Notebook

The Higher Clergy

Among the people whose lives and works are considered in Daniel Mendelsohn’s fascinating, sinuous essay, Three Rings: A Tale of Exile, Narrative, and Fate, is Archbishop François de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon (1651-1715):

‘In a portrait made before his downfall, the archbishop has an elongated but kindly face, the high hooked nose, with its sharp tip, and the rather pointed chin offset by the warm dark eyes, whose brows are raised in what can strike you an an attractive frankness— an openness to questions, to possibility, not always present in the faces of high clergymen.’

Now, there’s a remark to ponder.