Unlikely Soul Mates: Robert Browning and St. John Henry Newman

By Joan Liguori Perillo
Published in History & Theology
April 05, 2022
25 min read
Unlikely Soul Mates: Robert Browning and St. John Henry Newman

John Henry Newman was an Anglican priest who converted to Roman Catholicism and defended the church in his writings, and Robert Browning was a poet who repeatedly satirized the Catholic clergy and repudiated the papacy. Despite their differences, and although Newman and Browning never met, they shared similar life experiences, and literary techniques, and both were concerned with the justification of Christianity, as well as the struggle between faith and doubt. Another parallel between these writers concerns their poetic interests. Though Newman was primarily known for his brilliant prose, he was also a skilled writer of verse. While still a college student, Newman along with his friend John Bowden wrote a verse “romance” called St. Bartholomew’s Eve. In 1832, Newman along with J. L. Froude planned to create a poetry department for the British Magazine, which would concentrate on “truths and facts, moral, ecclesiastical and religious.”[1] Newman viewed verse as “a kind of concealed way of putting one’s point across,” and that “obvious ideas become impressive when put into a metrical shape.”[2] One of Newman’s poems “The Pillar of the Cloud” became a famous hymn (known by its opening words, “Lead, Kindly Light”). Ian Ker describes its mood of “thanksgiving and trust” that is “applicable either to the individual believer’s present predicament or to his or her more general pilgrimage through life.”[3] At one point, Newman asked, “Do not stirring times bring out poets? Do they not give opportunity for the rhetoric of poetry and persuasion?”[4] Certainly, both Browning and Newman used their literary talents to respond to the crucial issues facing the English church in “stirring times.”


John Henry Newman

Both Newman and Browning used apologetics as a literary device to present two sides of an argument. John Cornwell wrote of Newman that he “had remarkable, dialectical capacity to hold in tension two sides of an argument,” and that he went on to create “a new unorthodox and rhetorically sophisticated form of apologetic.”[5] This “form of apologetic” was the fruit of lifelong meditation: Newman’s concern with belief, its nature and justification, go back to his youth. The nineteenth century was a time, after all, of the widespread growth of atheism and agnosticism. Newman’s own brother Charles became influenced by the socialism of Robert Owen who “taught that human action was determined by environment and education and that religion weakened the mind.”[6] Shocked by his brother's contempt for Christianity and opposition to the church, Newman began to correspond with Charles in 1825 regarding the issue of faith. This exchange of ideas with his brother led Newman to reflect on what made an individual a believer or an unbeliever and prepared Newman for his life’s work on the justification of religious belief. Newman concluded that the rejection of Christianity arose “from a fault of the heart, not of the intellect; that unbelief arises, not from mere error of reasoning, but either from pride or from sensuality.”[7]

Newman would continue to focus on the justification of belief in God and Christianity throughout his career. For example, his Apologia Pro Vita Sua, written in 1864, explained his decision to leave the Anglican Church and its social and psychological impact on his life. Six years later he published An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent in which he focused on the justification of certitude. The first part of The Grammar deals with believing what a person cannot fully understand, and the second part shows how someone is justified in believing what cannot be proven.[8] Newman was likewise concerned with the justification of the church and its authority. Subsequent to his ordination as an Anglican priest, Newman’s contact in 1825 with the Reverend William James, another fellow of Oriel, sparked his interest in the doctrine of apostolic succession, which held “that the continuity of the Church back to its original foundation depended on the unbroken line of bishops who owed their Holy Orders to the first apostles.”[9] Cornwell reasons, “Such a historical contention could only raise a number of uncomfortable questions: not the least the discontinuity of the English reformation."[10] In 1832 Newman’s doubts about apostolic succession in the Church of England were intensified by his meeting in Rome with Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman. Likewise, when he returned to England in the summer of 1833, Newman was inspired by John Keble’s sermon “National Apostasy.” In response to Keble’s sermon, Newman and his fellow Oxford theologians began to write the Tracts for the Times, a series of ninety theological works. Over time, Newman would advocate a return to such Roman Catholic beliefs and practices as Purgatory, veneration of the Virgin Mary, indulgences, and the invocation of saints. Newman's final contribution, Tract 90, would result in condemnation from his Anglican colleagues and would influence his ultimate decision to join the Church of Rome.[11]

