Project Canterbury

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

London: Longmans, 1894
volume three

Transcribed by The Revd R D Hacking
AD 2002





Christ' s Church was holiest in her youthful days,

Ere the world on her smiled;

So   now, an outcast, she would pour her rays,

More keen and undefiled;

Yet would I not that hand of force were mine

Which thrusts her from her ancient, awful shrine.

Lyra Apostolica, cxxxi.


THE probability that there would be some Parliamentary interference with the old constitution and arrangements of Oxford had long been recognized. The most conservative of Oxford men had been made to feel by the events of the last few years that it was absolutely necessary that some great change should be made in the government of the Uni–versity. The Hebdomadal Board had been discredited by its actions in the Tractarian controversy in the eyes even of many who did not sympathize with the Oxford Movement. On the other hand, there were some to whom the entire constitution and arrangements of the University were dis–tasteful. Lord John Russell was generally credited with the opinion that the Tractarian movement was partly due to the old constitution of the University as consolidated by Laud, and to the Statutes of the Colleges, the majority of which dated from before the Reformation. In this opinion there was this element of truth. Both Laud' s work and the College Statutes were mainly a survival of the religious and disciplinary rules of an earlier age, with only such modifications as reform in the abuses of the Church necessarily involved. Hence the anti-Catholic and Lati–tudinarian parties disliked just those elements of the old Oxford which the Tractarians would have wished to retain. The Colleges were, in their eyes, relics of a  'mischievous medievalism, inconsistent with the healthy temper and wider views of modern European life.'  Judged also from another point of view, as centres of study and learning, the richly endowed Universities of England were felt to have but a low standard and to be doing inadequate work, although there was a wide difference of opinion as to the best method of improvement. And thus those who dis–liked them on religious grounds were reinforced by others whose objections were of a different order.

On Aug. 31, 1850, a Commission was appointed by the Queen to inquire into the state, discipline, studies, and revenues of the University and Colleges of Oxford. The Commissioners were generally Liberal in politics, and more or less Latitudinarian in theology. They spent a year and eight months in collecting such evi–dence as they could get; but, as their proceedings were viewed by the majority of Oxford residents with more or less suspicion and distrust, many important sources of information were closed to them. They presented their report, however, on April 27, 1852; and, before making that report a basis of legislation, the Government allowed some time to elapse, in order that the University might collectively, or through its more eminent members, express its opinion on the subject. The Hebdomadal Board ac–cordingly appointed a delegacy, to which evidence was tendered by many distinguished persons who had refused to have any communication with the Royal Commis–sioners; and by this delegacy a report was made to the Board, and subsequently printed in a thick octavo volume. Pusey would have been glad to give evidence before the Commissioners; but he appears to have had no oppor–tunity of doing so. He therefore offered it to the delegacy of the Hebdomadal Board. In point of bulk his evidence formed the largest contribution to the Hebdomadal volume: and, as was observed at the time, it differed from other contributions in kind no less than in degree. Men who did not sympathize with its drift and object could not but acknowledge the proof it afforded of vast and varied knowledge, of intellectual acumen, and of a grasp of the main points at issue. Others addressed themselves to isolated points in the Commissioners'  Report: Pusey had dealt with it as a whole and in its most essential characteristics.

He saw that the two really important questions raised by the report were whether Oxford education should be collegiate or professorial, and whether it should be lay or clerical.

He discusses the first point in an historical review of University education in Germany, whence in fact had been derived the ideal that was before the minds of the Com–missioners. In the German University the professor was everything: and Pusey contends that this system failed adequately to stimulate the active powers of the mind of students, created successive schools of thought but no authoritative literature, and involved serious dangers not only to the faith but to the morals of students.

He contrasts the mental effect of lectures orally delivered by professors with that of the study of a classical text:--

 'The object of lectures orally delivered is simply to convey informa–tion. They presuppose that the mind is already formed. The mind is simply a recipient. It digests, at most, at some subsequent time (if it ever does), what it then receives. For the time, its faculties are mainly employed in grasping and remembering what is imparted to it. It can only, at most, and that on the easiest points, exercise a rapid judgment, in passing, on what is proposed to it. If the lecture be new to the hearer, or at all taxes his powers, all his efforts are employed in retaining a portion of it. He has not (as in the case of catechetical teaching) to compare any thoughts which he may have formed, with those of a maturer mind. The mind is passive, not active.'

He urges therefore that:--

 'The difference of the intellectual benefit between the cursory attendance upon a delivered lecture on the one hand and on the other the repeated and renewed effort and strain of mind in considering again and again the more thoughtful passages of a solid book, then surveying the argument as a whole, and then again pausing upon its more sol and weighty parts, or again its minuter excellences, or its abstruse points--will be estimated by any one who will reflect upon the process at any time in his own mind. It is incalculable. Even in this respect the lectures of professors are, as a study, inferior to their written books.'

