Fortunately, Newman's Bishop, the commonsensical Ullathorne, wrote to Manning telling him how Newman's words should be read.
St. Mary's College, Oscott, Birmingham: Feb. 3, 1879.
'My dear Lord Cardinal,—Your kind letter, enclosing that of Cardinal Nina, gave me very great gratification. As I could not with any prudence go to Birmingham, I wrote and asked Dr. Newman if he could come to Oscott. But he was in bed suffering from a severe cold, and much pulled down. I, therefore, took advantage of a clause in Cardinal Nina's letter, and asked him to send a Father in his intimate confidence whom he might consult in a grave matter of importance, to whom I could communicate in secrecy the Holy Father's message. Father Pope was sent, and with him I went into the subject, and sent the documents with a paper in which I had written my own reflections.
'Dr. Newman contrived to come himself today, although quite feeble. He is profoundly and tenderly impressed with the goodness of the Holy Father towards him, and he spoke to me with great humility of what he conceived to be his disqualifications, especially at his age, for so great a position, and of his necessity to the Birmingham Oratory, which still requires his care.
'I represented to him, as I had already done through Father Pope, that I felt confident that the one intention of the Holy Father was to confer upon him this signal proof of his confidence, and to give him an exalted position in the Church in token of the great services he had rendered to her cause, and that I felt confident also that his Holiness would not require his leaving the Oratory and taking a new position at his great age. But that if he would leave it to me, I would undertake to explain all to your Eminence, who would make the due explanations to Cardinal Nina.
'Dr. Newman has far too humble and delicate a mind to dream of thinking or saying anything which would look like hinting at any kind of terms with the Sovereign Pontiff. He has expressed himself in a Latin letter addressed to me, which I could send to your Eminence, and which you could place in the hands of Cardinal Nina.
'I think, however, that I ought to express my own sense of what Dr. Newman's dispositions are, and that it will be expected of me. As I have already said, Dr. Newman is most profoundly touched and moved by this very great mark of consideration on the part of the Sovereign Pontiff, and I am thoroughly confident that nothing stands in the way of his most grateful acceptance except what he tells me greatly distresses him, namely, the having to leave the Oratory at a critical period of its existence, and when it is just beginning to develop in new members, and the impossibility of his beginning a new life at his advanced age.
'I cannot, however, but think myself that this is not the Holy Father's intention, and that His Holiness would consider his presence in England of importance, where he has been so much in communication with those who are in search of the Truth.
'I have also said to Dr. Newman himself that I am confident that the noble Catholics of England would not leave him without the proper means for maintaining his dignity in a suitable manner.
'Although expecting me to make the official communication, Dr. Newman will write to you himself.
I remain, my dear Lord Cardinal, your faithful and affectionate servant,
'WILLIAM BERNARD, Bp. of Birmingham.'