Project Canterbury

Life of Edward Bouverie Pusey
by Henry Parry Liddon, D.D.

London: Longmans, 1894
volume one

Transcribed by The Revd R D Hacking
AD 2002










IN May 1835 Pusey's old friend Tholuck visited him at Oxford. He was to arrive on Saturday, May 16th. He was in bad health, and brought with him a companion, Herr MŸller. He stipulated for permission to go to bed at ten o'clock, and to sleep in a room 'in which absolute silence reigns at that time.' In the matter of meal-times, he had already brought himself to conform to English habits; they were, he thought, the best for literary men as well as for men of business. He did not wish for company, but did not object to it. He should prefer the company of Pusey himself to that of other Oxford divines. Pusey would understand him better. But he particularly wished to see Dr. Buckland and 'his programme about the ex–planation of Genesis.' When Tholuck arrived in Oxford he was in good spirits. He had spent pleasant evenings at London House and at Lambeth. He had met Mr. H. J. Rose, but 'was angry with him on Pusey's account; he had been clumsy, and ought to have expressed his repentance.' He had derived a special pleasure from a minute examination of the Codex Alexandrinus.

Of the visit itself no details survive. But six months afterwards, on returning to Halle, Tholuck wrote to his 'beloved friend' an account of some of his impressions.

                                                                                                               'November, 1835.

'Believe me it is sweet to my heart to write to my friends, and doubly sweet to write to you whom I so sincerely honour. From your home I have carried away with me a deep impression that you and your house serve the Lord, and that your names are written in heaven. Ever shall I bear in mind, with heartfelt gratitude to God, the hours spent in your company. May He especially and long preserve to you the devoted companion who is the faithful and high-minded partner of your life; I can understand your possessing in her the fullest comfort that earth can afford in many a trouble. May He hear my prayer.'

During his visit to Oxford Tholuck, as was natural, had met Pusey's more intimate associates. He writes to Pusey:--

'Remember me to your friend Newman. Some of his sermons have indeed edified me. Such a transparent, holy mind! My prayer is for a blessing on your wife and children, on your own dear self, on the University of Oxford, on the Church of England, on all who love the Lord Jesus.'

Tholuck's warm-hearted devout nature had been deeply shocked by the recent appearance of Strauss' first 'Life of Jesus,' and by recent developments of rationalistic criticism of the Old Testament. He speaks of it as follows:--

'The fate of the English Church always interests me as much as that of the German. I feel most deeply how she is robbed, and how she struggles on. Yes, my friend, a crisis is more and more develop–ing itself, in which, as never before, a people of God and a people of Satan are on opposite sides. Let me tell you something about this from Germany. The most educated people are increasingly partisans of the philosophy of Hegel; and while some few adherents of this system do seek Christ, the majority now unhesitatingly call themselves Pantheists. A tutor of the Hegelian school, Strauss of TŸbingen, has published a " Life of Jesus," in which he groups together, with great brilliancy and acuteness, all the historical discrepancies which have ever been discovered, and indeed adds some new ones also. Thus this history looks like a purely arbitrary construction,--like a myth. The book has made a deep impression on all minds that are not altogether, and by the way of experience, fortified in faith. A new epoch will date from it. The result is this: we know nothing historically certain about Jesus, except that he lived as a sort of Jewish prophet. Hereupon follows, the author's own profession of faith. He is a Pantheist; and the time, he thinks, has come when everybody should throw off the mask, and the Christian Church, as such, should cease to be. You cannot think what a profound impression is made by this book; many waverers now turn with decision to that side of the question. Besides this, in our literary periodicals, we already read pantheistic confessions of faith: they only now care to clear themselves of the charge of being materialistic pantheists. At the same time there have appeared books by Vatke, Bohlen, Lengerke, Hitzig. They are partly of a frivolous character. They carry the negative criticism of the Old Testament to an extreme. The Sabbath was introduced under Hezekiah; Abraham never lived at all; the people under Moses said their prayers to Saturn; Moses was neither captain nor lawgiver. Vatke, at any rate, is a man of great talent. Even Ewald, I regret to say, has praised Vatke highly in a review, and has scarcely noticed his errors. I foresee that in Germany, a hundred years hence, only Pantheists and believers will be opposed to each other: the deists and the old rationalists will entirely disappear. With this, thousands will be lost who now are comforted by what is at any rate a glimpse of Revelation.'