The professoriate in Protestant Germany had led, Pusey maintained, to a widespread doubt of the certainty of any knowledge, alike in theology and philosophy. When illustrating this position, he traces the history of German Protestant theology and philosophy; the one from the Reformation, the other from the rise of the Wolfian philosophy. The Lutheranism of the Formula Concordiae, the school of Halle, the lectures and influence of Baumgarten Semler, Michaelis, Eichhorn, were successively illustrations of influences which had only existed to die away. In philosophy, Wolfianism had been succeeded by the popular philosophy; this by Kant, Kant by Fichte, by Schelling, by Hegel in succession. Nothing had remained beyond the impression that nothing was certain. The passages which illustrate this are too long for quotation, but they repay perusal, and they show how extensive was Pusey' s knowledge of the history, of modern German thought. This instability of all representations, whether of theo–logical or philosophical truth, had arrested the production of a literature that could be recognized as classical and authoritative. When, during his stay in Germany, Pusey had asked the Germans about their standard books in theology:--

 'There was nothing. Whatever there had been in the previous centuries was swept away. No account was then taken of any book, except what had been published in the last twenty-five years. No book written before that time was to be found in Berlin, except in one obscure little shop; at Gottingen, or Bonn, none; nor were they ordinarily to be obtained, except in one great  'antiquarian'  shop at Leipzig, or occasionally at auctions. Rumours had then reached England of some unknown amount of sacred criticism in Germany; but when I came to ask the more thoughtful of them, it was owned that there was next to nothing. Yet the system of professorial lectures in theology had been going on since the Reformation; year by year, lectures had been given in all the different chairs of Germany; but wave had followed wave, and all had disappeared. I recollect the mutual surprise when the more thoughtful among them learnt from me, that in England we studied chiefly old books, and I learnt from them that they used none. If they asked of me how we studied theology, they were surprised to hear of standard, solid writers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as Hooker or Bull, Butler or Pearson, and they said,  " That is something beautiful." It was to me, at that time, something strange and mournful that they had no past.

 'Certainly, to speak of theology, if, as has been said' , part of the value of the professorial system is to produce books, it was a total failure; for there had been none which survived.'

As to the effect of this system on religious faith, Pusey recalls his own experience, while in Germany:--

 'In 1825 (and so after the revival, though the new school had for some years begun), one who wished to recount all who, in any sense, could be accounted supporters of Christianity, or (as they were called),  " orthodox" among the professors, made them amount to seventeen only, in all Protestant Germany. Among them was Mar–heincke, and some others, who in no other country would have been accounted orthodox.  " We Orientalists," said another in my hearing, who became afterwards a distinguished Oriental professor,  " are but bad Christians." I believe that a young Roman Catholic student and myself were the only believers in the lecture-room when it was said, although another was afterwards converted.'

Again, the professor was not responsible for the moral conduct of his pupil: there was no such relation between teacher and taught as was implied in the tutorial system of the English Universities. The results might be anticipated.

 'I see then,'  Pusey concludes,  'no result, intellectual, moral, or religious, for which we should be invited to imitate the plan of the German Universities. We have been told much 01 their powers of speculation and their philosophy. We may ask, which they would recommend to us? They have tired, we are told, of all. Or is it for their sacred criticism? We might ask again, in what theory as to Holy Scripture, or any part of it, they acquiesce? or their research? We might ask what modern history they would give us in preference to our own? or ethics? We may still ask what system they adopt? We have been told that  " we have no history of doctrines." We may ask, what doctrines they are agreed upon? Since the result of research, diligence, instruction is assured, and solid knowledge, we may well abide by our own system until we see, not in theory only, but in its fruits, that another forms the mind more solidly, maintains its indepen–dence better, while aiding it to think aright, encompasses it with religious influences without forcing it, or yields more religious solid knowledge than that contained in our English divines, the ultimate result of the training of our Universities and of residence in them.

 'We have abundance of theories about the professorial system. We have no facts of its having produced any but evil fruits. The training of our youth, the intellectual, moral, religious formation of their minds, their future well-being in this world and the world to come, are not matters upon which to try experiments.'

The other question to which Pusey addressed himself was whether education given in the Universities should be lay or clerical. The Commissioners had urged that the clerical restrictions on fellowships were objectionable on three grounds. They led some men to receive Holy Orders from the unworthy motive of desiring to hold a fellowship. They excluded from the service of a College-persons whose calling might be to literary work, but not to Holy Orders. Further, a predominance of clergy tended to promote theological controversy.

To the first objection Pusey replies that if the elections to fellowships were rightly conducted, the temptation to take Holy Orders from unworthy motives could not exist; and that the argument of the Commissioners told much more strongly against private patronage of livings. To the second, that already more, fellowships were held by laymen than were needed to meet any cases of non-clerical persons who felt called to literary labours. Most lay-fellows were non-resident, rendering no apparent services either to their College or the University. As to a tendency to religious controversy, it was independent of the question whether a man was a clergyman or a layman. Controversy was to be found everywhere, and on all subjects. It need not be angry or spiteful. It would cease, no doubt, if, as at times in Germany, men had ceased altogether to care about religion.

