27 September 2018

Blessed John Henry Newman at the races?

I was once accorded the tremendous privilege of looking at Blessed John Henry Newman's personal books at the Birmingham Oratory, in 'the Cardinal's' study (with adjacent chapel). Little discoveries can be as satisfactory as large ones; we all know that on Monday December 3, Newman left Oxford for the foreign travels which led him to Sicily, serious illness, and the writing of Lead kindly light. The day before, he preached a University Sermon which could be regarded as the start of the Catholic Revival in the Church of England.

But what was he doing on the preceding Saturday? He was shopping ... for books. Devout tomes? Deary me, No. He bought a pocket copy of Thucydides; and one of Pindar. Isn't it a lovely mental picture; the slender, donnish, very English figure, sweat pouring down his face as he plodded round the bumps near Syracuse and traced (Thucydides in hand) the footprints of the ill-fated Athenian Expedition during the Peloponnesian War; then sitting in a hostelry (I think I detected slight wine marks on some pages) and reading Pindar's mannered encomia upon the equestrian victories of Sicilian rulers in the Games.

Newman once said, I think, that he could never be a saint; because he loved literature too much. But Classicists, evidently, can become beati!

This was my first effort after I returned to blogging after the awkward and painful events which followed my entry into Full Communion with the See of S Peter. I have left the original comments.


34 comments:

Edwin said...

Great to be able to read you once more, dear Father.

Mike Sheil said...

At long last. Welcome back, Father!

Father Anonymous said...

Good to see you back, Father.

Woody said...

You have returned. Alleluia! Or Halleluuuuuya, as we would have said in my own former Evangelical days.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back, Father, and God bless you!

James C. said...

A blessed day, Father, and a real blessing to see you return to this blog after so long! May we hope to see more activity from this point forward?

Anonymous said...

καλώς.

Pastor in Valle said...

Welcome back, Father! And congratulations to Br Andrew if he is reading this.

johnf said...

Welcome back Father. God bless you.

Hughie said...

Delighted that you are back, Father.

Lazarus said...

A very welcome return!

GOR said...

Welcome back, Father! The blog title is very apropos...

Joshua said...

Great to read news from you again - I was just talking to Mike on the phone today and he was glad to hear that you're back online; both of us still remember your kind hospitality when we visited you in Oxford.

Mark said...

Although I remain Anglican, it gladens me to see you so flourishing as a priest again. Keep the reports coming.

mark
aka wannabeanglican

IanW said...

Welcome back, Fr.

Stephen Hemingway said...

Thank you for your interesting article, Father.

What the world needs now is erudition, sweet erudition! And I believe that you can provide it.

As a lover of literature, mainly that very religious tome "Moby-Dick", I do hope that literature lovers are able to pass through the eye of the needle, so to speak.

May God bless you and your work, Father

Stephen Hemingway said...

Thank you for your article, Father.

What the world needs now is erudition, sweet erudition! And I believe that you can provide plenty.

As a lover of literature (especially that very religious tome, "Moby-Dick") I hope that literature buffs can pass through the eye of the needle without having to crawl too much!

May God bless you and your work, Father.

Father Mervyn Jennings said...

You are my today's "Good News" I look forward to reading you in the future. May God richly bless your ministry Father

Indelible Inkstain said...

Welcome back Father!

Flambeaux said...

Dear Father,

What a delightful post! Thank you.

We'll continue to pray for you.

PeterHWright said...

How wonderful to read once again this inimitable blog. Its absence was a real impoverishment. Long may it continue.

God bless Fr. Hunwicke. I have missed quite dreadfully his witticisms and erudition.

Don't disappear again, please, Father !

Conchúr said...

Welcome back, Father!

Fr Levi said...

Delighted you are 'back.' Long may you continue.

Londiniensis said...

It is indeed good to see you blogging again, Father. Welcome Back!

Londiniensis said...

It is indeed good to see you blogging again, Father. Welcome Back!

Sadie Vacantist said...

Welcome back!

CPK said...

Thanks be to God!

John Nolan said...

God speed the Ordinariate! The English Church is already richer for it.

Dinis said...


Dear Father Hunwicke,

What a blessing it is to have you back with us to our delight and to God's greater glory!

May He Grant You His Peace,
Dennis

Dinis said...

Dear Father Hunwicke,

May God grant you His peace.
What a blessing it is for us that you are blogging once again to God's greater glory!

Heartfelt Thanks,
Dennis

Katie said...

Very happy to hear your blog voice again

Stan Metheny said...

Thank you. Your long absence from the blog left an empty spot in my day and your return is welcome indeed.

Jakob Knab said...

COR AD COR LOQUENS
Jakob Knab

Michael Ortiz said...


Great post, Father. I am reading Ker's biography of JHN, and yes, when someone refered to him as a saint, he said, in effect, "oh, literary men can't be saints."

I suspect he was hinting at the vanity involved.