[Sir] Shane Leslie (1885-1971)


Life
[John Randolph Leslie; 3rd Baronet], b. 24 Sept., at the family home, Glaslough, Co. Monaghan, son of the Tory MP for Monaghan and first cousin of Winston Churchill through his mother Leonie Jerome; a forebear, John Leslie, formerly Bishop of the Isles, settled in Ireland in 1933 (Bishop of Raphoe and later Clogher); ed. Ludgrove School, Eton, Univ. of Paris, and King’s College, Cambridge;
 
met Tolstoy in Russia, 1907; became a Roman Catholic, 1908; stood as Nationalists twice for Derry, and made fund-raising tours of America, 1911; m. Marjorie Ide [d. 1951; dg. Gen. Henry Clay Ide], June 1912; ed. Dublin Review, from 1916; dismissed Joyce’s Ulysses as an ‘abomination’ (Dublin Review, Sept. 1922); became an IAL associate member, 1933, and worked to establish the Academy; appt. Privy Chamberlain to Pius XI; succeeded to baronetcy, 1944;
 
issued The Irish Tangle for English Readers (1946) advocates a commonwealth membership as facilitating ‘peaceful entry of Ulster’ (p.223); presented calendar [féilire] of Aengus the Culdee to Notre Dame University, where he had been Rosenbach Research Fellow of Bibliography; handed over long disputed legal entitlements to Lough Derg territory to the Catholic diocese in the 1950s - only to be told that they belong to the Church already; m. Iris Carola Laing, 1958;
 
issued biographical studies of Swift, King George IV, Mrs Fitzherbert, Cardinal Manning, et al.; Rosenbach Fellow of Bibliography; presented 9th. c. MS to University of Notre Dame; conducted Yeats around Emain Macha [Navan] (‘our emotion was too great for words’); d. Hove, Sussex; he was fêted in New York as a literary speaker; his papers held at Georgetown Univ.; he was keenly interested in ghosts - as was his son Desmond (q.v.); his dg. Anita and a younger son, Sir John Leslie, who succeeded to the title. NCBE DIB DIW IF/2 ODNB KUN DIL APPL DUB OCIL

National monk?: Note that Shane Leslie is described as ‘an ardent nationalist who once joined a monastery.’ (Roisin Ingle, feature on Leslie Castle, in The Irish Times, 8 June 2002.)

