p to this point, I have discussed how Newman enters directly, or by strong implication, into many of Arnold's major concernsin the eighteen-sixties. The effect may seem somewhat scattered because of the sheer variety of contexts in which Newman figures. I have deliberately withheld for full consideration until now a matter of sustained concern to Arnold in this period. This is the development of his central doctrine of criticism and culture, in which the example of Newman almost certainly provided Arnold with many of his basic notions and terms and which very likely inspired the deep-running dualism that a number of readers have detected in Arnold's ideal. Of course Newman was, as many of the preceding pages have demonstrated, a chief source of Arnold's ideal of intellectual excellence and a model for the tone and manner of his critical activity. But it is when [61/62] one follows the series of progressive reshapings and restatements of Arnold's ideals of criticism and culture through the decade of the sixties that the most permanent stamp of Newman's characteristic thought upon Arnold's writings becomes evident. Both in stating his positive ideal, the qualities of mind which criticism and culture were to sponsor, and in defining the social aims of his ideal, Arnold found support in the Idea and elsewhere in Newman.
The connection between Newman and Arnold in this regard has been asserted before, at least briefly, by Dover Wilson and Father Tristram. ("Newman and Matthew Arnold," The Cornhill, p. 316, 317.) More recently Raymond Williams has put the problem in historical perspective by seeing Arnold's discussion of culture as the inheritor of a long line of culture criticism-the setting up of an ideal, usually derived from the institutions of -the past, against which society can be judged, an ideal which draws especially on Edmund Burke, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas Carlyle, and John Henry Newman. (Culture and Society, p. 125.) Williams plausibly argues that when Newman deplores the lack of "some definite word" in English to cover the "cultivation" and "perfection" of the intellect he is describing, he is searching for Arnold's term, "culture." (p. 120; Idea, pp. 110-111. As early as 1841, in "The Tamworth Reading Room," Newman had spoken of "the culture of the mind" and "the cultivation of the mind" D&A, pp. 259, 274.)
Arnold's first extended statement of his intellectual ideal occurred in his inaugural lecture at Oxford, "The Modern Element in Literature," delivered in November 1857. There he states the ideal of human nature which he labels Sophoclean and which will be normative for him through the sixties: "human nature developed in a number of directions, politically, socially, religiously, morally developed -- in its completest and most harmonious development in all these directions" (CPW, 1, 28). As a foundation for this holistic theory, Arnold strongly emphasizes the complexity and interconnection of all knowledge. He speaks of "the collective life of humanity": "everywhere there is connexion, everywhere there is illustration: no single event, no single [62/63] literature, is adequately comprehended except in its relation to other events, to other literatures." For the most adequate comprehension, representation, and interpretation of an age we must look to its poetry, which demands "the most energetic and harmonious activity of all the powers of the human mind." As a first tentative definition of "the critical power," Arnold finds "the supreme characteristic" of a,"modern" age to be "the manifestation of a critical spirit, the endeavour after a rational arrangement and appreciation of facts" (CPW/, 1, 20-21, 22, 25). Newman had made this theme central in the fourteenth of his Oxford University Sermons. His subject is -- Wisdom -- that "orderly and mature development of thought," "science and philosophy," which was to be the real subject of the Idea; in fact, whole paragraphs of this sermon appear almost verbatim in Discourse VI of the Idea. In the sermon (delivered in 1841) Newman had described this condition of the intellect as "enlargement or expansion of mind, ... a wise and comprehensive view of things" and had argued that knowledge, though an essential condition, is not the cause of the enlargement:
this enlargement consists in the comparison of the subjects of knowledge one with another. We feel ourselves to be ranging freely, when we not only learn something, but when we also refer it to what we knew before. It is not the mere addition to our knowledge which is the enlargement, but the change of place, the movement onwards, of that moral centre, to which what we know and what we have been acquiring, the whole mass of our knowledge, as it were, gravitates. And therefore a philosophical cast of thought, or a comprehensive mind, or wisdom in conduct or policy, implies a connected view of the old with the new; an insight into the bearing and influence of each part upon every other; without which there is no whole, and could be no centre. It is the knowledge, not only of things, but of their mutual relations. It is organized, and therefore living knowledge. [OUS, p. 28 7; see Idea, pp. 118-19]
In the Idea itself, anticipating Arnold's remarks on the "energetic and harmonious activity" of all the powers of the mind, Newman prefaced this passage with the following: "The enlargement consists, not merely in the passive reception into the mind of a number of ideas hitherto unknown to it, but in the mind's energetic and simultaneous action [63/64] upon and towards and among those new ideas, which are rushing in upon it" (Idea, p. 118). This was the encyclopedic and synthetic ideal of Discourse V where liberal knowledge is described as "a comprehensive view of truth in all its branches, of the relations of science to science, of their mutual bearings, and their respective values." [Idea, P. 91]
