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







ëEd ascoltava i lor sermoni.

Che a poetar mi davano intelletto.‰

                                                   Purg. xx11.128.

 NEARLY a year before taking his degree Pusey had thought of standing for a Fellowship at Oriel. An Oriel Fellowship was at that time the greatest distinction in Oxford that could be won by competition; and in 1823 the list of Fellows comprised the most distinguished names of the University. Since 1814 Dr. Copleston, afterÆwards Bishop of Llandaff, had been Provost. Davison, Hampden. Arnold, had only recently ceased to be Fellows. Whately, Keble, Tyler, Hawkins, Dornford, Awdry, Jelf, were on the list. Newman was in his year of probation. For an undergraduate who had not yet taken his degree to aspire to a place in such a society might have well seemed audacious. But the idea was first suggested to him by a strong wish to know Mr. Keble, whose character even then inspired a strange reverence and love far beyond the circle of his immediate acquaintance. Mr. Keble while residing at Oriel was in the habit of spending his Oxford vacations at Fairford, where his father, who was Vicar of the neighbouring parish of Coln St. Aldwin, resided in a house of his own. Fairford had other attractions for Pusey; but it was the scene of his first meeting with Keble. In these matters too young men are apt to be imitative; and the success of R. W. Jelf at the Oriel election of 1821, and John Parker‰s intention to stand in the following year, furnished Pusey with a new motive.

ëI know not‰, he writes to Parker, ëwhether you are aware that at some far future day I have the intention of standing the tame trial [as Jelf and you]. Your success would add immeasurably to its value. There could he no happier society within a college than Oriel would then unite for me; but the greatness of the good fortune would make me always doubt its being realised. And I have now a habit of never dwelling on anything which the ‹coming dayŠ is to provide. Were it to be so it would certainly be thee best-omened application of ‹When shall we three meet again?Š which that oft-quoted enquiry ever met with.‰

While reading for his Fellowship, Edward Pusey had to struggle with very bad health. In October and November, 1822, and also in the following April, while the examination was going on, he was in the care of Dr. Kidd. This, however, was not for him a new experience; in after years he used to say that nothing but severe illness need put a stop to reading.

It was in the late autumn of 1822 that he met John Henry Newman, who had been elected Fellow of Oriel in the preceding April.

ëNewman first saw him on his dining, as a stranger, at Oriel high table when a guest of his Eton friend Jelf, and as a future candidate, as it was reported, for a fellowship. Newman used to speak in after life of this first introduction to one with whom eventually he was so closely united, and to ‹the blessing of whose long friendship and example,Š as he said in the Dedication to him of his first volume of Sermons, he had owed so much. His light curly head of hair was damp with the cold water which his headaches made necessary for his comfort; he walkedd fast with a young manner of carrying himself, and stood rather bowed, looking up from under his eyebrows, his shoulders rounded, and his bachelor‰s gown not buttoned at the elbow, but hanging loose over his wrists. His countenance was very sweet, and be spoke little.‰

The etiquette of the election prescribed that every Fellow should be addressed by each candidate in a Latin letter. These letters were not at Oriel, as in some other colleges, written in prescribed form: they were independent compositions, and in some cases they had an effect upon the election. In 1823 one of these letters was preserved by its owner, ëfrom some impression of Pusey‰s future greatness‰

ëEgregio doctoque viro, Carolo Johanni Plumer, Collegii Orielensis Socio dignissimo.

ëUt primum per aetatem quanti mihi quisque esset faciendus, judicium facere potui, nihil ad existimationem honestius, nihil ad delectationem jucundius mihi posse obtingere apud animum meum statui quam in Collegium Orielense aliquando cooptari. Oblatä ergo jam tandem occasione amplissimi hujus honoris petendi, facere non possum quin a te, Vir Clarissime, enixe orem, ut mei rationem habeas. Quod si mihi praeter spem ben² processerit eventus, omnia studia, omnem operam ad gratias quas quidem semper habebo maximas, aliquä ex parte referendas conferam.

               Tui favoris studiossimus,

                                    ëEDVARDUS B. PUSEY.

Ex aede Xti.


The examination for Fellowships at Oriel had a tradiÆtional character which was well understood in Oxford. It was less a test of knowledge than of general capacity: it would only appal defective if judged by the standard of examinations in which subjects of study are valued more for their own sake than as instruments of mental training and discipline. And it practically succeeded. Oriel was incontestably the home of the most vigorous ability in Oxford and we may wait a long while before special studies enable so many men to think and write with such effect as did the Fellows of this distinguished college in the second and third decades of the present century.

