite true. But it has been pointed out before, as I can well remember, and would seem to him a confirmation of Döllinger’s share in your writings.

Oxenham, though not a discreet man, is a most pungent and persistent fault-finder, and therefore an excellent critic of unpublished proofs. I am glad he is to look through yours.

It was too late yesterday to answer your letter. I presume you will be out early in the week.

We have found north-east winds and sleet at Torquay.—I remain, ever yours truly,

Acton.
Edition: current; Page: [268]

B.—: LADY BLENNERHASSETT1

(a)—: MADAME DE STAËL

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
March 15, 1883
Lady Blennerhassett
Lady Blennerhassett
Dear Lady Blennerhassett,

The Marquise tells us that you have written or are writing on Mme. de Staël for the Rundschau, and that your opinion of her is very favourable.

It is very unlikely that I can tell you anything you do not know about her or have not fully considered, and I only use the opportunity as a pretext to recall myself to your memory.

There are several interesting problems for you to settle. Did she add to the store of political ideas bequeathed to her generation by Montesquieu, Rousseau, Turgot, Smith, and the Americans? Her friends or neighbours, Constant, Dumont, Sismondi, were real pioneers. She surpassed them immeasurably in literary quality; did she equal them in originality?

How does she stand to the Doctrinaires? The systems are closely allied, and the persons were mostly her friends. But I fancy there is a real distinction; and Guizot must have hated Constant for something more than his levity.

Then, did she come round to Napoleon in 1815 as Constant did, and Sismondi? The book about her and the Edition: current; Page: [269] Duchess of Weimar denies it.1 I think I have seen evidence on the other side; and the question whether she was right is open still to a good deal of discussion. . . .—I remain, yours most sincerely,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Jan. 31 [1886] (?)
Lady Blennerhassett
Lady Blennerhassett
Dear Lady Blennerhassett,

The strong evidence of handwriting justifies me, I hope, in thanking you for the Rundschau article,2 which we have all read, or are reading, with deep interest, and with otherwise mingled feelings. I have written to Gladstone to draw his attention to it, and hope you have sent him a copy. He will read it, in spite of his dislike for everything German. Perhaps he will even understand it.

I greatly wonder what impression it will make on the Professor. But I have lost the key to his mind, and find myself in outer and increasing darkness. And I often ask myself the question whether, with your penetration, you have not got beyond the difficulty which is disabling me for all useful and definite work. . . .

If the Professor is shocked at the appointment of Temple to the see of London, please tell him that I did my best to get Liddon appointed, that it was, for good reasons, impracticable, but that Gladstone consented to offer him either Lincoln or Exeter, and writes: “It is solely due to his own very strong unwillingness, amounting to negation, that I have not submitted his name to the Queen, backed by high ecclesiastical authority. So that he has really received a great recognition.” The underline is Gladstone’s own, and means Canterbury.3

King, who gets the mitre, is professor of pastoral theology, next to Liddon the greatest High Church influence at Edition: current; Page: [270] Christ Church, but quite without his magic power as allumeur des âmes.— . . . Believe me, most sincerely yours,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
April 22 [1887]
Lady Blennerhassett
Lady Blennerhassett
Dear Lady Blennerhassett,

Your book is quite excellent. I resolved to telegraph, ganz famos, this morning. But measles have broken out among us, and I have to shut myself up in a sickroom. So it is under difficulties, and with less help from books of reference than I needed, that I have gone through the first half volume. It only reached us yesterday afternoon, just before our last ball, which only just preceded our domestic trouble.

Nothing can be more spirited and rapid, or in better taste, or more full of instruction and judgment. The vast mass of facts are carried along with perfect mastery and never overlie life and idea. Everything is distinct, and one never loses hold of the pattern in the number of threads.

The things I have ventured to note, partly misprints, partly mere differences of opinion which are only worth mentioning because they may occur to other people, may possibly be of some use to you for Errata at the volume’s end, or for the translations. All that is matter of detail. The thing critics will object to is the diffuseness, not in any part, but in the whole Anlage. There is a good deal that does not bear directly on the subject, but on the milieu and every man will have his own view of what really contributes to the point at issue. If it is to be in three volumes, they will say that there are few biographies so voluminous, and that one is grateful to Grimm and to Lewes, who squeezed Goethe into one.

You observe the golden rule, to state no fact without stating the evidence. But there is a silver rule, to give no unnecessary evidence. Sometimes, in a note, some book is mentioned rather too generally, the title only, without Edition: current; Page: [271] chapter and page. That should be avoided, I think, when there is not a definite proof for a definite statement. Especially if it is only a reference to books already quoted and familiar to your readers. I mean, for instance, note 2, p. 95.

The whole section about Gibbon is excellent, and one sees the light shining on the highest summits when you cite the Abbesse de Jouarre1 with nothing but praise of the author, and not a word of contempt for the book. That is the rarest accomplishment of people who have ideas, to abstain from importunately delivering them. La Science est à ce prix là.

I fear I have not been perspicuous in my attempt to meet your point, that the French set about making a new world, as it ought to be, while the Anglo-Saxons tinkered the old, and made the best of it. This notion sanctioned by Burke, Mackintosh, Brougham, Macaulay, is derived from 1688. It does not really apply to the Puritan Revolution, nor to the American. They worked, no doubt, on a mass of fact, some of which was fable; but they deemed it necessary also to build up Society on ideas not yet incarnate. And we must not undervalue the force of tradition in the French law of the Revolution.

If I may speak my whole thought, I fancy you are careful to dissect, and afraid to mingle. You contrast theories, you separate influences, you draw lines with a slight geometrical tendency, and with some aversion for chemical combinations. Montesquieu and Rousseau tend to exclude each other; the influence of Voltaire departs. Vive le roi, J. Jacques! The American Revolution is entirely distinct from the French. The systems of Quesnay and Smith do not run into each other. I am exaggerating a little, in order to be clear. But though it is important to show what is distinct, it is also important to show what mixes. A number of new substances and properties spring from certain combinations, while certain gases are thrown off with a fizz.—Excuse scribbling, and believe me, yours very truly,

Acton.
Edition: current; Page: [272]

83. Bandeau.

To say that the loud praise of free trade in corn was as exaggerated as the assertion that it was the cause of all misery, is to say that it is wrong to make necessaries cheap and abundant, and that it is right to make them scarce and dear, provided one does not go so far as to make abundance the cause of all misery. That would be the most extreme theory of Protection, that theory of Protection which is given up by Economists. I think you mean that the men who praised free trade in corn so loudly, praised it as a panacea, just as the others blamed it as a cause of all evil. But that exaggeration is not expressed in the passage. As it stands, you may be accused of taxing the poor for the sake of the rich, which is the fundamental reproach against the old regime. The peril lies in the words “in ebenso übertriebener Weise.”

89. This distinction between Turgot1 and the Revolution goes far beyond what Foncin2 says, at top of page 549. He was only conservative of royal power, and that is consistent with Revolution. He was not really conservative in respect of property as the Conservative theory understands it. He differs from the Revolution by his indifference to political freedom: that is, he differs to his disadvantage, and even that difference is not fundamental.

95. Without any declamation, if our modern ideas are right, the old notion of the relation between rich and poor was wrong, and as it was not a political, but a social wrong, every rich person shared the guilt, if there was guilt. If so, Necker’s language is not exaggerated, and does not deserve the note—leider.

120. The Pitt here quoted must be Chatham, and Burke’s theory is wrong. Mediæval liberty differs from modern in this, that it depended on property. The Dutch revolution, still more the English, introduced the missing elements of spiritualism.

I think you underrate the universal, abstract, ethical character of the American Rights of Man. They were not Edition: current; Page: [273] meant to apply to one country and one time. They were the finished and revised text of a movement of ideas going on from the beginning of the struggle, after the Seven Years’ War, in England as much as in America. The language of the Lord Chancellor, Camden, and of Hamilton in his first writings, is as scientific, as unconditional, as that of Ulpian or Sieyès. The transition from the spirit of 1688 to the spirit of 1789, took place outside of Rousseau. Those principles were not compatible with slavery. Theoretically they were absolutely incompatible. And practically the author of the Declaration wished to bring fact and theory into harmony. If Maine has influenced this page, let me say that his historical theories have—not grown out of, but—been deeply influenced by his practical, local, definite experience. What he sees before him, and fears, and wishes, has more to do with his philosophy of history than his philosophy has to do with determining his hopes and fears. Instead of doing what one expects from a man of his calibre, judging life by the results of all past experience, he judges the past by the experience of a particular life, the general by the conditional, principle by accident. One must never quite trust him where a view of history may affect any great and valid interest of his own time.

146. You associate liberty with reform and equality with revolution. But in the Great Rebellion there was no scheme of equality worth speaking of. Where it showed itself, it was put down. Yet in pursuit of liberty they overthrew the monarchy, the aristocracy, the Church, the representative system, the fiscal system. Equality is associated with Democracy, not specially with Revolution. The breach with the past, the denial of Evolution, the destruction of the existing order, may quite well proceed from the love of freedom only, without any ulterior scheme of the partition of power or property. In the three or four revolutions of 1830 equality was almost entirely absent. Men, no doubt, are easily stimulated to destroy by the hope of material gain. But they are also stimulated by political or religious motives, with no hope of material profit, and a certainty of material loss.

Edition: current; Page: [274]
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
mai 1887
Cannes
Lady Blennerhassett
Lady Blennerhassett
Chère Lady Blennerhassett,

Bien mieux que feu Michaud au siège de Troie, je puis dire que si j’ai eu le malheur de blesser une déesse, c’est malgré moi et sans le savoir.

Je ne conçois pas, de mon côté, le reproche du savant qui me paraît Einäugig unter den Blinden.1 La carrière du père2 appartient à celle de sa fille. Si elle s’est trouvée au centre même du monde, de la pensée, de la société, par droit de conquête et par droit de naissance, il faut savoir comment cet héritage a été conquis. Comment se fait-il qu’un banquier étranger et Protestant, vain et avantageux au point d’être surnommé M. de Boursoufle, économiste hétérodoxe, ministre malhabile, écrivain médiocre, se soit établi dans une si belle position? Cela demande des éclaircissements, que vous avez raison de donner, amples et clairs.

J’ai eu tort si j’ai touché à des convictions intimes, qu’il est de notre devoir toujours de respecter. Mais on ne peut pas toujours les connaître. Dans le doute on s’abstient. Ainsi, je n’oserais jamais discuter l’opinion protectionniste. C’est une doctrine qu’on peut très sérieusement défendre, qui domine la législation en Amérique et en Allemagne, et qui possède, en France, des défenseurs scientifiques. Mais la formule que j’ai cru lire dans un passage me paraissait appartenir à une phase qui n’est plus représentée dans la littérature indépendante; et je n’ai voulu indiquer que cela.

De même, si j’ai relevé un mot dit au désavantage des Français, ce n’est pas qu’on ne puisse en trouver à dire. Mais je me demandais si l’ouvrage gagnerait à cette phrase ni amenée ni motivée, de la part d’une étrangère qui sera bientôt traduite. Surtout dans un livre venant d’Allemagne, où ces sévérités internationales sont assez fréquentes et goûtées.

3De même pour Adam Smith. Il discute les physiocrates souvent, et souvent il les renverse. La différence est évidente, flagrante. Les uns fondent leur système sur la terre, Edition: current; Page: [275] l’autre sur le travail; les uns comptent sur les ressources de la nature, l’autre sur celles de l’art; et il en résulte deux systèmes opposés d’impôt, l’un direct, sur la terre, l’autre indirect, sur le commerce. Dans la pratique les deux doctrines se contredisent et se combattent. Et ainsi de suite. Et néanmoins la part de ce que Smith doit aux Français est si grande, il est si complètement nourri de leurs matériaux, il les transcrit si souvent, ils ont découvert avant lui un si grand nombre de ses meilleures découvertes, qu’on sent beaucoup plus qu’il les continue, les corrige, les perfectionne, qu’on ne sent la rivalité et l’antagonisme. C’est ce que nous ne déclarons pas toujours assez haut chez nous. Qui vit en Angleterre, au milieu des discours, des journaux, des revues du pays, s’aperçoit d’une certaine tendance à surfaire, non pas son mérite ou son influence, mais son originalité—un peu comme nous faisons pour Bacon. Dire: Adam Smith disciple des physiocrates—c’est trop peu. Mais Adam Smith adversaire des physiocrates—me paraît trop, habitué que je suis à remarquer nos exagérations patriotiques. De loin, on voit d’abord l’adversaire. De près, on voit également l’adversaire, mais on voit mieux le disciple.

Ce sont là choses qui ne méritent pas de gâter le papier, et qui ont moins de portée que vous ne leur avez, peut-être, attribué.

