Project Canterbury

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

London: Longmans, 1894
volume two

Transcribed by The Revd R D Hacking
AD 2002












PUSEY'S memory is so closely associated in the minds of Churchmen with his work as a theologian, controversialist and spiritual guide, that the more intimate relations of his private life are apt to be forgotten. No one, however, who was admitted to the intimacy of his home at Christ Church could fail to be deeply impressed with the influence which his character and religious convictions exercised on all who came in contact with him in his domestic circle.

His religious seriousness pervaded every detail of the home life, entering into the very simplest relations with his children; and hence, in spite of the even passionate affection which he felt for them, there was probably a strictness about the discipline of the nursery and schoolroom which friends and relations, even in those severer days, thought somewhat overstrained. But indeed both parents loved their children with the deepest affection; and their corre–spondence, so far as it has survived, is full of the detailed and tender interest which they took in the development of the characters of their boy and two little girls. It is pleasant to read that when Mrs. Pusey was away from Oxford, Pusey himself used to be with his children at the time of their saying their prayers in the morning and evening. During such absences also they lived in his study, adding probably to its normal confusion, but relieving the stress of his severe work by their bright childish ways. Sometimes however he would frankly acknowledge that he could not join in their games:--' I do not find it in me.' They were, however, always in his thoughts. Thus on one occasion, when himself absent from home, he writes to his wife:--

                                                                                                                             [April, 1837.]

'I was very much vexed to recollect on my way to the coach that I had forgotten the children and my promise. However, I blessed them, as I did you, with that choicest of all blessings, "the Peace of God,"as I saw the cross on the cathedral presiding over and hallowing our dear home. Tell the children that I blessed them and thought of them much when I woke this morning.'

Until the year 1837 Pusey lived much in the same way as did his brother canons. But his many charities, and, not least, his generous contribution to the London churches, had led him as early as 1835 to consider the question of his expenditure. His growing sensitiveness also on the question of social duties appears from such passages in his letters to his wife as the following:--

'I am going to dine to-day with Burton to meet Dr. Russell (Charterhouse, perhaps future Bishop) and only him,--to-morrow Gaudy,--Monday week Bodley dinner. Eheu! fugaces labuntur anni in dinnering.'

In the spring of 1837 they sold, as has been said, their horses and carriage, and in other ways curtailed their household expenses. All this involved some withdrawal from society; and Mrs. Pusey, who now entered with all her heart into her husband's feelings, if she did not go beyond them, sold all her jewels, and gave the money to the London churches.

These particulars of Pusey's home life illustrate the way in which he practically carried out his public teaching. It was on the Sunday after quietly selling his carriage and horses that he told an Oxford audience:--

'We confess of ourselves that we are a luxurious people, that luxury is increasing, spreading everywhere; that it is taking possession of our land; that we know not how to stem it; and yet we are secure, as if what has taken place everywhere else would not here, as if we were to be an exception to God's dealings.'

On the evening of the same day he writes to his wife, who was in Guernsey:--

'When we meet again we must try to live more like pilgrims [journeying] heavenwards. I am much perplexed by my own sermon: for I know not how I can act up to it, with our Heads of Houses' dinners. And it has come across me, had one not better give them up altogether?'

The London congregation which listened to him on St. Barnabas' Day, 1837, within a week of the sale of his wife's jewels, probably little suspected his moral right to make the earnest appeal contained in his striking sermon on Christian kindliness and charity, in which he presses the example of the saint who, 'having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet' (Acts v. 4).

'If all cannot be parted with lawfully, why not some? Why not some, not merely of our superfluities, year by year, but (what only requires faith) of our substance, so that we may be poorer in the sight of men, richer in the sight of God?... Would there be no blessing if our women broke off the ornaments (which it is at least safer for Christian women not to wear), as the Jewish women of old, for the service of their God? Is there no blessing on luxuries abandoned, establishments diminished, show of display laid aside, equipages dropped, superfluous plate cast into the treasury of God, the rich (where it might be) walking on foot here, that they may walk in glory in the streets of the City which are of pure gold?'

It may be that the clergy are sometimes charged justly with being merely rhetorical in the pulpit. It is a terrible charge: but certainly it is not one which could be laid at Pusey's door.

In this matter of charity, it has been seen, Mrs. Pusey was entirely at one with her husband; in fact, the growth of her character during the eleven years of her married life was a remarkable testimony to the strength and nature of her husband's influence. She had been before her marriage occupied almost exclusively with the social duties and enjoyments of a country home; and, as her earlier letters show, without those formed and intense convictions which controlled the later years of her life. Her tastes corresponded to her education and position, and she had carried many of them with her when she first came to Christ Church. Her letters show how all other interests gradually gave way to religious ones. Oxford interested her at first mainly through its social aspects; and it was inevitable that she should see a good deal of its society. As time went on, other occupations and duties withdrew her gradually, and before her death almost completely, from those early interests. She spent a great deal of time in educating her children. She was a regular visitor of the poor in St. Aldate's and St. Ebbe's parishes. She assisted the Rev. W. K. Hamilton, Vicar of St. Peter's-in-the-East, afterwards Bishop of Salisbury, in setting on foot a penitentiary and in other good works. She became a regular attendant at the daily services of the cathedral. She set aside a portion of time each day to private prayer and intercession, and to spiritual reading. She spent long hours of work at manuscripts for her husband in the Bodleian Library. She even began, with her husband's full sanction, a Commentary on St. Matthew's Gospel. She always had possessed literary tastes; as she grew out of girlhood into womanhood her tastes steadily developed, and the heroic literature of the ocean gradually made way for Byron, then Walter Scott, Goethe, Schiller, Lessing. She kept fairly abreast of the better books that appeared each year. She was a Latin, as well as a German and Italian scholar; and could enjoy Tacitus in his own unrivalled Latin. Thus she was enabled to be of great service to her husband in the works which, he had most at heart. She seems to have collated the Tauchnitz text of St. Augustine's Confessions with the Benedictine, for the Bibliotheca Patrum; and she it was who chiefly enabled her husband to contribute to Prof. Carl Witte those collations of the Dante MSS. In the Bodleian which enrich his great edition of the poet. Writing to Tholuck on March 6, 1837, Pusey says:--

'At last my wife and I have collated all the MSS. I fear that the papers are confused at first sight; for I did not look at the directions until lately, thinking that I had understood from you what was to be done. They are, however, accurately done, and must have been collated a second time for the sake of the orthography.'

