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The Oxford Movement

A Thematic History of the Tractarians and Their Times

C. Brad Faught


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ISBN: 978-0-271-02394-6

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The Oxford Movement

A Thematic History of the Tractarians and Their Times

C. Brad Faught

“Anyone trying to understand why the institutions of Christianity refuse to disappear and why some of its branches—well, its key branch, which remains Roman Catholicism—continue to be obstinate and even belligerent in the face of growing secular tolerance on key social issues like gay rights will find the history of the Oxford Movement remarkably pertinent. It is Faught’s great achievement as a historian and communicator that he leads readers through all the theological and metaphysical complications and occasional muddle with such writerly clarity and scholarly élan.”


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Well over a century and a half after its high point, the Oxford Movement continues to stand out as a powerful example of religion in action. Led by four young Oxford dons—John Henry Newman, John Keble, Richard Hurrell Froude, and Edward Pusey—this renewal movement within the Church of England was a central event in the political, religious, and social life of the early Victorian era. This book offers an up-to-date and highly accessible overview of the Oxford Movement.

Beginning formally in 1833 with John Keble's famous "National Apostasy" sermon and lasting until 1845, when Newman made his celebrated conversion to Roman Catholicism, the Oxford Movement posed deep and far-reaching questions about the relationship between Church and State, the Catholic heritage of the Church of England, and the Church's social responsibility, especially in the new industrial society. The four scholar-priests, who came to be known as the Tractarians (in reference to their publication of Tracts for the Times), courted controversy as they attacked the State for its insidious incursions onto sacred Church ground and summoned the clergy to be a thorn in the side of the government.

C. Brad Faught approaches the movement thematically, highlighting five key areas in which the movement affected English society more broadly—politics, religion and theology, friendship, society, and missions. The advantage of this thematic approach is that it illuminates the frequently overlooked wider political, social, and cultural impact of the movement. The questions raised by the Tractarians remain as relevant today as they were then. Their most fundamental question—"What is the place of the Church in the modern world?"—still remains unanswered.

“Anyone trying to understand why the institutions of Christianity refuse to disappear and why some of its branches—well, its key branch, which remains Roman Catholicism—continue to be obstinate and even belligerent in the face of growing secular tolerance on key social issues like gay rights will find the history of the Oxford Movement remarkably pertinent. It is Faught’s great achievement as a historian and communicator that he leads readers through all the theological and metaphysical complications and occasional muddle with such writerly clarity and scholarly élan.”
The Oxford Movement is something of a niche volume, but it illuminates that niche nicely.”
“The strength of this book lies in its thematic approach to the Oxford movement and its influence on English society.”
“This is a tightly written, well-argued, and thoroughly annotated work. It should become a required text for anyone teaching in this area.”
“Faught’s training as a journalist as well as a historian makes the story unfold in a brisk and compelling manner.”
“To those familiar with the Oxford Movement, this book provides some additional details and suggests a few variant interpretations, particularly in relation to the movement in the second half of the nineteenth century.”
“In sum, this study provides an accessible but conventional introduction to an important and still controversial episode in Victorian religion.”

C. Brad Faught is Assistant Professor of History at Tyndale University College and Seminary in Toronto.


Preface & Acknowledgments

1 Politics

Controversy and Passion

2 Religion and Theology

Principles and Promulgation

3 Friendship

Fraternity and Farewell

4 Society

Revival and Reclamation

5 Missions

Churchmanship and Bishoprics







Controversy and Passion

In the beginning there was politics. As Owen Chadwick, the dean of historians of Victorian Christianity, wrote in his important essay, “The Mind of the Oxford Movement,” first published in 1960: “It is safe to say that the Movement would not have taken the form which it took without the impetus of ecclesiastical and secular politics.” Traditionally, scholars of the Oxford Movement, as well as others, shied away from seeing the Movement in political terms, mostly because of its generally acknowledged religious character. In recent years, however, this reluctance has diminished, partly in response to the widening of historical inquiry generally, and partly in response to a lessening of intense party feeling within the Church of England. The result is that the Oxford Movement’s pronounced political features have been the focus of a number of key contemporary studies. Most prominent among these are Terence Kenny’s on the political thought of Newman, J.H.L. Rowlands’s on the political and social thought of all the leading Tractarians, and Peter Nockles’s on Anglican high churchmanship. This chapter finds both its inspiration and its justification in these studies. Indeed, it may be argued that only through a proper understanding of the political life of Great Britain in the 1820s and 1830s can the origins and course of the Oxford Movement be fully understood. Politics, here defined essentially as relations between church and state, consumed the Oxford men in their early struggle. Consequently, any synthetic study of the Oxford Movement must begin with a treatment of the political environment of the time. In this respect, Dean Church’s original conceptualization of the Oxford Movement’s twelve-year span, while no longer definitive, remains especially useful.

In 1815, Bonaparte’s final defeat at Waterloo and exile to the distant South Atlantic island of St. Helena was met in Britain with almost unparalleled celebration. After twenty-three years of nearly continuous war and upheaval, at last Britain had entered a period of relative quiet, at least as far as relations with continental Europe were concerned. Such was not the case at home, however, in the cities and towns of a Britain presided over nominally by the sick and aging George III. Despite the initial celebrations surrounding Napoleon’s defeat, the postwar years were marked by a good deal of social unrest brought on by economic depression and high inflation, epitomized by Manchester’s 1819 Peterloo Massacre, where food riots turned violent, the soldiers were called out, and at the end of the clash eleven protesters lay dead. In the spirit of the day, politics became a theater of increasingly severe contest. Robert Banks Jenkinson, Lord Liverpool, the long-lived and long-suffering Tory prime minister, managed to stay in office for a remarkable fifteen years, from 1812 until 1827. But political stability at the top masked considerable social instability below. By the late 1820s this mask had been torn off, and with the fall of the Liverpool government began five years of intense political and parliamentary reform.

Liverpool suffered a paralyzing stroke in 1827, which forced him to step down as prime minister. He lingered in this disabled state for a short time, dying in 1828. He was succeeded as prime minister by George Canning, who in turn was followed by Frederick John Robinson, Viscount Goderich. Canning’s death and the instability of the Goderich Whig-Liberal Tory coalition, gave way to the duke of Wellington in 1828. The patrician hero of Waterloo had come to top political office at perhaps the worst possible time for a Tory of his stern cast of mind. Dissenters were demanding the repeal of their chief legal obstacle to holding public office, the Corporation Acts of 1661. Roman Catholics, likewise, were pressing the government for emancipation from their inferior constitutional position under the provisions of the Test Act of 1671. In theory, these pieces of legislation went to the heart of the British confessional state. Dissenters and Roman Catholics were excluded from local or national office unless they agreed to take communion in the Church of England, although indemnities allowed for a skirting of the law. These years of constitutional revolution laid bare the cardinal elements of English governance and demonstrated, according to Jonathan Clark, the “negative phenomenon” of the severe wounding of the historical Anglican establishment; negative because one must look very hard to find in this revolution any evidence of a concerted move toward democracy. Nevertheless, to those who opposed the repeal of the Corporation Acts in 1828 and the resultant victory for Dissenters, the complete destruction of the Anglican confessional state, the religio-political compact that ensured the privileged position of the Church of England, seemed nigh.

