Vol. 8, No. 3 (1946), 186-204. Examples of Acton’s “thinking out loud,”
albeit privately, over the course of a few months, annotated by one
successor to his Regius Chair at Cambridge.
Journal of Lord
It would appear that Acton in the 1850’s
had the habit of beginning a note-book with extracts from his reading or
with lists of references, and then turning it into something like a
journal. He would record walks, interviews and journeys, and diagnose the
state of the world or discuss his plans; and he would add his own comments
on religion and politics or write out interesting exercises in historical
interpretation. These note-books, in spite of their rough condition and
their miscellaneous character—some of the most interesting things, like
the notes on Pius IX, being written in pencil—throw light on Acton’s mind
and on the development of his ideas in the significant period when his
Munich career was over and he was preparing to embark on public life in
England on his own account.
For the first of these books which has
left any trace only the index appears to remain and this makes it clear
that the volume belonged to the period 1852-3 and had something of the
character of a journal.1 Of the latest concerning which there
is any evidence we possess only four pages, obviously torn away and kept
for special reasons, while the rest would seem to have been discarded.
These four pages, however, contain one of the most moving things he ever
wrote—a detailed account of what he had every reason to think had been his
last conversation with his mother, who towards the end of October 1859 was
expected to die at any moment, though in fact she rallied and survived for
another six months.2 Three numbers of the Fortnightly
Review, November 1921-January 1922, print part of a diary for 1853,
describing Acton’s journey to America with Lord Ellesmere—including
descriptions of interesting interviews with such men as Longfellow and the
historian Prescott—but in this case it is not clear where the original
copy was found. For the years 1858-9 four scrap-books of a miscellaneous
character are left and they contain much of the young Acton
himself—accounts of what he thinks are the shortcomings of the Roman
Catholic world at that date, statements of what he means to do for the
Roman Catholic body in England, discussions of Rambler policy, and notes
for projected articles and lectures. There are reports of conversations
with such men as Count Buol and the historian Höfler whom he interviewed
when he went to examine the condition of Austria after the war of 1859.3
Here also we may read Acton’s reflections on things in general—notes like
Dulness is a greater enemy to the progress
of truth than even error. For error serves truth against her will—dulness
injures her whether it will or no.
Start from this to describe the true
philosophy of history.
Compare the theological, scientific and
historical enemies of the church with each other [read for this].
Dread of war one of the worst symptoms of
the present age. . . . Now aggressive wars have been commenced by Napoleon
III . . . . Danger of prolonged peace. . . . War is as necessary an
element of life as commerce, and awakens and nourishes far higher virtues
of devotion and charity than peace. That war is regarded as an evil is
the cause of the stagnation of modern Europe.
One other of these books survives.4
It begins with notes on Gregory VII and contains much evidence of
Acton’s reading and meditation on the subject of the Thirty Years’ War.
Much of it, however, is the journal of a visit (along with Döllinger) to
Rome in 1857, the only visit Döllinger ever made to that city—and the
first that Acton had made since childhood—though there had been talk of
such a journey in 1852.5 The considerable collection of
materials which Acton put together for his projected life of Döllinger
shows the importance which he attached to this visit, especially as it
affected the development of Döllinger’s views on ecclesiastical authority
and on the temporal power. In the essay on “Döllinger’s Historical Work”
he writes: “Döllinger used to commemorate his visit to Rome in 1857 as
an epoch of emancipation”;6 and in his manuscript notes it
would almost appear that he magnified the significance of the journey as
his mind revolved upon it and he brooded over the matter in retrospect.7
Döllinger himself wrote in 1870: “When I was there [at Rome] in 1857 I
had still not the remotest presentiment of the things that were to happen
in 1869, and I gave myself up to historical pursuits and artistic
enjoyment with an untroubled mind.”8 The journey was in quest
of manuscripts, and Acton often refers to it as a stage in Döllinger’s
development as an historian; though he admits that not until the 1860’s
did the transition to manuscript study have its decisive effect on the
Acton himself was now twenty-three and it
is clear from the journal that he was interested to learn from
eyewitnesses about the events of 1848-9, to study the condition of the
papal states, to discover the workings of the administrative machine in
Rome, to acquire backstairs knowledge of some recent cases of
“heresy-hunting”—especially such as affected more or less directly some of
his Munich acquaintances—and collect first-hand information concerning
Pius IX himself. The note-book also contains some of his meditations on
life, some of his plans of action and some essays in historical
interpretation, a section of these being specifically described as “Notes
of my own.” Apart from all these are ideas, comments, injunctions and
interpretations which we might be tempted to think belonged to Acton
himself and which it would appear he made his own to a considerable
degree. But it is remarkable how often they turn out to be records of
Döllinger’s sayings. In later years Acton transcribed many of them from
the journal into his notes, and in one case after another stated that
Döllinger had put them forward in 1857.10
The following selection presents the
passages most interesting to the biographer and the historian, and at the
same time gives an impression of the general composition of the journal.
pp. 123-4. Lasaulx.11
Maunday Thursday. [9 April 1857.]
Montesquieu completely disappointed him.
He did not find a single new idea in him. There is 6 times as much in
Ar[istotle’s] Pol[itics] and his division of governments is the same that
Plato tried at first. A book that deserves nothing of its great fame.
So the Reflexions of Burke—gesunde,
kräftige politisch Gesinnung, aber keine tiefe Gedanken.
Rousseau’s Confessions interesting as
proving how corrupt society was, and how a revol. was required.
Constitutional govt. the best just now, but it will not last—except in
countries where it has grown, and has not been made. Despotism is
supportable only when there are really absolute characters to wield it,
not in the hands of weak men.
Aristotle is an insufferable pedant—schulmeisterisch.
He was a man of learning, but no originality. There are very few ideas in
Aristotle. He borrowed a great number from Plato which now go under his
name. They can be traced back to him—tho’ he treated him with contempt.
The influence of Ar. has been to stagnate, not to advance—Plato was at the
head of all the great movements of the human mind. The last effort of
paganism ag[ainstJ Christianity, the first fathers, the Revival, all was
Platonic. There is more of genius and encouragement in Plato than in Ar.
He promotes progress of every kind—anregend und befeuchtend. Even the
natural sciences gained nothing from A. Whewell abuses him as having
stopped science for 1000 years, but in the M[iddle] A[ges] no great
progress of that kind could be made for govt. and society had to be
established. Es war eine Zeit des Handelns. Es kostet mir immer
Ueberwindung wenn ich den Ar. lesen muss. Stahl12 told him he
had looked into the Politik, but did not find much. He is sure Stahl
never read it.
pp. 128-30. Good Friday. [10 April
The Anglican theology was quite
Calvinistic until Laud’s time. Abbot was still a regular Calvinist. The
Galatian commentary was popular in England as containing the pure doctrine
of justification, which is not peculiar to Lutheranism, but is equally
Calvinistic. The Calvinistic character of the church appears in the
Zurich letters. These were the antinomians. Newman’s Justification is
the best theological work that has appeared in England for 100 years. . .
The people who seek out heresy are
generally very small intellects and very ignorant. But the duty and
practise of the church is a different thing. Sometimes the church is very
tender, as some constitutions lead to inflammation at a mere scratch. . .
. . . When once adultery is admitted as a
ground for divorce there is no stopping. It is an inclined plane. The
gospel certainly did not intend to permit remarrying. . . .