Six years later, in 1863, Arnold once more undertook the detailed establishment of a lofty and pure "intellectual sphere" apart from practical and even moral considerations. In the two essays on Spinoza and in that on Stanley's lectures, discussed above, Arnold's decisive separation of reason and morality follows the example of Newman's exaggerated Tractarian view of the distinction between faith and reason. At the end of "Pagan and Mediaeval Religious Sentiment," published in April 1864, occurred the abrupt and undeveloped statement of an ideal that stood above division-the "imaginative reason" that somehow combined "the senses and understanding" and "the heart and imagination" and that was (alternatively) a balance between "the thinking-power" and "the religious sense" (CPW, 111, 230-231). This rich synthetic ideal, which foreshadowed the goal of "culture" and "total perfection" to be set forth in Culture and Anarchy and which had a complex historical origin in sources as various as Aristotle, Hugh of St. Victor, Bacon, and Coleridge, colored and complicated all of Arnold's subsequent views on the role of reason in modern life. Culture itself-and the word occurs repeatedly in suggestive contexts long before Culture and Anarchy was not, as Trilling explains, simply a method of the abstract "critical" reason, "but an attitude of spirit contrived to receive truth. It is a moral orientation, involving will, imagination, faith.... Culture may best be described as religion with the critical intellect super-added " (p. 241; the sources of Newman's ideal of universality and his view of the unity of knowledge are admirably developed in Culler). The chief terms in Arnold's prolonged public discussion of the place of intelligence in man's life and in the life of society were, of course, the overlapping and evolving ones, "criticism" and "culture." But there is a certain continuity in the attendant terms that he uses again and again, almost as incantations, to [64/65] suggest the qualities of mind he desires-such terms as imaginative reason, disinterestedness, urbanity, intellectual delicacy, sweetness and light, and the "element" of Jesus ("mildness and sweetness").
It is important to note that both halves of Arnold's (hopefully superable) division, symbolized by an expression like "imaginative reason," have a basis in Newman's thought. In a sermon of 1840 on "Implicit and Explicit Reason" (Number XIII of the Oxford University Sermons), Newman had distinguished the spontaneous "simple faculties and operations of the mind" from "the process of analyzing and describing them, which takes place upon reflection." The first operation, Implicit Reason, Newman calls "unconscious reasoning," which is analogous to Faith; it involves "impulse, instinct, conscience, imagination, habit," and later Newman speaks of it as "an instinctive Reason, which is prior to argument and proof " (0US, pp. 256, 259; and Sermon XIV, p. 280). Citing the immediately following passage on the "great geniuses" who "scale the mountains of truth," a passage used earlier in this book, William Robbins notes that "The reason, as Arnold uses it, is often intuition, imaginative insight, or experimental memory." and that this process is akin to Newman's "implicit" reason, "a unique combination of powers blended of instinct, unconscious memory, and practised skill." (The Ethical Idealism of Matthew Arnold, p. 170.) The passage itself, it will be recalled, speaks of this as reasoning "not by rule, but by an inward faculty," "a living spontaneous energy within us, not an art" (OUS, p. 257). To Explicit Reason, the second, reflective process of the mind, belong, says Newman, such terms as "science, method, development, analysis, criticism, proof, system, principles, rules, laws" (OUS, p. 259). Sermon XIV develops this second process under the heading of the supernatural gift of "Wisdom," which is the counterpart "in earthly language " of "science and philosophy"; and in this sermon occur those numerous passages on "enlargement or expansion of mind," "a comprehensive view of things," which were to be imbedded at the heart of Newman's Idea of a University. In other words, this view of the second process of the mind, "the uses of our critical and analytical powers," was the kernel of the "idea" of reason, science, and philosophy which [65/66] Newman was to promulgate in the Dublin discourses. It was this second process that, as I shall maintain, Arnold more or less consciously incorporated into his ideal of reason in "The Function of Criticism" and his later writings. At the outset it is important to note that Newman's conception of even "our critical and analytical powers" was never, either in the sermons or the Idea, that of some desiccated thinking-machine. For -- and this was surely one of the reasons why Arnold, who set as his goal "spontaneity of consciousness" (CA, p. 15 6), was attracted to Newman's view of our mental processes-Newman's idea of reason involved a dynamic process. As a passage in Sermon XIV, quoted above, puts it, it must be a "living knowledge," a "ranging freely," a "movement onwards of that moral centre, to which ... the whole mass of our knowledge gravitates," and what the Idea was to call "the mind's energetic and simultaneous action upon new ideas" (OUS, p. 287; Idea, p. 118).