The gloom became that much deeper for those who opposed such assumed liberality of government action when Catholic emancipation became law in 1829. “The most intractable and divisive issue in English domestic politics for the first thirty years of the nineteenth century,” as Wendy Hinde calls emancipation, came to a resolution under the guiding hand of the unlikely Wellington. The prime minister, like many of his fellow aristocrats, was hardly a friend of Roman Catholics, many of whom were Irish and led by the dogged and charismatic Dublin lawyer Daniel O’Connell, elected M.P. for County Clare in 1828 but unable to take his seat because of his faith. Indeed, the thought of granting emancipation to the fiery O’Connell or any other Irish Catholic struck many people in England as an unconscionable threat to both constitution and empire. The perpetually unruly Irish required the draconian imperial hand, many believed, and surely such would be supplied by Wellington’s Tory government at Westminster. But practical politics and the fear of a civil breakdown in Ireland got in the way of the kind of ringing defense of the Anglican establishment so desired and expected by the partisans of the Church of England. Wellington and his home secretary, Robert Peel, rightly feared civil war in Ireland if emancipation was not granted. O’Connell himself was not a man of violence, but the same could not be said of his followers. And so, despite opposition from many Tories, including the highly influential Lord Eldon, the uncompromising leader of the Ultras, Wellington and Peel pushed Catholic emancipation through Parliament in the spring of 1829. Roman Catholics now could sit at Westminster. For defenders of the unreformed English constitution this was an outrage.

Within the ancient University of Oxford the sense of outrage was especially acute. At this bastion of the Church of England, the Tories’ betrayal of the Protestant constitution by allowing Catholics to sit in Parliament was seen both as treasonous and sacrilegious. It marked no less than the end of the nation as it had been since the time of Henry VIII, many feared. Peel was one of the University’s two burgesses (M.P.s), and his apparent rejection of Anglican primacy was met with great anger and withering scorn by a number of college dons, especially at Oriel, an intellectual and religious hotbed at the time and home to a group of fellows whose loyalty to the Church of England was profound, as well as prickly. John Henry Newman, wiry, ascetic, brilliantly mercurial, and one of Oriel’s leading fellows, quickly branded Peel a “rat” for his complicity in emancipation. The insulted and perhaps chastened Peel offered to step down, an offer welcomed by Newman and other like-minded defenders of the Church of England. In the ensuing election, Sir Robert Inglis, a High Churchman and an enthusiastic anti-emancipationist, was elected to Parliament. Newman’s Oriel colleague and fellow traveler, the gentle John Keble, was stirred to pronounce that he was “very, very anxious that the University should do nothing which may be likely to countenance the dangerous laxity of modern politics.” And Hurrell Froude, yet another Oriel Fellow, red-haired and with a volcanic disposition to match, was similarly dismayed. Given what would be the eventual direction of the Oxford Movement and Newman’s own eventual conversion to Roman Catholicism, there is, of course, a clear irony in his concern for the Anglican establishment in its hour of need. But the road Newman would travel to Rome was a long and complicated one, and no inkling of it could be detected in 1829. In that year the Church was seen to be under attack and the only response for proper churchmen like the Oriel triumvirate was to rush to its defense.

Worse trouble for defenders of the Church lay ahead, however. In 1832, the Whig government of Lord Grey, having defeated the Tories two years earlier, introduced the Reform Bill, which altered and slightly expanded the social and demographic composition of the British electoral franchise. This expansion of the franchise, such as it was, meant very little in practical political terms—at least immediately. But after the events of 1828 and 1829, any reform of the composition of the House of Commons to allow for more middle-class members, including Protestant Dissenters, was a further blow to political tradition and the primacy of Anglicans in Parliament.

In 1833 Grey’s Whigs struck yet another blow at political tradition, this time directly at the Church. The Irish Church Temporalities Bill dissolved ten redundant bishoprics and redistributed their endowments to those remaining in Ireland. The bill was defended by the government as a piece of rational legislation, which it was, but it was passed at an extremely sensitive time politically. In the midst of continued recriminations over the relationship between church and state the bill sent Newman, Keble, and Froude into paroxysms of anger. For Newman, the bill was sacrilegious and endangered the independence and integrity of the Church. The state, he opined, could not be trusted to protect the Church from liberalizing influences; indeed, the state seemed to be the agent of liberalization, the unrepentant sponsor of Erastianism.

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Keble responded publicly to the state’s apparent transgressions by mounting the pulpit at St. Mary’s, the University Church in Oxford, on July 14, 1833, and preaching a sermon that denounced England for being in a state of “national apostasy.” Froude, naturally, given his lively temperament, rejoiced that Keble had called, in his view, “the Ministers Libertines and the Parliament Erastian and [implied] that the Bishops are such a set that he hardly knows whether we ought to remain in Communion with them.” Typically, Froude’s enthusiasm was unbounded, but the sermon preached to the visiting Assize Court nevertheless proved a highly symbolic step in the beginnings of the Oxford Movement. For Newman, in hindsight, Keble’s sermon indeed marked “the start of the religious movement of 1833.”

Newman, Keble, and Froude found themselves caught up in the events of 1829–33. These three dons from the Oriel Common Room had seen the perilous direction of “revolutionary” England and were anticipating an even greater confrontation, as they saw it, with the forces of liberalism and the despoilers of the Church. But as they had come to know over the preceding few years, such an enemy lurked not only at Westminster, but could be found in the colleges of Oxford itself, especially their own.

Oriel was the most intellectually vibrant college at Oxford in the 1820s and 1830s, and the Oriel Common Room was the scene of many a spirited verbal joust. Newman became a fellow of Oriel near the outset of this period, in 1822, joining Keble, who had been there since 1811. Froude’s election to a fellowship came shortly after Newman’s own. Oriel’s provost from 1814 to 1828, Edward Copleston, was an impressive reformist leader who turned the college into the home of many first-class honors students. Oriel was the home also of the Noetics, the self-named body of dons whose rationalism and lively debates over a range of issues were legendary within Oxford. Newman’s entry into this world of blue-ribbon tutors was an unlikely one because of a nerve-wrackingly dismal performance in his final exams in 1820; he had expected a “double first” and received a mere “pass.” Nevertheless, evidence of his superior intellect came through in his fellowship examination, which superseded his panicked examination performance. And so the discriminating fellows of Oriel invited him to join their privileged world. Once there, the youthful and retiring Newman was overwhelmed by the brusque manner of well-established fellows such as Copleston and the aggressive, though kindly disposed, Richard Whately. Whately, a leading Noetic, was a bear of a man, and initially Newman shrank both from his physical size and his intellectual combativeness. But a mutual attraction was at work, and Whately was probably more responsible for Newman’s personal and intellectual development than anyone else during his early years as an Oriel fellow. As Newman recalled later: “While I was still awkward and timid in 1822, he took me by the hand, and acted towards me the part of a gentle and encouraging instructor.”

