June 19

June 19, 1863

Friday. Three more men knocked out to-day. One sunstruck and two wounded. The Rebs have men posted way back inside the works, with rifles having telescope sights, and it is these that do the mischief, rather than those in the rifle pits. Now that we are warned of these fellows, we must look sharp, and maybe then get a clip. This explains how a couple of balls whistled past me yesterday when no sound of a gun was heard.

It was warm and sultry in the middle of the day. We remained in our works till about 5 o'clock p. m. when on being relieved by General W. F. Smith's command, we at once started for Petersburg about eight miles away to rejoin the Army of the Potomac, crossing the Appomattox river on the pontoon bridge, and arriving at the outer works about 8 o'clock p. m. where we bivouaced. Generals Grant and Butler rode along the lines together at Bermuda Hundred this afternoon. It was my first sight of Butler; queer-looking man; his beauty won't kill him.

June Nineteenth

By Captain Winslow's account, the Kearsarge  was struck twenty-eight times; but his ship being armored, my shot and shell fell harmless into the sea. The Alabama  was not mortally wounded until after the Kearsarge  had been firing at her an hour and ten minutes. In the meantime, in spite of the armor of the Kearsarge, I lodged a rifled percussion shell near her stern post—where there were no chains —which failed to explode because of the defect of the cap. On so slight an incident—the defect of a percussion-cap—did the battle hinge.

Raphael Semmes


The “Alabama” sunk by the “Kearsarge” off Cherbourg, 1864



June 19

June 19, 1872.--The wrangle in the Paris Synod still goes on. [Footnote: A synod of the Reformed churches of France was then occupied in determining the constituent conditions of Protestant belief.] The supernatural is the stone of stumbling.

It might be possible to agree on the idea of the divine; but no, that is not the question--the chaff must be separated from the good grain. The supernatural is miracle, and miracle is an objective phenomenon independent of all preceding casuality. Now, miracle thus understood cannot be proved experimentally; and besides, the subjective phenomena, far more important than all the rest, are left out of account in the definition. Men will not see that miracle is a perception of the soul; a vision of the divine behind nature; a psychical crisis, analogous to that of Aeneas on the last day of Troy, which reveals to us the heavenly powers prompting and directing human action. For the indifferent there are no miracles. It is only the religious souls who are capable of recognizing the finger of God in certain given facts.

The minds which have reached the doctrine of immanence are incomprehensible to the fanatics of transcendence. They will never understand--these last--that the panentheism of Krause is ten times more religious than their dogmatic supernaturalism. Their passion for the facts which are objective, isolated, and past, prevents them from seeing the facts which are eternal and spiritual. They can only adore what comes to them from without. As soon as their dramaturgy is interpreted symbolically all seems to them lost. They must have their local prodigies--their vanished unverifiable miracles, because for them the divine is there and only there.

This faith can hardly fail to conquer among the races pledged to the Cartesian dualism, who call the incomprehensible clear, and abhor what is profound. Women also will always find local miracle more easy to understand than universal miracle, and the visible objective intervention of God more probable than his psychological and inward action. The Latin world by its mental form is doomed to petrify its abstractions, and to remain forever outside the inmost sanctuary of life, that central hearth where ideas are still undivided, without shape or determination. The Latin mind makes everything objective, because it remains outside things, and outside itself. It is like the eye which only perceives what is exterior to it, and which cannot see itself except artificially, and from a distance, by means of the reflecting surface of a mirror.

La Madeleine June 19, 1884

You will be careful, another time, I hope, as to the enclosures you forward, seeing how long a reply they involve, and how great a delay. The difficulty which prolongs and has delayed my letter will be very apparent to you before you reach the end.