Pusey observes that the evidence before the Com–missioners testifies to the feeling of the country in favour of clerical instructors. He adds:--

 'The grounds of this preference of the clergy as educators are two–fold: (1) because those who have devoted themselves to that sacred calling are presumed (whatever individual defects there may be) to be likely to train the young more religiously than the average of other men; (2) because all subjects of study may be taught religiously or irreligiously, and it is supposed that persons, pledged as the clergy are, will, on the whole, teach more religiously.'

He adds afterwards:--

 'Meiners quotes a French writer, who speaks of it as a gain, that  " theology and philosophy ceased to be a monopoly of monks, and were taught by seculars”; and that the seculars  " belonging to no ecclesiastical order, could abandon themselves the more freely to the impulse of their genius, and hazard fearlessly novel opinions." The French Revolution, the empire of  " the Goddess of Reason," and the blind and fanatical following of any new meteor-light, to the almost utter destruction of faith among the learned in Germany, were the results of that  " hazard." It was a  " hazard" in which all was staked, and for the time was lost.'

Pusey, of course, did not deny that the existing educa–tional system of Oxford admitted of great improvement: he only desired that this improvement should proceed on sound principles.

 'It is right that Oxford should embrace all who will come to her to be educated in her way; it is right that she should enlarge her studies, by taking in, in their order and degree, those parts of study which can be combined with her system, and which may help to expand, cultivate, strengthen, consolidate, and, if rightly used, elevate the mind. It is well that she should help the student even to lay a solid foundation for his future special study. Only let it be really solid, and, above all, under the control of a firm, unwavering faith, to the glory of God. It will yet be well with Oxford, if she forget not her own motto-- " Dominus illuminatio mea”' .

Another body of residents, called the Tutors'  Association, of which the Rev. C. Marriott was an active member, had frequent meetings and issued a report, which criticized the proposals of the Commissioners for a new Governing Body of the University. This twofold attack on the Com–mission naturally provoked rejoinders, and the Com–missioners were fortunate in finding a champion at once so independent and so able as Professor H. H. Vaughan .

Professor Vaughan was a favourable representative of the academical Liberalism, which was now rising at Oxford in opposition alike to the Toryism of the Hebdomadal Board and the religious principles of the Church Move–ment. He saw at a glance that the most considerable, if not the only considerable, opponent with whom he had to reckon was Pusey; and the bulk of his pamphlet is devoted to an analysis of Pusey' s  'Evidence,'  which he hints ought to have been called a  'treatise.'  Against Pusey he endeavours to maintain with varying success that professorial lectures are good, if not the best, instruments for communi–cating knowledge; and that they administer a discipline of a certain kind to the mental faculties which is not to be gained by the study of books. That professors have aided the advancement of truth, and that professorial activity had produced books of lasting value, is, it must be thought, made good by their accomplished advocate: but the controversy only approaches its centre when Professor Vaughan dis–cusses Pusey' s position, that the theological professoriate in Protestant Germany had been a main cause of misbelief and scepticism. Here Professor Vaughan changes his method, which has hitherto been that of direct investigation, for a series of ad hominem arguments. Had not Pusey been delivered into his hands by the  'Theology of Ger–.many' ? In that work the causes of Rationalism had been represented to be dead orthodoxy and English Deism, while the professors were described as not  'having done so much  'evil as good,'  and their activity was hailed as a new era in theology. As to the influence of professors on morality, Professor Vaughan maintains that  'tutorial'  Oxford had been, to say the least, no better than professorial Germany. Attached to his pamphlet is an  'Appendix,'  the most in–teresting paper in which,  'On the Scholarship of Germany,'  is contributed by Mr., afterwards Professor, Conington, and a  'Postscript,'  in which, with questionable freedom, Pro–fessor Vaughan publishes some private letters of Pusey' s without his leave.

Pusey' s reply'  to Professor Vaughan is the most consider–able work he produced on the subject of University Educa–tion. To the Professor' s strictures it is at least an adequate reply. He begins by showing that Professor Vaughan had wholly or in part misstated the deductions which were warranted by the evidence under review. On each point in dispute he restates, explains, expands, by means of proof and illustration, his original meaning: and it would be difficult to point to any other equally solid defence of the old Collegiate system of our English Universities. After meeting Professor Vaughan' s allegations point by point respecting the alleged corruption of Colleges in France, he refutes the charge against English Collegiate life which had been made by Meiners, a copious and original writer, who ranks among the most distinguished members of the Uni–versity of Gottingen, where he had died sixteen years before Pusey' s visit in 1826. Pusey had quoted Meiners in his evidence on a subject about which that writer could speak with authority, namely, the evil results of lay teaching of philosophy and divinity in the Universities of Protestant Germany. Professor Vaughan had retaliated by quoting Meiners'  bad opinion of the Collegiate system in the English Universities. But on this subject, as well as upon that of the French Colleges, Meiners had to depend upon secondhand and bad sources of information; as Pusey shows, he had mainly relied on two early eighteenth-century lampoons, in his attacks upon Colleges in England. Professor Vaughan, who apparently first heard of Meiners from Pusey, had no such knowledge as would enable him to make a dis–criminating use of his new authority, and quoted his least trustworthy conclusions with a childlike confidence which Pusey' s analysis must have rudely disturbed.