Indeed, after his conversion, Newman also wrote apologetics for the Catholic Church in England. For instance, he defended Catholicism in England amidst a rise in anti-Catholic sentiment when on 3 October 1850, Pope Pius IX appointed Nicholas Wiseman as Archbishop of the Metropolitan Diocese of Westminster—a striking act, since the English Catholic Church had been without a formal hierarchy for 265 years. This appointment was viewed as an act of “papal aggression” and resulted in a “no popery panic” from many Protestants in England wherein Catholic priests were attacked and churches vandalized.[12] Responding to this, Newman delivered a series of lectures between 30 June and 1 September 1851 at the Corn Exchange in Birmingham defending the Catholic Church: these lectures were later published under the title: The Difficulties of Anglicans and The Present Position of Catholics in England.

Robert Browning

In 1846, the same year that Newman went to Rome to be ordained a Catholic priest, Robert Browning eloped with his love, Elizabeth Barrett. The couple first fled to France, then to Italy, to escape the wrath of Elizabeth's father. Browning’s attitude toward the catholic clergy was unique: he could at once be both critical and sympathetic toward the clergy in his dramatic monologues. In 1845 Browning submitted “The Bishop Orders His Tomb at St. Praxed’s Church” to Hood’s Magazine with the commentary that his poem was “just the thing for the time—what with the Oxford business and other embroilments.”[13] Browning’s mention of the “Oxford business” is a direct reference to John Henry Newman’s “Oxford Movement,” the very movement for which the Tracts for the Times were written.

Throughout his career, Browning, who was aware of the tension between the Anglican and Catholic churches, would often focus on the immoral, hypocritical behavior of the Catholic clergy. The fictional bishop of St. Praxed’s church earned Browning’s harshest criticism in one of his most brilliant dramatic monologues. This clergyman represents all that was wrong with the Catholic hierarchy at the time. The speaker of the poem is a materialistic, lustful man, who lacks faith in basic Christian tenets. As he lies on his deathbed, the bishop negotiates with his illegitimate sons for an elaborate, expensive tomb made of a semi-precious stone like lapis lazuli. Whereas most Christians in their final hours are concerned about the salvation of their souls, this clergyman cannot imagine anything beyond this world. He wants his sons to assure him a good location in the church where he can “lie through the centuries, / And hear the blessed mutter of the mass, / And see God made and eaten all day long.”[14] Through the bishop’s irreverent remarks, Browning is attacking the Catholic belief of Transubstantiation, since some Protestants did not accept this mystery of the miraculous conversion of bread and wine into the actual body and blood of Christ during the mass in the same way as Roman Catholicism. Although this despicable character does not warrant our sympathy, it is difficult not to feel a little pity for him because both he and the reader are aware that his sons will never comply with his wishes. Instead, they will inherit his villas and squander his riches on themselves. Knowing the character of his sons, the dying bishop laments, “Ye have stabbed me with ingratitude,”[15] and threatens to leave his villas to the Pope, “All lapis, all, sons! Else I give the Pope / My villas! Will ye ever eat my heart.”[16]