First, as to the personal question:—

It was not my purpose to depreciate Canon Liddon. I came over with the highest opinion of him—an opinion higher perhaps than Dr. Döllinger's, or even than Mr. Gladstone's, whose ostensible preference for divines of less mark has sometimes set me thinking. Impressed by his greatness, not as a scholar to be pitted against Germans, but as a spiritual force, and also by a certain gracious nobleness of tone which ought to be congenial, I tried, at Oxford and in London, to ascertain whether there is some element of weakness that had escaped me.

Evidently, Liddon is in no peril from the movement of modern Science. He has faced those problems and accounted for them. If he is out of the perpendicular, it is because he leans the other way.

The question would rather be whether a man of his sentiments, rather inclined to rely on others, would be proof against the influence of Newman, or of foreign theologians like Newman.

On the road Bishops and Parliament were taking a few years since, there would be rocks ahead, and one might imagine a crisis in which it would be doubtful who would be for maintaining the National Church and who would not. I have chanced to be familiar with converts and with the raw material of which they are made, and cannot help knowing the distinct and dissimilar paths followed by men like Newman himself, Hope, Palmer, R. J. Wilberforce, Ward, Renouf, many of whom resembled Liddon in talent and fervour, and occupied a position outwardly not far from his own.

He once called the late Bishop of Brechin[219 ] the first divine in the Church. I knew the Bishop well, and am persuaded that the bond that held him in the Anglican Communion might easily have snapped, under contingencies to which he was not exposed.

Putting these questions not quite so crudely as they are stated here, I thought that I obtained an answer. At any rate, I was assured that Liddon is made of sterner stuff than I fancied, that he knows exactly where he stands, where others have stood before him, and where and why he parts with them; that the course of Newman and the rest has no secrets and no surprises for him; that he looks a long way before him, and has no disposition to cling to the authority of others. In short, it appeared very decidedly that he is—what Bishop Forbes was not—fixed in his Anglican position.

Under this impression, I could not help wondering why Wilkinson, Stubbs, and Ridding are judged superior to Liddon. I could have felt and have expressed no such wonder if I had not taken pains to discover that he has tried and has rejected the cause of Rome, and that neither home difficulties nor external influence are at all likely to shake him.

Far, therefore, from meaning disparagement, I rate him higher than any member of the English clergy I know; and touching the question of stability, I have the sufficient testimony of his friends, of men naturally vigilant on that point, of which I am not competent to judge or to speak.

So little competent, indeed, that I should be at a loss to define his system, or to corroborate, of my own knowledge, the confidence which others have expressed. It seemed to me necessary to indicate that, for myself, I could not speak without some qualification or reserve, such as perhaps would only occur to a close student of Roman pathology. To do more, will be giving undue and unfair prominence to a parenthesis. It lays stress where there ought to be none, makes the deduction, the exception, greater than the positive statement, and gives me the air of a man whose praise is designed to convey a slur of suspicion.

That is why your letter with its formidable enclosure has afflicted me with dumbness. The doubt which I indicated in writing to you has been suggested chiefly by what passed in reference to Rosmini.

You will remember that you sent Liddon word that Rosmini wrote a very long defence of the little book which he was translating. He preferred not to make use of the information and not to see the book; and he avoided the subject when we met at Oxford. The reason is, that the Rosminians wish the Defence to be ignored, as it qualifies the submission of the author when the book defended was condemned.

The suppression injures nobody; it only puts the readers of the translation slightly off the scent, and gives an imperfect article instead of none. There is some trace of complicity with those who are interested in a suppressio veri. But it may have been due, as he was under obligations to them, and this is only preliminary matter.

My real difficulty is, that he speaks of his author with great respect, and evidently thinks his doctrine sound and profitable.

Now Rosmini, allowing for some superficial proposals of reform, was a thorough believer in the Holy See. His book itself, by the nature of the reforms proposed, implies that no other defects of equal magnitude remain to be remedied. Apart from the Five points he accepts the papacy as it stands; and he has no great objection to it, Five points included.