In 1823 the examination appears to have begun on Easter Eve, March 29th. On that day the candidates had to translate a passage of an English author into Latin, and to write an English essay. A long-remembered incident occurred, which was described by Cardinal Newman to the present writer:-.

ëDuring the examination Pusey had one of his bad headaches and broke down. He tore up his essay, saying that there was no good in going on with it. Jenkyns picked up the bits, put them together, and showed the essay to the Fellows. It was a capital essay.‰

On Easter Monday things were even worse. After an hour‰s unsuccessful effort he wrote a letter begging to retire from the examination, and left the hall.

ëThe Fellows, however,‰ writes the Rev, C. J. Plumer, ëthinking it a pity that one who had shown so great promise should be lost to the college, requested me, who had tome previous acquaintance with Pusey, to go over to his lodgings and persuade him to revoke his decision. I did so, and the result was that Pusey persevered.‰

On Tuesday and Wednesday. therefore, he rejoined the other candidates in the hall on Thursday he wrote a Latin essay and answered questions on philosophy, as the others had on Monday. These last papers, for some reason, he had to write in the ante-chapel, the hall being otherwise engaged. The porter at the college gate was asked on that day who would be elected. ëWhat do you think, Sir,‰ was the reply, ëof that gentleman in the chapel?‰

He was elected, but on the understanding that he should not be asked to become a tutor. Oriel was very well supplied in this respect, and Pusey‰s health was none of the best, His acknowledgement of Jelf‰s congratulations is characteristic.:Ö

ëI ever thought that you bad a happier mode than myself expressÆing your feelings, and the delightful letter received yesterday convinced me of this more strongly. It held up there mirror to my own mind, and I saw all that I had thought, felt, wished, more clearly developed. Forgive my having put it (I hope it was no breach of trust, but my heart was fall and I could not help it) into my mother‰s hands, who read it with tears, and nay father‰s, who pronounced me above measure blessed that I had such a fried. With these exceptions it will remain sacred with me, as long as I have my being.‰

Not the least generous of the congratulations which poured in on him was a letter front Mr. Parker, who bad himself failed at Oriel in the preceding year; and the bells of the parish church of Pusey expressed the satisfaction of his father and family.

Edward Pusey now found himself a member of a comÆmon room, to belong to which was itself an education. Unfriendly critics described this by saying that the Oriel common room ëstank of logic‰: but logic, if liable to misÆuse, is not without its value. The distinctive characteristic of the Oriel mind was exactness in thought, as the basis of exactness of expression. This was exhibited, although in different ways, by Newman and Keble not less than by Hawkins and Whately. Everybody practised more or less the Socratic method of improving thought by constant cross-questioning; but Whately and Hawkins especially excelled in this. The result was to discourage fine words, when homely expressions would suffice; to expose inacÆcurate and partial knowledge; to resolve imposing theories into their constituent ingredients to force men back upon the principles which really governed their convictions.

The directions in which minds were led to move under this process were indeed widely different; but the intellectual impress was, in the main, the same. Quite at the close of his life Mr. Keble would criticize inaccurate or ambitious expressions in conversation, in his own gentle manner, but with the sane incisive clearness as did the late Provost of Oriel. The terse epigrams which are attributed to Whately were rivalled by sentences which sometimes fell from Pusey in summing up a criticism or bringing a conÆversation to its close. The prose of Cardinal Newman, unrivalled as it is in this century, owes some of its best elements to those early years of contact with Whately and Hawkins.

It must be owned that the society of Oriel did not endow Pusey with its characteristic excellence of dear writing. Its main effect upon his mind was to intensify his desire to accumulate all the facts that might bear upon a given issue; and he did this with such conscientious thoroughness, and was so anxious when stating the result to leave nothing unrecognized, that his style never took the clear and direct form which was easy and natural to writers like Whately. Oriel was the home of incessant although informal criticism; and it did not escape the dangers which are inevitable when criticism is a predominant feature in social life. Of these one is to make our individual capacities or accomplishments an absolute rule of excellence. Edward Pusey is thinking of his Oriel experiences when in 1827 he writes:Ö