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Works
Poetry
  • Songs of Oriel (Dublin: Maunsel 1908);
  • Verses in Peace and War (London: Burns & Oates 1922);
  • ed., An Anthology of Catholic Poetry (London: Burns & Oates 1925/rev. ed. 1952);
  • The Poems of Shane Leslie (London: Cayme 1928), 96pp.;
  • Poems and Ballads (London: Ernest Benn 1933) (xii), 135pp.;
  • Lines Written in the Month’s Mind of Mona Dunn. Dec. 19 1928-Jan 19 1929 [London: C. H. St. J. Hornby, Ashendene Press 1929];
  • Jutland: A Fragment of Epic (London: Ernest Benn);
  • The Hyde Park Pageant ([London:] Fortune 1930), pamph.;
  • Poems from the North (Dublin 1945), pamphl.
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Fiction (Novels)
  • The Oppidan (London: Chatto & Windus 1922), xx, 365pp.;
  • Doomsland (London: Chatto & Windus 1923);
  • The Cantab (2nd edn., rev., London: Chatto & Windus 1926; 1929); The Anglo-Catholic (London: Chatto & Windus 1929).
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Fiction (Short stories)
  • The Story of St Patrick’s Purgatory (St Louis MO/London: B. Herder 1917) [eight tales];
  • Masquerades, Studies in the Morbid (London: John Long 1924);
  • A Ghost in the Isle of Wight (London: E Matthews & Marot 1929);
  • Fifteen Odd Stories (London: Hutchinson [1935]);
  • Shane Leslie’s Ghost Book (London: Hollis & Carter 1955).
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Autobiography
  • The End of a Chapter (London: Constable 1916; rev. edn. London: Constable 1917; rev. & rewritten London: Heinemann 1929);
  • The Passing Chapter (London: Cassell 1934);
  • The Film of Memory (London: Michael Joseph 1938);
  • Long Shadows (London: John Murray 1966).
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Miscellaneous (mainly biographies & biographical studies)
  • The Landlords of Ireland at the Cross-Roads: A Letter [ ... &c.] (Dublin: James Duffy & Co. 1908), 8pp. [BML];
  • Isle of Columcille (CTS 1909);
  • Lough Derg in Ulster (Dublin: Maunsel 1909);
  • A Sketch of the Oxford Movement (CTS 1909);
  • The Irish Issue in its American Aspect (NY: Scribner’s 1917; London: T. Fisher Unwin 1918);
  • Henry Edward Manning: His Life and Labours (London: Burnes & Oates 1921);
  • Commemoration of Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins (1922).
  • Sir Mark Sykes, His Life and Letters (London: Cassell 1923);
  • George the Fourth (London: Ernest Benn 1925) [DIL 1926];
  • The Delightful, the Diverting, and the Devotional Plays of Mrs. Fitzherbert (London: Ernest Benn 1928);
  • The Skull of Swift: An Extempore Exhumation (London: Chatto & Windus; Indianapolis: Mobbs-Merrill 1928), 347pp.;
  • Memoirs of John Edward Courtenay Bodley (London & Toronto: Jonathan Cape 1930);
  • Preface to Rose Shaw, Carleton’s Country (Dublin: Talbot Press 1930) [see infra];
  • ed., St. Patrick’s Purgatory: A Record from History and Literature (London: Burnes & Oates, 1932), xlvii, 216pp., frontis., ills. and folding map. [extract];
  • Studies in Sublime Failure (London: Ernest Benn 1933); The Oxford Movement 1833-1933 (London: Burns & Oates 1933);
  • The Script of Jonathan Swift and Other Essays (Phil: Pennsylvania UP 1935);
  • American Wonderland : Memories of Four Tours in the United States of America (1911-1935) (London: Michael Joseph 1938);
  • Men Were Different [...] Five Studies in Victorian Biography (London: Michael Joseph 1937) [contents];
  • Sir Evelyn Ruggles-Brise (London: John Murray 1928);
  • Mrs Fitzherbert (London: Burns & Oates 1939);
  • The Irish Tangle for English Readers (London: MacDonald n.d. [1946]) [extract];
  • Salutation to Five (London: Holler & Carter 1951);
  • Cardinal Gasquet, a Memoir (London: Burns & Oates 1953);
  • ed., Edward Tennyson Reed, 1860-1933 (London: Heinemann 1957), biog.
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Reviews
  • [as ‘Dominis Canis’,] review of James Joyces Ulysses, in Dublin Review (Sept. 1922), pp.112-19; rep. in Robert Deming, ed., James Joyce: The Critical Heritage, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul 1970 [Vol. 1], pp.200-03 [infra].
  • Shane Leslie, ‘Ulysses’, in Quarterly Review, 238 (Oct. 1922) [copy held in Lockwood Library of Buffalo Univ., NY].

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Bibliographical details
Men Were Different: Five Studies in Victorian Biography (London: Michael Joseph 1937), 287pp. CONTENTS: Preface [7]; Randolph Churchill 1848-1895 [13]; Augustus Hare 1834-1903 [83]; Arthur Dunn 1860-1902 [147]; George Wyndham 1863-1913 [187]; Wilfred Blunt 1840-1922 [229-87]. (Copy held in Princess Grace Irish Library.)

The Irish Tangle for English Readers (London: MacDonald n.d. [1946]), in mem. J. F. Bigger, 214pp. Epigraph: ‘In what part of her body stands Ireland?’ (Comedy of Errors, 3, ii.) CONTENTS: Introduction; Ireland of Old; Religion in Ireland; Irish History; A Note on the Irish flag; Ireland Under Stuart and Hanoverian; A Note on Irish Historians; Ireland After the Boyne; The Eighteenth Century; A Note on the Value of Kingship in Ireland; After the Union; A Note on the Beresfords (pp.107-09); In the Tiem of the Famine; The Fenians; The reign of Parnell; Horace Plunkett and the Revival (pp.123-30); A Note on Clericalism in Ireland; The Aftermath of Home Rule; The Literary Revival; A Note on Irish chastity; Edwardian Decade; The Passing of the Anglo-Irish; The Ulster Heritage; The Dublin Rising; A Note on the American Influence; The ango-Irish Treaty; A Note on the Papacy in Ireland; A Note on the “Wild Geese”; After the Treaty; A Note on the Irish Popular; A Note on Sport in Ireland; Protestant and Catholic; A Note on Meredith’s Celt and Saxon; Ireland During the War; Retrospect; English and Irish; A Note on Strategy; Difficulties and Solutions; Epilogue.

