ROMAN CATHOLIC CASUISTRY AND PROTESTANT PREJUDICE.
THE personal controversy between Mr. Kingsley and Dr. Newman threatens to be a bitter one. We have already ex- pressed our opinion that the aggressor in it made an unwarrant- able attack, and, failing to support it, did not make an adequate or candid apology, and there is nothing in the reply which Mr. Kingsley has just made to Dr. Newman which does not in every way confirm that conviction. He assumes the position of having offered the most generous terms of peace to an opponent anxious to compromise an unequal struggle, arkif he had not made a perfectly unprovoked attack on Dr. Newman, and then tendered only a half-apology. It would be unprofitable, however, to return to the subject—though these personal encounters between eminent and, in many respects, typical men, have a natural fascination for most of us,—did not its present phase illustrate in a very remark- Able way the contrast between the two opposite sorts of uncandid- ness into which the Roman Catholic communion and our own are in especial danger of foiling. This reply of Mr. Kingsley's is occupied in scattering far and wide aspersions on the craft and subtlety of the Roman Catholic communion in general, and Dr. Newman in particular. No one who knows anything of the Roman Catholic casuistry will hesitate to affirm, with Mr. Kingsley, its! general tendency towards an artificial and diplomatic regulation of human conduct and expression. Nor is it possible to overlook Dr. Newman's disposition while drifting slowly but surely to Rome, with vigilant outlook on all the various character- istics of the faith he was approaching, to palliate much that seems to us to deserve only bitter and unqualified censure,—or rather, perhaps, to palliate it relatively to what he regarded as the faults and evils of that Protestantism which he was abandoning. This we say is, from our point of view, undeniable ; and if Mr. Kingsley had said no more, no one would have blamed him, least of all, apparently, Dr. Newman himself. But Mr. Kingsley has curiously illustrated what we may fairly call the Protestant species of uncandidness, while so severely, and we think justly, condemn- ing the Roman Catholic casuistry. Indeed he has evidently forgotten the injunction about the mote and the beam. He is sadly anxious about Dr. Newman's sophistries, when he might fairly be much more so about his own disposition to wrap himself so close in his own cloud of characteristic prejudice. Let us explain briefly what we mean, and illustrate it from the present controversy.
The Roman Catholic artificiality and diplomacy of character seem to us to be based almost entirely on an over-regulation of human conduct and motive through the agency of the confessional, —on a theory of human character which quite overtasks the will, and imposes an utterly unnatural and insupportable yoke in enjoining the most subtle spiritual discriminations between the different shades of desire, and purpose, and expediency in human action as determining its innocence or guilt. Where the Roman Catholic genius, so to say, is uncandid, its uncandidness arises in over-systematization ; it loses that Spirit of God which " bloweth where it listeth " in that too nice graduation of meanings, that too close adaptation of words to specific pur- poses and previously computed ends, which makes the use of language almost a fine art reduced to principle and perspective, instead of the spontaneous medium of newly-awakening thought and fresh or generous impulse. The tendency to uncandidness, then, of the Roman Catholic genius results from its over-guardedness and over-calculation when addressing a world not on the stretch to catch nice distinctions,—and which would be a much more evil world than it is if it were on the stretch to catch every nice dis- tinction; in other words, that Church has studied her game so carefully that she violates that implied understanding by which in ordinary intercourse men look rather to general emphasis, drift, and effect, than to rigid definitions and refined distinctions. She overreaches us by preparing herself too carefully for intercourse with the unprepared. The Protestant genius is the very opposite of this, and gives rise to an exactly opposite sort of uncandidness. It boasts itself of its spontaneousness, of its rejection of this over regulation of the human spirit. And we think it has every claim to do so. If the Protestant revolution can plead any divine right at all, that right is based on a hatred of this artificial and intermediate network of system between the human spirit and God, on a direct appeal from the ingenuities and casuistries to which the sacerdotal vice-royalty gave rise, to the direct absolution or judgment of Christ. But then this pride in the spontaneousness of religious feeling, this strong assertion of the direct individual relation between ourselves and our Redeemer, issues in a tendency to a specific uncandidness of our own, which we may call the uncandidness of prejudice as distinguished from the uncandidness of artificiality. Protestantism disowns the over-regulation of motives, and feelings, and actions, and does so most wisely ; but as a natural consequence it is always in danger of piquing itself on the inconsiderateness with which it blurts out its sincere individual convictions, and on the noble obstinacy with which when their correctness is challenged it replies, " I said just what was in my mind, and my impression is un- changed,—if it does not agree with the facts, so much the worse for the facts." The Roman Catholic genius is a manoeuvring one, looking too much to the tactics of action and speech, too little to the truthfulness of the first impression produced ; the Protestant genius is a self-occupied one, caring little for the unfair results of of blurting out first impressions,—weighing justice to others at a trifling rate so long as there is no conscious insincerity in the language used. And being self-occupied, it is also like all indivi- dualistic principles, something of a self-willed one, very unwilling
to recede from a position once taken up, or to recognize an injus- tice once honestly blundered into.
