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ART. IV.—The Life of Edward Bouverie Pusey. By Henry Parry Liddon, D.D. Edited and prepared for publication by the Rev. J. O. Johnston, M.A., and the Rev. Robert J. Wilson, M.A. Vols. I. and II. London, 1893.
HE appearance of Pusey's Life has more than a personal interest. It is evidently designed to be more than the biography of a devout and self-denying man whose teaching was valued and whose name was revered in Oxford: it is meant to be the story of a movement which influenced deeply English life and thought. Biographies justify themselves in one of three ways: either by their intrinsic interest; or by the dignity of the personage whose tale is told; or else by the public importance of the events with which the subject of the biography was associated. Tried by these three tests, the Life of Pusey, so far as it has been given to us, is abundantly justified. There is sufficient intrinsic interest in the volumes before us; they tell the story of a man whose personal character and influence are worthy of study, and whose name, perhaps more frequently than any other name, was identified with a very remarkable religious movement of modern times.
This movement has been variously described. It has been called the Oxford Movement, because it had its cradle in that renowned seat of learning. It has been called the Tractarian Movement, because of the ninety Tracts in which the early promoters set forth their views. It has been called the Catholic Revival, which term may be taken to mean either that a strong insistance on Catholic usage and Catholic authority distinguished its teaching, or, as in Mr. Ward's book, that the movement had a drift in the direction of that form of Catholicism which we usually and correctly describe as Roman Catholicism. It is the feeling that this latter was the case which leads Mr. Froude to describe it as the 'Counter Reformation.' Descriptions and labels of this kind generally hit off some special characteristic. They are useful in calling attention to some specific feature of a movement; but they are misleading when treated as complete and accurate descriptions of it. When therefore the movement was designated, as it was, the Puseyite Movement, no one will accept this as a full description, but every one will recognize that such an epithet expresses the popular view of the influence which Pusey exerted upon it.
The estimate of Pusey himself, of his influence over this movement, and of its value for good and evil, is even at the present day a matter of great difficulty. There is much that we need to know before an estimate of events and men can be wise
wise and just. To speak nothing but good of those who have passed within the shadows, to remember what deep truth lies in the saying that to know all is to forgive all, becomes the duty of any one who speaks of the great actors in past affairs. But it is a difficult duty. Our personal bias counts for something in an estimate. None of us look at events or people with achromatic glasses. The dry light of reason may belong to the natural philosopher when he is dealing with things dead and ponderable; but when we study events in which principles of life and faith are involved, we are as those who see through a humid atmosphere, the condition of which increases refraction, even if it does not distort our vision.
It was hard for the biographers of Pusey to write with cold impartiality. We know with what affectionate reverence Pusey was regarded by that distinguished preacher and Churchman who first undertook his biography, and whose premature death none, probably, more heartily deplore than those into whose hands the task afterwards fell. Their best qualification for the duty is in the fact that they share the late Canon Liddon's spirit. They venerate the name of Pusey; and they bring to the task that sympathetic appreciation, without which a biography is tame and spiritless. Absolute neutrality in the treatment of their subject was not to be expected; but having said so much, it is pleasant to add that we find in their work a very clear and earnest wish to write their story justly. There is a self-restraint which, if it costs some effort, is eminently creditable. They do not wish to pronounce a panegyric. They have their own views, and they let us know them, but there is no foolish or extravagant laudation; there is hardly any language which can be called violent. But with all this they have failed, we think, to do justice to some of the eminent men who stood on the opposite side of Church thought. We do not mean injustice to their abilities or capacities, but to their moral sincerity. When, for example, Pusey defends the attitude taken up by Ward in his book 'The Ideal of the Church,' it is ultra-chivalry on Pusey's part. When Stanley and Tait oppose the proceedings against Ward, they are scarcely disinterested. And no notice is taken whatever of Frederick Denison Maurice's remarkable pamphlet, 'On right and wrong Methods of supporting Protestantism." Maurice's protest on behalf of Dr. Pusey was chivalrous, and, what was better, it was not spasmodic or sentimental chivalry, it was consistent chivalry. He claimed toleration as a principle. He was ready to apply it to those from whom he profoundly differed. He was more truly consistent and took in our judgment a more noble part than those
who were eager to condemn Dr. Hampden, but who shrieked out when proceedings were threatened against Pusey or Newman or Ward. The biographers tell us that it would be superfluous to point out the many obvious ways in which the analogy between the two cases broke down. We are quite aware that there were differences between the cases. The special forms of heresy charged were different; but the charge in every case was a charge of erroneous teaching. If it was the duty of the University authorities to protect the University against erroneous teaching at all, they were bound to take cognizance of any teaching which might be complained of as erroneous. It was not their part to act as though errors towards latitudinarianism were the only errors. If the tribunal
exercised any authority over men's opinions, it must exercise it impartially. It is no defence to say that Hampden's error was vital and Pusey's was not. This is a petitio principii: it was the duty of the authorities to determine this on hearing the case. It was no part of their duty to determine the matter beforehand. The principle of this matter of authority in opinion lies not in the question of more or less error, but in the question whether authority in matters of opinion should be exercised at all. If it ought to be, then every man who errs, the least as well as the greatest, must be liable to some control. If it ought not, then Hampden no less than Pusey should be free from the yoke. This was the principle at issue. It was lost sight of at Oxford, where the tumult of controversy prevailed. Panic caused loss of presence of mind. Timidity drove men into injustice. Partisanship was eager for a victory which would perchance annihilate their opponents. Maurice argued that the measures were set on foot to accomplish the purposes of a party and suppress their opponents; and that, like most measures of this kind, it would utterly fail.