There was a Committee of Maximilian
knights to award the prize of history which was given, at Sybel’s
instigation, to Mommsen. Hermann voted for Ranke’s French history, and
Ranke advised that it should be given not to Mommsen, but to Stälin, as
his was the best recent work on history. Mommsen’s book will be forgotten
before long, as there is little solid research, which is the only thing
pp. 131-5. Rome: Monday. [27?] April
Theiner present on Saturday at the
audience of the pope. They spoke French but the pope speaks it ill. He
said he had expected the professor for some time. He made a confusion
about my mother, thinking she was my sister. Spoke of the importance of
unity in the church, for strength, and the professor told him no clergy
was more thoroughly devoted to the Holy See than the German—which pleased
him. T[heinerJ said M[ohler?J & he had done most for ecclesiastical
literature in Germany, and the pope said there were many new French books
on eccles. history &c. in which the good will was apparent, but not
comparable to the Germans. He thought King Max[imilian of BavariaJ had
been injured by his prot[estantJ mother. Spoke with great consolation of
Wirtemberg [Concordat, 1857]. He said that the Holy See is the head and
chief of all authority and all other authority attacked in it, who many
princes do not see. The p[opeJ gave the impression of great kindness and
suavity, well acquainted with religious questions, but not so with the
state of other countries. He is of a liberal family, so that Gregory XVI
was unwilling to make him cardinal, and his election was a concession to
the liberal spirit. So what followed was natural and to be expected. He
knew like all Italians nothing of other countries, and there was no
sufficient example in Italy of the failure of a constitution. When he
thinks he is in the right way he is energetic and decided. So when the
Cardinals voted with black and white balls on the constitution, [of the
Papal States, 1848J and the great majority were against it, he gathered
the black balls together, and covering them with his white cap said,
“ecco! so no tutti bianchi.” His system at that time failed so completely
that he has in reality abdicated all political power and authority, and
leaves all that completely in Antonelli’s hands. In religious questions
he has an opinion and a will of his own, and is not so much influenced,
but there also he is less free, as he must remain attached to so many
traditions of his predecessors. Here he can only show his opinion by
preferring one order or another, &c. and personally, but not in questions
of things. He does not much like the Jesuits, and complains of their
artfulness and intrigue. Their influence comes only from their German
brethren, Kleutgen, Bieling &c. who are consultors of the Index, and as
the Dominicans have no German divines, settle everything regarding German
books. Hohenlohe has little influence. The pope calls him a ragazzo matto
ma un angelo, and keeps him from mere kindness. Mérode is too excitable,
and Talbot is the most judicious of the Camerieri. There are no learned
men at all among the secular clergy—all that is not attached to the
Jesuits is with the Dominicans. The Dominican cardinal passes for about
their best divine, and is now a very powerful personage. Theiner is more
in the Pope’s confidence than anybody. He has obtained permission to
publish the acts of the Council of Trent.16
The pope resisted at first saying that none of his predecessors had done
it. But Theiner answered that none of them had defined the Imm[aculate]
Conception. A commission was appointed, led by the Domin. Cardinal and
reported favourably. It was chiefly led by the Dominican divines—so that
it is much to their glory. The Jesuits have vigorously opposed it, partly
out of opposition to Theiner. His quarrel with them is of ancient date.
He had joined them at one time, and was obliged to leave them in order to
avoid expulsion. Roothaan [then General of the Order] signified to him
that perfect obedience was requisite. He says that he urged the General
to pursue a new path, saying that their old system was no longer
effectual. But Roothaan answered that it was to their system they owed
all their success, and could not abandon it for an uncertain experiment.
T[heiner]’s book [Life of Clement XIV] is very unjust. His authorities do
not prove his case at all—and he is utterly wrong in saying that the
Jesuits had any hand in their own fall. The book is only a lesson to
popes not to be influenced by diplomatic agents, and fully proves the case
against the pope17 The
documents of the Council of Trent prove that Pallavicini was perfectly
honest but exceedingly feeble, and did not often understand the importance
of the questions. Hitherto it was impossible to refute Sarpi as there was
no control of Pallavicini’s work.18
The Dominican cardinal passes for one of the ablest of the Cardinals,
together with Brunelli, Marini, Barnabo, and Viale. Antonelli gets rid of
the better heads among them. He and the rest in general seem to have no
idea of the very critical state in which they are. The Dominican cardinal
is like all the rest, exceedingly narrow in his views. This is the case
with all the Italians. The ablest of them all is Gino Capponi.19
[added in pencil] observe: ! ! !
The pontifical states can never be well
governed according to modern ideas because it (sic) has not gone
through that which has influenced other states. Many things are not done
by the government because it has not acquired the power of doing it. The
people besides have no great Trieb like the English for municipal self
government. No great ends have caused all the powers of the state to be
united for any common purpose. Besides men can do only one thing
well—not both spiritual and temporal power. It can never be governed like
the modern states—and one or the other must suffer. The spiritual
government has never been injured by the temporal power. If it came ever
to be considered as an impediment then the last hour of the papal state
would have sounded. The Church was 700 years without a territory, and
might be so again for 7000 years. As things now are it cannot be, but
such a state of things might be possible. Sixtus V only governed Rome by
terror. The insolence of the nobles &c. which rendered govt. so difficult
had to be tolerated, for it could have been suppressed only by unjust
measures. The weakness of the Govt. is in its want of extended power.
p. 140. Sunday, 3 May 1857.
The Dominicans have no great men, and no
other order but the Jesuits has-all good things belong to the orders, so
the secular clergy has no chance, and no encouragement and no competition
exists. The Benedictines are never spoken of.
Modena, secretary of the Inquisition,
desired by the pope to speak to the P[rofessor] about the condemnation of
Frohschammer.20 It had been
urged by Kleutgen, who examined his book. F[rohschammer] refused to
submit, and the P[rofessor] advised that it should not be pursued, as the
King would certainly protect him, and his theory had been already held by
Klee [1800-40, Professor of dogmatic theology and exegesis in Munich
1839-40]. Yet Modena says great kindness was shown him, as only eminent
men are informed beforehand as he has been. The P[rofessor] persuaded
Modena to advise it should not go farther. He says that they always go
into every denunciation, and the P[rofessor] condemned the [? practise] as
encouraging enmities in disputes. Carriere is also about to be condemned,
and he dissuaded it. Modena knows nothing in general of foreign
countries, like most of them. The Pope unfortunately has no knowledge
whatever of theological matters, and this is very inconvenient in a
personal point of view. Gregory XVI was a good theologian. Now nobody
feels that the pope will think less of him because he knows nothing at
all. Generally however it does little harm, as all things are so fixed
and regulated, by congregations &c.
Saw the Pope with Nonna, the
Throckmortons21 and Mlle
Dal[berg] . . . . We waited under the tapestries. Hohenlohe very polite
and pleasant. Ct Medici came and spoke. My hat, sword and gloves
allowed to pass—only our party present. Nonna introduced us as we knelt
down successively—una molto buona amica delle figlie [Dal.]. He leaned
forward and gave us his hand rather to shake than merely to kiss, very
gracefully and raised us by it—without allowing us to kiss his red shoed
foot. He made us all sit down. I stood. Nonna alone spoke, until she
turned to appeal to me, and the pope attended to me for a little while.
He saw my uniform and asked what it was. She said I had been in
Russia—with the embassy—and that my mother, whom he seemed to think N’s
daughter, was ambassadress.22
This he remembered, but asked the amb’s name. Had heard so much of our
brilliancy, and of my mother’s religiousness from [Flavio] Chigi [1810-85,
later Cardinal]—asked me if the story was true of his coming to the sick
servant, and said every priest must do the same—was the servant a
Catholic? He said even the pope must have done the very same. Chigi he
said was till 49 garde noble, and was obliged to leave, even if he had
not become priest, because of his bad eyes. Gave us his blessing, and his
hand again, calling each up successively, with a wave of the hand, and
stood by the side of the table till we were all out of the room, which I
left the last. Asked which was which among the girls—all greatly struck
with his obesity and almost torpidity, and found him old and weak. He
took a deal of snuff, and spoke very quietly distinctly and slovenly, with
no affectation whatever of impressiveness. My impression is not of any
ability and he seems less banally goodnatured, than his smiling pictures
represent him to be.
p. 145. Monday morning May 4, 1857.
Peter Beckx [1795-1887] the general of
the Jesuits [from 1853 to 1887] called this morning. Very quiet, amiable,
almost timid man, handsome pleasing countenance, light spirits—slow, low
conversation. He said he could not hope to travel, because a general had
always to be in Rome, and [J.P.] Roothaan [1785-1853, his predecessor] had
travelled only because he was obliged, by the Revolution. Dissatisfied
with Goyon, for they have no room for their novices, of whom they have
many. Rather more than 6000 Jesuits altogether, 300 in England, 150 in
Ireland. In Tuscany they have many, enemies, as it is particularly
attempted by English emissaries. They have houses in Maryland, New
Orleans, Canada &c. The house in Fredericton is not flourishing.
Yesterday he received a lithographic letter of the sect in Tuscany,
against the order.
Santarelli affirms that many priests and
even prelates went about during the republic in their dress and were not
molested.23 No harm was
done till the first repulse of the French. If the Austrians had come they
would have opened the gates, but they were irritated at the conduct of the
French republic from which they had expected sympathy. He said as much as
that the govt. of the Triumvirs was better than the papal, which he thinks
now worse than before.
Theiner says the Pope is very excitable,
and often speaks with great vigor for some time, when it is impossible to
suggest anything, but when he has done then he is ready to listen.
He thinks Antonelli very ignorant, but
uncommonly able and far sighted. Berardi he says has most knowledge of
foreign countries of anybody here. .
