3 JANUARY 1931, Page 28

A Friend of Cardinal Manning

Memoir of J. E. C. Bodley. By Shane Leslie. (Jonathan

• Cape. 15s.)

JOHN EDWARD COURTENAY BODLEY is chiefly known to the literary world as the author of Modern France, and as the

intimate friend of Cardinal Manning. He was what, in his own Victorian days, was called a very " clever " Oxford man, a man of " culture," talent, and social distinction.

Destined for the Bar he was tempted by an offer. from Sir Charles Dilke to become his private secretary. The position offered interesting acquaintance, touch with the great, and political prospects. Bodley took it to his lasting regret. Dilke's downfall involved his very loyal secretary, at least for the moment, in his political eclipse. Sadly as in after days he used to complain of his ill-luck, he gained a great deal by his friendship with Dilke, notably his intimacy with Manning, whose colleague Mike was on the Royal Commission on Housing in 1884.

The Cardinal took an immense fancy to the young man who revered and loved him, and was very much in his confidence. Bodley dreamed of writing his " Life," and one day Manning offered him some volumes of MS., as Bodley thought, tacitly accepting the notion of the biography. By some inspiration of ill-luck Bodley, who was going abroad, asked him to keep the manuscript till his return. HeMissed his opportunity. The Car- dinal died, and all documents were given to Purcell. Bodley was grieved to the heart. His own view of the Cardinal's character was utterly different from the one finally given to the public.

Mr. Shane Leslie quotes the following passage from his writings as " a sincere epitaph of a great man " :-

" I knew Manning. He was the only good man I have known intimately, though one or two others have crossed my path whom I suspected of goodness and I have known one or two good women . . . he was the frankest and most straight-forward Englishman it is possible to imagine He was free from all pions affectation. Yet in close contact with him one felt that he was always in the presence of an unseen power not as its pompous agent but as its simple and humble messenger. It has been my lot to witness some of the most imposing religious ceremonies of modern Christendom ; but nothing so impressive so faith-inspiring has ever met my eyes as the sight of this noble old Englishman in his threadbare hassock kneeling alone. before the altar of his bare chapel."

The projected biography might have been a very fine one. Bodley was not a Catholic, from an orthodox point Of 'view hardly perhaps a Christian, but he had an understanding of the Catholic Church very rare in those who resist her per- suasion. This sympathy is wonderfully illustrated by the fragments which Mr. Shane Leslie quotes of a book he did not

live to finish and which was to-have been called " The Church in France."