Project Canterbury

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

London: Longmans, 1894
volume four

Transcribed by The Revd R D Hacking
AD 2002




DURING the Long Vacation of 1878, Pusey was engaged in preparing two sermons, the last that he ever wrote for the University pulpit. They were both apologetic in their character, and were calculated to guide his hearers amidst the difficulties of the day. The former was on the sup–posed conflict between the truths of Revelation and the facts of Physical Science, and was published under the title  'Unscience, not Science, adverse to Faith.'  The latter was in reply to several recent publications which had most unduly minimized, if not entirely overlook, the definite predictions of the Old Testament. He called this sermon  'Prophecy of Jesus--the certain prediction of the [to man] impossible.'

On the former sermon especially he spent great pains, because it dealt with a subject which in its details was to a great extent new to him. His true delight in the beauties of Nature, and his deep reverence for God as Creator of the world, gave him always a lively interest in Science.  'It teaches us,'  he used to say,  'with a minuteness of which we had no idea, the minute wisdom of our God. What a varied preacher Nature is! One great delight of the  " Christian Year"used to be to me, that dear J. K. so listened to Nature and interpreted it to us.'  From this point of view he had from the first steadily encouraged the legitimate study of Science in Oxford. Sir Henry Acland, who, as Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford for nearly forty years, took an important part in the promotion of the study of all departments of Physical Science, vividly recalls the following recollections of Pusey' s attitude towards his own great work:--

 'In 1845 I was offered by the Dean the Lee' s Readership of Anatomy at Christ Church; and before entering on my duties, I called on Dr. Pusey, to whom I had been introduced by my brother ten years before, and asked his leave to put to him two questions.

 '1.  " Am I right in believing that you, Mr. Newman, Mr. Keble, and your friends disapprove of Physical Science as a branch of education in Oxford?”

 'He said,  " Yes, we do; and you would not hold up... as persons whom you would wish young men to imitate in many ways.”

 'I then put to him my second question.

 '2.  " Am I to understand that you, who with the Dean and Chapter have appointed me a teacher in a great department of Science, will consider me a mischievous and dangerous member of society, when I endeavour to do my duty in my office?”

 'Dr. Pusey, who, whatever may be considered his faults by those who did not know him, was a strong, true man, and endowed with a sense of humour, threw himself back in his chair and laughed aloud. He then sat upright, and earnestly said:  " The desire to acquire such knowledge, and the power to obtain it, are alike the gift of God, and to be used as such. As long as you discharge your duties in the manner which this implies, count on my support in whatever you do."He always attended the meetings of the Chapter in the Museum, and paid great attention to the Reports on the progress of the Biological Collection, which was being made with the help of Victor Carus, Beale, and others. He also at one time lent me his stables for a whole long vacation, to carry on part of my work for which I had not room in Lee' s Building.

 'When the British Association was about to meet at Oxford in 1847, he wrote to me as local Secretary to say that he should not be in Oxford then, but that he placed his house in Christ Church at my disposal for any members I should place there, being strangers, adding all necessary details as to the numbers and the accommodation and the entertainment which the servants could provide. Van der Hoeven, Joseph Henry Green, and five others were there for a week.

 'In the year 1855 the final vote for £30,000 for the con–struction of the Museum would have been lost without the votes of Dr. Pusey, Charles Marriott, and their friends. I might add that Charles Marriott, Church (afterwards Dean of St. Paul' s), and Mr. Wilson (afterwards Professor of Moral Philosophy), were serious students at Christ Church in advanced practical Physiological Histology some years before.'

But although Pusey was interested in Science and ready to assist its study, he had naturally not been able to keep up with the later discoveries of Science; in the midst of his theological and controversial work he would from time to time read a work which had occasioned special difficulties to some one who sought his advice, but his time was so fully occupied that he had made it a rule never to read anything that was not directly on the lines of the work which immediately lay before him. Still the difficul–ties that Darwinism raised were keenly felt by a very large number of people. It had already led many away, in England as in Germany, into unbelief; and Pusey was frequently asked to show its due relation to Revealed Truth. To him, a pulpit seemed hardly the place for such a discussion' ; it was, however, the only opportunity of a hearing that offered itself, and the battle with un–belief was the work of his life.