Professor Vaughan had been scarcely more successful in his endeavour to employ Pusey' s earlier work on Germany in disparagement of his evidence before the Delegacy. However much Pusey' s estimate of the value of German Protestant theology might have changed since 1828, he did not, as Professor Vaughan asserted, propose to add a new cause of German Rationalism, to those which he had already assigned to it.

 'The statement in my Evidence is not inconsistent with those in my Enquiry. In 1827 [1828] I was speaking of the causes of Rationalism; in 1853 I was speaking of the agents. It is no contradiction to speak at one time of the distant spring of water; at another, of the pipes which convey it. Cholera or the plague have been brought in cotton goods. It is not thought irrational to enquire how they were imme–diately conveyed; nor is one who so enquires supposed to be assigning the ultimate physical cause which generated the disease. It is as I have said, a fact, that  " almost all those, through whom Rationalism was nurtured, developed, ripened, were professors."  " The Rational–istic writers of any name, who were not professors, were placed in their offices by the Crown." The professors who really resisted Rationalism were almost as few as the pastors who actively  " promoted it." If any can show this not to have been so, let them show it. If not, it is a phenomenon which -remains to be solved in some way .'

On one or two subjects which Pusey handles, such as the advisability of private Halls, and of the admission to the University of non-collegiate students, his judgment has been more or less refuted by experience; in fact it was not a little modified even by himself as years went on. But the leading positions of his book are of a different character, and so long as men are interested in endeavouring to decide what it is that they propose to themselves as the proper work of Universities they will read him with interest and profit.

Nor will his readers be less struck by the admirable tone of his controversial method. In no other work does he shew more effectively how the resource and acuteness of a practised controversialist may be combined with those qualities of gentleness and consideration for others which mark the true Christian. He also shews to better advan–tage in the matter of style than in most of his published works. Indeed there are few passages in controversial literature stronger or more luminous than that with which Pusey replies to the taunt that he was treating an aca–demical question from a  'theological'  point of view:--

 'To myself, some have thought it enough to answer that I have looked upon the question  " in a theological aspect." Undoubtedly. God alone is in Himself, and is the Cause and Upholder of everything to which He has given being. Every faculty of the mind is some reflection of His; every truth has its being from Him; every law of nature has the impress of His hand; everything beautiful has caught its light from His eternal beauty; every principle of goodness has its founda–tion in His attributes. He, by nature, is above all, through all, in all, by His Being; as He is in His own, by His Grace. He is the Author of all, the End of all, and of our own being individually. Without Him, in the region of thought, everything is dead; as without Him everything which is, would at once cease to be. All things must speak of God, refer to God, or they are atheistic. History, without God, is a chaos without design, or end, or aim. Political Economy, without God, would be a selfish teaching about the acquisition of wealth, making the larger portion of mankind animate machines for its production; Physics, without God, would be but a dull enquiry into certain meaningless phenomena; Ethics, without God, would be a varying rule, without principle, or substance, or centre, or regulating hand; Metaphysics, without God, would make man his own temporary god, to be resolved, after his brief hour here, into the nothingness out of which he proceeded. All sciences may do good service, if those who cultivate them know their place, and carry them not beyond their sphere; all may, in different degrees, tend to cultivate the human mind, although no one human mind has time or capacity for all. But all will become antagonistic to truth, if they are deified by their votaries; all will tend to exclude the thought of sod, if they are not cultivated with reference to Him. History will become an account of man' s passions and brute strength, instead of the ordering of God' s providence for His creatures'  good; Physics will materialize man, and Metaphysics, God…The object of an University is not simply or mainly to cultivate the intellect. Intellect, by itself, heightened, sharpened, refined, cool, piercing, subtle, would be after the likeness, not of God, but of His enemy, who is acuter and subtler far, than the acutest and the subtlest. The object of Universities is, with and through the discipline of the intellect, as far as may be, to discipline and train the whole moral and intelligent being. The problem and special work of an University is, not how to advance science, not how to make discoveries, not to form new schools of mental philosophy, nor to invent new modes of analysis; not to produce works in Medi–cine, Jurisprudence, or even Theology; but to form minds religiously, morally, intellectually, which shall discharge aright whatever duties God, in His Providence, shall appoint to them. Acute and subtle intellects, even though well-disciplined, are not needed for most offices in the body politic. Acute and subtle intellects, if undisciplined, are destructive both to themselves and to it, in proportion to their very powers. The type of the best English intellectual character is sound, solid, steady, thoughtful, patient, well-disciplined judgment. It would be a perversion of our institutions to turn the University into a forcing-house for intellect.

 'What we need is to strengthen our institutions, not to revolutionize them; to replace anything decayed, not to build anew; to reform anything amiss, not to remodel them. Sudden changes are for His hands alone, Who can recreate, as He created, very good: Who can sustain the mind which He remoulds, or bear His own Ark over the floods which He creates.'

