Home  »  Volume XII: English THE ROMANTIC REVIVAL The Nineteenth Century, I  »  § 18. Wiseman; Manning; Pollen; Faber; Dalgairns; W. G. Ward; de Lisle

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XII. The Romantic Revival.

XII. The Oxford Movement

§ 18. Wiseman; Manning; Pollen; Faber; Dalgairns; W. G. Ward; de Lisle

Nicholas Wiseman, roman catholic controversialist and cardinal, whose education had not been English, was a capable craftsman in letters. He was an orientalist, and a cultured student of many subjects, who became the first archbishop of Westminster in 1850, after devoting himself to confuting “High Church Claims” (1841), and embodying his theories of church history in a pretty story called Fabiola, or the Church of the Catacombs (1854). Henry Edward, cardinal Manning, who had been an English archdeacon and became Wiseman’s successor, wrote, while he was a member of the English church, volumes of sermons which reached at least a fifth edition, and, as a controversial papalist, many vehement criticisms of the Anglican position; but, though his personal influence was great, his work is negligible as literature. John Hungerford Pollen, as an English priest wrote the most touching and tragic of all the records of struggle in parish work for tractarian principles (A Narrative of Five Years at St. Saviour’s, Leeds, 1851), and then, as a Romanist layman, devoted himself to art, wrote some valuable lectures, was the friend of Morris and Rossetti, Swinburne and Patmore, and became in artistic literature, what his friend Baron von Hügel said he was in life, “the perfect type of l’hom-me du monde.” Another convert, Frederick William Faber, endowed with high gifts of imagination, deplored, as a Roman catholic, the position of the Magi, with, perhaps, an undercurrent of reference to the protestants’ unhappy lot—

  • No Pope, no blessèd Pope had they
  • To guide them with his hand,—
  • and was generally sentimental and sugary, very unlike the tractarians; but he wrote some devotional poetry of sincerity and pathos. John Dobree Dalgrins was capable and solid as a Roman controversialist on behalf of Christian belief; but he was far surpassed by another of the later disciples of the tractarians who became a power in the church of his adoption. William George Ward, the crisis of whose stormy career was critical also in the movement itself, has won immortality in the verse of Tennyson and the prose of dean Church. The latter finds it his chief distinction that as “a profound metaphysical thinker he was the equal antagonist on their own ground of John Stuart Mill and Herbert Spencer.” His work hardly belongs to pure literature: its manner and method are, for the most part, cumbrous, only occasionally vivid or comprehensive. His own generation read what he wrote because he was famous for what he said: it was meat and drink to him to argue and to chop logic, and his sword-play was a delight to the onlookers. But, if his Ideal, his intuitionist philosophy and his controversial treatises are forgotten, he will ever be remembered by the poet’s farewell to him as one
  • Whose Faith and Work were bells of full accord,
  • My friend, the most unworldly of mankind,
  • Most generous of all Ultramontanes, Ward.
  • Ambrose Phillips de Lisle, another English convert to the Roman obedience, followed the Tracts for the Times with keenest interest from the first. He had been ten years a Roman catholic when they began to appear and he set himself before long to correspond with their writers in the hope of “producing a good understanding between the Catholic and Anglican churches, with a view to the ultimate restoration of that happy and blessed unity, which formerly existed between them for more than a thousand years, and which,” he added, “I am perfectly certain will one day be restored.” The letters which passed between him and Montalembert illustrate how close at some points was the connection between the ecclesiastical revival in England and in France. The French man of letters had no hope
  • that Catholicity will make any real progress in England, as long as the fanatical spirit of Archbishop Manning, Mr. Ward, and others of the same stamp is prevalent among English Catholics;
  • and, on the other side, Newman was equally hopeless about reunion or “the conversion of that corporate body which we call the Anglican Church.” De Lisle’s own work, sympathetic in aim, trivial in result, is an example of the rift between the two bodies, in literature as well as in religion. Only in Newman himself was the influence of the Oxford movement to be discerned among Romanist writers.