How Cardinal Newman Handled the Haters

[ 98 ] November 26, AD 2012 |

In January 1864, the Protestant pastor and novelist Charles Kingsley reviewed an English history book for Macmillan’s Magazine. The review began innocently enough. Kingsley critiqued the author’s handling of English figures like Mary Tudor and Queen Elizabeth. However, it quickly devolved into potshots against Catholicism in general, and against one of its most ardent supporters, John Henry Newman. Newman was confused and hurt by Kingsley’s remarks, especially this one:

“Truth, for its own sake, had never been a virtue with the Roman clergy. Father Newman informs us that it need not, and on the whole ought not to be.”

To translate into modern parlance, Kingsley basically said: “All priests are liars and Newman is the worst.” Or into leetspeak: “Newman’s a n00b.”

So how did Newman respond? Well, the same way any of us would. The internet is flooded with slander and personal attacks—if you doubt that, go on Facebook and comment on any religious or political issue—and the typical response is to fight fire with more fire. If they dish it out, you serve it right on back. Newman was of the same mindset, so here’s how he responded:

Dear Mr. Kingsley,

Your amateur review, which contains unneeded and demonstrably fallacious accusations, hardly deserves a reply. The charges within are no mere error—they’re simply idiotic. They betray your lack of intellect more than my lack of virtue, as a simple reading of any of the Church’s most Holy Scriptures—you do read, don’t you?—would affirm the primacy of Truth. I can only assume your density precludes such understanding, or it may be your arrogance which renders comprehension impossible. Whatever the source, be assured that you have my deepest sympathies and prayers. I can only hope the smoke of Satan stops clouding your already pitiable intellect.

I am,
Your dear brother in Truth and charity,
John Henry Newman

Newman’s response would have sailed right along the modern stream of vitriol which flows through our comboxes, Facebook discussions, and Twitter diatribes.

But there’s only one problem.

That’s not exactly how Newman responded. His actual reply was much more kind and humble. Here’s the actual letter, which was directed not toward Kingsley but to the editors of Macmillan’s Magazine:

Dr. Newman to Messrs. Macmillan and Co.
The Oratory, Dec. 30, 1863

Gentlemen,

I do not write to you with any controversial purpose, which would be preposterous; but I address you simply because of your special interest in a Magazine which bears your name. That highly respected name you have associated with a Magazine, of which the January number has been sent to me by this morning’s post, with a pencil mark calling my attention to page 217.

There, apropos of Queen Elizabeth, I read as follows:

“Truth, for its own sake, had never been a virtue with the Roman clergy. Father Newman informs us that it need not, and on the whole ought not to be; that cunning is the weapon which Heaven has given to the saints wherewith to withstand the brute male force of the wicked world which marries and is given in marriage. Whether his notion be doctrinally correct or not, it is at least historically so.”

There is no reference at the foot of the page to any words of mine, much less any quotation from my writings, in justification of this statement.

I should not dream of expostulating with the writer of such a passage, nor with the editor who could insert it without appending evidence in proof of its allegations. Nor do I want any reparation from either of them. I neither complain of them for their act, nor should I thank them if they reversed it. Nor do I even write to you with any desire of troubling you to send me an answer. I do but wish to draw the attention of yourselves, as gentlemen, to a grave and gratuitous slander, with which I feel confident you will be sorry to find associated a name so eminent as yours.

I am, Gentlemen,
Your obedient Servant,
John H. Newman

I think we can learn a few things from the way Newman handled his critics:

1. Don’t feed the trolls. Instead of taking Kingsley’s bait and returning one personal attack with another, Newman answered through a gracious open-letter to the Magazine. The letter eventually bloomed into Newman’s classic memoir, Apologia Pro Vita Sua, his book-length defense of Catholicism against Kingsley’s arguments. Newman understood that sometimes the best way to diffuse antagonism is to battle it on your own terms, not to sink down to the critic’s own nastiness and venom.

2. Compliment vigorously. It’s hard for people to hate you when their fire is chilled with kindness. Note the warmth and unwavering charity in Newman’s letter. Next time you get into a combox debate, find something in your interlocutor’s position to compliment before you begin a critique.

3. Assume the best. Newman clearly gave the magazine the benefit of the doubt. He praised its “highly respected name” and repeatedly referred to the editors as “gentleman.” These words were not passive-aggressive taunts. They were marks of true sincerity, signs that Newman was totally uninterested in slander or ad hominem attacks.
 

What else do you think we can learn from Newman’s reply?

 

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About the Author ()

Brandon Vogt is a Catholic writer and speaker who blogs at BrandonVogt.com. He's also the author of The Church and Media: Blogging Converts, Online Activists, and Bishops Who Tweet and the top hit on Google for "greatest evil in the world".
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  • http://www.prayermeetingpodcast.com Nick Alexander

    Great article. Although, I have to admit to sometimes have a St. Jerome or Chestertonian temperament…

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  • Edward A. Hara

    Well, shame on me, but I rather like the first response, the one that Newman didn’t send, but in my opinion, would have completely been justified in sending.

    Jesus must not have gotten the memo regarding “smothering the wicked in kindness” when He said the following:

    “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves”

    “[Ye] fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?”

    “Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.”

    But……………that’s just me.

    • Rob B.

      Newman was not the Son of God either. Best to leave the “flame wars” to He who can actually read men’s souls, don’t you think?

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  • Tyrone Beiron

    “Turn the other cheek”, “be meek”, and some such kindly advice. St Francis de Sales, in responding to the Protestant onslaught taught that words which are most gentle might work with the greatest impact. The above dialogue is also a metaphor between the Way of Christ, and that of the world, the bi-polar nature of our real world… even at work, as a professional, and not just as a “witness to the Truth”. But in all wars (metaphor for exchange of sorts, trade and otherwise), we lose our innocence all too quickly. It’s easy to retort, and hard to do it without feeling satisfied about “punching back”. Perhaps it is time to study again those classic virtues, those which did make Newman the sort of gentlemen we all ought to be, especially now. But the last time I remembered being meek at my workplace, all I observed were some unscrupulous people getting ahead. Makes you really think about what prize we are really chasing, doesn’t it.

    • http://onthesideoftheangels.blogspot.com Paul Priest

      Please don’t allow others to infer that St Francis de Sales was one for simpering passivity and pacifism.
      No: gentleness was the only way because it was the strongest way – it had the burning radiant fire of the sun – not the force and bluster of the wind [echoes of aesop?]
      The amount of people who abuse St FdS’s honey and vinegar analogy can be frustrating…
      This gentleness is an overwhelming unremitting proactive gentleness subsumed in Love – remember his most precious words:
      “It is never enough to love someone – that someone needs to know they are loved”…

      ..there is nothing weak or conditional or compromising or cowardly submissive or quietistically Buddhist in any of this…

      This is the Jesus of the Sacred Heart: Not the fallacious bogey of Jesus meek and mild…and please – wipe from your mind that ludicrous notion that good manners have anything to do with being virtuous.

      We are not called to niceness – but to virtue.

      • http://bozoboy87.wordpress.com wayne

        Aye,Paul the catholic priest, hows it going. havent seen you in a while. Youre rite, we are not called to niceness. I guess you already know that about me.Have you given up on Damiens blog? Rabit took it over and now its worthless. Say, You and Newman got alot in common. Ive found that instead of throwing mud on individual priests, its better to talk about any catholic teaching that look suspect.Same for other cults like LDS or jehovas. Nice to see your still around Paul

  • Roderick Alvernaz

    Would that I could respond so charitably …let alone so eloquently.

  • http://www.recoveredcatholic.com Christina

    Well this post was surely timely for me! Just today I wrote a blog post about how Catholics and Protestants should get along, and the first comment was from an angry Protestant calling me Satan spawn. lol. Thankfully the grace of God allowed me the patience to respond with charity. Thanks for this post, Brandon!

    • Roderick Alvernaz

      God bless you, Christina, for your patience and your charity. I know it can be challenging defending the Catholic faith -especially in a culture where its the last “acceptable” bias. May God continue to bless you and your every endeavor.

    • Maryann D.

      I wholeheartedly agree with your thoughts, Christina, re Protestants and Catholics getting along. Together in faith, our love of God and his abiding principles far outweigh our denominational differences, both real and imagined. Our “togetherness” will be crucial to unitedly confronting the seemingly ever increasing challenges from Satan… so I believe!

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  • http://onthesideoftheangels.blogspot.com Paul Priest

    Sorry Brandon but you’re missing the Victorian English barbs within Bl. JHN’s missive.
    It spews fury, venom, contempt and condescension via enthymemes and that which is left defiantly unsaid; there is even disdain at the worth of Rev. Kingsley himself; not merely what he wrote.
    The use of ‘gentlemen’ is perjorative [i.e. if you were gentlemen you should never have allowed such a comment to be published – so you’d better start acting like gentlemen now!]

    The trolls are most definitely being fed – Mr Kingsley is being attacked with vituperation and accused of being an unworthy slanderer and the publisher/editor is being accused of being either gullibly reckless or even complicit with Rev Kingsley’s sentiments

    The ‘politeness’ inferred by a modern reader is very far from complimentary – rather the reverse.

    JHN hasn’t assumed the best either – rather than it being taken for what it was – as a mocking side-swipe at the ‘Jesuitical’ approach that virtually every Anglican would use as a weapon against a Papist; rather JHN decides to take the term literally and outside of its context – you might not notice it but JHN’s also launching a vicious left-hook at the editors/publishers that their ungentlemanly conduct demands restitution lest they be found guilty by association. The ad hominems in his letter swoop in for the attack like valkyries.

    I’m really sorry to rain on your parade, but seriously: Your first proposed ‘contemporary blog-like’ response with its tirade of well-worn insults is actually significantly less ascerbic, vitriolic and ‘below the belt’ than the one Blessed John Henry Newman wrote himself.

    It’s a different culture in a different era but everyone reading JHN’s letter would wince – but the letter is redolent of Aneurin Bevan’s comment on Prime Minister Anthony Eden “If the Prime Minister is sincere, and he very well may be; then he is too stupid to be Prime Minister”

    No-one from a spanish background would denounce anyone as a thief even if they knew they were…it would be too socio-culturally demeaning for all involved; instead they would confront the criminal with “I appear to have mislaid my wallet” [which is a euphemism for I know you’ve taken it – give it back or I’ll break you neck!]

    Quentin Crisp said of the British “The Americans always say “Oh the British are so polite” without realising that the British are only ever polite to people they can’t stand!”
    If the British like someone a conversation will be filled with cordial familiarity and jovial put-downs, cynicisms and sarcasms.

    Heart may speak unto heart – but there was certainly not an ounce of cordiality in that letter – to those who understand the tone I think the response would be a cringing shock.

    • http://www.brandonvogt.com Brandon Vogt

      I strongly disagree. Having read a fair amount of Newman and being familiar with his style, this letter was not the passive-aggressive polemic you propose.

      Perhaps I’m wrong, but I think you’d be hard-pressed to find other Newman aficionados who would agree that the letter “[spewed] fury, venom, contempt and condescension.”

      • http://onthesideoftheangels.blogspot.com Paul Priest

        Sorry again – but you’re being dazzled by the halo and the assumption that words can be interpreted at face value without the locale, the era or the cultual argot and the terminologies utilised being taken into consderation.
        They can’t.
        You’re presuming this is the height of politeness, courtesy, civility and decorum with neither a raised word nor any imputation on another’s reputation; when it reality this is a withering character assassination and the remarks of someone who is incandescently livid and casts insults accordingly!

        Take a look at what he REALLY says about Charles Kingsley [and the editor]
        “I neither complain of them for their act, nor should I thank them if they reversed it.”

        That’s Victorianese for “I don’t give a [expletive deletive] what they do – they’re not worth it – those [expletive deleted] can go [expletive deleted] themselves for all I care. I expect nothing less from [derogatory term] like that of [derogatory term] intellect and [derogatory term] morality – and as for a retraction or an apology it would be of as much worth and contain as much false authenticity and sincerity as the [expletive deleted] they’ve already written/allowed to be written”

        ..how’s that for an ad hominem?

        ..this is confirmed by the accusation that they didn’t merely commit grave slander but ‘gratuitous’ slander too.
        [thinking the best of them?]

        …and the word ‘gentlemen’ [especially in the sign off] is used as a provocative confrontational bludgeon that they are not being deemed gentlemen or considered gentlemen because the evidence suggests they have not acted like gentlemen and should bloody well start to sct like gentlemen – if that’s at all possible…

        [that can hardly be considered any of the three aspects of your advice]

        …he even twists the knife by saying that he doesn’t and would never normally read the publication – the only reason he’s responding is because he was notified…

        With the English you have to notice the extraneous, the peripheral and the nuances – hardly anything ever means what it says and a word is hardly ever wasted – if it’s there – it’s there for a purpose and usually has a big motive pushing it – you just need to find it…

        Ok imagine you’re back at school and the principal Sister Mary Agnes has been reprimanding you and a schoolmate for fighting in the schoolyard and concludes “gentlemen as a reward you’re getting extra homework and I’m giving you the opportunity to volunteer for the after school glee club. I long for the day when the outside world is blessed with you two darling angels to lighten up every day for them as you have done mine” – and in a million years on another planet an alien tries to unravel the meaning – could they deduce what was really being said and for what reasons?

        The same applies here.
        We rarely write, say or do anything which isn’t contaminated with a[n] [un]healthy dose of irony or sarcasm.

        Newman was an exemplar of it.

      • James

        You’re wasting your time Brandon. “Paul Priest” thinks that, by definition, he is an expert on everything and anything Catholic, and hence everyone else is wrong. Clearly, you are more educated than he is and understood English more complexly than he does. Leave him to sink into irrelevance. It would be better just to delete his posts because you will get more sense out of beating a copper pipe against a brick wall.

      • http://onthesideoftheangels.blogspot.com Paul Priest

        Hear, hear “James”!

    • http://magisterialfundies.blogpsot.com Rick DeLano

      If anyone wonders whether Paul Priest has it right, they need only proceed to an examination of Blessed John Henry Newman’s “Apologia Pro Vita Sua”, which arose out of the same controversy.

      “In proceeding now, according to the engagement with which I entered upon my undertaking, to examine in detail the Pamphlet which has been written against me, I am very sorry to be obliged to say, that it is as slovenly and random and futile in its definite charges, as it is iniquitous in its method of disputation. And now I proceed to show this without any delay.”

      • http://www.brandonvogt.com Brandon Vogt

        But what Newman says is true. Kingsley’s charges were slovenly, they were random, and they were ultimately futile.

        Yet in his letter and his Apologia, Newman still points this out graciously and without ad hominem attacks or unfounded potshots. He responds to very definite charges, unlike Kingsley who accuses Newman vaguely and without evidence.

      • Anonymous

        Sorry PaulPriest, James is absolutely right. You’re a pedantic bore. Read that in your way as ‘you’re very entertaining. John Patrick

  • http://magisterialfundies.blogpsot.com Rick DeLano

    Anyone who has read the Apologia will understand that, by the time Blessed Newman was finished with him, Kingsley would most devoutly have wished rather to have fallen into the hands of Chesterton or St. Jerome :-)

    It is true to say Blessed Newman did not fight fire with fire.

    He fought lies with a resplendent light of truth.

    And he completely demolished the slander upon his name and honor, as Catholic men used to be wont to do.

    • http://www.brandonvogt.com Brandon Vogt

      :) I intentionally chose *not* to use St. Jerome as my example for this post. Otherwise our main lesson would have been:

      “1. If someone disagrees with you, scream at him, assault his character and then punch him in the face.”

      • http://onthesideoftheangels.blogspot.com Paul Priest

        I doubt if anyone had more ideological adversaries in the world than GKC – but is there one among them who didn’t adore him? Even when he’d slain their heretical dragons and exorcised their fallacious phantoms and was the field marshal of the army whose unending onslaught ravaged everything in which they lived and believed?
        To Bernard Shaw and HG Wells when GKC died the moon was twice as lonely and the stars were half as bright – they loved him like a brother.

        Why?
        Because Gilbert spent his whole life arguing – so much so that he had no time for quarrelling…

        Now if we are to love and honour Blessed John Henry Newman for who he was – we have to stop rewriting who he was – he was no plaster saint – no saint ever was..they all [bar one] had their flaws…they had fleet of clay because they were picked out of the mud where they were walking…and with Newman it was getting upset over minor slights and actuating generations-long pig-headed recalcitrant feuds over the most ridiculous issues…

        He may have been good, kind, holy, overflowing in intellect and wisdom..and although he’s very precious to us now – when he was alive he was ‘precious’ in the wrong way.
        He quarrelled, he took offence, he exacted canly, he sent people to Coventry for decades and had no qualms garnering support against the object of his disdain and antipathy so it might turn into a farcical internecine conflict continuing even after he was long dead…he might have been worthily childlike in so many ways but in one way he was childish..he was very sensitive and got hurt very easily…and was hyperbolic in his distress when he did get hurt..which was probably a path to his salvation…by that wound and its healing maybe Christ was able to enter into his life in ways unimaginable if he hadn’t had that sensitive side? Maybe the prayers and hymns and writings and poems wouldn’t have a tenth of their beauty and understanding if he hadn’t borne that cross?

        Anyone who has read the apologia may sympathise with him and his emotional and civic and intellectual struggles – but even the most warm-hearted of us must concede that there are times the blessed future cardinal was a bit of a narcissistic jessie fretting over non-existent anxieties and self-imposed unnecessary imaginary burdens – and despite being really brave there were times when the best thing for him would to have had a father figure giving him a good shake, or throwing a big bucket of ice-water over him or a good kick in the seat of the pants…
        …and a mother figure to force him and his opponent to say sorry and shake hands like nice young gentlemen and make up.

        Love Blessed John Henry Newman – but please don’t forget that he had his ‘Sheldon Cooper’ side to him too..we can love and forgive and be willing to excuse at any available opportunity..but to deny it is to turn him into marble..and he’s not!

      • Ink and Quill

        I totally thought “punch him in the face” was the St. Nicholas example. Or is that only applicable to heretics?