Tholuck was very grateful:--

'The collation for Dante,' he writes, April 4, 1837, 'has made me quite sad. You and your delicate wife ought not to do this. It is an act of loving self-denial, but the subject is not worth the sacrifice. Is not your dear wife's health and your own time given you for much more important tasks? Certainly in such a case it would have been quite as Christian to have said that as no one could be found to undertake the work, it must remain undone. How grateful Witte is he will have told you in writing.'

Mrs. Pusey was also working at one time on the Latin. text of St. Cyprian. But this was only a part of her literary work. One day she writes from Oxford to Pusey, who was in London:--

'The darkness here about four was really oppressive, and the snow heavy. I could not see to read the print of the small St. Augustine by the fireside: I collated about two folio pages, and was then obliged to put it by, feeling my head uncomfortable. I met with three various readings. I then tried to do the Jeremy Taylor, but that was too much for my head. The Greek Testament I have not opened to-day.'

The next day she writes:--

'I had a restless night, but got up at nine, and before ten was seated before St. Augustine, and worked at it till five this afternoon, without any intentional interruptions; but first the children came, then Henry Bunsen, then Mr. Mozley and his brother, then the Miss Biscoes, then Frederick, then Mr. Ashworth, and lastly the Provost and Mrs. Hawkins. By-the-by, the very last was Dr. Wootten.'

She had a dread of parading her literary accomplishments. 'Dr. Spry,' writes Pusey to his wife, 'asked me whether "the young man"had done anything about the MSS. I said, "the person who was to, &c., had not been well, but will, I have no doubt, soon.ä' She was a great reader, too, on her own account. In 1828 and 1829 her religious reading was represented by Pascal's 'Thoughts,' Shuttleworth's 'Paraphrase,' Jeremy Taylor, Le Bas' Sermons, Wilberforce's 'Practical Christianity,' Milman's 'History of the Jews,' Short's Sermons. She was always interested in reading the books of any of her husband's friends. On the day after Dr. and Mrs. Whately called, she set herself to study his 'Elements of Logic'; and, in the same way, intimacy with the Rev. J. H. Newman led her to read through, again and again, the earlier volumes of the 'Parochial Sermons,'--the work which unquestionably more than any other shaped the closing years of her life. The subjoined letter shows the thoroughness and honesty with which she approached religious books on religious subjects. She is writing from Ryde; and is referring to her husband's tract on Baptism:--

          DEAREST EDWARD,                                         Sunday evening, Nov. 1, 1835.

After breakfast this morning I began Part II; since afternoon church I have read to page 8o or thereabouts. Some things I am not clear about, others (one or two) I do not quite understand; with the whole I feel unsettled and perplexed, but all that shall stand over till we meet. There are some things that come to one at once as truth, as soon as they are proposed, and those are the things that one really believes unhesitatingly. Other things (and your tract is one of them), in greater or lesser degrees, stir up against themselves in one's mind doubts and difficulties and perplexities. Mr. Newman's (I beg pardon, John's, I might almost say St. John) sermons are full of truths of the first sort, and perhaps that is one reason why I so like them; you will say that your tract contains new views, and that the sermons do not, but, to me, they also certainly did at their first perusal. Two more observations on the tract. 1st. What you say on the insufficiency of the common ideas of repentance is very nice and very, of course, home-striking; but I recollect at Cheltenham you solved my doubts on that subject by saying that a repentance, followed by a leaving off the sin repented of, or a doing of that, the omission of which was faulty, was a true repentance. I half think there ought to be something more than this, because one should hardly be satisfied with amendment, without grief and sorrow for having offended us, from our children; moreover, the words 'ye that do truly and earnestly repent' always cause in me great misgivings as to my own repentance. I see one piece of confusion I have made in the above lines, but still there is some uncertainty left. Secondly, Would the early Apostolic Church, according to the tract theory, have considered all who had not been excommunicated as not having fallen from grace? (Please to answer this definitely.) Then, again, our confessions [in the Prayer-book] hardly seem to suit both classes, those who enjoy baptismal purity and those who have lost it, and yet they must have been intended for both classes. Oh, that you were close at hand, for me to talk to you!


Pusey replied at length, and concluded with the following passage:--

'I see many reasons, which you do not, why John's [Newman's] statement of truth should be attractive, mine repulsive: he has held a steady course, I have not. I studied evidences, when I should have been studying the Bible; I was dazzled with the then rare acquaintance with German theology, and over-excited by it; I thought to do great things, and concealed self under the mask of activity; I read, he thought also and contemplated; I was busy, he tranquil; I self-indulgent, he self-denying; I exalted myself, he humbled himself. This will pain you, if you knew it not before, but do not contradict it to me; only pray for me, dearest, that this and everything else of sin may be forgiven me.'

During the early part of their married life Pusey's own health was a subject of anxiety to his wife; but after 1835 he became stronger, while Mrs. Pusey sank slowly into the condition of an invalid. From that year she had a cough which never deserted her; and her life, speaking physically, was a constant struggle against the disease which in the course of five years brought her to the grave. It was her illness which obliged her to be away from Oxford again and again during Term time, when Pusey was obliged to reside. In November, 1835, she was at Ryde. In May, 1837, she went on a long visit to the Channel Islands. In April, 1838, she went to Clifton; in May to Weymouth. It is to her letters, written during these absences, that we owe most of what we know about her; and in them may be traced the progress of that weakness and suffering by which she was disciplined before leaving this world. Pusey followed, her with the watchful and incessant anxiety which belonged to his natural character.