Nothing can illustrate this distinction better than the present controversy. Mr. Kingsley blundered into a gross injustice without the slightest notion, probably, that he had committed any, and nothing will induce him to say that he was wrong. Re made a specific charge which he could not sustain, that "truth, for its own sake, had never been a virtue with the Roman clergy," and that
"'Father Newman informs us that it need not, and, on the whole,
oilzht not to be, that cunning is the weapon which Heaven has given to the saints wherewith to withstand the brute male force of this wicked world which marries midis given in marriage." Dr. New- than denied the assertion, and challenged him to prove it. Mr. Kings- ley expressed his regret that he had "so seriously mistaken " Dr.
Newman's meaning, but virtually declined both to withdraw the
statement that anylanguage of Dr. Newman's had been fairlyopen to
that interpretation, and to quote such language. Dr. Newman wrote with certainly bitter but perfectly fair and gentlemanly sarcasm of Mr. Kingsley's unfairness. Mr. Kingsley replies in an angry pamphlet, which we do not hesitate to say aggravates the original injustice a hundredfold. Instead of quoting language of Dr. Newman's fairly justifying his statement, he quotes everything of almost any sort, whether having reference to casuistry, or to the monastic system, or the theory of Christian evidences, that will irritate,—often rightly irritate,—English taste against the Romish system of faith, and every apology or plea of any kind put in by Dr. Newman in favour of that faith. He raises, in fact, as large a cloud of dust as he can round his opponent, appeals to every Protestant prepossession against him, reiterates that "Truth is not honoured among these men for its own sake," giving a very shrewd hint that he includes Dr. Newman as chief amongst the number, and retires without vindicating his assertion in the least, except so far as to prove that there was quite enough that he dis- liked or even abhorred in Dr. Newman's teaching to suggest such an assertion to his mind,—his latent assumption evidently being that whatever Mr. Kingsley could say in good faith it could not have been unjustifiable for him to say. Mr. Kingsley evidently holds it quite innocent and even praise- worthy to blurt out raw general impressions, however Made- -qnately supported, which are injurious and painful to other Inen, on condition only that they are his own sincere im- pressions. He has no mercy for the man who will define his thought and choose his language so subtly that the mass of his hearers may fail to perceive his distinctions, and be misled into a -dangerous error,—because he cannot endure making a fine art of speech. Yet he permits himself a perfect licence of insinuation, so long as these insinuations are suggested by the vague sort of animal scent by which he chooses to judge of other men's drift and meaning.