        ~Ink

  • Patricia Walsh

    Enjoyable and instructive post and commentary. Thanks to all. Since I alternate between a choleric and melancholic temperament, with choleric winning out much too often in the midst of the confusion and turmoil in the Church and in USA politics, it was great to kindred souls among you. :-)

  • David J

    Paul Priest – your posts are a joy to read. Marvellous stuff!

    • http://www.brandonvogt.com Brandon Vogt

      I’m with David. Though I still strongly disagree with your interpretation, I can’t help but love your writing. Have you published anything before? You have a real gift.

      • http://onthesideoftheangels.blogspot.com Paul Priest

        Lol – I work for Walmart. I’m a non-entity.

      • Anonymous

        He says he’s a nonentity — however, a most singular and memorable one ;-)

  • http://socrates58.blogspot.com/ Dave Armstrong

    I wrote in my share of your excellent article on Facebook:

    Newman’s conflict with Charles Kingsley is one of the two historical examples I bring up when I hear the very common and erroneous opinion that one must ALWAYS turn the other cheek. Not true. It’s not an absolute. The other example is St. Paul’s Socrates-like defense (“apologia”) of himself in the Roman / Jewish courts against untrue accusations (see the latter half of the book of Acts). He even appealed to his Roman citizenship (which eventually saved him from being crucified, like Peter). That’s hardly turning the other cheek.

    But Blessed Cardinal Newman defended himself with class and as much charity as could be mustered towards a vile, utterly groundless and irrational, and scurrilous personal attack. He had heard it for at least 19 years up to that time (since his conversion), and was totally fed up with it. I know something about the whole process, because I recently compiled a volume of his quotations and read most of his books and many of his letters. He had agonized for years over the lies being spread about him (as any normal human being would have).

    The result of his counter-replies was that he literally won over the affections of the English people, and this had truly momentous consequences in terms of an acceptance of Catholicism in a country with a record of bitter (and often hateful) anti-Catholicism for the previous 300 years. When high-profile Catholics are attacked, it is never solely about them. It is about the Church: that is always the target: at least in Satan’s strategy that ultimately lies behind all lies, and particularly those against Holy Mother Church and her leaders.

    • http://www.brandonvogt.com Brandon Vogt

      Thanks for the comment, Dave! As someone who has written a book on Newman, I’m curious to hear your take on Paul Priest’s interpretation of Newman’s letter (see above in the comment box.)

      • http://socrates58.blogspot.com/ Dave Armstrong

        I think his take is sheer nonsense: armchair psychobabble and reading into completely justified, brilliant satirical barbs (things that Jesus and Paul both did; therefore they are not at all intrinsically sinful in every instance), all kinds of nefarious motives that are not there. It’s assuming the worst of someone rather than the best: which the Christian must not do (1 Cor 13).

        I think Newman was doing a lot of what I often do, myself: taking an opportunity of a topic immediately at hand to launch off into observations about the larger related issue (in this case, a profound cultural anti-Catholicism).

        His book “Lectures on the Present Position of Catholics in England” (1851) contains some of the most delightful sarcasm I have read, anywhere. And it is good not only because it is spot-on and matchless prose (as always with him), but precisely because the subject matter offered such treasure-troves of folly and silliness to draw from.

        Likewise, with Kingsley. Newman knew full well what was behind the attack: it was directed against Catholicism in the usual garden-variety way, with allusions to jesuitical casuisty, etc: every timeworn stereotype in the book. And so he was simultaneously dealing with that. We know that, from what he wrote about the exchange. It was an opportunity to slay the beast of cultural anti-Catholicism, using the vehicle of a ridiculous personal attack, handed to him on a silver platter. So, e.g., he wrote in a letter, while putting the “Apologia” together:

        “So far as my character is connected with the fact of my conversion I have wished to do a service to Catholicism, . . .” (Letter to Frederick Rogers, 1 May 1864)

        Any true contempt was towards the incessant lying and revisionism of English anti-Catholicism: not towards Kingsley per se. He was just a pawn in that larger game. Hence Newman wrote eleven years later:

        “The death of Mr Kingsley, so premature, shocked me. I never from the first have felt any anger towards him. As I said in the first pages of my Apologia, it is very difficult to be angry with a man one has never seen. A casual reader would think my language denoted anger – but it did not. . . . much less could I feel any resentment against him when he was accidentally the instrument in the good Providence of God, by whom I had an opportunity given me, which otherwise I should not have had of vindicating my character and conduct in my Apologia.” (Letter to Sir William Henry Cope, 13 February 1875)

        Now, we can take Cardinal Newman’s own report of his interior feelings at face value, or we can rashly speculate and attribute ill will. I try to extend good will to any man. In this case, we have a saintly and rather extraordinary man: all the more reason to accept his own report. Justified sarcasm does not prove ill will or personal derision and detestation.

        We also know from his account of writing the “Apologia” that this was a very unpleasant task for him indeed: a state of mind quite contrary to the imaginary fiction that our friend has dreamt up:

        “In writing I kept bursting into tears—and, as I read it to St. John, I could not get on from beginning to end.” (Letter to William John Copeland, 19 April 1864)

        “. . . the most trying work which I ever had to do for nothing. During the writing and reading of my Part 3, I could not get on from beginning to end for crying . . .” (Letter to Frederick Rogers, 22 April 1864)

        “It has been a great misery to me.” (Letter to R. W. Church, 26 April 1864)

        “I have never been in such stress of brain and such pain of heart, and I have both trials together. Say some good prayers for me. . . . I have been constantly in tears, and constantly crying out in distress. . . . And then the third great trial and anxiety, lest I should not say well what is so important to say.” (Letter to James Robert Hope-Scott, 2 May 1864)

        “. . . I have done a book of 562 pages, all at a heat; but with so much suffering, such profuse crying, . . .” (Letter to Sister Mary Gabriel du Boulay, 25 June 1864)

        “I never had such a time, and once or twice thought I was breaking down.” (Letter to Mother Imelda Poole, 25 June 1864)

        None of these letters, by the way, are in my current book, “The Quotable Newman.” It had to be edited down . . . They will be in a Vol. II eventually, filed under a section devoted to his own thoughts about the “Apologia.”

        One line in Paul’s observations is very telltale, I think: “with Newman it was getting upset over minor slights and actuating generations-long pig-headed recalcitrant feuds over the most ridiculous issues…”

        That was surely the case at times for Newman, as with any sensitive or thoughtful person who loves God and others. But it is NOT the case in the dispute with Kingsley. Far from being a “minor” thing or “ridiculous” it was of the highest importance in the history of Catholicism in England and the world (Newman being perhaps the most notable and brilliant convert since St. Augustine).

        The subsequent favorable reaction of England proves this as no amount of analysis from anyone could. It was God’s providence for it to happen. Newman, being very spiritually attuned and discerning, thankfully knew that and endured the misery that he did, in defending himself (and really, the Church) against scurrilous lies.

        Lastly, as to the juxtaposition of Chesterton to Newman: people react in very different ways to different personas. Who doesn’t (almost instinctively) like the jovial, congenial, always smiling and wisecracking, big cuddly teddy bear Chestertonian type? Who could resist that? But not all men are of that type. It was God’s will that we have different temperaments (and thank heavens for that). Newman may not have been “warm fuzzy” likeable in that vein, but he was no less deeply admired and loved by virtually all who knew him: including many thousands of Protestants in his last 26 years of life. I collected some personal impressions from several people on a Photograph and Portrait page:

        http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2006/11/john-henry-cardinal-newman-photograph.html

        Chesterton was also bitingly satirical, especially about atheists and intellectuals: make no mistake about it. Again, I know a little about that, having compiled a book of his quotations, too! Here is one of my very favorites (I have it on my FB profile page):

        “And those who have been there will know what I mean when I say that, while there are stupid people everywhere, there is a particular minute and microcephalous idiocy which is only found in an intelligentsia.”

        (Illustrated London News, “The Defense of the Unconventional,” 10-17-25)

        Or this delightful tidbit:

        “I have frequently visited such societies, in the capacity of a common or normal fool, and I have almost always found there a few fools who were more foolish than I had imagined to be possible to man born of woman; people who had hardly enough brains to be called half-witted.”

        (“The Thing,” ch. 6)

        Now, in person, GKC might be able to get away with such withering, acerbic comments, but if one merely reads them (especially without knowing who wrote them), they are every bit as “negative” and as difficult to be a recipient of, as Newman’s barbs. Therefore, in terms of sarcasm considered in and of itself, apart from personality, I see little difference, if any, between the two men.

        I agree that Paul is a dazzling writer. Would that he concentrated his rare gift on more defensible and edifying subject matter.

      • DavidM

        I don’t know that Paul is a *dazzling* writer – I think at points he strays towards turgid. Anyway, amen, I say, to DA’s riposte.

      • http://onthesideoftheangels.blogspot.com Paul Priest

        I agree with DavidM – I apologiser because I most certainly veer towards the turgid as length is certainly easier and ironically less time-consuming than brevity. No publisher would dream of printing my ultra-violet meandering prose :)

  • DavidM

    Brandon,
    I’m curious: what is “passive-aggressive taunt” supposed to mean? Is that supposed to be the same thing as an “icily formal rebuke”?

    (FWIW, I think Paul Priest is closer to the truth than you are, while Dave Armstrong actually gets it right.)

    • http://www.brandonvogt.com Brandon Vogt

      By ‘passive-aggressive taunt’ I mean issuing an attack under the guise of charity. It’s doubly worse than directly attacking someone’s character because it offends while pretending not to.

      For example, when someone spews a litany of vulgarity and then caps it off by saying, “…but don’t worry, I’ll pray for you,” the offer is hardly sincere or humble. It’s a veiled suggestion that “your wrongheadedness is in deep need of prayer.” It’s an insult more than a consolation.

      But that’s not what Newman did in this letter to the Magazine. His tone and intention were sincere. When read in the context of the Apologia, it’s clear he meant exactly what he said.

      • DavidM

        Okay, so take this passage: “I should not dream of expostulating with the writer of such a passage, nor with the editor who could insert it without appending evidence in proof of its allegations.” – IOW, such a writer and such an editor have performed their jobs in such an utterly inexcusable and incompetent way that I won’t bother trying to remonstrate with them in an intelligent way.

        Now a couple of points for analysis: Suppose JHN had added that he would pray for these unfortunate imbeciles – would that have crossed the line to ‘passive-aggressive taunt’? Would that really have been an insult rather than a consolation (or just a statement of fact: I WILL pray for you)? Why? Is it simply not possible, in your view, to call imbecility imbecility and to still sincerely love the imbecile and pray for him? And what does humility have to do with passive-aggression? Sorry if the questions sound nit-picky, but I’m just curious about this little bit of jargon and inclined to dismiss it as misleading psychobabble.

      • http://onthesideoftheangels.blogspot.com Paul Priest

        I’m sorry but I’m afraid there’s a bit of a stitch-up going on here:

        a] My initial comments were in response to the nature of the letter being promoted as an exemplary means of dealing with trolls by being non-confrontational[starving the troll], by remaining courteous and presuming and implying inference of best motives.

        b] I gave no indication whatsoever of imposing a presumption of malice on Newman or even the ontogeny of a feud and vendetta. I was commenting on the nature of a letter – which I inferred was far from courteous, it was most certainly not devoid of personal insult or appeal to ad hominems and it was not one which implied optimal benignity.

        c] The only things I said were that this was
        [i] composed in anger &
        [ii] not a means [nor I believe was it ever aimed] to either neutralise or pacify – far from being courteous this letter was inflammatory and aggravated the situation by going beyond countering the simple historical/factual detail and its attached prejudicial slur to personal attacks and presumption of motives/capabilities. Not oil on troubled waters but oil on the flames.

        d] This is the enthymeme/subtext where the misconceptions are arising:
        I am perfectly willing to concede that there are all manner of sound, understandable reasons as to why Newman was motivated to write in such a way [e.g. 19 years of calumny, alienation, exasperation over systemic torment at the hands of one’s previous associates etc]. I would seize any opportunity to ameliorate or mitigate Newman’s motives for writing the way he did.
        But
        [i] Dave A thinks I’m appealing to pop-psychology, imposing classic textbook neuroses upon JHN, dimiishing both the issues at hand and the events leading to this fracas as exigent and merely hyperbolised by Newman’s fragile sensibilities – he understandably but erroneously combines two separate comments I made in regard to
        a] Newman’s tendency to quarrel, sulk, be bitingly acerbic and bear grudges; with
        b] The simple fact that this letter is highly vitriolic!

        …into an amalgam where a provoked Newman has endured the final straw and has now picked a fight over a triviality.

        ii] This is not the case. It was solelely in response to Brandon’s dismissal of my interpretation of the letter that I stated Newman had a capacity for biting sarcasm and if provoked he could easily use his rapier-like intellect to eviscerate his opponent – therefore my interpretation is not axiomatically untenable and not one which can be easily cast aside because he’s the angelic genius Cardinal Newman and ‘blesseds don’t act like that’.

        Brandon’s saying act in certain ways against trolls; using Newman’s letter as an example of how to do it.

        It’s certainly justifiable to ask if Newman is really emulating the proposed ideal responses? The rightness/wrongness/justifiability of his letter is debatable – even the proposed etiquette against trolls is contentious; but at present the proposition…

        “Act like Newman who did X, Y & Z”

        …has become as antinomial as a square circle if Newman instead did A,B & C.

      • http://socrates58.blogspot.com/ Dave Armstrong

        Hi Paul,

        Thanks for your thoughts. Very interesting and well-stated. We continue to (mostly) disagree.

        “a] My initial comments were in response to the nature of the letter being promoted as an exemplary means of dealing with trolls by being non-confrontational[starving the troll], by remaining courteous and presuming and implying inference of best motives.”

        I agree that Newman’s approach was not non-confrontational. In that respect I am closer to you than to Brandon. I disagree that the leading motive or characteristic was anger. it is simply withering sarcasm in the service of truth and fair play: a thing that both Jesus and Paul did (and Jesus, without sin, as those of us who believe He was God and therefore sinless, hold).

        “b] I gave no indication whatsoever of imposing a presumption of malice on Newman or even the ontogeny of a feud and vendetta.”

        That’s pretty remarkable, given the quite loaded (and repeated) adjectives you applied to Newman’s words and alleged interior attitude / motivation. I’m not questioning your report (as you have done to Newman!); I’m saying that granting this (your current interpretation of yourself) to be true, your word selection was exceedingly poor and misleading (not by intent, but by likely result).

        I was commenting on the nature of a letter – which I inferred was far from courteous, it was most certainly not devoid of personal insult or appeal to ad hominems and it was not one which implied optimal benignity.

        I think many times the line can be very fine between attacking a falsehood or injustice, and attacking the person making them. It’s true that saying, “you uttered a falsehood” is quite close to (or could be close to) saying, “you are a liar / you are the sort of person who is characterized by the uttering of falsehood.” So it’s a fine line, to be sure, and reasonable folks can differ as to what is going on.

        Nevertheless, id=f we speculate unduly on motivation, then we are in distinct danger of lack of charity towards our subject. I was trying to get beyond mere subjective analysis and reading in-between lines and words, to actual objective reports from Newman himself.

        Now, of course, probably every man has a bias towards himself, but if we are to talk about not attacking others and remaining charitable, we must give his words their due weight. You have chosen to ignore all of the primary evidence of Newman’s internal state of mind while dealing with Kingsley and writing the Apologia; instead choosing to remain on almost an entirely subjective plane, which only reinforces my initial impression of your analysis as mere psychobabble.

        “c] The only things I said were that this was
        [i] composed in anger”

        This is precisely what Newman denied. You say elsewhere that you don’t want to call him a liar, yet in effect, you do, by continuing to maintain this line. Newman himself denied this four times in just a single personal letter (that I already cited):

        “I never from the first have felt any anger towards him.”

        “As I said in the first pages of my Apologia, it is very difficult to be angry with a man one has never seen.”

        “A casual reader would think my language denoted anger – but it did not.”

        “. . . much less could I feel any resentment against him . . .”

        (Letter to Sir William Henry Cope, 13 February 1875)

        But you know better. You think you “know” that Newman was “angry” and that this was his leading (?) motivation in dealing with Kingsley. This is what I particularly object to, as quack psychoanalysis. Newman says he didn’t feel “any” anger; you say it is primarily characterized by anger, coming from deep within Newman. He even draws a general principle from it: it’s difficult to be angry with a man one has never met. Then he explains how his language might possibly be interpreted as angry, but it was not (yet you continue to say what he denies). Language and styles of writing can be misinterpreted, in other words. Happens all the time. Believe me, I know, myself, from my 650+ Internet dialogues and innumerable encounters in 31 years of apologetics. Lastly, Newman denies “any resentment”: eleven years after the initial incident.

        I am saying: why can’t it simply be righteous indignation of the sort that Jesus exhibited with the Pharisees and moneychangers? That involves no sin whatsoever and is personally justified.

        I accept Newman’s words at face value, but you don’t want to do that. Instead, now you have come up with yet another psychobabble theory about how Newman supposedly reinterprets his own past actions and writings. It’s extraordinary. Quite interesting and fascinating (I’ll give you that), but, I submit, implausible and unsustainable under logical and historical scrutiny.

        If we are content to call newman a bald-faced liarm, in reporting about his own interior states of mind (making him some kind of self-delusional, semi-neurotic, messed-up man (the type we see by the millions in today’s society), then you would have a point. But why would we choose that as an explanation?

        You emphasize the humanness of Newman (i.e., non-perfection). I never denied that. But in going so far to “prove” that he wasn’t perfect or some cardboard caricature of the popular conception of what a saint is about, you go way too far in the other direction, and end up regarding him (by the logic of your position, though you deny it) as a bald-faced liar or someone who is such a compulsive liar that he must have a severe neurosis or psychosis (removed from reality, which is what all mental illness means, to one degree or another).