Tholuck's conversation during his visit would doubtless have made Pusey more than ever anxious to devote himself to the work of his life,--the defence and illustration of the Christian Faith. The Arabic Catalogue was now off his hands; its striking preface is dated on April 7, 1835. In it he refers to his withdrawal from further literary efforts in Arabic that he might devote himself entirely to the duties which more nearly touched upon his office, and might hope to be useful, in however small a measure, to the Church'.

The first use which he made of his comparative leisure was to proceed with the long-deferred tract on Baptism, a project or sketch of which he had made during his illness in February, 1834. 'Pusey,' wrote Keble to Perceval in August, 1835, 'is more staunch than ever for the Church view of things; and at present especially in the matter of Baptism.' For the next three months he devoted himself especially to the study of Zwingli, who first introduced into Christendom the idea that the Sacraments are bare signs of blessings which have no real connexion with them.

'I am weary of reading,' he wrote to Newman six months later, 'in order to censure; it is a hurtful office, and my study of Zwingli, &c. in the summer was more than enough for some time.' Zwingli was, of course, followed or accompanied by Calvin, who allows a virtual as distinct from an absolute value to the Sacraments, while he traverses this partial admission of truth by his fatalistic doctrine of Divine decrees which are supposed in the case of some souls summarily to nullify the effect of God's ordin–ances, in virtue of a prior judgment of God against them. Besides this, the Liturgies, Catholic and Reformed, claimed Pusey's attention, and a mass of American dissenting divinity, which at that time was more studied in England than would be the case at present.

As the event proved, this new direction of Pusey's studies had a material effect on the progress of the Church Movement. It is clear that at this date Newman was seriously thinking of bringing the 'Tracts for the Times' to an end. He was discouraged by the dull ignorance, as it then seemed to him, which charged Popery on the defenders of Christian antiquity. The work of editing the Tracts and of writing the greater part of them had taken up much of his time, and he wished to devote himself to some larger works.

On August 9, 1835, he writes to Hurrell Froude:--

'The Tracts are defunct or in extremis. Rivington has written to say they do not answer. Pusey has written one on Baptism, very good,--of ninety pages, which is to be printed at his risk. That, and one or two to finish the imperfect series (on particular subjects) will conclude the whole. I am not sorry, as I am tired of being editor'.

The Tracts were understood to appear once a month, and accordingly on St. Bartholomew's Day, August 24, Pusey published the first of his three tracts on Holy Baptism. The two following parts followed on Michael–mas Day and on St. Luke's Day as Tracts 68 and 69. These three tracts, together with an Appendix of elaborate notes, which was afterwards called No. 70, make up the second part of the second volume of the Tracts, which was issued separately, with a preface by Pusey, dated January 1, 1836. Thus Pusey by his own activity supplied the material for completing the issue of that year: with the commencement of 1836 other considerations, not least Pusey's advice, induced Newman to continue the publica–tion of the Tracts.

His studies did not prevent his giving in other subjects that careful attention to details which was his characteristic. It had become necessary to reconstruct the upper part of the spire of Christ Church Cathedral, and the Dean and Chapter had decided to place at the top a finial of a somewhat simpler character than that which it replaced. The work was approaching completion, and Pusey sent a report to Dr. Bull, who was probably then, as afterwards, 'the best man of business in the Chapter,' and who was spending the summer at his vicarage of Staverton:--

'The spire has at present only the pincushion-dish on, and until the pine-apple has been placed on it I cannot much judge of the effect: whatever is done, one must expect a little criticism at first, until people's eyes are a little accustomed to it. They will soon forget that it has not been there all their lives. At present certainly it looks heavy: the horns or corners of the said dish look over-solid. But I have waited for the remainder to see what the effect would be then. Soon after you were gone I looked into the second volume of Willis, and there I found the ball and cross on the top of the two spires of Lincoln, also on the two second spires of Peterborough; the main spire which has the cock has also the ball and cross underneath. There is also a ball under what seems to be a star--the cock and vane--at Ely. Further my volume did not go, nor I, since the matter was settled. I think it would have done better, as it at all events would have had some meaning.'