When he reached Ascot in July, 1878, his health seemed for the time quite restored.  'Altogether I am very bonny,'  he writes.  'Acland thinks that I may very well preach one sermon early in November. Whether I preach the second depends, I suppose, on how I get through the first.'

 'He carefully read several eminent authors on the side of Evolution. The notes at the foot of the pages of his sermon refer to a large number of works, but they represent only a portion of his studies during that summer. His desire was to discover exactly and estimate aright what was being taught under the name of Physical Science, and to suggest the terms of a lasting peace between Theology and Science by showing the lawful frontier between them. He had always abstained from confusing the two studies. At the Norwich Church Congress in 1865 he had pointed out the lines for the right interpretation of the Bible with reference to Geology. Now he wished to do a similar work in connexion with the later discoveries; he was convinced that scientific men made as many mistakes as theologians about the relation of Theology to Science. In his sermon he warily keeps off all scientific detail, and confines himself to theology, standing simply on the defensive. He says that he meant it to be  'an Eirenicon. Theology does not interfere with Science as it reads the book of God' s works: let not Science interfere with the book of God' s Word.'

Two days before the sermon was to be preached,. Dr. Acland forbade him to deliver more than half of it. He therefore thought it best to ask Liddon to take his place.


Nov. 1, 1878.

Acland is decided that I must not even attempt to preach the whole sermon. He proposes only half. The sermon is a dissertation rather than a sermon, which I should not have thought of deliverin from the pulpit, but for the hope of arresting the minds of some of the young ones. Else I have no interest in it, except in the peroration. But breaking off deliberately in the midst is like making a scene, or making too much of myself... or clinging to preaching when beyond my strength. Apart however from any reasons, I should be much more comfortable if you would deliver the whole.

On the morning of November 3, to the astonishment of the crowded congregation at St. Mary' s Church which had assembled to hear Pusey, Liddon was seen entering the pulpit instead of Pusey, carrying the bulky manuscript of Pusey' s sermon. It was a strange, perhaps a unique, scene. A sermon, written by one of the greatest preachers of one generation, equalling, at least in range, intellectual force, and moral power, any sermon that he had ever prepared, was being read for him by the greatest preacher of the next. Elisha was wearing Elijah' s mantle, yet the master was still with him, though Israel would never again see his face. He begins by asking the question why, in the present day, in sad contrast with the past, the study of Physical Science is so often adverse to continued belief in God and in His Revealed Truth. The sphere of Science is material fact, the sphere of Theology spiritual fact. Why should they be in conflict? True genuine Theology has no preconceived opinions in the province of Science: it has room for all the facts, and even for the most romantic imaginations of Science, if those imaginations are confined to its own region. The danger to faith has arisen first from the study of the phenomena of matter to the rigid exclusion of the phenomena of the spiritual world, and in a forgetfulness of the Existence of God, more contemptuous than positive denial; and, secondly, from the intrusive attempt on the part of material Science to explain from beneath spiritual facts about the soul' s existence, about religion and about morals. Theories of the evolution of the world and of animal forms may or may not be true.  'Theology does not hold them excluded by Holy Scripture, so that they spare the soul of man.'  The powers of the human soul, especially its power to know God and be in communion with Him, and above all its powers as shown in the Mind and Life of Jesus Christ, His attractive beauty, His wondrous reign, and His continued daily miracles, attest its true origin.

A bare analysis of this remarkable sermon can give no idea of its solid strength, or of its impressive insight into the great questions at issue. The great age of the writer and the veneration with which his words were listened to made them all the more effective. At the moment it opened up fresh lines of thought, and pointed to the right solutions of painful difficulties which some had regarded as inexplic–able. But beyond that, it is no exaggeration to say that it is a permanent and most valuable contribution to the right understanding of the relations between Religion and Science. When published, it was dedicated  'with truest affection'  to Dr. Acland, the Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford,  'who devoted the prime of life to the revival of the study of the book of God' s works in Oxford., and through whose kind care and skill God restored to the author the, strength to write it.'