        “&
        [ii] not a means [nor I believe was it ever aimed] to either neutralise or pacify – far from being courteous this letter was inflammatory and aggravated the situation by going beyond countering the simple historical/factual detail and its attached prejudicial slur to personal attacks and presumption of motives/capabilities. Not oil on troubled waters but oil on the flames.”

        I deny this as well, from the knowledge that I have about the man (as a great devotee of his for 22 years, and now compiler of his quotations), but I think it is fair to examine the question more deeply. If you mean merely the first reply, we could look at that in greater detail and determine whether it plausibly entails all these traits that you attach to it.

        “[i] Dave A thinks I’m appealing to pop-psychology, imposing classic textbook neuroses upon JHN, diminishing both the issues at hand and the events leading to this fracas as exigent and merely hyperbolised by Newman’s fragile sensibilities – he understandably but erroneously combines two separate comments”

        Yes I do, in a broad sense: not necessarily in every particular as you now describe what you think I was doing. What you write today, in the end, reinforces my interpretation, because you go right back to more (almost embarrassingly, excruciatingly speculative and subjective) psychoanalysis and utterly ignore the objective data of Newman’s own report about himself (that I presented). Thus, my combining of the two motifs seems not to have been far from the mark at all.

        “I made in regard to
        a] Newman’s tendency to quarrel, sulk, be bitingly acerbic and bear grudges; with
        b] The simple fact that this letter is highly vitriolic!”

        Here you say it is two different things you were talking about. Fair enough (granted); yet nevertheless you seem to combine the two again in how you interpret the data of the Kingsley-Newman dispute and in how you interpret Newman’s response. You still do bring it back to supposed leading personality traits of Newman’s.

        And I bring it back again to simply brilliant acerbic satire, that can be done in a way that involves neither personal pique nor anger nor desire to wound the other *person.*

        Again, I can relate to this from many incidents in muy own experience, since I’ve been known to be quite a “hard-hitter” and to use rather pointed sarcasm if the occasion warrants. many times, I have been accused of attacking individuals, when in my mind, I was quite sure that I had no such intent. I was strictly concentrating on falsehoods. But the people involved were “sure” that I had such a motivation, based on the words I wrote (precisely as you do with Newman). I did not.

        I’m as flawed as anyone else, but this is my life’s work and I am particularly careful (as a matter of “occupational hazard”) to separate critiques of ideas from that of persons and their motivations. Far as I can tell, I think Newman did the same (as a writer, public figure, and one often embroiled in controversy), and we see that in his later comments about Kingsley the man.

        “…into an amalgam where a provoked Newman has endured the final straw and has now picked a fight over a triviality.”

        That was not my opinion . . .

        “ii] This is not the case. It was solelely in response to Brandon’s dismissal of my interpretation of the letter that I stated Newman had a capacity for biting sarcasm and if provoked he could easily use his rapier-like intellect to eviscerate his opponent”

        Yes he could, and did in this case. I say, however, that it can be and was done, minus the “anger” and other epithets that you attached to it: just as Jesus did the same. I don’t say this because I think Newman was perfect, but because I don’t interpret this particular incident as you do. I don’t see the same things you see. You could argue, I suppose, that I am biased in favor of Newman and am blinded by that (probably guilty to some extent), but then I could say that you are possibly biased against him, for some reason, leading to a more cynical interpretation. Historical truth comes from different perspectives meeting each other, and that is exactly what we are doing here. I think I’ve offered (at the very least) enough counter-information to (at the very least) cast doubt on your “theory” as the only or most plausible one.

        “– therefore my interpretation is not axiomatically untenable and not one which can be easily cast aside because he’s the angelic genius Cardinal Newman and ‘blesseds don’t act like that’.”

        That’s not my argument. I have presented my argument (especially after this reply), and it’s not based on “Newman being saintly; therefore he couldn’t have possibly sinned here.” It’s based on what actually happened and how one plausibly interprets it, all things considered.

        I do think, however, that one who has been beatified is entitled to be granted enough benefit of the doubt, so as to not be regarded as a bald-faced liar (your casual dismissal of his own report about his own interior dispositions as regards Kingsley). I can hold that without being guilty of some pollyannish / childlike view of sainthood.

        “It’s certainly justifiable to ask if Newman is really emulating the proposed ideal responses?”

        I would say in that situation, absolutely. Again, as I alluded to before, the reaction of the English pubic (otherwise predisposed to be biased against any Catholic) proves the rightness of what he did. They thought he was perfectly justified. Good ol’ English “fair play” won the day. I think that is also objective data that counts for a lot.

        “The rightness/wrongness/justifiability of his letter is debatable”

        Perhaps so, but nothing you have given us so far changes my own opinion of it. I think you have failed in arguing your perspective.

        Nothing personal against you! I’m simply critiquing your ideas, that I disagree with, and your ideas ain’t you.

      • http://onthesideoftheangels.blogspot.com Paul Priest

        Ok. Start again:

        a] When someone responds to a published statement and doesn’t make any attempt to counter it or demand an apology or retraction…
        – but instead moves on to imply ungentlemanly conduct by the owners in allowing the editor to publish it and if they wish to be considered gentlemen they should dissociate themselves from it
        – together with implying no apology or retraction would be required because they wouldn’t be worth the paper on which they were written because
        – ‘nor would I thank them for it’ implies an intellectual and moral opprobrium of both Rev Kingsley and the Editor.

        …what may one infer?

        When he doesn’t attack what was said but instead attacks the character and motives of the one who said it, the one who allowed it to be said and his employers?
        Including an added sideswipe at the publication by mentioning he never read it?

        [Remember how I said look for the extra unnecessary comments made by the English?]

        One does not engage in paranoia or apophenia or enter into scurrilous speculative fantasy by inferring that such invective emanates from someone whom is not exactly a happy bunny about the situation.

        b] You say we have the ‘primary hard objective evidence’ of Newman saying he wasn’t angry,
        and then appeal to the Apologia to corroborate that he wasn’t one for retaliation in fits of pique, but invariably reverted to scathing intellectual sarcasm to repudiate and refute his opposition;
        then imply that it is sheer pop-psychobabble for anyone to suggest he wasn’t being completely honest in his recollection of his disposition that he wasn’t angry and felt no antipathy to his opponents.

        c] Hold on to your hat:
        You have Newman as someone who resorts to unemotive, cold, crystal-clear, clinical, logical intellectual scalpel-like dismemberment of his opponents’ position through rational argument laden with sarcasm mocking the academic propositions…no emotional motivation, no letting his temper getting the better of him.
        You appeal to this letter being an example of classical sardonic intellectual evisceration…not triggered or provoked by distress or fury but rather a stoical righteous indignation at the factual error, the historicism, the slander and the grave offence to all Catholics.
        And then appeal to Newman himself stating he wasn’t angry.

        d] I counter:
        Although I won’t say Newman was being untruthful, I will accuse him of being somewhat dishonest – turning this into an objective paradigm I’ll agree with Newman – of course he wasn’t angry with Kingsley himself – he didn’t know Kingsley – but what I will say is that he was absolutely livid with the eidolon Kingsley who wrote the article.

        Why do I say this?
        Why do I strongly argue that this letter was not a product of clear-headed intellectual sarcasm and was rather the work of someone enraged and letting rip his feelings?

        To defend the honour of Blessed John Henry Newman!!

        Because IF this letter is the product of a cold unemotional intellect…
        …it turns Cardinal Newman into a monster!

        The only justification for him saying the things he said – for his going way below the belt and attacking the motives and characters of the individuals concerned – is to forgive them on grounds of it being a hot-blooded emotional response.

        If you turn down the temperature and make this a cold, clinical response?
        The things he says become appalling, obscene, shockingly reprehensible.

        You have the choice of hot-blooded recklessness or cold-blooded callousness.
        By trying to defend Newman by excusing his responses as classical intellectual sarcasm – you are inadvertently representing him as a vindictive cold-hearted b*stard who understood very well what he was saying and had no reticence or compunction in saying it.

        Defend him as someone who was hot-headed and his emotions got the better of him and this led him to go too far in attacking the characters and motives of his opponents?
        Then you have a lovable forgivable flawed human being.

        So in order to defend Newman against your defence of Newman I have to say in his retaliation he sinned a little…
        …because if he didn’t?
        You don’t quite realise that your ‘Newman is sinless in this regard’ defence turns him into one of the biggest sinners possible!!

        A deplorable desiccated clinically calculating vicious reprobate who rationally determines revenge is always best-served cold.

        I’m saying Newman’s response was emotionally heartfelt.
        You’re [inadvertently?] arguing it was scarily heartless.

      • http://socrates58.blogspot.com/ Dave Armstrong

        YOU: Ok. Start again:

        ME: Good. You’re not getting very far with your first attempt. :-)

        YOU: a] When someone responds to a published statement and doesn’t make any attempt to counter it or demand an apology or retraction…

        – but instead moves on to imply ungentlemanly conduct by the owners in allowing the editor to publish it and if they wish to be considered gentlemen they should dissociate themselves from it

        – together with implying no apology or retraction would be required because they wouldn’t be worth the paper on which they were written because

        – ‘nor would I thank them for it’ implies an intellectual and moral opprobrium of both Rev Kingsley and the Editor.

        …what may one infer?

        ***

        ME: That it was a brilliant instance of rhetoric and marvelously understated socratic irony, perfectly fit to the times and the cultural milieu, and utterly justified by the seriousness and absurdity of the charges leveled.

        He was appealing to the well-established English sense of fair play (as one commenter here aptly noted). You live there; you know how that works. Let’s look at what he wrote (it’s all wonderful understatement):

        “I should not dream of expostulating with the writer of such a passage,”

        [IOW, “it’s not worth it; it’s beneath the dignity of a reply, in and of itself.” But in the long run, answering it had value, as it turned out, post-Hutton’s defense, etc., for the larger defense of Catholicism in England]

        “nor with the editor who could insert it without appending evidence in proof of its allegations.”

        [IOW, “shame on you for publishing unethical nonsense like this, minus the commensurate documentation, which is in accordance with your own ostensible standards as a respectable periodical” He’s calling them to live up to rudimentary standards. Mild; perfectly acceptable and justified]

        “Nor do I want any reparation from either of them.”

        [here I think he is simply implying that he doesn’t wish for it to escalate into some huge personal / possibly legal tiff]

        “I neither complain of them for their act, nor should I thank them if they reversed it. Nor do I even write to you with any desire of troubling you to send me an answer.”

        [socratic ironic understatement, with a biting sarcastic, “hit-between-the-eyes” undertone. Brilliant . . . He has no need to “thank” them since it is so utterly obvious that it was a wrong and baseless charge, that anyone would expect that a respectable magazine to withdraw it as a matter of course, upon the slightest reflection]

        “I do but wish to draw the attention of yourselves, as gentlemen,”

        [appealing to English fair play and the Victorian ideal of the gentleman]

        “to a grave and gratuitous slander,”

        [the heart of the matter, that should be corrected, in accordance with rudimentary Christian ethics: then (very much unlike now) still the leading ethical framework in England]

        “with which I feel confident you will be sorry to find associated a name so eminent as yours.”

        [attempt to appeal to their better instincts: “surely you don’t want to *defend* nonsense like this, or be associated with it!” DO you?” This is why he shouldn’t have to thank them if they withdraw it, because it is so clearly out of place]

        I see nothing here that goes to essential motives of Kingsley or the periodical: only an appeal to their better natures. I have often used such rhetoric myself, and so am quite familiar with it, as I am with socratic irony (Socrates was a huge influence on my thinking and style).

        YOU: When he doesn’t attack what was said but instead attacks the character and motives of the one who said it, the one who allowed it to be said and his employers?

        ME: I think this interpretation doesn’t reasonably follow from what was written, once the rhetorical style is understood. It’s a case of misunderstanding of genre and attribution of non-existent motivations. But Newman clearly detests the slander and lies, as he well should.

        YOU: Including an added sideswipe at the publication by mentioning he never read it?

        ME: I didn’t see that. Perhaps I missed it, and you could be so kind as to point it out to me?

        YOU: [Remember how I said look for the extra unnecessary comments made by the English?]

        ME: Sure, but you construct an entire substructure of motivation that is unwarranted.

        YOU: One does not engage in paranoia or apophenia or enter into scurrilous speculative fantasy by inferring that such invective emanates from someone whom is not exactly a happy bunny about the situation.

        ME: He was not, nor would you or I be for a second: and I have been massively slandered in public by anti-Catholics. I know very well how THAT feels. In any event, that doesn’t extend to all the various expressions of alleged opprobrium that you have attached to his interior feelings and thoughts.

        YOU: b] You say we have the ‘primary hard objective evidence’ of Newman saying he wasn’t angry,

        ME: Why do you immediately question that as relevant material? Why is his own word not good enough for you?

        YOU: and then appeal to the Apologia to corroborate that he wasn’t one for retaliation in fits of pique,

        ME: Not only that, but also neutral contemporary observers and prominent biographers.

        YOU: but invariably reverted to scathing intellectual sarcasm to repudiate and refute his opposition;

        ME: I didn’t contend for that (“invariably”?). Now you apparently extrapolate fro this one incident to some supposed universal tendency of Newman’s to resort to biting sarcasm at the drop of a hat. This was one specific instance that called for sarcasm, because it was so manifestly ridiculous. There was no “serious” way to deal with such a thing. It had to be dealt with at some level of irony, humor, etc. So we have the famous in-effect dialogue back-and-forth: “I never SAID it!” he was merely extending the method that he used in “Present Position of Catholics in England”: illustrating the absurd by being absurd: classic rhetorical method in argumentation. Reductio ad absurdum . . .

        YOU: then imply that it is sheer pop-psychobabble for anyone to suggest he wasn’t being completely honest in his recollection of his disposition that he wasn’t angry and felt no antipathy to his opponents.

        ME: The psychobabble lies in the entire analysis you make, that relied purely on your subjective “take” based on his use of sarcasm. You’re only now getting around to interacting with the primary historical evidences I produced, and even now to merely dismiss them with scarcely any objective reason why.

        Again, I ask: why is his own clear report not good enough for you? Why are you inclined to doubt it as revisionism or quasi-neurotic self-delusion? I don’t get it. I’d be interested top hear other possible things you criticize in Newman. Perhaps a bias is in play here. I am biased in favor of him; absolutely. He’s one of my big spiritual / theological / intellectual heroes. Do you have some bias against him?

        YOU: c] Hold on to your hat:
        You have Newman as someone who resorts to unemotive, cold, crystal-clear, clinical, logical intellectual scalpel-like dismemberment of his opponents’ position through rational argument laden with sarcasm mocking the academic propositions…no emotional motivation, no letting his temper getting the better of him.

        ME: I didn’t claim it was devoid of ALL emotion; never claimed such a thing at all. That could hardly be the case, since I cited six of his letters about writing the Apologia, where he said he was in great emotional distress indeed, including feeling he would break down, and many crying spells. He was greatly hurt by all the lies said about him, going back some 25 years by that time. He was a sensitive person. Of course he was emotional. Now you’re trying to put thoughts in my head and words that aren’t there.

        Your mistake is in interpreting the thing in a very (almost ridiculously, as you continue to go on and on) negative light, with woefully insufficient evidence to do so, and in the teeth of strong counter-evidence of many kinds. You imply this may be a case of “letting his temper getting the better of him.” Thanks again for your candor. There is no evidence of that, unless we say he is lying or deluding himself. He denied having any anger at all, let alone losing it and flying off the handle! We also know that he greatly deliberated and agonized over how to proceed, including repeated recourse to the opinions of a lawyer friend (Whately, as I recall).

        The letter was not written in the fog of a temper tantrum! You have no evidence for that. I guess you simply have a difficult time grasping that such brilliant satire can be written in a state of mind other than that which you have colorfully and variously described as allegedly Newman’s when writing the letter: “fury, venom, contempt, condescension, disdain, vituperation, ad hominem, vitriol, incandescently livid.”

        This is sheer nonsense. As I have stated repeatedly, the mere presence of acid satire does not necessarily mean all these other negative emotions towards persons are present at all. They could be (speaking generally now), but not necessarily, and I don’t believe they were, here, because the historiographical evidence is against it at every turn.

        YOU: You appeal to this letter being an example of classical sardonic intellectual evisceration…

        ME: IN large part it is classical rhetoric and socratic irony, yes. But I was usually referring to the entire correspondence back-and-forth. That includes the first letter.

        YOU: not triggered or provoked by distress or fury but rather a stoical righteous indignation at the factual error, the historicism, the slander and the grave offence to all Catholics.

        ME: More confusion on your part. He was distressed, but not “furious” in the sense that you opine, with all your various (gratuitous, I think) descriptions. It was righteous indignation, for a very good cause.

        YOU: And then appeal to Newman himself stating he wasn’t angry.

        ME: And you want to dismiss that for some reason.

        YOU: d] I counter:
        Although I won’t say Newman was being untruthful, I will accuse him of being somewhat dishonest

        ME: A distinction without a difference, and virtually sophistry, but at least you are straightforward about it.

        YOU: – turning this into an objective paradigm I’ll agree with Newman – of course he wasn’t angry with Kingsley himself – he didn’t know Kingsley – but what I will say is that he was absolutely livid with the eidolon Kingsley who wrote the article.

        ME: He was livid about ridiculous lies and slanders. One can be that without the slightest animus towards the person who is the source: even abstractly (since he didn’t know him).

        YOU: Why do I say this?
        Why do I strongly argue that this letter was not a product of clear-headed intellectual sarcasm and was rather the work of someone enraged and letting rip his feelings?

        ME: Yes, why? I’m curious. He WAS enraged: at the lie, not the liar.

        YOU: To defend the honour of Blessed John Henry Newman!!

        Because IF this letter is the product of a cold unemotional intellect…
        …it turns Cardinal Newman into a monster!

        ME: Fortunately, I have never argued such an absurd thing, so this has nothing to do with my contentions, and amounts to a straw man. He was emotional, but not as you suggest. You get the particulars wrong. I don’t counter your point of view by going to extreme and denying all emotions whatever, but by denying your particular take: and that with objective counter-evidences, not subjective mush, such as you have been specializing in throughout this. I know a little psychology, too, having minored in it in college. I know psychobabble when I see it.