Pusey was much more interested in the small livings in the patronage of the Chapter, from the greater tithes of which Christ Church drew so large a portion of its revenues. He felt strongly that they were inadequately endowed, and throughout his life lost no opportunity of bringing the subject under the notice of his colleagues.

'I commit the small livings '--he wrote to Dr. Bull--' to your care; or rather, I should say, that I recommend the living book to your examination. For the Chapter seems very ready to attend to such cases when named; but somehow they seem (with all due deference to one's elders) somewhat like the folk in the island of Laputa, who needed (if my memory serves me) a large fly-flapper to awaken their attention to things around them.'

Then follow business details which might suggest that Pusey was entirely absorbed in the financial condition of several livings. Another and a much less congenial subject which now occupied him was the defence of his vote for a Member of Parliament, in the Revising Barrister's Court. The votes of the Canons of Christ Church had been ob–jected to on the ground that they were members of a corporate body, which, as such, could only act under its common seal.

'We are still here,' Pusey wrote to Bull on Sept. 20, 1835, 'and I purpose to defend my vote as I can. A Town Hall, and Revising Barristers, and Radical objections, and clamorous voters are not just the place and the society which I best like for a Canon. However, I mean to venture into it, and will bring your vote also through, if I can.'

Three days later he reports his experiences:--

'You will be interested to hear the result of this morning. I had a very long battle with a great scamp, who talked of our £2,000 a year, and seemed to wish in every way to make us as odious as he could. The Barristers determined that we had made out a strong Prima facie case, but said that it was a very difficult one, and adjourned it to Wed–nesday, October 7th. I shall not be here then; so I must leave it to you or Buckland, if he returns. I am only aware of having omitted one point, namely, our paying our separate house and window-duty, and that these vary; whereas if our houses could in any sense be called common property, they would naturally be paid for in common, as is done with the land-tax, and, I suppose, with the house-and-window duty of the students' rooms. They urged against me my house having been rebuilt by the Chapter after the tire. I might have set against it Barlow's rebuilding his own; and you, I suppose, added your story at your own expense, including even the roof; but I forgot this.

'It is allowed to be made out that we have our houses separately, but the hitch seems to be whether they are not a portion of corporate property, which we enjoy individually, and so whether they can con–stitute us so far a corporation sole.'

The scene seems to have been a very noisy one. One very rough opponent asked Pusey, 'Then could you let your house to me if you pleased?' The answer was, 'Yes, if I pleased'.

Years afterwards Dr. Jeune, who became Bishop of Peterborough, used to say that one of his greatest surprises in the Hebdomadal Council had been the discovery of Pusey's talent for business. It was simply a result of the con–scientious devotion to details which formed part of his conception of duty in matters both great and small. On the present occasion he failed in his immediate object. When, on the 7th of October, Dr. Bull appeared before the revisers, the names of all the Canons were struck off the list of voters, with the exception of Dr. Bull's own name, against which, by some accident, no objection had been raised.

A subject nearer to Pusey's heart, although further from his home, which greatly occupied his attention at this time, was the extension of the Church in London. To the movement which culminated in the noble effort of Bishop Blomfield, Pusey gave the original impulse by a paper which appeared in the British Magazine of No–vember, 1835.

