Newmanianism/III.The Editor of the Spectator

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§ III. The Editor of the "Spectator"

Since the above was in print, incidents have occurred which have compelled me to amplify my Preface.

The additions will be, I am sorry to say, largely of a personal nature, and I shall give my adversaries a splendid chance of bespattering me with accusations of an egotism to which they themselves have driven me. But I will risk that. Better to bear such charges from a few Newmanians who are too angry to know what they are saying, than to encourage, by silence, a suspicion in ordinary readers that I have waited for the death of an eminent man in order to attack him with impunity.

In the course of my remarks I shall have to attack Mr. R.H. Hutton. I do it with regret; but he has forced me to it. Hiterto I have studiously avoided giving him pain. In Philomytus I have analysed passage after passage from Newman's works, and have exposed their errors and fallacies. These passages, in a great number of instances, I had found in Mr. Hutton's Cardinal Newman quoted with expressed, or implied, approval. It was open to me (and I sometimes doubted whether it was not incumbent on me) to conclude each exposure with a moral -saying in effect, "See what Newmanianism brings a man to! And this, too, not a fool, but a really able man! Mark, and beware, the results of five and twenty years' study of Newman!!"

But I did nothing of the kind. In almost every instance I simply acknowleged Mr. Hutton's volume as the source of my extract. I left him alone, where Truth itself almost dictated that I should give him at least a passing touch. I sought peace and ensued it (so far as Mr. Hutton is concerned); but he prefers war; and -since, under the present circumstances, war against Mr. Hutton appears likely to be the best mode of waging war for Truth -war let it be. But it shall be real war; fighting, not cudgelling. Instead of bludgeoning him with epithets, I will do my best to catch him in the meshes of his own statements, and run him through with finely-pointed facts. It shall also be fair war. I shall convict him of a great many blunders, and of a continuous (though unintentional) misrepresentation of the object of his idolatry. But I shall never anger him, or disgrace myself, by denying that he is perfectly, blindly, and almost insanely "sincere".

Besides being far, the war shall also be, if possible, brief. If I might, without presumption, slightly change my metaphor for the purpose of what is to follow, I would compare this Preface to one of those "Trophies" erected by Greek conquerors on the field of battle. The rule was, with the Greeks, that a "Trophy" should be erected in memory of a victory; but it was not to be repaired; it was allowed to tumble to pieces under the finger of that kind old peace-maker, Time. So will it be, I trust, with the "Trophy" wich I am going to erect in the following paragraphs over the Editor of the Spectator, and Mr. Hutton. This preface shall be-so far as I am concerned- ephemeral. If Philomythus comes to a third edition, I hope to cancel it should the conduct of others allow me to do so.

And now I must briefly explain what has occurred to necessitate this unusual proceeding. The Editor of the Spectator began by attacking me in an article, in which, after describing Philomythus as a specimen fo "theological caning", "schoolmasterish severity" and "a superfluity of naughtiness of which only a pedantic theorist could be guilty", he proceeded to accuse me of four definite acts of unfairness (besides indefinite unfairnesses without number); then to imply that I was a Pharisee by saying, "Dr. Abbott evidently does not think the worse of himself for taking all possible credit for formally acquitting Newman; "and finally to bring against me (in the words above quoted) an approximation to a charge of falsehood.

In answer to a letter covering so much ground, I was necessarily obliged to write a long and somewhat technical reply, in which I convincted him of manifold errors and definitely met his charges of "unfairness", leaving my "sincerity" -as I suppose most men of honour would have done in such a case- to take care to itself.

The Editor inserted my letter. But he prefixed to it a second article of his own, declining to criticize "a petty verbal assault"; pouring contempt upon me, apparently because I am not, as Newman was, "two or three selves at once in the wonderful structure of "my" mind; and pronouncing my book to be "singularly deficient in candour" on the very same page in which he vouchsafed to suppose that he "had no right" to accuse me of insincerity. He aggravated this offence by speaking of my "upright and manly life". I do not mind, so much, a stranger's calling me insincere: but I object more strongly to it from one who professes (I do not know on what grounds) to know enough about me to testify to my "uprightness". He also used a great deal of loose and inaccurate, though interesting and plausible, language about Newman, which -though it would only convince the thoughtful and well-informed reader that the Editor was blind to almost all Newman's defects -would suggest, to the ill-informed, that I was blind to all Newman's virtues.

Besides this second article, he inserted a letter from Mr. Wilfrid Ward, accusing me (I) of "unmannerly abuse", (2) of "direct misrepresentation", (3) of "attempting to establish a case by misleading treatment", (4) of "electing", not only to omit Newman's italics in a quotation, but also to insert a word of my own -an accusation which, of course, though it may suggest nothing of any importance to some classes of people, yet, coming from one who is a man of honour as well a man of letters, amounted to a charge of something approximating to knavery.

Lastly, the Editor appended to my letter a long comment of his own, withdrawing nothing, correcting nothing except a date that he "carelessly wrote from memory", and mystifying and confusing everything.

To all these charges it was difficult to make a short reply; but I made it, at all events, a great deal shorter than my first letter, and sent it to the Editor. It was returned unprinted, with a note from Mr. R.H. Hutton, alleging that my first letter had already occupied more space than the attacks against me, "including the two articles". He curtly added that he would give me "a column at most", but that it was "simply impossible to fill another Spectator with a fresh reply". This was slightly discourteus. But I was not surprised at that; for I expected it. A little irritation was not very unnatural, and was quite pardonable in one whom I had (unintentionally) pained a great deal. What surprised me was that he should be so very angry as to be blind to the fact that less than four columns (the length of my letter) cannot be called, on the ordinary principles of Arithmetic, more than seven (the length of attacks on me) or even more than five (the length of his two articles).

I felt that his anger must be great indeed to produce such results as these. And other considerations reconciled me to this little ebullition of Editorial abruptness. I knew that many readers of the Spectator had for many years shaken thei heads mournfully over the growing tendency to narrow views in one who had once been supposed to feel a genuine admiration for Mr. F.D. Maurice; I knew how bitterly the late Bishop of Manchester had felt the constant worrying whit which he had been harassed by the Spectator in his declining years for honestly attempting to enforce among his clergy an observance of the law; I knew how, quite recently, the Spectator had persistently refrained, as long as it was possible to do so, from making any comment whatever on the "Service of Reconciliation, or Act of Reparation to Almighty God for the dishonour recently done to His sanctuary" by the act of a lunatic who shed his blood within the walls of St. Paul's; and further, I knew that, though the Times had thrown open its columns to a discussion of the subject, the Spectator had refused to insert a letter written by the foremost disciple of Mr. F.D. Maurice, a clergyman to whose opinion few, if any, of our bishops would have denied a profound and respectful attention. This being the case, there did not seem much for me to complain of.

So I sat down to condense my letter into "one column". Here it is, as it was printed, except that I have added, in brackets, two words of clearness.