        ME: The only justification for him saying the things he said – for his going way below the belt and attacking the motives and characters of the individuals concerned – is to forgive them on grounds of it being a hot-blooded emotional response.

        YOU: I deny that he did this. The justification is the lie itself (that’s more than enough), and how it was extrapolated in the English culturally anti-Catholic mind to Catholics en masse, and especially those sinister, jesuitical priests.

        YOU: If you turn down the temperature and make this a cold, clinical response?
        The things he says become appalling, obscene, shockingly reprehensible.

        ME: If you are at such a loss for counter-reply that you now must resort to a gross caricature of what I have contended, then I think we are drawing to a close. You ain’t got much ammo left in your arsenal. You seem to be arguing with someone else at this point, not me.

        YOU: You have the choice of hot-blooded recklessness or cold-blooded callousness.

        ME: No I don’t. You’re a victim of your own false dichotomies (which is a typically Protestant — particularly Calvinist — mode of thought). I say it is perfectly justified emotionally passionate righteous indignation, such as the prophets also expressed, and as Jesus and Paul express. All Christians should be very passionate about wickedness, while refraining from being malicious or hateful to people. Cardinal Newman did that. You seem to think it’s not possible (for you, it has to be hot-tempered tirades or — far worse — calculated cold cruelty). All kinds of things are possible with God’s grace, and we ARE talking about a beatified man, after all. This is no ordinary man. He had God’s grace all about him.

        YOU: By trying to defend Newman by excusing his responses as classical intellectual sarcasm – you are inadvertently representing him as a vindictive cold-hearted b*stard who understood very well what he was saying and had no reticence or compunction in saying it.

        ME: Now you are becoming merely humorous. I did no such thing. Your mistake lies in assuming that in order to employ classical modes of argumentation one must simultaneously be reduced to an unemotional automaton. I said no such thing; implied no such thing. That comes from you: irrationally projected onto me (or what you think is my argument) with no evidence: just as you are treating Cardinal Newman.

        Again, I can draw from my own frequent experiences as an apologist. I’m a very controlled, “cool,” easy-going, even-tempered person (ask anyone who knows me well). I might truly lose my temper maybe every six-seven years: maybe even longer. It’s very rare. Yet I am accused of doing so (strictly by people reading my writings) many times: of having some highly-charged supposed feelings, etc.

        Why is that? Well, for the same reason as we see in this situation, I submit: because I am quite (extremely!) passionate and emotional about truth and true ideas and right vs. wrong. I have to be as an apologist, or else I would lack 90% of my motivation (I’m sure Brandon and all apologists understand what I am saying here). We fight and contend for the right and the true, as we understand it in faith, in line with Holy Mother Church.

        So I am very passionate about the truth and the good: the very opposite of cold and calculating. Yet I can do this (most of the time; other times I fail, like we all do) without a hot-headedness or out-of-control anger and personal attacks. This is what I am saying that Newman did. Your two options are not the only two. There is also this third option.

        YOU: Defend him as someone who was hot-headed and his emotions got the better of him and this led him to go too far in attacking the characters and motives of his opponents?
        Then you have a lovable forgivable flawed human being.

        ME: I defend him according to what I know about him (which is a lot) and the available evidence: none of which leads to your conclusion. Since I’m not bound to your illogically rigid two-choice scenario (monster vs. flawed, lovable truly human person), I can opt for a third choice, even abstracted from the question of Newman’s saintliness. You don’t seem to be able to comprehend this. For you, for Newman to be passionate or righteously indignant, requires some sin in there somewhere. It doesn’t at all.

        He wasn’t perfect, and was perfectly human. I recall one letter in my research for my book where I thought he clearly crossed the line in describing or rebuking someone. So my opinion doesn’t come from some idealistic or unrealistic appraisal of Newman as somehow up there with the Blessed Virgin. I’ve already reiterated that at least twice.

        YOU: So in order to defend Newman against your defence of Newman I have to say in his retaliation he sinned a little…
        …because if he didn’t?

        ME: Not logically required, as I have explained.

        YOU: You don’t quite realise that your ‘Newman is sinless in this regard’ defence turns him into one of the biggest sinners possible!!

        ME: Not if your two choices aren’t the only ones. You have painted yourself into an unnecessary logical fallacy.

        YOU: A deplorable desiccated clinically calculating vicious reprobate who rationally determines revenge is always best-served cold.

        ME: You have quite a way with words. I wish your logic could attain that same high level.

        YOU: I’m saying Newman’s response was emotionally heartfelt.

        ME: Absolutely. We merely disagree on the particular emotions and where they were directed.

        YOU: You’re [inadvertently?] arguing it was scarily heartless.

        ME: Never did so (not even inadvertently: thank you), and I’m not doing it now.

        Thanks for the very vigorous discussion and challenges. It is immensely enjoyable to me, and I love writing anything to do with Cardinal Newman.

      • http://onthesideoftheangels.blogspot.com Paul Priest

        I don’t know about Socratic irony but there’s a hell of a lot of Protagorean sophistry going on…

        Either Newman was angry when he wrote the letter or he wasn’t – that is an either/or – that is a dichotomy. Nothing to do with calvinism or a protestant apprehension.

        Attacking the accusers rather than the accusation is a prime indicator of anger – that’s basic psychology – not mere psychobabble – and to retort your having studied it as a minor – I studied it as two minors, a major and lectured in it!

        Now you repeatedly appeal to it being classical socratic irony but I contend this is not being utilised against the accusation but the accusers – this makes it, to revert to anglicisms, “bang out of order!” – It’s not English fair play – it’s simply not cricket old bean…

        You dismiss this – swathingly equivocating this plain and simple fact that the accusers’ reputations and motives are the central theme – by appealing to a justifiable use of classical sarcasm precepts – but this doesn’t hold water – and even if it were the case it doesn’t stop Newman from being a cad, a bounder, and acting in a thoroughly unjustifiable way.

        Now you’re suggesting I’m imposing an utterly unnecessary subtext of Newman being necessarily angry to write in such a way; to which I respond that if he wasn’t angry when he wrote it there’s no excuse for what he wrote. You may make some vainglorious attempt to appeal to righteous indignation and even make some futile analogy to biblical characters but that IS simply ludicrous – Newman was attacking reputation and motive – not the nature of what was said – and to fall back on Newman realising that it would be futile to make the attempt – it does not remove the fact that he went beyond the pale by instead of countering the message he went for the throats of the messengers.

        An action which I repeat – is understandable if wrought in anger, but deplorable if written in a coldly clinical rational manner.
        Why you can’t accept this simple proposition is frankly beyond me – if he’s angry he’s guilty of a minor indiscretion – if he’s not angry he’s instead indicted for a signficantly graver transgression with no mitigation.

        …and here comes the doozy – you appeal to having a bias towards Newman and being a highly well-read expert [not having a clue how experienced or informed or how endeared or antipathetic I am to Newman – but this doesn’t preventing you attempting to throw an apophenic ‘alternate agenda’ onto my motives for maintaining my position.

        [believe it or not my Bishop attempted the same ludicrous ploy only a fortnight ago – instead of trying to counter what I was saying he accused me of having a hidden agenda [together with an appeal to the majority disagreeing with my position and then the appeal to ‘you’re upsetting everyone’] – it was childish then and it’s childish now – it’s a sophistry too far and might work for third party readers but it won’t prevent me from staing resolutely on-track]

        ..and yet again you hyperbolise – of course I meant that [from your contention] whenever he resorted to an intelectualised personal attack he was adopting a socratic irony – not that he always engaged in it at every opportunity.

        ..and yet again you persist in maintaining that I am portraying everything in a highly negative light and unjustifiably blackening Newman’s character by imposing on him a hypersensitivity and diva-like ‘b*tchiness’ – all of this concocted by ‘self-help book’-level amateur-psychoanalysis.

        When to an objective reader it’s quite apparent that I am actually making every attempt to rescue Newman’s reputation by arguing his resorting to character assassination was in a fit of pique – not as part a level-headed calculated plan of action.

        You contend that instead of being either it’s merely biting satirical genius evoked from justifiable righteous indignation – and if I can’t apprehend and comprehend that’s what Newman’s benignly doing it’s the fault of my ignorance or stupidity or my simply not being familiar with the luxuriant majesty of the socratic method [and I don’t suppose my having lectured a course on the ethics within Plato’s Gorgias will grant me any remission?]

        Far from Newman being right to attack characters and motives – I maintain he was in the wrong.

        Now either he’s excusably wrong by it being actuated by anger;
        or he’s inexcusably wrong by some twisted self-justification that it’s acceptable to resort to such methods.

        The main bone of contention between us is that Newman could justifiably attack – on the proviso that it’s under some quasi- protective umbrella of utilising a timeless rhetorical mechanism.

        To which I’ll reply with some anglo-saxon epithets:
        “That’s b*llocks because it would still make Newman a w*nker”

        …and I’ll defend Newman against your defence-no-defence of him until the sun grows cold.

      • http://socrates58.blogspot.com/ Dave Armstrong

        P: I don’t know about Socratic irony but there’s a hell of a lot of Protagorean sophistry going on…

        D: On my part or Newman’s?

        P: Either Newman was angry when he wrote the letter or he wasn’t – that is an either/or – that is a dichotomy. Nothing to do with calvinism or a protestant apprehension.

        D: That much is logical and uncontroversial. What is illogical is your insistence that he could only be fighting-mad / temper tantrum angry at Kingsley and not merely righteously indignant over his slanders, minus the element of personal animus. The dichotomy I referred to is your completely arbitrary two choices only: not merely anger vs. non-anger.

        P: Attacking the accusers rather than the accusation is a prime indicator of anger – that’s basic psychology – not mere psychobabble – and to retort your having studied it as a minor – I studied it as two minors, a major and lectured in it!

        D: Good for you. Again, no one is denying that attacking the accuser would indeed indicate that. I deny, of course, that he attacked Kingsley personally.

        P: Now you repeatedly appeal to it being classical socratic irony

        D: In part, for sure.

        P: but I contend this is not being utilised against the accusation but the accusers – this makes it, to revert to anglicisms, “bang out of order!” – It’s not English fair play – it’s simply not cricket old bean…

        D: And we continue to disagree on that. The difference is that I have Newman’s self-report and at least two of his major biographers’ opinion on my side. You have produced nothing except your own opinion.

        P: You dismiss this – swathingly equivocating this plain and simple fact that the accusers’ reputations and motives are the central theme – by appealing to a justifiable use of classical sarcasm precepts – but this doesn’t hold water – and even if it were the case it doesn’t stop Newman from being a cad, a bounder, and acting in a thoroughly unjustifiable way.

        D: Is this what you think about his actions, or are you just saying this is the logical outcome of my partial recourse to socratic irony as an explanation?

        P: Now you’re suggesting I’m imposing an utterly unnecessary subtext of Newman being necessarily angry to write in such a way; to which I respond that if he wasn’t angry when he wrote it there’s no excuse for what he wrote.

        D: Back to your two choices. For the life of me, I don’t get why you want to fight to the death on such an indefensible hill.

        P: You may make some vainglorious attempt

        D: Interesting choice of descriptive word there . . .

        P: to appeal to righteous indignation and even make some futile analogy to biblical characters

        D: I get the distinct impression that you don’t care at all for being disagreed with. It’s a very common trait.

        P: but that IS simply ludicrous – Newman was attacking reputation and motive – not the nature of what was said

        D: Right. And he is because YOU say so: minus any back-up from insignificant and irrelevant figures such as, say, two of his major biographers.

        P: – and to fall back on Newman realising that it would be futile to make the attempt – it does not remove the fact that he went beyond the pale by instead of countering the message he went for the throats of the messengers.

        D: So you say.

        P: An action which I repeat – is understandable if wrought in anger, but deplorable if written in a coldly clinical rational manner.

        D: Yes, you have repeated that enough times by now.

        P: Why you can’t accept this simple proposition is frankly beyond me – if he’s angry he’s guilty of a minor indiscretion – if he’s not angry he’s instead indicted for a signficantly graver transgression with no mitigation.

        D: Not all anger is tantamount to sin. It looks to me like this is one such instance. It’s not written in stone or absolutely proven, of course (very few things can be in any field); just my best interpretation, based on all I have presented and my knowledge of Newman the man.

        P: …and here comes the doozy – you appeal to having a bias towards Newman and being a highly well-read expert

        D: I didn’t claim to be an expert: only a devotee. I specifically denied what you now (curiously) say I claim, writing: “I don’t claim to be an expert on him: I simply collected his quotations.” Nor is admission of bias any sort of “appeal” (?!?!). I was simply being straightforward and transparent: full disclosure if you will.

        P: [not having a clue how experienced or informed or how endeared or antipathetic I am to Newman

        D: Yes, exactly, which is why I asked you if you had a bias (not knowing: which is generally why people ask a question to begin with! DUH!).

        P: – but this doesn’t prevent you attempting to throw an apophenic ‘alternate agenda’ onto my motives for maintaining my position.

        D: Not at all; I simply asked a question, which, as usual, you have not answered. Maybe you do below or in your later reply (I am answering as I read, as is often my custom). But if you don’t, I have no choice but to conclude that you believe you are above the possibility of bias.

        P: [believe it or not my Bishop attempted the same ludicrous ploy only a fortnight ago – instead of trying to counter what I was saying he accused me of having a hidden agenda [together with an appeal to the majority disagreeing with my position and then the appeal to ‘you’re upsetting everyone’] – it was childish then and it’s childish now – it’s a sophistry too far and might work for third party readers but it won’t prevent me from staying resolutely on-track]

        D: I did no such thing. since you say I did the “same” as your Bishop and he “accused me of having a hidden agenda” then you think I am doing this, too, but I never did! Here is what I wrote:

        “You could argue, I suppose, that I am biased in favor of Newman and am blinded by that (probably guilty to some extent), but then I could say that you are possibly biased against him, for some reason, leading to a more cynical interpretation.”

        That was a mere hypothetical, rhetorical remark. Big wow.

        I readily admit my bias, and merely allude to the possibility that you may have one, too, which is utterly uncontroversial, at least in my mind, because I believe that all people have biases when they approach just about any topic. I asked questions. But you’re answering very few of my questions:

        “Again, I ask: why is his own clear report not good enough for you? Why are you inclined to doubt it as revisionism or quasi-neurotic self-delusion? I don’t get it. I’d be interested to hear other possible things you criticize in Newman. Perhaps a bias is in play here. I am biased in favor of him; absolutely. He’s one of my big spiritual / theological / intellectual heroes. Do you have some bias against him?”

        Rather than simply answer good faith questions, you choose, rather, to charge that I am “accusing” you. I had nothing to do with your Bishop the other night. You’re capable of separating me from him, I’m sure.

        P: ..and yet again you hyperbolise – of course I meant that [from your contention] whenever he resorted to an intelectualised personal attack he was adopting a socratic irony – not that he always engaged in it at every opportunity.

        D: Alright.

        P: ..and yet again you persist in maintaining that I am portraying everything in a highly negative light and unjustifiably blackening Newman’s character by imposing on him a hypersensitivity and diva-like ‘b*tchiness’ – all of this concocted by ‘self-help book’-level amateur-psychoanalysis.

        D: It would greatly help me, and other readers (and help your presentation) if you would: 1) explain what I find puzzling (and perhaps several others, do, too); 2) actually answer my perfectly sincere questions rather than moan and lecture and attribute ill will to me as well.

        P: When to an objective reader it’s quite apparent that I am actually making every attempt to rescue Newman’s reputation by arguing his resorting to character assassination was in a fit of pique – not as part a level-headed calculated plan of action.

        D: That aspect is clearer now that you have explained it (which goes back to my last comment). But his reputation didn’t have to be rescued in the first place. If you’re interested in rescuing someone you should defend ol’ Kingsley. His reputation (at least as a fair-minded, charitable person) was shot, by the consensus of Victorian England.

        P: You contend that instead of being either it’s merely biting satirical genius evoked from justifiable righteous indignation – and if I can’t apprehend and comprehend that’s what Newman’s benignly doing it’s the fault of my ignorance or stupidity or my simply not being familiar with the luxuriant majesty of the socratic method [and I don’t suppose my having lectured a course on the ethics within Plato’s Gorgias will grant me any remission?]

        D: It’s clear that you are a thinker; as a thinker, you know full well that the best thinkers can sometimes be illogical. Perhaps you (as an exception to the rule) are spared by the grace of God from ever falling into what all of us mere mortals have done at one time or another. This is all I said: you were thinking illogically in that one respect. If that wounds your intellectual pride, so be it. We all need that, too, now and then. I never used the words “stupid” or “ignorant” or implied any such thing in any equivalent terms. I have been quite hard, though, admittedly, on your tendency to psychoanalyze Newman in the most excruciatingly specific fashion.

        P: Far from Newman being right to attack characters and motives – I maintain he was in the wrong.

        D: I deny the premise, of course.

        P: Now either he’s excusably wrong by it being actuated by anger; or he’s inexcusably wrong by some twisted self-justification that it’s acceptable to resort to such methods.

        D: Back to the rigid two-choice model again. Very odd . . .

        P: The main bone of contention between us is that Newman could justifiably attack – on the proviso that it’s under some quasi- protective umbrella of utilising a timeless rhetorical mechanism.

        To which I’ll reply with some anglo-saxon epithets:
        “That’s b*llocks because it would still make Newman a w*nker”

        …and I’ll defend Newman against your defence-no-defence of him until the sun grows cold.

        D: Right. Obviously this dialogue is nearing its end (assuming it ever WAS a dialogue, which is getting more difficult to believe with each entry). I think it could have been a very fun exchange between two people who have a differing interpretation. It is now rapidly descending to the acidic level of so much talk on the Internet (that made me forsake discussion boards for good nine years ago): truly a pity and a crying shame. But I have truly enjoyed it up till this point.

  • http://www.brandonvogt.com Brandon Vogt

    If JHN closed his letter saying, “I will pray for that unfortunate imbecile”, that wouldn’t be passive-aggressive–it would just be aggressive.