It was at the end of 1837 that her state of health first became grave. She had rallied in Guernsey; and she spent the winter of 1837-1838 in Oxford. A new and heavy trouble was now awaiting her. Early in 1838 their son Philip began to show signs of some serious ill-health, the symptoms of which became rapidly more alarming.

'Poor little Philip,' wrote Pusey to Rev. B. Harrison, 'has been more seriously ill than I apprehended. Dr. Wootten has been here every day for the last fortnight. Philip is very tranquil, patient, and subdued. Dr. W. has ordered him meat to-day, which looks as if he were afraid that his fever would reduce him too low, his pulse being about 100·His subduedness at times looks to me a sort of preparation for passing into heaven.'

A fortnight later Pusey writes to Newman that

'Dr. Wootten seems to think that Philip may very well get through the cold weather, and talks of his running about when the warm weather comes.... So there is nothing immediate. He even says that the disease may be stopped, though, beginning so early, there seems little hope that he will grow up to fulfil his wish of preaching in your pulpit.'

Another fortnight passed, and Pusey writes to Dr. Hook:--

'You will be kindly grieved to hear that Maria has a good deal of affliction now, some of which is peculiarly her own. She has a sister and a niece dying; a brother in imminent danger; and our son, though his recovery is not hopeless, has his chest affected, and we are not to look for any change for months, still less probably any hope that he will ever live, or have strength, if he do recover, to serve in the sacred ministry of the Church of God.'

At the beginning of April, 1838, Mrs. Pusey was in London: her husband insisted on her consulting a London physician. But anxieties, the strain of which she was ill able to withstand, did not diminish.

'Philip,' wrote her husband, 'is not worse, but he is not better.... God's will be done! And may He help and strengthen you, dearest, and turn your present affliction into future joy. "Heaviness. lodgeth (with us) for the night, and in THE MORNING is JOY.ä

'I have told you all I know: perhaps what Dr. W. said would not have changed your thoughts: I have been looking forward to years in which Philip might 'mature for eternity. I do not know anything to the contrary now: but, when Dr. W. left him last night, he said in answer to my question, "He is not worse, but he is not better, and that IS BAD"(with emphasis)....

'And now, dearest wife, this is a sorrowful letter; and it is one trouble which you have from casting in your lot with me, that our children's lives are precarious at best; yet many a mother might, if she knew the real state of things, gladly have our sickly, and if it please and when it pleases God, our dying or dead son, before their living one. However, though you "must have trouble in the flesh,"it will, I trust, all turn to increased dependence upon His Fatherly Hand, and so increase of glory. And when one thinks of this for you, one forgets all the sorrow, as you one day will.'

During the latter years of her life Mrs. Pusey was distressed by a scruple as to the validity of her baptism. She had been baptized by a dissenter: was she to be re-baptized conditionally? Pusey hesitated for two years. He had no difficulties about conditional baptism, 'looking upon the act as a dutiful attempt to supply whatever was before deficient; but he had a decided repugnance to using prayers which implied the absence of regeneration for one who for half a lifetime had been admitted to the Communion.' It has been impossible to ascertain the exact ground of Mrs. Pusey's scruple; but there is no doubt that it occasioned her very considerable anxiety. Between December 31, 1837, and Easter Day, April 15, 1838, she does not appear to have received the Holy Communion,--an abstention which in a life such as hers had now been for some time is full of significance. Excepting with her husband and Mr. Newman, she observed the most scrupulous silence on the subject; and the allusions to it in their letters are very few and guarded.

Newman first suggested that the Bishop might be asked to sanction a conditional baptism. This sanction was given in April, 1838; and Mrs. Pusey was conditionally baptized by 'Mr. Newman on Easter Eve, April 14, at St. Mary's Church. On Good Friday she wrote to him:--


When I first began to have well-grounded hopes that the blessing now about to be bestowed on me would some day be granted me, I received notice of a legacy of £50. It was my wish, at all events, to employ this sum in forwarding some good work, and I consequently offered it to the brother of a person in business, who wished to be educated for Holy Orders, and who was not enabled to accomplish this wish on his own resources. He, however, refused it, and now I venture to ask you to employ it, in any way you prefer, that may be to the glory of God.

Edward has, for several days past, urged me to write to you about it. I should have been glad of such an opportunity of asking for your prayers, had I not felt convinced that you needed not to be reminded how much I must want them at such an awful period of my life.

To this he replied:--

MY DEAR MRS. PUSEY,             Good Friday, April 13, 1838.

I feel much obliged indeed by your wish to entrust me with the disposal of the £50, and will gladly take charge of it. Your letter is altogether most kind--far more so than I deserve. Pray believe you have been constantly in my prayers, night and morning, and particularly this week, again and again. Let me in turn beg you, as I do most sincerely, to forgive me if I have at any time been rude or cold to you.

                                               Ever yours affectionately,

                                                                      My dear Mrs. Pusey,

                                                                                             JOHN H. NEWMAN.

On Easter Day Newman dined with them: but he had already received a note from Pusey.


I know not how to thank you for all your gentle, tender kindness to me and mine, especially for yesterday, which also, perhaps, but for you, had never been to us what I trust it is and will be. I can only say with St. Augustine, 'Retribues illi, Domine, in Resurrectione justorum.' The accompanying book, which is meant as a sort of outward memorial, was Bishop Lloyd's, and has been mine for nearly nine years, and been used by me during the latter part of the time, and so seemed, amid other things, to be the best sort of token. And if sending this book of our 'Cognomenti Magni,' and a confessor, be any omen, though one may not wish the days of confessors to return, yet if they do come, there is only one higher wish.

                                                                Ever your very affectionate and grateful friend,

                                                                                                                             E. B. PUSEY.

Dominic‰ Resurrectionis, A.S. 1838.

