13 JULY 1956, Page 24

Still A-Roving

THE author of this book and myself happen to belong to the same London club, and when I asked the hall-porter the other day if he had seen him lately, he replied briefly : 'No, he's still a-roving.' 'A-roving' and Goya's motto 'aun aprendo—ever learning' have been the twin passions of Six Harry Luke's life, and ones which over thirty years of Colonial administration have enabled him to gratify to the full. In this, the last volume of his autobiography, he tells of his final years of service in Sierra Leone, Palestine and Malta, culminating with his appointment as Governor of Fiji and High Commissioner for the Western Pacific. Retirement in 1942 involved a change not from an active to a sedentary life, but merely. the consulting of a new set of time- tables; and Sir Harry's curiosity and energy are such that it is impossible not to become infected by his enthusiasm. Yet the very range of his interests (they include architecture, anthropology, languages, literature, botany, cooking and squash) at times tends to make him diffuse. Fresh as his comments always are, one gets _ a little breathless at the rushing from place to place and wishes he would ruminate more on one subject : it is no consolation to be told he has written about it elsewhere. There is also in the writing at times an odd inconsistency. He describes most movingly • the plight of certain primitive peoples who have been brought near extinction by the callousness of the white man; yet he can watch a negro being flogged and comment that `no better method than flogging has been devised to protect society from crimes of brutality.'

In a last chapter of great beauty and feeling Sir Harry concludes with the ancient Greek colophon : Praise God it's finished.' 1 doubt it. In ten years' time, when inquiring of his whereabouts at the club, I fully expect to be told: 'Sir Harry? Oh, he's still