Friday, August 13, 2004

On August 13, 1844
Venerable John Henry Newman wrote to his sister.....

I have seen Bowden for a quarter of an hour. This damp day tries him sadly. He goes down to Clifton in a few days, and I suppose I shall be able to go to him there as here ... It is, of course, quite an event in my life, and cannot happen again. My oldest friend, whom I knew for as much as nine years before I knew dear Froude, and whom a habit of affection has made part of my life, though I cannot realise things yet.

I do fancy I am getting changed. I go into Oxford, and find myself out of place. Everything seems to say to me, 'This is not your home.' The college seems strange to me, and even the college servants seem to look as if I were getting strange to them. I cannot tell whether it is fancy or not, but to myself I seem changing. I am so much more easily touched than I used to be. Reading St. Wolstan's Life just now almost brought tears to my eyes. What a very mysterious thing the mind is! Yet nothing that my feelings suggest to me is different from what has been engraven more or less strongly on my reason long ago.

"Bowden" was John Bowden, who had been a good friend of Newman's since they were both freshmen at Oxford. Bowden was close to death, and so Newman tried to hide from him as much of his doubts about the tenableness of Anglicanism as he could, not wanting to upset his friend in his unclouded faith when he himself was so torn and uncertain. Bowden died the next month. In 1845, after Newman had resolved his own doubts and come into the Catholic Church ,Mrs. Bowden and her children followed him. Later, two of Bowden's sons became Fathers of the London Oratory.


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