[In German.] Desperate situation of
Austrian power in Italy. The French more liked. Austrian officialdom
fatal. They are not forthcoming but cold, unfriendly and have their own
hatred against the Italians. These in any case don’t like them and the
consequences are the worst possible. There is nothing more disagreeable
than the Austrian bureaucracy. Then there has always been hatred and
antipathy between German and Italian—with France it is quite different.
[In English.] The Vatican Archives not
rich in old things. It begins to be very rich only in the 16th century.
Pius VI when the French occupied Rome caused certain documents to be
destroyed, of which he feared that a bad use might be made.
Tuesday May 12th, 1857.
We have been here three weeks, and to-day
the Professor said he had never been asked a single sensible question
about Germany since he came.
[In German.] The best Florentines,
Capponi, Caffei, etc., always show a predilection in favour of Piedmont in
their conversation—this out of hatred against Austria and out of an
affection for a settled constitution chiefly.
Great difference between Italians. The
Romans are the least obliging—the Lombards quite different.
To-day the P[rofessor] said he would have
come to Rome long ago if he had foreseen that he would be received with so
much kindness and liberality. That it had greatly surpassed his hopes,
and had surprised him very much.
It occurs to me that though the church
can manage to get on with all forms of govt., democracy and despotism are
pagan forms and are dangerous to her always. Other forms and
modifications of these arise in Xn ages and are more conformable.
pp. 177-8. [Tuesday 12 May
Macch. Prince does not carry out a theory
of govt. but of getting and extending power; the administrative despotism
began with the Ref. and servitude of the Church, quite distinct from the
tyranny of the 15th cent. The pagan ideas dominated in modern Europe,
with the forgetfulness of the M. Ages, from which therefore political
ideas and examples of freedom could not be derived. It was so with
everything else. Bodinus &c—quite pagan in ideas and examples.
Gallicanism began with 1516. The
pragmatic sanction had aimed at autonomy of the Church—not more—Gerson and
his friends sought not even autonomy.
The existence of so powerful and
important a body as the church incompatible with absolute power of the
State as it removes so large a field from its reach. Christian conscience
demands the utmost personal freedom, and the least interference of the
state. Hence all liberty began with the Church, and the ancients knew no
liberty. Those who thought themselves most free were the least free.
Thus it is absurd in us to admire ancient freedom.
Aristotle knew nothing of true monarchy,
wh is a creation of the M[iddle] A[ges]of Xty acting on the
Germanic race and institutions. It is not of itself necessary or
proceeding from the church. Thus we can no longer accept the ancient
division of states, who do not include ours. The 3 forms are all
incompatible with the Ch. in their excess, that is in their ancient
Auffassung. All 3 must be modified, that is, a new division must be made
Everything is done here by word of
mouth—as all things are settled by the pope, he dismisses them summarily,
verbally. In this way he often gives audiences till past midnight.
The consultors of the Index are many and
various, so that the mixture of orders secures fairness. Modena the
secretary conducts everything, and several people sometimes have to report
on a book. If there is any difficulty they all successively defend their
opinion before the Cardinals who are sometimes 13 together, and each gives
the reason of his opinions. Immense liberty of the existing corporations,
though there are not many. They often do everything without giving accts
or being under any control.
C’est avec une joie extrême que
j’apprends que les actes et délibérations du concile de Trente vont enfin
être publiés. Cette publication avoit été désirée ardemment par tous les
théologiens éminents au dela des Alpes. Jusqu’ici on était réduit à se
servir de l’histoire de Pallavicini, ouvrage dont le mérite est
incontestable, mais qui bien loin de satisfaire aux exigences de la
science ecclésiastique, ne sert tres souvent qu’à exciter le dé et à faire
sentir la nécessité de pouvoir puiser à la source, c’est a dire dans les
actes originaux. Trop souvent P[allavicini] est plutôt Rhetoricien
qu’historien; l’idée succincte qu’il donne des votes des évêques et des
mémoires des théologiens peut suffire au lecteur général, mais l’homme de
science, et tous ceux qui veulent s’instruire à fond d’une question agitée
et résolue dans Ie Concile, ne peuvent pas s’en contenter; ils voudraient
connaitre les raisons dont les péres du concile ont appuyé leurs votes;
enfin le vote d’un théologien dans une question grave est toujours le
résultat d’un certain individualisme, d’une maniere de penser particuliere
à l’auteur, qu’on ne peut apprécier que quand on connait la piece entiere.
L’ouvrage de Sarpi le grand arsenal pour tous les ennemis de
l’église continue d’exercer toujours une grande influence, on en réimprime
les traductions, on s’en sert constamment comme d’un témoin qui seul
excepté Pallavicini avait a sa disposition les actes du condle. Cet art
exquis avec lequel il sait infiltrer le vénin de sa haine contre l’église
jusque dans les détails d’une discussion dogmatique ne peut être mis a
découvert que par la publication des actes entiers. Pallavicini ne
suffit pas. Aux yeux des adversaires c’est un auteur dépourvu de toute
autorité, qu’on ne peut controler parceque les pieces dont il se sert ne
sont connues de personne; de sorte que chacun est libre de préférer le
récit de Sarpi à celui de Pallavicini. D’ailleurs Pallavicini se jette
souvent sur des vétilles, et en fait grand bruit pour décrier Sarpi comme
un auteur de mauvaise foi. C’est ce qui a donné bien au reproche si
souvent formulé qu’il ne suscite querelle a Sarpi dans ces petites choses
que parcequ’il ne pouvait pas attaquer sa véracité dans les choses
graves. Tout ceci sert à montrer combien la publication des actes sera
opportune, et combien les fruits que l’église en tirera seront précieux.
p. 218. 26 June 1857.
Ranke’s Reformation not good. He has
never understood or explained the importance of the religious movement.
He did not know, and he did not wish to do so. Richelieu’s policy the
best thing he has ever done, but he has not perceived the importance of
the religious movement in France at that time which played a great part
ag[ainst] Richelieu, in connexion with S. Francis, S. Vincent, Berulle,
Olier and the first Jansenists, S. Cyran, etc.24
p. 193. Tuesday. May the 19th, 1857.
This morning I returned to S. Maria della
Vittoria, and was taken over it by a monk I met at the door, who took
great interest in the affair, and spoke of Menzel. The church belonged to
them before, and they received the image and standards because of
Dominic. It was restored at the time, and thenceforward captured
standards used to be sent there, as in 1683 and under Maria Theresa. In
1833 the church was set fire to and burnt by an incendiary. The high
altar being of wood was destroyed utterly, together with the original
image. A copy stands now in its place. In a room near the church are
four large pictures of the battle, sent there immediately after, with
explanations and portraits of the Emperor and Empress, Max—and Dominic
with the image round his neck. The dress of the BV is red. The pictures
all very dirty and badly kept, but give a good idea. The first shows the
army crossing the bridge and coming under fire before half was across. In
the third Dominic stands before the generals, near the moment of the last
attack, exhorting them, with his back to the enemy.
On ne saurait méconnaitre qu’un grand
travail s’opère au sein du Protestantisme. En allemagne le Rationalisme
théologique est en decadence, on sent le besoin de reconstruire au lieu de
démolir, et par conséquent la théologie protestante commence à se
rapprocher de l’église et de son enseignement. Les signes de ce
rapprochement se multiplient tous les jours. Mais c’est toujours le
Concile de Trente que leurs préjugés, sucés pour ainsi dire avec le lait
matemel, leur apprennent à regarder comme le grand obstacle à toute
réunion, et comme la pierre d’achoppement. Ce ne sont pas tout [?tant]
les décrets du Concile en eux-même[s], c’est plutôt l’idée qu’ils se sont
formés de la manière dont les affaires y ont été traitées, des prétendues
intrigues qui y dominaient, du despotisme exercé par les légats.
pp. 150-1. [20 May 1857.]
Eve of the ascension: at Cardinal
Reisach’s.25 A modification
of the Index will become necessary, particularly in consequence of the
private denunciations of works. Hence a great abuse will arise and force
them to change their system.
Immense piles of papers written on
Particular doctrines and passages ready for condemnation, but as they all
submitted no more was done than the general censure. Yet detailed answers
were given to the Bp. of Breslau and others, as in the case of Hermes. It
is a very long affair. Girdil took 10 years to prepare the bull auctorem
fidei—not only papers are printed, but the whole books written in defence
of G. were printed for the Cardinals—a Dominican Gigli wrote an immense
deal about it. The most important passages were extracted and translated
into Latin and the Güintherians who came to Rome approved the translation
as just, so that it could be submitted to the Roman divines. Knoodt,
Baltzer and Gaugauf were the principal advocates of G. at Rome. Gaugauf
defended him only on the Trinity, but did not fairly translate him.