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Newman’s affection for Whately would not last, however, because, among other reasons, as archbishop of Dublin from 1831 Whately supported the detested Irish Church bill. Keble, likewise, found Whately and the Noetics unpalatable. Keble had become a fellow of Oriel in the same year as Whately, 1811. Keble was highly intelligent, the holder of a double first and a clutch of prizes as an undergraduate, but he was intensely reserved. The product of a country parsonage, he disliked the kind of showy intellectualism and the less-than-humble faith that many of Oriel’s fellows increasingly displayed, it seemed, in the years after his election to a fellowship. The intellectually rousing, questioning atmosphere favored by Whately was one that, Keble believed, compromised Christian faithfulness and obedience. The fact that the Oriel Common Room “stank with logic,” as Newman later described it, was one of the reasons Keble decided to leave Oxford in 1823. Keble returned to rural life, settling eventually at Hursley in Hampshire, a living to which he was instituted in 1836 and where he would remain for the rest of his life.

Froude, on the other hand, could not have been less reserved in manner. He thrived on a steady diet of irony, overstatement, and denunciation. Sir George Prevost, another member of the Oriel Common Room in those years, remembered his younger colleague this way: “Froude used to define his startling way of putting facts and arguments on the ground that it was the only way to rouse people and get their attention, and he said that when you had once done this you might modify your statements.” Froude’s own background—he had been raised in a rural vicarage and had had a sparkling undergraduate career—was close to Keble’s own. But the mix that had produced the quiet Keble resulted in a different outcome in the lively Froude.

The three young Oriel fellows gradually became close friends during the early 1820s, joined by mutual affection and a deep love for the traditions of High Church Anglicanism. Keble and Froude both came from families where high churchmanship was practiced. According to Peter Nockles, the High Churchman upheld the doctrine of the apostolic succession, was grounded in the catholic ideal of the Church, and advocated a strong establishment where the state was well aware of its divinely ordained function as the protector of the Church.

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Newman, conversely, had grown up in an evangelical home where the Church’s tradition was much less important. The decisive feature of evangelicalism was its high subjectivity, its literal self-consciousness, and the need for each person to seek redemption from sin through the shed blood of Christ. Throughout his life Newman remembered clearly his own conversion experience at age fifteen. English evangelicalism’s impact on both individuals and society at this time can scarcely be overestimated. It was widely popular and probably represented “the deepest and most fervid religion in England during the first three decades of this [the nineteenth] century.” But Newman’s years as an undergraduate had drawn him away from evangelicalism because of its disregard for baptismal regeneration, the orthodox belief in infant baptism as a soul-saving sacrament. He came to think this denial by evangelicals evidence of a wider denial of the essential mystery and wonder of God’s redemptive gift. The evangelical insistence on placing the workings of regeneration under human judgment was presumptive and wrongheaded, he thought. By the mid-1820s, Newman thus had become conversant with and had accepted the main features of the High Church tradition, especially the necessary mystery and tradition of Christian faith, and his youthful evangelicalism, for the most part, had ebbed away.

The Oriel threesome’s shared commitment to high churchmanship, viewed within the context of their vocation, yielded an important stake in the moral and pastoral role of the college tutor. Newman especially, as an Oriel tutor from 1826, was vexed by the apparent religious laxity of many of the wealthy and aristocratic students, whose perfunctory appearance at chapel in order to receive communion he regarded as scandalous. Newman and Froude, after the latter’s tutorial appointment in 1828, were also deeply concerned about the student practice of hiring private tutors from among recent undergraduates. They thought this practice wasteful financially and demeaning of the office and the influence of college tutor and so began to lobby for substantive change in the tutorial system in 1828.

The sharp-eyed Noetic Edward Hawkins became Oriel’s provost in that same year. Initially, Hawkins was receptive to the reformist ideas of Newman and his friends, who now included Robert Wilberforce, who was a son of the great abolitionist, William Wilberforce, and had been made a college tutor at the same time as Froude. But the issue of Catholic emancipation and Peel’s stance divided the Oriel Common Room. Hawkins was on one side; Newman, Keble and Froude, on the other. College politics had become extremely divisive already, and this existing cleavage now was exacerbated by the tutorial issue.

In the spring of 1829, Newman drew up a new tutorial system that struck at what he saw as the impersonal common lecture system employed by the college, which had reduced the pastoral role of the tutor and resulted in less individual attention for each student—or pupil as the term of choice was then. Equally aggravating for Newman and his friends was the allied need for paid private tuition, which pupils took advantage of whether living in or out of college. Each tutor should be responsible in the first place only for his pupils, and secondarily for those pupils of other tutors, argued Newman. In drawing up this plan Newman had the support of Oriel’s senior tutor, Joseph Dornford, and of course that of Froude and Wilberforce. Critically, in what would appear to have been a small exercise in storming the ramparts, Provost Hawkins was not informed of the plan.

Eventually, in the summer of 1829, Hawkins heard about the plan, and then in October, when Michaelmas term began, made plain his disapproval of it. The provost objected to the placing of pupils under the exclusive care of one tutor, not least because it was Hawkins’s responsibility to assign pupils to tutors and doing so was a difficult and delicate job depending on the personalities involved and did not need the additional complication that Newman’s plan entailed.

Newman stood firm, arguing that tutoring was largely “pastoral” and that the old system of common lecturing was “incompatible with the attention to that more useful private instruction, which had imparted to the office of Tutor the importance of a clerical occupation.” But Hawkins remained equally resolute. By the summer of 1830 the impasse had hardened irrevocably, and Hawkins informed Newman that no more pupils would be directed his way. Newman accepted this verdict reluctantly and reverted gradually to being a fellow of the college only. So, too, did the like-minded Froude and Wilberforce.

Behind this disagreement lay more than a pedagogical issue. Hawkins was a Noetic, and his position put him on the other side of a great divide from Newman. The Noetics were dangerously liberal in the estimation of Newman, Keble, and Froude. The Church’s ancient lineage and constitutional prerogatives were under threat from the critical spirit of men like Whately, Copleston, and Hawkins. “Their common disposition was to examine and criticize received beliefs in the light of history and reason,” observes Bernard Reardon. This iconoclastic stance clashed severely with someone of Keble’s retiring temperament, for example, but precisely because of this temperament he was inclined to limit his overt opposition to Hawkins. Newman and Froude, however, were happy to attack verbally the enemies of the Church, most especially the Noetics.