'It has been ascertained,' he wrote, by the experience of every University in Europe, that in whatever place it is safe to attempt the suppression of opinion, in schools of learning it is not safe. In Oxford the experiment has been tried again and again by all parties: against Wickliffe-against the Reformers of the sixteenth centuryagainst Laud during the primacy of Abbott-against the Puritans during the primacy of Laud-against Episcopalians during the supremacy of the Puritans-against the Methodists in the eighteenth century. In any case the only persons who have profited by the persecution have been those against whom it was directed.' *
We think that some reference to this vigorous protest against
*Letter to Lord Ashley,' p. 21.
intolerance, from the pen of a man who formed no party, but exercised a deep and far-reaching influence over the Church of England and beyond her limits, should find place in Pusey's biography. The fact that in later days they crossed swords in controversy only makes the chivalrous courage of Maurice on this occasion the more interesting and suggestive. Maurice's appearance in the Oxford controversies might have formed a picturesque and effective incident in the story. His appeal for fair play, given in manly fashion, was like a trumpet note heard above the feminine bickerings and trivial personalities of controversy. His warnings were prophetic.
'Young men have felt that there must be something good in that which was unfairly attacked, and, with their usual honesty and impatience, that they might be sure of getting the good, they have adopted the doctrine in the lump.'
The words express the entanglement of opinions which prevailed at Oxford during the heat of the battle. The rival cries of backward and forward were heard. It was hard in the midst of the crowd of war to stand firm or to see clearly. Personal character was put to the test in those days. In the fray some grew jaunty and even light-hearted. They felt that the stream of events was hastening them in the direction in which they were ready to be carried, but in which they were not willing to walk. Others grew anxious and perplexed. Some were astute enough to withdraw themselves from a strife which they soon saw to be compromising to their reputation or prejudicial to their prospects. Others grew more and more indifferent to the strife of tongues, and prepared to take the step which was painful and had, in their view, become inevitable.
Men act according to their characters. The interest of such times lies as much in the actors as in the conflict of opinions. The sound of war gives buoyancy to the courage of some; it intensifies the dread of others, and endues them with a patient tenacity and passive endurance which is no less useful in the field than the élan of the high-spirited, whose courage finds expression in brilliant exploit or erratic rashness. To understand a man's actions and attitude at such a time we need first to understand him. The true significance of his conduct and the true message of his life are only possible when we know what he was as well as what he did.
Whatever may be said against the real influence of im
* Letter to Lord Ashley,' p. 21.
mediate hereditary qualities, no one will deny the power of early environment. Dr. Pusey was brought up in a home in which a certain stiffness' or even austerity prevailed. His father, who did not marry till he was fifty-two, had reached an age in which habits had become fixed. The flexibility to new conditions which is the portion of those who marry young, was impossible to him. An almost military exactness was insisted on in all the domestic arrangements. His mother, though twenty-four years younger than his father, had in her nature'a touch of severity." She sat bolt upright in her chair. To lean back was the mark of a degenerate age.' There was little sentiment in her disposition. She was practical and outspoken. Her life was methodical.
'Her time was laid out by rule: a certain portion was always given to reading the Bible; and another portion to some book of established literary merit. . . . She would read this book with a watch at her side.'
The intellectual range was cultivated, but limited. In his father's library were to be found political treatises, books of travel, and the sermons of Barrow and Tillotson. Later, indeed, the library was enriched, as the father realized the importance of cultivating the literary tastes of his sons. the backbone of his culture was rigid. On this side of a fixed line everything was right; on the other side all was wrong. Whigs and Atheists were classed together; only Tories could be right. The inflexible Tory distrusted emotion; he disliked the Evangelical school because he feared that in their teaching emotion was allowed to take the place of conscience. But with all this severity there was a genuine benevolence. The strict habits of the home entered into the administration of charity; bounty towards the poor was part of the duty of life; and the bounty was dispensed with no niggardly hand. Behind the benevolence thus shown stood the form of religion. The bounty was not the offspring of mere vague feelings of human kindness; it was the outcome of religious principle. There was no ostentation about it. It was right to do this or that, and it was done. There was no superfluous display of affection. Demonstrations of attachment were rare. 'Actions should be in advance of professions.' The mother's life, we read, was a 'conspicuous example of love, disciplined by a sense of duty.' Such was the household. A rigid sense of duty prevailed in it. Natural emotions were sternly repressed. Bountifulness was rather a duty than an impulse of generosity; and religion
* Vol. i. p. 7.