Julius Charles Hare on the Catholic Revival: "Signs of Hope"*

By McIntyre, Mary Louise | Anglican and Episcopal History, June 2006 | Go to article overview

Julius Charles Hare on the Catholic Revival: "Signs of Hope"*


McIntyre, Mary Louise, Anglican and Episcopal History


"Signs of Hope,"1 an essay published in the English high church review, the Christian Remembrancer, in February 1844, contributes to our understanding of the English church in the nineteenth century in several ways: It provides a view of the Catholic revival in the period 1839-1845 that differs from the dominant persuasion found in the literature, which until recently has mainly focused on the Tractarian movement. It also points to a significant period in the history of the Remembrancer that has not previously been noticed. The Remembrancer was founded in 1819 as a high church review, and from October 1844 until its demise in 1868 it was the organ of the Tractarians and later generations of churchmen who shared their theology. However, from January 1841 through July 1844 the Remembrancer welcomed articles on secular as well as theological and ecclesiastical topics, and its contributors included churchmen who held a variety of opinions.2 Like most essays in the Remembrancer during this period, "Signs of Hope" is unsigned, but it is attributable to Julius Charles Hare, as shall be shown in the detail below. "Signs of Hope" contains the only review of the second edition of F. D. Maurice's The Kingdom of Christ, and also provides new information about Hare.

Attribution of this essay to Hare partially fills a gap in Hare's bibliography: In 1849, he said that he had written "a considerable number of works on religious and ecclesiastical subjects in the last ten years,"3 and A. P. Stanley, who knew him well, said that until his final illness Hare "took an energetic part in all the ecclesiastical questions of the day."4 Yet his bibliography for the period 1839-1849 lists only five entries dealing with contemporary church matters other than his archdeaconal charges.5 "Signs of Hope" also provides new information about Hare's theological views and his role as a churchman during a time of crisis in the Church of England. It shows that he was well disposed toward the Catholic positions held by Orthodox churchmen,6 and that as late as February, 1844, a time when the Tractarians were under siege at Oxford, he was reasonably well disposed toward the Tractarian movement, even though he was highly critical of John Henry Newman. Finally, "Signs of Hope" shows that the strong opposition to the Roman Catholic Church that Hare expressed in his final archdeaconal charge, The Contest with Rome? was a late development. In 1844 he was appreciative of the presence of traditional Catholic beliefs and practices in the Church of England, appreciated several aspects of the Church of Rome, and believed there were things that the English Church could profitably learn from Rome.8

The books reviewed include two works by R. W. Evans, an Orthodox clergyman; an anthology of selections from works by Coleridge and Wordsworth that have a religious or theological content; a book by Charles Smith, a millenarian, that demonstrates the Catholic aspects of millenarian thought; and the second edition of E D. Maurice's The Kingdom of Christ. By reviewing these books, Hare demonstrated that the Tractarian movement is not the only significant expression of Catholic reform and renewal in the English Church.

Hare praised Evans's The Rectory of Valehead for interpreting the Christian family as a microcosm of the church, and praised Evans's The Church of God, saying it was "saturated with the sentiment and spirit of sacred Antiquity."9 His comments on Wordsworth focus on the religious aspects of his poetry. He found that Wordsworth's early nature poems point to a spiritual reality, and thus prepare readers for "the Catholic doctrine of sacraments"10 and "the sacramental scheme of thought."11 He especially commended Wordsworth's poems about the common people, saying that his attack on "Mammon" worship and his conviction that human beings can not live "by bread alone"12 expressed the Catholic value of the inherent dignity of all human beings. Hare cited Smith's millenarian Letters on National Religion as an example of Catholic prophecy, and a reminder that the theology of the English Church is not limited to those whose theological views are widely accepted. …

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