Men forget that what is useful or injurious to themselves may not be so to others, and censure others for not adopting the line which has been useful to themselves, and think that because they could not do with impunity what others are doing, neither therefore could these. One observes the same in things to be done as well as in things to be left undone. Each not only takes the line which is most congenial to him, and in which he is therefore most likely to succeed, and be useful, but often tacitly blames others who do not the same. As a confirmation of this I copy out of the memorandum book of a friend observations on this trait of character in individuals known intimately to us, but one initial of which only you will recognize. Though dry to you, from not knowing them, it exactly illustrates the case. ‹C. is skilful in business and accounts: you see that he flies to college accounts even as a relief in illness. He was accordingly a most active treasurer, and often reproaches those who do not so much as himself is this respect. T is a practical man and a good scholar and tutor. Accordingly he is indefatigable in the active parts of his office, prides himself upon it, and blames those who do not devote themselves so much to their pupils, and indulge in speculation and study, for which be has himself little inclination. H. is fond of study and speculation, and writes with ease. Accordingly he is a frequent preacher, has some smattering in divinity, but has less intercourse with his pupils and with his parishioners because it is less agreeable to him. D. is not devoted to his pupils, but is bent on the discharge of parochial duties, though they are inconsistent with his collage office. The season is the same. He is not a more pious man, probably, than T.but likes parochial duties better. P. is little fitted for active interÆcourse with others, is shy, and expresses himself with hesitation and obscurity. Accordingly he is bent on the study of divinity, and someÆwhat censures those who am less laborious of this branch of duty.Š (N.B.-P. only meant to censure those who neglected these duties for general society, for which he has comparatively little taste and probably, in so doing, undervalued the good which others might do in society.) ‹W. is impatient of laborious study and exclaims against those who read too much, do not exert thought, &c.Š The author or the above remarks is H.‰

Edward Pusey‰s most intimate friends in residence were then Hawkins, Newman, and Jelf. Mr Keble had ceased to reside in Oxford within two months of Edward Pusey‰s election at Oriel. He resigned his tutorship at the end of Hilary Term, 1823, and his mother‰s death in May led to his leaving Oxford. He still, however, came to Oxford from time to time, and the impression produced by him upon Pusey at the close of his Oriel life was indeed profound.

ëI always loved J. K. for his connection with Fairford. But all he has said and done and written makes me esteem him more. There is a moral elevation in his character which I know in no other. His reticence and growing self-mistrust alone makes it, to an unattentive eye, less perceptible‰.

Pusey did not at once get rooms in his new College. It was usual for the younger Fellows of Oriel to live in lodgings; as the college was at once small and popular, and its rooms were wanted for the undergraduates. Accordingly Pusey did not live within the walls before 1826, on his return from his first visit to Germany. In 1823 he had lodgings in the High Street, in the same house with Newman, a circumstance which led to the first phase of their intimacy.

Cardinal Newman has described his relations with Edward Pusey during the five years and a half in which they were Fellows of Oriel together, in the pages of the ëApologia‰:Ö

ëAt that time (from 1823) I had the intimacy of my dear and true friend, Dr. Pusey; and could not fail to admire and revere a soul so devoted to the cause of religion, so full of good works, so faith in his affections.  But he left residence when I was getting to know him well.‰

But a fuller record of their earliest friendship is given in the autobiographical portion of the first volume of Cardinal Newman‰s ëLetters and Correspondence.‰ It, the following quotation Cardinal Newman is speaking of himself in the third person:Ö

ëIt is interesting to trace the course of Newman‰s remarks on Pusey in his private journal, commencing as they do in a high patronizing tone, and gradually changing into the expression of simple admiration of his new friend.  April 4, 1823, he writes, speaking of the election of Fellows: ‹Two men have succeeded this morningŠ (E.B, Pusey and W. R. Churton} ‹who, I trust, are favourably disposed to religion, or at least moral and thinking, not worldly and careless, menŠ; and he goes on to pray that they may be brought ‹into the true Church.Š On the 13th he notes down: ‹I have taken a short walk with Pusey after church, and we have had some very pleasing conversation. He is a searching man, and seems to delight in talking on religious subÆjects.Š By May 2 Newman has advanced further in his good opinion of him. He writes: ‹I have had several conversations with Pusey on religion since I last mentioned him.  How can I doubt his seriousness?  His very eagerness to talk of the Scriptures seems to prove it. May I lead him forward, at the same time gaining good from him! He has told me the plan of his Essay for the Chancellor‰s prize, and I clearly see that it is much better than mine. I cannot think I shall get it; to this day I have thought I shouldŠ And on May 17 he remarks: ‹That Pusey is Thine, O Lord, how can I doubt? His deep views of the Pastoral Office, his high ideas of the spiritual rest of the Sabbath, his devotional spirit, his love of the Scriptures, his firmness and zeal, all testify to the operation of the Holy Ghost; yet I fear he is prejudiced against Thy children. Let me never be eager to convert him to a party or to a form of opinion.  Lead us both on in the way of Thy commandments. What am I that I should be so blest in my near associates?Š