Sérieusement, et dans ma conscience de critique, il n’y a que trois choses où je crois voir, non pas un défaut, mais l’ombre d’un danger à venir. D’abord un certain penchant d’appuyer sur des choses d’autant plus contraires à l’unité qu’elles sont plus attachantes en elles-mêmes. Je craindrais que quand vous parlerez des luttes des partis dans la Révolution, ou de l’esprit allemand, les lecteurs reviendront à leurs moutons parfois d’un peu loin. Ainsi Mme de Staël attend à la porte pendant que Stedingk pose.1 On s’imagine que c’est parce qu’il passe pour avoir été un Edition: current; Page: [276] aspirant; mais c’est ce que vous ne dites pas et ne semblez pas croire.

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
mai 1887
Cannes
Il fait nombre pour les Suédois.

Je n’ai jamais vu ses Mémoires,1 mais je savais à peu près ce que vous dites de lui pour avoir lu Geffroy.2 Si vous ne donnez aucun fait puisé dans les Mémoires, il ne faudrait pas, je crois, les citer sur un personnage si éloigné. De Maistre raconte de lui des choses curieuses. Il l’appelle “le nouveau maréchal,” en 1811, et j’en concluerais que c’est dans la derniêre guerre de Finlande qu’il l’est devenu. Je n’en sais rien du tout, et vous dites qui c’est pour la campagne de 1787. Je le crois facilement. Mon second doute porte sur ce que je vous disais des contours trop fermes des silhouettes, des contrastes trop vifs, des distinctions trop larges. Il est fréquent de trouver cette tendance chez les écrivains nourris de sciences déductives. C’est ainsi que Sohm explique le gouvernement mérovingien et Stahl la politique puritaine. Il en résulte une grande clarté et on se croit, souvent trop vite, maître de la question. Elles sont ordinairement plus mêlées et plus difficiles. Voyez combien d’éléments appartenants à des systèmes divers se réunissent dans la Révolution française s’y fondent ou se combattent. Quand on a un très grand homme, une très grande force comme Rousseau, Smith, Burke, c’est que plusieurs ruisseaux différents y aboutissent. C’est là, peut-être, le côté le moins connu, le moins pioché, de l’histoire. Nous aimons tous les explications simples, les définitions, les formules, les souvenirs de l’école dont l’opinion publique et le journalisme vivent exclusivement. Il est commode de dire que les Jacobins c’est la démocratie directe, les Girondins le Fédéralisme, que Danton représente Diderot, et Robespierre Rousseau. Je tiendrais à vous mettre en garde contre cette méthode de précision—et c’est mon numéro 2.

Ce qui est plus grave, sans doute c’est le problème américain que je n’ose pas espérer expliquer dans le format Edition: current; Page: [277] raisonnable d’une lettre à la poste:—Mme de Staël paraît grande surtout si on la considère du point de vue Libéral, lequel, vrai ou faux, est un des plus vastes côtés de l’histoire de notre siècle. Pour ceux qui disent qu’on gagne ou perd le ciel dans la politique autant que dans la religion, que le règne de la conscience doit s’établir dans la vie publique autant que dans la vie de famille, là où il s’appelle liberté comme là où il s’appelle vertu, les écrivains qui ont servi cette cause ont un certain caractère sacré, une saveur de pères de l’église, et prennent des dimensions légendaires. Mme de Staël a été sur le continent un des premiers de ces écrivains, de ceux qui ont rendu le libéralisme une chose de bon goût, de bonne compagnie. C’est sur ce terrain là que sa place est assurée.

Quelle était donc la cause qui l’a rendue si grande, d’où venait le courant qui l’a portée? Les Français croyent volontiers que cela vient de leur littérature, et les Anglais, que cela sort de leurs institutions. Aucun dogme de plus sûr en politique que celui-ci: La liberté allait mourir en Europe, à partir de 1773, et c’est l’Amérique qui lui a donné la vie. C’est des forêts, non pas de la Germanie mais de la Pennsylvanie, qu’elle nous vient, telle que nous la voyons. Qu’on la recherche par la légalité ou par la révolution, par la prière ou le sang, par l’égalité ou la concurrence, par la monarchie ou la démocratie, la force vive est la même. Il ne s’agit pas d’histoire, de tradition, de droits séculiers, d’héritage national, de privilège local, de choses acquises, de l’autorité des siècles, de conserver aux fils ce qu’on a reçu des pères, de la supériorité d’une idée, de la sainteté des lois. Il y avait de cela dans les révolutions d’Europe, et dans presque toute la littérature Européenne. Ce qui a changé tout cela c’est les Américains. Les arguments qu’ils ont fondés sur leurs Chartes valent autant que ceux que Montlosier1 puisait dans le droit féodal ou Lanjuinais2 Edition: current; Page: [278] dans le decret de Pistes1 pour réformer la France. Cela n’était pas plus sérieux que leurs doléances sur la grandeur de l’impôt. Ils voulaient bien payer par voie indirecte plus qu’on ne leur imposait directement. Ils en appelaient tout bonnement du droit divin, comme le disait un Chancelier anglais. Ils ne défendaient ni leur prospérité qu’ils étaient prêts à sacrifier, ni les droits de leur pères, ni la constitution de leur pays. Si, en politique, le droit dépendait de la loi, leurs adversaires anglais avaient raison. Le problème posé par les Americains était, au fond, celui-ci: Doit-on risquer l’existence de son pays, de sa famille, donner sa fortune à la ruine et ses enfants à la mort, verser le sang à flots, renoncer à tout ce qui est établi par l’autorité et sanctifié par la coutume, pour une idée qui n’est écrite nulle part, qui est du pur idéal, qui est spéculative et nouvelle, en contradiction avec la constitution, avec les lois de son pays et des autres, qui n’a pour elle ni sanction religieuse, ni crédit légal, qui est inconnue à tous les codes et à tous les législateurs? La réponse affirmative, c’est la Révolution, ou comme nous disons le Libéralisme.

C’est ce qui distingue notre siècle du précédent. Les Whigs aussi voulaient la liberté, et ils voulaient l’obtenir, s’il le fallait, par la Révolution, c’est-à-dire au prix du bien-être social. Mais ils y voyaient bien plus un privilège qu’un droit, et plutôt un droit qu’un devoir. Ils la demandaient pour eux plus que pour les autres, comme Anglais, aux dépens des autres, selon les conditions locales, les traditions nationales. Leur doctrine se composait des matériaux que leur XVIIe siècle fournissait. Le Libéralisme, chose moderne, est sorti du XVIIIe siècle, et des mains des hommes qui repoussaient les conditions de la vie anglaise, que les Whigs acceptaient en s’y adaptant. Le lien est rompu entre liberté et propriété. Il s’agit de bien autre chose. Tant qu’on songeait seulement au tort d’un impôt excessif ou injuste on pouvait regarder le prince ou Edition: current; Page: [279] le ministre comme on regarde un avocat ou un avoué peu délicat, qui gagnait de l’argent par chicanes. Ce n’était pas blessure mortelle. La nouvelle école y voyait une attaque sur choses plus précieuses que l’argent ou la vie, et l’adversaire devenait non plus un homme fourbe et malhonnête mais un criminel et un ennemi. La conciliation des biais, le respect mutuel, devenait un reste d’ancien régime.

Ce qui sépare les deux époques et creuse un gouffre entre les old and new Whigs, c’est le développement, presque la découverte de la Conscience. Cette notion a poussé lentement, et n’a pris son grand essor qu’à la fin du XVIIe siècle et pendant tout le XVIIIe. Avec la grande préférence qu’on avait autrefois pour les religions établies au-dessus des autres, cela ne pouvait grandir. C’est venu lorsque le Christianisme s’est trouvé réduit à sa plus simple expression, sans église, sans sacrement, sans clergé, sans rituel, et qu’il est arrivé au point de se confondre avec la morale universelle. Dans cette forme-là le Christianisme a fondé un état, et créé une constitution, où il n’y avait guère autre chose de sauvegardé que l’individualisme. Et par la suite des choses, la sauvegarde de l’individu, c’est-à-dire la Conscience, a pris la place de bien des dogmes, et a notablement grandi. Si la conscience humaine est véritablement ce que Butler et Kant affirment, elle est suprême; les états et les églises, l’opinion et la tradition, la coutume et le caractère national, les intérêts publics et les droits acquis plient devant elle et ne sont plus que secondaires. On voudrait transiger, qu’on ne le pourrait pas, comme l’encens que refusaient les martyrs. Un monde a péri, une génération d’hommes a été fauchée pour que le roi soit Louis XVIII au lieu de Louis XVI, et le ministre Fouché au lieu de Necker. D’après la nouvelle doctrine ce n’était pas payer trop cher.

Ce qui rend la vie politique si digne, si intraitable, c’est l’élément qui nous vient d’Amérique, c’est le raisonnement qui à forcé la Révolution, et la Déclaration d’Indépendance. Quelques-uns, comme Franklin, se sont laissé emporter par le mouvement; d’autres, notamment Hamilton, ont louvoyé: d’autres, enfin, comme Gouverneur Morris, ont été Edition: current; Page: [280] grossièrement inconséquents, ou peu clairvoyants. Mais le système du droit naturel, des principes abstraits, du droit absolu, du droit comme forme du devoir, de la politique entendue comme science et non comme expédient—ce système est entré comme un fer tranchant dans le monde par les jurisconsultes de Boston et les théoriciens de Virginie. Je ne dis pas qu’ils fussent démocrates—les premiers du moins—ou qu’ils méconnussent la valeur du droit positif. Mais ils sont, pour nous, responsables du nouveau principe, au-dessus de l’histoire. Il se peut que Kant, appuyé sur Rousseau et sur les légistes Hollandais, aurait trouvé cela sans Adams et Jefferson. Mais il n’est venu qu’après eux; et on peut même dire de lui, comme de Washington, qu’il avait l’âme d’un conservateur.

C’est parce que la doctrine révolutionnaire a réussi en Amérique, parce qu’elle a été adoptée par un parti en Angleterre, parce que la France et l’Espagne l’ont reconnue, qu’elle est devenue si puissante et irrésistible en Europe. Les doctrines de 1640 ou de 1688 avaient moins de portée. On pouvait les adopter sans être Libéral dans toute la force du mot.

Un terrain sur lequel on pourrait défendre Washington et rejeter Sieyès, condamner Georges III et excuser Louis XVI, n’existe pas. Si l’Indépendance d’Amérique est justifiée, la Monarchie française est condamnée, et condamnée cent fois. Hors l’Espagne et la Belgique, toute la Révolution moderne sort des principes abstraits par lesquels l’Amérique s’est émancipée.

Pour résister à ces conclusions il faudrait pouvoir montrer que les Américains se sont sérieusement servis de la loi municipale, et n’ont pas fait appel aux Droits de l’Homme. Le troisième volume de Lecky1 et la Déclaration de Jefferson rendent cela impossible.

C’est pour rire que vous parlez de mes jugements sévères. Je suis bien plus doux, plus mou que personne, en jugeant les hommes, et je ne comprenais rien, il y a quelques années, au Professeur qui soutenait le contraire. Aujourd’hui que, Edition: current; Page: [281] même en plaisantant, vous renouvelez cette accusation, je me demande s’il y a là-dessous quelque chose de moins simple et évident aux autres qu’à moi-même. Vraiment il n’y a pas de secret, de prestige, de découverte nouvelle ou personnelle. Il est contraire à l’esprit de la tolérance et de la science de juger d’après les doctrines métaphysiques—et la plupart des questions religieuses sont métaphysiques. Il serait monstrueux de souffrir que la Vie de Jésus nous fit parler moins bien de Renan que de Fénelon. La permanence du caractère national n’étant pas prouvée, la nationalité ne soulève pas de préjugé contraire à l’individu. Il est du plus mauvais goût que ceux qui écrivent à leur aise s’occupent des questions de fortune, de délicatesse, etc. Les fautes de la vie privée ne touchent pas à l’histoire. On doit plus de sévérité aux siens, plus de générosité aux adversaires. Par conséquent les antagonismes de parti ne décident pas des caractères. Voyez que de choses par lesquelles les hommes jugent ordinairement sont exclues de ce code: la religion, la philosophie, le vice, le vol, etc.