There is another good passage in which he recalls some words of Archbishop Howley that had been much canvassed in the secular press of the day:--

 'The intellect, as Bishop Butler pointed out, has its trials as well as the moral powers of man. Pride of intellect, or self-confidence, is a more subtle evil than the coarser passions. People have justified intellectually the indulgence of their passions; they must, by a moral necessity, if they give way to them. They cannot mistake as to the existence of their passions, or the fact that they give way to them. People are very commonly mistaken and ignorant as to their intel–lectual faults or sins. In our time, men continually do not seem to have a notion that the intellect, too, must be subdued to God. Within our memory, the late Archbishop of Canterbury (when Bishop of London) was assailed with a torrent of censure from the intellectual press, because he insisted on  " the prostration of the human under–standing" before the revelation of God. His term expressed precisely the truth, that the, human intellect must have no reserves of its own; it must not make terms with God; it must not receive all revelation except just the one point, perhaps, which it does not like, or which it cannot square with its own notions.'

In subsequent correspondence with the Rev. A. P. Stanley, Secretary to the Royal Commission, Pusey calls attention to these passages as expressing his own deepest feeling.


Thank you for the kind close of your letter. All kindness and loving feeling is a treasure in this world of pain.

It has been the painful part of writing this answer that I felt I must pain or in some way annoy Professor Vaughan. I have taken pains to avoid it as far as I could..

In proportion as there is hope that science should be religious, I should be glad to see science established at Oxford. I have no fears from it. Of course, it ought to do good service, if it knows its own province..

I can assure you that I approached the Commission in no unfriendly spirit. I should have been glad, beforehand, if I might, to have addressed to the Commission remarks which were eventually directed against its recommendations. Controversy is not a congenial element to me. I wrote as I did, simply because I dreaded exceedingly the moral and religious effects of their recommendations.

God guide us all aright in this crisis of Oxford.

This letter is noticeable as being an early expression of the view that Pusey always entertained of the introduc–tion of Natural Science into the studies of Oxford.

Among the proposals of the Commissioners was one for remodelling the government of the University. The Hebdo–madal Board was to remain, but only for the purposes of maintaining discipline and transacting ordinary business. The right of initiating measures was to be shared with a remodelled Congregation, consisting of the authorized teachers of the University, as well as the Heads of Houses and Proctors. As this proposal was accompanied by others for increasing the professoriate and the control of the Crown over the appointment of its members, the scheme as a whole was regarded as designed to make over the control of the University to a body in which Crown-nominees would exert a preponderating influence.

Pusey, in his evidence before the Delegacy, had proposed a rival scheme, of a more conservative character. The Hebdomadal Board was to retain all its old powers: but Pusey wished to create a new body, equal in number to the Hebdomadal Board, but elected by and from among resident members of Convocation. This body was to share with the Hebdomadal Board the right of proposing measures to Convocation: and all measures to be so proposed were to be passed by the two Boards, either separately, or in case of difference of opinion, by a majority of their members at a joint meeting. The main features of the proposal were first its retention of the old polity of the University, except–ing the provision for the initiation of measures by representa–tives of Convocation, and secondly the refusal to make the authorized teachers, in other words, the professors, a separate estate in the University.

This scheme, which, in its original form, appears to have been mentioned to Pusey by the Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Cotton, was, early in 1854, adopted in substance as their own by the Hebdomadal Board. The Board resolved to obtain, if they could, a judgment of the University in favour of what was now their own proposal, in order to influence the legislation which the Government was understood to be preparing. A petition to the Crown, in favour of the proposals of the Board, was laid before Convocation on February 24, 1854. Pusey strained every nerve to secure the success of the proposal.


Christ Church [Feb. 16, 1854].

I am very heavy about things. I must still struggle on, and to–morrow (Friday) week will decide about the Constitution. It seems to me important in different ways; (1) as coming from the University, not from Government; (2) as more conservative than any other, and then all the reasons which I gave in my evidence. But there is a disposition here, even among those whom I should least have expected, as Haddan, to wait for the Government measure, as giving the Tutors, &c. better terms, i. e. more power. I hope that you will be able to come and support the plan of the two Boards which is to come before Convocation on Friday week.

Keble and Pusey both wrote strongly in favour of the petition: and their letters brought up a sufficient number of non-resident members of Convocation to carry it, on Feb. 24, 1854, but only by a majority of fifty-one.

Though Pusey had the majority on his side, there were many of his old friends on the other side. The defeated minority contained, not only the representatives of the extreme non-religious academical Liberalism, but staunch adherents of the Church movement. These latter could not understand Pusey' s effort to save the Hebdo–madal Board, which  'had checked so triumphantly the progress of Puseyism by sentences of suspension and degradation, at the same time that it allowed Rationalism full swing by accepting without a word the Bampton Lectures of 1851' . They were not pleased to see him in close alliance with persons who had been in various scenes prominent in the anti-Catholic crusade of former years: their imaginations were fired by visions of a renovated Oxford, of open fellowships, hard-working fellows, active professors~ multiplied students, varied studies, improved discipline, augmented influence--yet at the same time  'an Oxford in close connexion with the Church, and sending men forth with much the same spirit and cast of mind as at present.'

