Wednesday, November 24, 2004

On November 24, 1844...
Venerable John Henry Newman, still Anglican but no longer a clergyman, wrote a letter to his sister:

I knew very well I should have a kind letter from you, as has been the case; but really you did—I don't say, consciously, but from an unconscious feeling—in the most pointed way pass over various things I said about my feelings, taking hold of one half sentence, leaving the other half; speaking of Bowden, not of myself, when I spoke of both at once. I knew how very painful the whole matter was to you, and was far indeed from blaming you, but when it had gone on some time I sincerely thought you wished me to drop the subject, and I did drop it.

As to late reports, I did not properly hear them till they were over—that is, I heard that there was a paragraph, but did not realise its preciseness and plausibility. When I did, I wrote to several friends, and should have written to you but that I thought you had really, so far, given me up. And I thought you would hear from James. It is astonishing what little feeling certain people have. Golightly and the newspapers would think it very wrong to put out a statement on doubtful authority to the effect that I had broken my leg, yet they have no remorse in circulating what is adapted to shock friends indefinitely more. But the said G. is a man literally without bowels. I doubt whether he has any inside, or is more than a walking and talking piece of mechanism .

I have gone through a great deal of pain, and have been very much cut up. The one predominant distress upon me has been this unsettlement of mind I am causing. This is a thing that has haunted me day by day. And for days I had a literal pain in and about my heart, which I suppose at any moment I could bring on again. I have been overworked lately. The translation of St. Athanasius is, I am glad to say, just coming to an end, and I shall (so be it) relax. I suppose I need it. This has been a very trying year.

… Besides the pain of unsettling people, of course I feel the loss I am undergoing in the good opinion of my friends and well-wishers, though I can't tell how much I feel this. It is the shock, surprise, terror, forlornness, disgust, scepticism to which I am giving rise; the differences of opinion, division of families—all this it is that makes my heart ache.

… I cannot make out that I have any motive but a sense of indefinite risk to my soul in remaining where I am. A clear conviction of the substantial identity of Christianity and the Roman system has now been on my mind for a full three years. It is more than five years since the conviction first came on me, though I struggled against it and overcame it. I believe all my feelings and wishes are against change. I have nothing to draw me elsewhere. I hardly ever was at a Roman service; even abroad I knew no Roman Catholics. I have no sympathies with them as a party. I am giving up everything. I am not conscious of any resentment, disgust, or the like to repel me from my present position; and I have no dreams whatever—far from it indeed. I seem to be throwing myself away.

Unless something occurs which I cannot anticipate I have no intention of any early step even now. But I cannot but think—though I can no more realise it than being made Dean of Ch. Ch. or Bishop of Durham—that some day it will be, and at a definite distance of time. As far as I can make out I am in the state of mind which divines call indifferentia, inculcating it as a duty to be set on nothing, but to be willing to take whatever Providence wills. How can I at my age and with my past trials be set upon anything? I really don't think I am. What keeps me here is the desire of giving every chance for finding out if I am under the power of a delusion. Various persons have sent me very kind letters, and I really trust that many are bearing me in mind in their prayers.

I say to myself, 'What have I done to be given up to a delusion, if it be one?' It is my full intention to give up my Fellowship some time before anything happens. And now what a deal I have said about myself! I wonder how many I's are in this letter.

This is a most abrupt letter, but I have no time, and am tired and out of spirits...


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