Newman was hurt. This was not just, as his enemies would urge, a case of his being thin-skinned (although he was), it was one of fact and misrepresentation. Newman had still been an Anglican in 1844 when he wrote the words quoted out of context by Kingsley. The latter was well-known as an exponent of what was called 'muscular Christianity', but even by his standards, this was a little brutish. Newman wrote to Kingsley along these lines, pointing out that there were no words in the sermon expressing any such opinion as had been ascribed to him. To this simple statement of fact Kingsley never replied. In the course of their correspondence, however, he said: 'the tone of your letters makes me feel to my very deep pleasure that my opinion of the meaning of your words is a mistaken one.' But Kingsley's proffered apology was, to say the least of it, grotesquely inadequate. It ran as follows:
'Dr. Newman has, by letter, expressed in the strongest terms, his denial of the meaning which I have put upon his words. No man knows the use of words better than Dr. Newman; no man, therefore, has a better right to define what he does, or does not, mean by them. It only remains, therefore, for me to express my hearty regret at having so seriously mistaken him, and my hearty pleasure at finding him on the side of truth, in this, or any other matter.'
Newman objected to the passages stating that 'no man knows the meaning of words better than Dr. Newman,' and that Mr. Kingsley was glad to find him 'on the side of truth, in this, or any other matter.' Kingsley withdrew them. But he would not change the gist of the letter, which implied that Newman had explained away his own words; whereas (as Newman pointed out again) Kingsley had not confronted him with any words at all.
Newman quoted the opinion of a friend, to whom he showed Kingsley's amended apology, that it was insufficient, but it appeared without further change in Macmillan's Magazine for February, and ran as follows: 'Dr. Newman has expressed, in the strongest terms, his denial of the meaning I have put on his words. It only remains, therefore, for me to express my hearty regret at having so seriously mistaken him.'