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Pusey and Puseyism
Edward Bouverie Pusey, born at Pusey House, Berkshire, 22 Aug., 1800; died at Ascot Priory, Berkshire, 16 Sept 1882; divine of the Established Church of England, patristic scholar, voluminous writer, preacher and controversialist, after whom the "Catholic" revival among Anglicans was termed Puseyite. His father, Philip Bouverie, was the youngest son of the first Viscount Folkestone; his mother was Lady Lucy Sherard, daughter of the fourth Earl of Harborough. The family was of Huguenot descent. In 1807 he went to school at Mitcham in Surrey and began the course of education which made him afterwards a deeply learned man, according to the older, uncritical, but massive scholarship of the seventeenth century. From Mitcham he passed to Eton in 1812. Always delicate, shy, and serious, he made few friends and took little part in boys' games. In January, 1819, he proceeded to Christ Church, Oxford, where he was destined to spend his life, except for an interval of study abroad. He formed an attachment, while a mere youth, to Maria Barker whom he married in 1828 after vicissitudes which almost shook his reason, and which revealed the intensely emotional character of Pusey's temperament. His affections counted for much in the part that he played as a champion of orthodoxy; but his principles were sternly held, and to them he sacrificed more than one friendship. He became an enormous reader, cultivated acute verbal accuracy, showed no turn for metaphysics, and was always religious-minded.
At Easter, 1822, he took a First Class with distinction, one of the examiners being John Keble. He was elected Fellow of Oriel in 1823; won the Latin Essay in 1824; and at Bishop Lloyd's instance went off next year to Germany, intending to combine the study of languages with a theological training. He attended lectures by Eichhorn, made acquaintance with Hengstenberg and Tholuck, learned something from Schleiermacher, and brought home a tinge of Liberalism in theology which did not go deep. His affinities were with devout mystics; he admired the teaching of Spener and was himself a pietist, feeling kindly at all times towards the English "Evangelicals". In 1826-27 he paid a second visit to Berlin etc. and became an excellent Arabic scholar under Freitag.
His long and almost unbroken career of controversy was opened by the volumes (1828, 1830), afterwards withdrawn, in which he defended German religion against H. J. Rose. Both writers had the same object in view; they became friends; and Pusey's covert intention was to warn Englishmen against the dangers of Rationalism. The Tractarian movement found him in sympathy with Newman, but he did not join it formally until 1835. His tracts on Holy Baptism (67-8-9) were, like all Pusey's writings, too long, but impressive from their weight of erudition and pleading earnestness. He neglected style, was often obscure, and could not throw himself into the mind of his opponents. "Imperturbably sanguine", he took the movement to be simply Anglican; hence, when it betrayed tendencies towards Rome he was shocked, but not alarmed. The friendship between himself, Keble, and Newman, romantically devoted to one another, made them triumvirs in an agitation of which the double issue became only by degrees apparent. In 1840 the world talked of "Puseyism", and with a sure instinct, for Newman had gone upon the solitary path where the High Church host would not follow him. But, although with hesitations, it followed Pusey. During the Hampden troubles (1836) he had fought for Catholic dogma and denounced the Nominalism which made short work of creeds. His position never wavered. It was founded, he said, on the teaching of the Fathers "anterior to the separation of East and West". When Tract 90 appeared he upheld it on principle as giving a Catholic interpretation, i. e. the sanction of antiquity, to the Thirty-Nine Articles. He acted on Newman's behalf in the negotiations with the Bishop of Oxford. But when the Bench of Bishops charged against the Tract, their condemnations, which Newman reckoned to be the voice of the Church, left Pusey undismayed.