    If he said, at the end of an obviously vulgar and intentionally hurtful letter, “Nevertheless, I’ll pray for you,” it *may* be passive-aggressive, but it might in fact be sincere. To discern which it is, we’d examine the rest of his letter and, in this hypothetical case, the context would show his prayerful offering is probably insincere. It’s more likely a holier-than-thou barb.

    Of course it’s possible to call imbecility “imbecility” while still loving and praying for that person. But that was never my point. My point was that a phrase like “imbecility” is usually a pejorative, heated insult that Catholics should not wield if they’re at all interested in handling haters with love.

    Newman gives a good example of the proper response. He doesn’t call Kingsley an imbecile, at least in this letter. He simply wonders why such a baseless accusation, without proof or footnote, was included in a respected periodical.

    • http://socrates58.blogspot.com/ Dave Armstrong

      I would add that, at least in his initial response (cited in the article) there is liberal use of socratic irony, or tongue-in-cheek understatement:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony#Socratic_irony

      This can be done entirely without anger (as usually in Socrates himself) The task at hand is how to interpret Newman’s sarcasm and irony, as to motive? Why did Newman do it? It seems to me that there is definitely more than one way to look at this.

      We can assume that every use of the irony is born of a seething resentment and proof positive of (some or all of Paul’s many colorful terms: take your pick) fury, venom, contempt, condescension, disdain, vituperation, ad hominem, vitriol, or being “incandescently livid” (all of which emotions starkly contradict Newman’s own report of his state of mind).

      Or we can conclude (with much more charity) that, yes, Newman had contempt for the lies being told (that happened to be at his expense, but could have been directed to any one of a thousand Catholics), but not for the person telling them.

      Like I said, sarcasm *alone* — even biting, acerbic sarcasm — is not at all a proof of all these descriptions being applicable in Newman’s case, let alone of actual sin (since Jesus could call Pharisees “vipers” and “whitewashed tombs” while not sinning). It’s perfectly possible for a person to truly “hate the sin and not the sinner” as most Christians learn at some point in their spiritual odyssey. Jesus turned over the *tables* of the moneychangers; He didn’t smack *them* (though He had very choice words for them, calling them “thieves” or “robbers”): again without sin.

      I did a similar thing last night, in writing an Introduction to my upcoming book on Catholic so-called “traditionalism”, stating with regard to theological liberalism:

      “I detest these false notions; have nothing but intellectual contempt for them (while trying to love the persons, as I should).”

      This is rather elementary Christian ethics. Why is it that it is not assumed that Cardinal Newman’s “fury, venom,” etc. (insofar as it did exist), was simply directed towards the lies about Catholicism that were ubiquitous in England: pointedly expressed by Kingsley at his expense, rather than at Kingsley himself? Why is it that the conclusion is so quickly (easily?) drawn that it all stems from personal derision?

      I don’t think this follows at all, and I know for a fact that it certainly doesn’t *necessarily* follow, because I do this sort of thing all the time, myself, as an apologist: i.e., have a seething contempt for some falsehood and the harm that it causes, while (many times, but not always, being human) not being “opposed” to or wishing ill to persons ultimately victimized by and pawns of same, in the slightest. I did it last night in a lengthy, “controversial” exchange with several people. It’s part and parcel of apologetics, and in fact, if we apologists didn’t have such contempt for falsehood, we wouldn’t be nearly as motivated as we are to oppose and refute it. It’s good energy to go out and do constructive things with.

      The motive is, or should be love. Life is too short for petty personal squabbles. I don’t believe for a second that this was Newman’s motivation regarding Kingsley. I take him at his word. And that remains true as the most plausible explanation, in my opinion, from the relevant personal and circumstantial evidence, regardless of what view one takes on the notorious “Newman’s [real or alleged] hypersensitivity” mantra, which Paul trots out.

      From my own extensive biographical research in compiling my quotations book, I personally think this larger charge is a bum rap, while not denying that Cardinal Newman was a sensitive person (most of the deepest thinkers and saintly people are) or asserting that he was perfect. I deny that oversensitivity or hypersensitivity is accurately applied to Newman as a leading character trait or flaw. This is the issue: it’s a matter of degree and whether it was a sort of besetting sin for him.

      I think, again, that my own personal experience gives me a small amount of insight on the matter (and personalism of this sort was a big emphasis in Newman’s thought, as also in, e.g., Blessed Pope John Paul II’s). I have been accused many times in my apologetic endeavors (usually by anti-Catholics, as Kingsley was) of being “angry” or “sensitive” or some other emotional state that I knew was not true to the slightest extent in the given situation I was in (just last night, in fact, I was called a “crybaby” by a semi-sedevacantist, before he stalked off and blocked me). These things were applied to me, based on words I had written, but (in most cases) were untrue. They came either from an illogical or ill-formed conclusion drawn, or from projection of other people’s temperament onto my own (rather cool and easy-going, while being very passionate about ideas and truth).

      Why can it not be that Newman was simply passionate about principle and fact and truth, without this charge of personal pique being thrown at him? I deny that the evidence of his life and actions proves indubitably that the man was oversensitive. I could be wrong, of course (I don’t claim to be an expert on him: I simply collected his quotations), but I’m just giving my own opinion on that and the reasons why I hold it.

      • http://onthesideoftheangels.blogspot.com Paul Priest

        BECAUSE Newman didn’t merely attack the argument and the calumny – he moved on to attack the character, worth and motives of those involved.

        It becomes personal pique when the attack is moved from what’s said to why is was said. Whether he was justified or not is debatable but please – it’s ridiculous to say he didn’t do what he did.
        “..nor would I thank them for it” is scathingly derogatory – analogous to “I wouldn’t waste a bullet on them” or “I wouldn’t pee on them if they were on fire”.

        I was recently privileged enough attend a private talk given to the Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma by a Brompton Oratorian where there were many revelations regarding the internecine conflict between Birmingham and London during the Newman era – it was redolent of the Montagues & Capulets or Antioch & Alexandria.
        There’s nothing wrong with admitting that along with Newman’s intensive passion came the baggage of hypersensitivity and on occasions he fell into recalcitrant ‘objective forgiving but never subjectively forgetting”

        …and although I’m not going to call Newman a liar or a scoundrel, but he was often quite remiss in revisionism regarding previous dispositions with “I meant no offence” where an incredulous antagonist would respond “no offence given – but much taken!”. Newman didn’t exactly whitewash past confrontations but he was anachronistic in his ‘remembered apprehensions’. There were times where his writing reveals he was obviously furious yet when later recounting the events he quite obfuscatingly opines he wasn’t that upset about it and attempts to make a personal fight into an academic exercise [cum grano salis].

        …almost like a retired general recounting past battles at the dining table with somewhat poetic licence.

        David A cites Chesterton and I’m reminded of His Short History of England where he appeals to the dappled multicoloured nature of the human soul of historical figures – it isn’t black or white or varying shades of grey but more like a multifaceted diamond where certain facets are more polished or smudged accordingly – where virtues and vices are all at varying hues and translucencies.

        Newman was human.

      • http://socrates58.blogspot.com/ Dave Armstrong

        Again, Paul, your theory of Newman’s motivation is at odds with what he himself said about it. For example, in the Preface to the Apologia, he wrote:

        “But I really feel sad for what I am obliged now to say. I am in warfare with him, but I wish him no ill;—it is very difficult to get up resentment towards persons whom one has never seen. It is easy enough to be irritated with friends or foes vis-à-vis; but, though I am writing with all my heart against what he has said of me, I am not conscious of personal unkindness towards himself. I think it necessary to write as I am writing, for my own sake, and for the sake of the Catholic Priesthood; but I wish to impute nothing worse to him than that he has been furiously carried away by his feelings.”

        This is his own “meta-analysis.” One either accepts it or not. Or one can choose to read through passages in the Apologia that are tough and hard-hitting, and extrapolate from them some personal pique or ill will, or overarching anger. In so doing, however, one must directly reject Newman’s own report. I can see no compelling reason to doubt the latter.

        It’s not like no biographers can be found who concur with this scenario. Meriol Trevor, in the second of his two-part biography, “Newman: Light in Winter” (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1963, 659 pages), states, in writing about the initiation of the public dispute:

        “Sometimes one feeling was expressed, sometimes another, but all were felt and none suppressed. In spite of this, Newman’s decisions were not determined by his emotions, but taken after deliberation, consultation and prayer.” (p. 323)

        “Others besides the ‘Saturday’ [Review’] critic have called Newman cruel and pitiless to Kingsley. It is clear from his private letters that, though he was indignant at Kingsley’s slanderous attacks and his slippery way of delivering them, he felt no anger against him as a person. He never once attacked Kingsley’s own opinions, or his sincerity. All he did was defend himself, and if his defence was hard-hitting, at least it was fair and straightforward. It was Kingsley who had attacked, and who refused to admit himself in the wrong. And when he replied it was with such passionate hatred that few could admire the performance.” (p. 325)

        Trevor refers in the next paragraph to “the heat of his [Kingsley’s] anger” — but as we have just seen, he applies no such anger to Newman in the controversy. Does this not carry any significant weight (the opinion of a leading biographer): along with Newman’s own expressions of his non-anger during the episode?

        Wilfrid Ward, in his two-volume 1912 biography of Newman, takes the same view (and this is the guy who is famous for advancing the view of Newman as “hyper-sensitive”). Of Kingsley, he says:

        “Every line of this pamphlet speaks of an indignant man who is convinced that he has much the best case in the dispute, and who cannot bring himself to conceal his contemptuous dislike for his opponent. . . . the sheer prejudice which led to Mr. Kingsley’s insinuations.” (Vol. II, ch. 20, 11)

        These views were echoed at the time by Richard Holt Hutton, editor of the “Spectator”: described by Ward as “a Liberal in politics, until lately a Unitarian in religion, a known admirer of Kingsley, a sympathiser with the Liberal theology of Frederick Denison Maurice” (ibid., p. 4) It was Hutton who held that Kingsley was largely driven by prejudice and misinformation, and that Newman had gotten the better of him.

        About the worst that Newman does is call Kingsley a “furious foolish fellow” (Letter to R. W. Church, 23 April 1864; from Ward, v. 2, ch. 20, p. 20), but that much is surely evident from the man’s writings, and readily observed by more objective onlookers such as Hutton. Ward wrote:

        “One, and only one, adverse criticism did remain permanently in the public mind,—that Newman had been unduly sensitive and personally bitter towards Kingsley. With this impression he dealt in a highly interesting letter to William Cope written at the time of Kingsley’s death,—a letter which completes the story of the writing of the ‘Apologia.'” (ibid., p. 45)

        I cited part of this letter before (dated 13 February 1875). Here is some more that is directly relevant to the question of “tone” vs. Kingsley:

        “I have ever found from experience that no one would believe me in earnest if I spoke calmly. When again and again I denied the repeated report that I was on the point of coming back to the Church of England, I have uniformly found that, if I simply denied it, this only made newspapers repeat the report more confidently,—but, if I said something sharp, they abused me for scurrility against the Church I had left, but they believed me. Rightly or wrongly, this was the reason why I felt it would not do to be tame and not to show indignation at Mr. Kingsley’s charges. Within the last few years I have been obliged to adopt a similar course towards those who said I could not receive the Vatican Decrees. I sent a sharp letter to the Guardian and, of course, the Guardian called me names, but it believed me and did not allow the offence of its correspondent to be repeated.

        “As to Mr. Kingsley, . . . I heard, too, a few years back from a friend that she chanced to go into Chester Cathedral and found Mr. K. preaching about me, kindly though, of course, with criticisms on me. And it has rejoiced me to observe lately that he was defending the Athanasian Creed, and, as it seemed to me, in his views generally nearing the Catholic view of things. I have always hoped that by good luck I might meet him, feeling sure that there would be no embarrassment on my part, and I said Mass for his soul as soon as I heard of his death.” (ibid. pp. 45-46)

        Yet more evidence against your general theory . . . It explains much as to tone and also the absence of any resentment towards Kingsley.

      • http://onthesideoftheangels.blogspot.com Paul Priest

        Sorry but to be brief you’re extrapolating and hyperbolising what I said into a reductio ad absurdam.

        I am not referring to the Apologia or the personal affability/animosity levels of the intellectual battle – I’m commenting on the letter itself.

        Written in fleeting anger: Understandabe and forgivable by being written in fleeting anger.

      • http://socrates58.blogspot.com/ Dave Armstrong

        The first letter to the magazine was relatively mild. This only makes your case more implausible, since you attribute so many strong emotions to Newman in writing it (lots of choice adjectives). The truly biting, acerbic stuff was in subsequent entries. But even then I don’t attribute “anger” to Newman: of the type that you want to attach to him.

        I don’t, not because he is beatified, but rather, because of:

        1) His own report.

        2) Opinions of relatively “neutral” observers at the time, like Hutton.

        3) Opinions of prominent biographers (Ward, Trevor).

        4) The fact that the English public (predisposed theologically and culturally to be hostile) was won over by his self-defense.

        5) Analogies to similar misunderstandings about words and supposed motives or emotions lying behind them from my own experience, as a frequent debater and one (unwillingly) often embroiled in controversies.

        6) Analogies to Jesus’ non-sinful biting sarcasm (Pharisees, moneychangers). Sarcasm per se is not immediately “emotionally spiteful / malicious,” etc.: let alone sinful.

        7) A thing called “righteous indignation” that is perfectly justified in the right time and place, and applies, I think, in this instance.

      • http://onthesideoftheangels.blogspot.com Paul Priest

        Now I’m begining to get a litle irked in that you’re not arguing against what I said but rather across it.

        Relatively mild?
        In what way?
        When one attacks the reputation and motive of opponents one should have thought that however ostensibly courteous or to what degree one imputes culpability seems irrelevant – like being a little bit pregnant? Alea acta est even when it’s snake eyes!

        Now your reasons for maintaining your position may seem like repeated deathblows upon my argument…
        ..until one realises that they aren’t even dealing with my argument.

        1. I deal with Newman denying he was angry in tegard to the letter elsewhere and my argument stands – your simple repetition does not provide a counter-argument.

        2. 3. 4 refer to the actual battle itself – not the letter – I already stated I was NOT referring to the battle but specifically this letter.

        5. Is an appeal to personal experience on being misinterpreted therefore it is quite probable that I have possibly misinterpreted – which is quite remiss of you given that you agree with the nature of the letter!!!
        We only disagree on the motive behind its writing – we are relatively congruent in our assessment of what’s being said – we diverge when it comes to the why.

        Now yes you do proceed to say that there is experience of misinterpreted motive and actuating emotions – but what makes you so dismissive of my capacity to infer Newman’s in this specific letter?
        Especially given from my previous argument an interpreted emotional response affords Newman more leniency and a more benign outcome of the actions?
        Objectively you don’t know me from Adam – and although you make great appeal to the ‘ridiculous’ embellishment of multiple adjectives in my original post as [specious] armchair psychology – you have so far cited nothing to disprove my claim that there was fury, venom, contempt and condescension [all differing predicates – not synonyms] in the letter…except appealing to comments made about the whole battle – not the leter itself [sans Newman’s reflection of not being angry – which I refuse to believe as if that were the case it would turn him into a thoughtlessly negligent and irresponsible monster]

        Number 6 – Our Lord’s sarcasm – is an obfuscating irrelevance – need I remind you that God made man said ‘Judge not’ while Newman does a hell of a lot of speculative judging of motives in that letter.

        Munber 7 – Righteous indignation DOES NOT JUSTIFY an attack on the character or motives of the persons involved – it would coerce one to vociferously make every attempt to refute the claims made – not to simply refer to it as slander and spend the rest of the time attacking the accusers rather than the accusation.

        If Newman lost his temper and launched an ostensibly civil but blatantly antagonistic tirade it makes him look like a human being – if his actions are equivocated away as merely intellectual sarcasm it makes him more inhuman than can be conceivable.

      • http://socrates58.blogspot.com/ Dave Armstrong

        YOU: Now I’m beginning to get a little irked in that you’re not arguing against what I said but rather across it.

        ME: It’s always a possibility in dialogues on complex subject matter. You have hugely misunderstood my argument. I may very have misunderstood something in yours as well. At least I interact directly with your words, anyway.

        YOU: Relatively mild?
        In what way?

        When one attacks the reputation and motive of opponents one should have thought that however ostensibly courteous or to what degree one imputes culpability seems irrelevant – like being a little bit pregnant? Alea acta est even when it’s snake eyes!

        ME: Explained in my previous textual analysis of the first letter . . .

        YOU: Now your reasons for maintaining your position may seem like repeated deathblows upon my argument…

        ME: Yes, they do! :-)

        YOU: ..until one realises that they aren’t even dealing with my argument.

        ME: Well, we have that experience in common, having just dealt at length with your skyscraper high straw men . . .

        YOU: 1. I deal with Newman denying he was angry in regard to the letter elsewhere and my argument stands – your simple repetition does not provide a counter-argument.

        ME: All you did was psychoanalyze his supposed motivations and states of mind in allegedly revising his own prior actions. That’s unimpressive and underwhelming, to put it mildly: pure subjective mush and no more compelling than my proving to you that chocolate ice cream is far superior to vanilla. You ignore his letters and also the opinion of some of his most in-depth biographers.

        I don’t buy it. It strikes me as fundamentally hostile to his person in a way that is unfair and unjustified. He caught this type of flak so many times during his life: why not after death, too? It’s the lot of all great and brilliant (and saintly) men.

        YOU: 2. 3. 4 refer to the actual battle itself – not the letter – I already stated I was NOT referring to the battle but specifically this letter.

        ME: Fair enough. I wish to include the larger controversy in my own analysis, however (because most people look at it as a whole). That’s my desire apart from your particular issue of the first letter.

        YOU: 5. Is an appeal to personal experience on being misinterpreted therefore it is quite probable that I have possibly misinterpreted – which is quite remiss of you given that you agree with the nature of the letter!!!

