NATIONAL PARKS [To the Editor of THE SPECTATOR.] SIR,—May I
crave space for a personal explanation ? Sir Francis Acland has done me an unintentional injustice, and I am sure he would wish to see the innocent vindicated. He has entirely misunderstood the point in my letter which he selects for criticism. No doubt I am partly to blame for having written a clumsy sentence. But it never occurred to me that anyone could possibly think it meant what Sir Francis
Acland takes it to mean. On re-reading it now I cannot myself see any real obscurity or ambiguity in it ; but, as it has in fact been misunderstood, I should like to apologise both to Sir Francis Acland and your other readers for having failed to make my meaning as clear as I might.
Nothing could have been further from my intention than to suggest that the Forestry Commissioners did not mean what they said about consulting with the C.P.R.E. representatives. It is not this, but the description of the "shaded area" in the Commission's announcement of October 16th, which I characterised as somewhat euphemistic. That area is one about the afforestation of which the C.P.R.E. representatives found themselves "in disagreement with the Commissioners " ; but the Commissioners also reported that they had "noted the special considerations which have been put forward" in regard to this section and undertook "to take careful account of them in consultation with the Joint Committee." On
October t6th The Times contained an announcement by the Commission of a purchase of land which encroached, though
"only to a small extent," upon this area ; and in that announce-
ment the area was described as one which the Joint Committee "agreed should be subject to special considerations as regards afforestation." That was not a false description. If I had
thought it false, I hope I should have had the courage to say so without equivocation. But to describe the shaded area thus, without any reference to the fact that the C.P.R.E. representa- tives considered that it ought to be wholly excluded from afforestation by the Commissioners, was, I must maintain, to describe it "somewhat euphemistically." My dictionary says Euphemism is "a way of describing an offensive thing by an inoffensive expression."
I have already apologised for my failure to make my meaning clear. I leave it to Sir Francis Acland to judge whether he was not just a wee bit hasty in assuming that I must have meant what he evidently thinks no fair-minded man could have meant.
But let me end on a more pleasant note. I am delighted to learn from Sir Francis Acland's letter that the Forestry Com- missioners intend to consult with the C.P.R.E. Committee
before they acquire any land in the" shaded area." So far
as I know, that fact has not been made public before. The Joint Committee's Report of July, 5936, spoke of consultation "with regard to actual operations " ; but said nothing about consultations antecedent to purchase. So this correspondence has brought us one piece of good news:—Yours faithfully, P.S.—As your readers will long ago have put my letter in their waste-paper baskets, may I quote the passage which has been misunderstood ? I Said (November 26th) :
"Within the last few weeks a further purchase of land in the Lake District has been announced, and this touches, 'though only to a small extent'. the area in question, which the Commission's announcement in The Times of October t6th describes—not as the region about whose subjection to afforestation the representatives of the C.P.R.E. found themselves 'in disagreement with the Com- missioners' (I quote from the Report of July; 1936)—but, somewhat
euphemistically, as the area which the joint Committee 'agreed should be subject to special-considerations as regards afforestation.' " • Sir Francis Acland's comment (December 3rd) is : -
• "Mr. Leonard states that the assurance thiii given by the Com- missioners was 'somewhat euphemistic' (in other words a lie), because we have since acquired an area which touched on the agreed area 'though only to a small extent.' But, of course, before we acquired this area we consulted the C.P.R.E. Committee most carefully."
It is so diffieult to see the relation between this comment and what I wrote that it seems necessary to add that the sentence I have quoted is the only one in my letter in which I used the word " euphetnistic " (or rather " euphemistitally " ).