On 18 February 1879 The Times carried a report that Newman had refused the Cardinal's hat. He wrote to the Duke of Norfolk in a letter that was made public:
The Oratory: Feb.20, 1879.
'My dear Duke,—I have heard from various quarters of the affectionate interest you have taken in the application to Rome about me, and I write to thank you and to express my great pleasure at it.
'As to the statement of my refusing a Cardinal's Hat, which is in the papers, you must not believe it—for this reason:
'Of course, it implies that an offer has been made me, and I have sent an answer to it. Now I have ever understood that it is a point of propriety and honour to consider such communications sacred. The statement therefore cannot come from me. Nor could it come from Rome, for it was made public before my answer got to Rome.
'It could only come, then, from some one who not only read my letter, but, instead of leaving to the Pope to interpret it, took upon himself to put an interpretation upon it, and published that interpretation to the world.
'A private letter, addressed to Roman Authorities, is interpreted on its way and published in the English papers. How is it possible that any one can have done this?
'And besides, I am quite sure that, if so high an honour was offered me, I should not answer it by a blunt refusal.
JOHN H. NEWMAN.'