The want of churches in the suburbs of London, es–pecially on the south of the Thames, had been pointed out by a correspondent of the Magazine six months before, and the editor added a warmly-appreciative note. But Pusey's paper, without neglecting, indeed while in–sisting very earnestly upon the appalling statistics of the subject, lifted it at once into the region of principle. He deprecated indeed any attempt to decide the details of a plan for new churches: this could only be done by those in authority. 'But,' he added, 'they ought to know that there are those who would gladly lay up treasure in heaven by parting with their treasure here; who would make sacrifices; who look with sickening hearts at the undisputed reign of Satan in portions of our metropolis, at the spiritual starvation of myriads, baptized into the same Body with themselves; who would gladly contribute their share, if they were but directed.' The whole paper is worth careful perusal, glowing, as it does, with the intenser sense of heavenly things which had marked Pusey's spiritual life during the two past years. It contrasts notably with some more recent forms of advocacy of the same great cause, in that while they dwell chiefly on the spiritual destitution which they would remedy, Pusey is as much, if not more, concerned for the apathy and unfaithfulness of Christians who can permit it. One passage of the paper may well here be quoted; it was referred to more than once, and with admiration, by the late Dean Stanley. Pusey had been saying that great harm had been done by abandoning the term 'voluntary' to those outside the Church. He continues:--

'We are in much danger of forgetting that we are the " voluntary Churchä: that our cathedrals, our churches, our chapels were raised by the sacrifices, in some cases enormous sacrifices, of individuals,--in others, by bodies of men; but in almost all by the voluntary exertions of individuals, whether singly or united,--not by the State.'

After referring to Antony a Wood's well-known contrast between the magnificence of ecclesiastical fabrics in medieval Oxford and the comparative meanness of those which remained in his own day, Pusey continues:--

'It is humiliating to gaze at one of the least of the noble fabrics which they [our ancestors] raised to their Maker's praise, and to ask, Where are the descendants of such an ancestry? Where is the Lord God of Elijah?

'Their spirit is fled: we have come to the dregs of time; or (on authority which men of this day will trust) " to the declining age of our Stateä; at least, those things are flourishing among us which Bacon marked as the symptoms of its declining age; and we make our boast of that which is our shame. " Grey hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not" (Hos. vii. 9). Our old towns and cities are recognized from far by their towers and spires, hallowing all the landscape,--a continual memorial of things unseen, infusing holy thoughts which ascend directly to their Author, and reminding us that we are everywhere standing on God's earth, on a Christian land, on " holy ground." And who shall calculate the power of their often-renewed influence upon his own mind? Who can tell how many holy resolves, and pure thoughts, and earnest aspirations to the heavens whither they ascend, he has not owed to them, and, consequently, how much of his future glory? And then, calculate the tens of thousands, in each generation since they were raised, who have felt the like, or " count the stars of heavenä! And what do we? Our modern towns have their characteristics,--the chimneys of our manufactories, and the smoke of our furnaces. And we " boast ourselves in the multitude of our riches," and our wisdom, and our enlightening, and our skill in the mechanical arts, and our knowledge in physical sciences, and the Bibles which we print: while the only true wisdom we have not known.'


This paper is dated Oxford, September, 1835, and must have been written concurrently with the second part of his tract on Baptism. The editor followed it up by state–ments respecting the spiritual desolation of Brighton and other large towns; and Pusey contributed at least some particulars.

Meanwhile others were stirring:--

'Rose writes me word,'--so Pusey tells Newman in January. 1836,--'that the Evangelical (so-called) party have offered to the Bishop of London to raise £150,000, if he will lead a Diocesan Society like that at Chester, to build churches by the means of trustees, who are to have the patronage and throw all the force thus acquired into the Puritan scale. It seems then that if this great work is ever to be done upon a Church plan, and not so as to augment the evils of our Church, it must be done now. Rose thinks we cannot stir without the Bishop, and that he will not refuse the Evangelical offer.'

The Bishop, however, took an independent line of his own; and the plan known as the Metropolis Churches Fund was formed early in 1836. As soon as the plan was sufficiently matured, tile Bishop himself sent it in manu–script to Pusey, 'for the purpose'--as he states--'of ascer–taining whether it will meet your views.'

The question of the patronage of the proposed new churches was discussed in several letters. Pusey was for placing it altogether in the hands of the Bishop. The Bishop, in this agreeing with Mr. Joshua Watson, thought that the principle of private trusteeship must be admitted with certain restrictions--at least, at first. The correspondence was interrupted for a time by the Bishop's illness in May, 1836: it was resumed in view of the proposed meeting on June 7th, when the plan took a definite shape. At this meeting Pusey was present: he became a member of the Committee.