P.S. The book~ you will see, belonged once to the Bibliotheca Scholarum Piarum. Perhaps it may, when God wills, to some school of the prophets in our own land.

The book referred to is the Benedictine edition of the works of St. Gregory the Great. In the first volume Pusey has written:--



E. B. P.

in gratam memoriam

beneficiorum quam plurimorum

sibi collatorum

tam maximè

Sabbati Sancti.

A.S. 1838.

To Mrs. Pusey it was the beginning of a new life: she marked this by beginning a new diary. In her now broken health the absence of doubt on such a vital point was 'an unspeakable comfort.' Her own words to Newman, written from her sick bed, may be quoted in illustration:--


Thank you for all your kind thoughts and words of and about me. You comfort me more than you know of, and at Weymouth, where my bodily discomforts were greater and my faith weaker, I felt it was invaluable to me to know your sermon on a 'Particular Providence.' It has cheered and calmed a sick bed, and will doubtless, if such be God's will, do the same when my latter hours approach. For that and much beside, especially for one act,

                                              Most gratefully, affectionately, and humbly yours,


On Tuesday in Easter week, 1838, three days after Mrs. Pusey's baptism, the whole family went to Clifton, whence they passed to Weymouth, staying there until the autumn. Pusey made the subjoined report to Newman as soon as they reached Clifton:--

          MY DEAR FRIEND,            Clifton, April 19, 1838.

I would not leave you in ignorance of what seems to hang over us, or let you have it from a chance hand. A letter which Dr. Wootten sent open by us to the physician here conveyed to us far more definite knowledge of the ground of apprehension, and of the hopelessness of the restoration of our dear boy, than we had derived from what he had said to us. . . . It seems that the disease has been hitherto so slow that some time will still be left him, to be matured for his early 'call to bliss.'

In reply to a similar expression in another letter Newman wrote sympathetically:--

'May God grant, since it is inevitable, that you may have the privilege of seeing him [Philip] fall asleep in the Lord!'

But Philip's life was spared for many years, and although always an invalid and a sufferer, he was able to do good literary and other work, and his death did not occur until nearly forty-two years afterwards, on January 15, 1880.

From Weymouth Pusey had to return to Oxford in order to complete the work of the summer Term; he threw himself into it with redoubled energy. One picture of his way of spending a Sunday may be given here. His brother, the Rev. W. B. Pusey, was serving the parish of Garsington, and during his temporary illness his place was filled by the Professor of Hebrew.

                                                                                               'Christ Church, June 5, 1838.

'I went over yesterday to William's in the morning; he had left his pony carriage for me, without consulting me, and gone back with his wife in a fly. I did not see much of him, for the pony was an hour and a half in going over, so I only arrived (waiting for the post and to finish my sermon till 9; I did not expect a letter, but should have been sorry that one should have lain here all day) twenty minutes before 11. In church from 11 to 1.30 (no sermon, but a great deal of singing, besides the Communion): administered the Communion to a sick person: luncheon (which was my breakfast), and finished my sermon. In church from (nominally) 3.30 till 5: two baptisms and churching, sermon three-quarters of an hour: administered the Communion to another sick person. Dinner, 6.45 to 7.30: teaching young women in church: left at twenty minutes to 9. In Cowley met an old woman who had put down two heavy bundles in the mud, which she could carry no further, carried them, lost our way, scrambled through a gap, in getting down a like place she got a tremendous fall and after walking up and down Cowley and losing my scarf, gave six-pence to a person to direct her and carry her bundles, and got home at 11 instead of 10.'

Pusey's earlier letters from Weymouth in the Long Vacation show that he was again becoming hopeful.

'Philip is stronger than he was, though his more than ever stunted and aged form shows how deeply the disease has laid hold on him. Maria is stronger than she was, though her increased cough makes her doubtful about herself.'

He was thus free to take his usual interest in the religious condition of the place he was staying at. It was a 'great comfort' to him that the 'pulpit of this place is not yet occupied by Evangelicals.' The evening lecturer, a Cambridge man, was 'a regular Catholic in theory; in practice he proposed a dinner party on Friday.'

'It is curious,' he writes, 'on coming to such a place as this to realize what strange half-suspicions people have of us; not thinking us quite so bad as we are represenented to be, but still not knowing what to make of us. However, three or four of the clergy, besides those of the place, have called on me. So my stay may, perhaps, be turned to good account.'

Pusey interested himself in a proposal to build a new church in Weymouth.

'Its site will be,' he writes to Newman on July 19th, 'an admirable one; near the entrance of Weymouth by the road, and about opposite to a R. C. chapel: so there will be A. C. versus R. C.'

He also undertook to preach two sermons for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. The S. P. G., he says, is 'unknown in these regions': he was to assist at the 'laying the first stone of a branch society.'

'I find it,' he goes on to say, 'very hard to be obliged to write away from books. I should like to tell them something of the right way of propagating the Gospel: and I suppose the S. P. G. has more of this than others, from the very fact of its having colleges or monasteria, as in Canada, Codrington College, Bishop's College, and I suppose the Bishop of Australia will add one to his "cathedral."If you know of any book about primitive spreading of the Gospel, or that of the Middle Ages, or of our own Church, I should be glad if you could send them me here. There is no hurry, as I may choose my own time. Does Cave's Primitive Christianity (2 vols., 8vo), Stillingfleet's Origines, Bingham, contain anything? Mozley, I know, would hunt, if at Oxford. I should also like to have Wiseman's lecture on Missions (has it been reviewed in the B. C. ?). Boniface, the apostle of the Germans, was an interesting person; if you will give Mozley the date he would look out the volume of Gieseler for me; unless you know of anything better. It is a shame to give you all this trouble, but I hope you will turn off as much as you can upon others. Morris, of Exeter, said he should be glad to look out anything for me, and he might get up the subject at the same time for himself.'

