Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Mozley, James Bowling
MOZLEY, JAMES BOWLING (1813–1878), regius professor of divinity at Oxford, was born at Gainsborough in Lincolnshire, on 15 Sept. 1813. His father, Henry Mozley, was a bookseller, and removed his family and business from Gainsborough to Derby in 1815. James was the fifth son and eighth child. An elder brother, Thomas, and a sister, Anne, are separately noticed. At nine years old he was sent to Grantham grammar school, where he remained till 1828. He was unhappy at school a fact sufficiently explained by his mother, when she says in one of her letters to him, 'There is always much to dread when such tempers as yours and Mr. A's come in contact.' On his leaving Grantham, at the age of fifteen, application was made for his admission to Rugby, where Arnold had just been appointed head-master; but it was refused on the ground that he was too old. After trying for a scholarship at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, in June 1827, he was matriculated as a commoner at Oriel on 1 July 1830, and went into residence in the following October. His brother Thomas was a fellow of the college, and he consequently had the advantage of seeing much of older men. His undergraduate career was creditable, but owing to a certain mental slowness he never distinguished himself in examinations. He obtained only a third class in literæ humaniores in 1834, and failed in several competitions for fellowships. He was, however, successful in 1835 in gaining the prize for an English essay on 'The Influence of Ancient Oracles in Public and Private Life,' which Keble pronounced to be 'exceptionally good, and full of promise.' He continued to reside in Oxford, partly in Dr. Pusey's own house, and partly at the head of a small establishment in a house rented by Dr. Pusey for the use of theological students who had no fellowships to support them; it was called by Newman 'the Cœnobitium' (Letters, ii. 297), and by Mozley himself 'a reading and collating establishment to help in editing the Fathers' (Letters, p. 78). He proceeded M.A. in 1838, B.D. in 1846, and D.D. in 1871, and was elected a fellow of Magdalen in 1840.
With Pusey and Newman's religious views at the date of his graduation Mozley was in complete accord, and he took an active part in the Oxford movement. For about ten years he was joint editor of the 'Christian Remembrancer,' which succeeded the ' British Critic ' as the organ of the high church party. He also superintended the preparation for the press of papers on Thomas a Becket by Richard Hurrell Froude [q. v.], which were published in Froude's 'Remains.' When, however, Newman joined the Roman church in 1845, Mozley was not one of those who followed him. 'No one, of course,' he wrote on 14 May 1845, 'can prophesy the course of his own mind; but I feel at present that I could no more leave the English Church than fly ' (Letters, p. 168).
In 1856 Mozley accepted from his college the living of Old Shoreham in Sussex, which he retained till his death. In July of the same year he married Amelia, third daughter of Dr. James A. Ogle [q. v.], regius professor of medicine, whose twin sister was the wife of his friend, Manuel John Johnson [q. v.], the Radcliffe observer.
The Gorham case, which was the occasion of Manning and the two Wilberforces leaving the English church, had on Mozley quite an opposite effect [see Gorham, George Cornelius]. He says (in a letter dated 1 Jan. 1855) that, after four years of reading and considerable thought, he had 'arrived at a change of opinion, more or less modified, on some points of high church theology;' and that as to the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, he 'now entertained no doubt of the substantial justice of the Gorham decision on this point.' He therefore thought it right to withdraw from the management of the 'Christian Remembrancer;' and he also wrote three works bearing on the subject-matter of dispute: 'On the Augustinian Doctrine of Predestination,' 1855 (2nd edit. 1878); 'On the Primitive Doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration,' 1856; and 'A Review of the Baptismal Controversy,' 1862 (2nd edit, 1883). The value of these three works has been variously estimated by readers of different theological bias; he himself considered them to be some of his best, and all will acknowledge their learning and thoughtfulness. A much more valuable book was his Bampton lectures 'On Miracles,' 1865, which are devoted 'mainly to the fundamental question of the credibility of miracles, and their use; the evidences of them being only touched on subordinately and collaterally.' They were at once, on their publication, recognised as an important work, notwithstanding some controversial criticism, and reached a fifth edition in 1880. In 1869 he was appointed select university preacher, and a volume of 'University and other Sermons' was published in 1876 (4th edit. 1879).
Mozley had taken a very active part in favour of Mr. Gladstone when he was elected M.P. for the university of Oxford in 1847 (cf. Letters, pp. 183 sq.), and Mr. Gladstone, after he became prime minister in 1868, made Mozley a canon of Worcester (1869). This preferment was exchanged in 1871 for the position of regius professor of divinity at Oxford, in succession to Dr. Payne Smith. Although his manner of delivery was somewhat lifeless and uninteresting owing to weakness of voice, the matter of his professorial lectures was excellent, and one of his best works consisted of a course delivered to graduates, mostly themselves engaged in tuition, and entitled 'Ruling Ideas in early Ages, and their relation to the Old Testament Faith,' 1877 (4th edit. 1889).
On 29 July 1872 his wife died, leaving no family. In November 1875, while at Oxford, he had a paralytic seizure, from which he partially recovered. In January 1876 the Rev. John Wordsworth (the present bishop of Salisbury) undertook to be his deputy for the delivery of his professorial lectures. Mozley passed some months at St. Leonards-on-Sea, where he employed himself in superintending the publication of his university sermons and his Old Testament lectures. In the October term of 1876 he delivered his lectures himself, but the exertion proved too great. He died at Shoreham on 4 Jan. 1878, and was buried there.
Dean Church calls Mozley, 'after Mr. Newman, the most forcible and impressive of the Oxford writers,' and speaks of him as having a 'mind of great and rare power, though only recognised for what he was much later in his life.' And in another place he speaks of the sweetness, the affectionateness, the modesty, the generosity, behind an outside that to strangers might seem impassive (Oxford Movement, pp. 293, 318).
Besides the works already mentioned, Mozley wrote numerous articles in the 'British Critic,' of which his brother Thomas was editor, the 'Christian Remembrancer,' and the 'Guardian' newspaper, of which he was one of the earliest supporters. Some of these, including admirable estimates of Strafford and Laud, were collected and republished after his death, in 1878, in 2 vols., entitled 'Essays, Historical and Theological' (2nd edit. 1884), with a biographical introduction by his sister Anne [q. v.] He wrote also 'Lectures, and other Theological Papers,' 1883 ; ' Sermons, Parochial and Occasional,' 1879, 2nd edit. 1883 ; ' The Theory of Development : a Criticism of Dr. Newman's Essay,' 1878, reprinted from the ' Christian Remembrancer,' January 1874. A collection of his ' Letters ' was edited by his sister Anne, with a biographical introduction, in 1884.
[Foster's Alumni Oxon. ; Anne Mozley 's Introductions to the Essays and to the Letters ; various passages in Newman's Letters aud in Dean Church's Oxford Movement; a biographical notice by Church, reprinted from the Guardian in the Introduction to the Essays ; see also Guardian, 13 June 1883; Spectator, 5 May 1883 and 15 Nov. 1884; Times, 27 Dec. 1884; T. Mozley's Reminiscences ; Liddon's Life of Pusey ; personal knowledge and recollection.]