L’Histoire ne peut pas se servir des systèmes de morale attachés aux religions, car ils ne sont applicables que dans les limites de ces religions. Et une morale indépendante manque à la Science. Il faut donc que l’Histoire se compose son propre système. D’abord il juge par le Code Criminel. Mais là il y a peu de principes universels: Pas de punition rétroactive; ne pas étendre aux innocents la peine du coupable; sauver ce qui est essentiel à l’existence de la société. Il n’y a d’absolument essentiel que la vie. Donc, c’est la vie humaine qui est l’arche sainte. Personne ne peut être plus décidément caractérisé et condamné que celui qui verse le sang. Cela tranche toute question, et contrebalance toute autre chose. Quand on tient un bon assassin, que ce soit Danton ou Bonaparte, on est rassuré. Le jugement ne peut manquer. Plus on réussit à étendre cette épreuve, plus l’histoire s’élève au-dessus de l’opinion et entre dans la Science.

De plus, l’Histoire, qui se mêle de découvrir la vérité possède sa méthode, ses canons pour cette recherche. Elle soumet les témoins à un cross examination, et énumère Edition: current; Page: [282] très exactement les motifs qui peuvent détourner les esprits de la véracité. Cette énumération forme la base de son système moral. Ce n’est pas celui de la vie privée. Bien des péchés n’influent pas sur la véracité et n’entrent pas en compte, ou n’y entrent que rarement. Chateaubriand ment par vanité mais non parce qu’il était un mari infidèle. Ici, et souvent la vanité est plus sérieuse que l’adultère. Ceci, le plus souvent n’agit pas sur les événements. Si la Duchesse de Portsmouth n’était pas française, les histoires de Hamilton1 n’auraient pas de valeur. Chez Louis XIV toutes ces choses n’ont d’importance que par ce fait profondément psychologique, que le jour où le désordre cesse la persécution commence. La vie privée de Guillaume III et de Napoléon avait peut-être des côtés plus honteux que celle de Louis XIV ou de Charles II, mais cela ne regarde personne. Pareilles choses peuvent servir au portrait, mais pas au jugement. Il n’est pas même certain que cela ajoute rien au portrait, qui est une œuvre de science et non pas d’art. Écartons donc des choses publiques ce qui reste du domaine de la vie privée. Les sept péchés capitaux n’existent pas pour l’Histoire. Que Louis XVIII ait été glouton, Pitt ivrogne, Washington colère, Burke peu délicat en affaires, Hamilton peu fidèle en mariage, Fox joueur, Schelling brutal, cela me touche bien peu. On n’en est pas moins véridique pour tout cela.

La Sincérité est la pierre angulaire de l’histoire. De plus, c’est la condition sine qua non de la foi, laquelle, sans cela, perd son caractère respectable et sacré. C’est donc le grand moyen pour juger les clercs et théologiens. Un homme peut croire tout en commettant les plus gros péchés. Il ne peut pas croire s’il n’est pas vrai et sincère dans les choses religieuses. Second élément qui augmente les dimensions de cette qualité.

L’Histoire a non seulement sa morale qui lui est propre, mais qui est contraire, en partie, à toute autre. Il y a des liens qui servent de soutien, de frein, de guide, à la plupart des mortels, que l’Histoire, dont les sujets sont toujours au-dessus du commun et exceptionnels, à notre point de Edition: current; Page: [283] vue ordinaire, regarde avec méfiance comme sources d’erreur. Qu’on soit attaché à sa famille, sa classe, sa patrie, son pays même, son église, son école, son collège, son parti, n’est une bonne chose qu’à condition d’en être détaché aussi, de n’en être pas absorbé, ébloui, gouverné, et d’être d’autant plus sur ses gardes contre ces influences qu’elles sont plus subtiles, plus pénétrantes et imperceptibles. Exemple plus simple encore: L’orgueil est une espèce de vertu pour les uns, et presque le plus fatal péché pour les autres.

Vous voilà bien punie d’avoir parlé de ma sévérité. Qu’est-ce qui serait arrivé si vous aviez dit que je suis obscur!

Je n’en finirais pas si je me laissais aller à prendre au grand sérieux ce mot formidable: la pente de votre esprit. La pente, c’est le mot, c’est le subjectif, c’est l’ennemi; on a une fourche pour l’expulser, un ancien l’a dit, et elle revient toujours. On tâche d’y mettre ordre autant qu’on peut. J’ai cette pente, que je n’aime pas beaucoup les Écossais, les Vénitiens, les Suisses, les Polonais. Cela reparaît toujours, à la longue; on ne peut pas l’empêcher. Mais au moins on devrait y mettre un contrepoids en disant du bien, même avec emphase, quand on le peut, de ces personnages peu sympathiques. Il me semble, au contraire, que vous êtes bien dans la bonne voie, quand vous citez l’Abbesse de Jouarre, comme si c’était une vie de Saint.

Ces pages tristes et confuses, ont été écrites au milieu de tant d’insomnies et de préoccupations que vous aurez de la peine à les lire. Croyez seulement que si j’ai touché le moins du monde à une pente, à des convictions mûries sur un autre sol que celui de la littérature je ne l’ai pas voulu, et le regrette.—Votre dévoué,

Acton.

(b): TALLEYRAND

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
2 juin 1891
Tegernsee

La grande chose à éclaircir c’est la politique Polonaise de Talleyrand.1 Il se pourrait bien qu’il ait eu là une Edition: current; Page: [284] théorie véritable et sincère, car il avait dans sa peau un vieux Constituant.1 Napoléon voulait l’envoyer en Pologne en 1812, et y a renoncé lorsqu’il s’est décidé à ne pas reconstituer la Pologne. Talleyrand aurait très volontiers sacrifié la Prusse, et il s’agissait de faire la guerre à la Russie. Pour l’Autriche, qu’il voulait grande, puissante, et éloignée des frontières françaises, il l’aurait dédommagée en Turquie, sinon en Silésie. Il y a des indices de tout cela, mais cela n’est pas clair. Comparez Thiers, très renseigné sur Talleyrand, Ernouf, Vie de Maret, qui écrit contre Thiers, avec de bons documents, et Valfrey, sur Napoléon et Alexandre, surtout à l’époque de Tilsit et Erfurt. On vient justement de publier des lettres de N. et A. et aussi Mazade, Alexandre I et Czartoryski. Les millions rendus pourraient s’expliquer par cette hypothèse.

Stern raconte la rupture avec Mirabeau, sans donner de détails sur leur réconciliation.

Stockmar,2 dans Sybel’s Zeitschrift, expose des erreurs de Bacourt,3 qui ont peu d’importance. Les Mém. de son père4 sont précieux sur l’ambassade de Londres en 1830.

Mme de Rémusat5 parle de Talleyrand et de son state of mind à son fils à l’époque où je crois pouvoir placer la rédaction des Mémoires.

Il y a peu dans Hardenberg6; quelque chose dans Hain7; et il faut voir le volume de lettres dans les Publicationen des Preussischen Staatsarchivs.

Edition: current; Page: [285]

Je n’avais pas achevé cela hier: je serais venu vous le soumettre au retour des Courses, avec mes filles reconnaissantes.—Votre dévoué,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
3 juin 1891
Tegernsee
Lady Blennerhassett
Lady Blennerhassett
Chère Lady Blennerhassett,

La liste de Perigordiana1 me rappelle que je perds la mémoire. C’est bien Vandal,2 et non Valfrey, qui écrit sur les relations avec Alexandre.

Valfrey a répondu dans le Figaro à l’article exagéré d’Aulard dans la Revue Bleue de Mars. Valfrey est l’homme de M. de Broglie. Attaque et défense se valent.

Vandal me fait croire que je me serais trompé sur l’homme du pays de Vaud dont les mémoires sont dans une des bibliothèques de Munich. Je ne sais plus si c’est Muret ou Monod.

Il y a des lettres de Talleyrand dans Beaulieu Marçonnay3 sur Dalberg; et dans Vreede, La Souabe après la paix de Bâle, 1879.

Gagern affirme dans ses Beiträge zur Zeitgeschichte que Talleyrand se disposait à ramener les Bourbons quand il habitait Varsovie, c’est-à-dire au commencement de 1807. Il aura reproduit ce passage dans un de ses volumes. Il a paru déjà en 1817, dans les Ueberlieferungen zur Geschichte unserer Zeit de Zschokke, I. 297. Personne ne songeait, alors, au duc d’Orléans. Cela diminue le trait de génie de 1814. Car il s’est fixé sur les Bourbons quand il n’y avait pas d’autre alternative; (pas de roi de Rome, Bernadotte pas encore Prince Royal, Orléans inconnu;) et non par prévoyance de l’usage à en faire dans la politique Européenne. On peut croire Gagern sur sa parole.

V. dans la Revue Diplomatique de 1890 les lettres de Talleyrand et de Mme de Staël; celles publiées par Browning4 Edition: current; Page: [286] sur la Mission de Lord Whitworth; Masson,1 Les A. E. pendant la Révolution.

Goncourt est bien amer. Fallait-il tout cela pour ne pas aimer Mme de Staël? Je sens bien qu’elle m’intéresse parce qu’elle a évité, pendant la Révolution, les excès des Girondins ainsi que la réaction parce qu’elle avait l’horreur de Napoléon et qu’elle est de ceux qui ont transmis ce qui était viable dans l’idée révolutionnaire. Mais je me figure quelqu’un qui s’intéresserait moins que moi aux progrès de la doctrine politique, qui regarderait la liberté non comme la cause suprême dans la vie des peuples, mais comme un bienfait à peser contre plusieurs autres, grandeur, progrès, intelligence, instruction, de bonnes lois, une saine distribution des richesses, etc.

Enfin quelqu’un qui penserait comme Turgot ou Thiers, W. Scott, ou Goethe, G. Eliot, ou Maine—il pourrait bien recevoir en plein visage les révélations de B. Constant,2 de Bonstetten,3 s’offusquer de sa perversité passionnelle, de son manque de tact, de sa vanité débordante, etc.

Votre lettre de 18094 enlève bien quelque chose à la grandeur de sa résistance. Il y avait des choses à cacher, ou à dissimuler, pendant sa vie; et on n’a fait qu’escamoter ses lettres depuis sa mort. Et je note combien de monde a résisté à son charme social—comme, par exemple, les Édimbourgeois.

Enfin vous connaissez les vitraux de Lincoln, composés par un élève adroit, des morceaux brisés et rejetés par le maître.—Votre dévoué,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
27 juin
Tegernsee
Lady Blennerhassett
Lady Blennerhassett
Chère Lady Blennerhassett,

Dites bien à Madame votre mère, je vous en prie, combien j’ai été reconnaissant et heureux d’un accueil qui a prêté du charme à mon rapide Edition: current; Page: [287] séjour. Il n’a manqué à mon bonheur que de vous avoir enlevée. Mon fils vous remercie beaucoup du Lecky que Arthur m’a fort indiscrètement remis; et il passe la journée à l’étudier; surtout quand il ne joue pas au Tennis.

Napoléon a poussé la clarté jusqu’au point de dire ce mot superbe: Cherchez qui vous gouverne: Je suis trop grand pour vous! Et c’était bien là le fond de sa pensée. Mais il a fini par accepter les conditions de Châtillon—trop tard, il est vrai; mais avec l’espoir d’arriver à temps. Ce sont les alliés qui alors l’ont repoussé. Un martyr qui, après la sentence, dirait: “Nun in Gottes Namen, rufen wir die Olympier an!”1 et auquel on dirait: “Vous ferez bien, mais cela ne vous servira à rien ici-bas”—ne passerait pas pour un vrai martyr.

Nous serions injustes si nous identifions les Bourbons trop directement avec le territoire diminué. Ils ont obtenu en 1814, une meilleure frontière que celle que Napoléon avait, en dernier lieu, acceptée. Et, en 1815, on leur a fait de meilleures conditions que celles qu’on voulait faire aux d’Orléans.

Je crois que vous me diminuez mon Talleyrand. Vers le milieu de Mars les alliés n’étaient pas encore favorables aux Bourbons. L’Angleterre seule se déclarait pour eux. Même arrivés à Paris les autres n’étaient pas décidés. Et l’arrangement offert par Napoléon, la Régence Autrichienne, avait des chances de réussir. Cela assurait la paix, et aussi la position de toutes les grandeurs advenues depuis vingt ans.

Cette attitude des alliés est d’ailleurs un fait capital. Le pays constitutionnel est le seul qui ait posé la Legitimité en principe. Les chefs futurs de la Sainte Alliance n’en savaient rien. Ce n’est pas par cette route qu’ils sont parvenus à la doctrine de la Restauration, au contraire de la Révolution, mais par l’influence de Baader sur Alexandre, et par la force prodigieuse que Talleyrand a su donner, du Congrès, à son système. Je ne lui reproche même pas d’avoir repoussé le duc d’Orléans, qui promettait plus de durée. La situation internationale aurait été moins bonne. Et il n’y avait pas de raison valable pour que les Bourbons ne durassent pas. Ses conseils, en tout cas, les auraient Edition: current; Page: [288] sauvés. Il y a dans l’histoire de la pensée humaine à distinguer entre l’absolutisme et la Légitimité. Les défenseurs de celle-ci pouvaient dire, en tout sincerité comme Fiévée1 et Berryer,2 Genoude3 et Cormenin,4 qu’ils n’étaient pas absolutistes. De même que Metternich n’était pas Légitimiste.—Votre dévoué,

Acton.

