11 NOVEMBER 1932, Page 6

I was much struck by the contrasting styles of the

three speakers at the unveiling last Friday of the Oxford Union bust of Lord Birkenhead. There was the simple, almost homely welcome of the President, J. C. Smuts, a cousin of General Smuts ; there was the ringing outburst of affection from Sir Austen Chamberlain ; there was the carefully rehearsed display of rhetorical fireworks from Sir John Simon. Though many were heard to say that they preferred Sir Austen, Sir John's elocution alone provided a memorable lesson to the highly appreciative undergraduates. Only once did he fail to conceal his art, when he began to calculate how many years it was since he had first heard F. E. Smith speak. It was a little too obvious that he knew the answer in advance. I came away with two other reflections ; one regarding the ineffable pedant who held up Sir John Simon's speech for at least a minute while conveying to him that he should have referred to " Sir Wilfrid " instead of " Mr. Wilfrid " Lawson. The other, that ex-officers of the Oxford Union since Birkenhead and Simon have had astonishingly little influence on politics. John Buchan and Steel Maitland are the only names of any note, though the present Parliament contains new possibilities.