        ME: Huh? My argument there was that words can often be misinterpreted insofar as people attribute motivations or states of mind and emotion behind them that do not logically follow (or even temperamentally, for many people). This I have experienced myself, many times (it was an analogical observation; I am very fond of analogy, as Newman was), and it is notoriously common online, with the absence of tone of voice, inflection, expression, laughing, etc.: as innumerable people have noted. In other words, misinterpretation of Newman’s words have, I think, led to false conclusions about his interior state.

        YOU: We only disagree on the motive behind its writing

        ME: That’s correct; and the state of emotion.

        YOU: – we are relatively congruent in our assessment of what’s being said – we diverge when it comes to the why.

        ME: Yes.

        YOU: Now yes you do proceed to say that there is experience of misinterpreted motive and actuating emotions – but what makes you so dismissive of my capacity to infer Newman’s in this specific letter?

        ME: Because I don’t accept speculations on historical matters based on mere subjective hunches (what I called — probably uncharitably in bluntness, but I think accurately — psychobabble). It requires objective evidences. You have provided virtually none of that.

        YOU: Especially given from my previous argument an interpreted emotional response affords Newman more leniency and a more benign outcome of the actions?

        ME: It’s a good outcome in your paradigm, but I think it is illogical, because for some strange and inexplicable reason you allow only two alternatives and there are clearly at least one more, if not several.

        YOU: Objectively you don’t know me from Adam – and although you make great appeal to the ‘ridiculous’ embellishment of multiple adjectives in my original post as [specious] armchair psychology – you have so far cited nothing to disprove my claim that there was fury, venom, contempt and condescension [all differing predicates – not synonyms] in the letter…except appealing to comments made about the whole battle – not the letter itself

        ME: I’ll let readers be the judge of my various arguments made.
        But as to the issue of the whole episode vs. just the first letter (that you concentrate on), some of my evidence DOES deal with that. E.g.: “I never ***from the first*** have felt any anger towards him” (to Sir William Henry Cope, 13 February 1875). That includes the first exchange. It’s a blanket denial of any personal anger towards Kingsley at any time: which you want to deny (based on, as usual, your assumed psychoanalytical process, though I don’t deny that you could conceivably produce what you feel are analogical incidents that bolster your theory).

        YOU: [sans Newman’s reflection of not being angry – which I refuse to believe as if that were the case it would turn him into a thoughtlessly negligent and irresponsible monster]

        ME: This is where it gets so absurd (literally so: in the logical sense). You set up this false and illogical dichotomy of “heartless, unemotional, calculating monster vs. hot-blooded, “human,” lovable guy who let loose with a tirade” — seemingly blind to any other possibilities. Having concluded this, you then don’t allow yourself to even look at historical data with any objectivity because you have already “psychologized” it away in this previous foolish dichotomous analysis.

        Thus (you say it straight out: it cold hardly be believed otherwise) you can’t (indeed, you “refuse” to) believe he was not angry, because that would (in your fallacious cage you have locked yourself in) reduce him to a monster that you don’t believe is the case. If this is the methodology of some kind of “new historiography” I want no part of it. I think it’s ridiculous. Again, I am talking about your views, not you. We all falter logically: it’s a universal human weakness. When I took logic in college the textbook made it clear that the very greatest thinkers have committed fallacies: even basic ones.

        YOU: Number 6 – Our Lord’s sarcasm – is an obfuscating irrelevance

        ME: Not at all. Obviously, you take a view that the sarcasm expressed is (seemingly without possible dispute in your mind) an indication of boiling personal indignation. It’s part and parcel of your analysis (at least as best I can make it out): the sarcasm is so bad that you feel some sin or shortcoming must be indicated by it.

        Therefore, I produce Jesus (as I have many times to folks who think all sarcasm is “bad”) as a counter-example. It’s attacking the premises underneath your analysis, which is utterly relevant, and quite socratic: about as far as it can possibly be (like east from west) from “obfuscating.” You just didn’t get it. Hopefully, now you do.

        YOU: – need I remind you that God made man said ‘Judge not’ while Newman does a hell of a lot of speculative judging of motives in that letter.

        ME: I don’t think he did so, and I have gone through it now, line-by-line. We disagree. I think you get that by a simultaneous reading-in-between the lines what is not provably there on the surface, and by your self-imposed irrational dichotomy that you are confined by.

        YOU: Number 7 – Righteous indignation DOES NOT JUSTIFY an attack on the character or motives of the persons involved –

        ME: I agree. I say that Newman didn’t do that. Biographer Trevor (already cited) didn’t think so, either: “He never once attacked Kingsley’s own opinions, or his sincerity. All he did was defend himself”. Newman expressly denied that he attacked his motives in the Preface to the Apologia: the best possible place for him to reiterate that: “I wish to impute nothing worse to him than that he has been furiously carried away by his feelings.” But you “refuse” to believe that because somehow magically (certainly not logically) turns Newman into a hideous beast and “monster.” Right. That’s why I think it must go back to a fundamental misunderstanding of sarcasm (which is why I cited the famous examples of Jesus and socratic irony).

        YOU: it would coerce one to vociferously make every attempt to refute the claims made – not to simply refer to it as slander and spend the rest of the time attacking the accusers rather than the accusation.

        ME: At length that was precisely what Newman did. At this early juncture, he didn’t yet know that Kingsley was to dig in and get even more ridiculous and stubborn, and tried to get a simple retraction and be done with it. After deliberation and doubt, he saw the unique, golden opportunity that presented itself to defend primarily the Church; secondarily his own honesty and integrity. I’m sure glad he did. We have an absolute classic as a result, and widespread admiration of the man, partly as a result of the Apologia (also, Idea of a University, Essay on Development, and Grammar of Assent . . .).

        YOU: If Newman lost his temper

        ME: There is no evidence that he did so, and lots of counter-evidence.

        YOU: and launched an ostensibly civil but blatantly antagonistic tirade it makes him look like a human being – if his actions are equivocated away as merely intellectual sarcasm it makes him more inhuman than can be conceivable.

        ME: Dealt with previously . . . fascinating take, but in my opinion dead wrong and illogical, as to the two starkly contrasted choices you seem to erroneously think are the only ones available.

        But if you are so fond of psychology, I would highly recommend Grammar of Assent as an example of rather spectacularly nuanced and complex psychology as well as philosophy of religion.

        After that, maybe you’ll perceive the possibility of more than two choices only in this instance. :-)

      • http://onthesideoftheangels.blogspot.com Paul Priest

        Ok

        a] Perhaps you are unaware of the difference between the grammatically correct “nor should I thank them for it” and the antagonistic English turn of phrase “nor would I thank them for it” [e.g. I wouldn’t thank you for champagne – it gives me a headache]. To any English reader this goes beyond a literal reading to one where far from saying an apology/retraction is not wanted – Newman’s implying it would be worthless by being inauthentic and insincere. Thus attacking the reputation/motivation of Kingsley and the editor.

        b] I am certain you have grasped the irony of Newman referring to them as gentlemen rather than Sir – implying far-from- gentlemanly conduct – either willed or a fruit of negligence.

        c] there is a repeated underlying advisory threat of ‘you wouldn’t wish to be guilty by association’ i.e. ‘with such despicable people’

        d] Far from Brandon’s interpretation of ‘gratuitous’ meaning ‘without foundation’ to an English reader it means ‘deliberately motivated’ i.e. ‘with malice aforethought’

        To an English reader this is far from a manifestation of mere Socratic irony – it is instead a loaded attack on the motives and reputations of Kingsley, the editor and the publishers.

        You claim to have gone through it line-by-line and ascertained that he was in no way guilty of such things – appealing to Trevor’s generalisation of Newman’s responses – and by not being familiar with the subtle nuances inherent in a deeply socio-culturally utilised prescribed English. No biographer is going to deliberately accentuate veerings from the normative responses of their subject, so appealing to them is virtually worthless; and I repeat that when Newman claims to have no personal antagonism to Kingsley he can be taken at his word without it being contradictory to say he was attacking the character and motive of the author of the article – Newman’s able to perform a pseudo-schizophrenic approach to the person themself separate from the person as author – almost like the legalistic difference between mens rea and actus reus. This conclusion is substantiated with [para] ‘I never met the man – it would be ludicrous to be angry with someone I never knew’
        [yet it didn’t prevent a vituperative tirade against ‘the person as author’ at the beginning of the apologia]

        Now you maintain my accusation of Newman being far from even-tempered when composing the letter is unfounded and invented by psycho-analytically ensconcing myself into a corner. Imposing an ideological premise which prevents me contemplating alternate variants…

        …but you make this claim while denying that which I can see as plain as the nose on my face – that Newman IS attacking reputation and motive.

        You say you’ve analysed it and can see no indication of it at all.
        Therefore you naturally assume that I’m apophenically inventing something which isn’t present – and am guilty of even further transgression by concocting some psycho-analytical motivation behind it all…

        That which to me is blatantly obvious is to you utterly unfounded – because where I see low-brow attacks you see mere high-brow sarcasms.

        That leaves us at an impasse.
        For we’ve both scried and discerned the available evidence and arrived at diammetrically opposing conclusions – because the data has been processed into information reliant upon a socio-culturally induced mechanism- with supplementaries of multiple expert-witness in your regard which you’ve learned.

        I read it and can intuit the meaning based on living here and that leaves me utterly defenceless in trying to prove what I instinctively know except by saying ‘ah but the English see X as meaning Y” without any ability to corroborate this because anything I claim can be summarily dismissed with a

        “well I can’t see it! All I can see is X. Anything else is a product of your wild unsubstantiated [and frankly mean-spirited] speculation”

        So: This leaves me in a quandary; for unless an impartial objective third party English native comes along and says “Of course Newman’s attacking reputation and motive – and must have a reason for it” I cannot progress. I’m stuck being both disbelieved and unable to continue – because everything I argue has suddenly become tendentious.

        Therefore what I can’t prove I can’t reiterate.
        Ergo I have to withdraw and concede defeat.
        Knowing I’m right doesn’t mean a damned thing if I can’t prove it.
        …and because of that I can’t argue secondary issues based on what’s evinced from the primary.

        Ok I’m done..sorry for wasting your time.
        I’ll just have to hope someone else ultimately comes along and can prove what I can’t.

      • http://socrates58.blogspot.com/ Dave Armstrong

        P: Ok

        a] Perhaps you are unaware of the difference between the grammatically correct “nor should I thank them for it” and the antagonistic English turn of phrase “nor would I thank them for it” [e.g. I wouldn’t thank you for champagne – it gives me a headache]. To any English reader this goes beyond a literal reading to one where far from saying an apology/retraction is not wanted – Newman’s implying it would be worthless by being inauthentic and insincere. Thus attacking the reputation/motivation of Kingsley and the editor.

        D: Interesting. Can you produce for me anyone besides yourself who thinks this and draws the same conclusion? I’d be very interested in seeing it.

        P: b] I am certain you have grasped the irony of Newman referring to them as gentlemen rather than Sir – implying far-from- gentlemanly conduct – either willed or a fruit of negligence.

        D: I already gave my interpretation of that, which I think is plausible enough (as far as such things can be).

        P: c] there is a repeated underlying advisory threat of ‘you wouldn’t wish to be guilty by association’ i.e. ‘with such despicable people’

        D: You will apply it to persons when this is not necessary: it can apply to the false insinuations only. Newman, of course, said nothing about “despicable people.” hence you have to resort to your usual reading in between the lines and extrapolating a motive and actual action of personal attack from it.

        P: d] Far from Brandon’s interpretation of ‘gratuitous’ meaning ‘without foundation’ to an English reader it means ‘deliberately motivated’ i.e. ‘with malice aforethought’

        D: That may be. Please produce someone else (a non-hostile witness: not an atheist or someone who thinks Newman was a homosexual, or anti-Catholic, etc.) who takes this view. Thanks.

        P: To an English reader this is far from a manifestation of mere Socratic irony – it is instead a loaded attack on the motives and reputations of Kingsley, the editor and the publishers.

        D: I can’t speak to the fine points of how English readers would interpret. You may be right. I’m asking for corroboration.

        P: You claim to have gone through it line-by-line and ascertained that he was in no way guilty of such things – appealing to Trevor’s generalisation of Newman’s responses – and by not being familiar with the subtle nuances inherent in a deeply socio-culturally utilised prescribed English. No biographer is going to deliberately accentuate veerings from the normative responses of their subject, so appealing to them is virtually worthless;

        D: They’re worthless, but your opinions are beyond argument?

        P: and I repeat that when Newman claims to have no personal antagonism to Kingsley he can be taken at his word without it being contradictory to say he was attacking the character and motive of the author of the article – Newman’s able to perform a pseudo-schizophrenic approach to the person themself separate from the person as author – almost like the legalistic difference between mens rea and actus reus. This conclusion is substantiated with [para] ‘I never met the man – it would be ludicrous to be angry with someone I never knew’
        [yet it didn’t prevent a vituperative tirade against ‘the person as author’ at the beginning of the apologia]

        D: I see.

        P: Now you maintain my accusation of Newman being far from even-tempered when composing the letter is unfounded and invented by psycho-analytically ensconcing myself into a corner. Imposing an ideological premise which prevents me contemplating alternate variants…

        …but you make this claim while denying that which I can see as plain as the nose on my face – that Newman IS attacking reputation and motive.

        D: So what you believe is self-evidently true; therefore anyone who disagrees with that is . . . what? You tell me.

        P: You say you’ve analysed it and can see no indication of it at all. Therefore you naturally assume that I’m apophenically inventing something which isn’t present – and am guilty of even further transgression by concocting some psycho-analytical motivation behind it all…

        That which to me is blatantly obvious is to you utterly unfounded – because where I see low-brow attacks you see mere high-brow sarcasms.

        That leaves us at an impasse.

        D: It sure does, doesn’t it?

        P: For we’ve both scried and discerned the available evidence and arrived at diametrically opposing conclusions – because the data has been processed into information reliant upon a socio-culturally induced mechanism- with supplementaries of multiple expert-witness in your regard which you’ve learned.

        I read it and can intuit the meaning based on living here and that leaves me utterly defenceless in trying to prove what I instinctively know except by saying ‘ah but the English see X as meaning Y” without any ability to corroborate this because anything I claim can be summarily dismissed with a “well I can’t see it! All I can see is X. Anything else is a product of your wild unsubstantiated [and frankly mean-spirited] speculation”

        D: Poppycock (“utterly defenceless in trying to prove what I instinctively know”). You can produce any number of possible allies who make the same observation that you just did. So by all means, do so. Meriol Trevor and Wilfrid Ward were English (so was Hutton). Presumably they would be aware of what you say is such a slam-dunk thing. But you dismissed Trevor with one line as of no import when it comes to giving her opinion on Newman and Kingsley. Cardinal Newman was quite the Englishman. He claimed that he was never angry from the beginning, nor that he attacked Kingsley’s motivations. But that’s not good enough for you. It is, alas, for me, and I suspect, for most people.

        P: So: This leaves me in a quandary; for unless an impartial objective third party English native comes along and says “Of course Newman’s attacking reputation and motive – and must have a reason for it” I cannot progress.

        D: Yes: someone who can render an opinion and be produced here (preferably someone highly credentialed in Newman, and who knows his opinions better than he did himself: just as you do) would be a great aid to your case: indeed a most welcome and striking innovation compared to your usual “me only” method.

        P: I’m stuck being both disbelieved and unable to continue – because everything I argue has suddenly become tendentious.

        D: Naw; rather, it is almost completely subjective and thus not particularly compelling.

        P: Therefore what I can’t prove I can’t reiterate.
        Ergo I have to withdraw and concede defeat.

        D: Really? And just a few minutes before you wrote this you were ready to keep warring till (what was it?) “the sun grows cold.” How quickly things change!

        P: Knowing I’m right doesn’t mean a damned thing if I can’t prove it.

        D: Yes, you do certainly “know” that you’re right. That’s for sure.

        P: …and because of that I can’t argue secondary issues based on what’s evinced from the primary.

        Ok I’m done..sorry for wasting your time.
        I’ll just have to hope someone else ultimately comes along and can prove what I can’t.

        D: Or you can get off your butt and go find one yourself. Somehow I think that won’t happen at this juncture. You seem now to be looking for a graceful way out of our discussion. But hope springs eternal!

        In conclusion, I appeal again to Newman’s letter to Sir William Cope (13 February 1875), previously cited. Here he explained the rhetorical device he was utilizing, and why (“no one would believe me in earnest if I spoke calmly. . . . if I said something sharp, . . . they believed me. Rightly or wrongly, this was the reason why I felt it would not do to be tame and not to show indignation at Mr. Kingsley’s charges”).

        Biographer Wilfrid Ward, writing in the Introduction to a 1913 edition of the Apologia, took this as a starting-point for his analysis (sorry for the irrelevant digression into the irrelevant opinions of irrelevant biographers):

        “The supposition which all readers of the angry passages in the Apologia and of these letters, friends of Newman and foes alike, took for granted—that they were ebullitions of temper—was shown eventually to be a mistake. When Newman’s private correspondence was published in his Biography, it became quite clear that the language in the letter to the Globe was not, as it seemed at the time, the effect of an ungovernable feeling which carried him away, but had been carefully calculated.

        ” ‘No common denial would have put down the far spread impression,’ he writes to a friend [Mr. Ornsby: 23 July 1862]. ‘I took a course which would destroy it, and, as I think, which alone would be able to destroy it. It is little or nothing to me that people should think me angry, rude, insulting, &c., &c. No common language would have done the work; I had to use language that was unmistakeably my own and could not have been dictated to me … ‘ . . .

        “Newman’s use of strong language was then due to that close knowledge of the effect produced by words on the public mind which was so marked a feature in his conduct of the whole controversy. The overmastering passion which carried his readers away was not real but simulated. Doubtless there will be some who will resent this method as histrionic. They will say that Newman was acting a part, that the charm of sincerity is absent from words so carefully calculated. But this appears to me a false estimate. It was no case of using language which he did not consider to be, in itself, justified, with the object of producing a certain controversial effect. On the contrary, he evidently thought an indignant denial and angry language the appropriate retort richly deserved by Kingsley’s accusation, and representing truly his own view though not any lively personal feeling. He was using the words appropriate to the situation, as an old man, past all lively feeling, may express in answer to some exceptional public testimonial overpowering emotions of gratitude, of which he is physically incapable, and which are yet the feelings appropriate to the situation. And the case was similar in the other instances to which I have referred. . . .