- For example, Dr. Newman, in the sermon on "Wisdom and Innocence," which Mr. Kingsley incriminated, had spoken of the strange gifts by which even to the inferior animals
want of sheer strength is often compensated. They have the gift of fleetness, or they have a certain make and colour, or certain habits of living, or some natural cunning, which enables them to elude or even to destroy their enemies. Brute force is countervailed by ffight, brute passion by prudence and artifice." Dr. Newman goes on to apply with the most delicate hand this -suggestion to the text "Be ye.wise as serpents and harmless an doves," and to those other comparisons which our Lord has drawn .between human and animal life, in which He tells His disciples to learn reliance from the ravens, and likens the danger of that position of his disciples which requires the wisdom of serpents -with the harmlessness of the dove to that of sheep sent forth in the midst of wolves. Dr. Newman, as his custom is, carefully guards his meaning, and the whole drift of the sermon is very plain, — not to depreciate frankness except when frankness leads to passion, but to recommend or, at least, apologize for that guardedness of manner, that habit of weighing well words before they are uttered, and appreciating nicely the effect of what we are going to say, which we Pro- testants—justly, we think,—dislike in the sacerdotalists, and think the natural road, in nine cases out of ten, to slyness and craft. Dr. Newman thinks,—and thinks on very plausible, if not, indeed, adequate grounds, — that Christ was recommending constant guardedness of speech to Christians under persecution in the passage quoted ; and he evidently holds, what we strenuously deny, that even as a permanent habit of mind it is preferable to that "out- spokenness," as we should call it, which is so frequently the excuse for pouring forth the first angry impulses of an impatient and indiguaat mind. This is the clear drift of the sermon,—in which
Dr. Newman speaks of frankness ass' "great grace' but says that in times of persecution it will become nothing but an excuse, for passion and vehemence of speech, if it is then permitted. Now what does Mr. Kingsley permit himself to insinuate of this Sermon, under the pretext of inquiring what Dr. Newman really Meant by it—which is, we think, pretty plain, and could not have been mere accurately expressed. "I know," he says,
"I know that men used to suspect Dr. Newman—I have been inclined to do so myself—of writing a whole sermon, not for the sake of the text or of the matter, but for the sake of one single passing hint—one phrase, one epithet, one little barbed arrow which, as he swept magni- ficently past on the stream of his calm eloquence, seemingly unconscious of all presences, save those unseen, he delivered unheeded, as with his finger-tip, to the very heart of an initiated hearer, never to be with- drawn again."
And then he tells us a little further on what he thought that one "passing hint" was.
"Now how was I to know that the preacher, who had the reputation of being the most acute man of his generation, and of having a specially intimate acquaintance with the weaknesses of the human heart, was utterly blind to the broad moaning and the plain practical result of a sermon like this, delivered before fanatic and hot-headed young men, who hung upon his every word ? That he did not foresee that they would think that they obeyed him, by becoming affected, artificial, sly, shifty, ready for concealments and equivocations? That he did not foresee that they, hearing his words concerning priestcraft and double-dealing, and being engaged in the study of the Medieval Church, would consider the same chicanery allowed to them which they found practised but too often by the Medieval Church ? or even go to the Romish Casuists, to discover what amount of cunning did or did not come under Dr. Newman's one passing warning against craft and deceit ?"
Now we call this a direct insinuation that Dr. Newman, in- stead of intending, which he clearly did, to draw the line
as well as he could between the unregulated mind which makes
frankness an excuse for both inconsiderateness and passion, and the ill-regulated mind which turns the power of self-restraint into deceitfulness, was intending to recommend the latter,—and we call such an insinuation exceedingly discreditable to Mr. Kingsley. No doubt Dr. Newman in his fascination for the Roman Church was drawing the line very differently from us. We think
worse of those over-voluntary artificial sins,—more lightly of the impulsive natural sins, than Roman Catholics ; and we have every
right to publish this conviction. But how this can justify a Protestant in insinuating that a man of Dr. Newman's character wished his young hearers to think "affectation," and "slyness," and " equivocations " innocent, Mr. Kingsley does not attempt to explain. We can describe Mr. Kingsley's answer only as an attempt to raise every prejudice against Dr. Newman to which the advocate of Roman Catholicism, especially of the Ultramontane Roman Catholicism, is liable.
Again he quotes Dr. Newman's views of historical evidence, which make it a matter of piety to believe much for which there is very
little, if any, historical evidence. In a yleiace to the" Lanz of the
English Saints," Dr. Newman asked whether the miracles recorded in these narratives "are to be received as matter of fact," and replied that "in this day and under our present circumstances we can only reply that there is no reason why they should not be." "He continues," says Mr. Kingsley, "there is nothing, then,
prima facia in the miraculous accounts in question to repel a pro-
perly taught or religiously disposed mind,'—only [adds Mr. Kingsley justly enough, as we think] it has the right of rejecting or accepting them according to the evidence." And he is very severe upon Dr. Newman for accepting what Dr. Newman thinks the pious tendency of St. Walburga's and St. Sturme's miracles in lieu of evidence. Yet it is not so long since he himself was very hard on the Bishop of Natal for criticizing his (Mr. Kingsley's) own belief exactly as he is criticizing Dr. Newman's, since he also
could say of Balitam's story (with especial reference, we conclude, to the speaking ass) "there is no reason against simply believing the story as it stands;" and in another place, "So the Bible says plainly, and I see no reason to doubt that it is literally true," where Dr. Colenso would have wished to know not whether there was reason to doubt, but whether there was sufficient testimony to believe that it was literally true. Exactly the reasoning by which Mr. Kingsley attempts to prove Dr. New- man's half sincerity, or to let him off with the contemptuous apology, "I see the possibility of a man's, working himself into that pitch of confusion that he can persuade himself by what seems to him logic of anything whatsoever which he wishes to believe, and of carrying self-deception to such perfection that it becomes a
sort of frantic honesty "—may be applied to his own reasons for be- lieving in Balsam's ass—by those who reject that story. He says, too, of the passing of the Red Sea, "Oh the man who would rob his suffering fellow-creatures of that story! he knows not how deep and bitter are the needs of man." That may be an argument for believing it, but is it not exactly of the same kind with Dr. New- man's argument for believing in St. Walburga ? And how would Mr. Kingsley like to be accused of the sort of disbelief in truth which he attempts to support on this evidence?