There were strange alliances on both sides. Many of the younger adherents of the Movement found themselves in company with keen and powerful minds that were already projecting a very different Oxford from that of their devout imagination. Pusey had less reason than any man still resident in Oxford to remember with gratitude or respect the proceedings of the Hebdomadal Board in past years. But he did not lose sight of the value of institutions or of principles because one generation of their representatives bad made grave mistakes; and the fact that these mistakes had brought upon himself much wholly unmerited distress would only have disturbed the balance of his judgment by inclining it to favour their authors. Still he could not share the Utopian visions of a renovated Oxford in which some younger Churchmen ingenuously revelled:  'he knew too well what intellectual and moral forces were likely ere long to come upon the scene to permit himself a passing moment of such illusion. Keble, who had at first hesi–tated, was now heartily with him.  'You may vote against Pusey,'  he said on this occasion, to a young member of Convocation,  'but I am very sure that if God spares your life, and gives you a right mind, you will live to regret it.'

But Pusey' s altered relations with the old Hebdomadal Board was a fact patent to all the world. Newman noticed the change from his retreat in Dublin, where he had been advocating in lectures of unrivalled skill and beauty the old Oxford ideal of education.


11 Harcourt Street, Dublin, March 11, 1854.


I hope you will receive very shortly a copy of my  'Discourses on University Education,'  to which you allude, if you will kindly accept it. I should value much your answer to Vaughan. I have read the Report of the Heads of Houses, and smiled to find that after all the rubs they had given you, they were at last obliged to have recourse to you as their best champion..

Ever affectionately yours,

                         JOHN H. NEWMAN.

Keble, as being more nearly concerned, wrote more seriously.  'I am very sorry that you have such impracticable and damaging allies as the Heads of Houses.'  The Heads were not  'impracticable'  in one sense, at any rate on this occasion. They gratefully welcomed Pusey' s evidence, and assigned to it the place of honour in their Report.

At a slightly earlier stage in the discussion, Mr. Justice Coleridge had expressed himself in the same sense, but with more deliberation. When replying to Pusey' s request that he would vote for the Hebdomadal Board' s petition to the Queen, he replied that

 'Past experience leads me to have great distrust of the Hebdomadal Board, and that has been increased by their conduct in this present crisis. I find it difficult to believe them to be sincerely ready to make their power less, or less exclusive, which yet I think essential to good government in the University.'

After some criticisms on the Hebdomadal proposal, he adds:--

 'I am much concerned that you feel so sad about Oxford prospects--no one ought to be a better judge than yourself, who have been an observer and a partaker in Oxford affairs so many years. Yet I will still hope that your fears may prove unfounded. At such a moment it is to be expected that there will be excitement among the young, and able, and active--that there may be mixed up in what they do and feel, some prejudices, much ambition, personal hopes, and even personal dislikes. This is the common necessity of such times--but surely there is much of goodwill and honest purpose, too, stirring active people.'

On March 17, 1854, when the shadow of the Crimean war had already fallen upon the country, the Government of Lord Aberdeen produced its Bill for the Reform of the University of Oxford. Measured by the other reforms which have since been carried, the Bill was certainly moderate in its provisions. Besides creating a new Hebdomadal Council, and, at least in its main features, the body to which it applied the ancient name of Congregation, the Bill provided that any qualified Master of Arts might open a private Hall, that one half the fellowships in the University should be absolutely open, and that the obligation to take Holy Orders should be relaxed to the extent of one quarter of the fellowships in any College.

Pusey disliked the whole Bill: but he particularly ob–jected to the proposals for dealing with fellowships, and for licensing private Halls. The former threatened the religious faith. the latter, as he thought, the discipline of the University. If experience has not ratified his fears about the Halls, it has more than confirmed his apprehensions about the fellowships.

Before the Bill was introduced into the House, Pusey had a long correspondence with Mr. Gladstone, who as Chancellor of the Exchequer had a large share of direct responsibility for the Bill, while as Burgess for the University he owed some account of it to his constituents, and especially to those who, like Pusey, had not a little promoted his election. Pusey had learnt what the provisions of the Bill would be from a published correspondence between the Government and the Hebdomadal Board. He had sent Mr. Gladstone his evidence before the Delegacy: and, as the Bill took shape, its main provisions were successively discussed between them in friendly terms, which, however, did not conceal an increasing divergence of opinion. Pusey wished Mr. Gladstone to induce the Government to abandon the proposal for private Halls; but Mr. Gladstone pointed out that this provision had been deliberately adopted with a view to University Extension, and in the interests of economy among students. It was, in short, a vital feature of the Government scheme, and it need not, he thought, be attended by such consequences as Pusey feared, the admis–sion of Dissenters or a relaxation of moral discipline. Pusey was not satisfied; it was his manner to express himself more strongly as a correspondence grew, and to one such letter, on the whole drift of the Bill, Mr. Gladstone replied in general terms, urging that his own experience had led him to find  'a tendency to over-much apprehension with respect to changes, and over-little confidence in the good sense and self-command of our contemporaries and our children coming on after them in succession, to work these changes.' 

