Kingsley was not the man to take Newman's riposte lying down. He had, in his own eyes, made a handsome apology, and now this canting effeminate Romanist was cavilling; this called forth Kingsley's full ire. In a pamphlet called: 'What then does Dr. Newman mean?', he laid about him lustily. Newman had suspected that Kingsley's apology had not been sincere; he was right.. During the period he was writing his riposte, he wrote to a correspondent who had called his attention to a passage in W. G. Ward's 'Ideal of a Christian Church' which appeared to justify Kingsley's charge against Newman and his friends. 'Candour,' Mr. Ward had written, 'is an intellectual rather than a moral virtue, and by no means either universally or distinctively characteristic of the saintly mind.'
Kingsley replied that he was using the passage from Ward's book in his forthcoming pamphlet, and added: 'I am answering Newman now, and though of course I give up the charge of conscious dishonesty, I trust to make him and his admirers sorry that they did not leave me alone. I have a score of more than twenty years to pay, and this is an instalment of it.'
The general line of argument in the pamphlet went thus: 'Newman's words looked like the view which I imputed to him. I have accepted his statement that he did not so mean them. But if he did not, what does he mean?' Ever the polemicist Kingsley does not quote any words of Newman's which justify his original statement. The nearest approach to any such attempt at justification is in his analysis of the sermon on 'Wisdom and Innocence,' where he points out how Newman admits that Christians have been charged with cunning, though he maintains that such appearances are due only to the arts of the defenceless. 'If,' he writes, 'Dr. Newman told the world, as he virtually does in this sermon, "I know that my conduct looks like cunning, but it is only the arts of the defenceless," what wonder if the world answer "No, it is what it seems"?'
If the sermon did not supply what he wanted, he could go further afield for evidence. And he could make fresh charges. He continued in a style which bears curious witness to the profound and undiscriminating aversion to Newman's whole attitude which lay at the root of his original attack. Passing by the 'tortuous' Tract 90, and claiming the recognition of his generosity in so doing, he speaks of the Puseyite 'Lives of the Saints,' edited by Newman in 1843, as witnessing to his flagrant untruthfulness. Entirely falling to understand Newman's philosophy of miracle, he speaks of those 'Lives' as simply deliberate perversions of historical truth. Newman's view, it need hardly be said, was that there are certain antecedent probabilities recognised by one who is already a Catholic, which make the marvels handed down by tradition credible to him as 'pious beliefs,' although they may not be historically proved. He admitted as much as Kingsley that they could not be established by canons of evidence accepted by those who did not grant the antecedent probabilities. Such a view as this, whether right or wrong, is never even glanced at by Mr. Kingsley, who treats the 'Lives' as simply a tissue of infantile folly and untruthfulness combined.
Kingsley recalls Newman's statement in the 'Present Position of Catholics,' that he thinks the 'holy coat of Treves' may be what it professes to be, and that he firmly believes that portions of the True Cross are in Rome and elsewhere; that he believes in the presence of the Crib of Bethlehem in Rome; that he cannot withstand the evidence for the liquefaction of Januarius' blood at Naples and the motion of the eyes of the images of the Madonna in Italy. No one knew better than Newman himself that, to the ordinary common-sense Protestant Englishman, such beliefs must seem ludicrous and childish superstitions. But Newman had very cogently pointed out that, judged by the canons of reason apart from the antecedent presumptions of religious minds, miracles in Holy Writ which the Protestant Englishman never questions, and accepts from custom and education, are also incredible. That Jonah spent three days in the interior of a whale is a belief not easier to justify by reason than the wonders referred to above, and Mr. Kingsley, it was to be presumed, accepted this miraculous narrative himself. But the whole philosophical ground for Newman's readiness to believe is passed by without notice by Kingsley. He throws before his readers as beyond the reach or necessity of argument the above avowals of folly and superstition. And he changes his earlier charge of untruthfulness and insincerity for one of arrant and avowed fatuity.
'How art thou fallen from Heaven,' he writes, 'O Lucifer, son of the Morning!
'But when I read these outrages upon common sense, what wonder if I said to myself: "This man cannot believe what he is saying"?
'I believe I was wrong. I have tried, as far as I can, to imagine to myself Dr. Newman's state of mind; and I see now the possibility of a man's working himself into that pitch of confusion that he can persuade himself, by what seems to him logic, of anything whatsoever which he wishes to believe; and of his carrying self-deception to such perfection that it becomes a sort of frantic honesty in which he is utterly unconscious, not only that he is deceiving others, but that he is deceiving himself.
'But I must say: If this be "historic truth," what is historic falsehood? If this be honesty, what is dishonesty? If this be wisdom, what is folly?
'I may be told: But this is Roman Catholic doctrine. You have no right to be angry with Dr. Newman for believing it. I answer: This is not Roman Catholic doctrine, any more than belief in miraculous appearances of the Blessed Virgin, or the miracle of the Stigmata (on which two matters I shall say something hereafter). No Roman Catholic, as far as I am aware, is bound to believe these things. Dr. Newman has believed them of his own free will. He is anxious, it would seem, to show his own credulity. He has worked his mind, it would seem, into that morbid state in which nonsense is the only food for which it hungers. Like the sophists of old, he has used reason to destroy reason. I had thought that, like them, he had preserved his own reason in order to be able to destroy that of others. But I was unjust to him, as he says. While he tried to destroy others' reason, he was, at least, fair enough to destroy his own. That is all that I can say. Too many prefer the charge of insincerity to that of insipience,—Dr. Newman seems not to be of that number ... If I, like hundreds more, have mistaken his meaning and intent, he must blame not me, but himself. If he will indulge in subtle paradoxes, in rhetorical exaggerations; if, whenever he touches on the question of truth and honesty, he will take a perverse pleasure in saying something shocking to plain English notions, he must take the consequences of his own eccentricities.
'What does Dr. Newman mean? He assures us so earnestly and indignantly that he is an honest man, believing what he says, that we in return are bound, in honour and humanity, to believe him; but still,—what does he mean?'
'And so I leave Dr. Newman,' he concludes, 'only expressing my fear that, if he continues to "economize" and "divide" the words of his adversaries as he has done mine, he will run great danger of forfeiting once more his reputation for honesty.'