It remains to be shown that in almost every aspect of Arnold's continuing experiment at definition the shadow of Newman can be detected. The climactic essay of the early sixties is "The Function of Criticism at the Present time" (November 1864). The key informing word of the essay is "disinterestedness," a concept combining two major themes of Newman's Idea, that of knowledge "for its own sake" and that of the carefully delimited social "utility" of liberal knowledge. First, there is Arnold's severely intellectualist view, controlling a large proportion of the essay, that criticism must never quit "the intellectual sphere" (CPW, 111, 266), that serene playground of genius which he had tried to define in the essays of 1863. This seems to be a partial retreat from the balance of the "imaginative reason" because it moves in the direction of the overly severe dichotomies that had, it seems, so marred an essay like "Dr. Stanley's Lectures" that Arnold never reprinted it. To be sure, "The Function of Criticism" at the beginning and twice elsewhere offers a balanced statement of the social benefits of Arnold's conception of criticism. Arnold starts by repeating a rigorously intellectual definition of the modern critical effort he had made in 1860: "to see the object as in itself it really is" (CPW, 111, 258; 1, 140); but he soon after sees wide if generalized social effects of such [66/67] criticism: "It tends to establish an order of ideas, if not absolutely true, yet true by comparison with that which it displaces; to make the best ideas prevail. Presently these new ideas reach society, the touch of truth is the touch of life, and there is a stir and growth everywhere; out of this stir and growth come the creative epochs of literature" (CPW, 111, 261). Nevertheless, the intellectualist and autotelic note remains dominant. For these creative epochs require primarily "many-sided learning," a "long and widely-combined critical effort," and "a thorough interpretation of the world" (CPW, 111, 263). Great eras like that of Periclean Greece and the Renaissance "were, in the main, disinterestedly intellectual and spiritual movements; movements in which the human spirit looked for its satisfaction in itself and in the increased play of its own activity" (CPW, 111, 263-264). This emphasis can grow very insistent. Criticism is the exercise of "curiosity," which Arnold defines as "just this disinterested love of a free play of mind on all subjects, for its own sake." Criticism, moreover, "obeys an instinct prompting it to try to know the best that is known and thought in the world, irrespectively of practice, politics, and everything of the kind; and to value knowledge and thought as they approach this best, without the intrusion of any other considerations whatever" (CPW, 111, 268).
Arnold is, then, the sponsor of the notions "that the mind may be made the source of great pleasure," and that criticism must keep "in the pure intellectual sphere" (CPW, 111, 269, 271). Only cautiously does he admit the possible social benefits of criticism- and even these appear to be largely in the intellectual and literary realm. As he declares in a famous passage, "I say, the critic must keep out of the region of immediate practice in the political, social, humanitarian sphere, if he wants to make a beginning for that more free speculative treatment of things, which may perhaps one day make its benefits felt even in this sphere, but in a natural and thence irresistible manner" (CPW, III, 275). The remoteness of Arnold's social goals here is evident when he indicates that the very thing criticism offers society at large is the concept of "the life of the intelligence" for its own sake -- "the notion of the free play of the mind upon all subjects being a pleasure in itself, [67/68] being an object of desire, being an essential provider of elements without which a nation's spirit, whatever compensations it may have for them, must, in the long run, die of inanition" (CPW, 111, 268).
The parallels with well-known passages in Newman's Idea are very extensive and need only be indicated. At the outset of the crucial Discourse (V) on "Knowledge Its Own End," Newman states that a university creates "a pure and clear atmosphere of thought," apparently akin to Arnold's "pure intellectual sphere" (Idea, p. 90). Cultivation of mind is "worth seeking for its own sake": it "is desirable, though nothing come of it, as being of itself a treasure, and a sufficient remuneration of years of labour" (Idea, p. 101). Where Arnold spoke of the human spirit finding "its satisfaction in itself" and the mind being "made the source of great Pleasure," Newman had asserted that by the very "constitution of the human mind" knowledge "is its own reward," and that "we are satisfying a direct need of our nature" in acquiring it (Idea, pp. 91-92; See CPW, V, 91: "a desire after the things of the mind simply for their own sakes and for the pleasure of seeing them as they are" is "natural and proper in an intelligent being" ). Newman is in general as uncompromising as Arnold in protecting the autotelic character of this knowledge: that alone is liberal knowledge, which stands on its own pretensions, which is independent of sequel, expects no complement, refuses to be informed (as it is called) by any end, or absorbed into any art" (Idea, pp. 95-96). Where criticism, for Arnold, must refuse to remain in the sphere of "narrow and relative conceptions" and dwell on "what is excellent in itself," Newman had seen his "philosophical" use of reason as that which continually "rises towards general ideas" (CPW, III, 274, 271; Idea, p. 99). Even more cautiously than Arnold, Newman admits that knowledge may have "a result beyond itself" and issue in "tangible fruit," but his primary contention is "that, prior to its being a power, it. is a good; that it is, not only an instrument, but an end" (Idea, p. 99).