(c): GEORGE ELIOT

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
July 9th
Lady Blennerhassett
Lady Blennerhassett
Dear Lady Blennerhassett,

. . . The person who understands my article the least is myself. For clearly there is some mystery in it which I entirely fail to discover. I judge this from the strange variety of disagreement it encounters, but I have no idea where the difficulty lies.

No doubt, I rate George Eliot much higher than many people do. Not higher than Scherer, Spencer, or Hutton;6 and I have said very little about her talent, dwelling much on her deficiencies. So that I suspect the seat of trouble is elsewhere than in the literary estimate.

I was reviewing her life, not her works; and my standpoint was that of history, not that of criticism. I was dealing with that which the Life told, and the Works did not tell. It was not my object to interfere with the current opinion of her genius as a novelist or to venture any comparison with Scott or Hugo. Writing of Lessing or Rousseau it would be a waste of time to consider the dramatic Edition: current; Page: [289] merit of the one, or the prose style of the other. They stand on another level. They have to take their place with Jefferson,1 Hegel, Baader,2 Daub,3 Bentham, Rothe,4 Niebuhr—men of no literary quality whatever, but producers of ideas, like Socrates, Gournay,5 Martinez, who did not write at all.

The interest lies in the teaching, and in that alone. If her ideas had been common, traditional, Christian, her importance—to me—would have been less. She would have stood in the midst of a very large group, a little above, or a little below many other writers.

Instead of that, she was a perfect atheist, and had had to reconstruct her views of life without any aid at all from the habits and influences she had rejected. There was a complete solution of continuity. She made, in later life, no use of the motives common to religious society. When the resemblance is greatest, the distinction is complete. Every one of her ideas has grown up on ground absolutely atheistic. Now this has always appeared a serious danger. Many think that no enduring system of moral order can be founded on disbelief in God. Everybody sees that there is no security that the ethics of Infidelity will practically harmonise Edition: current; Page: [290] with the ethics of Belief. And we possess a great body of examples in Comte, in Mill, in the revolutionary movement, of the peril to morality from the rejection of the old bases of modern civilisation.

The signs of this peril may be found in the group of rather vulgar freethinkers among whom she lived until she was past thirty. She emancipated herself from all these surroundings, but then it was to embrace what was worse, what was worst, ethically, in all European thought at that time, Feuerbach1 and Comte. She was steeped in all that is most dangerous to Conscience in the systems of European thought, as they then existed.

And the people among whom she lived in the years which brought her mind to maturity, from 1850 to 1860, were people of a low type morally, people degraded by materialism. George Eliot had no contact with anything else. She was cut off from English society and despised it. Her whole soul drew its inspiration from doctrines repudiating all the spiritual world and the motives that belong to it.

Just then, after the middle of the century, it became a question of great moment, whether Infidelity could keep up the moral level. For 200 years, from the time of Hobbes, unbelief had been making its way. There had been a metaphysical phase, a doubting, a scoffing, an angry phase, and a good deal of indifference. At last there came a time when, quite apart from these influences, unbelief came to be founded on science. Nobody thought any more of putting it down or of conciliation any more than after 1648 they thought of establishing religious unity in Europe. It was sustained by the triumphant forces of the day. About one-half of the classic writing, of the creative thinking of the world was done by unbelievers. The influences that reigned were in great measure atheistic. It became needful to arrange a modus vivendi with the prevailing powers. No minds could be reared except by aid of Grote, Mill, Austin, Darwin, Lewis, Huxley, Tyndall, Clifford—to take England only. The universities were saturated with their books.

Edition: current; Page: [291]

At the same time, from the decline of Hegel, all these schools of unbelief were marked by their inability to deal with Ethics. I do not refer to Cousin, who was a spiritualist, or to Herbart, who at least is not a definite atheist. But Utilitarianism, Positivism, Materialism, Pessimism, Feuerbach—were all destitute of any ethical system.

In short, towards 1860, unbelief was beginning to gain the day, and appeared totally incapable of moralising man. In many German Universities there were no lectures on Ethics, in the philosophic faculty.

All this is, no doubt, greatly changed. Both in Germany and in England there is a very powerful ethical movement; and I have at least twenty books on the Ethics of Unbelief written within the last ten years—Hartmann, Giżycki,1 Guyau,2 Spencer, Stephen, Sidgwick, Lorimer, etc. etc. etc.

Of all this movement there was not a trace (out of France) between 1840 and 1875. The career of George Eliot was run during the supremacy of atheism and the eclipse of (philosophic) Ethics. All the schools in which she learnt, all the groups with which she was connected, were peculiar for ethical impotence.

And yet her moral teaching is very high. Without any survival of Christian impressions, without aid from the philosophers, and without the least concession to the eighteenth century doctrines of pleasure, she contrived to become a grand moral teacher.

From the depths of atheism, from its worst school, from the midst of the poorest surroundings, a preacher of lofty virtue arose, not at all perfect indeed, or absolutely consistent, but far more impressive, more true, more elevated, than any but the very best of Christian writers, and capable of reaching those whom no Christian could possibly touch. To me this is one of the most wonderful facts, of the most wonderful feats, in the history of the human mind. Atheism, at the moment of its becoming a permanent and Edition: current; Page: [292] preponderant force, was rescued and redeemed from the most formidable and most ancient peril and reproach. The new and most puissant morality was even in some ways preferable to that of current religion. It had no weak places, no evil champions, no bad purpose, to screen or to excuse, unlike almost all forms of Christianity. The system of S. Francis was more lofty and heroic; but it proved the most inefficacious and transitory of systems.

Atheism, as a teacher of Life, became, roughly speaking, the equal of Christianity in moral dignity when it became its rival in mental power. And all through this one woman who lived among scoffers, professors of impurity, men ignorant of higher things, philosophers destitute of a moral code—a woman who had never read the books that teach the higher virtues to religious men. For these reasons which seem to me too obvious and too certain to be disputed, I would give all the imaginative literature of England since Shakespeare for George Eliot’s writings. She is altogether unique to my mind. For, if Kant is a great moralist, how highly educated one must be to follow him! No doubt, the idea which she used so much, because it goes down so well with British Christians, the certainty of earthly Retribution, is one which no historical-minded person can accept. She herself was aware that virtue is not much happier than crime; and she never filled up this tremendous gap.

But the mass of mankind is not more gifted with historical insight and experience than she was, and so her sermon was more impressive than Plato’s account of the just man’s fate. But surely, nobody can say that where I describe this doctrine of Retribution I treat it as if I thought it sound; or that I fail to indicate the fault in her Psychology, the confinement to domestic life without heed of the grander specimens of human nature.

What more can I say to make my meaning clear? Probably all this was already clear to every reader, and the difficulty lies in some place I have not guessed. I give it up.—Believe me, most truly yours,

Acton.
Edition: current; Page: [293]

(d): MISCELLANEOUS

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Lady Blennerhassett
Lady Blennerhassett
Chère Lady Blennerhassett,

Je profite du Hengstenberg pour ajouter un mot en faveur de mon ami Scherer.

Il n’y a pas un travail intellectuel plus curieux que le sien, parce qu’il est toujours sincère, à la hauteur, et, de plus en plus indépendant de toute influence.

Ceux qui l’ont formé sont Rossi,1 Reuss2 et Vinet.3 Sa première dissertation en 1842 est l’œuvre d’un vieux savant.

Sous l’influence de Vinet, et après sa mort, il a rédigé la Réformation au XIXe siècle à Genève. On y voit un Protestantisme intelligent mais ordinaire, peu scientifique.

Vers 1851 il s’opère un changement. Il écrit la vie de Vinet qui n’est que l’analyse très sévère de la théorie de l’église. Avec cela il est sorti de toute théologie.

Il exprime toute sa pensée dans les Lettres à mon Curé, et dans un article intitulé La Crise de la Foi.

Puis vers 1856-1859 il refait en détail son examen de Conscience dans la Nouvelle Revue de Théologie.

Il y a un gros volume de ses essais théologiques, et aussi un petit volume pareil à ses essais littéraires. Il faut avoir les deux.

Puis ses travaux pour le Temps en huit volumes. Mais le même volume contient les trois grands articles sur Shakespeare, Milton, et Goethe. Ajouter celui sur Molière qu’il dit ignorant et incapable d’écrire en français. Il était Allemand sachant parfaitement les choses allemandes; mais Maire de Versailles pendant le siège, il est devenu le plus dur ennemi des Allemands.

Il est toujours sérieux, maître de lui, logique, mais un Edition: current; Page: [294] peu sévère et même aride. Ses derniers livres, sur Diderot et Grimm, sont à la hauteur, et c’est tout. Il est sous un rapport supérieur aux hommes qui lui ressemblent, Ste Beuve, Renan, Taine, c’est qu’il n’a pas de théorie. C’est le scepticisme pur et simple, selon moi, dans son plus fidèle et plus instructif représentant. Il n’est pas dans un courant.

Quelque chose manque à sa grandeur comme il dit lui-même de Vinet. Il n’a même pas été Académicien ni ministre des Affaires Etrangères—choses élémentaires pour un homme comme lui. Et son nom n’est pas connu à tout le monde, comme ceux de ses rivaux. Il était compassé, réservé, froid, sans beaucoup de lien, d’élan, ou de mouvement.

Dites-moi que la Bibliothèque a ce qu’il vous faut et que vous allez vous y mettre.—Votre dévoué,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
juin 1887
Lady Blennerhassett
Lady Blennerhassett
Chère Lady Blennerhassett,

Je vous remercie cordialement de vos bonnes félicitations. Ce degré a été pour moi plus que ces satisfactions plus ou moins banales qui arrivent, à force de vieillir, à qui sait attendre. Car les deux Universités m’ont repoussé en 1850; et maintenant toutes les deux se sont décidées à m’adopter—Cambridge ayant remis la chose, me dit-on, pour ne pas faire double emploi.

J’ai été voir la cérémonie à Cambridge, invité avec Richard par le Vice Chancellor. Puis il est venu à Oxford me voir conspué par les étudiants mal élevés. . . .—Votre dévoué,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
11 nov. 1890
Tegernsee
Lady Blennerhassett
Lady Blennerhassett
Chère Lady Blennerhassett,

Je reçois votre aimable lettre en prenant la plume pour vous dire que je vous ai envoyé un gros paquet, contenant les précieux MSS. que vous m’avez confiés ainsi que les nombreux imprimés, les vôtres et ceux de S. M. dont je ne puis assez dire ma reconnaissance.

Un des livres n’y est pas: un volume de la “Evangelische Kirchenzeitung” qui viendra avec moi. Si j’ai oublié autre Edition: current; Page: [295] chose, ou si j’ai envoyé dans la Tannstrasse des livres à vous je vous prie de m’avertir. Je crois que nous partirons d’ici samedi. Je crois vraiment que les miracles de Prince H.1—de celui qui a dévancé le Statthalter dans la voie des prodiges—sont suffisamment connus dans mon public de demi-savants. C’est une scie légendaire, un cliché, comme le souper des Girondins, le duel d’O’Connell, la politesse de Stair, le moulin de Sans Souci. Je ne pouvais omettre un point aussi caractéristique d’autant que c’était pour les lettres anglaises que le chanoine—il n’a jamais été Cardinal, ni même évêque autrement que in partibus—employait le jeune concitoyen. Beaucoup d’explications auraient trop prolongé le travail, déjà excessif de longueur.

Vous avez bien raison de lire entre les lignes pour voir non pas ce que l’écrivain désire indiquer en glissant mais aussi ce qu’il voudrait cacher. C’est même pour cela qu’il y a des critiques pour montrer les choses qui se trahissent, que l’auteur ignore lui-même. Et puisque vous me poursuivez dans mes retranchements, et jusqu’au petit imprimé de la Historical Review, “I take my stand in the last ditch,” et je vous assurerai qu’il s’agissait, entre moi et Bryce,2 d’une chose assez positive. Il aurait plaisir à montrer que nous n’avons rien à craindre de l’exemple américain, qu’ils respectent le passé comme nous, et sont des esprits historiques, et partant conservateurs. Et il fonde leur Révolution sur le droit positif. Nous sommes d’accord pour l’œuvre de 1787; la Constitution était un système de garanties contre le mouvement, l’instabilité, démocratiques. Mais la révolte de 1776, la Déclaration des Droits, sont affaire d’abstractions, de droit universel, et ont par là leur signification unique, solitaire, dans l’histoire des hommes. Car il n’est nullement prouvé que l’Angleterre ait eu tort légalement. Je ne décide pas: mais je constate que les premiers jurisconsultes, Blackstone et Mansfield, ne le Edition: current; Page: [296] croyaient pas, que Burke doutait, que Macaulay même ne doute pas du tout de notre droit. Sans citer Lecky, qui peut passer pour un esprit conservateur, ennemi de chimères.