Knoodt was the ablest defender, but no theologian. Baltzer defended his
view of Duality, instead of Trinity by the Council of Ephesus, and quoted
a passage of the Nestorian creed which the Council condemned as [i.e.
under the impression that it was] the symbol of the Council.
A general decree is preparing condemning
the chief errors now prevalent, having no authors.
Such a step may be good and useful. The
4 propositions gave general satisfaction.
The Cardinal says he wishes to see all
the Archives published. They were packed and sent to France and are in
great disorder—and Pius VI had some acts destroyed when the French came to
p. 152. Ascension day. [21 May
College system best for universities, but
their unity of religion is indispensable. They ought in Ireland to have
founded separate colleges, for at Oxford and Cambridge they feel how
necessary unity is, and are quite right in rejecting dissenters. They
ought to extend the same justice to the Catholics—but a minister is not to
blame who goes by public opinion, and we cannot expect them to be martyrs
for Catholics.27 The Irish
like the Italians have great national talents, but few men individually
great. It is because they are deficient in that perseverance and energy
of mind which is required to make a great man and which the Teutonic race
is peculiarly endowed with.
They are afraid here of foreign scholars
applying through the ministers to get at the Archives, and on that account
are shy of showing them even to Romans. Guillermett applied for his
history of the pontifical navy, but Theiner was desired to give him only
just what he required on that account.
pp. 155-6. Saturday 23rd
. . . The Spaniards in the 16th century
were still proud of their liberties while they were being deprived of
them, and were afraid to write in such a way as to be suspected by the
Inquisition which was even more severe in political than in religious
matters. Afterwards their whole literature sank, when the monarchy was at
its height. It never produced in the Spanish people a theory of its
Very many men, especially men of small
abilities, have just one brilliant period in their lives which determines
and overshadows all the rest. They never get beyond it, and remain fixed
to the impressions it has left them. So with many converts whose period
of conversion was a very active and productive one. Thue gut, und wirf’s
ins Meer, Sieht’s der Fisch nicht so sieht’s der Herr. It is not
necessary to force others to share your opinion, nor even desirable. I
have often been myself zu lebhaft und hitzig when trying to convince
people. It is enough to say decidedly what we are persuaded is true—and
in time it will bear fruit of itself. The absence of any prejudice or
object in view must remove the chief objection to the opinions of such a
person. In historical matters it is hard, because 99/100 of mankind know
history only by party statements—wait to influence them till you have the
authority which learning gives. To hear a view calmly but decidedly
stated must make some impression and shake prejudice. As to discussing
German works it must not be done so as to show the intention of accusing
people of neglect and ignorance.28
That indisposes them at once. The N? Review &c. must contribute
like the Germans zum Zersetzungs—und Reconstructionsprozess. Alles was in
diese Richtung in Deutschland vor 100 Jahren zu sehen war dem Engländern
nachgemacht. . . . Catholic differences appear important because there are
so many things we agree upon. Protestant differences so slight because
they agree on so few points.
Theiner has many letters of Cardinal Pole
and of James II.
Theiner refused Saturday 23d May, to let
me see the Acts of Galilei’s trial. He principally prepared the work
which bears Marini’s name, and declares that there is no question of
torture. He would let the Prof. see and tell me about it.29
p. 289. Sunday 24th
May 1857 Notes of my own.
After the Reformation the principles of
liberty and authority uniformly, and exclusively maintained by the
Catholic writers, whilst the protestants promulgated either tyrannical or
anarchical doctrines. When the Catholic writers uttered principles
recalling these two extremes, they imitated some of the protestant writers
p. 290. [? Sunday 24 May,
1857] Notes of my own.
In England the Catholics could not be an
element of stability and constitutional security so long as they were in
so unfortunate a position that they must set relief above every other
consideration.30 Now I
think we are in a position to exhibit the true political effects of
Catholic principles, and can render to the constitution the benefits we
receive from it. We must maintain the high parts of the constitution and
its christian character in spite of their abandoning it themselves. We
cannot do evil that good may come. We are the only permanently
conservative element in the state, and in this, and in the religious
character, the heirs of the establishment.
p. 142. Friday. June 12th
Saw the Pope at 9 o’clock this evening.
Introduced by Talbot31 and
Pacca. He spoke very loud immediately on seeing me—that he was glad to
see me, that he had been much pleased to see the mother of the Cardinal at
Rome, and remembered that I was with her. He asked if I was now returning
to England, and what the Cath. expected from the new Parl. I
said we had very little—da sperare, he interrupted. I said yes, but
little also to fear. He said oh yes, Palmerston had made himself quite
necessary in the present crisis, and appeared useful. I said he was less
dangerous at home than abroad. Yes, he said, because he is quite an
infidel, and cares not about Catholics, but seems restless to disturb
Catholic countries abroad. I observed that that [sic] he disliked
Catholics too, and that was part of his reasons for interference,
especially in the [papal] states. I added that the husband of my mother
was a minister. Oh yes, you are the son of the Lady Gr[anville] who was
in Moscow—well we have less to fear from Lord G[ranville] but Gladstone I
believe was better, and as a Puseyite near Cath[olicism]; I said that
ambition made him useless, as it was a very bad thing. Oh he said,
secondo me ei passioni inubbriacono li uomini come il vino and when it
masters them, makes them incapable of good. Then I said G[ladstone] was
also unsafe in foreign affairs, and he said yes, he had been carried away
and deceived in Nap[les).32
p. 139. [c. 12 June 1857.]
Monsignor Talbot on the day of my
audience with the pope, spoke with me for nearly an hour—sensibly but not
remarkably—nothing like disaffection has been shown since they started,
tho’ this is the worst part of the states. The people is everywhere well
disposed. The nobles are worthless, have no courage or determination, and
do no good, here or in Rome. Marescalchis very good people. He
complained that not one of them will receive Austrians. He thinks the
Roman troops cannot be trusted, but that the Swiss would suffice. The
French in Rome are a very unsatisfactory set. The officers are all
infidels, and only give less scandal because they have very little money.
There is no trusting them, as any change at Paris wd. make them very
dangerous. Goyon well meaning. Montreal the best they have had: the
Austrians every way better—subordinate, respectful. They have greatly
pleased the Pope. At Ancona many who were going home stayed another year
to see the pope. All behaved perfectly and can well be trusted; the pope
conspicuously prefers them to the other—wish we had them in Rome.
Archduke Max himself said that it was not gracious to put a prot[estant]
Dvenfeld at the head, tho’ he behaves publicly like a Catholic. . . .
p. 244. Saturday 20th
Begin with the ausarbeitung of a
particular, easy part, for which all the materials are at hand. At other
hours go on reading for what will require much study. It is only by
practise that one gets the right tone. It is no use thinking about it
beforehand. Write away, and go on even if what is written does not
pp. 49-50. Corpus Christi [20 June]
Bevilacqua on the papal states. The
three years he passed in Rome made him think the state of things hopeless
in the papal states. There are many interests there against any change.
The legations are in great risk of being lost some day. The people think
much more of politics since the French occupation. In the Southern
provinces, excepting Perugia, this is not at all the case. They are very
much more heavily taxed than the others. When B. was in Rome he began a
memoir on that subject but found so much difficulty that he could not
manage it. His colleagues of the Consulta gave him all the information
they could—only the Romans themselves refused. Because Rome is so much
better of[f] than the legations. Some day the Austrians will get hold of
these provinces. This Pope has better will than almost any other, but can
do nothing. The administration of Justice is the worst. The judges of
1st instance have only 40 sc. a month—juges d’appel, 60 or 70. All the
higher places are given to prelates, but they do not stay, but become
nuncios &c. so that there is no good body of judges, and the laity is not
applied to that as much as might be the case. Grassellini wrote that it
was impossible to govern these provinces because the people mistrust the
govt and the govt the people—both with good cause. The finances are not
the worst. They have been badly managed, but the resources are enormous,
and might be greatly developed. There are many more of the middle class
disaffected, than there were formerly, and they are more so as material
interests increase. Much might be reformed in the details of
Today too Fernand had an audience and
avoided politics—so did the pope. But Mérode [1820-74, cameriere segreto,
director of prisons] talked very vigorously and inquisitively—and he feels
convinced of the impossibility of truth reaching the Pope with such an
p. 230. No date.
. . . In France. . . extreme opinions
spring from the general absence of firm principle and from their feeling
the want of it. In France everything has been levelled and reduced to a
tabula rasa; that is the right field for absolutism of all kinds, also in
theory. Where as in England, things are of historical growth, and men are
surrounded with various existing barriers and institutions, they avoid
such absolutism, and see things in a more open way. So those who are used
to affairs are accustomed to meet with barriers and obstacles and yield
and accommodate themselves to them. A newspaper writer sees nothing
before him but his pen, ink and paper. . . .