The publication of the sermon entailed much correspon–dence. His statement of the position between Theology and Physical Science was to many of his readers entirely new; the line of demarcation had been sadly blurred by ignorant attacks on Revealed Religion, and equally ignorant attempts to defend it. Several well-known men of Science, some of whom could by no means be reckoned on the side of Christianity, thanked Pusey heartily for it.  'We have no right,'  one says, speaking as a scientific teacher,  'to complain of dogmatism, for the scientific men of the day surpass the theologians in this. Haeckel indeed speaks like the Pope. The earlier part of your sermon pleased me most, as an important step towards peace, which every one wishes for provided it may be obtained without the sacrifice of truth.'  Another welcomed the sermon as  'an Eirenicon, as the preliminaries of peace between genuine science and genuine theology.'

In writing to Dr. Rolleston, the well-known Professor of Physiology in Oxford, who had complained of one ex–pression in the Sermon which, he said, had caused him pain, Pusey says:--


Easter Tuesday, 1879.

I had no idea that anything in it could have pained any one. I went to the utmost verge, to which I lawfully (as I thought) could, to make out limits of Theology and Physical Science, so that no physical philosopher could think that Theology invaded his territory while I remonstrated with him, if he invaded that of Theology.

I have now looked at the passage in my sermon which you referred to as giving you pain. I hesitated about it, in that one could scarce bear to put into an assailant' s mouth such an hypothesis. I consulted Liddon about it. He thought I might venture to say it, because, on their hypothesis, it would be true. So I wrote it, to scare others from blasphemy.

But I do not see what could pain you, except the terribleness of the words. You do not believe that our souls and minds are from the  'pithecoids.'  I thought and hoped that the terribleness of the ex–pression, or rather of the fact implied, might open the eyes of some and scare back others.

The theory of Evolution seems to me one of the threatening clouds of the day. I fear that it will wreck the faith of many. It is very fascinating to a certain class of minds, and seems already to be a sort of gospel. A young man wrote to me on occasion of that sermon, that he believed in Evolution and in Genesis also, and supposed that they could be reconciled somehow; although he did not see how. I fear that, with most, Genesis would have to give way.

Darwin' s  'Descent of Man'  was very distressing to me. Hitherto, Darwin had, in all his illustrations, kept himself to scientific facts, the variations or, if so be, fresh species of animals or plants of the same kind. In the  'Descent of Man,'  he claims to have done good service in  'aiding to overthrow the doctrine of separate creations'  (p. 61). He accepts (as you know) in principle all Haeckel' s genealogy of our ancestors,  'still more simply organs than the lancelet or amphioxus'  (p. 609).

To me, it would seem to stultify the whole of the Darwinian theory, to suppose a mere natural development up to man, including man' s body, and then to suppose that this descendant from its ape-ancestors was, at once, endowed by God with all those magnificent gifts with which the Bible says He endowed us.

I can only hope that, in days which I shall not see, God may raise up some naturalists who may, in His hands, destroy the belief in our apedom.

I do not myself see the slightest difference between Darwin and Haeckel, except that Darwin assumes a First Cause, who, all those aeons ago, infused the breath of life into some primaeval forms, and has remained inactive (if, indeed, He is supposed to be a Personal Being) ever since.

I am thankful for any admission which may be a pou sto for something better, and so would not depreciate the belief in a First Cause, even if any one acknowledged nothing else. I can hardly understand a  'First Cause'  being the object of love or adoration, or hope or trust.

Pusey was not even allowed to read the second sermon on the following Sunday; it was  'delivered by a young friend of the writer, the Rev. F. Paget,'  now Dean of Christ Church. It was a protest against the current depreciation of the predictive element of the Old Testament. He pointed out that the astonishing events which the prophets distinctly foretold should take place, such as the Birth, Life, Death, Atonement, Resurrection, Ascension of the Messiah, His world-wide kingdom, and His work in winning souls--events which  'human wisdom could not foresee and human power could not accomplish' --are now matters of history.  'I wished to put before you, that the impossible, i.e. to man, is the actual and the real. One Event, one Form, is the centre of the Universe.'