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Criticism
Otto Rauchbauer, Shane Leslie: Sublime Failure (Dublin: Lilliput Press 2009), 320pp. See also Terence Dooley The Decline of the Big House in Ireland (Dublin: Wolfound Press 2001); Otto Rauchbauer, Ancestral Voices: The Big House in Anglo-Irish Literature (Hildesheim: Olms 1992); John Nash, ‘Irish Audiences and English Readers: The Cultural Politics of Shane Leslie’s Ulysses reviews’, in Joyce, Ireland, Britain, ed. Andrew Gibson & Len Platt (Florida UP [2006]) [Chap. 7].

 

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Commentary
Gerry Smyth, Decolonisation and Criticism: The Construction of Irish Literature (London: Pluto Press 1998), cites in some detail Leslie’s anathemisation of Joyce’s Ulysses in Dublin Review, Sept. 1922: as ‘a Cuchulain of the sewer … an Ossian of obscenity’ that ‘revolves and splutters hopelessly under the floor of its own vomit’; further expressed revulsion at the subject and the treatment (‘a very horrible dissection of a very horrible woman’s thoughts’), much with a distinctly Catholic accent (‘In its reading lies not only the description but the commission of the sin agains the Holy Ghost’); Smyth remarks: Leslie correctly identifies the nature of Joyce’s challenge to the conception of Irishness which had become dominant in the years leading up to the revolution. (Smyth, p.84.)

Benedict Kiely quotes and paraphrases Leslie's remarks on Carleton in his preface to Rose Shaws Carleton’s Country (Dublin: Talbot Press 1930): ‘Sir Shane Leslie looking back from our own days compares him with every man or woman who has attempted to dip a pen in “Irish gall or gaiety”, and always the comparison is in Carleton’s favour. The “finished artistry” of the remarkable Miss Edgeworth, who had inspired Scott and Turgenev and been dictated to by her remarkable, much-married father, paled before the “rich torrential canvas” that was Carleton. “Lever dissipated himself for a perennial after-dinner audience. Lover was Lever running to seed. Lady Morgan was an ambitious Miss Edgeworth. Mrs. Hall wrote for a Baedeker unborn.” He “caught his types”, writes Shane Leslie, “before Ireland made the greatest plunge in her history and the famine had cleaned her to the bone. For the hardiest of the race rose up and went away into the West, of which their story-tellers had been telling them for a thousand years.”’ (Kiely, Poor Scholar, 1947; rep. 1972 [10th edn.], p.6.)

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Quotations

James Joyce's Ulysses (Dublin Review, Sept. 1922)

‘Since a leading French critic [Valéry Larbaud] has announced that with Mr. James Joyce’s Ulysses “Ireland makes a sensational re-entrance into high European literature” [...] and since the entire setting of this book Catholic Dublin, and since the seven hundred pages contain a fearful [200] travesty on persons, happenings and intimate life of the most morbid and sickening description, we say not only for the Dublin Review but for Dublin écrasez l’'infâme!
 The Irish literary movement may have arisen in the bogs of Aran and Mayo, but it is not going to find its stifling climax in a French sink. The vain folk who speak of this book as the greatest English writing since Shakespeare may take what attitude they like concerning English literature, but as for Ulysses being a great creation of the Irish Celt, a Cuchulain of the sewer even, or an Ossian of obscenity, it may safely be repudiated, before reading, by the Irish people, who certainly do not get either the rulers or writers they deserve. The bulk of this enormous book is quite unquotable and we hope that, as the edition is limited and the price is rapidly ascending in the “curious” market, it will remain out of the reach of the bulk of the author’s fellow-countrymen. We are prepared to do justice to the power and litheness of the style, when intelligible, to the occasional beauty of a paragraph and to the adventurous headlong experiments in new literary form, but as a whole we regard it as the screed of one possessed; a commoner complaint than is generally realised in these days, but one seldom taking a literary channel of expression.
[...]
  Mr. Joyce has rather added than otherwise to the sorrows of Satan. [...] In this work the spiritually offensive and the physically unclean are united. We speak advisedly when we say that though no formal condemnation has been pronounced, the Inquisition can only require its destruction or, at least, its removal from Catholic houses. Without grave reason or indeed the knowledge of the Ordinary no Catholic publicist can even afford to be possessed of a copy of this book, for in its reading lies not only the description but the commission of sin against the Holy Ghost. Having tasted and rejected the devilish drench, we most earnestly hope that this book be not only placed on the Index Expurgatorius, but that its reading and communication be made a reserved case.
[...]
 As for the vaunted new experimentation in literary forms, we doubt if the present generation is likely to adopt them by writing, for instance, forty-two pages without a capital or a stop, or by abandoning all reasoned sequence of thought and throwing the flash and flow of every discordant, flippant, allusive or crazy suggestiveness upon paper without grammar and generally without sense. Of course. when the allusion can be caught, and the language is restrained, the effect can be striking and even beautiful, but how few of such passages can be meshed in the dreary muck-ridden tide. We will give the devil his due and appreciate the idyll of Father Conmee, S.J., who with most people mentioned in the course of the book, is really a Dubliner. Many pages are saturated with Catholic lore and citation, which must tend to make the book more or less unintelligible to critics, who are neither of Catholic or Dublin origin. Nothing could be more ridiculous than the youthful dilettantes in Paris or London who profess knowledge and understanding of a work which is often mercifully obscure even to the Dublin-bred.
[...]
  Reading a textbook and boiling it down into lists is no new device and depends for its success on the eliminating touch with which Mr. Joyce is most inartistically unendowed. In fact, the reader in struggling from oasis to oasis will find himself caught in a Sahara that is as dry as it is stinking. It is only when he varies his cataloguing with rare or new words that he is endurable, as of the Dublin vegetable market [...]’

