Strachey’s portrait of Cardinal Manning moves relentlessly along a single track. Unlike the pious and good man perceived by the masses, Manning was ruthlessly ambitious. He pursued his own selfinterest in a calculated path of career advancement. This character trait was apparent, according to Strachey, from Manning’s early years, and the pattern continued throughout his life. The earliest hint is a subtle one. When Manning was a schoolboy, he was caught out of bounds by a master. By a clever trick Manning temporarily evaded the pursuing master, thus giving ‘‘proof of a certain dexterity of conduct which deserved to be remembered.’’ The dexterity of conduct was the way in which Manning always sensed the best way to advance his own cause.
Thwarted in his political ambitions by his father’s bankruptcy, Manning transferred his hopes to the sphere of religion. Thereafter he always had an ear for when opportunity might come knocking. When he was a country curate, for example, he married the rector’s daughter. Strachey implies this was because that gave him a better chance of advancement within the Church of England hierarchy, even though he was really in love with another girl.
With a promising career in the Anglican Church, Manning distanced himself from the Oxford Movement not over any theological issues but simply because his association with the Movement might damage his chances of advancing beyond his...
(The entire section is 1353 words.)
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