Newman felt that Oriel College, which he had joined in joyous ecstasy on the day of his fellowship election, had betrayed him, in his view. Oriel’s Noetics were both denying the implementation of the proper kind of pastoral tuition and, much more important, attacking the independent position of the Church by their support of the Irish Church bill. Neither error could be tolerated. By the summer of 1833, Newman and his friends were prepared to do something about it beyond simply fomenting a disagreement over the style of tuition practiced at the college.

Keble’s Assize sermon in mid-July may have sounded the individual trumpet of protest, but the first real gathering of like-minded defenders of the Church came at the end of that month at the rectory in Hadleigh, Suffolk, of Hugh James Rose, a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, and a well-respected High Churchman. The kindly Rose was sympathetic to the position of the Oriel men and opened his home as a meeting place for them. But even here, the atmosphere was not all unity and common purpose. The old High Churchmen in attendance, such as Rose and William Palmer, a fellow of Worcester College, believed the way forward lay in the time-honored practice of committees and petitions. As members of the Hackney Phalanx, named for the suburb of London in which many of the leading High Churchmen lived, they took their own party-like apparatus as the standard by which the Oxford men should operate. The younger men from Oxford held their seniors in great esteem, but on this point they declined to emulate them. Cheekily, Froude christened the old High Churchmen the “Zs” (the Oxford men were the “Xs,” and the evangelicals were the “Ys” in his lexicon), and thought that the new movement would be hindered by a formulaic, channeled response to government intervention in Church affairs. Given the long parliamentary history of the Hackney Phalanx, the Tractarians’ insistence on doing things their way was both risky and radical. But, officialdom would be a dead hand, Newman argued, “entangling us in a timid cautious course.” On principle, Newman did not attend the meeting, but for the others it put into sharp relief the fact that whatever lay ahead the unconventionality of the summer of 1833 would probably mark this protest, however long it lasted and whatever its results.

The early days of the Oxford Movement were not for the timid. Politics, both within the Church and at Westminster, were generating stirring argument and action. Indeed, as Jonathan Clark contends rightly, “The Tractarians’ point of origin was more political than it was sacramental.” And they were soon to find that politics could be a nasty theater in which to operate. But Newman, for one, did not shy away from what might lie ahead. As he wrote to a friend in August 1833: “And how do you go on in these eventful times? Have you yet taken your part in the great battle? for surely you must soon; or are you still treating the events which pass us by as the mere scene of a theatre, the subjects of opinions, not of principles? —Surely, it is no child’s play when the rights of the Church are invaded.”

At Hadleigh, Froude had seen firsthand the conservative mind-set of the “Zs.” He expressed his concern that the zest and force with which the coming battle had to be fought might be blunted by organizational wrangling or timidity. Keble, characteristically, was much more inclined to avoid a confrontation with his seniors, but nevertheless was committed to the most effectual means of advancing the Movement. Since Keble was older than his two colleagues, and from 1831 had been Oxford’s Professor of Poetry, he carried more weight in the University than either Newman or Froude did. Additionally, the publication of Keble’s devotional book, The Christian Year, in 1827, lent a spiritual gravitas to him that his colleagues did not possess and no organized society could hope to deepen. But Keble could see that the formation of a society would probably have a dampening effect on the urgency and clarity of the Movement’s message and so sided with Newman and Froude. As he wrote to a friend: “We do not make a formal society but only lay our heads together, as seems good to ourselves, to prepare and circulate tracts.”

As Keble predicted, the Tracts for the Times did indeed become the weapon of choice for the early years of the Movement. The early numbers were especially animated, sharp, and designed to smart. As editor of the Tracts, Newman sought to maintain their separate authorship and combative style. As he told Hugh James Rose: “We do not want regular troops, but sharpshooters.” The intended target was the so-called slumbering clergy, although Keble hoped to widen the Tracts’ appeal and make them popular with ordinary parishioners, such as his own. Newman wrote the first one, which was published on September 1, 1833. The series continued for the next eight years during which time ninety tracts were published.

The Tracts, especially the first thirty of them, show evidence of a deep concern by their authors for contemporary politics. Newman’s pen pushes the debate along this path in the second tract, “The Catholic Church,” published in early September. In it, he lambastes the Church’s political masters, asking: “Did the State make us? can it unmake us? can it send out missionaries? can it arrange dioceses? Surely these are all spiritual functions. . . . No one can say that the British Legislature is in our communion or that its members are necessarily even Christians. What pretense then has it for, not merely advising, but superseding the Ecclesiastical power?”

Here Newman is giving voice to the intense outrage he and his Oxford colleagues felt over the state’s arrogating to itself the power to dictate to the Church changes in its sacred organizational body. The suppression of the Irish bishoprics is taken as evidence of the state’s willingness to disregard the independence of the Church. The state’s interventionist stance is no mere trifle, Newman argues. He rejects the proposition that “the day is past for stickling about ecclesiastical rights.” Any attempt to demean and marginalize the Oxford men’s point of view means a clear attack on God’s divinely inspired Church. A state that has allowed its confessionalism to fall into disuse has gone apostate; a state that is pandering to Dissenting opinion is descending into religious chaos and betraying its foundational ideal. A melange of denominations and religions is perilous for society, according to Newman, because it not only betrays the Church of England’s foundation in universal Catholicism, but prepares the way for the kind of social upheaval suffered by the French for whom the destruction of the Church became an unintended article of faith during their bloody revolution.

The Church of England’s central role in social control is one the Oxford men sought to maintain as well. John Keble was greatly concerned with the place of the clergy in the social order. In them lay the kind of authority and seriousness that would ensure social peace. In his view, liberalism and religious heterodoxy bred questioning and instability. In the fourth tract, published near the end of September, Keble sought to reaffirm the elevated spiritual and social position of priest. “Look on your pastor,” he says, “as acting by man’s commission,” as the Dissenters did, “and you may respect the authority by which he acts, you may venerate and love his personal character, but it can hardly be called a religious veneration; there is nothing, properly, sacred about him. But once learn to regard him as the deputy of CHRIST, for reducing man to obedience of God; and everything about him becomes changed, everything stands in new light.”

The state, Keble thought, was attempting to disrupt and diminish the social usefulness and the moral power of the clergy. If successful, not only would the Church be damaged and its opponents guilty of infidelity, heresy, and schism, but society would be left on unsure footing, religio-social norms would weaken, and incivility or worse would be the result.

