Life of Edward Bouverie Pusey
by Henry Parry Liddon, D.D.
London: Longmans, 1894
Transcribed by The Revd R D Hacking
VISIT TO ILFRACOMBE--PREACHING WITH THE BISHOP
OF EXETER' S SANCTION -- NEWMAN' S POSITION --
PUSEY S FEARS AND HOPES--DEATH OF MR. J. W. BOWDEN.
DURING the Easter Term which followed his daughter' s death, Pusey worked as hard as ever. Besides his lectures, he edited and wrote prefaces to two volumes of the 'Library of the Fathers' When the Term had ended he went to Ilfracombe with his two surviving children.
During a short preceding visit to town he saw Mr. J. W. Bowden at Roehampton. Mr. Bowden' s contributions to the 'Lyra Apostolica' and his 'Life of Gregory VII., had made him, although a layman, a leading mind among the Oxford writers. He had lately lost his father, and was now in very ill health, and found great comfort in the visits both of Pusey and Newman. How completely Pusey was forgetting his own troubles in those of others and in his work, appears from a letter to Newman, which he wrote from Clifton, on the eve of taking the Bristol Channel steamer to Ilfracombe.
E. B. P. TO REV. J. H. NEWMAN.
Clifton, July 2, 1844.
I should have written, after my visit to Bowden, had not Johnson been returning to you. He spoke as if he thought well of himself; and said his physician spoke of his returning to St. Leonards in much the same state as last year. I, for the first time, became heavy-minded. God bless you in this and all your sorrows.
My, or your, little books promise to go on faster now. That on the Spiritual Life, by Surin, is half through the press, and with it I hope to bring out 'The Hidden Life' ; what you have now sent me completes the fourth; and by the end of the Vacation I hope to have the Paradisus.
While I was in London, I heard of a most dreadful instance of what you allude to in a sermon, God' s awful avenging of the profanation of the Holy Eucharist. It was received, with warning of the danger of receiving unworthily; not swallowed, the head being turned aside to conceal this from the clergyman: and the poor wretched being, who was before so weak that the medical man did not suppose that she could live through the day, became endued with such supernatural strength that she could scarcely be held down: the medical man seemed frightened when he saw her again, and said he could do no more for her. The nurse said he seemed glad to get away. She herself speaks with awful vehemence of her soul being lost. This is the second instance I know, myself, of actual 'possession' as the result of profanation, or hypocritical receiving. It is dreadful to speak of it in this way: yet God seems to be showing us openly, what at other times passes secretly, as a witness to His Sacraments.
Poor Philip is thought to be decidedly better, and is looking forward earnestly to his Confirmation this month. We are to set off early to-morrow for Ilfracombe: twice before I have sailed from Bristol: the first time with all to brighten life; each time since what was dearest was removed from sight. All seems set or setting: if His Light but arise!
Ever yours affectionately and gratefully,
E. B. P.
I do not mean to write heavily on the anniversary of the day when poor Philip' s life and mine were so wonderfully preserved; I hope, for something.
Pusey was, of course, still a marked man; the majority of Englishmen regarded him as a dangerous character, who had been rightly condemned by the most learned University of the country. Mr. Chanter, the Vicar of Ilfracombe, was anxious that Pusey should preach in his church; but popular excitement against him ran as high in Devonshire as else–where. It was supposed that a University suspension held everywhere; and Mr. Chanter' s invitation was considered an act of lawless audacity. Pusey himself, though without any illusions as to the range or character of academical jurisdiction, still felt that there were in the circumstances sound moral reasons for obtaining the distinct sanction of the Bishop of the Diocese before accepting the invitation. A little more than three weeks after Pusey' s arrival at Ilfracombe, Bishop Philpotts came to hold a Confirmation in the parish, and Philip Pusey was confirmed. Pusey wrote:--
'Ilfracombe, Vigil of St. James, 1844.
'My poor boy was confirmed to-day, and the Bishop of Exeter kindly made it (unasked) the more impressive to him, by confirming him singly, continuing the imposition of hands all the time, and speaking louder that he might hear.'
