16 NOVEMBER 1895, Page 31


[To THE EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR."] SIR,—As a great admirer of the Spectator, may I be allowed to protest against a verbal inaccuracy, in the article in the Spectator of November 9th, on "Magnificence." In these days of slip-shod English one is jealous of any lack of precision of language in a journal of such high literary pre- tentions. The writer speaks of a "billionaire." There can be no such person in existerce, seeing that one billion of farthings is half as large again as the National Debt, while the estimated capital of the whole world is less than one billion sterling. Let me be permitted to add that the article in question purports to criticise the taste lately shown by an American "billionaire," on the occasion of his daughter's marriage. Miss Vanderbilt is described in it as wearing at her wedding a ruby brooch of abnormal size, and a string of pearls a yard long. If we are to believe the newspaper reports, the bride, following the fashion of her country, wore no jewels whatever. While calling matters of taste in question, we are surely bound in fairness to adhere carefully

to the facts of the case.—I am, Sir, &c., E. N.

[" Billionaire" is used, in colloquial parlance, for men whose wealth is counted in tens of millions. The actual wearing of the presents, which are accurately described, is of course a figure of speech.—En. Spectator.]