The original first fifty pages of the Apologia were devoted to refuting Kingsley. Newman knew himself to be at two sorts of disadvantage: in the first place Kingsley 'had a name' and was popular with the Victorian reader; in the second, he was a convert, 'pervert' as some had it, to the despised Roman Catholic Church. For more than three hundred years his Church had been the object of concerted hostility from first the English and then the British State. The 'Black Legend', grown from the ashes of the fires of Smithfield, was so firmly entrenched that it was not readily to be expected that a member of the despised sect would secure a fair hearing. But Newman, although no democrat, put his faith in the English sense of fair-play. As he wrote to a friend:  

'I think, indeed, Englishmen the most suspicious and touchy of mankind; I think them unreasonable and unjust in their seasons of excitement; but I had rather be an Englishman (as in fact I am) than belong to any other race under Heaven. They are as generous as they are hasty and burly; and their repentance for their injustice is greater than their sin.'

iHe was sure that if he could show that he had been treated unfairly, there would be a response in his favour. But there was more to this than personal indignation. Kingsley had used the small change of Protestant bigotry: the lazy assumptions that Catholics lied whenever it suited them; the quoting of Catholic writers out of context; the easy appeal to distrust of foreigners; and in defending his own reputation, Newman hoped to strike a blow against the caricatures and to combat the bigotry.

Kingsley had chosen as the motto for his pamphlet Newman's assertion in one of the University Sermons that in some cases a lie is the nearest approach to truth. Newman notes in these introductory pages the appositeness of the motto, for 'Mr. Kingsley's pamphlet is emphatically one of such cases ... I really believe that his view of me is about as near an approach to the truth about my writings and doings as he is capable of taking. He has done his worst towards me, but he has also done his best.' Newman describes the contours of a narrow-mind, and attributes Kingsley's failure to comprehend a mind unlike his own as an illustration of a wide law: 'children do not apprehend the thoughts of grown-up people, nor savages the instincts of civilisation.'

Against the blind contempt of Kingsley, who hesitated between 'knavery' and 'silliness' as the true charge against his antagonist, Newman levels the piercing scorn of the wider and more penetrating mind. It is the scorn of the civilised man, who sees and analyses the defects of barbarism, pitted against the scorn of barbarism, that hates, fears, and despises the civilisation which it cannot understand. Kingsley had taken up the position of the manly Englishman, of the advocate of chivalrous generosity, against the shifty Papist, the 'serpentine' dealer in 'cunning and sleight-of-hand logic.' Newman not only drives his opponent from the vantage ground, but occupies it himself, transferring to Kingsley the reproach of a disingenuousness which sought to poison the minds of the public and divert their gaze from the actual issue.

Mr. Kingsley had rather grandly announced that he was precluded '"en hault courage" and in strict honour' from proving his original charge from others of Newman's writings except the Sermon on 'Wisdom and Innocence.' 'If I thereby give him a fresh advantage in this argument,' he added, 'he is most welcome to it. He needs, it seems to me, as many advantages as possible.' Newman quotes these words with the comment: 'What a princely mind! How loyal to his rash promise; how delicate towards the subject of it; how conscientious in his interpretation of it!'

But what was the actual exhibition of noble straight-forwardness which the advocate of 'hault courage' provided? A whole mass of insinuation without any substantiation of the original charge of untruthfulness; and a re-hash of such conventional imputations against the Papist as might stir up popular bigotry to his detriment. 

'When challenged,' Newman continues, 'he cannot bring a fragment of evidence in proof of his assertion, and he is convicted of false witness by the voice of the world. Well, I should have thought that he had now nothing whatever more to do. Vain man! he seems to make answer, what simplicity in you to think so! If you have not broken one commandment, let us see whether we cannot convict you of the breach of another. If you are not a swindler or forger, you are guilty of arson or burglary. By hook or by crook you shall not escape. Are you to suffer or I? What does it matter to you who are going off the stage to receive a slight additional daub upon a character so deeply stained already? But think of me,—the immaculate lover of truth,—so observant (as I have told you, p. 8) of "hault courage" and "strict honour," and (aside)—and not as this publican—do you think I can let you go scot free instead of myself? No; "noblesse oblige." Go to the shades, old man, and boast that Achilles sent you thither.'

This method of wholesale insinuation and imputation was not, Newman contended, fair play as Englishmen understand it. And, worse still, was the attempt to discount beforehand every detailed reply by repeating in aggravated form the charge of shiftiness and untruthfulness, and coupling Newman's method with that of Roman casuists whom John Bull abominated.

'He is down upon me,' the 'Apologia' continues, 'with the odious names of "St. Alfonso da Liguori," and "Scavini" and "Neyraguet" and "the Romish moralists," and their "compeers and pupils," and I am at once merged and whirled away in the gulf of notorious quibblers and hypocrites and rogues.'

And the writer proceeds to cite from Mr. Kingsley's pamphlet such sentences as the following:

'I am henceforth in doubt and fear,' Mr. Kingsley writes, 'as much as any honest man can be, concerning every word Dr. Newman may write.How can I tell that I shall not be dupe of some cunning equivocation, of one of the three kinds laid down as permissible by the Blessed Alfonso da Liguori and his pupils, even when confirmed by an oath, because "then we do not deceive our neighbour, but allow him {17} to deceive himself? ... It is admissible, therefore, to use words and sentences which have a double signification and leave the hapless hearer to take which of them he may choose." What proof have I, then, that by "Mean it? I never said it!" Dr. Newman does not signify, "I did not say it, but I did mean it"?'

It is this throwing doubt beforehand on every word which the accused might say in self-defence which Newman called 'poisoning the wells.'