ëNothing more is said in these private notes about Pusey before the Long Vacation; but hardly is it over when he notes down: ‹Have just had a most delightful walk with Pusey: our subjects all religious, all devotional and practical. At last we fell to talking of Henry Martyn and missionaries. He spoke beautifully on the question, Who are to go?Š

ëOn February 1 of the next year (1824) he notes down: ‹Have just walked with Pusey: he seems growing in the best thingsÖin humility and love of God and man. What an active devoted spirit! God grant he may not, like Martyn. ë burn as phosphorus!‰Š Lastly, on March 15, when the year from his first acquaintance with Pusey had not yet run out, he writes: ‹Took a walk with Pusey: discoursed on missionary subjects. I must bear every circumstance in continual remembrance.  We went along the lower London road, crossed to Cowley, and, coming back, just before we arrived at Magdalen Bridge turnpike, he expressed to meáŠ

ëThere is a blank in the MS.  The writer has not put into words what this special confidence was which so affected him. He conÆtinues: ‹Oh, what words shall I use? My heart is full. How should I he humbled to the dust! What importance I think myself of!  My deeds, my abilities, my writings!  Whereas he is humility itself, and gentleness and love, and zeal, and self-devotion. Bless him with Thy fullest gifts, and grant me to imitate him.Š‰

In May, 1823, Edward Pusey attended for the first time the lectures of Dr. Lloyd, who had succeeded to the Regius Chair of Divinity in 1822. A man of clear, strong intellect, and of great tenacity and earnestness of purpose, he soon made his Chair more of a power in Oxford than it had been under any of his predecessors not excepting Van Mildert. Dr. Lloyd‰s class comprised, besides Pusey, J. H Newman, R. W, Jelf, and William Churton, from Oriel; John Williams, H. L. Thomas, and two others from Christ Church.

The books upon which Dr. Lloyd lectured were SumÆner‰s ëRecords of the Creation,‰ Graves on the Pentateuch, Casaubon‰s ëExercitationes on the Prolegomena of Baronius,‰ Prideaux‰s ëConnexion,‰ Lowman‰s ëCivil Government of the Hebrews‰ and ëHebrew Ritual,‰ and Warburton‰s ëDivine Legation.‰ Of these works, the first four engaged the attention of the Professor and his class for two years. Edward Pusey made in some cases elaborate notes and analyses of these lectures. Those on Graves‰ work are interesting as showing how fully, at this early period, the older objections to the Mosaic authorship and Divine authority of the Pentateuch were present to his mind, and how carefully he had begun to consider them. Referring to another course of Dr. Lloyd‰s lectures, on the Epistle to the Romans, ëLloyd taught us,‰ Pusey often said, ënot so much the full meaning of the Holy Scripture, as how to study it.‰ He never explained morn than three or four verses within the hour. But he first exhausted the history of every doubtful reading, every word, every construction, the place of each clause and argument in relation to its context and then he would review the fortunes of the passage in Christian theology; its bearings on Christian doctrine; the controversies which it had roused or had decided; the position it held, or ought to hold, in the mind of the living Church. Of these lectures there are copious notes in Pusey‰s handÆwriting to the end of the ninth chapter of the Epistle. These note would, from the nature of the case, do at best a very partial justice to the original: they do not correspond to Dr. Pusey‰s often repeated estimate of the lectures. They are chiefly concerned with the direct elucidation of the text. In many cases the strong, clear sentences are evidently Dr. Lloyd‰s. The illustrations are frequently from authors which have fallen into disuse and are forgotten by the present generation; the scholarship is old-fashioned, although in its way thorough. It cannot be doubted that these lectures had a very real effect upon Dr. Pusey‰s mind and work as a student and expositor of Holy Scripture.