Although Browning continues to ridicule the hypocrisy and immoral behavior of the Catholic clergymen, the fictitious characters of his later poems such as Fra Lippo Lippi and Bishop Blougram seem to be depicted with a more tolerant understanding or compassion for their sinful propensities. For example, the reader is introduced to Fra Lippo Lippi when he is caught leaving a brothel by a night watchman. By the end of the monologue, the monk wins our sympathy after explaining how he was forced into this vocation: Lippi was an orphan who was brought to the monastery by his aunt when he was just eight years old. As he stood “munching my first bread that month,” he was asked to “renounce the world, its pride and greed” in exchange for “the good bellyful, / the warm serge and the rope that goes all round.”[17] Furthermore, by remaining in the religious order he is able to secure patronage for his artistic talent. As far as his sexual escapades are concerned, Lippi reasons “I could not paint all night”[18] ... “Flesh and blood, / That’s all I’m made of.”[19] Without question, compared to St. Praxed’s bishop, Browning’s depiction of Fra Lippo is far more likeable.

Even Browning’s unflattering portrayal of Pope Innocent XII in The Ring and the Book is offset by an example of a Catholic priest, Giuseppe Caponsacchi, who wins the reader’s admiration. Caponsacchi is a bona fide hero who risks his own life trying to protect Pompilia from her violent husband. The priest’s intentions are pure and selfless, yet he is accused of adultery by Pompilia’s husband, “The murderer,—make as if I loved his wife, / In the way he called love. He is the fool there!”[20] Instead, the priest insists, “She has done the good to me.”[21] In 1855 Browning wrote “Bishop Blougram's Apology” in which the fictional character of Sylvester Blougram presents a formal defense of his religious beliefs to an agnostic journalist called Gigadibs who wishes to expose the bishop as a hypocrite. However, Browning does not allow Gigadibs to succeed, and the reader ultimately regards the bishop in a favorable light despite his flawed character. William Irvine writes, “The bishop’s style and imagery seems to indicate the poet’s hostility—though the bishop’s superiority to his critic would suggest Browning’s sympathy for a man contending inwardly as well as openly with religious doubt.”[22]

During his life in Italy, Browning often socialized with several members of the Catholic clergy. While in Florence in 1848, Browning befriended an ex-Jesuit known as “Father Prout,” whose real name was Francis Mahony.[23] Browning had been ill with an ulcerated throat and owed his cure to Father Prout who prescribed a diet of eggs and port wine. Writing to her sister Arabella in 1846, Elizabeth praises the virtues and kindnesses of her new husband, “He encases us from morning till night—thinks of everybody's feeling ... is witty and wise ... Talks Latin to the priests who inquire at three in the morning whether Newman or Pusey are likely ‘lapsare in erroribus’ ... and forgets nothing and nobody ... except himself.”[24] In later years, Browning alarmed Mrs. Catherine Bronson during a carriage ride because he doffed his hat to some Catholic priests; Browning justified his action by saying, “I always salute the church.”[25] Newman’s conversion and subsequent ordination in 1846 could not have escaped Browning’s attention since the poet lived in Italy during that time period. Based upon Elizabeth's letter, it is safe to say that Browning had read Newman’s apologetic lectures and may have been influenced to employ the apologetic literary device in his own work. In fact, Browning actually has Bishop Blougram quote from Newman within the poem in regard to belief in miracles.[26]

Just as Newman's discussion with his brother Charles in the earlier part of the century seemed to prepare him for his later apologetic writings, Browning's creation of Bishop Blougram’s apologetic debate was foreshadowed by “Christmas Eve and Easter Day,” which Browning wrote in 1850 following the death of his mother. The speaker in the first poem does not continue into the second, but is succeeded by two voices, one of which maintains that it is difficult to be a Christian, and the other that it is easy.[27] Through the voice struggling with faith, Browning suggests that “faith is unsteady and needs God’s help. Mere nature worship is not adequate. Nature, for all its beauties, does not reveal God’s plan, nor does it clearly intimate the awful facts of the Incarnation and the Atonement.”[28] Browning’s remarks about nature worship being insufficient for our faith corresponds to Newman’s position on that topic.