Pusey was delighted with the Bishop's cordiality, but their intercourse was not unenlivened by differences of opinion. Later in the year 1836 Pusey proposed to the Bishop that the endowments of the new churches should be secured to them on condition of there being no changes in the Prayer-book, or only such as might 'bring it even nearer to the standard of Christian antiquity.' The Bishop dismissed this suggestion somewhat abruptly. He would not place all these new churches on a different footing from the old ones now existing. An improbable and remote danger would not warrant him in making openly a provision for schism. If the people at large and the great body of the clergy were in favour of liturgical change they would overrule any such conditions as Pusey proposed. There was an inconsistency too in a proposal which went on the principle of disallowing any changes in the Prayer-book, while making an exception in one direc–tion welcome to the author and his friends. And all speculations on such a subject as the alteration of the Prayer-book were to be discouraged. They shook Con–fidence in the stability of the Church of England: they tended to widen differences which a common danger might compose.

Pusey, of course; had to give way; and the difference did not in the least affect the cordial relations which existed at this time between him and the Bishop of London. The latter was deeply convinced of Pusey's earnestness of purpose. 'I have not said,' the Bishop writes to Pusey, 'as much as I ought in acknowledging your own munificent donation.' This donation was £5,000, in two instalments; it was given, as were all his larger gifts, anonymously', but the Bishop obviously knew who the donor in this instance was. In order to make such an offering to God's service Pusey was obliged to reduce his servants, to give up his carriage, and to live even more simply than heretofore.

Some years after, when Pusey was called upon to give evidence in Court in a case of alleged lunacy, he was asked in cross-examination whether a person who gave away very large sums of money to religious objects could be con–sidered capable of managing his property. He gravely answered that he could be so considered.

Pusey's latest service to the Bishop's great scheme was the republication of his first paper in the British Magazine, together with another that appeared in November 1836 in answer to objections urged by the Record and other Critics. He also persuaded Newman to print the now well-known and striking sermon, 'Make ventures for Christ's sake.' The preface is Pusey's; and he too suggested the motto from St Augustine, in which Christ says to the Christian, 'Est alius locus quo te transferam: praecedat te quod habes: no/i timere ne perdas: dator ego eram; custos ego ero.'

In September, Pusey, thoroughly tired out with work, went to Brighton. There he remained throughout October. On one occasion at the least he seems to have preached for the Rev. Henry Venn Elliott at St. Mary's: his subject was, 'What has been done for us and in us.' He was also engaged on the third part of his tract on Baptism. It would be more likely to come out, he humorously writes to Harrison, now that he was removed from libraries. But Harrison helped him in looking out references at the Bodleian; and in return was the receiver of two letters which show the method of his work. The first letter if quoted would not add much to the knowledge of modern liturgical students; but it shows the steps and motives to which it is due that our present higher knowledge has been reached. In the second letter Pusey gives the following reasons for the continuance of the Tracts, and sees further work for them in the future.

'I should be sorry that the Tracts should be given up, and it happens remarkably enough that just the months to the end of the year which seemed likely to stand unoccupied promise to be filled up by numbers of my tract, which I once thought that I should have finished by August, and the Tracts must be carried on beyond the time when they were to be concluded and would have been regularly. I expect to print towards 100 more pages (to conclude the tract) for November, and the extra notes, although not of this magnitude, may very likely occupy some 40 or 50 more; which will do for December. Just tell Newman this and what Bowden says. But I am not so sure about what B. says of carrying on the two series, for I know not that the Popish controversy may not just be the best way of handling Ultra-Protestantism: i.e. neglecting it, not advancing against, but setting Catholic views against Roman Catholicism and so disposing of Ultra-Protestantism by a side-wind, and teaching people Catholicism, without their suspecting, while they are only bent on demolishing Romanism. I suspect we might thus have people with us, instead of against us, and that they might find themselves Catholics before they were aware: for thus the Catholic statements would be purely historical (as brought from the Fathers), the polemics would be against Rome. Only instead of the Ultra-Protestant fashion of saying " the Fathers spoke warmly or hyper–bolically," &c., without troubling themselves to know what the Fathers did say, the passages of the Fathers would be produced in real earnest and speak for themselves.

