15 DECEMBER 1944, Page 22

Last Essays. By J. A. Spender. (Cassell. 8s. 6d.) HERE

are collected a number of addresses, broadcasts, and short articles written by Spender during the last seven or eight years of his life. Whether he ever intended that they should be reprinted may be doubted, and if he had edited the book himself it would certainly not have appeared quite in this form. The speech on Mr. Gladstone at the National Liberal Club in November, 1937, and the broadcast in March, 1938, on the same subject, are both admirable, but the matter in the two cases is all but identical. Either of the two is quite rightly given, but the other is redundant. Nor is it paidonable to attribute to March, 1940, a speech on the Press in Wartime, which discusses conditions in France under the German occupation. But these are editorial matters, and do not touch the question of Spender's essays, which were written by him, as all his journalistic work was written, with care and deliberation, and are the product of his experience and wise judgement. He is perhaps at his best when he is looking backwards, writing of Gladstone, or Grey, or Haig, or of British Foreign Policy, more especially before 1914. But he remained interested in contemporary events, and in this book we constantly find him assessing the present in the light of his inside knowledge of the past.