Froude took a different tack in his first foray into tract writing. He defended the length of the Church’s services against those who would shorten them to make them more contemporary. He attacked the Protestant Reformation for introducing fundamental changes to service length and moving the Church away from its historic liturgical discipline. The tendency of Protestantism to produce schism is one outcome of a resistance to liturgical discipline based on the example of the primitive church. Without such discipline, Froude argues, schism will continue, and Church unity and social quiescence will decline.

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And so it went. Late in 1833, Edward Pusey, Oxford’s Professor of Hebrew and Canon of Christ Church Cathedral, made plain his sympathy with the Tractarians by writing a tract and attaching to it his initials. Pusey, aristocratic, formerly an Oriel fellow, and marked for a long career of leadership in the Church of England, had been slow to move in train behind the Tractarians. But now he had taken up his pen and was making public his support of their cause. In a style typical of the man, the tract was twenty-eight pages long (on the virtues of fasting, a topic of increasing personal interest), not exactly the kind of short, sharp call to action Newman had had in mind. Nevertheless, the entry of Pusey on the side of the Tractarians gave the nascent Oxford Movement “a name,” in Newman’s later estimation, and made it more of a force to be reckoned with.

As 1834 began the Tractarians made a loud public protest against the latest transgression of the Whig government’s new prime minister, Lord Melbourne, which was a bill to admit Dissenters to Oxford and Cambridge. As Church of England institutions, the two universities, or more particularly, devoted Anglicans within the two universities, had always guarded their legal position closely. At Oxford, undergraduates were required to subscribe to the Church’s Thirty-nine Articles, the Church’s doctrinal statement agreed upon in 1571, before enrolling; at Cambridge, graduates were required to subscribe before being awarded their degrees. In the spring, the Tractarians published their “Oxford Declaration against the Admission of Dissenters,” denouncing the Whigs’ bill. The bill failed, but the fact of its introduction convinced the Tractarians of the perilous times in which they and their Church lived. Shortly thereafter, Newman came out with the Via Media tracts, in which he sought to explicate clearly the position of the Oxford men on the history and theology of the Church of England, offering an affirmation of the Movement’s commitment to the Church of England and to its position between “the (so called) Reformers and the Romanists,” and scotching the criticisms that were beginning to be made over the Tractarians’ apparent attraction to all things Roman Catholic.

John Bowden, Newman’s best friend from his undergraduate days at Trinity College, had become greatly concerned with the Tractarians’ apparent closeness to Roman Catholicism and warned Newman that the charge of “rank Popery” was not far off unless the Tractarians moderated their tone. Newman responded with the Via Media tracts, which for the time being, clarified and secured the Oxford Movement’s position within the bosom of the Church.

But in the reforming atmosphere of the time the traditional Church of England was on the cusp of deep structural change at the behest of both politicians and many clergy. Severe ecclesiastical abuses of one sort or another, especially simony, the holding of multiple livings, had dogged the Church since the eighteenth century. Industrialization and urbanization presented new challenges with which the Church seemed unable to cope and drove reformers to advocate wholesale change in the way the Church performed its various tasks. The Whig government had responded to these concerns in 1832 by forming a committee (the “Ecclesiastical Commission”) to investigate the workings of the Church and to recommend ways in which they might be improved. Naturally, the Oxford men denounced the Commission, arguing that it represented yet another example of state interference in the sacred affairs of the Church.

Similarly, the Tractarians attacked the attempt in 1835 by the Heads of Houses at Oxford, the university’s administrative body, to throw out the requirement that undergraduates subscribe to the Thirty-nine Articles. This liberalizing measure, sponsored by the Whigs at Westminster and the Noetics at Oriel, was voted on and defeated in May by Convocation. Its defeat was in large part caused by the contempt shown it by Newman, Keble, and Froude. In the 1835 tract “Church and State,” Froude made clear his own and his colleagues’ hatred of the state’s meddling. Froude, who was suffering now from tuberculosis and within a year of an early death, wrote with his customary fury that “we are naturally jealous of the attempts that are making to disunite, as it is called, Church and State; which in fact means neither more nor less, in the mouths of those who clamour for it, than a general confiscation of Church property, and a repeal of the few remaining laws which make the true Church the Church of England.”

The apparent constitutional revolution had “so entirely altered” the relations between church and state, contended Froude, that the state demonstrated now a “disgraceful negligence about our most sacred interests.” Froude was willing to go further than his colleagues in his condemnation of the established Church and the so-called error-filled Protestantism that undergirded it. Perhaps this was because he had started from a more extreme position than his friends; more likely it was because facing imminent death he had nothing to lose. And in Froude’s aptly titled Remains, his private journals edited anonymously by Newman and Keble and published posthumously in 1838, the dead man was unsparing in his denunciation from beyond the grave of the Protestant Reformation and the established Church of England. Once Froude’s inflammatory words were in the public realm, the firestorm was unstoppable.

Back in 1835, however, Froude’s declaration of the Tractarians’ political position was dangerously radical, showing a deep animosity toward the state and a refusal to tolerate its intrusions into the proper realm of the Church. Newman and Keble were equally vexed by the arrogance, ignorance, and insensitivity displayed by the state as embodied by Melbourne and the Whigs. Melbourne’s indifference toward all things religious and his puzzlement at theological divisions were well known. The Tractarians, perhaps, were the most puzzling of all to the prime minister, as his comments to Lord Holland, even less well-disposed to religious matters than Melbourne himself and whose London house was the center of Whig political and literary society, display: “I hardly make out what Puseyism [using one of the pejorative terms for the Oxford Movement which had been attached to it following the publication of Pusey’s tract] is. Either I am dull, or its apostles are very obscure. I have got one of their chief Newman’s publications with an appendix of four hundred and forty-four pages. I have read fifty-seven and cannot say I understand a sentence, or any idea whatever.” As far as the Tractarians were concerned, such an admission merely confirmed the obvious Erastianism, if not the apostasy, of the leader of His Majesty’s Government.

In light of such Whig depredations, Froude explicitly condemned establishment and called for the Church of England to save itself by escaping from the more and more irreligious hand of the state. Newman’s inclinations in this direction increased in the mid-late 1830s, too, but did not reach their logical end until the early 1840s. Of course, neither Keble nor Pusey, both overwhelmingly committed to the Church of England whatever its failings, ever reached this conclusion, although it was thought by many in both the Church and the public that Pusey, the “hermit of Christ Church,” was destined for Rome.

As we have seen, the Tracts for the Times was one way in which the Tractarians were able to spread their political gospel; the British Critic became another. The Critic began life in 1793 as a High Church publication in opposition to the anticlericalism of the French Revolution. Joshua Watson and Henry Norris, two prominent members of the Hackney Phalanx, purchased the magazine in 1814. In its early years, the Critic was a general-interest literary organ reflective of its time in reporting “all worthwhile publications in all fields of knowledge.” But in the overheated atmosphere of the war years the magazine’s religious pedigree became more prominent, especially under the ownership of the devout Watson and Norris. Later, in the 1830s, the Critic evolved into a voice for the Oxford men, and in 1838 Newman became its editor.