ëWhen Bishop Lloyd began lecturing us on the Epistle to the Romans he occupied the first lecture with the first four verses, and of course that gave us a very different idea of reading the New TestaÆment from any that we had had before‰.

While Pusey was attending Dr. Lloyd‰s lectures he was consulted about a plan for reading divinity by his friend Mr. R.  Salwey. In reply he sent Dr. Lloyd‰s list of books, observing that

ëthe list is rather addressed to the understanding than to the heart, and practical books must in great measure be supplied by yourself. Of these you will find several very valuable ones on the lists of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. ‹The Clergyman‰s InstructorŠ is an excellent reflection of tracts on clerical duties.‰

In a later letter to Mr. Salwey he recommends for

ëa little practical reading, to mix with so much that is intellectual, Scott‰s ‹Christian Life.Š‰

Salwey, he thought, would be alarmed at the number of books which he had marked as necessary to be read. By way of calming him, Edward Pusey adds characteristically:Ö

Even when we have got through all, or many more, I do tot think we shall have to complain of knowing too much on the subject. During the whole, one book is never to be out of our headsÖthe Bible And by comparing that with itself we shall by God‰s assistance understand more of it than by any single means; though of course even that is not sufficient by itself. You will find an interleaved Bible of great use, into which may he inserted any expositions of single texts which may he worth collecting out of books which are not express commentaries, and which would otherwise be lost. One of the best commentators is Theophylact (he abridged Chrysostom); he one of the clearest and simplestá.‰

On another subject which Dr. Lloyd‰s lectures brought strongly before him, he writes:Ö

ëThe different systems of evidence are independent [of each other] and therefore cumulative [in their force]. Paley proves the truth of Christianity one way, Lord Lyttelton another. Proving the authenÆticity of the books is often a very great point but it is only part of what is to he done.‰

One effect of Dr. Lloyd‰s lectures on his judgment as to the relative importance of different theological studies is that ignorance of modern ecclesiastical history (nothing is said about ancient) can

ëhardly ever he so painful, and [the knowledge of it] is not so much a duty. as the knowledge of the evidences of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity.‰

In the Long Vacation of 1823 Edward Pusey went into Devonshire, but the beginning of the October Term found him again at Oxford, and the winter and early spring of 1824 were largely occupied in writing for the Latin Essay. The subject might have seemed hardly congenial to Pusey‰s mental bias; it was a comparison between the Greek and Roman colonies. But he threw himself into it heart and soul.

In its choice and vigour of language and in exact method of statement, as well as in the evidence it affords of extensive reading, this essay probably is above the level of many of those which have won a University prize at Oxford. The writer‰s deepest interest becomes apparent when he traces the character of that union between the Greek colony and the parent state which was secured by a common religion. The rule of England, as built up by her colonies, will, he anticiÆpates, be more beneficial than the Greek, and more solid and lasting than the Roman. The glowing fervour of the closing words almost anticipates the higher visions of the Eirenicon:Ö

ëSilent artes Graeciae, dissipatae sunt Romanae res, Christi ver÷ fidem sempiternis saeculorum aetatibus auctam usqae adeo fore, cerÆtissimo testmonio abund² constat, donec, extincto quodcunque pravum est aut inhumanum, uno caritatis vinculo ultimas terras comprehenÆderit.‰

Pusey did not expect to succeed; he always formed a poor estimate of his own performances. However, the examiners, one of whom was Milman, then Professor of Poetry, thought his work worthy of the prize. Mr. Pusey, senior, now in his seventy-ninth year, heard his son read his essay in the Sheldonian Theatre on June 30, and the bells of Pusey parish church greeted the family party on their return home in the late summer evening.

Ta the closing weeks of 1824 he had begun to read for the English Essay of the following year. Writing to Mr. Parker, he says:Ö

ëI fear a large portion of the next five months is to be taken up by writing another essayá.The subject is a tremendous one: ‹Language in its copiousness and structure considered as a test of civilizationŠ; in English. It is a source of anxious thought how this course which I am advised to pursue will qualify me for the great objects of life. In five months it will all be over, and then I shall have no other calls.‰

In the event this essay was won by Mr. J. W. Milne, of Balliol. The subject, as his friend Parker jestingly implied, was eminently adapted to Edward Pusey‰s natural taste; but already the pressure of graver duties and convictions weighed heavily upon him, and in deference to them he had made up his mind to study theology in Germany.


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