Only later, in Discourse VII, does Newman face directly the demand of the Useful Knowledge School (which he had attacked in "The Tamworth Reading Room" and which he associates with Locke, the Edinburgh Review, and "the disciples of a low Utilitarianism") that "Education should be confined to some particular and narrow end, and [68/69] should issue in some definite work, which can be weighed and measured" (Idea, p. 135). He answers by stages. He first repeats "that intellectual culture is its own end; for what has its end in itself, has its use in itself also" (Idea, p. 143). He then goes a step further by admitting that a liberal education, though not a professional education, can be truly "useful," in the carefully limited sense that it "tends to good, or is the instrument of good." The social benefits are, as in Arnold's view, very generalized: "not useful in any low, mechanical, mercantile sense, but as diffusing good, or as a blessing, or a gift, or power, or a treasure, first to the owner, then through him to the world" (Idea, p. 145). A further step in Newman's concession that "utility in this large sense as the end of Education" means that "general culture of mind," though it does not lead directly to any trade or profession, is "the best aid to professional and scientific study" (Idea, p. 146). Newman ends the discourse by postulating a final social good for education, "that of training good members of society" (Idea, p. 156). As shown earlier, this conclusion closely anticipates Arnold. The task of the critical intelligence, for Arnold, is "to see the object as in itself it really is"; for Newman, university training teaches the individual "to see things as they are." As for society, Arnold assigned to criticism the task of "a disinterested endeavour to learn and propagate the best that is known and thought in the world, and thus to establish a current of fresh and true ideas" (CPW, 111, 282). The social end of education, for Newman, if somewhat less dynamic, was similar: "it aims at raising the intellectual tone of society, at cultivating the public mind, at purifying the national taste, at supplying true principles to popular enthusiasm and fixed aims to popular aspiration, at giving enlargement and sobriety to the ideas of the age" (Idea, p. 157).
Obviously, the intellectual atmosphere that Arnold's "disinterestedness" was designed to counteract was that of the "low Utilitarianism" and the "Useful Knowledge School" which Newman opposed all his life. As Trilling put it, in an age of interests and partisanship "it was the duty of criticism to take the part of science and advance its unclouded disinterestedness." (Mathew Arnold, p. 185.) Speaking of the tradition that runs from [69/70] Burke to Arnold, in which Newman's role is crucial, Raymond Williams remarks: "The work of perfection, which Arnold was to name as Culture, received increasing emphasis in opposition to the powerful Utilitarian tendency which conceived education as the training of men to carry out particular tasks in a particular kind of civilization." (Culture and Society, pp. 120-121.) In no matter do Arnold and Newman stand more closely allied; they shared a similar conception of reason in its highest reaches and in its most powerful and sensitive organization; they display a similarly motivated reluctance to commit the highly organized intelligence to the clamorous demands of practical life; and the enemies of their conception of reason and its social role belong to a single line of modern thought (roughly speaking, that of British Empiricism) "condemnatory of any teaching which tends to the general cultivation of the mind" (Idea, p. 141).
"rival" and "culture" are overlapping and chronologically continuous terms; the latter absorbs the former, above all in Culture and Anarchy, and adds to it an ideal of man's total -- moral and intellectual -- perfection. To be sure, "The Function of Criticism" had anticipated Culture and Anarchy by asserting the work of criticism to be that of leading man toward "perfection" and "spiritual progression" (CPW, 111, 271, 273); and, conversely, "Culture and Its Enemies," Arnold's farewell lecture and the first chapter of Culture and Anarchy, looked back to the earlier essay in defining one side of man's double nature as "the genuine scientific passion," the "desire to see things as they are." However, culture as the "study of perfection" sees "the moral and social passion for doing good" as its own "main and pre-eminent part" (CPW, V, 91). Arnold is setting up a frankly rival ideal to that of historic Christianity. Here Newman could not, of course, follow Arnold, who refers to himself as, "above all, a believer in culture," and looks for grounds on which to rest "a faith in culture" (CPW, V, 88-89). The added social, moral, and quasi-religious tone of Arnold's discussion of culture was in large part an effort to retrieve his evolving ideal of human consciousness from the numerous charges leveled against it, often not very justly or coherently, of self-seeking, utilitarianism, aestheticism, and hedonism. Arnold's holistic and naturalistic [70/71] ideal, in these years just before he turned his full attention to the religious crisis of the age, is at first declared to be identical with that of religion: "Religion says: The Kingdom of God is within you; and culture, in like manner, places human perfection in an internal condition, in the growth and predominance of our humanity proper, as distinguished from our animality. It places it in the ever-increasing efficacy and in the general harmonious expansion of those gifts of thought and feeling which make the peculiar dignity, wealth, and happiness of human nature" (CPW, V, 94). The social dimension of this aesthetic and intellectual ideal resides almost exclusively in the insistence that this is to be "a general expansion," an ideal progressively diffused in the community at large. As such, it is important to note, the ideal of culture never abandons the essential notes that had marked criticism, a complex version of perfected taste and intelligence and a "disinterested" removal from practical concerns. But the radical nature of Arnold's ideal and the measure of his distance from supernatural Christianity in these years are at once clear when he announces that this harmonious expansion of all human powers "is not consistent with the over-development of any one power at the expense of the rest. Here culture goes beyond religion, as religion is generally conceived by us" (CPW, V, 94).
