Still Friends: Newman and Pusey

More years ago than I care to remember I used occasionally to buy collected sermons: I still have Ronnie Knox's University and Anglican Sermons, Newman's sermons 'On Subjects of the Day' which he edited at Littlemore in 1843, and Pusey's University Sermons Vol. III.

The last of Newman's sermons in the 1843 volume is "The Parting of Friends". The last of Pusey's, "Blessed are the Meek" he preached on St Mark's Day, 1876, at the opening of Keble College Chapel.  The copy in my collected volume is the second edition of 1882, the year of Pusey's death; yet the two men who had parted in 1843 were still in contact, still concerned for one another forty years on.  So I discovered from a footnote in Pusey's sermon.

It was only after I returned to my college with the ten Pusey sermons that I discovered I had bought more than I'd supposed.  The sermons, dating from 1864 to 1879, were bound together, but had originally appeared separately. On the flyleaf of most of the sermons there are inscriptions, in a crabbed little hand. "MK with EBP's fatherly love & blessing. Advent Sunday 1872" is on 'The Responsibility of Intellect in the Christian Faith'.  On Advent Eve 1873 there is "MK with her father's kindest love & blessing" – the sermon is titled "Sinful Blindness amidst Imagined Light".  And so it continues on several of the sermons.  These were presentation copies to his married daughter Mary.  But one, the last of them which I mentioned earlier, has a handwritten footnote.

Now what could it be that demanded Pusey's amendment to an existing printed footnote?  At the opening of Keble College Chapel, Pusey was speaking about John Keble himself.  He mentioned the Election to the Oriel Provostship.  Keble had wanted that post, but Newman and Pusey thought he was too young.  Later, Pusey regretted that he had not supported Keble in the election.  The printed sermon says this: "Unhappily, some of us who loved him, did not know the power of his deep sympathy with the young heart, and thought another more practical.  He could not bear division, so he withdrew.  The whole of the later history of our Church might have been changed had we been wiser; but God, through our ignorance, withdrew him, and it must have been well with him, since God so overruled it.  To me it became a sorrow of my life*"

And here there is a printed footnote in this, the second edition, of 1882:  "* I scarcely know why, as preached, I worded this sentence 'To us it became a sorrow of our lives'.  One could hardly use so strong an expression except of one's self.  In what professes to be and account of 'the Oxford Movement' it is said 'Newman was much surprised and concerned when he read in a sermon preached by Pusey at the consecration of the chapel at Keble College, that Newman had lived to regret the part he had taken in Hawkins's election to the Oriel Provostship." … I neither said it, nor did I mean to include him in the word 'us'."

Then the footnote goes on to say "It was of course impossible that it should be, and I regret that the vagueness of my words should have given him a moment's concern."

That sentence is scored through in ink, and in the margin beneath Pusey has written "Card. Newman informs me writes to me That I never expressed, I never felt any surprise whatever, any concern whatever, at your words about me including me with yourself in what you said about Hawkin's election. That I had any personal feeling about your paragraph is a simple untruth."

As the Church prepares for the Canonisation of John Henry, Cardinal Newman, I find it very cheering to  discover that those two men, Newman and Pusey, still had a concern for one another all those years after the parting of friends, and that the Cardinal wrote to put Pusey's mind at rest. It clearly meant a great deal to Pusey, that he wanted to be sure that his daughter knew the truth of the matter.

Author: Fr. Edwin Barnes

Bishop Barnes read theology for three years at Oxford before finishing his studies at Cuddesdon College (at the time a theological college with a rather monastic character). He subsequently served two urban curacies in Portsmouth and Woking. During his first curacy, and after the statutory three years of celibacy, he married his wife Jane (with whom he has two children, Nicola and Matthew). In 1967, Bishop Barnes received his first incumbency as Rector of Farncombe in the Diocese of Guildford. After eleven years, the family moved to Hessle, in the Diocese of York, for another nine years as vicar. In 1987, he became Principal of St Stephen’s House, Oxford. In 1995, he was asked by then Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, to become the second PEV for the Province. He was based in St. Alban’s and charged with ministering to faithful Anglo-Catholics spread over the length of Southern England, from the Humber Estuary to the Channel Islands. After six years of service as a PEV, Bishop Barnes retired to Lymington on the south coast where he holds the Bishop of Winchester’s license as an honorary assistant bishop. On the retirement of the late and much lamented Bishop Eric Kemp, he was honored to be asked to succeed him as President of the Church Union. Both these appointments he resigned on becoming a Catholic in 2010. Fr. Barnes is now a priest of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, caring for an Ordinariate Group in Southbourne, Bournemouth.

5 thoughts on “Still Friends: Newman and Pusey”

  1. Men had such good manners then; what profundity and courtesy would have been found on a Tractarian blog if such had existed in the nineteenth century!

    1. How nice it would be to get rid of this horrible computer, and go back to a pot of ink, a quill pen and a piece of hand-made paper. No internet, no trolls. Just a short walk across the quadrangle or at worst to the next College.

      How nice life must have been, but I imagine the 'Corporate Communion' in the College chapel must have been a little dull. 😉

      1. Newman in the pulpit, though… when in Oxford I kissed it, it's surely a second-class relic of that holy man, whose preaching, not in fire nor wind nor earthquake, but in a still, small voice, yet spoke the Word of the Lord and mightly converted hearts.

      2. And, alas, not all had such good manners – consider Newman hounded through the courts for libel when he denounced a notorious apostate, and humiliated before the judge who lectured him on his supposed misbehaviour like a naughty schoolboy; or Newman's very honesty impugned and mocked (an attack which brought forth his Apologia).

  2. Father, thank you for sharing this fascinating footnote by Pusey. I concur with Fr Chadwick that it would be better to conduct our correspondence with paper and ink. How we treasure little notes and letters like this footnote. Also better still to conduct intelligent reasoned discourse face to face rather than hastily discharged emails. Alas, bygone days and ways!

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