Leslie concludes by expressing his trust that for the general reader the danger of being corrupted by ‘so much rotten caviare’ as may be found in ‘this abomination of desolation’ and portrays the author as a ‘frustrated Titan as he revolves and splutters hopelessly under the flood of his own vomit.’ (pp.112-19.)

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St Patrick’s Purgatory (1932): ‘[Lough Derg was] the medieval rumour which terrified travellers, awed the greatest of criminals, attracted the boldest of knight-errantry, puzzled the theologian, englamoured Ireland, haunted Europe, influenced the current views and doctrines of Purgatory, and not least inspired Dante.’ (p.vii.)

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The Irish Tangle for English Readers (1946)

‘The racial content of the modern Irishman is very mixed. It is the environment, the politics, the religion, the climate, which makes him an Irishman and keeps him so. His blood comes from anywhere. The only pure blood in Ireland is the bloodstock in the racing stables.’ (p.31.)

‘No community are in an easier or more favourable position than the Church of Ireland in the Free State. Far from persecuting them, the Dublin Government goes out of its way to meet all their demands in education: and to maintain schools where numbers are insufficient.’ (p.23.)

‘Can England and Ireland be fair to each other if the ledger of this War can ever be accounted by fair and honest historians? In the aftermath of war their need for each other will be long and frequent.

That entertaining character in Irish folklore, “the Speckled Gilly”, always made but one condition of service: “Nothing unfair to be done to me!” No better working motto could be found to inspire Anglo-Irish relations to-day.

As an outsider, with a foot once in both camps, as a historian living on the Ulster borders, I can only smooth that way with the pen - to enable the Irish and English really to enjoy that perpetual understanding which is the peace of good neighbours.

There is only one way and that is for England to let the past glide like an immense iceberg into the Atlantic instead of remaining to chill the multiple hearts of two peoples.

An Irish Republic, more or less cannot harm England even strategically now. Recognised in that phrase and within the association which makes all the Commonwealths sisters and which only calls for the Royal signature to implement diplomatic appointments let Ireland be considered a Republic!

Should Dublin wish to make the experiment and undo even that association-assuming an international neutrality and a Sovereign power say equal to that of Switzerland - the experiment will not harm England and it will add to Irish wisdom and statecraft.

If an Irish Republic existed only onc session - that Session would be entirely employed in renewing the associations with the British Commonwealths and making a permanent entente with England. No doubt it would be a token Republic: but the dream of the United Irishmen and the men of ’48, who devised the Irish Tricolour and of the men of 1916 who raised it, would be fulfilled - and Ireland is a land of dreams.

Let who will make the laws, but let the poets write the ballads, it was said of old. But now let who will guide Irish destinies, as long as the dreamers fulfill their dreams!’ (p.227).

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Unionist attitudes: ‘Mr Gladstone, who was more wicked than any bad man in the Bible, had promised [their acres] to the Catholics, who were already playing dice for them in the pub.’ (From Long Shadows, Murray 1966, p.6; quoted in Elizabeth A. Muenger, British Military Dilemma in Ireland; Occupation Politics 1886-1914, 1991, p.53.)