Theologians of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries “inferred from nature the providential design of a creative intelligence.”[29] Newman took a similar but slightly different view after reading Bishop Joseph Butler’s Analogy of Religion: Natural and Revealed, which argued that there are two ways to “religion and knowledge of God: through nature and through revelation, and that both paths are complementary and analogous.”[30] In 1830 Newman preached a sermon that adopted Butler’s notion of conscience as the supreme authority in one’s life, enabling one to find God in nature and then to find Him in revelation. Natural religion, according to Newman, includes “Knowledge of God, of His Will, and of our duties toward Him”; however, natural religion by itself is a failure because it is incomplete. Connolly writes, “Natural religion prepares the person to receive revealed religion by creating in the mind an ‘anticipation’ that a further revelation will be given.” In contrast, revealed religion is “centered in Jesus Christ and finds its expression in the realities and truths of Catholic faith.”[31] To further clarify, Newman distinguishes between human and divine faith. Human faith enables an individual to arrive at the credibility of revelation, and divine faith relies on the gift of grace to accept revealed truths.[32] Newman viewed “certitude as a personal act and a free decision”[33] and emphasized the function of free will enabling someone to proceed from natural to revealed religion.

Bishop Blougram likewise showed some caution regarding natural religion, criticizing those who think “Creation’s meant to show” God.[34] Here, the Bishop voices Browning’s previously stated position on nature’s inability to reveal certain theological concepts such as the Incarnation. Furthermore, Bishop Blougram reflects Newman’s statements about free will: Blougram insists that when faith overcomes doubt, a person's faith is made stronger:

How I know it does?
By life and man’s free will, God gave for that!
To mould life as we choose it, shows our choice:
That’s our one act, the previous work's his own[35]

F. E. L. Priestly writes that the bishop “like most theologians, distinguishes between faith and knowledge, recognizing the activity of the will in belief.”[36] In addition, James Loucks corroborates Priestly’s interpretation by citing the “Thomistic doctrine that religious assent must be sufficiently free to be meritorious.”[37]


Cornwell writes that “liberalism in Newman’s time in Oxford ... involved a tendency to treat the supernatural and God’s direct intervention in the world, as in miracles, with a degree of mild skepticism.”[38] In Newman’s day, the Church of England was not inclined to endorse miracles beyond the death of the last apostle. Once again Newman felt compelled to defend the Catholic belief in miracles against the liberal position. Writing to Samuel Hinds, Bishop of Norwich, in 1851, Newman uses the following argument: “If God over-ruled the laws of nature during Apostolic times, there is surely no reason why He could not, or would not, do so in subsequent times.”[39] With Bishop Blougram as his mouthpiece, Browning leans heavily toward Newman’s perspective. Blougram addresses the contempt of Gigadibs for miracles:

I pine among my million imbeciles
(You think) aware some dozen men of sense
Eye me and know me, whether I believe
In the last winking Virgin, as I vow,
And am a fool, or disbelieve in her
And am a knave,—approve in neither case,
Withhold their voices though I look their way.[40]

Blougram returns to the same topic later in the poem and alludes to Newman’s miracle analogy, “Men have outgrown the shame of being fools, / What are the laws of nature, not to bend / if the Church bid them?—brother Newman asks.”[41]

Nevertheless, in his letter to Bishop Samuel Hinds, Newman does make a distinction between “scripture miracles,” which took place in the times of the apostles and “ecclesiastical miracles” performed by holy people throughout the ages. Newman describes the resurrection of Lazarus as a scripture miracle, while the “liquefaction of the blood of St. Januarius,” an ecclesiastical miracle, “may be believed, one more than another, and more or less by different persons.”[42] James Loucks explains that according to legend the dried blood of the martyr St. Januarius or St. Gennaro, patron saint of Naples was said to liquefy twice a year while on public display.[43] Bishop Blougram acknowledges his own doubts about the liquefaction miracle, but he insists he would die “rather than avow my fear / The Naples’ liquefaction may be false” because such denial could lead to loss of belief in God:[44]