For Newman, the English confessional state was gradually proving itself a cause almost beyond redemption, and as editor he ensured that the Critic made clear this sad state of affairs. Accordingly, he excluded moderate churchmen, such as Samuel Wilberforce, another son of William Wilberforce and later bishop of Oxford, from the pages of the magazine on the grounds that the Church-state unity they espoused was mere Erastianism made more acceptable by earnest appeals to Bishop Richard Hooker, the sixteenth-century Anglican divine whose writings were most often used to uphold the establishment. Even the strong churchman and rising Tory politician William Gladstone was no match for Newman’s considered stance. Gladstone’s tortuous attempt to offer a sustainable theory of church and state in his 1838 book, The State in Its Relations with the Church, failed to impress both Newman and, for that matter, the more tolerant Keble, as we shall see in Chapter 4.

Newman edited the Critic for almost three years, from July 1838 until April 1841. He controlled the magazine and took it at a steady pace away from its High Church base toward a more overt sympathy for Rome. Naturally, this move angered the old High Churchmen, the so-called Zs, who saw their traditional magazine being taken from them and used for the increasingly suspicious purposes of the increasingly suspicious Tractarians. Newman continued to advocate Church independence, harking back to the Fathers of the Church as the foundation upon which the contemporary Church must be built. This “patristic fundamentalism,” as Peter Nockles calls it perceptively, was the Tractarians’ bulwark against what they saw as the vagaries of ecclesiastical and secular politics and the errors of religious denominationalism.

In the spring of 1839, Thomas Mozley, fellow of Oriel, future brother-in-law of Newman, and young lion of the Movement, made a contribution to the Critic that offered a kind of summation of the Tractarians’ position on church and state. In a review of Edward King’s orthodox book Church and King (1837), Mozley concluded by asserting that “a consecrated kingdom [has] ceased to be.” The state had betrayed the Church and was irredeemable. Attempts to revive such a unity were pointless, Mozley contended, because church and state are joined in a false and, for the Church, degrading union. The faster the Church extricated itself from its position in the establishment, the better. All who opposed this view, especially the old High Churchmen, were in error. “If establishmentism were Christianity,” Mozley wrote sarcastically, “the country might with a little forcing soon be filled with good Christians.” But Mozley looked on the antidisestablishmentarians with contempt. The establishment was beyond reclamation, in his view, and the Church must revivify itself based on a renewed commitment to catholic independence.

Newman left the editor’s chair at the Critic in 1841. By then he was moving irrevocably along the road to conversion. As Newman saw it, his work at the magazine was finished because he and his colleagues had said everything that they needed to say to articulate fully their position on church and state. In the great arena of national politics, the Tractarians had found the state almost completely unable to act as the guardian of the Church and were now, it seemed, ready to abandon wholly the old verities of the English constitution. Keble and Pusey resisted this radical stance, but the political initiative of the Movement was now beginning to pass to other, younger and more extreme men such as Mozley, W. G. Ward, and Frederick Oakeley, who took their lead from the radical Newman, who had assumed the unofficial leadership of the Movement. Newman, by this point in despair over his fundamental beliefs, was on the verge of beginning his retreat from Oriel, from the Movement, from the Church of England altogether. In 1843, he retired to the village of Littlemore on the outskirts of Oxford and remained there until the famous rainy night in October 1845 when he was received into the Roman Catholic Church by the itinerant Passionist priest, Father Dominic Barberi. And by that point, Rome’s latest and most celebrated English convert had abandoned all interest in politics.

But even though national politics may have been of little importance to the reclusive and intensely contemplative Newman of the early to mid-1840s, the Movement’s initial political concentration on the issues of church and state had drawn in professional politicians whose sympathies, unlike the irreligious Melbourne’s, lay with the Movement. Chief among these politicians were Gladstone, whom we encountered earlier with his long treatise on church and state, and Benjamin Disraeli, the young Conservative trying desperately to rise in the Party while under the thumb of ex-Oxford burgess and indisposed party leader and prime minister, Sir Robert Peel.

Gladstone was early attracted to the regenerative thrust of the Movement, becoming in the late 1830s a member of the Additional Curates Society, which sought to place curates who espoused High Church and Tractarian principles in needy populous parishes, and then later helping to organize the Engagement, a lay Tractarian brotherhood of parliamentarians committed to doing good works. As with most features of his life, especially the religious, Gladstone was excruciatingly serious about the Movement and sought to ensure that its charted course remained in the best interests of the Church. He corresponded with all the leading members of the Movement and in 1845 wrote to Newman in a desperate, and of course fruitless, attempt to try and dissuade him from defecting from the Church of England.

The theory of government and establishment Christianity Gladstone articulated in his treatise State and Church was one that exalted the Church, ascribing to it the role of society’s main regenerative agent. The state was likewise raised high and seen as a moral actor in the Aristotelian sense where the civil power is accorded a conscience. Gladstone believed in the organic unity of church and state: “The highest duty and highest interest of a body politic alike tend to place it in close relations of cooperation with the Church of Christ,” wrote Gladstone. This ideal, however, was one that could not be realized in early Victorian England, as Gladstone came to acknowledge sadly. He never gave up on the ideal of organic unity, but by the early 1840s the “conditions of the age,” as he called emergent pluralism and secularization, precluded such idealism. Parliament’s tasks did not include “evangelisation” in order to restore the catholic ethos of the Church of England, he concluded. Gladstone recognized the inexorability of Parliament’s and the country’s pluralism and secularization, though he did not endorse them.

For Gladstone, the Oxford Movement was a profoundly serious attempt to recall the Church of England to its apostolic and ecclesiastic roots. But because of the Movement’s increasingly Romanist and dogmatic bent, it clashed with Gladstone’s pragmatic governmental responsibilities and sympathies. He was devoted entirely to the Church of England, whatever its state of health, and although keenly aware of the Church’s shortcomings never flirted with the idea of throwing it over for Rome. Membership in the national church was the pivot of Gladstone’s existence and helps to explain, as Agatha Ramm and Perry Butler have pointed out, why Gladstone always resisted Tractarian extremes and can be called a member of the Movement only if such a caveat is first recognized.

Ultimately, Gladstone saw the Oxford Movement as a way to combat religious apathy and to stimulate a new appreciation of the long history of the Church of England and its foundation in Catholic Christianity. But a Newman-led Movement could not sustain a theory of church and state that satisfied Gladstone; and therefore, to him its political importance never surpassed its personal religious value.