In another letter Mr. Gladstone made a strenuous effort to allay Pusey' s apprehensions by a general statement of the recommendations of the Bill as they presented them–selves to his own mind.

As to the character of the particular interference contem–plated he contended that the Government had not sought in one single point to attract influence to the Crown nor strengthened the Professoriate by securing to it a fictitious majority. He calls the measure an  'emancipating Bill.'

 'It emancipates the endowments of the University from restraints which have made, I should say, three-fourths of them ineffective; and it emancipates the depressed classes of the University from a state of artificial and unnatural subordination, which, after too long continu–ance, had at length brought about its certain but most unhappy consummation in a thorough divorce of power from influence.'

While immensely adding (as was believed) to the strength of Oxford from within by a new organization, nothing had been done to diminish the freedom of its action outwards. He believed that Oxford would exercise a far greater sway than heretofore over the mind of England. And he concludes by stating that he saw in the displeasure which this Bill excited  'that old disposition to rely on legal exclusiveness which has long been so unhappily characteristic of the Church of England, which has involved her in all her fearful difficulties, and has brought her, I sadly fear, near the day--may it yet be averted--when she shall find that she has bartered freedom for gold and gold for nothing.'

There is of course much truth in what Mr. Gladstone says, in the contention that the measure would emancipate the University from the misgovernment from which Church and University alike had suffered: but with that persistent optimism which has on other occasions disturbed his judgment, he miscalculated the real character of the forces within the University which would be brought into promi–nent activity by the proposed change.

When the discussion of the Bill had once opened in Parliament, Pusey could do little to influence the result; although his evidence was constantly referred to in the debates, and especially by Lord John Russell, who made use of Pusey' s learning, and disparaged his  'logic.'  As the Bill made its slow way through the House of Commons, it underwent important modifications: and the tone of the writers in the Guardian who had hailed its appearance with alacrity became correspondingly depressed. Of these modifications, by far the most important was that by which, on a motion of Mr. Heywood, all religious tests were abolished, first at matriculation, and afterwards at the degree of Bachelor of Arts, Law, Medicine, or Music. The effect of this was to admit not only Nonconformists but also non-Christians to everything short of the degree which carried with it a vote in Convocation, in other words, a share in the governing body of the University. It was practically certain, from the first, that the position thus gained would be used as a reason for demanding further concessions; and that the revolution which has ended in the secularization of Oxford had indeed begun.

Mr. Gladstone had stated to Pusey that, as he appre–hended,  'the Government would resist any attempt to force the admission of Dissenters on the University through the medium of the present Bill.'  At the date of this letter the point had not been discussed in the Cabinet. When, on June 22, Mr. Heywood moved his first amendment, Lord John Russell and Mr. Gladstone both voted against it; they both supported his second amendment on June 26. Lord John Russell had, of course, all along approved of such a measure, and had only doubted whether the time had come for its adoption. Mr. Gladstone had persuaded himself that it would not be attended with any damage to the religious interests of the Church. Pusey had, some time before, anticipated the possibility of this vital change in the character of the Oxford Reform Bill: he was aware that some resident members of the University were bent on it, and that it might at any time be sprung upon Parliament by such a motion as Mr. Heywood' s. When the motion was made, his  'impracticable'  allies, the Heads of Houses, could not combine to offer effective resistance. A proposal for a petition to the House of Lords against Mr. Heywood' s clause was made to the Hebdomadal Board; and the result–ing situation is described in the subjoined letter.


[Undated, but about end of June, 1854.]

The Heads have rejected a moderate petition framed on the basis of those in 1834, and have decided to have a petition praying for the exclusion of Dissenters from offices of teaching and government. Dr. Jeune has drawn up this in such a way, that while the University would begin by petitioning for maintaining the connexion of the University with the Church of England, its prayer is that Dissenters, &c., i. e. persons of any or no faith, should be excluded from places of teaching and government only.

So, then, if we were to support the petition, we should be asking for the admission of persons of any or no faith to be educated here and to [receive] degrees, provided they were not admitted to places of teaching and government; if we vote against it, we should formally be asking for their admission to everything.

This petition is to come before the Hebdomadal Board at 2 to-day. The Vice-Chancellor will resist it, but with what effect, God knows.

If it is carried, I shall print a letter to the Vice-Chancellor protesting against the unfairness of putting the question in such a way, that the great majority of Convocation can neither vote for nor against it, with–out admitting what is contrary to their convictions. I suppose that it would be better, if the Heads were to propose to us a petition, praying for the abolition of all tests and subscriptions and oaths, except the oath of allegiance, except upon offices of teaching or government. This would put the question upon a fair issue; and by defeating this, we should come to the same result.

The petition is withal meagre in the extreme.

This is the old line of the Heads, persecuting to Tractarianism, cringing to Parliament or those in power.

I am told that the majority of residents would vote against the admission of Dissenters.

I shall stay here till to-morrow, perhaps altogether, if there is a battle to be fought, or rather any last struggle.

If I can get the rejected petition in time, I will enclose it. If I have leave, I would print it, and send it to distant members-of Convocation to get signed.