First cut the Liquefaction, what comes last
But Fichte's clever cut at God himself?
Experimentalize on sacred things!
I trust nor hand nor eye nor heart nor brain
To stop betimes: they all get drunk alike.
The first step, I am master not to take.[45]

Blougram’s comments resemble Newman’s remarks to Bishop Hinds that Catholics are not compelled to believe in such “ecclesiastical” miracles. According to Connolly, Newman did not consider miracles to be scientific demonstrations of the truth of Christianity: “this miraculous intervention addresses Christians today in the form of ‘coincidences’ which are indications ... that God has supernaturally presented God’s self to our apprehension.”[46]


In 1854, with the Bull Ineffabilis Deus, Pope Pius IX promulgated the dogma that the soul of the Virgin Mary was from the moment of conception preserved from original sin by divine grace.[47] Blougram addresses the infallibility of the Pope when he argues the following:

Up with the Immaculate Conception, then—
On the rack with faith!—is my advice!
Will not that hurry us upon our knees,
Knocking our breasts. “It cannot be—yet shall!
Who am I, the worm, to argue with my Pope? …[48]

Apart from accepting the dogma of Mary’s birth without original sin, Newman’s ideas years later would provide support for the dogma of Mary’s Assumption into heaven. Cornwell explains, “When Pius XII was preparing to define the dogma of the Assumption, supporting commentaries, citing Newman, were written by the theologian Dr. Henry Francis Davis.”[49]

Newman’s interpretation of papal infallibility would evolve during his lifetime. In the middle of the century Newman was a new convert, devoted to Pio Nono, and was sympathetic to the political turmoil involving the unification of Italy. In fact, Newman proceeded to write a defense of the supernatural power of the papacy. Yet, twenty years later Newman took a very different position. Cornwell explains that Newman wrote “the dogma of papal infallibility had been conducted ‘very cruelly, tyrannically, and deceitfully.’” Indeed, during the First Vatican Council Newman opposed the definition of infallibility “as unnecessary and inexpedient.” Apparently, Newman’s personal experience had caused him to “temper his earlier, largely sentimental, view of the papacy.”[50] However, by 1870 in his Letter to the Duke of Norfolk, Newman did indicate support for papal infallibility providing four conditions are met: “The pope must speak, first, as the ‘Universal Teacher’; second, in the name and with the authority of the apostles; third, on a point of faith and morals; and fourth, with the purpose of binding every member of the church to accept and believe his decision.”[51]

Furthermore, Newman argued in his Apologia that “infallibility must be guided by Scripture and tradition” or it has no claim on the Catholic believer. Regarding fallible teachings of the pope, Newman gives priority to conscience: “If the pope were to speak against conscience, in the true sense of the word, ... he would be committing a suicidal act. On the other hand, if a believer acts against his or her conscience, he or she is in danger of losing one's soul.”[52] Finally, Newman concludes, “Certainly, if I am obliged to bring religion into after-dinner toasts, ... I shall drink to the Pope, if you please, still, to Conscience first, and to the Pope afterwards.”[53] In like manner, Bishop Blougram insists that each person must choose “the form of faith his conscience holds the best” or “lose his soul.”[54] Thus Newman’s early advocacy of the papacy was tempered by the manner of the introduction of papal infallibility; however, he came to accept this doctrine and the supernatural power of the papacy so long as it existed within proper catholic constraints.