After the service, Mr. Chanter asked the Bishop to sanction Pusey' s preaching.
'The Bishop,' writes Pusey to Newman on July 24, 'said that he thought it would not have been wise in Mr. Chanter to have asked me without consulting himself; that it did not fall in his (the Bishop' s) way to ask me to preach, for that no occasion offered for it; but he had no objection to any of his clergy asking me. On parting, Mr. C. again asked the Bishop whether he distinctly understood that the Bishop had no objection whatever to his asking me to preach. To which the Bishop said without any hesitation, ãCertainly none.ä
'I saw the Bishop privately: he was very courteous to me, as he always is; said he was glad to see me at all times, especially in his Diocese, asked to see me if I should go to S. Devon, praised my meekness (while I felt it half hypocrisy, since I am preparing to appeal against the Vice-Chancellor); said that he saw nothing to censure in my sermon, that I had been hardly dealt with, though he thought that he differed in expression, but expression only, from myself; expressed value for my opinion on other matters, &c., &c., &c.: but said nothing about my preaching, which I did not think had been named to him.'
Pusey asked Newman whether he thought it advisable for him to preach with this sanction. Newman replied:--
'July 28, 1844.
'I really think you may do as you like; it certainly would seem acknowledging the oecumenical authority of the Six Doctors if you did not preach at Ilfracombe now, and did (say) next year. Certainly the Bishops ought to take you up. But it is in vain to expect what is orthodox and Catholic from them. Do men gather figs of thistles?'
On August 11th Pusey preached in the parish church of the Holy Trinity, Ilfracombe, in aid of the funds for a new church at the foot of the Capstone Hill. The subject, 'God is Love,' was especially congenial to the preacher; and its application to the circumstances of. Ilfracombe is enforced with characteristic fervour.
A fortnight later he preached a second sermon for the parochial schools, on the glory conferred by our Lord' s Incarnation on Christian childhood . On this, as on the former occasion, the church was crowded, and a great many Dissenters formed part of the congregation. They were surprised at Pusey' s evangelical tone,--in the true sense of that expression,--at the sincerity and fervour with which he enforced those truths of Revelation which they too sincerely held. They joined in a request that his sermons might be printed. Pusey wrote to the Bishop of Exeter to ask whether the sermons, preached with his sanction, might be dedicated to him.
THE BISHOP OF EXETER TO E. B. P.
Himley Park, Aug. 29, 1844.
Your letter has given to me very great gratification, but no surprise--except perhaps that I was not prepared to find Dissenters (of a class, probably, much opposed to you before) candid enough to do YOU justice.
I shall esteem myself honoured by your dedication. It may be well to say, as the fact is, that I know not the contents of the sermons so dedicated: but that I most willingly accept your proposal, as a testi–mony of my confidence in you, when I sanctioned your preaching, that you would not preach anything in the diocese of Exeter which its Bishop would not be glad to hear, or which would give reasonable ground of offence to any sober-minded and faithful Christian.
I am, in haste, very faithfully yours,
Rev. Dr. Pusey. H. EXETER.
The Bishop' s acknowledgment of the copy sent to him was very cordial:--
MY DEAR SIR, Bishopstowe, Torquay, Oct. 29, 1844.
I have been shamefully remiss in so long delaying my thanks to you for your two admirable sermons. I feel their value more than can express, and am sensible of the honour which is conferred on my name by having it associated with them.
Believe me, my dear Sir, with very sincere regard and esteem,
Yours most faithfully,
Pusey spent his forty-fifth birthday at Ilfracombe; and Newman, as usual, wrote to him, in anticipation of the day, but in terms which were very far indeed from being conventional.
THE REV. J. H. NEWMAN TO E. B. P.
Littlemore, August 18, 1844.