For the worldly Disraeli, conversely and not surprisingly, the Oxford Movement’s influence was felt most keenly in party politics. In the early to mid-1840s Disraeli was at the helm of Young England, a coterie of youthful Conservative M.P.s who were frustrated at their lack of influence in Peel’s government and wished to make their mark by championing a brand of Tory politics different from the politics of brokering a peace between advocates of industry and supporters of the Corn Laws practiced by their chief. As Robert Blake observes, “Young England . . . beckon[ed] to those incurable romantics for whom political life is something more than a humdrum profession.” Romanticism was Young England’s lodestar.

Disraeli and his fellow Young Englanders—George Smythe, Lord John Manners, and Alexander Baillie-Cochrane—also reflected the impact that medievalism had on early Victorian England. Their own medievalism manifested itself most clearly in the advocacy of an organic view of history in which the past was held in great reverence, church and state were closely entwined politically, and the Church was the social anchor of society.

Disraeli, as the senior and most ambitious member of Young England, had the most to gain should it be successful in vaulting the quartet of backbenchers nearer the top of the Conservative Party’s greasy pole. Disraeli’s views on the place of the Church put Young England firmly within the web of the Oxford Movement, and Blake characteristically is direct and right about the linkage: “Young England was the Oxford Movement translated . . . from religion into politics.”

Disraeli’s mild success as a writer of popular novels in the 1820s and 1830s led him to pen three important and serious works—his political trilogy—in the 1840s. Two of these books, Coningsby (1844) and Sybil (1845), were manifestos of Young England’s position on political and social affairs. The Oxford Movement’s insistence on the centrality of the Church to the well-being of the country is captured well by Disraeli’s injunction in Coningsby: “It is by the Church . . . and by the Church alone that I see any chance of regenerating the national character.” Disraeli’s subsequent demand that the Church must be run on its “real principles” reflects the Oxford Movement’s call for a renewed understanding and acceptance of apostolicity and the rejection of the comfortable Erastianism practiced by many Anglicans in Parliament and parish alike.

In Sybil, Disraeli examines closely the dismal social conditions generated by industrial England and meditates on what a missionary Church and a rejuvenated aristocracy might do to ameliorate the worst of them. In the fictional figure of Aubrey St. Lys, Disraeli creates an Anglican cleric who is moved greatly by the squalor he sees around him in the city of Mowbray (Manchester) and disputes with the local factory owner over the wages and living standards of his workers. As Charles Egremont, Disraeli’s protagonist, says of him: “St. Lys thinks it is his duty to enter all societies. That is the reason why he goes to Mowbray Castle, as well as to the squalid courts and cellars of the town. He takes care that those who are clad in purple and fine linen shall know the state of their neighbours.”

Disraeli modeled St. Lys on Frederick Faber, an early Tractarian and an erstwhile fellow of University College, Oxford, who moved to the Lake District, there to fall under the sway of the poet William Wordsworth and to dream of a revival of the old England of perceived organic unity. Disraeli takes the ethereal characteristics of Faber, makes them practical in the figure of St. Lys, who then brings them to bear on the irreligious laborers of Mowbray, the “hundred thousand heathens” in need of a Church that really cares about their plight.

Eventually, Faber would convert to Roman Catholicism, an outcome Disraeli did not wish for any of the Tractarians because of his ultimate commitment to the Church as established. Nonetheless, the Tractarians’ devotion to a renewed Church of England, steeped in historic catholic tradition, was reason enough for Disraeli to endorse their mission and to take from it what he could for the benefit of Young England.

As a movement primarily of the heart and of the imagination, Young England’s practical political success was negligible. By the mid-1840s Young England had burned itself out. Like the Tory Party itself, the group ruptured over the Maynooth bill, Peel’s plan to make the Catholic seminary in Ireland the recipient of a permanent, rather than an annual, government subsidy. Disraeli voted against the bill, while Smythe and Manners voted for it at the alarmed insistence of their Peel-supporting fathers (Baillie-Cochrane was ill and not in attendance in the House). There is a small amount of irony in Disraeli’s refusal to support a bill designed to place a Catholic seminary on surer financial footing, although his establishmentarianism cannot be doubted. Was not the old faith, of course clothed in Anglican garb, at the core of Young England’s blueprint for national restoration? In any event, Young England petered out in 1846, but not before it had made its mark as the political analogue of the Oxford Movement. Its brief popularity made the Oxford Movement’s necessarily more religious message more accessible than it was otherwise, though Disraeli was always careful to steer clear of a personal alignment with the Tractarians. The No Popery! brush smeared widely in anti-Catholic England, and Disraeli did well to stay out of its way. For Disraeli, the future lay in consolidating his position in a Conservative Party without Peel at the helm. And when Peel died in 1850, the one-time Young Englander got his chance to rise high.

In R. W. Church’s classic account, The Oxford Movement: Twelve Years, 1833- 1845, first published over a century ago, the Anglican revival ends with Newman’s much-lamented going over to Rome. Indeed, Church’s final chapter is entitled simply and sadly, “The Catastrophe.” Newman’s departure from the Church of England is seen by Church as the last act of the Oxford Movement after which the Tractarians lost their leader and spiritual guide and the Movement ceased to be. In a restricted sense the Oxford Movement did end in 1845. But the significant changes brought to Anglicanism by the Tractarians were of course not canceled by Newman’s departure for Rome. During the middle and later years of the nineteenth century Anglo-Catholicism—the heir to the Oxford Movement—came to encapsulate many of the ideas and practices advocated by the Tractarians: reverence for the early church, clerical vestments, high altars, solemn masses, and religious statuary. From his canon’s stall at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Dr. Pusey was the visible head of Anglo-Catholicism, although he always rejected a leadership role and the idea of Church parties altogether, but not convincingly. Nonetheless, Pusey’s direct link to the Movement’s storied years gave him special weight in matters both ecclesiastical and religious. Newman’s conversion and longtime residence at the Oratory in Birmingham and Keble’s voluntary seclusion at Hursley left Pusey as the last leading representative of the Movement in Oxford. And thus it was to him that Anglo-Catholics looked for guidance and support. Politically, issues of church and state remained important and contested for most of the nineteenth century, and Pusey was the chief spokesperson for the catholic party within the Church of England.

The Oxford Movement generated much controversy in the 1830s and 1840s because it emerged in the midst of far-reaching changes to the state that opponents feared would alter forever the place of the Church within the establishment. This intense period of reform naturally ran its course, but this did not mean that the issues raised and the battles fought brought to an end the overarching concern of many Anglicans: the place of the Church in modern British society. For the remainder of the nineteenth century, beginning with the Gorham controversy over baptismal regeneration in 1850, Anglo-Catholics carried the ideas of the Oxford Movement into the public realm in an effort to ensure that catholic doctrine was not ignored whenever ecclesiastical decisions were made. Whether successful or not in arguing their case, Anglo-Catholics, under the reluctant leadership of Pusey, were an important presence in religio-political affairs.

