1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Manning, Henry Edward

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MANNING, HENRY EDWARD (1808-1892), English Roman Catholic cardinal, was born at Totteridge, Hertfordshire, on the 15th of July 1808,[1] being the third and youngest son of William Manning, a West India merchant, who was a director of the Bank of England and governor, 1812-1813, and who sat in Parliament for some thirty years, representing in the Tory interest Plympton Earle, Lymington, Evesham, and Penryn consecutively. His mother, Mary, daughter of Henry Leroy Hunter, of Beech Hill, Reading, was of a family said to be of French extraction. Manning's boyhood was mainly spent at Coombe Bank, Sundridge, Kent, where he had for companions Charles and Christopher Wordsworth, afterwards bishops of St Andrews and of Lincoln. He was educated at Harrow, 1822-1827, Dr G. Butler being then the head master, but obtained no distinction beyond being in the cricket eleven in 1825. He matriculated at Balliol College, Oxford, in 1827, and soon made his mark as a debater at the Union, where Gladstone succeeded him as president in 1830. At this date he was ambitious of a political career, but his father had sustained severe losses in business, and in these circumstances Manning, having graduated with first-class honours in 1830, obtained the year following, through Viscount Goderich, a post as supernumerary clerk in the colonial office. This, however, he resigned in 1832, his thoughts having been turned towards a clerical career under Evangelical influences, which affected him deeply throughout life. Returning to Oxford, he was elected a fellow of Merton College, and was ordained; and in 1833 he was presented to the rectory of Lavington-with-Graffham in Sussex by Mrs Sargent, whose granddaughter Caroline he married on the 7th of November 1833, the ceremony being performed by the bride's brother-in-law, Samuel Wilberforce, afterwards bishop of Oxford and of Winchester. Manning's married life was of brief duration. His young and beautiful wife was of a consumptive family, and died childless (July 24, 1837). The lasting sadness that thus early overshadowed him tended to facilitate his acceptance of the austere teaching of the Oxford Tracts; and though he was never an acknowledged disciple of Newman, it was due to the latter's influence that from this date his theology assumed an increasingly High Church character, and his printed sermon on the “Rule of Faith” was taken as a public profession of his alliance with the Tractarians. In 1838 he took a leading part in the Church education movement, by which diocesan boards were established throughout the country; and he wrote an open letter to his bishop in criticism of the recent appointment of the ecclesiastical commission. In December of that year he paid his first visit to Rome, and called on Dr Wiseman in company with W. E. Gladstone. In January 1841 Shuttleworth, bishop of Chichester, appointed him archdeacon, whereupon he began a personal visitation of each parish within his district, completing the task in 1843. In 1842 he published a treatise on The Unity of the Church, and his reputation as an eloquent and earnest preacher being by this time considerable, he was in the same year appointed select preacher by his university, thus being called upon to fill from time to time the pulpit which Newman, as vicar of St Mary's, was just ceasing to occupy. Four volumes of his sermons appeared between the years 1842 and 1850, and these had reached the 7th, 4th, 3rd and 2nd editions respectively in 1850, but were not afterwards reprinted. In 1844 his portrait was painted by Richmond, and the same year he published a volume of university sermons, in which, however, was not included the one on the Gunpowder Plot. This sermon had much annoyed Newman and his more advanced disciples, but it was a proof that at that date Manning was loyal to the Church of England as Protestant. Newman's secession in 1845 placed Manning in a position of greater responsibility, as one of the High Church leaders, along with Pusey and Keble and Marriott; but it was with Gladstone and James Hope (afterwards Hope-Scott) that he was at this time most closely associated. In the spring of 1847 he was seriously ill, and that autumn and the following winter he spent abroad, chiefly in Rome, where he saw Newman “wearing the Oratorian habit and dead to the world.” He had public and private audiences with the pope on the 9th of April and the 11th of May 1848, but recorded next to nothing in his diary concerning them, though numerous other entries show an eager interest in everything connected with the Roman Church, and private papers also indicate that he recognized at this time grave defects in the Church of England and a mysterious attractiveness in Roman Catholicism, going so far as to question whether he might not one day be a Roman Catholic himself. Returning to England, he protested, but with moderation, against the appointment of Hampden as bishop of Hereford, and continued to take an active part in the religious education controversy. Through the influence of Samuel Wilberforce, he was offered the post of sub-almoner to Queen Victoria, always recognized as a stepping-stone to the episcopal bench, and his refusal of it was honourably consonant with all else in his career as an Anglican dignitary, in which he united pastoral diligence with an asceticism that was then quite exceptional. In 1850 the decision of the privy council, that the bishop of Exeter was bound to institute the Rev. G. C. Gorham to the benefice of Brampford Speke in spite of the latter's acknowledged disbelief in the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, brought to a crisis the position within the Church of England of those who believed in that Church as a legitimate part of the infallible Ecclesia docens. Manning made it clear that he regarded the matter as vital, though he did not act on this conviction until no hope remained of the decision being set aside or practically annulled by joint action of the bishops. In July he addressed to his bishop an open letter on “The Appellate Jurisdiction of the Crown in Matters Spiritual,” and