A Christian must seek to extend as much
as possible the field where he is responsible only to his conscience, and
free from Governmental authority.34
This sets a bar for ever to the view that Christianity is
connected with absolutism. But this condemns also the whole modern
progress of states, and growth of monarchical power. It is a false
Richtung, and the evils of our time are its necessary consequence.
pp. 248-9. Sunday June 21. 1857.
. . . The Church influenced the political
forms by her example, and by the analogy of her forms, as she was the only
one they had. So the Reichstage followed the example of her councils for
carrying on business, for they had no order whatever before. She
cherished republics at times just as much as monarchy. A Christian
rep[ublic] differs from a pagan just as much as a Xn monarchy from a
pagan. The sanctity of the King is later and is not of consequence in
this point. For large states, and in the medieval state of affairs
monarchy was essential. In small states, and in towns republican
Government does quite as well, and was encouraged by the church in Italy.
She always opposed petty despots. The notion that monarchy is in itself
most perfect is protestant. The absolute authority of the state in any
shape is detestable, but the absolutism of an individual (hereditary) is
decidedly the best form of it. In democracies it is always terrorism.
The essential notion of monarchy is hereditary. This is not a Christian
idea. Christianity modifies equally all the forms of govt of antiquity.
Aristocracy is essential to a democracy—an absolute monarchy may exist
without it, tho’ that is abominable. Aristocracy is a very vague notion
as it may be founded on many things. Representative govt where
there is not a standische Verfassung destroys itself and cannot last. . .
. There is no other reason for the opinion of the scholastic divines on
the popular origin of authority than the influence of Aristotle and the
ancient opinions. . . .
p.246. Monday 22 [June 1857].
St Peter’s leaves one cold—can pray
better in Gothic churches. Gallicanism dead and buried. What is so
called now was never known as such formerly. The matter of the breviary
for instance. In Germany several dioceses, as Cologne and Munster, have
breviaries differing from the Roman, and have never been complained of as
Germanicans. The Roman breviary ought to be improved first of all.
More good might be said of Aristotle’s
ethics, a really wonderful work. Plato’s state most brilliant, but
founded on heathen ideas of liberty, and therefore unpractical.
Aristotle’s politics merely critical. He sets up nothing in the place of
what he describes.
Tacitus not quite an atheist. He did not
know what to do with the mythology—but believed in some kind of gods, and
in some immortality—see the Agricola.
pp. 269-73. Wednesday night June the
Project of printing a letter to Newman. .
. . on the foundation of a Catholic university in England.
The Catholic body wants two things: to be
internally united-and to be externally strong and able.
We require first to see, feel, and know
our own strength. Then only we can prove it, and tell as a power in
England. This can be done only by an institution which shall combine
together our intellectual resources. They are lost and useless by
dispersion, and gradually fade. Union alone could foster, nourish and
promote learning among our scholars, and introduce it among our youth. It
would be the Bewusstseyn of the English Catholics. It would first unite
and amalgamate our native and converted catholics, and destroy the
Our young men have no higher studies,
except in divinity. But this is of no use to our laity, and to them we
must most address our efforts.
Some go to Cambridge, or to London, or
abroad, or to private tutors, most do nothing.
The real love of learning inspired only
by the union of studies at an university.
It would be the beginning of learning
We have every other internal advantage:
an excellent priesthood and a faithful flock, and also political liberty.
But withal we have not the weight we
deserve because we have so little literature, or at least so few
contributors to the national literature.
We do little to prevent its tone from
being entirely protestant. Yet this is a duty to ourselves, to our
religion, and to our country.
It would be a bond of union separate from
political agitation, and would be a greater title to respect than our
It would combine with the plan of a
general seminary, for a university is nothing without a faculty of
theology, and ecclesiastical studies are lame without connexion with the
universality of studies.
In this way it would be a bond between
our clergy and laity.
No moment so favourable as the present
when we have so many converts, whose strength will die with them if not
used for the good of the church during their prime.
Religion is not a sufficient link,
because it does not give conformity enough in many things.
That can only be by a common education,
which shall also unite in ideas, and therefore more perfectly than has
been the case in action, the clergy and the laity. Students coming from
many places have various and discordant opinions. We have many examples
of that. Thereby the experience of the converts will become the common
property of the Catholic body.
It will do no harm to Dublin because no
English will go to Dublin, as is pretty clear.
If they went not in Newman’s time still
less will they go later. Dublin takes a more and more Irish character,
and will stand when it has beaten the Colleges.
The English University will be supported
by all the Catholic laity of England, and by all the bishops who greatly
want a seminary with higher studies.
It will not meet with the difficulties
that beset Dublin, as there will be no opposition.
It will relieve the colleges, and make
their proper course better by removing the necessity of attempting higher
It will give no umbrage to government,
but will rather be encouraged by it.
Total inactivity of the Catholic laity
with regard to Dublin. So many Irish continue to come to England that
perhaps some of them too would go to it, and it might save some from the
godless colleges as it would not be in opposition to anything.
It would raise the studies at our
colleges by giving them a higher aim and object.
It might very well be without medicine.
Necessity of Catholic conservatism in
We must consider the present crisis of
the world, what it is and how it affects England. It is the revolutionary
crisis to which the whole political progress of modern Europe has come.
It will pass away in time, when great changes have occurred in all
nations. Can England pass through uninjured, if it does not anticipate
some of those changes to which other countries are brought by the
necessities of danger? We must see what changes are required and called
for to still the storm abroad, and must modify our own institutions in
time to keep up with the tempestuous progress of other nations.
The love of peace inevitable in a society
where the 3[rdJ estate predominates. The desire of gain and love of
possessions destroys the great duties of the defence of the oppressed &c.
Nevertheless prosperity does not remain safe, and the war which we sought
to avoid on the battle field we meet with in the streets of our own home.
Wars and rumors of wars precede the end
of the world, so that we cannot expect wars to diminish in frequency.
War renews and encourages manly virtues,
accustoms men to obey, defines and strengthens authority.
Wars increase as the obedience to the
spiritual power declines.
Diminish the chances and causes of war,
then you can diminish your armies—not begin by the latter.36
Superfluity of moral standard in history.
We are no wiser when we know that one is good or bad, but what are the
causes and effects of his life. It is the business only of Him to judge
who can carry his judgments into effect.37
Moral indifference of the two points of
view: Frederic representing independence and election, Ferdinand the
principle of hereditary right. It was but fair that they should fight it
out, and that the result of the contest should determine the future.
Double influence of Greek and of Roman
antiquity on the political ideas of modern times. The Greeks
vermittelt chiefly by Aristotle, as early as the 12th or 13th century,
the Roman by the Roman law. Both promoted the despotism if not of the
individual, at least of the state, which was then represented by an
individual, and at the same time inculcated a theoretical republicanism
and insubordination. This shows the oscillation between extremes.
p. 137. Munich. November 1st
Völkerwanderung needed both for the
destruction of Rome and for the conversion of the Germans. They were
Christians at once when Xty came to them away from their own homes. The
difficulty of converting them at home shows how greatly their emigration
was needed to overcome great obstacles. Ein Zug in their religion
facilitated, but others opposed—one set of features helped their
conversion, which another set made very necessary.
Germany was required to be kept elective,
because of the imperial crown & interest of the church, but this was the
fault of the German princes who did not deserve to be hereditary—tho’ it
wd really have been best for all parties. Leo II 417 Decisive for the
Empire & for the character of the 30 Yrs War. Leo II 510.
pp. 335-6. November 1, 1857.
Protestantism was pagan because it gave
religion a political character, and revived the national principle of
religion. It mixed temporal affairs with religious and gave the
preference to political over religious considerations.
The desire to return to the Church was
general at first: but as Prot. settled down, it sank into the hearts of
men, and they gradually became sincere Protestants. In the 17th
cent. this was generally the case, from long habit. In Silesia for
instance the counterreformation could not succeed. In Styria on the
contrary it had not had time to command men’s minds, and was extirpated.
The later generations were much better Prot. than the first, & the dirty
reasons for accepting the Ref. had disappeared and influenced them no
more. . . .
p. 337. November 1, 1857.