Bryce, qui est un Civilian, un Romaniste, pense que les choses se font par le ministère du temps, que la vie vient des racines naturelles, que la tradition règne, que rien ne dure, au soleil, qui ne se soit préparé par un travail souterrain. C’est ainsi que parlaient Leibniz, Burke, Savigny, le Professeur, tous ceux qui appliquent à la vie universelle les doctrines particulières au droit romain, au droit anglais, à l’Eglise Catholique, au Positivisme, à l’évolutionnisme. Je crois que cela est faux, comme loi de l’histoire, et je n’ai voulu dire que cela; c’est-à-dire soulever un doute sur l’historicisme de mon ami. Je ne nie pas, bien entendu, l’immense part de vérité et de force dans ce principe: je voudrais faire la part du principe contraire, qui, en temps et lieu, dans certaines conditions, et sous des points de vue importants, aurait son droit ou aurait eu sa force.

A tel point que les juristes de All Souls, me prenant pour un des leurs, m’ont élu à un fellowship dans leur collège, rien que pour mes hérésies en small type.

Comme il y a un homme et une femme que je ne contredis jamais par admiration d’abord, et puis par peur de me tromper, vous venez, doublée d’airain, quand vous avez Vinet à vos côtés. Oui et non. Oui, l’historien doit avoir un parti, une conviction, dans les choses où le doute n’est pas insurmontable. Il est de son devoir de donner à la vérité ou à la justice qu’il reconnaît tout le relief, tout l’éclat qui lui revient. Mais il doit faire aussi la part de ce qui est incertain, du côté faible même du bien, du côté fort ou favorable de l’erreur, de la vertu, du talent, du mérite des malfaiteurs. Quand Charras1 rend justice aux Anglais, ou Maurice2 aux Prussiens, ils nous donnent un Waterloo bien plus impressif que celui de Thiers ou de Siborne.3

Edition: current; Page: [297]

Il y a là un effet de Culture. A un certain niveau on a de la peine à entendre dire beaucoup de bien de l’ennemi. On reprochait à Bellarmin de donner trop de force à l’argument qu’il allait détruire—reproche de bout de l’oreille. Jamais on a si bien persuadé que Gladstone dans les soixante, lorsqu’il prétendait que Disraeli ne comprenait pas sa propre cause, et que, avant de l’attaquer, il la reproduisait dans les meilleures couleurs. Mais le M.P. imbécile, s’il y en avait, n’y prenait pas plaisir, se trouvait confus et croyait cette méthode peu sûre.

Personne n’est plus persuadé que moi de la bonne cause de 1688: mais si je lisais Macaulay aujourd’hui pour la première fois il me ferait douter, parce qu’il est si sûr. Les livres ne font pas les convictions. Ils font penser; ils donnent des moyens et des matériaux pour penser juste. Ils dirigent l’esprit, ils ne le gouvernent pas. Prenez, par exemple, “Heidenthum und Judenthum.”1 Combien l’effet serait plus grand et sans appel si l’auteur avait montré jusqu’où le paganisme a pu arriver dans les 5 siècles de sa marche ascendante, et fait au juste la mesure de l’innovation amenée par le Christianisme.

Cobden, en mourant, a dit à Mallet, que Mill avait fait le plus grand mal à leur cause en disant qu’il y a des conditions, des Kulturstufen, où la protection est de droit temporaire. Je ne crois pas que Vinet approuverait cet état d’esprit là.

Amour de la vérité abstraite, Chimère! Je le veux bien quoique je ne l’aurais pas dit. Mais amour de la vérité partout. Honneur!

Freeman, que déteste Bright, celui qu’on vient d’assassiner,2 me disait à propos d’un article sur son histoire d’Angleterre qu’on ne voyait pas si je l’aimais ou si je ne l’aimais pas. Est-ce qu’il s’agit de moi? J’ai donné à chacun le moyen de juger pour lui-même. Si j’étais Freeman on pourrait être curieux de savoir mon jugement personnel, et on bâtirait dessus plus volontiers et plus vite Edition: current; Page: [298] que sur des preuves. A propos de Bellarmin, un de mes amis, Grand Vicaire de Birmingham, étudiait au Collegio Inglese quand Newman vint à Rome. Il eut, un jour d’examen ou de doctoration, à défendre la thèse Catholique contre les Protestants représentés par Newman. Il y aurait eu plus à glaner là du côté hérétique que dans l’orthodoxie de mon ami.

Puisque vous jurez, comme au Jeu de Paume, je ne nierai point. Mais en admettant tout de même que j’ai habilement introduit mon portrait sous un déguisement, comme le font les peintres des jugements derniers, il y a tant de choses à mettre dans l’autre balance. Quand on passe sa vie à tâcher de comprendre l’histoire et ses lois, et ses exemples contradictoires, et ses éléments humains et divins, et ses gradations, et ses variations, ce qui est fixe, ce qui est constant, et ce qui est passager, on est forcé de travailler avec tant de couleurs et d’étoffes qu’on se regimbe contre une théorie très simple, contre une philosophie à unique point de vue, contre un système développé d’un seul principe, contre l’escamotage de l’induction par la dialectique à priori, et le règne de l’idée souveraine, ainsi, si on peut dire que j’ai confiance dans l’avenir et le progrès, que ma Théodicée est celle des Whigs, que je partage la philosophie de l’histoire révolutionnaire, tout cela est porté, limité, interprêté par une masse d’antécédants qui ne souffrent pas une désignation aussi exclusive. Ce mot que vous avez dit m’a fait croire que je ne m’étais pas assez gardé les flancs, et que j’avais eu l’air de parler pour moi-même avec quelque affectation, quand je voulais parler de suites d’idées tout à fait objectives, des divisions inévitables de la pensée humaine. Voyez seulement le côté religieux de la chose—on a marché de l’unité vers la diversité, du Catholicisme au Protestantisme, de la Bible aux Sectes, au doute, au rationalisme, au déisme, au panthéisme, et enfin à la suprématie de la science. Qui trouve tout cela progrès croit, ou que le Catholicisme est une antiquité, ou que l’avenir sera tout autre que le passé. De là ma question. Croyez-moi, malgré l’ennui que je vous donne.—Votre dévoué,

Acton.
Edition: current; Page: [299]
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
1891
Lady Blennerhassett
Lady Blennerhassett
Chère Lady Blennerhassett,

Vous avez raison. M. Thiers, ci-ouvert devant moi, dit: Ce sont les Bourbons qu’il veut nous imposer avec tout ce que les Bourbons apportent, etc. J’ai même lu quelque part ceci, or words to this effect. Les Acton ont toujours été fidèles aux Bourbons. Je voudrais que la Légation de France m’expliquât cette énormité.

Croyez bien que moi aussi je ne désire nullement désobliger le duc de Broglie. J’admire infiniment son talent; et je me souviens qu’on se moquait de moi à Paris quand je le trouvais supérieur à Montalembert. Mais je croyais non seulement à son talent, qui est en effet très sérieux, et qui perd peu en manquant d’éclat, mais à sa science.

Voilà que son fils, Emmanuel, écrit sous ses yeux un livre sur Mabillon qui est rempli d’erreurs. Il est si malade que, nécessairement, les siens viennent le secourir; et ceci m’a fait soupçonner le duc lui-même d’ignorance sur la grande ligne centrale et décisive de la science religieuse moderne. Voici que ses notes prouvent que ce savant homme d’Etat Catholique le plus réussi, le plus important que la France ait eu, ne se connaît pas mieux aux choses d’Etat qu’aux choses de l’Eglise. Et ceci m’a un peu dérouté. J’aurais bien mauvaise grâce à vous engager à exposer ses erreurs. Car il ne s’est pas montré le moins du monde sensible à la façon dont j’ai agi, l’avertissant en secret, et ne disant en public que du bien de lui et de son édition. Du reste, j’y étais tenu par l’obligeance qu’il a eue de m’envoyer les bonnes feuilles, et par le désir qu’il a montré que je parle du livre (nouvelle faute de subjonctif, admise par Sainte-Beuve). Il a même témoigné le désir de me communiquer la correspondance avec mon grand’père, et j’y tiens. Il a dit qu’il profiterait de mes critiques (il faut dire mes observations) dans la réimpression, et il faut lui en tenir compte. Je suis curieux de savoir comment il s’arrangera avec le séjour de sa grand’mère.

Mrs. H. Ward serait à ajouter à votre collection de femmes littéraires, plus ou moins psychologiques. Abbott1 Edition: current; Page: [300] est un homme autrement sérieux, et selon moi, notre premier Baconian, n’ayant pas la tendance de mon excellent et solide ami Fowler1 à justifier et réhabiliter ce chancelier qui nous paraîtrait le plus grand écrivain du monde si on n’avait voulu le faire passer pour un philosophe et une autorité en science.

Vous me suscitez trop d’adversaires. C’est une catégorie que je n’admets pas. On n’est jamais d’accord avec personne, à la longue ou sur un large espace. Si ce n’est la religion, ou le point de vue philosophique, ou la politique, ou le sentiment du bien et du beau, ce sera nationalité, le caractère, le plus ou moins de facilité à s’ennuyer qui sépareront les gens. Non numero horas nisi serenas. On finit par noter non pas les choses qui séparent, mais celles où on se rencontre, et ceci toujours avec plaisir et souvent avec surprise. Non pas avec profit, car c’est la contradiction qui enseigne, qui nous apprend surtout à comprendre les pensées et les raisonnements qui ne sont pas les nôtres, et qui comme réalités ainsi que comme vérités ont pour nous une égale importance.—Votre dévoué,

Acton.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
30 décembre 1896
Briennerstrasse
Lady Blennerhassett
Lady Blennerhassett
Chère Lady Blennerhassett,

Je me réjouis de tenir vos deux promesses, et je vous explique par ces extraits de quoi il s’agit.

Avec les Doctrinaires vous avez un sujet du plus profond intérêt. C’est d’abord la règne de Louis XVIII depuis le retour de Gand jusqu’à l’assassinat du duc de Berri. Ensuite, il faudrait trouver moyen d’exposer, au point de vue le plus favorable, toutes les idées particulières à ce groupe. Nous tenons à ce que toutes les idées de la politique moderne se trouvent dans nos pages; et nous voulons donner, chemin faisant, le cours le plus complet de Politique qu’il y ait dans la littérature. Car nous disons que c’est des historiens qu’il faut apprendre cela.

Edition: current; Page: [301]

Et je voudrais toujours présenter les idées du côté de la vérité qu’elles contiennent, indiquant le secret de leur force, et ce qui en survit.

L’histoire, dans la succession des choses se charge de la critique. Nous avons à détacher la partie ailée et immortelle des erreurs, des limites, des ignorances, des passions, des calculs qui les déparent, pour obtenir ce qui est transportable et permanent.

Je ne vais pas être importun; mais si vous le voulez, je mettrais ensemble les idées qui me reviennent à ce propos, et à propos des livres à consulter, dont la plupart vous est bien connue, et tous, peut-être. L’important, c’est Faguet.—Votre dévoué,

Acton.

P. 300. Martinez is probably Martinez Pasqualis (c. 1715-1779). Martinez was a Portuguese Jew, founder of a strange illuminism. His importance is due to the influence he had upon Claude de Saint-Martin. Cf. Franck, La Philosophie Mystique en France à la fin du XVIIIme siècle. Saint-Martin et son Maître Martinez Pasqualis, also Malter, Saint-Martin, Le Philosophe Inconnu, sa vie et ses écrits, son maître Martinez et leurs groupes. Saint-Beuve has an essay on Saint-Martin, Causeries du Lundi, vol. x., and de Maistre alludes to the Martinists in his great work.

Edition: current; Page: [302]

C.—: MISCELLANEOUS

GENERAL LEE

Mary Curtis Lee
Lee, Mary Curtis
March 1st, ’66
Lexington
Lady Acton
Lady Acton

To Lady Acton.

I avail myself of the privilege afforded me; my dear Lady Acton; by your kind letter to tell you how much I was pleased to hear of the sympathy felt for us by at least some of the noble souls in our Mother Country.

Could you know all or even half of the wrongs we have endured, the eloquent pen of your husband might portray scenes that would astound his audience. It is better we should forget them if that was possible.