Newman, for considerations discussed below, but above all because of his rigorous distinction between faith and reason, never worked out a similarly "total" humanistic ideal, an ideal that would overcome the dualism of faith and reason which so concerned both men. Of course, one might argue that implicit in the ideal of liberal education presented in the Idea were the materials for an approach to such a concept, even within Christian theological norms, because the Idea emphasizes comprehensiveness and versatility, richness and harmony and asserts that education "implies an action upon our mental nature, and the formation of a character; it is something individual and permanent, and is commonly spoken of in connexion with religion and virtue" (Idea, pp. xxxiii, xxxv, 101). Even more explicitly, in "The Tamworth Reading Room," within two pages of the passage in which Newman announced, "To know is one thing, to do is another; the two things are altogether distinct, "he speaks of the need for working toward "the unity of our [71/72] complex nature," "an harmonizing of the chaos" (D&A, pp. 262, 264). He later asserts that in "the cultivation of the mind," in all the claims on human intelligence from logic to poetry, "the great and true maxim is to sacrifice none-to combine, and therefore to adjust, all" (D&A, p. 274). In the same series of letters occurs Newman's insistence, undoubtedly attractive to the Arnold who postulated the "imaginative reason," that the heart is reached not so much by reason and logic as by the imagination: "after all, man is not a reasoning animal; he is a seeing, feeling, contemplating, acting animal" (D&A, pp. 293, 294). It should be remembered also that Arnold's statement, "culture ... places human perfection in an internal condition," "an inward condition of the mind and spirit" (CPW, V, 94-95), echoes Newman's insistence that "true excellence comes ... from within," and that liberal knowledge is "an inward endowment" (D&A, p. 266; Idea, P. 100). Nevertheless, Newman did not precede Arnold, except incidentally, in formulating a theory attempting to overcome, on the natural plane, the historical dichotomy of man's religious and intellectual experience -- with one important exception.
Later in Culture and Anarchy, Arnold restates and deepens his distinction between "the scientific passion" and "the passion for doing good" as that between "Hebraism" and "Hellenism": "the governing idea of Hellenism is spontaneity of consciousness; that of Hebraism, strictness of conscience" (CPW, V, 165). The "fundamental divergence" that divides these two essential human impulses is, of course, the same separation that preoccupied Arnold in his essays of 1863. Arnold is now arguing, in terms of his concept of culture, for a rapprochement of the two forces and has enriched his analysis by a new historical scheme. He begins by seeming to attribute equal value to the two, each of which is inadequate: "Hebraism and Hellenism are, neither of them, the law of human development, as their admirers are prone to make them; they are, each of them, contributions to human development, -- august contributions, invaluable contributions; and each showing itself more august, more invaluable, more preponderant over the other, according to the moment in which we take them, and the relation in which we stand to them" (CPW, V, 170-17 1 ). Further, "by alternations of Hebraism and Hellenism, of a man's intellectual [72/73] and moral impulses, of the effort to see things as they really are and the effort to win peace by self-conquest, the human spirit proceeds; and each of these two forces has its appointed hours of culmination and seasons of rule"-Christianity being the triumph of Hebraism, and the Renaissance, "an uprising and re-instatement of man's intellectual impulses and of Hellenism" (CPW, V, 171-172). In fact, however, much of this assumed equivalence of value turns out to be a rhetorical device, since Arnold's projected "larger conception of human nature" is Hellenism, the Greek ideal that absorbs the impulse of Hebraism into its own ideal of the harmonious development of all human powers: "a comprehensive adjustment of the claims of both the sides in man, the moral as well as the intellectual, of a full estimate of both, and of a reconciliation of both" (CPW, V, 179). Of course, Arnold knew very well that the practical establishment of such a theory of man was not easy or imminent. Writing in a more discouraged mood in 1870, he deplores the actual, unworthy forces which lead English life and which ensure that the "real union between Hebraism and Hellenism can never be accomplished, and our totality is still as far off as ever. Unhappy and unquiet alternations of ascendency [sic] between Hebbraism and Hellenism are all that we shall see; -- at one time, the indestructible religious experience of mankind asserting itself blindly; at another, a revulsion of the intellect of mankind from this experience, because of the audacious assumptions and gross inaccuracies with which men's account of it is intermingled" (SPP, p. xxxv).