During his conversation with Gigadibs, Browning’s bishop admits that he has difficulty in accepting the validity of some dogmas: “Meanwhile, I know where difficulties lie / I could not, cannot solve, nor ever shall, / So give up hope accordingly to solve—.”[55] For the sake of their debate, the bishop agrees to put aside any article of faith that cannot be “fixed / Absolute and exclusive.”[56]

Our dogmas then
With both of us, though in unlike degree,
Missing full credence—overboard with them!
I mean to meet you on your own premise:
Good, there go mine in company with yours![57]

Priestly points out that Blougram is “not defending, but attacking.” He has no great hope of changing Gigadibs’s prejudices and so as a “skilled apologist,” Blougram “recognizes the necessity for attacking on his opponent’s ground ... stating Gigadibs’ objections fairly and strongly, then replying to them.”[58]

Just as believers must deal with doubt, Blougram contends that unbelievers must deal with “the grand Perhaps!”[59] Browning indicates this “perhaps” to mean that a person can remain content in his denial of God's existence until a loved one’s death or a certain challenging event can generate questions and possibilities about eternity. The bishop proceeds to argue that “All we have gained then by our unbelief / Is a life of doubt diversified by faith, / For one of faith diversified by doubt.”[60] Blougram argues belief or unbelief determines a person’s life, and “positive belief” brings out the best in him.[61] When Gigadibs insists that believers should have “Whole faith or none!,”[62] the bishop replies, “You call for faith: I show you doubt, to prove that faith exists.”[63] Blougram proceeds to lecture Gigadibs:

What matter though I doubt at every pore,
Head-doubts, heart-doubts, doubts at my fingers' ends,
Doubts in the trivial work of every day,
Doubts at the very bases of my soul
If finally I have a life to show,
The thing I did, brought out in evidence
Against the thing done to me underground
By hell and all its brood, for aught I know?[64]

The crux of the bishop’s commentary on faith and doubt seems to be summed up in the following lines:
What think ye of Christ, friend? when all's done and said,
Like you this Christianity or not?
It may be false, but will you wish it true?
Has it your vote to be so if it can?[65]

For Blougram, “faith means perpetual unbelief,”[66] but if a man desires faith, it is enough: “The sum of all is—yes, my doubt is great, / My faith’s still greater, then my faith’s enough.”[67]

For John Henry Newman, the relationship of faith and doubt takes many twists and turns. Throughout his life, Newman went from “early scepticism, to Evangelicalism, to High Anglicanism, to Tractarianism, before coming to rest in the Catholic Church.”[68] As an Anglican priest, Newman was influenced by Bishop Joseph Butler and counseled that “doubt is the condition of our nature, and that the merit of faith consists in making ventures.”[69] Later in life, as a Catholic, Newman would insist upon certitude and in his Apologia asked, “Who can really pray to a Being, about whose existence he is seriously in doubt?”[70] Following a similar path, Browning pursued many religious avenues during his lifetime. Browning described himself as a child as “passionately religious,”[71] but as a young man he rebelled against his mother’s theology and for a time became an atheist after reading and admiring Shelley. Eventually, Browning renounced atheism, scorned Calvinism, and explored Unitarianism before embracing Evangelicalism in later years.

Some critics believe that Browning created Bishop Blougram as a composite of Cardinal John Henry Newman and Cardinal Wiseman. Blougram’s acknowledgement that he enjoys “creature comforts,” and the authority that his position holds seems to reflect Wiseman’s personality who had been called a “vulgar, fashionable priest.”[72] Yet, much more evidence exists to show that Newman was Browning’s true inspiration for the fictional Blougram. Beyond the apologetic literary device, Browning and Newman held complementary opinions concerning natural religion and the authority of conscience to optional belief in miracles. The one gap in their theological beliefs might be the issue of doubt versus certitude. Newman vacillated regarding the incompatibility of faith and doubt; while an Anglican, doubt seemed acceptable, but later in life as a Roman Catholic, he advocated certitude.

However, John Connolly argues that “Newman’s position on the incompatibility of faith and doubt appears somewhat inadequate.”[73] To support his position, Connolly cites the view of post-Vatican II Catholic theologians, such as Gregory Baum, Avery Dulles, and Olivier Rabut, who discuss the compatibility of faith and doubt (much like our fictional Bishop Blougram). Connolly further adds that Newman’s “personalist notion of Catholic faith could be developed so as to include the acceptance of some forms of doubt.”[74] This interpretation seems valid since Newman’s religious opinions, on issues such as the infallibility of the pope, were often refined as his theology matured. It is important to remember that Newman described life “as a pilgrimage” with “every personal history unique,” and in which each person would “find God in the act of searching.”[75] Much like Newman’s own spiritual quest, Browning conducted a conscientious and extensive search in an attempt to validate his belief in God.