I write you a line anticipatory of next Thursday, and will take the opportunity of the day, not only to make the customary good wishes, but to try to remind you of the good which exists, not in wish or hope, but in accomplishment all around you. What I mean is, that I happened to travel down from London with E. Coleridge the other day, and he told me he feared you were in a state of dejection, and really this ought not to be. It has made me very anxious. Will you, please, think of this--that, whatever be the event of things (of which we know nothing, and whether good or bad we may know nothing) yet nothing can hinder the fact that it has pleased God to work, and to be working, through you more good than can be told. Is it not a good that souls should be made more serious? that they should be turned towards themselves and towards repentance? that they should spend their substance, not on themselves, but in the service of religion? that they should have truer views of the soul? more reverence, more faith, more love? Now, has not Divine Mercy made you the means of all this in a way far beyond your own highest expectations? If so, is not this a fact realized, against which nothing can be put? Is it not a hundred times more certain that these things are good than that joining the Church of Rome is evil? Is it not then wrong to be downhearted?
Again, are not such tempers and habits as He has made you His instrument in creating in the souls of so many, a token and warrant that good must come in the end? May you not safely leave the issue to Him Who has promised it will be a blessed one, for the beginning is blessed? Good beginnings lead to good endings. You need not balance, though I just now said it, the 'certain good that is, against the probable evil that is to come, but let the certain good be a comment and more true interpreter of what seems to you evil. Divine Goodness allows you to see fruit, and in that you surely may rejoice, as St. Paul says--and leave Him to do what He will with His own work. It is His work, not yours--have faith in the work--and believe that He will perfect and complete it in a way suitable to His original design. Surely Gamaliel' s advice applies--let us follow it, not the pattern of such as Jonah, who would have things his own way.
Excuse this abruptness, my dear Pusey; take it in love from
Yours most affectionately,
JOHN H. NEWMAN.
[Ilfracombe, Aug. 21.] St. Bernard' s Day, 1844.
Thank you for all the tender affection of your note, which makes you ascribe to me things which do not belong to me. I hope I shall profit by it somehow, as by all your love.
I do not know whether C[oleridge] has understood me, but perhaps I have seemed to wish to have matters more my own way, than I do.
The tendency Romewards, when I was first told it, did shatter me, and I felt like one who had been left ashore, and the tide sweeping by, I knew not whither; but this has for some time past away. I have been unanxious, whither things developed, whether in what I can see or what I cannot see: I believe implicitly all which the Church believes, hold myself opposed to nothing which I do not see, and think that any one may see further and truer than I do; although I must act on what I see myself.
But what does seem impressed upon me with a conviction deeper than I can say, is that God is with our Church, acting not [only] upon individuals, but dealing with it, if we do not forfeit it. It is this dread, which has made me write strongly to C[oleridge] and some few friends besides. Things seem 'epi xurou akmes' . It is not that I mistrust God' s goodness, but man' s, our own, prayerlessness. I hear of continual prayer among the Roman Catholics; there may be such among ourselves; but there is much want of love and disunited prayer; I do trust much prayer in secret (which one hears of from time to time), yet many who wish us gone from misunderstandings, &c. If then there be this prayer on the one side, and we ourselves neither know our blessings, nor what to pray for, or pray languidly, what may we not lose? My feeling is, that it may be with us, 'Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.' And so, while I have misgivings whether people are careless about it, it cannot but be a heavy matter. Jeremiah was allowed to weep for his people, and Ezekiel to sit astonished seven days, and St. Paul to have great heaviness of heart for his kinsmen according to the flesh; and so, now that the work which God seemed to have in store for our Church seems threatened, I, a sinner, may have sorrow for what my own sins may, to an extent I know not of, have caused. However, I ought truly to say, I ought to have more sorrow. I am obliged to eat and drink and sleep, when saints would have been enabled to fast and pray and have turned away God' s displeasure from their land. However, I have prayed solemnly and do pray that God, if it be His will, would allow any remaining sorrow which can come to me, without injury to the Church or to souls, to be, rather than this; and so I wait the end.
* * * *
May He bless you for all your love.
Ever your most affectionate and grateful friend,
E. B. P.
Newman could not, in his then state of mind, allow such a letter as this to close the subject. He wrote the following reply:--
Littlemore, Aug. 23, 1844.