Shortly afterwards Liddon was using some of the argu–ments of this sermon in writing to a clergyman who had ventured to suggest that the use of the Old Testament in the first two chapters of St. Matthew was somewhat arbi–trary. Pusey sent him the following interesting note on St. Matthew' s use of the earlier Scriptures.


Christ Church, Jan. 20, 1879.

I wonder whether if St. Matthew could come again to this earth your correspondent would begin to teach him, or to ask him what he meant. It is sorrowful, for those small beginnings so spread. It struck me many years ago that these quotations were made to teach us how to understand the Old Testament, not as proofs; to show his readers the deeper harmony of the Old and New Testaments. Epeunate tar gpaphas our Lord says, but Epeunate is not a superficial glance at the surface. The text, upon which this struck me, was St. Matthew' s quotation of Isa. liii. 4 of our Lord' s healing diseases. Rationalism objects,  'The writers of the New Testament do not quote Isaiah liii. of our Lord' s vicarious suffering.'  Perhaps one explanation may be that they did not quote what we should be sure to understand for ourselves. Alas! it is not so far off to extend it to Him Who taught St. Matthew? For if St. Matthew were wrong either he was a bad learner or--

Do you know Claudius'  lines ?-- Es kam mir em Gedank von Ohngefahr,

So spräch'  ich, wenn ich Christus war' ,

which I roughly translated--

There came to me a random thought,

Had I been Christ, so had I taught!

I suppose that there is no alternative but that either we must be taught of God, or His creatures must teach Him.

You could make a sermon on  'The two teachings.' 

He had been busy also at another piece of work during the Long Vacation of 1878. In 1851 he had preached a valuable sermon on the Rule of Faith. The Gorham Judgment had at that time shaken so many in their allegiance to the English Church, that he thought it good to state clearly, for the younger members of the University, the principles recognized by the English Church as the groundwork and rule of faith. This sermon had been for some time out of print. In re-issuing it in 1878, he wrote a long preface to show how entirely the Vatican Council had changed the whole Roman system, inasmuch as it had substituted the Infallibility of the Pope for the consent of Antiquity. The preface would itself have been a complete answer to the appeal which Newman had wished Liddon to make to Pusey in the preceding March; but it was probably written for other reasons, especially from the fear. that in the troubles of the English Church, many, who knew not the character of the modern Church of Rome, might in their ignorance look in that direction for a Church which ruled its faith by the voice of Catholic antiquity.

At this time Pusey was constantly urging upon those who were best qualified to write an account of the Oxford Move–ment--the necessity for an accurate history of its stirring events, its chief characters, and its real aims. In a correspon–dence about Keble College in the Times during May, 1878, he had dwelt Un the influence of Keble in the Movements as being one of the, reasons why those who loved him united to perpetuate his memory. He had for several years hoped. that the history would have been written by the Rev. W. J. Copeland; but he feared that even if Copeland should ever finish his work, it would not be rightly focussed. His devotion to Newman would blind his eyes to the effect on Newman' s mind of the friendship and guidance of Keble, which made him what he was until 1839.

The publication of Dean Hook' s  'Life'  made Liddon also see that a book was needed which would put in right proportion the history of the origin of the Church Revival.

REV. H. P. LIDDON, D.D., TO E. B. P.

Jan. 9, 1879.

Have you seen Dr. Hook' s  'Life' ? I have been reading parts of it, and think it likely to attract a great deal of attention. One loves him for his courage and affectionateness: his work at Leeds was very noble.. . . The perusal of this book has made me greatly wish that I could resign my Professorship and set to writing a life of you. Pray forgive me. But I foresee great troubles, hereafter, in the questions which will be raised, and which it will be hard or impossible to answer after you are gone. This notion of Mr. Christopher that you challenged the Church Association out of what you knew to be an unassailable fortress is a specimen. If the interests at stake were only personal I should think less about it. But in reality the whole past, and, humanly speaking, the future of the Oxford Movement, turns upon it.

Pusey would not hear of such a proposal; he never thought that Liddon would do what he said.


