John Henry Newman contributed largely to the period’s literature, not only in sermons, tracts, and works of theology, but also in poems, novels, and autobiography. Even though his work appeals most to the converted, it has much to offer the natural man, especially in polemical or satirical passages. Agnostics may often feel that he supports quite irrational beliefs by pseudo-rational arguments, and squanders a brilliant mind on theological details; but even they must find him interesting as a psychologist, for instance when he analyses mental processes and unconscious assumptions. The first thing he published was a narrative poem, St. Bartholomew’s Eve, about a wicked monk whose ‘gentler mind’ had been corrupted by the ‘zeal misguided’ and ‘mistaken worship’ of Roman Catholicism.
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