Page 4, 21st May 1937

21st May 1937
Page 4
Page 4, 21st May 1937 — Faith Served By Fortune

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Organisations: MacNutt's association
Locations: Dunwoodie


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Faith Served By Fortune

A Papal Chamberlain, The personal chronicle of Francis Augustus MacNutt (Longmans, 15s.) Reviewed by G. ELLIOT ANSTRUTHER Heavy metal fires this volume of memoirs at the reading public. It will be difficult for anybody to resist the threefold appeal of Cardinal Hayes, who contributes the foreword; of Mr. Chesterton, whose preface to the book was written not long before his death; and of the Rev. J. J. Donovan, of the seminary at Dunwoodie, N.Y., who has edited and re-issued a work which at first the author had printed only for private friends.

Father Donovan is a little overwhelming in his praises; there is a more balanced estimate from G.K.C., who wrote that " this book of memoirs will interest many types of reader, from various angles of appreciation." That interest is certain, if only from the fact that the author, a wealthy American convert, travelled in many lands, was the friend, if not the intimate, of popes and royalties, and kept a diary, of his goings and his doings, which must positively have bulged with detail.

Francis MacNutt died ten years ago, in his sixty-fifth year. Sixty of those years are here covered, from his birth at the time of the Civil War to the accession of Pius XI. He will allow only that he was in one sense " a convert to Catholicism, for he was a Catholic by feeling and conviction, he tells us, almost from the first. "Catholicism is the aristocracy of religions," his father had said, and certainly MacNutt cultivated zeal and fervour—his book is the abundant proof of both virtues—in an atmosphere which brought him into touch with those on the highest side among his fellowCatholics.

For English readers, as such, the most attractive pages are those relating to Mr. MacNutt's association with Cardinal Manning and Fr. Kenelm Vaughan. The latter he first met, in touching and dramatic circumstances, in Mexico; the two became firm friends, and there is a deeply interesting account of how MacNutt bought the house in Beaufort Street for the Community of Expiation. This was the period of his clerical experience, when he joined Fr. Kenelm and Fr. John Vaughan in the Chelsea house. He became closely attached too, to Cardinal Manning, who made him a sort of secretary, and used to read to him in the library of old Archbishop's House.

There are a number of amusing stories in the book: of a visit by the Cardinal to the " Wild West " show, at which His Eminence declined to be attacked, by Indians, in the Deadwood coach; and of the inadvertent admission of redskin femininity within the Oratory clausura. Best of all is the delightful account of a recital, from Macbeth, which so affected a nervous hostess that she seized a cherry tart and imploringly intervened, begging the actress. Julia Barrett, to have some—with resultant wrath : " Pie in the midst of Shakespeare! Silence, woman!"

Mr. MacNutt, or at any rate his editor, might have spared us the offensive picture painted of King Edward VII in connection with that sovereign's visit to Leo XIII. The Chamberlain was in this matter no respecter of persons: even Pope Benedict XV, as to face and figure, is described with a distinctly unflattering pen.

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