'Only, for myself ... I have been thrown much behindhand in everything, by having employed this Vacation on the tract--not but that I am glad that I have been so led on (since I was led on), but that I have no time left·

'I expect to return on Saturday, October 31, so if you do not hear from me again, pray give notice for my lectures in the Psalms in the usual way on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at one: (they would send you an old notice from the Press). My lectures to begin November 3 and to see persons on Monday. Yours and Pauli's when you think best.'

On his return to Oxford Pusey carried out a plan which had been in contemplation for some time,--the foundation of the Theological Society.

The objects of. this Society were threefold. It was in–tended first of all to promote 'knowledge of the several branches of theology, and to further full, clear, and definite views by reference to original sources.' For this, Oxford afforded 'very singular opportunities.' But, secondly, theological study was to be promoted 'according to the peculiar character of our Church, by combining the study of Christian antiquity with that of Holy Scripture.' Thirdly, the society was not to be confined to older men or experts. It was to 'afford to students facilities of hearing subjects discussed, or difficult texts of Scripture explained fully and in detail.'

These objects might seem to be none other than those which the Faculty of Theology itself would naturally and always have kept in view. But the official profession of a great subject is not always accompanied by the specific enthusiasm which would do the best that could be done for it; and theological knowledge is apt to stagnate unless it be committed to the keeping of an earnest religious conviction. The new Society, however, anxiously en–deavoured to recognize the rights as well as the duties of the Oxford Professoriate. Everything relating to the Society was to be regulated by a committee. This com–mittee would make bye-laws as well as direct the conduct of meetings. It was to consist of the two Professors of Divinity, the Regius Professor of Hebrew, the Archdeacon of Oxford, and three other members, whose places were to be filled up by the whole body when the first vacancies occurred. Thus, by the constitution of the society, a ma–jority of its governing body consisted of persons in high office at Oxford. But it does not appear that this pro–vision had any practical effect. The first committee         seems to have consisted of five members only: the Regius Professor of Hebrew, the Archdeacon of Oxford (Dr. Clerke), the Rev. John Keble, the Rev. J. H. Newman, the Rev. F. Oakeley.

It has sometimes been the fashion to attempt to promote theology by desultory talk at breakfasts or dinners. The new Society proposed to go to work by reading papers; but precautions were taken that these papers should be of a high order of excellence. The fifth rule of the Society provided that 'in order to prevent the possibility of un–advised and random observations upon sacred subjects,' no discussion on the subject of any paper should take place at the meeting of the Society during which the paper was read. No one could read a paper who was not in holy orders and of sufficient standing to preach before the University. The committee might ban any subject the discussion of which they deemed inexpedient; and no subject could be handled without their approval. Every essay that was read must have been recommended by one member of the committee; and the committee was to determine the order in which papers should be read.

The ten rules of the Society were composed and proposed by Pusey, and accepted by the others with little or no modification: the committee then proceeded to enact its bye-laws. Any   B.A. was eligible for membership in the Society; and any member might introduce friends, not being undergraduates, to its meetings. Papers were to be read on every Friday in Michaelmas and Lent Terms, and on every second Friday in Easter and Act Term. The substance of each paper was to be briefly summarized at the subsequent meeting, with a view to further dis–cussion when there had been an interval for thought and reading.

