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Latitudinarian school, under patronage of the State, would gain the victory.
The rise of Orield to the position of the first College in Oxford in academical repute, which dates from the Provostship of Dr. Eveleigh (1781-1814), and continued through that of Dr. Coplestone, marks an important era, not only in University life, but in the history of the Church. Till the time of Dr. Eveleigh, Fellows of Oriel and of other colleges were elected rather on the score of companionship than with any regard to learning; all the actual Fellows of a college had a vote, which they gave irresponsibly, the requisites being that the candidate should be born in a certain locality, be a Clergyman, and unmarried. So a hunting college would elect a hunting man, a drinking college a drinking man, but all colleges tried to select a “companionable one," on the same principle that a “clubable man” would be selected for a club in London where learning was of no consequence. Oriel, sooner than other colleges at Oxford, threw off the fondness for portwine; the Oriel “tea-pot” took the place of the “ orthodox two-bottle set e;" it was the first college, and Dr. Eveleigh the first Provost, to set the example of throwing open its Fellowships, and electing its Fellows on the ground of intellectual qualifications ; so that in this manner Oriel drew to itself the highest intellects at Oxford, and an Oriel Fellowship became the blue ribbon of the University.
d Mr. Mark Pattison says, Memoirs, p. 71, "from vulgar mediocrity.”
• Mozley's Remains.
With the new, or rather resuscitated School of Latitudinarian Theology, the parent of the modern Broad Church School, three principal names are connected, Whately, Arnold, and Hampden, all Fellows of Oriel ; and of each of these we must give some
; brief notice before describing the Catholic revival which derived its birth from the same college.
Richard Whately (1787–1863) graduated at Oriel in 1808, taking a double Second Class, and gained the English Prize in 1810; in 1811 he was elected Fellow, and in 1815 became Tutor, of Oriel. In 1822 he was Bampton Lecturer, taking for his subject “The Use and Abuse of Party Feeling in Religion;" and in the same year he was appointed to the Rectory of Halesworth with Chediston in Suffolk, where by his writings he gained the reputation of being one of the rising men of the day. In 1825 he became Principal of St. Alban Hall, and in 1830 Professor of Political Economy at Oxford, which post, however, he held little more than one year, being in 1831, just at the time when the first Reform Bill had been rejected in the House of Lords, appointed by Lord Grey Archbishop of Dublin.
We must here pause a moment to introduce the name of one who at this time materially affected the theology of Oriel. In 1814, three years after Whately became a Fellow of Oriel, Joseph Blanco White (1775-1841), born at Seville, a Spaniard on his mother's and an Irishman on his father's side, went to reside at Oxford, where he became a prominent member of the Oriel Common-room, and the intimate friend of Whately, Hampden, and others. He had, in 1799, been ordained Priest in the Roman Catholic Church, but shortly afterwards an intense disgust of the Roman Catholic Religion upset his restless mind, and in 1802 he fell into absolute unbelief. When the French army entered Spain in 1808, he determined to leave his native country and to take up his abode in England, which he accordingly did in 1810. A few particulars of his history, written by himselfs, show what a dangerous, even though agreeable, companion in a Common-room a man of Blanco White's sceptical mind, with his literary tastes and talents, must have been. The perusal of Paley's Natural Theology resuscitated for a time his belief in God; when he had been three years in this country he joined the English Church ; in 1814 he subscribed the XXXIX. Articles, and claimed recognition as a Priest, and said the Prayers, for the first time in a Church of England church, at St. Mary's, Oxford. From the time he was admitted into the Oriel Common-room, his Latitudinarian principles were well
The Life of the Reverend Joseph Blanco White, written by himself, with portions of his Correspondence,” 1845.
known, and although he became the friend of Whately, from the first Keble, who was also a member of the Common-room, avoided his society h. But this period of even such little faith as he possessed was brief; in 1817 he was assailed with doubts on the Trinity and the Atonement; in 1818 he threw over the doctrine of our Lord's Divinity; he returned, however, to that belief in 1825, and in 1826 he again undertook the duty of an English Clergyman, and preached and celebrated the Holy Communion. But his final lapse, although gradual, was certain. His doubts first began with regard to the English Church, which he thought, in 1829, approximated too closely to that of Rome. Notwithstanding these doubts, however, Whately, when he was appointed in 1831 to the Archbishopric of Dublin, persuaded his friend Blanco White to accompany him, and to take up his residence at the Palace in Dublin. Blanco White's doubts, however, went on increasing; in 1833 he had reduced the Gospel to a “sublime simplicity;" he believed in Christ as “a moral King," but did not hold that His Divinity was essential; in 1835 he discarded the doctrine of the Trinity altogether, and declared himself a Unitarian; not wishing to compromise the Archbishop any longer, he left his roof and retired to Liverpool, where he died a Unitarian in 1841.
• Mozley's Essays, ii. 107
How far Blanco White influenced the opinions of the Latitudinarian party at Oxford it is impossible to say. Whately published, it is true, in 1821 a worki with the object of ridiculing the mode which sceptical writers adopted in the criticism of the Gospel narrative; but the soundness of his own teaching was questioned «, and he was so dissatisfied with the Creeds and Ceremonies and Orders of the Church that he was quite prepared to sanction a violent change in the way of what was called a libcral Reformation.
What could have made Lord Grey recommend such a man as Whately for an Archbishopric? Every one was surprised at the appointment. What had he ever done to show his fitness for such post ? Confessedly a man of kind heart, he might have adorned almost any other station in life. His writings, bristling as they do with paradoxes, could scarcely have recommended him. His naturally rough and uncouth manners?; his habitual careless
k He was
i Historic Doubts relative to Napoleon Buonaparte.
never by any means an eminently devout man, scarcely, perhaps, an orthodox man.”—Q. R., 232, p. 534.
Newman (Apologia, 73) gives a humorous illustration of this. Whately, much annoyed at the new Tractarian school, determined to play a trick on Newman ; "he asked a set of the least intellectual men in Oxford and most fond of port to dinner; he made me one of the party; placed me between President This and President That, and then asked me, if I was proud of my friends?”