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The Oxford Movement Twelve Years, 1833-1845   By: (1815-1890)

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TWELVE YEARS 1833 1845




The revision of these papers was a task to which the late Dean of St. Paul's gave all the work he could during the last months of his life. At the time of his death, fourteen of the papers had, so far as can be judged, received the form in which he wished them to be published; and these, of course, are printed here exactly as he left them. One more he had all but prepared for publication; the last four were mainly in the condition in which, six years ago, he had them privately put into type, for the convenience of his own further work upon them, and for the reading of two or three intimate friends. Those into whose care his work has now come have tried, with the help of his pencilled notes, to bring these four papers as nearly as they can into the form which they believe he would have had them take. But it has seemed better to leave unaltered a sentence here and there to which he might have given a more perfect shape, rather than to run the risk of swerving from the thought which was in his mind.

It is possible that the Dean would have made considerable changes in the preface which is here printed; for only that which seems the first draft of it has been found. But even thus it serves to show his wish and purpose for the work he had in hand; and it has therefore been thought best to publish it. Leave has been obtained to add here some fragments from a letter which, three years ago, he wrote to Lord Acton about these papers:

"If I ever publish them, I must say distinctly what I want to do, which is, not to pretend to write a history of the movement, or to account for it or adequately to judge it and put it in its due place in relation to the religious and philosophical history of the time, but simply to preserve a contemporary memorial of what seems to me to have been a true and noble effort which passed before my eyes, a short scene of religious earnestness and aspiration, with all that was in it of self devotion, affectionateness, and high and refined and varied character, displayed under circumstances which are scarcely intelligible to men of the present time; so enormous have been the changes in what was assumed and acted upon, and thought practicable and reasonable, 'fifty years since.' For their time and opportunities, the men of the movement, with all their imperfect equipment and their mistakes, still seem to me the salt of their generation.... I wish to leave behind me a record that one who lived with them, and lived long beyond most of them, believed in the reality of their goodness and height of character, and still looks back with deepest reverence to those forgotten men as the companions to whose teaching and example he owes an infinite debt, and not he only, but religious society in England of all kinds."

January 31st, 1891.


The following pages relate to that stage in the Church revival of this century which is familiarly known as the Oxford Movement, or, to use its nickname, the Tractarian Movement. Various side influences and conditions affected it at its beginning and in its course; but the impelling and governing force was, throughout the years with which these pages are concerned, at Oxford. It was naturally and justly associated with Oxford, from which it received some of its most marked characteristics. Oxford men started it and guided it. At Oxford were raised its first hopes, and Oxford was the scene of its first successes. At Oxford were its deep disappointments, and its apparently fatal defeat. And it won and lost, as a champion of English theology and religion, a man of genius, whose name is among the illustrious names of his age, a name which will always be connected with modern Oxford, and is likely to be long remembered wherever the English language is studied.

We are sometimes told that enough has been written about the Oxford Movement, and that the world is rather tired of the subject... Continue reading book >>

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