14 JUNE 1963, Page 9

Precedents No doubt a depressing light has been cast on

the state of sexual morality in our ruling classes. Whether in fact it is much worse than it was a hundred years ago in Palmerston's time is a question that cannot really be answered. After all, St. John's Wood was then full of love-nests, some of them paid for by eminent statesmen, and the open sexuality of central London startled the Most ardent Parisian visitors. Even the surprise that some have expressed that Cliveden should have come into this rather drab story suggests an Ignorance of the history of that house before the Astors bought it. It is, after all, more than 200 years since Pope described it :

Gallant and gay, in Cliveden's proud alcove The bower of wanton Shrewsbury and love.