What you say pains me very much. Surely what St. Paul and the prophets before him mourned so bitterly, was not the downfall of a system, but the degeneracy of a people, whereas now our people have more promise (be it great or little) than before, not more cor–ruption.
Can a true Church become weaker, while her children become better? Can a true Church lose her children, and those her better ones? If not, you are anxious about an impossibility.
Surely it will be unlike the ordinary ways of Providence if her better sort of children, after years of patient waiting and steady personal improvement, and against their feelings, wishes, and interests, leave a true Church. It seems to me simply unaccountable in the ways of Providence--and the expecting it implies so far forth a doubt whether ours is a true Church.
* * * *
Be sure, my dear Pusey, when the blow comes, we shall in God' s mercy have strength given us to bear it.
Pusey answered this letter on the evening of the day on which he had preached his second sermon at Ilfracombe.
E. B. P. TO REV. J. H. NEWMAN.
Sunday Ev., Aug. 25, 1844.
MY VERY DEAR NEWMAN,
I say things so badly and have so little of that wisdom which would enable me to say them aright, that I am afraid of doing harm by anything I say. However, I ought to say something, because I have not yet made my meaning out to you. I have no fear what–ever about the fall of what is called Anglicanism: no anxiety that the present Movement should end in what I see myself. One can but look to a re-union of the Church as the end, and how that should be,-- whether by the explanation of the system as to St. Mary, so that such as I can understand it, or the modification of the mode of its expres–sion--in a word, on what terms and in what way we be re-united to the rest of the Western Church, must be in His Hands, Who will guide, I trust, her and ours. I have no reserve on this point; I have seen enough now of the writings, or rather of the lives of saints, wholly to mistrust myself,. though what they might do safely I cannot do.
God has, too, so wonderfully kept us together, so strangely held people back in out communion, and then gave them contentment and growth in it, that I had ceased to have fears about it, sorrowful as are the losses from time to time which we undergo. I looked hopefully on, and trusted entirely that while our Church is what it is, and did not commit itself in a wrong direction, and had thus visibly the means of grace, the body of her better children would stay in her. I trusted that any crisis would be averted, until she were leavened. I trust so still. It would be so miserable that she should be left of those who have been God' s instruments in restoring her to what she is becoming. The thought of it bewilders me and turns me dizzy, and I cannot think it will be. But what fears I had arose, my very dear Newman, from letters which H. W[ilberforce] showed me, when I met him in Kent at my brother' s. They seemed to me more definite than any I had seen before. It was under the feeling that your will might be swayed, if, the prayers continuing in the Roman Church, there were not more prayer for you among ourselves (though doubtless there is very much) that I wrote in that way to C[oleridge] (though thinking nothing definite); and my object was to impress upon those to whom I wrote that more seemed to me at stake, and so there was need of more earnest prayer, than they thought for. In a word, the well-being of our Church seems to me, by God' s Providence, to have been wrapped up in you. I mean in the same way as that of the Church Universal was in St. Athanasius, or Israel (in its disorders) in one of its judges. I do not mistrust. But seeing what looked like an anticipation of what would be such a blow, I could not but do as I did, pray, under the conditions I said.. It was all I could do. I never meant to tell you of it. And then I wished other prayers should be more earnest. I am more at rest now; partly perhaps from natural sanguineness; partly seeing in different tokens how God' s Hand is still with us, and so hoping on; partly from the act itself. So now be not pained any more. I could never have been saved but for sorrow.
I hope that harm from my Sentence may yet turn to good; or at least may be turned aside, though my sin produced it. I trust it has done me good. Outwardly also, it has severed me from persons whom I was wishing to influence. I trust, by God' s mercy, it may have been of some use to me to be laid aside.
If there is this lull which the English Churchman has said, it is a most marvellous thing, as though that was true now-- 'the fierceness of man shall turn to Thy praise, and the remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain.' Certainly it is out of the usual course, that the stronger things are said, the quieter opponents should become.
