16 MARCH 1962, Page 11

LORD BOOTHBY It is fascinating to learn from Dr. Leavis

that he made T. S. Eliot a key figure, and D. H. Lawrence a great writer. In the Twenties some of us foolishly imagined that they did it for themselves.

It would be interesting to know what else he thinks he has done, apart from spewing out the reptilian venom of those who have created nothing, and are concerned only to wreak ven- geance upon those who have, and thus assuage their own sense of frustration. There is not a single constructive thought in his lecture; and the Cambridge audience who tittered at his malicious asides, and applauded at the end be- cause they thought it was the right thing to do, should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

I am all for controversy; scathing attack and even, on occasion, cutting rudeness. The late Lord Birkenhead was a master of the art. But whereas Dr. Leavis uses a bludgeon, he used a rapier; and anyone who heard his greatest speeches, as I did, could not fail to realise the deep creative thought which had gone into their making.

The sort of criticism exemplified by Dr. Leavis in this barren malevolent attack on Sir Charles Snow—with every responsible newspaper and periodical except your own thrown in for good measure—leaves one with a sense of desolation. I can tell him what D. H. Lawrence, the only one who gets a good word, would have said about it. He would have said the same thing as he did about the Cambridge to which Dr. Leavis now wants to return: 'To hear these people talk really fills me with black fury : they talk end- lessly, but endlessly—and never, never a good thing said. They are cased each in a hard little shell of his own and out of this they talk words. There is never for one second any out- going of feeling and no reverence, not a crumb or grain of reverence. I cannot stand it. I will not have people like this--I had rather be alone. They made me dream of a beetle that bites like a scorpion. But I killed it—a very large beetle. . . . It is this horror of little swarming selves I can't stand.'

The breed is growing, and has already become a destructive force in this country. It could ulti- mately become a canker. As for Admiral Rich- mond, who possessed one of the most original and constructive minds I have ever encountered, he must be turning in his grave.