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NEWMAN STUDIES JOURNAL BOOK REVIEW A VICTORIAN WANDERER: THE LIFE OF THOMAS ARNOLD THE YOUNGER BY BERNARD BERGONZI 107 A Victorian Wanderer: The Life of Thomas Arnold the Younger. By Bernard Bergonzi. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. Pp: 274. Cloth, £26.50/$39.95, ISBN 0-19-925741-8. It was John Henry Newman’s belief that if you want to get to know who a person really is,then turn to that person’s letters. In addition,the letters of friends and the subject’s autobiography—if there is one—can immeasurably increase the knowledge of such a person.These three sources make for a more well-rounded view of any historical person, and that is exactly what Bernard Bergonzi has done, and done so marvelously. Emeritus Professor of English in the University of Warwick, England, and author of other books on English literature and criticism, Bergonzi has given us a biography of the son of Dr.Thomas Arnold of Rugby, brother of Matthew Arnold, and sometime devotee of John Henry Newman. WhenThomasArnold theYounger—“Tom”— as he was known by his family, was interested in converting to Catholicism, he first wrote to Newman and did so from Van Diemen’s Land in the Antipodes,where he ventured under the influence of his father’s life-long dream to end his years there. Similar to Newman,in his earlierAnglican daysTom was—like his father and future wife,Julia— adverse to Catholicism, but unlike Newman and other Tractarians who moved gradually and perhaps inevitably toward Catholicism,Tom underwent what Bergonzi calls “a Pauline reversal of his opinions” (83). Before Tom made any move toward Catholicism he had first to incline himself toward Christianity in general, which he did by reading the First Letter of Peter that drew him away from a merely theistic form of belief to an authoritative body. Interestingly, it was his curiosity about who Peter really was that led him to believe that Peter himself was demanding something of him, that was more than a “commitment to Christ” (82). Other factors that Tom tells the reader of his autobiography,Passages from aWandering Life,is his reading of Butler’s Lives of the Saints, from which he took a special liking to St. Brigid, whose grave in Sweden he would later in life seek to find. Although Newman was not the one to receive Tom into the Roman Catholic Church, it was Newman who hired him as a professor of English at the Catholic University of Ireland, where Newman was the first rector. After Newman’s return to Birmingham and resignation of the rectorship of the University in Dublin, he was able to lure Tom, of whom he was very fond, to Birmingham to teach in the new Oratory school. Eventually, Newman had to let him go, because Tom’s pecuniary needs, a life-long problem—Tom was rather fastidious with himself, but his wife was not, and they had a very large number of children—became impossible for Newman’s school to afford. Not long after losing this position,Tom would abandon NEWMAN STUDIES JOURNAL 108 Catholicism over the issue of the Church’s infallibility. Newman was, of course, saddened by Tom’s decision, but the two men remained in contact through letter for a long time. Tom did, however, return 20 years later to Catholicism and remained faithful to and quite proud of his faith, in spite of the hostility of his wife, children, especially his daughter Mary Ward, his brother Matthew, and other acquaintances. What Bergonzi does best—and he does many things well in this biography—is to place Tom in the larger Victorian context where one meets all sorts of characters whom educated readers would at least recognize—Newman being one of the most prominent. For a book of such moderate size, the reader can find details on virtually every aspect of Victorian life. Bergonzi draws one into this 19th-century world, so that one feels a part of it, even sharing in the intimate thoughts of many of the personalities who dwelt therein. It is amazing how many people this wonderful,shy, gentle,loving,politically radical,often vacillating,but steady...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2153-6945
Print ISSN
1547-9080
Pages
pp. 107-108
Launched on MUSE
2020-01-22
Open Access
No
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