although nineteenth-century thinkers as diverse as Thomas Carlyle and John Stuart Mill had anticipated Arnold's interest in periods of " concentration" and periods of "expansion," it seems likely that these more religious exercises in historical analysis were influenced by a remarkable passage in Newman's Apologia, in which he frankly faces the historical "conflict between Infallibility and Reason" within Christendom. He sees this "warfare," with an optimism more characteristic of his Catholic than of his Anglican period, as "necessary for the very life of religion," and their respective claims reconciled within "Catholic Christendom." The image he uses, predictive of Arnold's "unhappy and unquiet alternations of ascendency," is the perhaps more orderly one of "Authority and Private judgment alternately advancing and [73/74] retreating as the ebb and flow of the tide." His view is that a "high Providence" has provided a remedy for the alleged danger that, under Infallibility, "the restless intellect of our common humanity is utterly weighed down, to the repression of all independent effort and action whatever" (Apologia, p. 228). He answers:
The energy of the human intellect "does from opposition grow;" it thrives and is joyous, with a tough elastic strength, under the terrible blows of the divinely-fashioned weapon, and is never so much itself as when it has lately been overthrown. It is the custom with Protestant writers to consider that, whereas there are two great principles in action in the history of religion, Authority and Private judgment, they have all the Private judgment to themselves, and we have the fall inheritance and the super-incumbent oppression of Authority. But this is not so; it is the vast Catholic body itself, and it only, which affords an arena for both combatants in the awful, never-dying duel. It is necessary for the very life of religion, viewed in its large operations and its history, that the warfare should be incessantly carried on. Every exercise of Infallibility is brought out into act by an intense and varied operation of the Reason, both as its ally and as its opponent, and provokes again, when it has done its work, a re-action of Reason against it; and, as in a civil polity the State exists and endures by means of the rivalry and collision, the encroachments and defeats of its constituent parts, so in like manner Catholic Christendom is no simple exhibition of religious absolutism, but presents a continuous picture of Authority and Private judgment alternately advancing and retreating as the ebb and flow of the tide;-it is a vast assemblage of human beings with wilful intellects and wild passions, brought together into one by the beauty and the Majesty of a Superhuman Power,-into what may be called a large reformatory or training-school, not as if into a hospital or into a prison, not in order to be sent to bed, not to be buried alive, but (if I may change my metaphor) brought together as if into some moral factory, for the melting, refining, and moulding, by an incessant, noisy process, of the raw material of human nature, so excellent, so dangerous, so capable of divine purposes. [Apologia, pp. 228-29]
Within a Christian and Providential framework, Newman, too, saw the possibility of a reconciliation of man's religious and intellectual experience. But his was actual, past and present,within history. Perhaps Matthew Arnold's view of history, despite the superintendence [74/75] of a surrogate-Providence in the Zeitgeist, was ultimately less optimistic than John Henry Newman's.
Thus, a series of dualisms unite, and yet subtly distinguish, the views of Newman and of Arnold on the range of reason in its highest and most organized form and on the role of reason in society and in the formation of human character. First, there is the bedrock and persistent recognition of the polarity of "faith" (including such matters as religion, morality, and imagination) and the critical reason. Next, once a high ideal of intellectual excellence has been established, there is the shared reluctance to commit intelligence in its fullest definition to the practical tasks of this world. Perhaps Arnold's conception of disinterestedness is the more extreme, since, even if a bit reluctantly, Newman could say, as one cannot picture Arnold saying, that the practical end of a university course "is that of training good members of society" (Idea, p. 156). As Raymond Williams notes, despite Arnold's definition of culture as right knowing and right doing, "his emphasis in detail is so much on the importance of knowing, and so little on the importance of doing, that Culture at times seems very like the Dissenters' Salvation: a thing to secure first, to which all else will then be added" (Culture and Society, p. 136). The (perhaps overstated) point of E. K. Brown's study of Arnold is "the oscillation between the poles of detachment and action, of artistic contemplation and practical criticism" throughout his works (p. 179). Of course Arnold tried, far more consciously and at greater length than Newman did, to synthesize the fundamental impulses of man. But both men had made attempts in this direction by establishing a high and complex ideal of human consciousness, and, as Culler says, by establishing the historical "image of a large human culture" distinguished by apartness, detachment, and catholicity, which would transcend the self. (Apologia, pp. xvii- xviii.) Both failed in this attempt, for different, if complementary, reasons.