There can be no, question of the influence of this Society on the Oxford movement. It stimulated theological thought and work more than any other agency in Oxford at the time; it gave a point to study, and prevented desultoriness and a one-sided interest in the controversies of the day. Above all, it fed both the British Magazine and the 'Tracts for the Times,' especially the latter, with a series of essays upon subjects of which little was known or thought in those days. It enabled the editor of the Tracts to carry out the change of plan, adopted in the latter part of the second volume, by which 'tracts of considerable extent of subject were substituted for the short and incomplete papers with which the publication commence. Mr. Keble appears to have read no less than eight papers before the Society, on 'The Mysticism attributed to the Early Fathers,' but only a fragment of this considerable labour was given to the world in the eighty-ninth tract. The Rev. I. Williams' tract on 'Reserve in communicating Religious Knowledge' grew out of two papers read before the Society. Others which did not appear in the Tracts were those in which Newman discussed 'The .Apollinarians and the Monophysites'; Charles Marriott, 'The relation of Church and State as it appears in the History of Theodoret'; and Mr. B. Harrison, 'The School of Alexandria.' Pusey himself, besides the inaugural paper, seems to have given an 'Historical Account of the Doctrine of the Eucharistic Sacrifice in the Anglican Church, as occurring in the several forms of her Liturgy,' which formed the early part of the eighty-first tract; and an 'Historical View of the Pelagian Heresy,' in two papers, which do not appear to have been made further use of, at least in this form.

One rule of the Society was that

'a book be kept wherein subjects upon which any member will undertake to write, or upon which he wishes to see an essay written, may be entered: so likewise texts of Holy Scripture which he wishes to have explained or will explain.'

This book happily survives, and it shows how large was the range of theological interests in the members of the Society .

The first meeting of the Society was held on Nov. 12, 1835. On the previous day Pusey wrote to Mrs. Pusey, who was staying at Ryde in the Isle of Wight:--

'Our little, or large, Theological Society is to meet on alternate Fridays, as you wished, at 8 after to-morrow. There will be only two more meetings this Term; Friday week, and three weeks. It promises well, but I almost fear I see elements of disunion, in that John [New–man] will scare people. But of this nothing now. It is for the present held in this house; so I shall be Moderator, and all your chairs con–fiscated.'

On the day after the meeting he writes:--

'Last night I read a paper which N. says must have lasted an hour and twenty minutes, and my chest was not at all tired. There were thirty persons present in the dining-room, so I had to read from one end to the other. I do not know how it went off. I was a little nervous about it, which I was not in the University pulpit. One ought not to have thought of self more here than there.'

In his inaugural address Pusey evidently endeavoured to set the tone of the proceedings of the Society. His subject was, 'The necessity of Theological Learning, especially in the Church of England.' This necessity he based on the double character of the English Church as Catholic and yet Reformed. If a Reformed Church must be a student of Scripture, a Catholic Church must add to the study of Scripture that of ecclesiastical antiquity. Pusey depre–cated the one-sidedness which would sacrifice Scripture to antiquity or antiquity to a mistaken conception of the best methods for studying Scripture; and the latter being the danger of the time, the paper is mainly taken up with arguing the importance of the study of antiquity. The argument is emphatically an Anglican argument: the 6th Article is discussed in order to show that if Scripture contains all necessary truth its use is not so much to teach as to 'prove' what is taught by the teaching Church; and the 20th, that if the Church may not expound one place in Scripture that it be contrary to another, this limitation implies that the Church is the expounder as well as the keeper and witness of Scripture. A large part of the paper is devoted to establishing the value of antiquity from the language of Bishop Jewel when in controversy with Harding, although, as was natural, Hammond and other Caroline divines are also laid under contribution. The paper lays stress on the advantages of the Reformation, and speaks of the Lutheran and Reformed 'Churches.'

As time went on Pusey became exceedingly hopeful about the Society. The meetings were attended by many young men of promise; some of their names were not in later years associated with the Movement. In the MS. lists of attendances we read Cureton, Liddell, Golightly, C. Williams, Robert Hussey, P. C. Claughton, H. Kynaston. One accomplished young man, who combined with the study of Medicine that of Hebrew and Arabic, Mr. W. A. Greenhill, of Trinity College, describes his experience:--

'The meeting was in the large study of later years, at that time the dining-room. Dr. Pusey sat at the head of the table, on the west side of the room. Newman sat on his right, and read the paper, the subject of which was the Apollinarian Heresy. There was little or rather no discussion. People appeared to be afraid to venture on a topic of which they knew little. As a young man, I thought it dry.'