I enclose a few stanzas1 which have appeared since the surrender; the author is unknown; but they are very touching, and may be appreciated in a county where the name of Lee is valued, and where in truth the family did originate.

I venture to send you; in the hope it may prove acceptable; an autograph likeness of General Lee taken during the war, which we consider better than any which have appeared since. Should you ever be induced to visit our now unhappy country, we should be too glad to welcome you to our mountain home.—Most truly and respectfully yours,

Mary Curtis Lee.
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
R. E. Lee
Lee, R. E.
15 Dec. 1866
Lexington
Sir,

Although your letter of the 4th ulto. has been before me some days unanswered, I hope you will not attribute it to a want of interest in the subject, but to my inability to keep pace with my correspondence. As a citizen of the Edition: current; Page: [303] South I feel deeply indebted to you for the sympathy you have evinced in its cause, and am conscious that I owe your kind consideration of myself to my connection with it. The influence of current opinion in Europe upon the current politics of America must always be salutary; and the importance of the questions now at issue in the United States, involving not only constitutional freedom and constitutional government in this country, but the progress of universal liberty and civilisation, invests your proposition with peculiar value, and will add to the obligation which every true American must owe you for your efforts to guide that opinion aright. Amid the conflicting statements and sentiments in both countries, it will be no easy task to discover the truth, or to relieve it from the mass of prejudice and passion, with which it has been covered by party spirit. I am conscious of the compliment conveyed in your request for my opinion as to the light in which American politics should be viewed, and had I the ability, I have not the time to enter upon a discussion, which was commenced by the founders of the constitution and has been continued to the present day. I can only say that while I have considered the preservation of the constitutional power of the General Government to be the foundation of our peace and safety at home and abroad, I yet believe that the maintenance of the rights and authority reserved to the states and to the people, not only essential to the adjustment and balance of the general system, but the safeguard to the continuance of a free government. I consider it as the chief source of stability to our political system, whereas the consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded it. I need not refer one so well acquainted as you are with American history, to the State papers of Washington and Jefferson, the representatives of the federal and democratic parties, denouncing consolidation and centralisation of power, as tending to the subversion of State Governments, and to despotism. The New England states, whose citizens are the fiercest opponents of the Southern states, did not always avow the opinions they now advocate. Upon the Edition: current; Page: [304] purchase of Louisiana by Mr. Jefferson, they virtually asserted the right of secession through their prominent men; and in the convention which assembled at Hartford in 1814, they threatened the disruption of the Union unless the war should be discontinued. The assertion of this right has been repeatedly made by their politicians when their party was weak, and Massachusetts, the leading state in hostility to the South, declares in the preamble to her constitution, that the people of that commonwealth “have the sole and exclusive right of governing themselves as a free sovereign and independent state, and do, and forever hereafter shall, exercise and enjoy every power, jurisdiction, and right which is not, or may hereafter be by them expressly delegated to the United States of America in congress assembled.” Such has been in substance the language of other State governments, and such the doctrine advocated by the leading men of the country for the last seventy years. Judge Chase, the present Chief Justice of the U.S., as late as 1850, is reported to have stated in the Senate, of which he was a member, that he “knew of no remedy in case of the refusal of a state to perform its stipulations,” thereby acknowledging the sovereignty and independence of state action. But I will not weary you with this unprofitable discussion. Unprofitable because the judgment of reason has been displaced by the arbitrament of war, waged for the purpose as avowed of maintaining the union of the states. If, therefore, the result of the war is to be considered as having decided that the union of the states is inviolable and perpetual under the constitution, it naturally follows that it is as incompetent for the general government to impair its integrity by the exclusion of a state, as for the states to do so by secession; and that the existence and rights of a state by the constitution are as indestructible as the union itself. The legitimate consequence then must be the perfect equality of rights of all the states; the exclusive right of each to regulate its internal affairs under rules established by the Constitution, and the right of each state to prescribe for itself the qualifications of suffrage. The South has contended only for the supremacy of the constitution, and the just administration of the laws made in pursuance to it. Virginia Edition: current; Page: [305] to the last made great efforts to save the union, and urged harmony and compromise. Senator Douglass, in his remarks upon the compromise bill recommended by the committee of thirteen in 1861, stated that every member from the South, including Messrs. Toombs and Davis, expressed their willingness to accept the proposition of Senator Crittenden from Kentucky, as a final settlement of the controversy, if sustained by the republican party, and that the only difficulty in the way of an amicable adjustment was with the republican party. Who then is responsible for the war? Although the South would have preferred any honourable compromise to the fratricidal war which has taken place, she now accepts in good faith its constitutional results, and receives without reserve the amendment which has already been made to the constitution for the extinction of slavery. That is an event that has been long sought, though in a different way, and by none has it been more earnestly desired than by citizens of Virginia. In other respects I trust that the constitution may undergo no change, but that it may be handed down to succeeding generations in the form we received it from our forefathers. The desire I feel that the Southern states should possess the good opinion of one whom I esteem as highly as yourself, has caused me to extend my remarks farther than I intended, and I fear it has led me to exhaust your patience. If what I have said should serve to give any information as regards American politics, and enable you to enlighten public opinion as to the true interests of this distracted country, I hope you will pardon its prolixity.

In regard to your inquiry as to my being engaged in preparing a narrative of the campaigns in Virginia, I regret to state that I progress slowly in the collection of the necessary documents for its completion. I particularly feel the loss of the official returns showing the small numbers with which the battles were fought. I have not seen the work by the Prussian officer you mention and therefore cannot speak of his accuracy in this respect.—With sentiments of great respect, I remain your obt. servant,

R. E. Lee.
Sir John Dalberg Acton
Edition: current; Page: [306]
Mandell Creighton
Creighton, Mandell
Dec. 21st, 1882
Embleton Vicarage, Chathill, Northumberland

From Dr. Mandell Creighton.

My Lord,1

You are so good that I am afraid if you encourage me I shall prove a nuisance. I have written my book so far practically without consulting any one, because I know no one who is at all interested in my subject. I live away from any literary friends, and I very seldom am able to consult libraries. I do not think that the entire time I spent in London and Oxford for the purposes of study for my two volumes reached the period of a month. I frequently have had to leave points unsolved till I could go, or get some friend to verify points for me—I am obliged to buy most of the books I want when they are possible to be bought, and I lose the opportunity of seeing stray articles that might help me, though I find the excellent abstracts of periodicals in the Revue Historique very useful. If at any time you hear of anything, it would be a great favour to me if you could let me know. I have my eye on Bayonne, though Gherardi2 is probably inaccessible as only twenty-five copies were printed. But I see that the Archivio Storico has given an abstract of him.

The great questions are, as you say, What made Luther? and what made him so strong? But they are very difficult to answer, and I thought that they could only be answered on a large scale. Perhaps you do not feel as strongly as I do how the answer, if it is to be found, is rendered difficult by the existence of claptrap and misrepresentation. The ordinary Protestant believes in a steady growth of evangelical theology from the time of Wyclif. One of my objects was to dispel that view, perhaps hardly worth dispelling. But I thought that it was worth while to try and lift the current history of that time to a more scientific level if I could do so. The absence of even any tolerable Edition: current; Page: [307] book in English dealing with that period led me to do it as thoroughly as I could. I did not write in a popular way, but I hoped that I had perhaps provided the material for more popular books afterwards. I think that the doctrinal reformation would never have taken place if a reformation of the ecclesiastical system had been possible without it.

One part of the strength of Luther lay in the belief that nothing could be got from the Papacy except by threats. I wanted to see what grounds there was for that belief. In dealing with the Councils I only credited them with such good intentions as I thought were at the bottom of all united action; I believed that I had admitted their self-seeking in details and their hopeless policy. About Hus I fully admit that the Papacy was always far more tolerant than the popular spirit, and that ecclesiastical judges were lenient to diversity of opinion, but I could not feel sure that John XXIII would have done differently from the Council, and I shall have enough to say on that point later on. It is, of course, a difficulty in publishing by instalments that one cannot do all things at once. The question of indulgences I reserved till I came to Luther, and the corruption of morals till I came to Charles VIII. Similarly about ideas—it seems to me difficult to record in chronological order indications as they occur. When the questions become part of practical politics, then I must do my best to enquire how they became so; but I think that the method of perpetually pointing out isolated occurrences, and drawing attention to presages is less effective than marshalling details in a mass at the right place, if one can find the place and have observed the details.

Of course the subject of my next volume is the secularisation of the Papacy, but in the hopeless secularisation of Europe it was impossible for the Papacy to avoid it. Europe would not combine for a Crusade. Paul II practically ended the Hussite question. The Papacy was surrounded by Italian powers who cared nothing for religion—self-preservation drove it to do its best, and I incline to think that it was a sound instinct that impelled Sixtus IV to attack the Medici. I am just busy with Leonelli’s Alessandro VI. Edition: current; Page: [308] It is a great pity that the end of Burchard1 has never been fully published.

About Hawkwood, by the way, it was not the omission of the aspirate that struck me: but the form Augud led me to think that the soldiers pronounced the last syllable wood, as a Southern Englishman would do now ’ud. He would say Hawk’ud, even if he kept his aspirate.

Please do not trouble to answer this letter,—Yours very sincerely,

M. Creighton.
Mandell Creighton
Creighton, Mandell
Sep. 21st, ’85
Worcester
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
My dear Lord Acton,

You are most good; be it as you say. The question of form is a matter for your decision; but I do not think that there is much risk of an accusation of dilettantism in your case. The mere fact that you have not fallen into the vulgar error of writing a book gives you an additional claim to attention. Wegele,2 however, may stand as a text to a sermon. The article would appear in the first part, and not in the small type: it may be sufficiently differentiated from ordinary sermons. I understand your difficulties and also I see the scope of your article. I am daily more and more impressed by the exceeding insularity of our historical ideas. The ordinary Englishman seems to consider that anything can be barred from Europe as a whole. Brewer’s work, though it was the work of his lifetime, fails because he would not take the trouble to learn more than he could help about anything save England. I hope that the Review may tend to give greater breadth of view; for such a purpose your article would be most valuable. It would strike a keynote.

You see perhaps why I speak as I do about Stubbs. I have a hope that things may improve by a little organisation—Stubbs Edition: current; Page: [309] never had any. He had no care to form a school: he was a bad lecturer and lectured as little as he could. He resented all invasions of his time as hindrances to editing MSS. That was the work he really enjoyed. He wrote his Constitutional History more because something was expected of him than because he enjoyed doing it. But his career at Oxford was a strong proof of the power of a life devoted to study. He exerted a great influence by the mere fact of his existence. His example and not his precept was valuable.

You will send me your contributions for the first number as soon as you can, I dare say. I write not to hurry you: but by the middle of October I ought to see my first number in shape. It is, alas, very shapeless at present.

By the way, have you looked into the first three vols. of the Dictionary of National Biography? If so, and if anything has struck you I wish you would send me the result of your observations, merely headings and jottings if you will. I am gathering remarks with a view to piecing together something, a method of reviewing such a book which seems to me better than committing it to one man.—Again with many thanks, yours very sincerely,

M. Creighton.
Mandell Creighton
Creighton, Mandell
Ap. 12, ’87
Worcester
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Dear Lord Acton,

It shall be as you will with the revise: also I send you Napoleon2 as you desire. But I did not mean to suggest that you should make any changes out of deference to my feelings. I only wished to make out to my own satisfaction my shortcomings that I might give an account of myself to those who asked me. I see that from your point of view, I am not made of stern enough stuff to write history. I have too much natural “pietas”—“mentem mortalia tangunt.” I have no love for heroes, and I rarely find them in my particular path: but I admit Edition: current; Page: [310] that I hesitate to find men so villainous as in your scales of moral judgment they would be. I like to stand aside as much as possible, and content myself with the humble part of a chorus in a Greek play. I try to put myself in the place of my personages. I judge them more severely for their own personal contribution to the world’s misdoings than for their acquiescence in existing systems. I think worse of Sixtus IV for his share in the Pazzi1 matter than for his authorising the Spanish Inquisition. I suppose my readers can draw morals for themselves. I think that in history, as in private life, I hope I try to find out men’s good qualities before their bad ones, their good intentions before their evil means. The statesman always seems to me in a non-moral position, because he has to consider what is possible as well as what is best, and the compromise is necessarily pitiable. The growth of a public conscience has been slow; I don’t wish to antedate its influence. It seems to me that the great charge against the Church after the thirteenth century is that it did not promote, but hindered its growth. Perhaps I have not made this clear.

The more I meditate the more grateful I am to you. I would not have you tone down any expression of dissent. Your standard is so high that I feel braced by its application. There is no one in England who knows much about my subject; very few who care to read my volumes. The only exhortations I get are to be more picturesque and more amusing; and these are not fruitful.