Historians have not to point out
everywhere the hand of Providence, but to find out all the natural causes
of things. Enough will always remain that cannot be so explained, but we
have only to indicate that such is the case, not to show it on every
1 Cambridge University Library
Manuscripts, Add. 5752, 358-60. In this index item I is “Mohler’s
Patrologia, Extracts from”; no. 2 is “German literature”; no. 3 is “Error,
Doubt and Truth,” and we pass in no. 6 to “Newman on Education” and no. 7
to “Papal Infallibility.” Some of the items clearly have reference to
conversations with the Munich Professor Lasaulx, and then we have: no. 21,
“Audita on the journey”; no. 22, “July II-July 24, 1852”; no. 23,
“Lasaulx. March 28 1852”; no. 24, “Walk about the same time”; no. 25,
“Nov. 11 1852-Jan. 25, 1853”; no. 26: “state of the Pagan World”, etc.,
2 Add. 4862, much of which seems
to consist of pages torn out of notebooks. The document in question is
entitled, “My mother’s wishes. Thursday morning, 27 October 1859”; cf.
Fitzmaurice, Life of Lord Granville, for the corresponding account
of the situation by Acton’s stepfather. One of the most human features of
Acton’s narrative is the account of the way in which he pleased his mother
by responding to her obvious desire that he should make his second cousin,
Marie, his wife.
3 Add. 5527-9 and 5752.
4 Add. 5751.
5 Acton wrote to Döllinger in
later years: “It was only when we got into the train that I realized that
we were not going to Rome.” [Johann] Friedrich, [Ignaz von Döllinger]
(Munich, 1899), III, 111. Descriptions of the visits made to North Italy
(and Switzerland) in 1850, 1852 and 1854 are to be found ibid. III, 76,
6 Essays on Liberty, p.
7 At one time Acton seems not to
know what influence the journey had. He writes: “He [Döllinger] says
distinctly that he formed his later opinions about 1857—after his
return.” Then he adds: “How did that set him thinking?” [Add. 4905]. On
other occasions he seems to be turning the matter over in his mind: “1857
[Döllinger] not struck. But deeply interested—pondered over it all—and
somewhat taken aback by what he found. The most central and universal
scene” [Ibid.]. “1857 destroyed the halo—abolished confidence,
admiration, respect—But did not produce any strong sense of condemnation.”
[Ibid.] “1857 only made it [Rome] contemptible, not odious.” [Add.
4903.] We do not know the chronological order of these notes and perhaps
it is wrong to see a crescendo; but on one of the slips Acton is
enumerating the stages in the development of Döllinger, and at no. 6,
after the Frankfurt Assembly, he surprises us with the thesis: “Experience
of Rome. Luther not so very wrong after all.” Cf. Add. 5001: “Once as
we walked down from the Capitol to the Coliseum, in answer to my
question: How long will all this last? He said: As long as it is felt
to be beneficial to religion and no longer.” On the other hand, Acton
himself says in Add. 4903: “His journey to Rome had not exposed to him
the weakness of the Church.” In Add. 4905 he writes: “Change in Rome—not
perceived in 1857.” In the essay on “Döllinger’s Historical Work”,
Essays on Liberty, p. 375, we read: “He did not come away charged
with visions of scandal in the spiritual order, of suffering in the
temporal or of tyranny in either.” In Add. 4912 he says: Döllinger “not a
good traveller. Too thoughtful to be observant.” See also nn. 8, 9,
8 “D. to C.B. 22 January 1870”;
transcribed by Acton in Add. 4911. Cf. Döllinger to Jörg, 22 May 1857, in
Friedrich, III, 178: “I have on the whole been well received here and in
respect of the use of manuscripts I have been afforded great facilities,
beyond my expectations. So it was in my mind to strike while the iron was
hot, and I have devoted the best of my time to the libraries, especially
to the Vatican Library. That has certainly had the effect of making me
neglect men and things more than I ought to have done.” Friedrich also
quotes Jörg as having said: “the Eternal City interested him [Döllinger]
above all in his capacity as a scholar.”
9 Döllinger was seeking materials
on the subject of medieval heresies [Friedrich, III, 178]; and Acton
repeatedly notes the importance of the journey for the development of
Döllinger’s manuscript studies, though in Add. 4905 and Add. 4912 he makes
it clear that now in Rome, as earlier in Paris, Florence and Prague he
only went to manuscripts “for particular things,” and not until 1864 (the
visits to Vienna and Venice) did the habit of manuscript study have a
decisive effect on the character of his work; cf. n. 18 below. Döllinger
seems to have left Italy with no high opinion of Italian scholarship in
general. In Add. 4809 Acton writes: “this journey to Rome 1857 confirmed
his impression. The work done at Rome in his time disappointed him. He
ceased, after his journey there to follow it up. . .”; cf. Add. 5644, p.
71 : “1857 made him indifferent to Roman literature.”
The effect of the Roman journey on another
side of Döllinger’s development as a scholar is discussed in Add. 4905:
“the visit to Rome opened another channel to his thoughts. It shows
little of the magic but it is full of modern memories in all its monuments
as well as in its collections. Reminded him of the scenes in the lives
of the popes and prelates since the Renaissance. He began to study this
for the first time. . . .”
10 These are chiefly in Add.
4911; see for example nn. 13, 16 and 17; cf. however nn. 14, 16, 19 and 38
11 It is clear that Acton is here
summarizing the view of Peter Ernst Lasaulx (1805-61, and Professor of
Philology in Munich since 1844), after a conversation that preceded the
stay in Rome. If there were any doubt this would be set at rest by a note
in Add. 5643, which is a characterization of Lasaulx and is partly based
on this entry in the journal: “. . . Opinion of Plato and Aristotle. . .
history to him only dealt with ideas. . . . Paganism helped him to
understand Christianity. . . avoided the drudgery that attends the pursuit
of history. . . thought little of Montesquieu and Burke—scooping the cream
of history. . . .”
Letters . . . to Mary Gladstone (1913), p. 57, Acton says that
Lasaulx “was one of the best friends I ever had. For two years I followed
his lectures on ancient literature, philosophy, etc., and he left his
library to me when he died”; cf. Lord Acton’s Correspondence, I, 13
and n. In The Rambler (July 1858), p. 33 I, Acton, writing on
Buckle, describes Lasaulx as “the most eloquent and accomplished
philosopher in Germany.” Here, as in so many other cases, Acton’s later
views were more critical; see for example Essays on Liberty, p.
12 Concerning Stahl (1802-61)
Acton seemed to be gathering hostile reports in this period. In a note
in Add. 5609 he writes: “Stahl Romantik in politics. Gneist assured me
in 1855, at the height of his success, that he knew no branch of legal
science.” His later opinion (1881) was enthusiastic; see Letters. . . to
Mary Gladstone, p. 72: “Stahl, a man without birth or fortune, became the
leader of the Prussian conservative and reactionary party. He led them
from about 1850 to 1860, when he died; and he was intellectually far
superior to Disraeli—I should say, the greatest reasoner that has ever
served the conservative cause. But he never obtained power or determined
any important political event.”
13 This is a summary of views put
forward by Döllinger; and the fact is recorded in the case of the remark
about Newman, which Acton transcribed in Add. 4911. Also Döllinger states
something similar on the subject of Newman in a letter to the latter of 5
November 1857; Wilfrid Ward, The Life . . . of Newman (1927), I,
444. The work by Newman, to which Döllinger refers, must be the
Lectures on Justification, 1838.
14 Acton was fond of transcribing
this story. In Add. 4908 he further tells us that the work by Stalin was
on Württemberg and that Hermann was one of the Bavarian judges. He also
gives a different reason for Döllinger’s opposition to Mommsen. “He was
repelled—he distrusted the terrible definiteness and
certitude—confidence—of the great philol.”
15 Since on Tuesday 12 May Acton
reports that Döllinger and he have been in Rome for three weeks, it seems
likely that this entry belongs to 27 rather than 20 April.
Concerning Theiner (1804-74) Acton writes
[Add. 4903]: “Father Augustin Theiner of the Oratory was the keeper of
the Secret Archives of the Papacy”; cf. Add. 4908: “Theiner could not be
set aside, because, although his mind was not exceedingly true nor his
judgment sound, he possessed the final material
Cf. nn. 16, 18 below.
16 When Acton relates this in
Add. 491 I he quotes Döllinger as his authority. In Add. 4908 he writes:
“Theiner undertook to publish the Correspondence of the Legates [at the
Council of Trent] with Rome. But he died without accomplishing it.” Cf.
n. 18 and p. 195 below. He was forbidden to show a printed copy of it to
any bishop in 1870. It appeared in 1874.
