inner history. He belonged to that class of eminent ecclesiastics -- and it is by no means a small class -- who have been distinguished less for saintliness and learning than for practical ability. Had he lived in the Middle Ages he would certainly have been neither a Francis nor an Aquinas, but he might have been an Innocent. As it was, born in the England of the nineteenth century, growing up in the very seed-time of modern progress, coming to maturity with the first onrush of Liberalism, and living long enough to witness the victories of Science and Democracy, he yet, by a strange concatenation of circumstances, seemed almost to revive in his own person that long line of diplomatic and administrative clerics which, one would have thought, had come to an end for ever with Cardinal Wolsey.
In Manning, so it appeared, the Middle Ages lived again. The tall gaunt figure, with the face of smiling asceticism, the robes, and the biretta, as it passed in triumph from High Mass at the Oratory to philanthropic gat
Strachey's brilliant and delicate wit in puncturing the overblown images of the revered "celebrities" of the Victorian Era cannot be excelled. His reading of the distinctive, yet similar, personalities of Cardinal Manning, Florence Nightingale, General Gorden, and Thomas Arnold remains as a classic description of the personalities which defined their age. As the most uptight and upright Christians following the dictates of the Old Testament, they were still commanded by their own desires -- desires which remained unknown to them. Might well be read along with Samuel Butler's WAY OF ALL FLESH.