The preacher insisted on the truth, which Holy Scripture certainly attests, that the Gospel must be spread by an expansion of the One Body of Christ; the true Society for the Propagation of the Gospel was the Church as a whole acting through the organs which God had given her; and that the claims of the Society for which he was preaching rested on the fact that it, more than any other, endeavoured to act on this principle. The sermon abounds in stirring passages, which, even at this day, appeal powerfully to the conscience of the reader; it is difficult to realize their effect when spoken by such a preacher and to such a congregation.

Was the sermon to be printed? Newman must decide.


                                                                                                                      Sept. 10, 1838.

I hope you will not mind my putting on you the onus of my printing or not printing: it is become quite a habit to ask you about it; and your slightest feeling against printing is quite enough for me.

I should put a few notes bearing out some statements. If I print, what think you of a preface containing a justification of my implied censure upon certain societies: against the Church Missionary I should allege--

(1) Its constitution not under Bishops.

(2) Its not placing its missionaries under Bishops, as apparent

     (a)                In its negotiations with the Bishops of Jamaica and Barbadoes.

     (b)                Its conduct towards the Bishop of Madras (Corrie), who complained that it carried on all its arrangements through the Secretary (Tucker of C. C. C.), and that he only knew of the removal of a missionary from one station to another, &c., &c., by the public papers. He complained very much of their mistrust.

     (c)                I should say, if it meant to proceed on an Apostolic plan, it ought 'to send out Bishops to New Zealand and Sierra Leone.

(3) Its interference and the mode of its interference in Abyssinia (Gobat) and Syria.

(4) Its examining into the experiences of its missionaries before it presents them to the Bishop, and so going on the modern principle of trusting in self only.

The improvement in Mrs. Pusey's health whilst at Weymouth was very slight; and Newman pressed Pusey to take her to Malta for the winter.

'If you went to Malta you could have all your books with you; a steamer carries any quantity of luggage. In the winter you would have hardly any fellow-passengers to incommode you, and would hardly lose a day's work. When there you would be settled quite as much as in England. You would find probably Rose there, and you might instil good principles into Queen Adelaide, who deserves them. I am quite sure that in point of usefulness you would lose no time at all. They have a superb library attached to St. John's Church, and I doubt not the MSS. are well worth inspecting. They come from Vienna.'

Pusey at last reluctantly consented to go, if it were thought necessary. But Dr. Wootten would not recommend it; and his hesitation was warranted, by the subsequent opinion of Sir James Clarke. They left Weymouth on September 12th; and having placed their little girls in the care of Miss Rogers, who kept a school at Clifton, they reached Oxford on the 14th--the anniversary of Pusey's baptism. As to his wife's health Pusey went on hoping against hope. She was examined immediately after their return. Pusey wrote to Newman to say that

'while things remain very alarming in themselves, it looks like an earnest of mercy, and that the prayers of my friends may yet be heard.'

On the following Sunday the real truth was known. Sir James Clarke visited the invalid. Later in the same day Pusey wrote to Newman:--

'Sir James Clarke did not like to tell me the truth. He does not think that (humanly speaking, since all things are possible to God) Maria can recover, nor that it will be one of those illnesses which last on for two or three years, although it may be some months yet.'

The last entry in Mrs. Pusey's diary, written in a broken hand, is 'Sept. 23, Sunday. Sir James Clarke came.' Writing a full account to Harrison on the following day, Pusey adds:--

'I told her of the prospect this morning, and as soon as she understood it she said, with a calm smile, "Then I shall be so blessed, and God can make you happy."A calm came over her which was no result of effort or thought, but which came immediately from God. You will, I know, recollect us and her, hereafter, at God's altar.'

He wrote also a full account to his mother.

'Poor Edward,' she observed, 'finishes his second letter so like himself, not thinking of self: "God's will be done I ever! ever! My poor children! Yet He will provide.ä'

One other friend there was whose sympathy and prayers Pusey could not but ask in his great trouble.

'I have thought much of you,' writes Keble, 'ever since, but how, my dear friend, I can hardly tell you, except so far as this, that I try to pray constantly for you both, that your calm submission may increase more and more, and that others who may need it in their turn, no one knows how soon, may learn of you; also that God may give you health and strength to do yet much work for His Church; and I will continue to add a petition that if it be His Will He would yet raise her up, and bless you all as He best knows how.'

To which Pusey replied:--

'I do not know how to thank you for all your kindness and remembrance of me and mine, and your prayers. I knew how you would feel for me, and that you would pray for me, but this detail of your concern and the subject of your prayer for me was more than I deserved. However, we are not dealt with according to our deserts. So I trust to be made thankful for this as for everything. Yet you had comforted me before, and it may be an earnest how many besides you have been the means of comforting; for scraps of the "Christian Yearä--"When the shore is won at last,"and "Gales from Heaven if so He will,"and "Who says the wan autumnal sunä--as they occurred to me have been a great comfort, and will be, amid whatever He sees best to send.'

Eight months were yet to pass before the end came--months marked by vicissitudes of hope ever ready to spring up, although unbidden, in Pusey's sanguine mind, but also by the steady progress of the disease towards the inevitable goal.

A week before the end came Pusey was comforted by the subjoined note, characteristic in its tenderness:--


                                                                                                          Whitsunday [May 19th].

I am afraid of intruding on you, and yet I do not like day to pass after day without your hearing from me. You know, should you like to walk with you in the morning, there is no reason why I should not come to you at six as well as any other time. You have but to send me a note overnight.

Hook has sent a message of inquiry about you, which I have just now received.

Pray tell dear Mrs. Pusey that I am continually thinking of her, and pray (what I doubt not) that you may have grace so to part from each other that you may meet again in peace.

Lucy and Mary had been brought up from Clifton to see their dying mother. The parting was over on Whitsun Eve, when they returned to Clifton.


                                                                                                                       [May 19, 1839.]


