His education is called 'liberal'. A habit of mind is formed which lasts through life, of which the attributes are, freedom, equitableness, calmness, moderation, and wisdom; or what in a former Discourse I have ventured to call a philosophical habit. This then I would assign as the special fruit of the education furnished at a University, as contrasted with other places of teaching or modes of teaching. 1
John Henry Newman was a Londoner by birth, and attended a school in Ealing before proceeding to Trinity College Oxford, where he began residence in 1817. He was successful in his studies, but not in his degree, for which he over-read and was awarded only a bare pass. But in 1822 he secured a Fellowship at Oriel College, which was then regarded as the greatest achievement possible in the University. He became a tutor there, and in 1828 the Vicar of St Mary's, the University Church. In 1832, disagreements with the Head of his College led him to resign his tutorship, and from then on he dedicated himself at Oxford to the study of ecclesiastical history and religious topics. In 1833 there began what is known as 'the Oxford Movement', a reaction against what was regarded as dangerous liberalism from the Whig ministry at the time. Newman's part in this began when he started the series of Tracts for the Times, defending the Catholic inheritance of the Church of England. His sermons at St Mary's proclaimed the same message, and Newman achieved an unrivalled place in notoriety and influence at Oxford. But his reading of Church history led him to doubt whether the Anglican position was tenable; in 1841 his Tract 90, attempting to give a Catholic sense to some of the 39 articles, was repudiated by the University, and the series of the Tracts came to an end. Newman withdrew from public life at Oxford, and in October 1845 was received into the Roman Catholic Church.
After a stay at Rome he returned to England, and founded at Birmingham a religious house, the Oratory, on the model of what had been begun in Italy by Philip Neri, a sixteenth-century saint whom Newman admired; later, an Oratory was founded also in London. In 1854, at the invitation of the Irish bishops, Newman went to Dublin as Rector of a planned Catholic university there. Although the venture was not a success, Newman's Idea of a University, with allied works, remains as a memory of the attempt, and as an exposition of his views on higher education.
He founded the Oratory School in Birmingham in 1859, and combined his own pastoral work as Rector with lecturing and writing. In 1864, the controversy with Charles Kingsley over his own honesty led to the Apologia, his best-known work, and to the resumption of relations with many of his Oxford friends. From that time onwards, Newman was better known and better understood by his fellow countrymen.
His life in the Church of Rome was in many respects a trial. Plans of his-for an Oratory at Oxford, for a new translation of the Latin Bible-foundered on the indifference or hostility of his superiors. He was out of sympathy with the noisy aggressiveness of other converts to the Church of Rome like Manning and W.G. Ward; he thought the tactics used by the