he also took part in a meeting in London which protested against the decision. In the autumn of this year (1850) was the great popular outcry against the “Papal aggression” (see Wiseman), and Manning, feeling himself unable to take part in this protest, resigned, early in December his benefice and his archdeaconry; and writing to Hope-Scott, who a little later became a Roman Catholic with him, stated his conviction that the alternative was “either Rome or licence of thought and will.” He was received into the Roman Catholic Church by Father Brownbill, S.J., at the church in Farm Street, on Passion Sunday, the 6th of April 1851. On the following Sunday he was confirmed and received to communion by Cardinal Wiseman, who also, within ten weeks of his reception, ordained him priest. Manning thereupon proceeded to Rome to pursue his theological studies, residing at the college known as the “Academy for Noble Ecclesiastics,” and attending lectures by Perrone and Passaglia among others. The pope frequently received him in private audience, and in 1854 conferred on him the degree of D.D. During his visits to England he was at the disposal of Cardinal Wiseman, who through him, at the time of the Crimean War, was enabled to obtain from the government the concession that for the future Roman Catholic army chaplains should not be regarded as part of the staff of the Protestant chaplain-general. In 1857 the pope, proprio motu, appointed him provost (or head of the chapter) of Westminster, and the same year he took up his residence in Bayswater as superior of a community known as the “Oblates of St Charles,” an association of secular priests on the same lines as the institute of the Oratory, but with this difference, that they are by their constitution at the beck and call of the bishop in whose diocese they live. The community was thus of the greatest service to Cardinal Wiseman, whose right-hand man Manning thenceforward became. During the eight years of his life at Bayswater he was most active in all the duties of the priesthood, preaching, hearing confessions, and receiving converts; and he was notably zealous to promote in England all that was specially Roman and papal, thus giving offence to old-fashioned Catholics, both clerical and lay, many of whom were largely influenced by Gallican ideas, and had with difficulty accepted the restoration of the hierarchy in 1850. In 1860 he delivered a course of lectures on the pope's temporal power, at that date seriously threatened, and shortly afterwards he was appointed a papal domestic prelate, thus becoming a “Monsignor,” to be addressed as “Right Reverend.” He was now generally recognized as the able and effective leader of the Ultramontane party among English Roman Catholics, acting always, however, in subordination to Cardinal Wiseman; and on the latter's death (Feb. 15, 1865) it was felt that, if Manning should succeed to the vacant archbishopric, the triumph of Ultramontanism would be secured. Such a consummation not being desired by the Westminster chapter, they submitted to the pope three names, and Manning's was not one of them. Great efforts were made to secure the succession for the titular archbishop Errington, who at one time had been Wiseman's coadjutor with that right reserved to him, but who had been ousted from that position by the pope acting under Manning's influence. In such circumstances Pius IX. could hardly do otherwise than ignore Errington's nomination, as he also ignored the nomination of Clifford, bishop of Clifton, and of Grant, bishop of Southwark; and, by what he humorously described as “the Lord's own coup d'état,” he appointed Manning to the archiepiscopal see. Consecrated at the pro-cathedral at Moorfields (since destroyed) by Dr Ullathorne, bishop of Birmingham (June 8, 1865), and enthroned there (Nov. 6), after receiving the pallium in Rome, Manning began his work as archbishop by devoting himself especially to the religious education of the poor and to the establishment of Catholic industrial and reformatory schools. He steadily opposed whatever might encourage the admission of Catholics to the national universities, and so put his foot down on Newman's project to open a branch house of the Oratory at Oxford with himself as superior. He made an unsuccessful and costly effort to establish a Catholic university at Kensington, and he also made provision for a diocesan seminary of strictly ecclesiastical type. Jealous of the exclusive claims of the Roman Church, he procured a further condemnation at Rome of the “Association for the Promotion of the Unity of Christendom,” which advocated prayers for the accomplishment of a kind of federal union between the Roman, Greek and Anglican Churches, and in a pastoral letter he insisted on the heretical assumption implied in such an undertaking. He also worked for the due recognition of the dignity of the secular or pastoral clergy, whose position seemed to be threatened by the growing ascendancy of the regulars, and especially of the Jesuits, whom, as a practically distinct organization within the Church, he steadily opposed. In addition to his diocesan synods, he presided in 1873 over the fourth provincial synod of Westminster, which legislated on “acatholic” universities, church music, mixed marriages, and the order of a priest's household, having previously taken part, as theologian, in the provincial synods of 1853 and 1859, with a hand in the preparation of their decrees. But it was chiefly through his strenuous advocacy of the policy of defining papal infallibility at the Vatican council (1869-1870) that Manning's name obtained world-wide renown. In this he was instant in season and out of season. He brought to Rome a petition in its favour from his chapter at Westminster, and during the progress of the council he laboured incessantly to overcome the opposition of the “inopportunists.” And he never ceased to regard it as one of the chief privileges of his life that he had been able to take an active part in securing the definition, and in having heard with his own ears that doctrine proclaimed as a part of divine revelation. In 1875 he published a reply to Gladstone's attack on the Vatican decrees; and on the 15th of