Touching Hearts and Winning Minds
There is an article on Cardinal Newman in the current Tablet (sign-in required) by Father Roderick Strange. A passage that particularly struck me follows:
Touching hearts was one of his fundamental preoccupations. It inspired his commitment to education. There is an entry in his journal in January 1863 in which he described education as his “line”. He wanted to touch hearts and win minds.
He did not bludgeon in argument. He did not go toe-to-toe with adversaries, refusing to concede a jot. It was a method not always appreciated in Rome. In his “Letter to the Duke of Norfolk”, answering Gladstone’s attack on the Vatican Council and papal infallibility, for instance, he remarked, “Now, the Rock of St Peter on its summit enjoys a pure and serene atmosphere, but there is a great deal of Roman malaria at the foot of it.”
Some were not amused. Could such irreverence be passed over in silence? But his bishop, William Ullathorne, wrote to explain the method. Newman argued, he said, “ex abundantia concessionis”. He made allowances, as we might say, for the sake of argument, so that people who had difficulties and struggled did not feel that an intransigent door was being slammed in their faces. There is something very British about this style of argument too, calm and confident. Hearts are not touched nor minds won by hectoring.
A “style” rather different, I think, from contestazione all’Italiano.