There are two central themes in the Idea which are never satisfactorily resolved: the need to include religious teaching in a program of [75/76] studies, and the fact that cultivation of the mind, rather than professional training, is the object of a university (Newman's University: Idea and Reality, p. 133.) Fergal McGrath, in his study of the Idea, is at pains to insist that Newman's "mental distinction" between "the intellectual and moral issues" should not be read as "a real distinction which his other writings and his life-work put completely out of count." (p. 291.) Almost certainly this is glossing over a serious difficulty too easily. For if Newman, in the Idea, had viewed Civilization as "a great objective fact" in time and space (and, in Culler's words, "had set it forth in more satisfactory terms than Arnold would ever do"), surely Culler is correct in asking: "Why did he not acknowledge the power of that fact, so obviously bigger than any individual or any nation or any single epoch, to take men out of themselves, to provide a standard by which they could correct and discipline their own nature?" (Imperial Intellect, p. 235.) He suggests three reasons. The first is connected with the highly competitive English educational system, which Newman saw as a source of vanity and pride. Second, "the Oriel apologetic for liberal knowledge" had paradoxically, Newman felt, dissolved "the real defenses of humanism, for it turned the attention of the student away from the object of knowledge, with the veneration it ought to excite, toward the contemplation of the self which was being cultivated by the knowledge." Finally, and most important, Culler sees Newman's conception of culture as "stubbornly naturalistic," and hence he could not assign to literary culture the value Arnold gave it. (pp. 236-238.) In a word, the insuperable defect of humanistic culture, for Newman, lay in the fact that "it still provides no means for transcending the limits of the natural man." (p. 238.)
The most telling proof of this defect is Newman's definition of the "Gentleman," the characteristic product of Oxford and of Newman's ideal of liberal knowledge, a definition often quoted apart from its context, as if it were Newman's positive ideal of man. Newman, perhaps the supreme modern defender of the ideal of liberal education, [76/77] introduces the product of this education in Discourse in this highly qualified way: "It is well to be a gentleman, it is well to have a cultivated intellect, a delicate taste, a candid, equitable, dispassionate mind, a noble and courteous bearing in the conduct of life ... but still, I repeat, they are no guarantee for sanctity or even for conscientiousness, they may attach to the man of the world, to the profligate, to the heartless,-pleasant, alas, and attractive as he shows when decked out in them" (Idea, p. 107). His valuation of this product of his supposed ideal of life is even dearer in Discourse VIII, a large portion of which expands on these qualities, only to suggest that these are "copies" or counterfeits of the qualities of "St. Paul's exemplar of the Christian in his external relations" (Idea, pp. 180, 185 ff.). One of the chief (if today generally unacknowledged) objectives of Newman's Idea is to warn that the character endowed with the fruits of a liberal education is particularly liable to mistake its real natural virtues for the essential Christian virtues that are of paramount importance. The qualities sponsored by this natural ideal, embraced by what Newman calls "the Religion of Philosophy," remain strictly indifferent to the central issue of life: they can develop "apart from religious principle," and they partly assist and partly distort the development of the Catholic." They may be found in the saints, as well as in the enemies of religion (Idea, P. 187). One is tempted to say that the characteristic product of Arnold's "culture" nicely exemplifies the qualities of Newman's Oxford "gentleman" but this is to say that, by Newman's standards, Arnold's paragon is a kind of fraudulent copy of St. Paul's "saint." [The premises of Griffin's defence are confused.]