17 Once again Acton merely makes
Döllinger’s views his own and he ascribes this judgement to the latter
when he writes our this passage in Add. 4911. His own views developed,
however, and when he wrote the essay on “Döllinger’s Bistorical Work” [Essays
on Liberty, p. 375], he shows that by 1890 he regards this judgement
as a sign of weakness in his teacher: “He was never in contact with the
sinister side of things. Theiner’s Life of Clement the Fourteenth
failed to convince him and he listened incredulously to his indictment of
the Jesuits. Eight years later Theiner wrote to him that he hoped they
would now agree better on that subject than when they discussed it in
18 In regard to this topic, also,
Acton was ready at a later time to criticize the attitude of his teacher.
In Add. 5609, p. 40, he writes: “How late he [Döllinger] understood about
MSS. At Rome in 1857 he spoke as if the Council of Trent was known by
Sarpi and Pallavicini rather than by Le Plat and Baluze, Mansi,
Lagomarsini Morandi.” Cf. p. 195 below.
Acton in the meantime had been particularly
interested in the problem of the relative merits of Sarpi and Pallavicini,
as historians of the Council of Trent. It represents one of the
significant areas of concentration in his notes, and in Add. 4915 there is
the remark: “N.B. In four or five notebooks I have important matter
touching Sarpi and Pallavicini. Also unpublished letters of Pallavicini .
. . .”; see, for example, Add. 4864, 5016, 5568, 5599, 5613. In 1867 he
published an article on Sarpi in the first issue of The Chronicle.
19 Again this is Döllinger’s
judgement, as Acton notes when he transcribes it in Add. 4912. Döllinger
and Acton had seen much of the Marquis Gino Capponi (1792-1876) in
Florence during their stay there in 1852, and according to Döllinger’s
account (Friedrich, III, I I 1-12) had found “around him” the flower of
the learned world of Florence,” and had learned for the first time of that
Italian national feeling” the depth and universality of which I had
hitherto refused to credit.” Döllinger’s views about Capponi are to be
found at greater length in Friedrich, III, 112-14, in his obituary notice
(Akademische Vorträge, II, 241-53), and in a letter which he wrote
to Acton 19 February 1876, after Capponi’s death (partly transcribed by
Acton in Add. 49II). Capponi became completely blind in 1844 but played an
important part in the movements which led to the freeing of Italy. Acton,
Essays on Liberty, p. 414, mentions his claim to have remained” the
last Italian federalist.” In 1875 he produced a classic history of the
20 Jakob Frohschammer (1823-93)
was teaching at Munich University from 1850 and was appointed to a chair
of philosophy there in 1855 after the publication of his Ueber den
Ursprung der menschlichen Seelen. He was a critic of the Thomist
system and his book was placed on the Index. According to Friedrich, III,
181, Döllinger in this conversation said “Do you then understand German?”
“No,” said Modena. “There are only a few who understand that tongue.
However, it is sufficient if a person high in the opinion of the Vatican
denounces the book, and translates the offensive passages (or gets them
translated into Italian), and the book comes on to the Index on the
proposal of the Referent.” “The Referent who does not know
German?” asked Döllinger. “Passages torn out and taken away from their
context often have a different meaning put into them and in this way a
very wrong judgement may be made of this learned treatise.” “Sone le
nostre regole,” replied Modena.
21 The family of Sir Robert
Throckmorton, Acton’s uncle. See Mathew, Acton, pp. 43-5.
22 The reference is to the
special mission of Lord Granville to Russia for the coronation of
Alexander II, August-September 1856. Acton made a preliminary journey,
evidently to prepare the way, and then went out with his step-father, as
private secretary. See the detailed account of the mission by the
ambassador in Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice, Lord Granville, I, 181-218.
23 The Roman Republic, February
to July, 1849. On pp. 179-80 of this diary are further notes on this
period of Roman history.
24 The Munich circle was somewhat
hostile to Ranke. See, for example, Add. 4907 (quoting Döllinger’s
views): “Ranke on the Popes avoids real difficulties. The research is
neither consecutive nor profound. In the Reformation there is more
solidity, but not so much that is new”; “Döllinger’s Historical Work” [Essays
on Liberty, p. 396]: “Döllinger had pronounced the theology of the
Deutsche Reformation slack and trivial”; cf. the later note, Add. 4908:
“Döllinger long afraid of reading Ranke.” Of Döllinger’s friend and
amanuensis, Jorg, we read [Add. 5527, p. 72 (c. 1858)]: “Jorg considers
Ranke not honest in his Reformation . . . abundance of facts rather than
ideas . . . . Dislike of deep philosophy.” Acton often returned to the
subject of Ranke in these early days, as on p. 223 of the 1857 journal and
f. 69b and f. 70 of Add. 5528; d. Gasquet [Lord Acton and his Circle],
p. 109: Ranke, he said, “has never shown a knowledge of antiquity.”
“There is . . . a want of comprehensiveness in his intelligence of
history.” He “thoroughly fails in the higher, simpler religious
characters.” His very deficiencies make him most suitable for a character
such as Richelieu. His own personality makes the period of about 1500
most fitting for him. His “peculiar knowledge and views of modern
history” are derived from the fact that he sees things through the eyes of
Venetian ambassadors whose” cold-blooded acuteness . . . suits and
attracts and often misleads him.”
25 Carl von Reisach (1800-69) had
been Archbishop of Munich from 1847 until September 1855, when he was
created a cardinal. He had once been a friend of Döllinger, who had
lately come to be distrusted by ecclesiastical authority, though he was
evidently regarded by some of his friends as a possible successor to the
Archbishopric [Friedrich, III, 172]. The painter Cornelius relates [ibid.
III, 178] that when Reisach saw Döllinger in the street in Rome in 1857 he
said: “Here comes Döllinger with his long nose so that he can poke it
into our affairs.” Already Döllinger and Acton had half expected
persecution, but they were compelled to admit that they had been well
received on the whole in Rome. Reisach in fact appears to have been
hospitable to them in 1857; and in Add. 4903 Acton writes: “Reisach took
him [Döllinger] round.” In his essay on the Vatican Council [Essays on
Liberty, p. 501], Acton describes how Reisach was to have been
President of the Council. He proceeds: “During his long residence in
Rome he rose to high estimation, because he was reputed to possess the
secret, and to have discovered the vanity, of German science . . . . The
Gennan bishops complained that he betrayed their interests. . . and the
[papal] Court knew that there was no Cardinal on whom it was so safe to
rely.” Cf. Friedrich, III, 169-71.
26 Anton von Günther (1783-1863)
was a Catholic philosopher who resided as a private ecclesiastic in
Vienna, having been connected with the Jesuits, 1822-4. He rejected
professorships offered by Munich, etc., apparently in the hope of securing
a Chair in his own city. In attacking some of the tendencies of modem
German secular philosophy and attempting to find a philosophical basis for
nineteenth-century Christianity, he founded an important school and
secured some distinguished disciples, and Munich had much sympathy with
his work, giving him an honorary degree in 1833. Döllinger was one of his
admirers, but from 1852 the Congregation of the Index were investigating
Günther’s work, and Döllinger’s name occurred in the documents concerning
the cases [Friedrich, III, 180-1]. At the beginning of 1857 Günther’s
works were placed on the Index, and after that date he published nothing
more. This episode, combined with that of Frohschammer [see n. 20 above],
at a time when it was being apprehended that “henceforward the Index will
become busier every day,” represented a victory for those who were
reasserting the claims of scholasticism, and showed what the adherents of
modern German scientific thought had to expect. On 15 June 1857, in fact,
the Pope in a Brief from Bologna specified Günther’s errors and reasserted
Aristotelian views adopted by scholastic writers. The case touched
Döllinger and Acton closely, and the former realized that by this time he
himself was somewhat suspect.
27 It is probable that this is a
record of Döllinger’s opinion, though there is no reason to suppose that
Acton disagreed with it at this date, in spite of the fact that at a date
which he placed not long before the beginning of his stay in Munich—i.e.,
not long before 1850—he had tried in vain to gain admission to a Cambridge
college. For his views on the subject of a Catholic University see pp.
201-2 and n. 35 below.
28 It would not be safe to assume
that the young Acton kept this good resolution and avoided arrogance or
prevented the irritation that would be caused by repeated accusations and
gibes concerning the neglect of German scholarship. See, for example, his
short notices of O’Hagan on Joan of Arc and Arnold on Alcibiades [The
Rambler, August 1858, pp. 136-7]; his determination to “show Buckle
up” [ibid. pp. 88-104; d. Gasquet, p. 14]; and his remarks about
Gladstone, n. 32 below. Cf. Gasquet, p. 56; Wilfrid Ward, The Life of
. . . Newman, I, 510; and the device of bringing in a German scholar,
as a trump card, so to speak [Gasquet, pp. 34, 37], to rescue The
Rambler in December 1858, after a double attempt [May-June, p. 388,
and then August 1858, p. 135, in a short notice of Chéruel’s Marie
Stuart et Cathérine de Médicis] to create a stir by
provocative statements relative to the point that “St Augustine was the
father of Jansenism.”
