10 DECEMBER 1937, Page 36


Seventy Years Young. By Elizabeth, Countess of Fingall.


THESE are the memories of the Dowager Lady Fingall, as told to an Irish novelist, Miss Pamela Hinkson, her collaborator; Lady Fingall was the daughter of a West of Ireland county, gentleman; and coming up from the lakes and bogs of Conne-', mara met her future husband, a Plunkett, heir of one of the Lords of the Pale, at one of those great Castle Seasons which Earl Spencer held in the giadow of the Land League. She was to know in this way all the hopes that were to be enter-.- tamed for Ireland from the early 'eighties up to the outbreak of the Great War, and many of the heroes, and among the heroes she numbers not only -men like Horace Plunkett, neighbour and distant cousin of the Fingalls, A. E., Sir Hugh Lane and Redmond, but also the gnglish who gave Ireland their service in the old days—how incredibly long ago it seems notably Gerald Balfour (now the Earl of Balfour) and his Lytton, wife, and George Wyndham, who regarded every minute that he spent outside of Ireland as wasted. As a refrain through the book runs the admonition Of Lord Fingall, first uttered when Horace Plunkett disclosed to him his schemes for a people's regeneration : It is no use giving the Irish what they don't want."

It should not be thought, that Lady Fingall's . memoirs, consist entirely of a melancholy recitation of what might have been, if the Irish had welcomed improvement froth above. In general Seventy Years Young lives up to its title. It is a gay, gossipy book in most of its parts, full of livelY anecdotes of the great and/or good, in England as well as in Ireland, told without malice. Among others Edward VII; King George V, A. J. Balfour, Earl Haig are shown in the intimacies of their life and thought. The most charming part of Lady Fingall's story is, however,. its beginning, where an element of real poetry enters into the description of the life of a devout and impoverished Connemara family sixtY years ago. Some of the society chapters could have done with a little editing and putting together. I counted three "of courses" on a couple of pages, the expression being sometimes used in the sense of "as everybody must know," when in fact you don't know. Mr. Neville Chamberlain is, of course, Prime Minister ; but there is no "of course " about Lord —'s connexion with the Montmorencies.

- J. M. HONE.