* * * *
Poor Philip, finding that all hope of Holy Orders is probably gone through his infirmities (as they now give all prospect of his life), looks to a 'mone' : he asked me whether I hoped for them for men also, and seemed to think there was then something sacred in store for him.
Ever yours most affectionately,
E. B. PUSEY.
In a postscript Pusey discusses Newman' s wish that English Church--people should no longer trust him:--
'It might be right in you to wish that people should not have confidence in you, and yet right in us to have it and wish that they should have it, and I felt that I could not have had any hand in doing what could any way prepare for what would be (I speak not of self) so deep a wound to our Church. In a word, write or speak or act as I may, I do not believe that it ever can be; it goes against my whole nature to believe it. I cannot think that we should be so utterly deserted as that it should be permitted.'
Newman was placed in a position of extreme difficulty by his desire on the one hand that Pusey should not entertain false hopes, and on the other that he should not be pained, as he necessarily would be by being forced to abandon them.
REV. J. H. NEWMAN TO E. B. P.
Oriel College, Aug. 28, 1844.
(I only had your letter this morning.)
MY DEAR PUSEY,
I have great anxiety about answering you. For myself I like to know and prepare for the worst of things--it distresses me not to look things full in the face, and in my case it is on the whole a saving of pain--but I cannot tell whether it is so to others. I would not for the world give you pain I could avoid. It would be most unworthy and shocking in me. Yet in so painful a subject, it does seem better to me to have all out once for all (which I had hoped Manning had done last year) than to keep hacking and hacking bit by bit.
Surely great part of one' s pain is from suspense, anxiety, suspicion, anticipation--surely if I could but make you feel the worst, it must be a relief to you.
You very greatly overrate my consequence, and the surprise which any step on my part would cause. I believe a great number of persons are prepared for it. More and more are coming to expect it daily. I cannot realize it myself--any more than that to-day I may be in Oxford and to-morrow in York. You cannot realize it. But I believe we, who are close to the act, are the persons most difficult to be impressed with an anticipation of it. The shock and unsettlement attending it I have felt acutely for years--but every month is recon–ciling the minds of persons to it.
What, am I to say but that I am one who, even five years ago, had a strong conviction, from reading the history of the early ages, that we are not part of the Church?
--that I am one whose conviction of it now is about as strong as of anything else he disbelieves--so strong that the struggle against it is doing injury to his faith in general, and is spreading a film of scepticism over his mind--who is frightened, and cannot tell what it may end in, if he dares to turn a deaf ear to a voice which has so long spoken to him.
--that I am one who is at this time in disquiet when he travels, lest he should be suddenly taken off, before he has done what to him seems necessary.
For a long, long time my constant question has been, 'Is it a dream? is it a delusion?' and the wish to have decisive proof on this point has made me satisfied to wait--it makes me satisfied to wait still--but, should such as I be suddenly brought down to the brink of life, when God allows no longer time for deliberation,. I suppose he would feel he must act, as is on the whole safest, under circumstances.
And now, my dear Pusey, do take in the whole of the case, nor shut your eyes, as you so kindly do continually, and God bless all things to you, as I am sure He will and does.
Ever yours affectionately,
JOHN H. NEWMAN.
The effect of this letter on Pusey is best described by himself.
E. B. P. TO REV. J. H. NEWMAN.
MY DEAR N. Friday evening [Aug. 30, 1844].
I do not shut my eyes now; I feel everything I do is hollow, and dread its cracking. But though I feel as in a vessel threatened with shipwreck, I trust that our Lord is still in her, and that, however perilled, she will not perish. I seem as if the waters were gathered on heaps on either side; yet trust that we are Israel, not Pharaoh' s army, and so that they will not fall. This has been my feeling since the letters to Manning; I can hardly do anything or take interest in anything; perhaps it is all the better that it is so; but it seems like building on with a mine under the foundations. However, as I recover myself, I do hope that God will not allow this to be, nor destroy His work in the midst of the years, and so I hope, and commit things to Him Who can sway all hearts. I hardly know what sorrow can reach me now which does not involve the injury of single souls or of the Church; and so what I have done may involve nothing, in that all other chastening which I can have has been bestowed upon me already, except bodily suffering. However, it is done; I have desired and do desire that anything short of the loss of my own soul or that of others may come on me, so that our Church do not undergo that loss. How–ever unworthy, He may accept it still.