He was himself suspended from preaching by the authorities of the university, in consequence of his sermon on the Holy Eucharist in 1843. The proceedings were flagrantly unjust as well as grotesque, and they helped to destroy the old Oxford constitution. Pusey, like other great scholars, was very simple-minded; he let himself be circumvented by the astute Provost Hawkins and put in the wrong. However, in 1846 he repeated from the same pulpit his former doctrine, which was in its drift Anglican, while much of the language had been taken from St. Cyril of Alexandria. Newman's submission to the Catholic Church in October, 1845, though a stunning blow, did not break their friendship, even when their correspondence was interrupted for years. But it threw upon Keble and Pusey the task of maintaining under assaults from Catholics, Evangelicals, and Broad Churchmen, what they conceived to be the "pure and Apostolic" doctrines of the Prayer Book, for this was in effect their rule of faith. Neither admitted the principle of development; both allowed the Roman primacy, but insisted on the independence of local Churches; and they saw in the papal claims, as in modern "Marian" devotions, a departure from antiquity. There was never any likelihood that they, as individuals would enter the Catholic fold.
Pusey's unbounded activities, under domestic trials and continual bad health, were directed, from 1843 onwards, to the restoration of piety on these lines. He took a leading part in the fierce battles which raged round Hampden's appointment to Hereford (1846), the Gorham Case (1850), the Denison Trial (1854), Essays and Reviews (1861), the Purchas Judgment (1871), the Athanasiam Creed (1873-74), the public Worship Bill (1874), the Bonn Conference of Old Catholics (1876), the Ridsdale Case (1877), the Lambeth Conference and habitual Confession (1878), Dr. Farrar on Everlasting Punishment (1879), and many other topics of dissension between members of his own Church. The argument was invariably an appeal to the Fathers, to English divines of the Laudian school, and to the verdict of ecclesiastical as distinct from lay tribunals. Again, it was Pusey who, by his preaching and extensive practice, made private confession the feature which it has now become of Anglican religious life. With help from the remarkable Miss Sellon he founded sisterhoods, largely increased since his time. As a work of penance he built and endowed St. Saviour's, Leeds; but most of the clergy attached to it came over to Rome, and he suffered grievous things on that account from the impetuous Dr. Hook. With so-called "Ritualism" he had little fellow-feeling; it was a younger and less learned movement which thrust his friends aside. But he influenced many through Canon Liddon; and during his last twenty years exercised a sway over his own party which made of him a gentle dictator to the English Church Union. After Keble's death in 1866 he was the patriarch of High Churchmen, holding no preferment but his canonry, revered as a saint, and in secret leading the most austere of lives. His penances, charities, and studies were alike distinguished for their unsparing self-sacrifice.
Though a convinced Anglican, he prayed and wrought on behalf of "Reunion", as he understood it, which was a different idea from that of submission, simply and without making terms, to the Holy See. In pursuance of this object he put forth his "Eirenicon" in 1865. Newman in a gracious answer happily described it as an "olive branch from a catapult". It offended Catholics by its handling of the cultus of Our Lady; it provoked the average Protestant, and even men like Dean Church, to utter the cry of "scandal" over various unfortunate quotations; but Pusey had never been able to calculate the effect of his arguments on any who differed from him. A second and third pamphlet, addressed not very pertinently to Newman, exhausted the subject. In 1869, on the eve of the Vatican Council, Pusey and Bishop Forbes of Brechin joined in a fresh effort towards conciliation; but their communications with Archbishop Darboy, Bishop Dupanloup, and Father de Buck, S.J., bore no fruit. There was a divergence on first principles which the council made so clear that after 1870 Pusey gave up all thought of reunion. He would not countenance the Old Catholics, who, as the event proved, were forsaking the standard of dogma. Pusey remained faithful, as Keble did, to the conception of the Via Media, while others have drawn nearer to Rome and seem willing, if they might keep their orders, to accept the whole of the papal teaching without demur.
Pusey's works have never been collected; there is a complete bibliography in Vol. IV of his Life by Liddon (pp. 394-446). That copious work also includes a large selection from his correspondence. Of purely scientific or professional undertakings may be noted his "Catalogue of Arabic Manuscripts in the Bodleian" (1835), "The Minor Prophets" (1860), "Daniel the Prophet" (1864). This latter treatise was held on its appearance to contain the best defence of the traditional views regarding the Book of Daniel.
Life, in 4 vols., begun by LIDDON, finished and published by JOHNSTONE, WILSON, NEWBOLT (London, 1893-97). See also bibliographies under NEWMAN; OXFORD MOVEMENT.