A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Newman, John Henry

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Newman, John Henry (1801-1890). -- Theologian, s. of a London banker, and brother of the above, was ed. at Ealing and Trinity Coll., Oxf., where he was the intimate friend of Pusey and Hurrell Froude. Taking orders he was successively curate of St. Clement's 1824, and Vicar of St. Mary's, Oxford, 1828. He was also Vice-principal of Alban Hall, where he assisted Whately, the Principal, page 286in his Logic. In 1830 he definitely broke with the evangelicalism in which he had been brought up; and in 1832, accompanied by H. Froude, went to the South of Europe, and visited Rome. During this lengthened tour he wrote most of his short poems, including "Lead Kindly Light," which were pub. 1834 as Lyra Apostolica. On his return he joined with Pusey, Keble, and others in initiating the Tractarian movement, and contributed some of the more important tracts, including the fateful No. xc., the publication of which brought about a crisis in the movement which, after two years of hesitation and mental and spiritual conflict, led to the resignation by N. of his benefice. In 1842 he retired to Littlemore, and after a period of prayer, fasting, and seclusion, was in 1845 received into the Roman Catholic Church. In the following year he went to Rome, where he was ordained priest and made D.D., and returning to England he established the oratory in Birmingham in 1847, and that in London in 1850. A controversy with C. Kingsley, who had written that N. "did not consider truth a necessary virtue," led to the publication of his Apologia pro Vita Sua (1864), one of the most remarkable books of religious autobiography ever written. N.'s later years were passed at the oratory at Birmingham. In 1879 he was summoned to Rome and cr. Cardinal of St. George in Velabro. Besides the works above mentioned he wrote, among others, The Arians of the Fourth Century (1833), Twelve Lectures (1850), Lectures on the Present Position of Catholics (1851), Idea of a University, Romanism and Popular Protestantism, Disquisition on the Canon of Scripture, and his poem, The Dream of Gerontius. Possessed of one of the most keen and subtle intellects of his age, N. was also master of a style of marvellous beauty and power. To many minds, however, his subtlety not seldom appeared to pass into sophistry; and his attitude to schools of thought widely differing from his own was sometimes harsh and unsympathetic. On the other hand he was able to exercise a remarkable influence over men ecclesiastically, and in some respects religiously, most strongly opposed to him. His sermons place him in the first rank of English preachers.

Lives or books about him by R.H. Hutton, E.A. Abbott. Works (36 vols., 1868-81), Apologia pro Vita Sua (1864), etc.