Ever, my dear Newman,
Your very affectionate
E. B. PUSEY.
On the day of writing this letter from Clifton, Pusey had administered the Holy Communion to Mr. J. W. Bowden, whose illness had been for some weeks becoming in–creasingly serious. Apart from their friendship for Bowden, Pusey and Newman each felt an especial interest in his case as that of a man who had shared their intimate convictions, and was now passing into the Eternal World. To Pusey, Bowden' s 'simple good faith' and 'sweet calm tranquillity' were illustrations of the truth and office of the English Church which could thus brighten for her children the valley of the shadow of death. Newman 'expected that Bowden' s illness would have brought light to his own mind, as to what he ought to do.'
E. B. P. TO REV. J. H. NEWMAN.
MY DEAR N. Brighton [Sept. 3, 1844].
Bowden seemed to think I should tell you something of his state. I wish I could say anything as to his bodily state, which should be cheering; but you will know all. There are more decided sorrowful symptoms than when I saw him in London, though not such, I believe, as should make one think that he would be very soon taken from us. Yet they are, I fear, distressing, and he seemed to feel that he wanted much the prayers of all his friends.
* * * *
Ever your very affectionate
E. B. P.
A fortnight later, and all was over.
REV. J. H. NEWMAN TO E. B. P.
MY DEAR PUSEY, 17 Grosvenor Place, Sept. 17, 1844.
Marriott has told you all that was to be told pretty nearly. Dr. Bernard considered that his end was so near that, if he was to be moved, no time was to be lost. He said too he thought that he could be moved with safety, and that the moving might even for the time be of service to him. He kindly came with them. Bowden was most happy and peaceful all day, and did not complain of being overtired. They put him to bed directly he got here. Next morning at four o clock he had a little coughing, and was at once suffocated. She saw it at once--nothing was to be done.
I shall stay here certainly till after the funeral: how much longer I do not know. I suppose not long, perhaps no time. Mrs. Bowden bears it as no one could but herself.
Ever yours affectionately,
E. B. P. TO REV. J. H. NEWMAN.
[Christ Church, Sept. 18],
MY VERY DEAR N. Sept., Emb. Wed., 1844.
I was going to write to you to-day, though what have I to say to you which has not been said to you by Him Who is ever with you? These peaceful departures are bright spots in a cloudy sky. 'Lord, brighten our declining day.' I could not but think, from some words which he used, that he suffered more in body than he allowed to appear, for Mrs. Bowden' s sake. He thought each closing day' so much of his trial over. I was struck too by the way in which he asked for our prayers. And this makes that bright calm close the brighter. God be praised for His mercies.
What a long, long past seems closed; it makes one think that there can be but a short remaining earthly future. Yet He, I trust, is in the cloud now, Who was in the pillar of fire before.
I have not written to Mrs. Bowden, because she has now in you all which she can have on earth. But give my love to any of the dear little ones, whom it would not interrupt.
Ever, my dearest Newman, your very affectionate friend,
E. B. PUSEY.
It was but last year we compared [notes]; I had had twenty years of your friendship, he only had more. Thank you very much for your account.
Bowden' s calm death was not without a certain although passing effect on Newman' s convictions. 'When one sees so blessed an end, and that, the termination of so blameless a life, of one who really fed on our ordinances and got strength from them, . . . it is impossible not to feel more at ease in our Church.' Pusey, with his quick sensitiveness, was alive to this result of Bowden' s death, and his buoyant sanguineness led him to make more of it than the facts would warrant 'I have been most cheered,' he wrote to Newman, 'to hear of the comfort you have had in your late sorrowful but blessed occupation.' But Newman had sobbed bitterly over Bowden' s coffin to think that 'he left me still dark as to what the way of truth was.'