While many writers go to their graves without gaining the recognition they deserve for their talents, both John Henry Newman and Robert Browning were acknowledged for their literary genius in their own lifetimes. At his death in Venice on 12 December 1889, Browning was greatly admired and respected by his colleagues, as well as the general public. As a final tribute, Robert Browning was buried in Westminster Abbey, and his poetry continues to be read and appreciated more than one hundred years later. After rising to the position of Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church, Newman died on 11 August 1890 in Birmingham, England. The Times eulogized John Henry Newman with these remarks: “Of one thing we may be sure, that the memory of his pure and noble life, untouched by any trace of fanaticism, will endure, and whether Rome canonises him or not he will be canonised in the thoughts of pious people of many creeds in England.”[76] More than a century later, the Roman Catholic Church did indeed canonize John Henry Newman in October of 2019. Despite their differing spiritual evolution, St. John Henry Newman, the priest, and Robert Browning, the poet, demonstrated their belief in Jesus Christ and stressed the importance of faith in one's journey through life.

[1] Ian Ker, John Henry Newman: A Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), 54.

[2] Ker, John Henry Newman, 68.

[3] Ker, John Henry Newman, 79.

[4] Ker, John Henry Newman, 54.

[5] The word “apology” is used by both Newman and Browning to mean a formal defense of one’s beliefs or actions.

[6] John Cornwell, Newman’s Unquiet Grave: The Reluctant Saint (New York: Continuum), xi.

[7] Cornwell, Newman’s Unquiet Grave, 38.

[8] John Connolly, John Henry Newman: A View of Catholic Faith for the Millennium (Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield Publications), 56.

[9] Cornwell, Newman’s Unquiet Grave, 37.

[10] Cornwell, Newman’s Unquiet Grave, 37

[11] Connolly, John Henry Newman, 56.

[12] Connolly, John Henry Newman, 6.

[13] William Irvine and Park Honan, The Book, the Ring, and the Poet (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1974), 142.

[14] Robert Browning, “The Bishop Orders His Tomb at St. Praxed’s Church,” in Robert Browning’s Poetry, ed. James Loucks, (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1979), 89, ll.80–83.

[15] Browning, “The Bishop Orders His Tomb at St. Praxed’s Church,” 90, ll. 114.

[16] Browning, “The Bishop Orders His Tomb at St. Praxed’s Church,” 90, ll.101–102.

[17] Browning, “Fra Lippo Lippi,” in Robert Browning’s Poetry, 107, l.92.

[18] Browning, “Fra Lippo Lippi,” 106, l.49.

[19] Browning, “Fra Lippo Lippi,” 106, ll. 60–61

[20] Robert Browning, The Ring and the Book, Book VI: Giuseppe Caponsacchi, in Robert Browning’s Poetry, 320, ll.182–83.

[21] Browning, The Ring and the Book, 320, l. 178.

[22] Irvine and Honan, The Book, the Ring, and the Poet, 339.

[23] Donald Thomas, Robert Browning: A Life Within a Life (New York: The Viking Press, 1982), 126.

[24] Irvine and Honan, The Book, the Ring, and the Poet, 218.

[25] Irvine and Honan, The Book, the Ring, and the Poet, 515.

[26] Browning, “Bishop Blougram’s Apology,” 176, l.703.

[27] Irvine and Honan, The Book, the Ring, and the Poet, 264.

[28] Irvine and Honan, The Book, the Ring, and the Poet, 265.

[29] Browning, “Bishop Blougram’s Apology,” n174.

[30] Cornwell, Newman’s Unquiet Grave, 36.