29 Cf. Add. 4903: “Theiner
showed the MS. of Galileo’s trial to L’Espinois 1866, also to D. Berti in
Febr. 1870. It had been restored by France only in 1846 [see p. 197].
Marina’s book, 1850, really prepared by Theiner.” Marino-Marini made
public part of the documents, and Henri de l’Epinois made more complete
revelations in 1867 in the Revue des Questions historiques. In
1876 Berti published Il Processo originale di Galileo Galilei and
in 1877 L’Epinois replied to critics in Les Pieces du Proces de Galilee.
30 Cf. Acton’s outline of a
political message for English Roman Catholics in his letter to Simpson, 16
February 1858, Gasquet, p. 4: “ . . . We need no longer humiliate
ourselves and eat dirt to obtain the support of the Liberal or Radical
party. We have got about as much as we shall get from them, and it would
be well to see whether this alliance is a safe one . . . . Whom do we
thank for emancipation? Neither the Irish Catholics nor the Whigs.”
31 Monsignor [George] Talbot,
cameriere and “intimate friend” of Pius IX.
32 Acton’s early views on the
subject of Gladstone give little promise of the close association that was
to exist between the two men at a later date. Reviewing Gladstone’s
Studies on Homer and the Homeric Age in The Rambler for June
1858 (Gasquet, p. 19), Acton said: “Mr Gladstone has failed to get up his
subject as well as he might have done. . . . It appears to us that his
basis is arbitrary, his method bad, and his conclusions fanciful and
uncertain.” In The Rambler for the following August, p. 137 (cf.
Gasquet, p. 28), he wrote: “The reputation of English critical scholarship
has lately been dragged through the mire by such writers as Sir George
Lewis, Colonel Mure and Mr Gladstone.” In Add. 5528, which is partly a
journal, Acton writes, f. 203 a (in the autumn of 1859): “Gladstone was
always very able, disputatious but humble, never giving up his own point.
He has not the instincts of a gentleman, nothing handsome or chivalrous.”
In August 1859, he wrote to Simpson (Gasquet, p. 82, cf. pp. 68, 70): “I
have not lost all hope in Gladstone, but all faith and most of my
charity. I have softened one expression.” This refers to the notes on
“Contemporary Events” which he was preparing for The Rambler of the
33 Cf. the letter of Acton’s
step-father, Lord Granville, 28 October 1857, in Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice,
Life of Lord Granville, I, 262: “Johnny Acton is busy about an
historical work, which from what I hear will be remarkable.” In Gasquet,
pp. 149-52, there is a letter which the editor dates 28 November 1859,
where Acton writes: “I have got together materials on the modern history
of the Popes and would give anything for a quiet half year among my books
34 This remained one of the
permanent bases of Acton’s liberalism; cf. Add. 4870 f. 1; “Liberty
enables us to do our duty unhindered by the state”; f. 2; “Duty not taught
by the state”; f: 9: “ Liberty of conscience is the first of liberties,
because it is the liberty to avoid sin”; f. 10: “ We don’t learn our duty
from the state. The ancients did.” Add. 5009: “Conscience requires as
its condition liberty. Liberals alone thoroughly conscientious. Theory
of conscience leads up to liberty.” Add. 5013: “the ethical element in
Liberalism. Identity of Liberalism and morality. The object of
Liberalism is not political or national or ecclesiastical but moral.”
35 In Add. 4987, amongst Acton’s
collection of notes on Newman, is the pencil note: “In 1851 N. was
invited over to Ireland to found a Catholic University and he devoted most
of his time to this enterprise until 1858.” A further slip, dated 1872,
says; “the hope of the University being English as well as Irish was quite
at an end. This was a reason for resigning.” In another note Acton
transcribes part of a letter from Newman to Grant, dated 7 March 1856: “I
am personally alarmed at the notion of the bishops of England allowing,
(should they allow,) young Catholics to go to the English Protestant
Universities.” He adds the note: “Oxford had just been opened to
C[atholics).” Further notes, to the same effect, may be found, for
example: “He had hoped that failing the Irish, English students would
come to Dublin.” See similar notes in Add. 4989, where Acton also deals
with Newman’s later attempt to establish Roman Catholics in Oxford. Cf.
Wilfrid Ward, The Life of. . . Newman (1927), II, 47-78.
36 Cf. p. 187 above.
37 This would seem to be
Döllinger’s view, but it would appear that Acton held it at this time. In
Add. 5009 there is a slip which reads: “Therefore history liberalises. It
teaches not to interfere, to do justice to the other side, to leave men to
their own judgments.” Possibly Acton is merely making a debating-point
when in the draft of a letter to Lord Clifford in Add. 4863 he writes:
“One of the things people learn from history is to abstain from
unnecessary judgment, and it was not relevant to my purpose to determine
the guilt of Fenelon.” Cf. Add. 5010: “The morality of Historians
consists of those things which affect veracity.” On the issue of moral
judgements in history, however, he came later into a conflict with
Döllinger which was evidently much more momentous for him—more distressing
to him personally—than his famous controversy with Creighton. In Add.
4863 there are some “Notes of an important Conversation”, dated 16 July
1882, in which Acton says: “The disagreement. . . has been growing since
the day when the Professor gave his sanction to a paper describing a
defender of the Syllabus as a venerable Christian prelate”; and it is
clear from other notes that Acton’s intransigeance on the question of
moral judgements was connected with his insistence on the condemnation of
ecclesiastical authorities. The notes continue: “Our disagreement, which
revealed itself unexpectedly, but at last almost continuously on a variety
of subjects, seemed reducible to one principal cause. We almost always
differed in our estimate of character, and my judgments were generally
severe. I wished to judge by manifest canons and not by sympathy. . . .
Murder being in the view of society the worst of crimes, seemed the most
decisive test of character.” It is clear that this difference with
Döllinger cut deeply into Acton, who in Add. 5402 on slip no. 7 wrote in
pencil: “My point is to know definitely and apart from the perplexities
of controversy, whether in the one decisive point of history and ethics I
am with the Professor or against him.” Next to other notes on this
subject, we read in Add. 4904, “In questions of life and death there must
be a decision. Both cannot be right.” In Add. 5403, nos. 19-35 and 67,
are pencil notes of what appears to be the draft of a letter written in
the late 1880’s on the subject of the difference with Döllinger: “I am
absolutely alone in my essential ethical position and therefore useless. .
. . So far as I can see I have thoroughly misunderstood the Professor and
have had to spend 5 years in merely trying to find out his real
sentiments. . . . In a great number of men . . . he sees virtue where I
see vice—Gerson, Arnauld, Luther, Bossuet, Pius VII, St Bernard,
Lacordaire. . . . argument of time, surroundings, education, authority,
ignorance. . . . The Professor put me off with imperfect statements. . .
and at last in 1883 he made it clear that it was time for our
conversations to cease, for this world. Every summer since I have spent
all my time and energy trying to discover whether we really differ so
widely.. . . He thinks an Ultr[amontane] may be saved. . . . The
difference is fundamental and as wide as the firmament. . . .”
38 This passage is transcribed
into Acton’s notes in Add. 4907, and is there recorded as the opinion of
Döllinger. Elsewhere in Add. 4907 Acton writes: “Providence not shown by
success—Examples—But by continual extraction of good from evil.” Acton
later modified these ideas and his earlier view of the whole past as
outlined in The Rambler of July 1858, pp. 63-5, in his lively
review of K. K. Philp, A History of Progress in Great Britain. In
Add. 4906 we find the note: “Providence has a large part in the things
that have lasted.” Add. 5626, f. 11b: “God overrules man in the long
run. What lasts expresses God’s will. Permanence is divine.” In Add.
5011, under the date 24 January 1893, we read: “Providence means
Progress. Liberty supposes progress.” In Add. 5641, p. 43, Acton writes:
“My theory is that divine government is not justified without progress.
There is no raison d’etre for the world”; and in Add. 4987: “ Not
to believe in Progress is to question the divine government.” In, for
example, Add. 4987, Acton repeatedly illustrates the contrast between his
own views and those of Newman, who “discovered no progress,” and saw “no
evidence of divine government in the course of things.” “Not that N.
denies the government of the world. Providence does not manifest itself
in history.” “History, apart from biography, is [therefore, for Newman,]
a world without God.”
Posted May 23,