By the way I got a note from Dr. Immelmann2 asking if you are at Cannes, as his translation sticks for want of notes which he has not received.—Yours ever sincerely,

M. Creighton.
Artom
Artom
10 janvier 1892
John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
Cher Milord Acton,

Votre lettre m’est arrivée au moment où la mort de mon frère m’a plongé dans la désolation. Edition: current; Page: [311] Il était le chef de ma famille et la perte a pour moi les conséquences les plus doloureuses. Je n’ai ni la tranquillité ni le temps nécessaires pour recueillir mes souvenirs et mes idées, consulter quelques documents et répondre aussi pertinemment que je le devrais aux questions que vous me faites l’honneur de m’adresser. Je ne veux cependant pas retarder trop longtemps à vous répondre. Veuillez donc me permettre de vous dire seulement en peu de mots toute ma pensée.

Je suis convaincu que Cavour était complètement de bonne foi lorsqu’il a émis la formule Libera Chiesa in libero Stato. Je puis me tromper, mais pour moi il n’y a pas de doute sur ce point. Ce n’était pas pour lui un expédient temporaire, ni un stratagème politique. C’était un dogme dans la famille-Cavour que l’Église avait droit à être complètement libre. L’origine de cette doctrine doit remonter au Lamennais de l’Essai sur l’indifférence en matière de religion, à Montalembert, à tout le mouvement d’idées dont le Globe a été l’organe. Cavour avait été élevé dans les idées de l’école libérale française modifiée cependant par son séjour et ses études en Angleterre. Il était convaincu que l’Eglise une fois en possession de toute sa liberté, serait devenue elle même libérale. C’est une conviction qu’on pouvait encore avoir en 1859, dix ans seulement après l’élection de Pie IX. On pouvait supposer que si les Mazziniens n’avait pas effrayé Pie IX, il aurait pu être ramené encore aux idées libérales. Pantaleoni, Tantucci, plusieurs prélats romains nourrissaient cette conviction. Pantaleoni surtout fit croire à Cavour qu’on aurait pu transférer la capitale à Rome d’accord avec la papauté d’accord avec tout le parti catholique et libéral. Cavour en effet voulait arriver à un véritable Concordat. Il n’a jamais envisagé la possibilité d’obtenir Rome par d’autres moyens que d’accord avec la France, et par des négociations diplomatiques. On ne doit donc pas juger de ses idées par ce qu’on a appelé la breccia di Porta Pia.

Les successeurs de Cavour ont dû suivre le sillon qu’il avait tracé. Mais Cavour, qui n’était pas doctrinaire, aurait été bien plus libre qu’eux. Nul ne peut dire si dans la situation toute nouvelle qui s’est formée en 1870, il aurait appliqué Edition: current; Page: [312] plus largement et plus franchement sa formule, ou bien si, réservant ses idées pour l’époque où la conciliation qu’il rêvait aurait été possible, il aurait eu recours pour le moment à d’autres expédients. Peut-être aussi aurait-il pu empêcher la guerre d’éclater en 1870. La formation d’un grand Etat allemand et protestant aurait pu modifier ses idées. Ce qu’il aurait fait dans une situation aussi imprévue est le secret du tombeau. J’ai toujours pensé que c’est une erreur de mettre sur les lèvres des grands qui sont morts des idées et des mots qu’ils n’auraient pas eu. Cavour n’était pas homme à cristalliser son intelligence dans une formule et son existence même aurait été un élément politique d’une très grande valeur en 1870.

Notre loi des garanties est loin d’être parfaite, mais elle répond grosso modo aux besoins et aux nécessités de la situation où l’Italie s’est trouvé placée après 1870. Du reste la formule Libera Chiesa in libero Stato n’est rien par elle-même. Tant dépend de son application. Or il est bien difficile d’appliquer une formule de paix à un état de choses qui est loin d’être la paix. Vous êtes du reste infiniment plus compétent que moi sur ces questions. Je me borne à affirmer la parfaite bonne foi de Cavour. C’est un devoir que je remplis vis-à-vis de sa mémoire qui m’est chère.

  • Pardonnez-moi la hâte et désordre de ce griffonnage.
  • Croyez-moi toujours votre respectueux et dévoué,
Artom.1

THE NORTH BRITISH REVIEW

John Emerich Dalberg Acton
Acton, John Emerich Dalberg
July 1, 1869

The North British Review completes its 100th number at a time when the principle in which it originated has won a signal victory. Founded in connection with a movement which will always be memorable in the history of religious liberty, it has gradually extended its scope over the domain of general politics and secular learning; and through a Edition: current; Page: [313] quarter of a century it has upheld the supremacy of principle and conscience in the various spheres of human activity. The idea with which it is primarily associated has now, in a conspicuous instance, been adopted and applied by the State. And the same event which marks a new epoch in the national policy opens a new career to the Review, and invites it to a wider range in the field of literature, and a closer connection with public affairs.

The great measure which has occupied the present session of Parliament is not an isolated fact. It is one indication of a change which is beginning to affect all the nations of Christendom in all the departments of their life. The vast progress of the age in wealth and comfort has been exceeded by its progress in knowledge; and its intellectual conquests are less significant than its advance in intellectual morality. Perceiving that theory must be tested by experience, and practice regulated by theory, it is beginning to combine the precision of inductive philosophy with the constancy, the patience, and the flexibility which are learned by historical research. The new spirit has already established its ascendancy over those branches of learning which have perfected their methods in the study of nature, and over those departments of government which are subject to the doctrines of political economy. Their example is producing an analogous revolution in historical and political literature. And the great act of legislative justice which is growing to completion before our eyes bears witness to the consciousness that political obligation is determined, not by arbitrary maxims of expediency, but by definite and consistent principles—principles which can establish the policy of the State on a sure foundation, beyond the antagonism of classes and the tumult of fluctuating opinion.

A literary organ which is to take part in the serious culture of the time, and to exert an influence on the progress of affairs, must frankly identify itself with the conquests and demands of the new epoch. Passing beyond the narrow formalism of schools and parties, it must appeal to a wider range of sympathies, and a higher integrity of conviction. It must welcome truth from whatever quarter, and pursue justice at whatever cost. Its aim must be the victory of Edition: current; Page: [314] scientific truth over ignorance and error, over passion and interest, over the irresponsible authority of tradition, and the blind force of numbers. Its instruments must be those impartial methods of inquiry in which the strength and discipline of the intellect are sustained by an unflinching sincerity. And it must be animated by that spirit of genial tolerance and various adaptiveness which is taught by the analysis of human nature, and the manifold permutations of history.

Such is the ideal to which this Review aspires, not in forgetfulness of the responsibility it assumes, nor of the difficulties over which its path will lie, but drawing confidence from the magnitude of its objects, and believing that in politics, and in religious as well as secular literature, the moment is opportune for its endeavour.

The political connection which, in spite of many errors and shortcomings, has been identified with the development of our constitutional liberties, and with the advance of science in our legislation, has entered on a new phase of its existence. It has come forth from its contact with the enlarged constituencies, purified from the ignoble terrors and the wayward vanity which had justly reduced it to impotence in the immediate past. And it follows a wise and resolute leader, at whose call the nation has risen, for the first time in history, to the full height of its imperial vocation. To the policy symbolised by his name the Review will give that hearty support which is due to the beginning and the promise of a salutary and momentous reform. It will pursue in the blended light of history and reason the solution of those problems which lie before us in the sphere of government, and which constitute the danger and the hope of our society. Maintaining a foreign policy based on the knowledge of foreign countries, it will recognise the obligations of international morality, and the mutual fellowship of civilised States. And, looking beyond the external form of institutions, and the superficial resemblance of party designations and watchwords, it will sympathise abroad with the struggle and the progress of the same principles which it proclaims at home.

The advance of religious knowledge is signalised by a Edition: current; Page: [315] successive transfer of questions from the region of denominational controversy to the sphere of scientific discussion; and so far as they occupy this sphere they can be adequately treated, like other metaphysical and historical subjects, without the necessity of assuming or denying the postulates of confessional theology. The Review will not enter the arena in which ecclesiastical systems contend; nor will it, either expressly or by implication, disparage the issues of their struggle. But it will labour in the field of that religious science which exists apart from the conflict of Churches, and can be studied and promoted without immediate reference to their claims.

In dealing with purely secular literature, it will exclude no branch of intellectual activity which it has space and opportunity to treat with effect. The desire of the age is for substantial knowledge, and the pursuit of truth has divested learning of its academic character, and freed it from the restrictions of nationality. Its advance can no longer be followed within the confines of this or that particular language; nor can a competent criticism now exist without the concurrence of scholars of every country in which the spiritual and material sciences are cultivated with originality and independence. The Review is justified by the extent of its foreign as well as home relations in addressing itself to the work it has chosen. A change which will be made in its form will enable it, quarter by quarter, to combine with its longer papers a series of notices of important books; and, by means of these notices, it will endeavour to provide, by degrees, a systematic critical survey of the higher contemporary literature of our own and other countries.

At the outset of its new career, the Review invites the literary assistance of scholars who appreciate the principle on which it rests. Those who are best qualified to give instruction to others best understand to how small a portion of the field of knowledge their own qualification extends; and a Review which dedicates itself to the advance of scientific learning can only attain its purpose by the constant accession of new contributors in all the departments of research. It cannot become the literary monopoly of Edition: current; Page: [316] any given body of men, however numerous or energetic they may be. The pages of this Review, therefore, will be always open to those who, whether eminent or obscure, have acquired a mastery of the methods by which the results of science are obtained. Without allowing actual controversy between its writers, it will admit that wide diversity of view which is inseparable from the process of honest investigation. And, while fully recognising the importance of literary form, it will assign a higher value to the fruits of patient study and the evidence of systematic thought.

The 101st number will be published in London in October 1869.

Edition: current; Page: [317]
Page 100, note,

for “Is Healthful Reunion Possible?” read “Is Healthful Reunion Impossible?”

Page 276, line 11,

for “qui” read “que.”

1

Lectures on Modern History, p. 289. The whole passage should be consulted for its prescient judgment of the danger involved in the rise of Prussia.

1

His stepfather, afterwards Earl Granville.

1

S. Mary’s College, Oscott.

2

Lady Georgiana Fullerton was the youngest daughter of Granville Leveson-Gower, first Earl Granville. She married George Fullerton, and was received into the Roman Catholic Church in 1846. She wrote Ellen Middleton and other novels. Her Life was written by Mrs. Augustus Craven, the author of Le Récit d’une Sœur.

3

Dr. Logan was principal of Oscott, 1847-8.

1

Morris, J. B. (1812-80), a Fellow of Exeter, who became a Roman Catholic in 1846. For some time he was a Professor at Prior Park, and also chaplain to Acton. He had much to do with Acton’s educational schemes at Morville.

1

The Frankfort Assembly.

1

The Countess Mareschalchi was married in 1832 to Count Johann Maximilian Arco-Valley. She was a first cousin of Lady Granville, being the daughter of the Duchess of Dalberg’s sister. To this house in Munich Acton went a great deal.

2

Mes cousins are the Arco-Valleys, one of whom ultimately became Acton’s wife.

1

L’affaire Kossuth et Lord Palmerston. Louis Kossuth, the leader of the Hungarian rebellion, took refuge in Turkey in August 1849. Strong in the open support of Palmerston, represented by Sir Stratford Canning, the Porte refused to permit his extradition.

1

Lasaulx (1805-61), Peter Ernst, succeeded Hocheder as Professor of Philology at Munich in 1844. He was a brilliant Classic and strongly conservative Catholic, also partly a politician; in philosophy a follower of Baader. Acton attended Lasaulx’ lectures at Munich, and on his death bought his library.

1

Afterwards Mr. Herbert of Llanarth.

1

The Roman Catholic Diocesan Hierarchy of England was re-established in 1851.

2

Acton visited the United States in the early fifties and was present at the Constitutional Debates at Philadelphia.

3

Brownson’s Quarterly Review.

4

Cetto, a family of Bavarian gentlefolk (Freiherrn) who held offices in the State and Council. One of them married an Englishwoman.

1

Höfler, Karl Adolf Constantin von (1811-97), professor at Munich from 1842. He was a disciple of Görres, Döllinger, and Schelling; he fell under the King’s displeasure. This removed him from Munich, and after some stay at Bamberg he went to Prague, where he remained till 1882.

2

Wiseman.

3

Görres, Joseph von (1776-1848), philosopher and historian, became a Catholic. He was Professor of History at Munich (1826). His most important work was Die Christliche Mystik—an interesting exponent of Romantic Catholicism. See Acton’s words on him in German Schools of History.

