Thursday, February 06, 2003

I missed an interesting anniversary
back on January 23. It was the anniversary of the day back in 1875 when a certain Anglican clergyman went to his reward. No, not a former Anglican clergyman-this one went to his grave as a member of the Church of England. While he claimed that, at one point, he had flirted a bit with High Church ideas, he later repudiated them violently. He was known for writing both essays and novels in which hearty Englishmen or Germans, whether pagan or Protestant, are depicted as the models of true virtue, while Latins, including some of the early Church Fathers, are shown as decadent and corrupt.
Now why would such a person interest me ?
Because his name was Charles Kingsley, and in 1864 he wrote these words in an anonymus article in Macmillan's Magazine.

"Truth, for its own sake, had never been a virtue with the Roman clergy. Father Newman informs us that it need not, and on the whole ought not to be; that cunning is the weapon which Heaven has given to the saints wherewith to withstand the brute male force of the wicked world which marries and is given in marriage. Whether his notion be doctrinally correct or not, it is at least historically so."

When the Venerable's attention was brought to this passage, he wrote to the magazine in question, stating that they surely would wish to correct so egregious a libel. Instead an exchange of letters ensued, culminating in Mr. Kingsley publishing a pamphlet in which he not only refused to apologize, but increased his offensiveness ten times over.
Venerable Newman's response was, of course, the Apologia Pro Vita Sua, his masterpiece, with which his reputation in England, and later his reputation in Rome, began to revive.
The Venerable's own comment upon Mr. Kingsley's death follows:
'As to Mr. Kingsley, much less could I feel any resentment against him when he was accidentally the instrument, in the good Providence of God, by whom I had an opportunity given me, which otherwise I should not have had, of vindicating my character and conduct in my "Apologia." I heard, too, a few years back from a friend that she chanced to go into Chester Cathedral and found Mr. K. preaching about me, kindly though, of course, with criticisms on me. And it has rejoiced me to observe lately that he was defending the Athanasian Creed, and, as it seemed to me, in his views generally nearing the Catholic view of things. I have always hoped that by good luck I might meet him, feeling sure that there would be no embarrassment on my part, and I said Mass for his soul as soon as I heard of his death.
'Most truly yours,


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