        “The Kingsley case was one which called for the language of anger yet more obviously than the other two. A very popular writer was attacking Newman and bringing charges against the Catholic priesthood, which widespread prejudice made Englishmen very ready to credit. Newman had, therefore, to fight against great odds. He had to win over public opinion by bringing home to it the injustice of Kingsley’s method. If he did not feel carried away by anger against a man whom he did not know personally, and whose reputation made any such attack on the Catholic Church from his pen almost the mechanical exhibition of an idée fixe, this was surely no reason for refraining from bringing home to the public by the only means in his power, the indignation such charges objectively merited. Theft may be due in an individual to kleptomania, yet theft must be reprobated by all the force of public opinion; we must endorse that opinion on occasions even though we cannot feel any moral animus against the kleptomaniac. Englishmen in general would not be saying, “Kingsley so hates the Church of Rome that he cannot help making unfair charges.” On the contrary, they would take Kingsley’s words as a damaging expression of the conviction of an honest man; and it was in this, their objective aspect, that they had to be answered.”

        http://www.newmanreader.org/works/apologia/introduction.html

        “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

        (John Adams, Argument in Defense of the British Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials: 4 December 1770)

    • http://onthesideoftheangels.blogspot.com Paul Priest

      I said till the sun goes cold – and because we’re at an impasse I’ve had to travel to a time where the sun has grown cold and confront His Eminence himself..he got the pair of us into this mess – he can get us out of it.

      Biographers generalise – hence appealing to them to justify one particular letter in relation to their normative appreciation of them doesn’t hold water.

      You cite Ward on the general mistaken understanding of Newman’s demeanour when writing somewhat harsh invective – and Newman’s willingness to be perceived as someone in a fit of pique spouting all fury on the opposition – when in actuality his compositions were clinically garnered to utilise all manner of effective linguistic styles to become the most expedient and efficacious of weapons – whether it be Socratic irony or flagrant English sarcasm or simple mockery of that which deserved to be mocked. The preparation involved in the composition of the Globe letter vindicates this general disposition.

      I’ll agree with that wholeheartedly in his florid invective in the Apologia and in his scathing wit and evisceration of all oncomers in his famous letters like the one to the Globe.

      Except – in comparison with the one to MacMillan – the sole one to which I have been referring – they are completely different in style and content, in demeanour and target, to the extent that one might opine they’re written by two completely different characters.

      The Globe letter uses words as weapons – whether it be a scalpel surgically lancing a boil or amputating a decaying poisonous limb, or a machete clearing the undergrowth, or a mighty axe to fell dragons or a rapier parrying every thrust and targeting the heart of every issue, or a sledgehammer breaking down walls and windows to let in the fresh air and the cold light of day onto a murky festering fallacy or prejudice or superstitious nonsense, or like the noisy slapstick waking up the opponent from their torpor and giving them a deserved revitalising shock to the system, a sincere heartfelt mockery and ridicule at the farcicial nature of the situation and maybe a remonstrating clip round the ear in the process. It jumps from style to style with the dexterity of a mountain goat – and despite all the confrontation and refutation and bombarding with facts and antagonism and withering critiques of where the opponent has slipped up or got something completely wrong – there is not a single ounce of malice or animosity or ill-will within any part of it. There’s charisma and almst a dashing chivalric charm – and far from any hint of venom or fury – there’s a nonchalant intellectual bravado…here IS another Old testament Prophet, here is another St Paul, another Cicero – with an intellect and a rhetorical talent redolent of an Old Bailey QC or an elder parliamentarian grandee.

      There is none of this greatness and jaw-dropping wonder in his letter to MacMillan…there is no weaponry except an acid-soaked slingshot lanching stinging stones, and a mace to bludgeon the enemy.
      It’s sinister – rather than refreshingly ebullient it has a menace within it – rather than exorcising phantoms it has a menacing feel of disinterring corpses – it’s scurrillous – rather than facts there’s innuendos – it’s threatening and one can almost taste the malevolence in the air around it – it is a nasty letter attacking the reputations and the motives of those involved – instead of sincere mockery there is an unnerving series of taunts – and rather than recognition of the fact that irrespective of being an enemy they remain a neighbour; priceless and worth fighting against- there’s instead a condescending sneer of those wallowing in the pitiable and worthless….

      Hence I am certain beyond all reasonable doubt that the MacMillan letter was written when Newman was in a highly emotive state – it was written in one of those exceptional circumstances where his temper got the better of him. He briefly fell…

      I can’t prove it: But I don’t have to.
      Newman can sort this out…he won’t have to face either Martyr or Last Man Standing fallacies…

      p.s. Yes facts are awkward things – but they do have to be factual – and nobody needs to believe them for them to remain true.

      • http://socrates58.blogspot.com/ Dave Armstrong

        Having largely exhausted psychoanalysis and psychobabble as your primary modus operandi (though it frequently lurks barely under the surface above), you now resort to poetry (anything but historiography!). Marvelous poetry it is: it reads like Schubert sounds. Profuse kudos for that. I love it! I highly recommend that you pursue a career as a poet (or as a musician, if you have that bent).

        Regarding its merits, on the other hand, in matters of historical analysis, as any sort of compelling argument for minds other than your own: that’s another story entirely.

        Why would I spend time trying to disprove (i.e., to you) what in your mind is “certain beyond all reasonable doubt”? Obviously I have no chance of implanting in such a mind a reasonable doubt! Why do you even begin a discussion with that mentality? Why bother? You are beyond all that. No dialogue can occur with a person so absolutely certain, literally beyond reason (you stated it, not I).

        You know, and you know that you know, cuz you do! No one can argue with it. It’s not a rational proposition from the get-go. I can relate somewhat. I “know” (quite “certain” am I) that Wagner is the greatest composer that ever lived, and that chocolate ice cream beats vanilla every time, and that French fries made right are the world’s best food. These things are beyond argument, just like your opinions in this dispute.

        Your relentless subjective mushiness is why this “dialogue” (which I no longer regard as a genuine one) goes nowhere. Nevertheless, I still think it has some value for those observing it: to make up their own minds where the truth lies, or, I should say, most likely or plausibly lies. I do thank you for the opportunity to study the Kingsley-Newman dispute in greater detail. I immensely enjoyed that, as I do All Things Newmanian.

        Make your choice, readers: do you want almost purely subjective psychobabble and poetry, or do you prefer elucidation from Cardinal Newman’s own letters and other writings, and the opinions of his biographers? Does Newman know best about himself, or does Paul (rather ironically, quite like Kingsley) understand his motivations and thoughts and feelings and reports of his past better than he does himself? That’s your choice here.

        I may very well be wrong in my opinion on all this (of course); never claimed that I could not. I’m simply a lay, non-academic apologist and strictly an amateur lover of history. It’s Paul’s game to “certain beyond all reasonable doubt” that HE is right: not mine. But it doesn’t follow, of course, that you, the reader, share his certainty.

        “I can’t prove it: But I don’t have to.”

        Exactly. Nor CAN you even TRY, with your presuppositions, because they are subjective mush, and therefore are ideas of the sort that cannot be sensibly or successfully conveyed to others: in any remote sense of “demonstration” or “proof” (even in the relative, often tentative historiographical sense). That’s why poetry in your “grand finale” (if it is that) is perfectly appropriate. Everyone must go back to their strength, and yours is (and I am perfectly sincere) extraordinary beauty of writing style.

        I appeal, readers, to reason, fact, and your critical faculties: not to wonderfully evocative writing or supposed “certainty” (which can scarcely be that at all, in a question of this sort).

        If anyone would like to read more of Newman’s own thoughts, collected in my own recent compilation, with a Foreword by today’s foremost Catholic biographer, Joseph Pearce (excuse the shameless plug, but this is a discussion about Cardinal Newman, after all), here is a link:

        http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2011/02/introduction-to-my-upcoming-book.html

      • http://onthesideoftheangels.blogspot.com Paul Priest

        Now you really are being silly and hyperbolising all manner of things…

        a] I’ve read the letter and detected personal attacks on the character and motives of the people involved.

        You say they don’t exist

        Attacks on the messenger rather than the message usually indicate an emotional rather than an objective response.

        Even a peripheral reading of his other [letters where he is known to have clinically methodically composed them ][merely vindicating his repeated claims to that effect] might very well include character assassinations but they are devoid of reversely inducting motives and uncharitably assuming malice was part of that motive.

        In other words this letter differs in its attack on the motives and its overriding malicious tone.

        You say this doesn’t exist and is mere psychobabble and mush

        You can’t see it – the biographers don’t mention it [except by reiterating Newman that he held no personal animosity to Kingsley] – and even though I’ve explained that there is no contradiction between Newman’s separation of Kingsley the man [to whom he meant no will] and the eidolon of Kingsley the author of that article [to whom he briefly in one letter questioned their character and underlying motive]

        You dismiss it all completely as speculative dross – it doesn’t exist – why?
        Because you say so! [despite your claims that the biographers corroborate you – they don’t – there is not one exposition or analysis of this actual letter – they merely expound on Newman’s stated disposition and the ‘willed imposition” of ‘seemingly emotive’ composition which he formulated coolly and clinically like a craftsman]

        There is nothing anywhere in all your citations which makes it intrinsically impossible or categorically contrary to the normative Newmanian technique for Newman to allow his emotions to get the better of him in the occasional wobble where he does allow his anger to leak out, for satire to verge upon the malicious and the personal attacks go deeper into presumption of motive.

        I am absolutely certain that the MacMillan letter is a nasty assault on both character and motive of those involved – the more I read it the more I see it – every nuance seems to confirm it AND every re-reading seems to alienate and dissociate it even farther from the knowingly technically composed letters. In the formulated letters there is an absence of malice – but there definitely is a malicious undertone in the MacMillan letter.
        Such a clearly pronounced difference in content and style suggests a difference in demeanour.

        You say it doesn’t exist – there is no difference – why?
        Because you can’t see it and the experts haven’t mentioned it.

        So it all becomes psychobabble and mush.

        I’m sorry but you’re the one who halted the dialogue by placing an absolute moratorium on the notion that Newman made any attack on character and motive in the letter.

        I’m by your default system axiomatically denied any capacity of being a more-objective observer by being both English and domeone who’s been enmeshed in nineteenth century European literature for three decades – rather I become absolutely
        subjective and tainted by mush and psychobabble…

        You then perform a doozie by rejecting my ability to objectively assess Epistemic judgement calls by launching a mocking tirade re ‘absolutely certian about’ Doxic opinions…

        You don’t see it – therefore I’m automatically presumed to be guilty of wild speculation and hyper-pop-psychoanalysis…
        Qualitative discernments and deliberations being swathingly dismissed as of as much worth as degrees of taste

        You demand second opinion expert testimony before you will even consider the possibility that I have even-partially correctly assessed the nature of the letter.

        Something I cannot provide – which you distort into ‘you mean you will not provide’ implying bith laziness and that I won’t find one to back my wild subjectivist speculations – and that in reality I’ve realised I’ve lost the argument and was just attempting a quite pitiable exit strategy to save face.

        Not true.

        I’ve stated my case…
        If I’m being ridiculed and scathingly dismissed for making an attempt to defend Newman because I happen to be one of those unfortunate people who realised that he was being downright nasty in a single letter…
        …and if I then made every attempt to discern the best possible reason for it ?

        …and then dismissed on a dodgy ‘Last Man Standing’ fallacy that ‘you’re axiomatically wrong because no-one else agrees or has even mentioned it’?

        I should justifiably expect a little bit of assistance from Blessed John Henry Newman for taking the flak for something he did which everyone wishes to deny happened…

      • http://socrates58.blogspot.com/ Dave Armstrong

        You should have ended with beautiful poetry rather than condescending bitchiness. A big tactical error there . . .

      • http://socrates58.blogspot.com/ Dave Armstrong

        Big dif, too, between merely cynically describing ad nauseum a jaded caricature of an opposing view (what your last comment consisted almost entirely of), and actually replying to the real opposing argument with cogent reasoning. You might wanna try the latter sometime. Who knows?: you could actually learn to like it in due course!

        But I do understand that preaching and dialogue are two very different arts.

      • http://onthesideoftheangels.blogspot.com Paul Priest

        If they’re tactics you can keep them

        You are so desperate to win you have no reticence resorting to every trick in the book – should I make a list of all the wildly speculative characteristics and motives which you’ve attributed to me?
        and why?

        I’m perfectly willing to concede that generally Newman’s ostensibly ‘emotive responses’ were actually coolly constructed compositions using a rhetorical tool to intensify their efficacy.

        I perfectly willing to concede that when it came to the man Kingsley Newman held no personal animosity?

        I’m perfectly willing to concede that far from being sourced in anger Newman’s responses were normatively classically utilising socratic irony

        I merely state that the Macmillan letter does not fit into those categories in that it is vitriolic and mean-spirited and makes unjustifiable accusations regarding the motive and character of those involved – and must therefore have been written in a way different to those described above – and the most likely, optimally benign inference is that he wrote it in anger and went too far accordingly.

        It’s a charitable mitigating interpretation of an uncharitable letter.

        Now if I have, as you claim, made a bitchy, jaded caricature of your arguments; what would best-describe your approach which has become progressively more hostile, dismissive, mocking and derogatory?

        I made a judgment call on the letter after discerning upon the evidence and I believe it to wholeheartedly be the right one- it’s an attack on the messengers rather than the message and that exceptional difference requires a reason which can’t be whitewashed away with simple appeals of utilising socratic irony and deliberately-constructed ‘apparent emotism’ for rhetorical efficacy; for it would make Newman cold-hearted and callous using malice as a tool – someone completely psychologically and linguistically different from the writer of other ‘constructed’ letters.

        How an I certain I have drawn the right conclusion?
        Because every other hypothetical doesn’t fit

        …and your suggestion that there is no attack on character or motive within the letter is to me; utterly untenable.

        Amongst all the other things of which I’m accused; my proposition is dismissed as wild subjective speculation bearing no foundation or corroboration or substantiation from experts.

        I can’t prove my position.

        So if winning is all that you’re in this for?
        [and not it’s not enough to succeed – other must fail?]

        Fire ahead and claim your laurel wreath – you win by default.

        Of course if you want to grind me underfoot for a few more posts?
        The floor’s yours. Enjoy.

      • http://socrates58.blogspot.com/ Dave Armstrong

        (-_-)

        zzzzz…..

  • DavidM

    “He doesn’t call Kingsley an imbecile, at least in this letter.” – Aren’t you begging the question a bit here? First, if he did call him an imbecile, then it would be agressive (according to you), not passive-aggressive – right? Second, if he implied that he was an imbecile (or incompetent hack or whatever), then that looks more like what you want to call ‘passive-agression.’ (But this impression of ‘passivity’ may just be a matter of your failure to see what Newman’s words actually plainly imply, if Paul is right.) Anyway, I didn’t know what humility had to do with it, and now I don’t know what sincerity has to do with it – do you really think passive-agression really has something to do with a lack of sincerity?

    “My point was that a phrase like “imbecility” is usually a pejorative, heated insult that Catholics should not wield if they’re at all interested in handling haters with love.” – Then I guess we’re back to saying something similar about a phrase like ‘white-washed tombs’ or ‘hypocrites!’ (used by you-know-who). Newman appreciated that words have meanings and truth matters. Is there any evidence that he objected to the use of strong words to express the truth? (In the quote you provide, I certainly think not – ‘grave and gratuitous slander’? How do you like the sound of this: “Brandon Vogt is a grave and gratuitous slanderer”? I suspect what would matter to Newman is simply the truth of the matter.)

  • Julia

    I believe Paul Priest is the same enjoyable commenter who used to write frequently at Holy Smoke, which is no longer as fun to read. Alas.

    • http://onthesideoftheangels.blogspot.com Paul Priest

      Fun times – it was the second most-read Catholic blog in the world and that Damian veered away from Ecclesial and Doctrinal issues can be blamed on the ensuing grief from an unsympathetic hierarchy and troublemaking trolls – and regrettably a lack of support from fellow Catholics. Sadly many would plagiarise his work but not express either support or appreciation.

  • http://agellius.wordpress.com Agellius

    I think it says something about the state of the culture in Newman’s time. The last line, “I do but wish to draw the attention of yourselves, as gentlemen, to a grave and gratuitous slander, with which I feel confident you will be sorry to find associated a name so eminent as yours” — especially the phrase “as gentlemen”, implies that a very strong sense of honor existed at the time, at least in certain social sets, such that merely pointing out the dishonorableness of a thing was presumed sufficient to cause the offender to move to remedy it.

    From other writings of Newman’s, I have also gathered that in his day, “causing a scene” was very gravely looked down upon among those who considered themselves gentlemen. So it would not have been hard for Newman to resist making a response like the first, fictitious one above. Apart from its uncharitableness, such a thing would have been plain embarrassing to him.

    The English culture at the time of Newman was still living off the moral capital of its Catholic past. We are as well, to a lesser extent. The difference in the tone of debate from then to now, shows how much further we have slid.

  • Julia

    What’s going on here is similar to the re-appraisal of Jane Austen. We finally get it. In an 80s graduate English class I learned of the re-examination of her work which had been thought to be be sweet girls’ stories. Turns out that her writing was a deft, ironical look at the culture of her time, not an inane series of romances aimed at teenagers.
    We Colonials are finally catching on to Newman’s genius, too.