In Arnold, the failure lies in a different direction. Culler maintains that Amold's attempt to establish, in "culture," a norm larger than the self failed because when he looks for an interpreter of the norm, "whether in an English Academy or in the idea of the State or in his celebrated 'touchstones' for poetry, he ended by reintroducing the self in another guise." (Newman, pp. xvii-xviii.) Transcendence of self is a key motif of Arnold's critical, social, and religious writings. May not Arnold's failure to achieve this transcendence explain the "unresolved inner tension," the [77/78] "divided mind and spirit," which E. K. Brown saw in Arnold's oscillation between "detachment and action"?-an oscillation that can be reshaped meaningfully as that between reason and morality (pp. 121, 183). For, despite his asserted ideal of a human nature brought to perfection on all sides, Arnold was fundamentally too conservative ever to give up, especially after the religious writings of the following decade, the historic Christian dualism between nature and grace, morality and reason -- the dualism that proved to be the rock on which Newman's view of "intellectual culture" also foundered. Arnold did suggest, in Culture and Anarchy, that a naturalistic culture and "perfection" are "known absolutes," and that they could serve as a substitute for religion, a position that readers of almost all biases have since deplored as confused; for recent examples, see Williams, p. 136; and Shumaker, 397, 401. A source of Arnold's own confusion and "division" is his intellectual conviction that no theistic absolutes can be validated, whereas imaginative and emotional participation in the great inherited structure of European and world civilization seemed, at least historically, to have demanded something very dose to religious faith. (See the discussion of "Literature and Science," Chapter 8) Almost at once, in the writings of the following several years, Arnold set about qualifying his Hellenic ideal, and in such forces as "the Eternal" and "the power that makes for righteousness" he sought, however illogically, sanctions for his humanism which were in fact imaginative and emotional equivalents for God. Especially in Literature and Dogma, these forces inhabit a realm that can justly be described as the supernatural. Arnold's holistic ideal, though reasserted in the social writings of the final decade of his life, never quite regained its confident tone. His deepened sense of the religious crisis of the age permanently complicated his naturalism. Culler seems to chide Arnold for his failure to pursue to the utmost the idea that values, "which have their origin within us," transcend the self and exercise a corrective power only in the "guise" of "the great, distinct, and objective image of human nature which has been erected in the culture of the past. (Imperial Intellect, p. 235.) But this is to view Arnold through twentieth-century [78/79] spectacles and to ask of him a detachment from metaphysically supported values which, despite his protests against metaphysics, he was unable -- emotionally and imaginatively -- to adopt. For Arnold, as for Newman, the ideal of a perfected intelligence-even an intelligence drawing to itself qualities of imagination, taste, and simply could never supplant the deep-rooted sense of an ineradicable division in man between doing and knowing.At this point in the analysis it is possible to appreciate the full import of Arnold's acknowledgment in the letter of January 1868-midway through the writing of Culture and Anarchy -- of what Newman had so far meant to him. Newman had sent him a copy of his newly collected poetry, Verses on Various Occasions; Arnold responded: "But the more inward qualities and excellences of the Poems remind me how much I, like so many others, owe to your influence and writings; the impression of which is so profound, and so mixed up with all that is most essential in what I do and say, that I can never cease to be conscious of it and to have an inexpressible sense of gratitude and attachment to its author." (Tristram, p. 311.) The reverential, almost filial, tone will perdure now till the end, but the extent of the influence, even up to this moment in 1868, is by no means so exaggerated or merely conventional as a casual reader might assume.
Perhaps the best way to catch the precise weight and tone of Arnold's indebtedness is to summarize the immense verbal network that links the supreme efforts of these two men to define the nature and role of reason. The sheer mass of identical (or cognate) terms and figures employed to define -- and, in the very process, to exemplify -- the capacities of the perfected intelligence caps the argument for intellectual filiation. For example, in describing the activities of the educated mind, both Arnold and Newman use these words: relating, combining, adjusting, connecting, harmonizing, uniting, comprehending. Even more suggestive are the qualities that both men attribute to the liberal and critical intelligence: energy, spontaneity, freedom, harmoniousness, cultivation, unity, taste, flexibility, interiority and inwardness, beauty, perfection, excellence, power, ease, clarity, comprehensiveness. Equally important [79/80] is a series of non-cognate terms that tend to suggest balance and elevation as the highest qualities and effects of the most finely organized intelligence. Arnold recommends fitness, measure, certainty, urbanity, moderation, proportion, delicacy, pliancy, patience, sincerity, simplicity, order, balance, regulation, fineness of temper, security, peacefulness, impersonality. Newman, before him, had spoken of equitableness, calmness, moderation, wisdom, candor, refinement, versatility, dispassionateness, courteousness, self-possession, and repose. To describe mental operations is necessarily to use metaphor; here, too, Arnold and Newman coincide in a series of figures suggesting mental growth and movement. Arnold speaks of complete harmonious development, blithe movement, a criticism "quietly enlarging" and "ever widening" its knowledge, harmonious expansion, growth, progression, becoming (as opposed to having), the stream of consciousness. Newman had used the figures of intrinsic fecundity, a living spontaneous energy, enlargement, expansion, movement onwards, a formative power, digestion, growth, locomotion. Finally, the two men commonly use metaphors of light and sight to convey the unfettered scope and penetration characteristic of the finest intelligence. Arnold speaks of "aerial ease, clearness, and radiancy"; the "warm glow" of the highest style; "to see the object as in itself it really is." These suggest Newman's emphasis on a clear atmosphere of thought, enlightenment, insight, illumination, seeing with the mental eye, clear-sightedness, mental vision, seeing things as they are.
Last modified 29 November 2000