Again, Mr. Kingsley is very angry with Dr. Newman for recount- ing Mr. Kingsley's accusation so as to leave out, what he says are qualifying words, "for its own sake." The charge brought by him was that Dr. Newman taught that "truth, on the whole, need not an& ought not to be a virtue for its own sake with the Roman clergy." And yet Mr. Kingsley adds, " While no one knew better than he the importance of the omission, no one knew better that the public would not do so—that they would never observe it—that if I called their attention to it they would smile, and accuse me of word-splitting and raising metaphysical subtleties." We confess we did not and do not see the importance of the omission ;—a virtue is either a virtue for its own sake or not at all. If truth is not good except for the beneficial results it may bring, lying is good when it brings equally beneficial results, and is as likely to be good, therefore, as truth. But if Mr. Kingsley thought the words so important, and knew, as he tells us, the world would never notice them, why did he commit the gross injustice of bringing a qualified accusation which he expected all the world to think an unqualified one—the qualification not being, in fact, within the limits of common apprehension ?
The controversy seems to us to present in very striking contrast the two dangers to which Roman Catholic and Protestant are liable of sinning against candour. In Dr. Newman we see that over-regu- lated mind which marshals every thought of his mind, every feeling of his heart, every word of his lips, in a definite place, to serve a definite end of life. Hence, to use the language of a very able, though we think unjust, Saturday Reviewer, he is "crafty instate- ment," at least in the sense of foreseeing every sort of objection, as Bishop Butler did, and, perhaps, also in the sense of preparing beforehand a specific attraction for every kind of disposition or imagination. But this very power of minute foresight makes him, what he certainly is, always candid to an opponent's real arguments, and induces him to state the case against himself with even unnecessary ability and strength. No better example of this could be produced than Dr. Newman's comparison between the moral character of a Roman Catholic Irish beggar-woman and of an industrious English Protestant, which Mr. Kingsley quotes to show the little value Dr. Newman has for truth. It shows at all events very remarkably his anxious and candid mode of presenting the case of an opponent; indeed, we remember thinking, when we heard. it, that he had so presented it as to confute himself. On the other hand, we see in Mr. Kingsley a healthy and genuine scorn for intel- lectual tactics, a man who blurts out honestly enough the first thought of his heart, whether it be wise or unwise, but yet one who
wirmnsteall.the grossest want of candour towards an opponent on the mere strength of mown personal impressions,—one who does not deign to quote anything in support of his charges, and when attacked for such contemptuous indifference to his opponent's good name, replies by a pamphlet which simply drags, from all pos- sible sources, specimens of everything which Dr. Newman has ever said calculated to affect an English public unpleasantly ; and, worse still, conveys an impression that Dr. Newman always did despise truth, and does so more now than ever. We say this is not fair. Even if we ought not to take too much counsel about our ordinary words, yet when those words are challenged and cannot be sus- tained, Protestant candour would require a simple and hearty admis- sion that there had been nothing to justify them, whereas Protestant selfesteem is but too much wont to revenge itself, like Mr. Kings- ley, by casting up all the disagreeable imputations which your oppo- nent's case admits. It is the evil of the impulsive character that it takes fire easily ; and when it takes fire, all candour vanishes at once. Mr. Kingsley has done himself pure harm by this rejoinder.