Meanwhile, the existence of periodical meetings at a private house in Oxford, not having for their object hos–pitality or amusement, attracted attention. There are always a certain number of people who look with a jaun–diced eye upon any form of doing good in which they themselves have no share. It was urged that the Theo–logical Society 'was acephalous and irresponsible.' One 'knew not what might come of it.' Nothing should be done without the Bishop; but what had the Bishop had to do with the Theological Society? To this last objection it was sufficient to reply that the Christian Church had always recognized an independence, within limits, in her schools of theology; that Universities had been founded after this principle; and that the objection would tell against the Theological Faculty at Oxford. The other criticism could only be refuted by the event; but, in truth, it was too much the language of prejudice to wait for serious discussion.

Connected with this plan was another, having in view the same object -- a revived interest in and study of theology. Pusey proposed to take into his house three or four Bachelors of Arts; to keep them at his own expense; and to afford them assistance in reading. The first to avail himself of this generous project was Mr. J. B. Mozley. He was a striking illustration of the theory that the finest minds generally ripen late. He had graduated as a third classman, and had since been rejected twice when standing for a Fellowship at Oriel. Pusey's offer came to him when he was eager to study, yet without any means of maintaining himself as a student in Oxford, and he eagerly accepted it. His account of the plan is given in a letter to his mother:--

'Pusey, the Canon, finding his house too large for him, and thinking also that his house and income were never intended by the original benefactors of the Church to be used only for private convenience, is going to take in three or four men, to give each of them apartments, and also the free use of his library. In return for this they are to read,--divinity I suppose, or subjects connected with it; following at the same time the bent of their own minds as to the particular course of reading, and only referring to Pusey when they think they want advice and assistance. This is a liberal plan. Pusey, in short, only claims to give men an excuse and object for staying up after their degree: he wishes above everything to encourage the study of theology, as one great way of pouring in some light upon this ignorant age; ignorant, that is, as to all sacred learning and primitive views. I cannot give the exact details of the scheme, or how we are to live together, and what we are to see of Pusey, and of each other; but there is the general arrangement.'

To be suddenly introduced to the innermost circle of a family, with a certain strictness and severity of life, and with some marked peculiarities of character; and this upon no such well-defined footing as that either of a visitor or a private tutor, was not without an element of difficulty for a young man. But, however this may have been, it was easily surmounted, partly no doubt by Mozley's good sense, and still more through Pusey's tact and perfect consideration for others. 'I am writing,' Mozley tells his mother six weeks afterwards, 'in Dr. Pusey's dining-room. I really flatter myself I get on very well with the Puseys; which is something to say, considering the strangeness of the situation.' In Michaelmas Term he was joined by Mr. Ashworth of Brasenose, and Mr. Phillips of All Souls, who came at the instance of Newman. With these was associated Mr. F. M. R. Barker of Oriel College--a relative of Mrs. Pusey. The arrangement seems to have lasted until the summer of 1838, when the plan took a new form. Mrs. Pusey's health had then become too critical to admit of her receiving as inmates persons who were not members of the family. But Newman was now anxious that the plan of encouraging and supervising the work of young men should not drop, and he accordingly took a house for the purpose in St. Aldate's. Another feature of change was that the inmates of the house were not to be students reading on their own account, but assistants and fellow-workers of Pusey's in the 'Library of the Fathers' and his other many undertakings. It was described as a 'reading and collating establishment" by J. B. Mozley's friendly pen. He seems to have been at the head of it; and one of his companions was Mr. Mark Pattison, who, while there, collated some MSS. of St. Cyprian, and translated the Catena A urea on St. Matthew. But in this second stage the project does not appear to have been a success. To be intimate with Pusey and Newman in 1838 made young men objects of suspicion; and Pusey's home sorrows in 1839 may have for the time made his supervision less active than it would otherwise have been. The home seems to have been closed in 1840, when J. B. Mozley, who since the preceding November had been its only inmate, was elected a Fellow of Magdalen .


Project Canterbury