While attempting to retrieve a memorable 1909 Hilaire Belloc essay (“The Missioner”) for a College student — to be then conveniently found in a 1926 Anthology entitled Representative Catholic Essays — I unexpectedly saw and read for the first time an earlier 1892 essay on “Honor” by Henry Edward Cardinal Manning, who was one of Belloc’s own beloved mentors and heroes. Cardinal Manning’s fresh and acute insights about “what honour does” and about “what honour is” are still worthy of our own grateful and deepening consideration now almost a century and a quarter later. He will also gradually and cumulatively teach us the fuller English sense of “on my honour” as well as “what honour does not do.”
Cardinal Manning, moreover, was writing just before the onset of Britain’s own consequential, imperial Boer Wars in Africa, and we may analogously thus learn, for our greater good, some fitting things to do and not to do morally amidst our own Imperial Wars and Revolutions today. Chesterton and Belloc themselves, who were “Little Englanders” and thus opposed to the hubris and injustice of the Boer Wars, might well have warned us “Big Americaners” today not to become so centrifugally overextended and so hollowed out. And they would likely have helped us also to live out manfully, and so to increase, our Honour in Foreign Policy, as well as our Honour in Military Policy.
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