Anything from you must always be soothing, and is so. My six o'clock walk is at an end, for from four or five to seven in the morning is now her time of greatest suffering. I do not feel to want to go out, as one did in the winter: now, by His mercy, one has air at home. I am afraid of misleading you, as if I felt better than I do; yet I wish this to be a season of penitence, and it seems unsuited to interest one's-self for the time on subjects which would otherwise interest one (further than could be of any use), and on the one subject I cannot speak. I seem therefore, thank you, to be best alone.

I shall probably be glad, in a short time, to send to you a German who comes to me with a letter from Tholuck.

Our dear little girls left us yesterday. . . . Dearest Maria has parted with every earthly care.

Thanks, many thanks, for your prayers for us, which we much prize, and feel to be a great blessing.

                                                 Ever your affectionate friend,

                                                                                  E. B. PUSEY.

There is no answer required to either of these two letters.

My German is arrived: his name is Bethmann Hollweg: he is at the Angel and goes to-morrow; a friend of Sack; a Jurist; and 'an excellent Christian person' says Sack: you might set him right on some of our views.

To which Newman immediately replied:--

          MY DEAR PUSEY,                                                                                  [May 19, 1839.]

I hardly know how to answer your note, except that I will not forget what you say. But it seems to me you must not suffer yourself to suppose that any punishment is meant in what is now to be. Why should it? I mean, really it is nothing out of God's usual dealings. The young and strong fall all around us. How many whom we love are taken out of our sight by sudden death, however healthy. Whether slowly or suddenly, it comes on those in whose case we do not expect it. I do not think you must look on it as 'some strange thing.' Pray do not.

Shall I write to Dodgson for his Tertullian? if you will give me his direction. Of course Cornish's Chrysostom comes out in July; but Baxter wishes to be beginning the October volume. We must have one under another.

                                                                               Ever yours affectionately,

                                                                                                               J. H. N.

Keble wrote to Pusey on the same subject: he found it 'more easy to write than to speak.'

                                                                                                                              [May, 1839.]

You speak of dear Mrs. Pusey's illness, compared with her former strength, as if it were something so very little to be expected; and as I know from remembrance something of the feelings of persons where an unexpected bereavement befalls them, I want you to be on your guard against bitter self-reproach: against that kind of remorse which I know is apt to come over one when a blessing of which one feels one's unworthiness seems taken away: a feeling, I mean, which would benumb and prostrate, instead of softening and quickening, our faith. Surely in such matters as in all others we do well not to think or feel as if we knew positively the cause of God's dealings with us. The tone of the Prayer-book seems to me so beautiful --'for whatsoever cause this sickness is sent unto you': without pretending to search it out or to encourage the sufferer to do so, with anything like certainty. The thought, that it may be for this or that, seems to be the intended way of humbling us. If we go on to treat ourselves as if we knew it to be this or that, perhaps we go beyond God's will. In your case, her untiring unsparing way of devoting herself where any good was to be done was such - as to make what has happened very probable, quite as much so as in another case weakness of natural frame might. It seems so to me at least, and I did not feel surprise along with my grief when I first heard of it. Who knows but it may have in it something analogous to a confessor's reward? and if so, though I feel that it would not be possible to think of it without remorse, yet the remorse ought to be checked, and not permitted to grow bitter.

I hope I do not pain or vex you: but I could not be easy without saying a word or two, although I know how impossible it is to speak to another's heart on such a subject.

God bless you; do not trouble yourself to answer this.                                 

                                                                                                   Your affectionate friend,

                                                                                                                                       J. K.

Pusey thought that Keble had mistaken his real tendency, which was, as he feared, to make too little of a great trial, not too much.

                                                                                                 [Christ Church, May 13, 1839.]


I must thank you for your kind and soothing note, and more for your friendship, of which I feel myself unworthy. God has given it me, however, so I may enjoy it and bless Him for it. Thank you also for the hints which you have given me: one little knows oneself till the full trial has come; but I fear that my danger does not lie that way: I much more fear that I should not act up to the extent of this visitation, than that I should feel it too bitterly. I dread my own love of employment, if I have strength given me: I dread becoming again what I was before: and yet probably I do not dread it enough. In a word, I find myself in the midst of a great dispensation of God towards me, which ought to bring forth much fruit, and I dread falling short of it. I know His 'grace is sufficient for' me, but fear myself, that I may fall short of what is meant for me, as I have before.

I say thus much because you and N. have much too good an opinion of me, and I wish you to pray for me rather among the 'weak-hearted' or those who 'fall' than among those who 'have stood' or even now 'stand.'

                                               God bless you for your kindness.

                                                                            Ever your very affectionate friend,

                                                                                                               E. B. PUSEY.

I cannot help fearing that I am even here giving you too good a picture of myself, and of a feeling of excitement.

There was a faint rally during Whitsun week. Lady Lucy Pusey came to stay at Christ Church. On the morning of Trinity Sunday Pusey received a note from Newman, which assured him that nothing that could be done for him by the prayers of his friends was wanting in these dark hours.

                                                                                         In festo SS. Trin. [May 26], 1839.


This, you will see, requires no answer. I have nothing to say--only I wish you to remember that many persons are thinking of you, and making mention of you, where you wish to be mentioned. Do not fear you will not be strengthened according to your day. He is nearest when He seems furthest away. I heard from Keble a day or two since, and he wished me to tell you they were thinking of you at Hursley. This is a day especially sacred to peace--the day of the Eternal Trinity, Who were all-blessed from eternity in Themselves, and in the thought of Whom the mind sees the end of its labours, the end of its birth, temptations, struggles, and sacrifices, its daily dyings and resurrections.

                                                                   Ever yours most affectionately,

                                                                                                JOHN H. NEWMAN.

Pusey answered at once:--

                                                                                                                        [May 26, 1839.]


My dear wife is now approaching the end of her earthly life. By to-morrow's sun she will be, by God's mercy in Christ, where there is no need of the sun.

Will you pray for me that she may have in this life some foretaste of future joy as well as peace?

