Appeared in Winter 1989, Vol. XV, No. 4
The year 1983 marked the 150th anniversary of the oxford movement. On July 14, 1833, John Keble preached the Assize Sermon on “National Apostasy” in the University pulpit. Looking back on that event, thirty-one years later, John Henry Newman wrote: “I have ever considered and kept that day, as the start of the religious movement of 1833.”1 What I propose to do is to look at the first eight years of that Movement, the period of Newman’s most intense personal involvement, and to focus in particular on his study and assimilation of the Anglican Divines who flourished, broadly speaking, in the seventeenth century.
While little substantive or sustained scholarship in the twentieth century has been devoted to these writers of the Anglican tradition,2 men who flourished between the death of Edward VI and the accession of William of Orange, they captured the interest and attention of both Samuel Taylor Coleridge and John Henry Newman in the early nineteenth century and of T. S. Eliot in the twentieth. What these three men found in the group of writers loosely defined as “Carolines” is, in fact, part of what I want to explore today.
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