One such affair emerged in the late 1840s. In 1847, the Tractarians’ old enemy, Renn Dickson Hampden, a former Oriel fellow, Noetic, and Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford, was elevated to the see of Hereford. The newly enthroned Hampden had borne the brunt of a vigorous attack launched by Newman back in 1836 over his alleged liberalism. Four years prior to that in 1832, Hampden had delivered the important Bampton Lectures at Oxford in which he questioned the religious soundness of technical, credal theology. Then, in 1836, the well-organized and combative Tractarians decided to launch a protest against Hampden based on their devotion to religious dogma, such as that found in the creeds of the Church of England. That same year the Regius Professorship of Divinity came open, and much to the surprise and dismay of the Tractarians, Melbourne, the prime minister, did the unthinkable, even for a Whig, and appointed Hampden to the chair. The Tractarians reacted with fury, launching strongly worded petitions to an unimpressed Melbourne and to an uninterested King William IV. Newman quickly wrote a pointed rebuttal to Hampden’s four-year-old Bampton Lectures, the Elucidations of Dr Hampden’s Theological Statements. All this activity resulted in Oxford’s Convocation passing a statute rebuking Hampden: “He hath in his published writings so treated matters theological that the University hath no confidence in him.” Much to the Tractarians horror, Hampden’s appointment stood nonetheless.

Now, in 1847, Pusey and others objected vigorously when the new prime minister, Lord John Russell, appointed Hampden to the episcopacy. Pusey was greatly dismayed to see the state override the expressed position of bishops and prominent clergy and their representation of the Church at large, but it was the soon-to-follow Gorham judgment which put the issue into sharpest relief for the post-Tractarian generation.

In 1847, also, the High Church bishop of Exeter, Henry Phillpotts, refused to institute the Reverend George Gorham to the living of Bramford Speke in the diocese of Exeter. Phillpotts’s refusal was based on what he deemed to be Gorham’s heterodox views on baptismal regeneration, an issue of seeming unending controversy, which divided Anglo-Catholics and evangelicals. Eventually, Gorham appealed his diocesan’s decision to the highest level, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, where it was upheld in 1850. Gorham was then instituted to his living by the archbishop of Canterbury.

Pusey and former Tractarians, such as James Hope and Henry Manning, were outraged by the decision. In July 1850, an enormous churchmen’s rally was held in London at which Pusey denounced the government for its abuse of the civil power in once again violating the Church’s sacred domain. As he exclaimed to the assembled multitude: “We stand . . . where two roads part, the way of the world and the way of the Church. . . . For if the state will not, as Magna Carta pledges it, allow that ‘the Church should have liberties inviolate,’ we must ask that the state will set us free from itself.” Although Pusey did not really advocate disestablishment, he was ready at least to call for it for rhetorical effect. The Gorham judgment had a deeper effect on others, however, the most notable being Henry Manning, who would shortly follow in Newman’s footsteps to Rome.

The Gorham case cast a long shadow over church-state relations. For the balance of the century Anglo-Catholics took refuge from Erastian encroachment by a continuous resistance based on a scholarly defense of and a historical reverence for Church tradition and authority. Within the Church of England, too, some took refuge from the evangelicals and the Broad Churchmen—as the liberals were now known—in staking out the ground of highly ritualistic worship. Initially, Pusey was not among them because his interest in ritualism was minimal; his concerns were overwhelmingly doctrinal and spiritual. But as Anglo-Catholicism’s nominal leader he believed ritualism had a place as the outward expression of inner devotion. Moreover, he was convinced that ritualism was grounded in a lay interest and was not, in the main, being foisted upon unreceptive parishioners by a controlling priesthood.

Politically, the ritualism issue climaxed in 1874 when the Conservative government of Disraeli, now long past his Young England days and indisposed to politically difficult manifestations of the “old faith,” introduced the Public Worship Regulation Act. Many “Protestant” parishioners had become increasingly restive about the “Catholic” practices of their clergy, sometimes to the point of open rebellion and the destruction of Church property. In response, Disraeli, with the parliamentary support of the staunchly evangelical Lord Shaftesbury, introduced legislation designed to curb ritualism, and indeed some clergymen were prosecuted under its terms. Publicly, Pusey objected to the government’s course of action. Privately, he hoped that the ritualists would cease in what he thought were their needless provocations, the result of which had been yet another unwelcome intrusion of the long arm of the state into Church affairs.

In the last years before his death in 1882, Pusey relaxed his stern view of ritualism, finally acknowledging in it the true hand of Tractarianism. But his declining years in Oxford were troubled also by the ending of the monopoly in 1871 that Anglicans had over college fellowships and offices. Mandatory subscription to the Thirty-nine Articles had been done away with for undergraduates in the mid-1850s, much to Pusey’s and Keble’s dismay. Though remaining very much Anglican in culture and ethos, the ancient universities of Oxford and Cambridge were no longer confessionally exclusive Church of England institutions by law.

Pusey’s and Keble’s unimpeachable commitment to the establishment meant that the Anglo-Catholic party never abandoned the church and state ideal in the middle to late nineteenth century. Both men believed profoundly in the sacral idea of kingship and the necessity of a proper understanding of the tutelary role of the monarch. Religious feeling must lie behind political values, they believed. Disestablishment, which Radicals were calling for with considerable insistence in the latter years of the Victorian era, would have been disastrous as far as Pusey and Keble were concerned because national politics would have been desacralized entirely. Equally for them, the abandonment of the state by the Church was full of peril because it would have meant an irreplaceable loss of “our ancient institutions and our collegiate and parochial churches; the churches wherein our fathers have worshipped from generation to generation; the representatives of those wherein God was first worshipped here,” Pusey opined.

For the Tractarians in their formative years, politics meant primarily the chain of issues found in the phrase, church and state. At the outset of the Oxford Movement, the hand of the state was seen as especially invasive and onerous by the more radical members, such as Froude and Mozley. Newman gradually became more and more radicalized throughout the 1830s, whereas Keble and Pusey never lost sight of the necessity, in their view, of retaining the church-state union. National and university politics were never mere sport for the Tractarians, as they seemed to be for their Whig enemies, but turned always on the cardinal question of the proper relationship between church and state. Froude died before he could answer fully the question; Newman found his answer in Rome; Keble and Pusey found it in a continuous and lifelong struggle to defend the establishment, but without compromising the position of the Church. As Keble said at the time of the Gorham case: “If the Church of England were to fail, it should be found in my parish.” But there was no chance of that at Hursley. Unfortunately for Keble, however, the Church of England was now to be found mostly in places unlike his sylvan Hursley retreat and, because of that, appeared to have already failed.

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