                                               Ever your very affectionate friend,

                                                                                       E. B. PUSEY.

All was indeed over before sunset. The history is best told in Pusey's own words to Miss Rogers, who had been his wife's governess, and to whose tender care their two little girls were now entrusted.

                                                                                                                      [May 27, 1839.]

'I have little to add about the last hours of your dear child's earthly life: it was closed in mercy sooner than we expected; indeed Dr. Wootten had not anticipated a day or two before that it would have taken place this week, although he said it might at any time. I administered the Communion to her between twelve and one that day: she felt her end approaching more than we knew of: she wished it to be as soon as it could: spoke but very little afterwards: and was fatigued by even that short service. Now all weariness is over, and she serves Him day and night. She became more ill about four, and spoke very few words afterwards. She was moved out of bed at her wish; I think towards six I said the Commendatory Prayer: she thanked me, and said she wished to be quiet for the time. The next time I held her little cast of our Saviour before her she could scarcely speak, but made a sign for quiet: after that I know not how long she was conscious: a little before her departure I made upon her forehead the mark of the Cross, which she loved, and gave the Blessing, 'To God's mercy and protection we commit thee,' but she did not open her eyes. She was engaged in the struggle with her last enemy, who now is conquered. "Thanks be to Him Who giveth us the victory.ä'

When all was over Lady Lucy Pusey, with the true instinct of a mother, knew what would best help her son, and against his first wish sent for Newman. A letter to Keble describes the blessing of this visit:--

                                                                                                                        June 5, [1839].


I thank you much for the soothing note which you have just sent me, as well as for your past and present remembrance of us. One does feel in these times something of the communion of saints: only she is purified, I not. God has been very merciful to me in this dispensation, and carried me on, step by step, in a way I dared not hope. He sent Newman to me (whom I saw at my mother's wish against my inclination) in the first hour of sorrow; and it was like the visit of an angel. I hope to go my way 'lonely, not forlorn.' ...

With every good wish for you and yours,

                                                   Ever your very affectionate and grateful friend,

                                                                                                                   E. B. PUSEY.

Pusey's calmness and self-control are perhaps better illustrated in his letter to Harrison two days before the funeral:--

'God has throughout dealt very gently and mercifully with me, slowly and tenderly, as it were, unloosing my hold of her whom He had given me, and teaching me little by little to resign her into His Hands Who can provide better for her. And so now also He has been shedding round me a calm, which plainly comes not from myself, and which surprises myself. A slight momentary indisposition made us think it best that my dear mother, who had come from London to bid her farewell, should not leave us on Saturday, and so she has stayed on with me, against my original plan, and her presence has been inexpressibly soothing; so have Newman's visits, whom, with some reluctance, I saw, at my mother's suggestion, an hour after I bad resigned her into our Father's Hands. And thus I have been carried on through these four days. There remains one more parting, out of sight, on Saturday at 11, when also you will remember me.'

And at a later date Pusey was able to acknowledge to Newman himself the comfort which that visit had afforded him:--

                                                                                       B[udleigh] S[alterton], July 16, [1839].


God bless and reward you for all your love and tender kindness towards us. I received day by day my share of it, with little acknowledgment, for words fail one, and one is stopped by a sort of  'aidos'  from thanking to the face for great kindness. Your first visit, 'in the embittered spirit's strife,' was to me like that of an angel sent from God: I shrunk from it beforehand, or from seeing any human face, and so I trust that I may the more hope that it was God's doing. It seems as though it had changed, in a degree, the character of my subsequent life: and since it was quite unexpected, and without any agency of my own, I hope it is His will that it should be so, and that He will keep me in the way in which, as I hope, He brought me. God requite you for it all. It is a selfish wish to wish that one's prayers were better than they are: yet I hope that He will hear them, not according to their and my imperfections, but according to the greatness of the reason which I have to offer them, and according to His great mercy. I pray that He may make you what, as you say, there are so few of, 'a great saint': and I hope that He may give me 'to eschat topon eschaton ekei upo tous podas sou kai eklektn autou' , to use Bishop Andrewes' words nearly. You cannot tell how much reason I have to long for but 'topos eschatos': if one did but realize it oneself!

Among the letters of condolence which Pusey received there were two marked by especial kindness, from Dr. Macbride, the Principal of Magdalen Hall, and Dr. Symons, the Warden of Wadham College. Pusey had been on intimate terms with both of them: the Hebrew scholarships at Wadham were a constant subject of common interest between himself and the Warden. Dr. Symons' letter may be subjoined, as showing the relations which still existed at this date between himself and Dr. Pusey.

                                                                                               Wadham College, May 30, 1839.


We have not been, and are not, unmindful of you. I have foreborne to say so before, because I waited until I learnt from Newman such an account as would seem to warrant my interference. Under the immediate sense of such a dispensation there is only one Hand that can heal or relieve, and there are boundless resources within its reach. But in due time others are provided, and may have their effects. Whatever consolation, therefore, if any, you can derive from the consciousness that you are much in the thoughts of friends, you will I. trust unreservedly cherish. My wife at once, and more than once since, has expressed a hope that there was strength to hear or read the Scripture appointed for the Epistle on Sunday. But I feel that I must not say more. Only be assured of our deep interest in your present state, and believe me, always affectionately yours,

                                                                                      B. P. SYMONS.

Mrs. Pusey was buried on Saturday, June 1st, in the nave of Christ Church Cathedral, and in the grave already occupied by their infant daughter Katherine. The memory of that day was never long absent from Pusey's thoughts. Years after people observed that in walking across the great quadrangle to the cathedral, more than elsewhere he kept his eyes fixed upon the pavement. Many mysterious reasons were given for this; but he himself said more than once that he never could forget the pall on his wife's coffin fluttering in the wind as he followed her body to its last resting-place; and he did not look up lea vision of that hour of agony should pass before him again and be too much for him.

He wrote the Latin inscription which, transferred to a marble slab, still marks her grave and that of her child. And he added below the ancient prayer: 'Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et Lux perpetua luceat eis.' This sentence cost him a good deal of anxiety. Pusey took it from the Breviary. Did Keble think this an objection?