Jan. 10, 1879.

You frighten me by what you say about the life of one who only wishes to sink into his own nothingness. Mr. Christopher has scared you unduly. What signifies it if the Church Association and its advisers thought me in  'an impregnable castle' ? In one sense I am, because I hold the truth by God' s mercy, and no weapon that is named against it shall prosper. But the idea that I could not be prosecuted, if I had unhappily taught false doctrine, is too absurd. As for me, people have made too much of me, so that a little moderate abuse is a relief to me. It adjusts the balance a little.

It will all come right. As for me, if you thought of anything of the rind, I should cut and run and hide myself in some cave.

Liddon, however, fully intended what he said: the past must be rightly recorded.  'Its value,'  he maintained,  'is not merely or chiefly personal or biographical. It will govern he future; and if we do not give our version of it, others.. will, I fear, give, theirs.'  Pusey, in reply, promised to assist him to collect materials for a history of the Oxford Movement. ,  'But the central figure,'  he said,  'should be J. K. . . . I should be glad to see it brought out, for J. K. was a mainspring. He published the  " Christian Year,"while Newman was just emerging from Evangelicalism and I was busy with Arabic, in hope of counter-working, with God' s help, German rationalism on the Old Testament. The quod ubique seemed to me the strong bulwark of faith; when hearts had failed, I fell back on my Hebrew criticism.'

It was but a short time after this that an announcement appeared in the Times of February i8, 1879, that Pope Leo XIII had intimated his desire to make Newman a Cardinal, but that he had excused himself from accepting the purple. The  'Life of Cardinal Manning'  has lately made known part of the story of this extraordinary announce–ment. The truth was that this honour had been offered to Newman through his ecclesiastical superiors, Bishop Ullathorne and Cardinal Manning, and had been accepted on February 5. Ten days later Cardinal Manning started for Rome bearing Newman' s answer, having in some strange manner persuaded himself that Newman had de–clined it. Three days after his departure, he allowed the, supposed refusal to be published in the Times. It was of course at once accepted as a statement of the facts. Pusey did not write for some days; he waited to see whether the offer would be pressed in a form that would oblige Newman to accept it. But as no other announcement appeared, Pusey wrote ten days later, sending a copy of his last Sermon on Prophecy


Christ Church, Oxford, March 1, 1879.

I was silent while every one was speaking of the token of confidence shown to you where you would most value it. I am glad both of it and of your declining the outward expression of it. But I did not like to say anything for fear it should be pressed upon you, so that you would not think it right to decline it. But I thought in my inward heart that your place would be higher in heaven for declining all on earth. So I was glad.

As for your popularity with the Liberal papers, the words came into my mind,  'Your fathers killed the prophets, and ye build their sepul–chres,'  and I thought,  'O that there [had] been a little of this feeling thirty-four years ago!'

Newman had good reason to be annoyed at what had happened, and his reply to Pusey gives full expression to his feelings. He pointed out how unnatural and ungrateful his conduct would have been had he refused an offer so full of generosity and confidence, which wiped away for ever the stigma of thirty years'  suspicion and misrepresentation. Pusey could only explain that he would not have written as he did had he not supposed himself to be falling in with Newman' s own deliberate choice as expressed in the paragraph in the Times.  'I supposed you had a hidden reason for it, and thought that it was the sequel of   " I have been honoured and obeyed”.'

This correspondence gave rise to the report that Pusey had written to Newman most earnestly begging. him to refuse the offer of a Cardinal' s hat; this misstatement he contradicted in a letter to Father Belaney, dated May 20 1879, which was afterwards published in the Weekly Register.