He was what we vulgarly call an ultramontane—a reluctant ultramontane, like Lacordaire. An Anglican who views with satisfaction, with admiration, the moral character and spiritual condition of an Ultramontane priest, appears to me to have got over the principal obstacle on the way to Rome—the moral obstacle. The moral obstacle, to put it compendiously, is the Inquisition.

The Inquisition is peculiarly the weapon and peculiarly the work of the Popes. It stands out from all those things in which they co-operated, followed, or assented as the distinctive feature of papal Rome. It was set up, renewed, and perfected by a long series of acts emanating from the supreme authority in the Church. No other institution, no doctrine, no ceremony is so distinctly the individual creation of the papacy, except the Dispensing power. It is the principal thing with which the papacy is identified, and by which it must be judged.

The principle of the Inquisition is the Pope's sovereign power over life and death. Whosoever disobeys him should be tried and tortured and burnt. If that cannot be done, formalities may be dispensed with, and the culprit may be killed like an outlaw.

That is to say, the principle of the Inquisition is murderous, and a man's opinion of the papacy is regulated and determined by his opinion about religious assassination.

If he honestly looks on it as an abomination, he can only accept the Primacy with a drawback, with precaution, suspicion, and aversion for its acts.

If he accepts the Primacy with confidence, admiration, unconditional obedience, he must have made terms with murder.

Therefore, the most awful imputation in the catalogue of crimes rests, according to the measure of their knowledge and their zeal, upon those whom we call Ultramontanes. The controversy, primarily, is not about problems of theology: it is about the spiritual state of a man's soul, who is the defender, the promoter, the accomplice of murder. Every limitation of papal credit and authority which effectually dissociates it from that reproach, which breaks off its solidarity with assassins and washes away the guilt of blood, will solve most other problems. At least, it is enough for my present purpose to say, that blot is so large and foul that it precedes and eclipses the rest, and claims the first attention.

I will show you what Ultramontanism makes of good men by an example very near home. Saint Charles Borromeo, when he was the Pope's nephew and minister, wrote a letter requiring Protestants to be murdered, and complaining that no heretical heads were forwarded to Rome, in spite of the reward that was offered for them. His editor, with perfect consistency, publishes the letter with a note of approval. Cardinal Manning not only holds up to the general veneration of mankind the authority that canonised this murderer, but makes him in a special manner his own patron, joins the Congregation of Oblates of St. Charles, and devotes himself to the study of his acts and the propagation of his renown.

Yet I dare say I could find Anglican divines who would speak of the Cardinal as a good man, unhappily divided from the Church of which he was an ornament, and living in error, but yet not leading a life of sin—I should gather from such language that the speaker was not altogether averse from the distinctive characteristic of Ultramontanism, and had swallowed far the largest obstacle on the road to Rome.

The case of Rosmini is not so glaring, but it is substantially the same. Language implying that an able and initiated Italian priest accepting the papacy, with its inventory of systematic crime, incurs no guilt, that he is an innocent, virtuous, edifying Christian, seems to me open to grave suspicion. If it was used by one of whom I knew nothing else, I should think ill of him. If I knew him to be an able and in many ways an admirable man, I should feel much perplexity, and if I heard on the best authority that he deserved entire confidence, I should persuade myself that it is true, and should try to quiet my uneasiness.

That is what I have done in the case of Liddon. When he speaks of an eminent and conspicuous Ultramontane divine with the respect he might show to Andrewes or Leighton, or to Grotius or Baxter, he ignores or is ignorant of the moral objection, and he surrenders so much that he has hardly a citadel to shelter him. I dare say he would give me a very good answer, and I do not hesitate to utter his praises. But I have no idea what the answer would be, and so must leave room for a doubt.

I should hardly have resolved to say all this to anybody but yourself, relying on you not to misunderstand the exact and restricted meaning of my letter. I should like my reason for misgiving to be understood. But I care much more to be understood as an admirer, not an accuser of Canon Liddon. My explanation is worthless if it fails to justify me there.

[219 ] Forbes.