I have no answer from the Vice-Chancellor, so I can send nothing. Every one seems to be for giving up something; some more, some less  'Quantum mutatus ab illo'  of 1834. The new generation seems wholly different from the old.

The House of Lords obeyed the House of Commons, and passed the Bill with Mr. Heywood' s clauses. Lord Derby, as Chancellor of the University, led the opposition, but in a very half-hearted mood. No Bishop opposed; while the Bishop of Oxford supported the measure. Many Conserva–tives were not unwilling to show how liberal they could be at the expense of the Church.

When all was over in the House of Lords, Pusey poured out his soul in a letter full of pain and disappointment to Mr. Gladstone. Mr. Gladstone' s reply, however unsatis–fying on the question at issue, commanded Pusey' s ad–miration by its frankness and the evident conviction which it implied that the writer had not been consciously acting against the true interests of Religion and the Church.

 'You will understand, I am sure,'  says Mr. Gladstone,  'why I do not weary you with acknowledgments for your extreme kindness and tenderness towards me personally: it is because such acknowledgments are better dispensed with when they must seem to the person receiving them to create a contrast between acts and professions.'

Keble was in hearty sympathy with Pusey. He put out a small but very effective pamphlet, in which he pleads that if Dissenters were to be admitted to be educated at the University, there was no reason for their being received into the Colleges. In order to escape from the evils which, in his judgment, would follow on their admission, Keble pro–posed the foundation of affiliated Halls at a distance from Oxford, whose members might be sent up to Oxford periodi–cally for examination.

 'No doubt,'  he adds,  'this course would be academically imperfect. There might be less chance of a thriving and brilliant career. But, in cases not a few, the comparative security from proselytism, and infectious scornfulness, and a chance of growing up altogether under the shadow of the Church, would be accounted as a full compensation for all this and more' .

Should the threatened measure become law, through the assent of the House of Lords, Keble predicts the loss--too surely since accomplished--of the old spirit which had made Oxford so dear to himself and others of his own and the next generation.

 'Neither in nor out of Oxford, when once this change has taken place, will the old Oxford feeling be possible: that indescribable mixture of something like innocent family pride, something like religious rever–ence, and something like a youth' s playful fondness for an indulgent mother, mixed too often with just regrets (sometimes, one may hope, not unprofitable) for opportunities thrown away; all that will be gone--it will not be possible--then Oxford shall no longer be able to say, as hitherto, Dominus Illuminatio Mea. If any Oxonians be true believers then, it will not be because of, but in spite of, their Alma Mater.'

The Bill of 1854 raised the whole question of the sacred–ness of the intentions of Founders. Mr. J. D., afterwards Lord Coleridge, had told Keble that  'he did not care for Founders and Benefactors' , and this sample of rising opinion probably led Keble to express himself as fol–lows:--ders and Benefactors' the los~

 'I am almost afraid to say anything of the intention of Founders; it seems to have become so very distasteful a topic, that any argument raised upon it, one fears, may rather damage than help a good cause. But, so far as it is at all worth considering, undoubtedly it tells against doing away with all religious tests on admission to Collegiate endow–ments. After all deductions made for the difference between the two Churches, no man of candour or common sense can doubt that William of Wykeham and Archbishop Chichele (to say nothing of the earlier and more liberal class of Founders, nor of those who were actual Protestants), would rather have their alumni Churchmen after the fashion of the Prayer-book, than a mixed multitude of any or no religion, without common prayers, or definite instruction' .

Pusey had not been prepared to accept unreservedly the old doctrine about the immutability of Founders'  wills. Founders had given what they gave to the Church: and the Church might change the form of their bequest, though the State could not.


Dec. 22, 1853.

I have been asked to give evidence on the College question to the Tutors'  Association, as also to impress Gladstone (if I could) with the sacredness of Founders'  wills. I see that you have a decided opinion. I myself am in this difficulty. I suppose that the Church ought to have a power of regulating everything entrusted to her, and that all which Founders bequeath to the glory of God is, in fact, committed to the Church. I suppose that it is in this way that we justify the great changes at the Reformation. But then, the wrong thing would be, not that they propose to do away the restrictions to certain localities (if it is disadvantageous), but that the State, not the Church, is going to do it.

I suppose that we may ask the question,  'Would the Founders, if they could meet together and consult now, put these restrictions upon their bequests?'  Would they, or would they not, think that they worked well? I suppose that they do not work so well mostly, as those which are open.

If we think honestly, that the Founders would, if they were alive now, make some changes, we, I suppose, may make them. And we may, I suppose, estimate what they would think by what good men would judge now, or by what the Church would judge. Thus, it may be, that individual Founders would be Roman Catholics still. But we have no scruples about retaining their foundations, because the Church has regulated this. And so, I suppose, it could do as to lesser things.

I do not wish you to dictate a long letter as to this. But I should like to know your mind, because I cannot see, as yet, that there is not a power somewhere of regulating or modifying Founders'  wills, so that you keep the general principle, as in this case the glory of God, by training those qualified to serve Him…

Pusey however was far from being prepared for the wholesale neglect of Founders'  intentions on which the legislation of modern Oxford has been based.


Project Canterbury