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Hazel Laverty: ‘[It is] quite impossible to tell if Hazel [Lavery]’s correspondence with those Irishmen Collins and O’Higgins were published or even their relations were truly portrayed there would be woe in Dublin and much protestantion. Both were hopelessly in love with Hazel, in the style of Trisram with the wife of King Mark, because they had drunk a poisonous drug not intended for them. The Republicans intercepted her letters to Collins and decided to shoot them both’. (uoted in Frank McNally, ‘Goodbye to the Pound’, in The Irish Times, 2 Jan. 2002, Magazine, p.9 [& seq.].)

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References

There is a Wikipedia page [online] - with links to the Shane Leslie Biography Project authored by Otto Rauchbauer and Funded by the Austrian Science Fund [online; accessed 26.10.2009].

Stephen Brown, Ireland in Fiction [Pt. I] (Dublin: Maunsel 1919) [Appendix], lists The Story of St. Patrick’s Purgatory, eight tales (1918); IF2 adds Doomsland (London: Chatto & Windus 1923), 370pp. [a tableau of modern Ireland, with sketches of persons identifiable as Casement, George Wyndam, Lady Gregory, Mahaffy, Pearse, etc.]; Masquerades, Studies in the Morbid (London: Long 1924), 318pp. [stories, of which two are set in Ireland, one Celtic, one modern]; and cites Henry Edward Manning; Life of Sir Mark Sykes; St. Patrick’s Purgatory; Anthology of Catholic Poetry. The Cantab (n.d.) [a novel, which he amended censured to satisfy the Catholic press]. Irish Book Lover 1, 7, 8, 14.

Brian Walker, ed., Faces of Ireland (Belfast: Appletree Press 1992), selects ‘Old and New’ from Songs of Oriel (Dublin 1908) and lists Verses in Peace and War (London 1922); Poems and Ballads (London 1933); Fifteen Odd Stories (London 1935); Shane Leslie’s Ghost Book (London 1935); also The Oxford Movement (London 1933) and George the fourth (London 1925). DUB also cites From Cabinboy to Archbishop [n.d.]

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Booksellers
Hyland Books (Cat. 220; 1996) lists Intro. to Pierre Louys, Aphrodite: a Novel of Ancient Morals (c.1930) [ltd. 1075]; Poems and Ballads (1933). Do. (Cat. 214) lists Twenty-five Poems (Dublin: Three Candles 1959); Saint Patrick ’s Purgatory, a record from History and Literature (1932). Also Hyland (Oct. 1995) lists also Irish Tangle [... &c.] [1947]. Eric Stevens (1995) lists Baron Corvo, A History of the Borgias, intro. Shane Leslie [Modern Library] (NY [1931]), xxxi, 408pp. De Burca (1997) lists Saint Patrick’s Purgatory. A record from history and literature. Compiled by S. Leslie with cold. frontispiece, numerous illustrations and folding map. London, Burns Oates 1932. Pages, xlvii, 216. 4to. V.good in original cloth with slight fading. Scarce. [150].

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Notes
Sale of works in Castle Leslie, conducted by O’Keeffe (Dublin). The castle was rebuilt by Sir John Leslie, 1st baronet and Lady Constance, in the 1870s to a design by Sir Charles Lanyon & William Henry Lynn; ovel pastel ports. by Douglas Hamilton of Leigh Family of Rose Garland, Co. Wexford, Annabella Leslie having married Col. Robert Leigh in 1750; also Charles Jervas, port. of Mrs. Trevor, after Sir Peter Levy, formerly at Walpole’s Twickenham home.

James Joyce: Shane Leslie’s review of Joyce [as supra] alerted the Home Office to the subversive character of Joyce’s Ulysses in describing it as ‘an attempted Clerkenwell explosion in the well-guarded, well-built classical prison of English literature. The bomb has exploded [...] All that is unmentionable, according to civilised standards, has been brought to the light of day without any veil of decency.’ (Reported in The Irish Times, 16 Aug. 2000.)

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Lost text: ‘George’s line was romantic toward Ireland but neutral towards politics. He refused to consider every move in Ireland, every proposal and every reform as it might affect the chances of Home Rule, that would please the [Tory] Party managers. If by chance it gave Home Rule an argument, well that remained to be seen and, if it was good in itself, it was worth trying. This was far from what the Conservative Caucus like to think. As for the Orange Party in Belfast they considered that loyalty to themselves and that to the Irish Secretary appointed by the Party they helped to keep in power was their political and almost their intellectual [212] servant. George was not a good Protestant and deplorably lacking in Christian bigotry.’

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