[31] Connolly, John Henry Newman, 100.

[32] Connolly, John Henry Newman, 43.

[33] Connolly, John Henry Newman, 72.

[34] Browning, “Bishop Blougram’s Apology,” 174, l.652.

[35] Browning, “Bishop Blougram’s Apology,” 173, ll.604–606.

[36] F. E. L. Priestly, “Blougram’s Apologetics,” University of Toronto Quarterly 15 (1946): 139–47, quoted in Robert Browning’s Poetry, 562.

[37] Browning, “Bishop Blougam’s Apology,” n173.

[38] Cornwell, Newman’s Unquiet Grave, 42.

[39] Cornwell, Newman’s Unquiet Grave, 241.

[40] Browning, “Bishop Blougram’s Apology,” 168, ll.374–80.

[41] Browning, “Bishop Blougram’s Apology,” 176, ll.701–703.

[42] Cornwell, Newman’s Unquiet Grave, 241.

[43] Loucks, ed., Robert Browning Poetry, n176.

[44] Browning, “Bishop Blougram’s Apology,” 176, l.727.

[45] Browning, “Bishop Blougram’s Apology,” 177, ll.743–47.

[46] Connolly, John Henry Newman, 99.

[47] Loucks, ed., Robert Browning’s Poetry, n176.

[48] Browning, “Bishop Blougram’s Apology,” 176 ll.704–708.

[49] Cornwell, Newman’s Unquiet Grave, 237.

[50] Cornwell, Newman’s Unquiet Grave, 237.

[51] Connolly, John Henry Newman, 110.

[52] Connolly, John Henry Newman, 112.

[53] Connolly, John Henry Newman, 112.

[54] Browning, “Bishop Blougram’s Apology,” 166, l.296.

[55] Browning, “Bishop Blougram’s Apology,” 163, ll.165–67.

[56] Browning, “Bishop Blougram’s Apology,” 163, l.162.

[57] Browning, “Bishop Blougram’s Apology,” l63, ll.165–72.

[58] Priestly, “Blougram’s Apologetics,” 556.

[59] Browning, “Bishop Blougram’s Apology,” 164, l.190.

[60] Browning, “Bishop Blougram’s Apology,” 164, l.209–11.

[61] Browning, “Bishop Blougram’s Apology,” 165, l.238.

[62] Browning, “Bishop Blougram’s Apology,” 173, l.598.

[63] Browning, “Bishop Blougram’s Apology,”173, ll.601–605.

[64] Browning, “Bishop Blougram’s Apology,”174, ll.610–16.

[65] Browning, “Bishop Blougram’s Apology,” 174, ll.626–30.

[66] Browning, “Bishop Blougram’s Apology,” 175, l.666.

[67] Browning, “Bishop Blougram’s Apology,” 174, ll.724–25.

[68] Cornwell, Newman’s Unquiet Grave, 231.

[69] Cornwell, Newman’s Unquiet Grave, 232

[70] Cornwell, Newman’s Unquiet Grave, 188.

[71] Irvine and Honan, The Book, the Ring, and the Poet, 3.

[72] G. K. Chesterton, Robert Browning (New York, 1903) 201, quoted in Loucks, ed., Robert Browning’s Poetry, 554.

[73] Connolly, John Henry Newman, 136.

[74] Connolly, John Henry Newman, l36.

[75] Cornwell, Newman’s Unquiet Grave, 231.

[76] Cornwell, Newman’s Unquiet Grave, 217.

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Joan Liguori Perillo

Joan Liguori Perillo

Program Manager, Hillsborough Community College, Tampa, FL

Joan Liguori Perillo earned a BA in Education and an MA in English Literature from The City University of New York. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and her thesis was entitled "The Theme of Infidelity in the Poetry of Robert Browning." For nearly twenty years, Perillo has taught Freshman composition and literature and served as program manager for remedial writing at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Florida.


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