10 JULY 1941, Page 20

Shorter Notices

The Silence of the Sea and Other Essays. By Hilaire Belloc. (Cassell. 7s. 6d.)

MR. BELLOC, as a practised essayist, excites curiosity by the title of his opening paper. He does not fully prove his contention that the sea is noiseless, save when it hits something. But he sets the reader's mind working, ready for the many brief essays that follow and that deal lightly with historical and literary themes and with general topics such as "The Great Sea Serpent" or "On Speaking Too Soon" or "The Test of Time." This is indeed a highly varied and amusing collection, full of the author's prejudices, of course, but witty and informing, as in the papers on Bunyan and Jane Austen and on "The Unfortunate Great," like Charles the First's Buckingham. Mr. Belloc alarms us in his essay "On the Future of English" by observing that as Latin became a common speech in Europe, it was supplanted by many vernaculars. Will the same fate, he asks, befall our widespread language?