4

Brownson, Orestes Augustus (1803-76), a leading American Roman Catholic writer.

5

Schulthess-Rechberg, Numismatist (1792-1866), an old-fashioned royalist. After 1847 he lived mostly in Munich.

6

Hermann, Friedrich Wilhelm Benedict (1795), was professor at Munich from 1827. A statistician of some note, he produced Beiträge zur Statistik des Königreichs Baiern.

1

Wilhelm Emmanuel, Baron von Kettler (1811-77), became Bishop of Mainz 1850.

1

The Brignoli were an Italian family with whom the Dalbergs had intermarried. At this time some of them were settled at Paris; and Acton, as a young connection, was received kindly. Lady Granville’s mother was Pellina, daughter of the Marquis Brignole-Sale of Genoa.

2

Falloux du Coudray, Frédéric Alfred Pierre, Vicomte de (1811-85). Minister of Public Instruction in 1848; the author of the celebrated Loi Falloux, which secured freedom of religious teaching as against the anticlerical party.

3

Albert de Broglie (1821-1901), a historian and liberal Catholic, a friend of Montalembert and leading monarchist statesman. His best known work is L’Église et l’Empire romaine au quatrième siècle. He was, with Montalembert, one of the principal editors of the Correspondant.

4

Eckstein, Fordinand Baron d’, born at Copenhagen in 1790; had a great influence over Acton, greater probably than any one excepting Döllinger. He became a Catholic at seventeen, and after studying at Göttingen and Heidelberg, he served in the War of Liberation. After various diplomatic episodes, he served the Government of Louis XVIII in the Foreign Office until 1830. He was editor of various reviews, and founded a periodical called Le Catholique, something like Acton’s later effort in The Home and Foreign. He published a work entitled de l’Espagne Döllinger published, with an Introduction, in 1862 Eckstein’s Geschichtliches über die Askesis der alten Heidnischen und der alten jüdischen Welt.

1

Rio, A. F. (1796-1874), was a friend of Montalembert and Lamennais. He was present at the historic banquet at Munich. He wrote on L’Art Chrétien, Léonard de Vinci, etc. He had English connections. He was Professor of History at the College of Louis-le-Grand Paris, and at one time fulfilled a diplomatic mission in Germany. He had a great deal to do with the founding of the Univers and the Correspondant. Many letters to and from Montalembert and Lamennais deal with him. Cf. an account of him in the Archivio di Storia Italico in 1874.

2

Veuillot, Louis (1813-83), was a virulent ultramontane but brilliant writer. He edited L’Univers.

3

Dupanloup (Félix Antoine).

4

Ventura da Raulica, Giocchino (1792-1861), a Sicilian. A Theatine monk who was a disciple of De Maistre and Bonald, and afterwards became a Liberal. He supported Lamennais and L’Avenir, and made an oration on O’Connell in 1847. He had much to do with the early Liberal Party of Pio Nono. After the reaction he lived in France and exercised much influence. Cf. Boutard, Lamennais, ii. 227-8 passim.

5

Bonnetty, A. (1798-1879), was a liberal Catholic theologian and orientalist. He founded the Annales de philosophie chrétienne. An account of the ‘dispute’ is given in Lécanuet’s Montalembert, iii. In 1854 he was accused of dangerous Liberalism.

1

Le Correspondant was largely the organ of Montalembert, who helped to edit it from 1855. Ultimately he retired, in 1868.

1

Vera, Augusto. Introduction à la Philosophie de Hegel.

2

Sir George Cornewall Lewis, the statesman-author of The Use and Abuse of Political Terms, and editor for a time of the Edinburgh Review. He succeeded Gladstone as Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1855.

1

This letter has reference to the school question on the Acton estate at Morville, near Aldenham Park.

2

Palacky, Frantisek, a Bohemian historian, born 1798. Chief of the Slav party at the Diet of Kremser. Author with Safarik of Die ältesten Denkmäler der Böhmischen Sprache, and many other works; edited 1869 the documents concerning John Hus.

3

Schaffarik or Safarik, Paul Joseph. Author of Geschichte der slawischen Sprache und Literatur nach allen Mundarten, and many Slavonic works.

1

Riehl, W. H. (1823-97), historian and novelist. He became a professor at Munich in 1854, and was Rector of the University 1873 and 1883.

1

Johann Martin Lappenberg, author of The History of England under the Anglo-Saxon Kings.

2

Reinhard Pauli, who wrote the Life of King Alfred and also on the period beginning 1154 in Lappenberg’s Geschichte von England.

1

Richard Simpson contributed to the Rambler four articles on ‘Edmond Campion.’ It is to these articles that Newman is referring.

1

Dr. Ullathorne.

1

This passage with that following is in Acton’s handwriting without date. Clearly they refer to Gladstone’s criticism of ultramontanism. Cf. with these two pages those in Letters to Mary Gladstone, second edition, 131-3, and 185-7.

1

Massarelli, Bishop of Teles. The MS. referred to is his diary of the Council of Trent.

2

Le Plat, Josse. Monumentorum ad Historiam Concilii Tridentini potissimum illustrandam spectantium amplissima collectio. These seven folio volumes contain many of the most important sources for our knowledge of the Council of Trent.

3

The Décrétale Omnes is in the Decretale of Gregory IX, and purports to come from Clement III. Its wording is as follows:—Omnes principes terræ et ceteros homines episcopis obedire beatus Petrus præcipiebat.

1

L’évêque de Lérida. This is Antonio Augustin, afterwards Archbishop of Tarragona. He wrote two books of dialogues, De Emendatione Gratiani, and also a treatise on the Pope.

2

Le Professeur here, as always, means Döllinger.

3

Count Emerich Arco-Valley, one of Acton’s brothers-in-law. He was in the German Diplomatic Service, and died as German Minister at Athens in 1909.

1

Panizzi, Sir Anthony (1797-1879), an Italian by birth. He was appointed assistant Librarian by Brougham in 1831. Afterwards he became Librarian. The present reading-room is due to him. He had a good deal to do with the inner life of both politics and literature of the reign of Queen Victoria.

1

Pichler, Aloys (1833-74). Die Theologie des Leibnitz, 1869-70. He was supposed to have been one of the contributors to Quirinus, but this is not true. He wrote an earlier book on the schism between east and west.

2

Klopp, Onno (1822-1903). Correspondance de Leibnitz avec l’Électrice Sophie, 1874.

3

Twice during his later years Bossuet entered with Leibnitz into the question of reunion between Rome and the Protestants. It was rather Leibnitz’s stiffness than Bossuet’s that broke off the negotiations. With the English Act of Settlement in view, the Electress saw the advantage of remaining Protestant.

1

Reeve, Henry (1813-95), editor of the Edinburgh Review from 1855. Chiefly known now as the editor of the Greville Memoirs.

2

De Lisle, Ambrose Phillips. See his Life written by Purcell and E. De Lisle, 2 vols., 1901, on the Vatican Council, chap. xvii., ii. 32-96. De Lisle was a convert to Rome, but was an Inopportunist.

1

Ripon, George Frederick Samuel (first Marquis of Ripon), was received into the Church of Rome on September 7, 1874. He was at that time Earl de Grey and Ripon. He was later on Viceroy of India, and became a marquis.

2

Werner, Franz (1810-66), a Roman Catholic theologian who wrote much on the philosophy of religion.

1

I.e. the famous Sendschreiben an einen deutschen Bischof.

1

Dr. Henry Philpotts.

1

Erwägungen für die Bischöfe des Conciliums über die Frage der päpstlichen Unfehlbarkeit, October 1869. J. von Döllinger, published in his Briefe und Erklärungen über die Vaticanischen Decrete.

2

Affre, Denis Auguste (1793-1848), was Archbishop of Paris from 1840. He wrote a book on the origin and decadence of the temporal supremacy of the Popes. He was shot in attempting to pacify the insurgents in 1848.

3

Rémusat, Charles Comte de (1797). He wrote against Lamennais, and contributed to the famous periodical Le Globe. He supported the Government of Louis Philippe and was exiled at the coup d’État of Louis Napoleon.

4

The famous Falloux Laws, passed in 1850, by which freedom was secured to the Roman Catholic teaching of religion. This has been withdrawn since.

5

To rigorous thinking.

1

Neue Erwägungen über die Frage der päpstlichen Unfehlbarkeit, aus den anerkannten historischen Werken Döllingers urkundlich zusammen gestellt, 1870.

Presumably this is the “enlarged” Erwägungen referred to.

2

This letter is of capital importance. It indicates the great divergence which Acton for the first time discerned between himself and Döllinger. Félix Dupanloup, the great Bishop of Orléans, died in October 1878. He was an Inopportunist, although not strictly speaking an anti-infallibilist. He had defended the Syllabus of Pio Nono. In a previous letter Acton indicates considerable contempt for him. In the Nineteenth Century for February 1879, Lady Blennerhassett published a laudatory article on Dupanloup. Acton, as this letter shows, was much disturbed by this article. It seemed to him that such eulogy bordered on the insincere. What, however, disturbed him still more was this. The venerated “Professor” had actually blessed the article with an introductory letter which is printed in the Nineteenth Century. In consequence of this there were many discussions between Acton and Döllinger. Döllinger, although he was excommunicated, because he would not accept the Vatican Decrees, was yet more lenient than Acton in regard to the toleration of persectuion. Neither of them approved persecution. Döllinger was unwilling to go so far as Acton in asserting the final damnation of all persecutors, and all favourers of persecution. This is the cause of the bitterness of the concluding paragraph of this letter. The next letter expounds Acton’s principles.

1

Minghetti, Marco (1863-4). The Italian Premier was a personal friend and distant connection of Acton. Many letters from Minghetti to Acton exist.

2

The duc d’Audiffret-Pasquier. A great French politician and military authority, was elected to the Académie Française in the place of Mgr. Dupanloup. In accordance with etiquette, his opening speech, delivered on February 19, 1880, was an elaborate eulogium of his predecessor. Acton’s ironical compliments are written in anticipation of this and are justified. The oration is to be found in the Recueil des Discours, vol. for 1880-89, part v. pp. 65-97.

1

Arbues, S. Peter of (1441-85). He was appointed by Torquemada to be Inquisitor provincial in Aragon. He was assassinated in 1485. Pius IX canonized him in 1867.

2

Liguori, Saint Alphonsus de (1696-1787), founder of the Redemptorists Order and Archbishop of Palermo. He is well known for his work on the glories of Mary, and for his treatise on moral theology.

1

This refers to the article on the “Massacre of St. Bartholomew,” which was published in the North British Review in 1869. It is reprinted in the volume on the History of Freedom.

2

Rosmini, Antonio (1797-1855), founder of the Order of Charity. He was accused of dangerous Liberalism, although he was an Ultramontane. Cf. Letters to Mary Drew, 171, 184.

3

Hefele, Karl Joseph von, Bishop of Rottenburg (1809-93), author of the History of the Councils. Hefele was a strong opponent of Infallibilism, and left Rome with the minority in July 1870. Ultimately he submitted, in 1871, to promulgate the Vatican Decrees in his diocese.

4

Maistre, Joseph de (1753-1821), may be described as the founder of modern Ultramontanism. His most important works are Du Pape and De l’église Gallicane. His standpoint alike in regard to politics and religion made him a powerful supporter of the Absolutist reaction after the French Revolution.

1

Gelehrtenversammlung. The Congress of Scholars at Munich in 1863 is described by Acton in the Home and Foreign Review of January 1864.

1

The Malines days refer to the Roman Catholic Congress at Malines in 1863, at which Montalembert made a great pronouncement.

T. Lecanuet, Montalembert, iii. 347 et seq.

Le Discours de Malines. This refers to the speech of Montalembert, “L’Eglise libre dans l’Etat libre,” delivered in the Catholic Congress at Malines, 1863.

The appendix to the two speeches contains an account of how Cavour was led to utter the famous phrase through a correspondence with Montalembert, p. 177 et seq.

2

Arbues, S. Peter of Arbues was canonized in 1867. This much upset Döllinger. This was the occasion of Döllinger’s article, Rom und die Inquisition.

Cf. Friedrich, Ignaz von Döllinger, iii. 444 et seq.

1

Lady Blennerhassett had sent to Acton Döllinger’s correspondence with her.

1

Sailer, Johann Michael (1751-1832), Bishop of Regensburg. Sailer, both as professor and writer, had great influence on developing the inner and more spiritual life of the Church. He was accused of coquetting with the extremer mystics.

1

The Countess Leopoldine Arco-Valley, Acton’s sister-in-law.

1

Ségur, Louis Gaston Adrien, Mgr. de (1820-81); see his Life written by his brother, Souvenirs et Récit d’un Frère. He was auditor of the Rota, and given the episcopal privileges on his retirement.