Home  »  Volume XIV: English THE VICTORIAN AGE Part Two The Nineteenth Century, III  »  § 17. Frederick Denison Maurice; Newman’s Grammar of Assent; William George Ward

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIV. The Victorian Age, Part Two.

I. Philosophers

§ 17. Frederick Denison Maurice; Newman’s Grammar of Assent; William George Ward

Religious philosophy in England was stimulated and advanced by the work of three men all born in the year 1805. These were Maurice, Newman and Martineau. Frederick Denison Maurice had already an ecclesiastical career behind him when, in 1866, he succeeded Grote as professor at Cambridge. Of his numerous works only a few deal with philosophy; the most important of these, Moral and Metaphysical Philosophy, originally appeared in the Encyclopaedia Metropolitana in 1847 and is a historical sketch which is chiefly devoted to ancient thought. Maurice’s influence was due to his personality more than to his books; and he was a social reformer and religious teacher rather than a philosopher. But his work, both in social reform and in religion, derived stimulus and direction from philosophical ideas. John Henry Newman was still less of a philosopher, though his Grammar of Assent propounds a theory of the nature and grounds of belief. More significant, however, is the appearance in Newman’s work of the idea of development, which was beginning to transform all departments of thought; for the quasi-mechanical view with which he started of a fixed norm of belief existing in the past, he substituted the view of the church as an organism whose life and doctrine were in process of growth. The only philosopher among those who joined the Roman church about the same time as Newman was William George Ward, who, in various articles, carried on a controversy with Mill concerning free-will and necessary truth. These and other articles were collected after his death and published as Essays on the Philosophy of Theism (1884).