'I have consulted my brother,' wrote Keble, 'about the extract from the Breviary, and he says that, as to his own feelings, nothing can more thoroughly agree with them. What the notions of the clergy generally might be, he cannot pretend to say. On the whole, I should say that I see no reason why you should refuse yourself the comfort which such a memorial seems providentially to confer. If Newman is not afraid of the effect of it in Oxford, still less, I think, need one fear it at a distance.'

To his brother William, who appears to have entertained scruples on the subject, Pusey explained himself somewhat at length:--

                                                                                                                    'June 22, 1839.

'You feel just the difficulty which has kept me so long undecided, viz. that the sentence is from the Breviary. On the other hand, I have no doubt of its antiquity, and indeed there is not a sentence in the Officium Defunctorum which has anything to do with the modern corruptions of Rome. This is a ground with me for taking this sentence, that I am applying only what has come down to me; whereas were I to modify sentences from the Psalms it would be my private doing and unauthorized. Newman had this feeling too; nor was I well satisfied with my attempt, whereas the sentence in question is very beautiful.

 'With regard to cavils, I had these in my mind not so much as affecting myself (for I am not in the way of seeing them, as I no longer look at the Record, &c.) as whether this could do harm to right views. I was determined in adopting this by finding that J. Keble (whom I expected to be sensitive as to a sentence from the Breviary) went entirely along with it. . . . For myself, I cannot but hope that of those who read it some will use it, as a prayer too, more or less consciously, and go along with it; and this would make me proof against any further result. It is also, as the space is left for my name, a sort of prayer for myself beforehand.

'I hope too, if it comes to be known, it will be a comfort to other mourners: it is so unexceptionable and beautiful a sentence that it is likely to recommend itself: people will be thankful to have their own feelings sanctioned, and, may be, the rather remember me, as I cannot but remember Froude, who first brought the subject before me.'

Something more than a quarter of a century had passed when, through the enterprise of Dean Gaisford's successor, Dr. Liddell, the Cathedral was restored. The choir was paved at its restoration with marble; but few earthly things gave Pusey greater pleasure in his later life than the discovery that, through the consideration of the Dean, the original humble sandstone slab had been left in its place undisturbed.

As years went on, Pusey realized St. Paul's experience, that God's consolations in sorrow make it easy to feel and express true sympathy with other mourners. Throughout his life his wife's death was an ever-present memory, which enabled him to enter with a sympathy--at once thorough and sincere--into the deepest anguish of the human heart. On these occasions he often referred to his own experience. More than a quarter of a century later he writes to one similarly bereaved:--

                                                                         'Ascot Hermitage, Bracknell, July 19, 1876.

'I have kept silence, because such grief as yours is beyond words; and yet, though human sympathy is vain, I have longed to say how I grieved for you and with you. It is indeed (as I felt those thirty-seven years ago) that the sun is gone down at noonday. I could but go blindly on, not daring to look backwards or forwards, but binding myself to the duties of the day, looking to Him Who had brought me to the morning to bring me to the evening. For you, it must be still harder ; for the more one has around one, the more sad is the absence of that sun which gilded them all. Then, however, I learned the blessedness of our Lord's rule (as all His commandments are blessings) to "take no thought for the morrow," and so one got on day by day. At first time seemed so slow, but, after a time, it began to whirl as before.

'God leads every one in His own way, and specially when He lays such a heavy weight of sorrow. But of one thing one is certain, that He, Who "does not willingly afflict the sons of men," must love much those whom He so afflicts, and that as the chastening is great, so is the love. In all that eternity He loved you and her, and knew how He would join your hearts together, and then remove her first, and so give you one who is already within the veil, and waits your coming, and in that abode of eternal love prays for you. We know the value of prayer, but we do not know what may be the special value of those prayers for you and your common children.

'How one felt those simple words of J. K. :--

                             "Who hath the Father and the Son,

                             May be left--but not alone.ä

'May the God of all comfort, comfort you, as He knows how.'

So, a few weeks after the death of the youngest child of his only surviving daughter, he wrote to her:--


                                                                                                  [Christ Church, Jan. 1879.]

'No one but a mother who has had her last-born child taken from her can know what the loss is. What any one can say is so on the surface. And they grate or seem unfeeling out of simple ignorance. Everything must seem very hopeless to you. It was so to me, humanly speaking, when God took your dearest mother. I dared neither look backward nor forward. I dared not look back to those eleven years of scarce earthly happiness. Onwards life looked so dreary, I could not bear to think of it. So I bound myself, as our Lord bids us, to the day, and I resumed my work for God on the Monday after that Saturday when her body was committed to its resting-place. I used for some time (I know not how long) to see, on my way to cathedral prayers, the white of the pall wave, as it had waved with the wind on that Saturday at that particular spot, and I used (as I have  done since) to say a collect for her as I passed to and fro by her  dear resting-place, and I kept the hour when she gave her spirit to God. And so God kept me on day by day. It seemed as if I was in deep water up to the chin, and a hand was under my chin supporting it. I thought I could never smile again. It was strange to me, when I first smiled amid you three at Budleigh Salterton. Many felt very lovingly for me; but it was too deep for sympathy. It was all on the surface, and the wound was deep down below. I remember when dear J. K. came first to see me I turned the subject and spoke of other things.

He wrote and said he must have been very wanting. I said "it was my own doing, I could not bear it. "So I lived on, my real self sealed up, except when I had to sympathize with deep sorrow, and then I found that my letters were of use, just because I owned the human hopelessness.

'But then, my dearest Mary, it must be only "human" hopelessness. Since God chasteneth whom He loveth, the deeper the chastening the deeper the love. And so God has some great work for you in you, since His hand has been so heavy. But He will, I trust, give you joy in your other children; but you cannot anticipate now what He will do. "What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter.ä'



Project Canterbury