During the later years of Pusey' s life, there was hardly any work in which he was more deeply interested than in the affairs of the Convalescent Hospital at Ascot, to which allusion has been already made. This Hospital was a branch of the work of the Devonport Sisterhood: it was established by Miss Sellon as a private Hospital for convalescents from London, and had done much good work. The Sisters who were at work in the back streets of the East End had no difficulty in finding many who sorely needed the fresh air and good food which could be had at Ascot. After Miss Sellon' s death at the end of 1876, Pusey took the affairs of the hospital to a great extent into his own hands. Many anxieties crippled the institution: Pusey threw himself into every, even the smallest, detail as if he had no other work to do. He used to spend the Long Vacation in a small house near the Hospital called  'the Hermitage.'  A visitor describes his life there in the summer of 1877:--

 'I went to stay at Ascot in July, but he was still quite an invalid, and he used to sit on the heath for a long time most days, never tired of talking of his hopes and plans for Ascot. He seemed very happy that summer. . . . He was scarcely indoors from morning to night; he used to bring his writing out. He was pleased at many taking an interest in Ascot, and looked forward to a grand future for it.

 'He spent a great deal in planting trees on each side of the drive up to the Priory door, because he said he thought they would make the place more attractive to Novices. Else he had the greatest dislike to anything being touched which possessed for him associations with the past. He used to tell me of the pain it was to him when his brother made what were thought improvements at Pusey, and of how he used to get up at night and look out of the window because the horizon looked the same as when he was a boy and the darkness hid the changes. One day I asked him if some Deodaras in a clump at Ascot were not crowding each other, and he said  " No,"that he had planted them so on purpose, one in the middle and three or four round it, because it had been done at Pusey, and the whole had grown into what looked like one huge tree.'

He was most anxious to put this work on a sound financial basis.  'It is a pity,'  he says,  'that this beautiful air should be wasted.'  A large annual subscription had been withdrawn, and a heavy mortgage had to be paid off. He exerted himself to obtain assistance to meet this need, and was most deeply touched by the affectionate act of some personal friends who collected £2,000 for the Hospital and presented it to him as a  'memorial of love.'  He himself sought also to enlist sympathy with the work on all sides: influential names were obtained to form a com–mittee, including the Earls of Devon, Carnarvon, and Glasgow, Sir William Gull, Dr. Acland, and Dr. Sutton; Dr. Mackarness also, the Bishop of Oxford, after some hesitation and a personal visit of inspection, heartily con–sented to be Visitor. The greatest happiness of all was when Mr. Wood undertook to ask the Princess of Wales to be a Patroness, and she graciously consented. The following letter of thanks to him gives some details of the life there:--


South Hermitage, Ascot Priory, Bracknell, Aug. 1, 1879.

It is indeed a bright dawn, after the struggles in which you have, under God, been our helper. It has been an anxious time, in which a Hospital, which had so long been a Private Hospital (except in great emergencies, like that visitation of the smallpox), which had sought no friends except among the poor, the maxim of whose foundress was  'Don' t boast,'  had all at once to make its way, amid the thousand claims which are now crying for help.

What it wanted especially was some names, in which those who had means might have confidence. Other Societies have their long lists of Patrons and Patronesses. They have their connexion amid the rich and the great. This convalescent hospital is away from all in this wonderful air of heath and pine, but doing its quiet work unobserved and unnoticed, save by Him for Whom it is done.

Its range of relief is of necessity small, for it has but forty beds as yet, though with large capacities, yet what is done is, by God' s blessing upon the wonderful air and the care, done solidly...

It is a bright place to live and work in, everybody looks happy. From my own  'Hermitage'  I can see them walking in twos or threes. The young women become friends after being here a little while. There must be so much thanksgiving to God and increased love of Him; and though Religion is not forced on them, they are glad to hear about God.

But the characteristic of the hospital, as I said before, is that  'the Sisters of Charity'  working in the East of London can find those whom none else can find; sometimes they hear from a parish doctor that  'the only hope of recovery is going for a few weeks into the country' ; sometimes the eyes of a Sister, quickened by long practice, sees the necessity, and can anticipate the coming illness.

It would gladden Her Royal Highness' s heart if she could see as I do, while recruiting here, the joyous happiness here, and that in contrast with the dose unhealthy air in which they pass their days in London. But one must observe them when one' s self is unobserved to see the ever-varying brightness, ever forming new combinations, like the toy of my boyhood, a kaleidoscope, or like the ever-varying hues of a summer evening.

God bless you and yours ;--and Her Royal Highness, whom I hope to remember the more, where we all remember her and hers.


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