  • David M Paggi

    Much obliged to you Brandon, & those who have been so generous with their comments. If Mr. Priest is right, and Newman is really seething when he wrote his reply, then it is even more to his credit that he wrote in such a restrained manner. Possibly that having been “burned” in the Achilli matter, Newman knew that there was no hope for real justice, therefore his only available defense was to appeal to the honor of the publisher of MacMillan’s. It is also possible, and I don’t have the scholarship to offer an opinion, that Newman wrote in this fashion rather to goad Kingsley into the exchange which ensued, from which Newman emerged completely victorious upon publication of his Apologia. Either way, his book is a must read, & we should all say a prayer for the soul of Kingsley in gratitute for his provoking such a literary gem. One could in the same way thank Arius for inciting a more profound definition of the Trinity than would otherwise have obtained.

  • taj

    I think for Newman, the subject was all important; the rhetoric had no importance at all. Chesterton, on the other hand, seemed to place much higher value on the method of delivery.

  • DavidM

    PP: “Heart may speak unto heart – but there was certainly not an ounce of cordiality in that letter – to those who understand the tone I think the response would be a cringing shock.”
    BV: “I strongly disagree. Having read a fair amount of Newman and being familiar with his style, this letter was not the passive-aggressive polemic you propose.”

    I think Paul is clearly saying that the tone is aggressive. Yet Brandon chooses to hear ‘passive-aggressive.’ I’m still not sure what that is supposed to mean, but it seems to me that this is the basic underlying problem with trolls (and alleged trolls): People just don’t understand the meaning of what they read (and/or write) half the time, and there’s no amount of advice that’s going to change that fact.

  • Linus

    You mean this was a fabrication ?
    ” There is no reference at the foot of the page to any words of mine, much less any quotation from my writings, in justification of this statement.

    I should not dream of expostulating with the writer of such a passage, nor with the editor who could insert it without appending evidence in proof of its allegations. Nor do I want any reparation from either of them. I neither complain of them for their act, nor should I thank them if they reversed it. Nor do I even write to you with any desire of troubling you to send me an answer. I do but wish to draw the attention of yourselves, as gentlemen, to a grave and gratuitous slander, with which I feel confident you will be sorry to find associated a name so eminent as yours.

    I am, Gentlemen,
    Your obedient Servant,
    John H. Newman ”

    What is its source then and how did Brandon get it ?

  • DavidM

    Excellent exchange between PP and DA.

    Brandon, if you’re still not convinced that Newman’s letter was an acerbic attack, consider this: How would Newman have taken it if someone wrote a letter referring to something he wrote as a grave and gratuitous slander? “My, what courtesy, what unwavering warmth and charity towards me, my having written that silly libel.” Surely he would have taken that very seriously and very personally, no? So how can you claim that he intended it to be taken otherwise when writing the same thing himself?

    • http://www.brandonvogt.com Brandon Vogt

      David, I have no idea how Newman would react to your hypothetical proposal, though evidence in his other writings seems to suggest he would response with kindness and grace. All I know is how he *did* respond to Kingsley’s actual letter.

      Describing Kingsley’s remarks as “grave and gratuitous slander” though doesn’t mean Newman engaged in acerbic attack. That description is not sour, overly harsh, or ad hominem. It’s simply the truth.

      Kingsley’s charges were “grave” (since lying is grave sin) and “gratuitous” (since there was no cause) and “slanderous” (since they were issued to malign both Newman and Catholicism.) There is nothing wrong with calling a spade a spade without offensive embellishment.

      Finally, I agree that Newman’s response was “very serious and very personal” since it concerned serious charges and personal remarks. I never claimed otherwise. But that’s not the same as vitriol. Something can be serious and personal without being vulgar, baseless, or biting.

      • DavidM

        Well Brandon, DA calls Newman’s spade confrontational and “withering sarcasm” and PP agrees (as do I). If you want to call it “kindness and grace” then I’m afraid I think you are simply over-taxing any plausible connotation of those words and refusing to see the obvious. Peace.

    • http://agellius.wordpress.com Agellius

      If I may interject: Calling it a grave and gratuituous slander isn’t the least insulting. What Kingsley wrote was gravely slanderous on its face. Also, let’s not forget that it’s not the accusation of dishonesty alone, but the fact that Kingsley made such a grave accusation without the slightest effort at *backing it up*, i.e. he didn’t even bother to cite anything Newman had written.

      All Newman did was point to the facts and leave it to the editors to address the problem appropriately.

  • http://www.brandonvogt.com Brandon Vogt

    DaveM: I’m tired of going round and round on this so I’ll let this be my last reply. Feel free to have the final word.

    I’m totally open to being wrong. And I appreciate yours and PP’s interpretation of Newman’s letter since it’s one I hadn’t heard. But to accuse me of “refusing to see the obvious” for calling Newman’s letter kind has no basis.

    As DA pointed out, Newman himself said, in reference to the full Apologia which this letter was a part of, “I am not conscious of personal unkindness towards [Kingsley].” Kindness was always his intention.

    But even if you’re right in your interpretation, it misses the point of my post. My goal was to encourage the three suggestions at the end of it. Can we least agree on those?

    • http://onthesideoftheangels.blogspot.com Paul Priest

      Not sure we can because there’s a real tension in the ‘don’t feed the trolls’ paradigm – for are we:
      a] wasting our time casting pearls before swine – and rather we should shake the dust from our feet in their regard? Or…
      b] inadvertently abandoning a lost sheep, giving up on them when we should be arduously fighting against their arguments for the very sake of their soul – like water dripping on stone, like the importunate friend banging on the door?

      Secondly there’s also some problems with being cordial and polite – as St Paul said it can be like burning coals upon their head – and can actually enfuriate an opponent to an extent that
      a] they think by your unemotive language that you don’t really care about the issue
      b] that your ‘courteous’ language is actually dismissive, placating and patronising – and somewhat ridiculing and disrespectful to the opponent.

      [You know how St Philip Neri used to swear to make him seem more flawed and human and less saintly than he actually was? Sometimes I have resorted to adopting the same demeanour and candour as an opponent in order to ensure a level playing field when it came to arguing – if they insult and I haven’t – I always have that trump card in my hand with which to threaten them and garner support from the onlooker with ‘I never insulted you – ergo you’re in the wrong – ergo you’re wrong’ fallacy]

      I repeat we’re not called to be well-mannered or nice but to be virtuous – and to be as cunning as serpents on our way to that virtue.
      There is the rare occasion where we have to adopt a false levelling in order to get the opponent to listen and feel secure….

      So no I won’t sign off on your proposed ‘universal rules of etiquette’ because there are too many exceptions to them where because we are commanded to love it means we have to stop being nice…

    • DavidM

      “I’m tired of going round and round on this” – Well, Brandon, you certainly flag quickly in comparison to your doughtier fellows here (DA and PP). ;)
      I will just point out the lack of positive unkindness does not imply the presence of positive kindness.

  • Anonymous

    Brandon, just a note that Newman had been a Catholic priest for many years at the time of the Kingsley controversy. Your opening paragraph has misstated that. And I do think that Newman was capable of rapier thrusts that can pass us by in our age of more obvious attack and rejoinder. Perhaps someone has mentioned this, there ae simply too many posts for me to want to go through.

    • http://www.brandonvogt.com Brandon Vogt

      Doh! Thanks for pointing that out.

  • alvien

    Hahaha!Good post.I think some times we need to act like Saint Jerome but some times we also need to answer hatred with love!With this sed Cardinal Newman is one of my heroes!

  • http://agellius.wordpress.com Agellius

    I for one am simply amazed at the amount of time that Paul and Dave have at their disposable to put into this. : )

    • http://socrates58.blogspot.com/ Dave Armstrong

      This is my full-time work: that accounts for the time I have. :-) I think it’s an important issue, and my goal as an educator / apologist and Newman devotee is to present to the best of my ability the actual history of this incident that we are discussing.

      I write fast; even so, this has taken many hours of work, and is becoming exhausting.

      • http://agellius.wordpress.com Agellius

        Dave:

        “This is my full-time work.” Well, that explains it! If not for my full-time job, I might be doing the same. : )

      • http://socrates58.blogspot.com/ Dave Armstrong

        I absolutely love my work: hardly even seems like work most of the time. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I get to work at home, can set my own hours, write about what I want to write about most of the time (a huge plus and motivational key for a writer), etc. But it’s not all peaches and cream.

        The downside is having to live like a pauper, and (even worse) under a socialist regime for now four more years, that does everything it possibly can to KEEP me a pauper. My royalties on my “officially” published books have literally decreased by 75% compared to four years ago (if you can believe that. It’s true). Downside to everything!

        It’s a small market to begin with, so I just barely keep my nose above water, financially speaking. But even so, God provides; He truly does. It’s been eleven years, and I have four children and a mortgage, and all bills are paid on time, with minimal use of credit cards.

  • DavidM

    Well that was certainly a spirited debate! FWIW, my assessment:
    “PP: ..until one realises that they aren’t even dealing with my argument.
    DA: Well, we have that experience in common, having just dealt at length with your skyscraper high straw men . . .”
    That’s the heart of the problem, isn’t it? With due respect to Paul (whose position is at least an improvement on Brandon’s), I think that besides the straw man, there is a great deal of question-begging in his defense of his position (as was the case with Brandon). It seems to me that Paul has chosen to taken his final stand on what he believes he can infer directly from a text on the basis of his knowledge of psychology, while DaveA advances his position from a presumption of Socratic humility (and logic) and charity in interpretation of the original text. I hope that’s fair, and I’ll say that I do favour the latter approach myself.

    • Paul Priest

      Not really:

      It’s not some monolithic strawman when I can detect a fellow countryman is being downright offensive while others who aren’t familiar with the nuances dismiss its existence.
      It has little to do with psychology – but being human – one realises that if something is a aberration there is invariably a reason behind the divergence from the normative pattern of behaviour. Psychology only tells you you’re not engaging in engaging in amphibolic apophenic speculation.

      • DavidM

        “It’s not some monolithic strawman when I can detect a fellow countryman is being downright offensive while others who aren’t familiar with the nuances dismiss its existence.” Interestingly enough, this claim appears to be a straw man which begs the question. Anyway, hopefully you can dust yourselves off and shake hands like proper gentlemen now. (I don’t really know if that’s how it works, but I assume…?)

      • http://socrates58.blogspot.com/ Dave Armstrong

        I readily grant that an Englishman (and one who has apparently made a detailed study of Victorian literature) would have (all things being equal) a better grasp of style, expressions, colloquialisms, idiom, etc. with regard to a fellow Englishman. Of course (already stated as much at least once). It’s also quite obvious that Paul is a master of English English (I have offered him several sincere compliments on that).

        But I am not exactly completely ignorant of these things, just by virtue of being American (lowly, though we may be in the scheme of things :-) ). C. S. Lewis has been my favorite writer for 35 years. I am a rapt admirer of Lewis, Chesterton, and Newman, and have maintained extensive web pages on all three of them for over fifteen years (also one on Malcolm Muggeridge). I love English Catholicism (including others such as Benson, Knox, Belloc, Tolkien, etc.). I even love non-Catholic historic English Christianity (John Wesley above all, and the Tractarians who remained Anglican).

        And, as I noted, I have edited published books compiling the quotations of both Newman and Chesterton (and my book of Wesley quotations is to be published next year by the Protestant Beacon Hill Press: I am to sign the contract within a week). This gives me, I submit, more than a passing familiarity with specifically English (18th-19th, early 20th c.) idiom — seeing that I read scores and scores of these writers’ books and letters for these purposes — , and is not insignificant, in terms of knowing how great English Christians write and express themselves. I happen to love that style greatly, and sure hope that it has influenced my own.

        Again, I’m not denying at all that this is a factor in Paul’s favor: only that I am not quite the ignoramus that he tries to portray me as being, on this point (along with many others).

        Beyond all that, even extensive knowledge of Victorian rhetoric and style does not necessarily, inexorably mean that Paul “knows” (with this sublime certainty that he foolishly proclaims) Newman was in a rage and fury (and all his other strong descriptions) in writing the first letter on the topic.

        And we know, by the way, that Newman didn’t even know it was Kingsley who had made the outrageous accusation, when he first replied to it (letter to Macmillan); therefore obviously he couldn’t have been personally angry at him at that point (even if he were “angry”).

        When Newman found out it was Kingsley, he was “amazed.” He had casually assumed (a quite reasonable assumption!) that it was some green, opportunistic loudmouth trying to make a name for himself. Instead, it was the champion of “muscular” anti-Catholic Anglicanism.

      • http://socrates58.blogspot.com/ Dave Armstrong

        This is from an anonymous observer:

        ***

        It has already been established that elegant and nuanced “politeness” often ‘concealed’ a rapiered wit. Indeed it was the civilized ‘duel’, where you demonstrated skill and earned respect. Mr Kingsley had, in a vulgar slur, claimed that Newman was not worthy of being treated with respect. Newman took care to school him and the readers that indeed he was. It was very finely crafted. The readers of the magazine would have been chortling at the skill used to demonstrate that Newman required the respect due a skilled opponent.
        In a society that treasured the skillful word, Newman’s response would have earned him top marks. I think Newman would’ve been chortling and thankful at the opportunity to balance such a public assault.

  • http://www.surpremacyandsurvival.blogspot.com Stephanie A. Mann

    We should also remember that Newman did not give up. When Kingsley refused to back down, even after admitting he could not back up his comment, Newman continued to press him. They exchanged several letters and then Blessed John Henry Newman wrote his “Apologia Pro Vita Sua” and Kingsley found himself completely proven wrong. Newman was vindicated in the eyes of the public–Catholics understood his conversion and his faith; Anglicans understood his position and his conversion. We all read Newman’s works now: who reads Kingsley except that they read Newman (except literary specialists who might read Kingsley’s novels).

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  • netandyawho

    I do wish Cardinal Newman were here today to offer words of advice and encouragement to the U. S. bishops and cardinals with respect to their handling of life issues in the public square and their leadership of the same subject in their dioceses.

  • David M Paggi

    Brandon:

    What a treat for you to host this very lively exchange regarding our common hero, Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman. Thank you, Messrs Priest & Armstrong, for a really vigorous consideration of the nuances of Newman’s responses. I believe that Mr. Priest has done very well to point out the sharpness of Newman’s letter in Victorian terms that is lost to us of a crasser age.

    However his further speculations and false dichotomy overreach the available data, and argument aside, I think Mr Armstrong is right to assert that we should give the saintly Newman a generous benefit of the doubt. Armstrong points out that passion, the desire to correct a flagrant & really stupid injustice, & frustration with the biases & prejudices practiced willy-nilly by the British public were all goads to Newman’s reply as he has himself often experienced in the sometimes thankless task of Catholic apoolgetics – the dictionary hasn’t yet considered this a synonym for masochism, but it might! The fact is, apologists is general & Newman in particular, have to discipline their hearts separate the attacker from the attack & pray for the former while doing one’s best to dispatch the latter. Could it be that Newman’s letter to Macmillan’s betrayed more of this struggle than meets the eye? Perhaps, but the available evidence does not seem to support the rather sweeping indictment proposed by Mr. Priest – even if it is a treat to read his prose.

    I think it telling that contemporaneously Newman writes that normal expression simply would not do when dealing with an antagonistic British press; he had to deliberately use the Victorian equivalent of a baseball bat to get his point across. Does the exchange and the Apoligia itself reveal Newman to be human, as well as saintly? I daresay it does – but not to the extent of fatal flaws (or the false alternative of Machiavellian coldness) that Mr. Priest goes to such pains to conclude.

    Either way, let us all celebrate the wonderful gift we have in Newman and the Apoligia Pro Vita Sua in particular. We really should say a prayer for Kingsley’s soul in gratitude for (however artlessly) stimulating the creation of such a terrific response.

    In fact, I think i’ll treat myself to reread it!

    • David M Paggi

      To make the point above clearer: in apologetics, the enemy is not the interlocutor of the moment, it is ignorance! The person who happens to be our current antagonist in a particular exchange is as much a victim as a woman who has had an abortion – in both cases the right prayer is “forgive them Lord, they know not what they do”. Our duty is to use whatever wits we have at our disposal to help them gain perspective, and so cultivate a friend, not merely vanquish an enemy.

      Consequently, it does not at all strain credibility that Newman could be throroughly piqued by the necessity of responding Kingsley (even before he was identified) without losing charity towards him individually.

      The point here is that Mr. Priest apparently cannot conceive of a state of mind in which Newman would write what he did without the influence of the violent emotion he describes. I’m not saying that to be a saint is to be without anger – thanks be to God for St. Jerome – nor must it be that it is entirely absent from Newman’s letter. What I am suggesting is that it is perfectly reasonable for Newman to have written what he did without either being subject to all the pathology that Mr. Priest describes or somehow grossly failing in Christian charity.

      Let us again celebrate the success that Newman ultimately enjoyed against the perennial adversary – ignorance!

    • DavidM

      “Does the exchange and the Apoligia itself reveal Newman to be human, as well as saintly?” – I dare say! Of course, we should probably try to avoid the false dichotomy between ‘human’ and ‘saintly.’

  • Linus

    Since this all started I reread the Apologia. Quite interesting. Also started reading Grammar of Assent. Don’t know if I want to continue with that, his logic isn’t as tight as I thought it would be. I think his basic idea is O.K. Any opinions? I got as far as the end of Conscience.

  • Marie Dean

    I wrote something like this yesterday. I see three main problems-one, most people have not been trained in rational discourse or logic and cannot argue objectively, but only subjectively. Two, most Catholics do not know their Faith well enough to argue points and become too wrapped up with personal interpretations rather than objective, Catholic truths. Three, the code of gentlemanliness is gone. Sigh…although if one looks at some of the conversations between Chesterton and G. B, Shaw one sees wit which tips over the line of being a gentleman.

    May I share a famous story-paraphrased? GK and Shaw met on a street in London, and GK stated, “To look at you one would think a famine had struck England.” Shaw answered (paraphrased) “”To look at you, anyone would think you have caused it and it looks as if you are with child.” Chesterton, “Yes, if it is a girl, we shall call it Mary..if a boy Joseph, and if it is just wind, George Bernard” We have lost wit and the ability for rational discourse, as well as the true knowledge of the Faith.

    http://supertradmum-etheldredasplace.blogspot.ie/2013/08/why-are-so-many-catholics-nasty.html