March in that year he was created cardinal, with the title of SS. Andrew and Gregory on the Coelian. He was present at the death of Pius IX. (Feb. 7, 1878); and in the subsequent conclave, while some Italian cardinals were prepared to vote for his election to fill the vacant chair, he himself supported Cardinal Pecci, afterwards known as Leo XIII. With him, however, Manning found less sympathy than with his predecessor, though Manning's advocacy of the claims of labour attracted Leo's attention, and influenced the encyclical which he issued on the subject. After the Vatican council, and more especially after the death of Pius IX., Manning devoted his attention mainly to social questions, and with these his name was popularly associated during the last fifteen years of his life. From 1872 onwards he was a strict teetotaller, not touching alcohol even as a medicine, and there was some murmuring among his clergy that his teaching on this subject verged on heresy. But his example and his zeal profoundly influenced for good the Irish poor forming the majority of his flock; and the “League of the Cross” which he founded, and which held annual demonstrations at the Crystal Palace, numbered nearly 30,000 members in London alone in 1874. He sat on two royal commissions, the one on the housing of the working classes (1884), and the other on primary education (1886); and in each case the report showed evident marks of his influence, which his fellow-commissioners recognized as that of a wise and competent social reformer. In the cause of labour he was active for many years, and in 1872 he set an example to the clergy of all the churches by taking a prominent part in a meeting held in Exeter Hall on behalf of the newly established Agricultural Labourers' Union, Joseph Arch and Charles Bradlaugh being among those who sat with him on the platform. In later years his strenuous advocacy of the claims of the working classes, and his declaration that “every man has a right to work or to bread” led to his being denounced as a Socialist. That he was such he denied more than once (Lemire, Le Cardinal Manning et son action sociale, Paris, 1893, p. 210), nor was he ever a Socialist in principle; but he favoured some of the methods of Socialism, because they alone seemed to him practically to meet the case of that pressing poverty which appealed to his heart. He took a leading part in the settlement of the dockers' strike in the autumn of 1889, and his patient and effectual action on this and on similar occasions secured for him the esteem and affection of great numbers of working men, so that his death on the 14th of January 1892, and his funeral a week later, were the occasion for a remarkable demonstration of popular veneration. The Roman Catholic Cathedral at Westminster is his joint memorial with his predecessor, Cardinal Wiseman.

Whatever may have been the value of Manning's services to the Roman Catholic Church in England in bringing it, as he did, up to a high level of what in earlier years was commonly denounced as Ultramontanism, it is certain that by his social action, as well as by the earnestness and holiness of his life, he greatly advanced, in the minds of his countrymen generally, their estimate of the character and value of Catholicism. Preëminently he was a devout ecclesiastic, a “great priest”; and his sermons, both Anglican and Catholic, are marked by fervour and dignity, by a conviction of his own authoritative mission as preacher, and by an eloquent insistence on considerations such as warm the heart and bend the will rather than on such as force the intellect to assent. But many of his instincts were those of a statesman, a diplomatist, a man of the world, even of a business man; and herein lay, at least in part, the secret of his influence and success. Intellectually he did not stand in the front rank. He was neither a philosopher nor a literary genius. Among his many publications, written, it is only fair to admit, amidst the urgent pressure of practical work, there is barely a page or even a sentence that bears the stamp of immortality. But within a somewhat narrower field he worked with patience, industry, and self-denying zeal; his ambition, which seemed to many personal, was rather the outcome of his devotion to the cause of the Church; and in the later years of his life especially he showed that he loved righteousness and hated iniquity, and that he realized as dearly as any one that the service of God was incomplete without the service of man.

The publication in 1896 of Manning's Life, by Purcell, was the occasion for some controversy on the ethics of biography. Edward Purcell was an obscure Catholic journalist, to whom Manning, late in life, had entrusted, rather by way of charitable bequest, his private diaries and other confidential papers. It thus came to pass that in Purcell's voluminous biography much that was obviously never intended for the public eye was, perhaps inadvertently, printed, together with a good deal of ungenerous comment. The facts disclosed which mainly attracted attention were: (1) that Manning, while yet formally an Anglican, and while publicly and privately dissuading others from joining the Roman Catholic Church, was yet within a little convinced that it was his own duty and destiny to take that step himself; (2) that he was continually intriguing at the back-stairs of the Vatican for the furtherance of his own views as to what was desirable in matters ecclesiastical; (3) that his relations with Newman were very unfriendly; and (4) that, while for the most part he exhibited towards his own clergy a frigid and masterful demeanour, he held privately very cordial relations with men of diverse religions or of no theological beliefs at all. And certainly Manning does betray in these autobiographical fragments an unheroic sensitiveness to the verdict of posterity on his career. But independent critics (among whom may specially be named François de Pressensé) held that Manning came well through the ordeal, and that Purcell's Life had great value as an unintentionally frank revelation of character. (A. W. Hu.)


  1. Purcell's assertion that the year of his birth was 1807 rests on no trustworthy evidence.