A SPECTATOR'S NOTEBOOK
TN one of their sillier moments the Gallup poll people lately tried to discover what proportion of the inhabitants of this coun- tiny believe the talk about a German secret weapon to be bluff ; it
was announced that 59 per cent, held that confident and comfortable conv.:tion. Now it is highly improbable that as many as one person out of a thousand interrogated on this subject had, or could have, any solid basis for an opinion one way or the other. A good deal is known about the secret weapon, or weapons, in official circles, but next to nothing reliable outside them. And the officials, while knowing that devices of serious potentiality exist, cannot decide what prospect there is that performance will equal the predictions. It is by no means inconceivable that some form of rocket-gun on the French coast might be able to throw high explosives as far as London, and that does not exhaust the possibilities of what Mr.
Churchill went out of his way to refer to at the Mansion House as "new forms of attack on this island." There is no occasion for undue alarm, and German designs have been effectively enough frustrated by our fighting Services before this. But to proclaim that the German talk of secret weapons is mere .bluff can be mischievous as well at foolish. It is not mere bluff.
* * * * The campaign of the Lord's Day Observance Society is getting beyond a joke. The question whether the opening of ordinary commercial theatres on Sunday should be permissible may be argu- able, but to deprive the troops of Sunday entertainments for which a charge is to be made, and this in the name of religion, is to bring the name of religion into disrepute and undo half the work that Army and Navy and R.A.F. chaplains are trying to do. There is a very great deal to be said for differentiating Sunday from other days of the week, not merely by the cessation of ordinary work. But if there is to be any virtue in that, it must be because individuals choose so to differentiate it. For people who believe, on grounds of religion, in keeping Sunday in a particular way, to try to impose that particular way on people who feel no religious _compulsion in the matter at all is the imposition of the tyranny of a minority on a majority. If, as appears to be the case, some ancient Act of Parliament enables the Lord's Day Observance Society to interpose an effective veto, the sooner a one-clause Bill depriving them of the Power is brought in and carried the better. It is not imaginable that it would meet with serious opposition.
* * * After being periodically alarmed by descriptions of the state of
the country, when a falling, or nearly falling, population has been actually falling for a few decades more, we are now assured that the decadence will be qualitative as well as quantitative. The Eugenics Society has been told by Surgeon-Commander J. A. Fraser Roberts, F.R.S., that the most intelligent members of the com- munity have only a third of the number of children born to the least intelligent. This is an interesting and important statement, but it prompts at least two questions. How are the intelligent members of the community thus ticketed and labelled? And is heredity so unerring that no fool is ever born of intelligent persons and no genius of commonplace parents? (Was Sir Isaac Newton's father— a farmer—intellectually outstanding?) I should have thought that both constantly happened—so cc.nstantly as to vitiate any sweeping
statement on the subject. Intelligence, moreover, can surely be developed to some extent by education. To put it another way, under a defective system of education a great deal of latent in- telligence will never come to light or find an outlet. That is one of the reasons why Mr. Butler's new Bill is so welcome.
Quite apart from any ethical or sentimental feelings about bomb- ing German cities, I find it hard to believe that (except as a deliberate war of nerves, and it seems not to be that) any good purpose is served by loud proclamations of Allied intentions to bomb Germany cease- lessly by day and night. General Arnold, head of the American Force, has just been saying something to that effect—at a moment when weather conditions have prevented any major night attack on Germany for more than ten days. There may be some new devices in prospect which will enable weather conditions to be ignored, but I know of no sign of that if reasonable regard is to be had for the safety of crews. For the rest of the winter months regular bombing of Germany every day and every night seems most improbable, but there will be quite enough, even with unavoidable intervals, to reduce German output of war material a great deal further—and to provide orators with a sufficient text. - * * * *
The deputation that went to the Minister of Health this week to urge him to organise a service of Home Helps was very oppor- tune. The plight of some households in these days in the event of serious illness or death can be very serious. I have just heard, for example, of a case in which a wife has died of influenza after a brief illness, leaving a baby of a few months, a child of three, and a husband who, of course, has his professional work all day. Such households have to be run under present conditions with no adequate outside help, or none at all, and an emergency finds them resource- less. But the W.V.S. and the Employment Exchanges are more helpful in such crises than is always realised.
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I am besought rather earnestly to protest against the term "Prime Minister Churchill," used in a recent official communiqué from Cairo. On the whole, I feel it is a case for the open mind. dislike the appellation, but we live in a world of appellations. With Mr. Roosevelt referred to naturally as President, and Mr. Stalin as Marshal, the framer of the communiqué, I suppose, thought that symmetry required something before Mr. Churchill's name. Mr. Churchill himself once told the House of Commons that Mr. Stalin; before he became Marshal, preferred to be spoken of as Premier Stalin. "Prime Minister Churchill" has a transatlantic ring, and if our Allies like it that way we can take it—even if we don't much like it ourselves.
* * * * My suggestions regarding Hitler's future have elicited the fol- lowing instructive comment: "The drawback to keeping Hitler a prisoner in the Andamans is that he might escape. (There were no aeroplanes or submarines in Napoleon's day.) Or he might develop thrombo-phlebitis and be released on the recommendation of five doctors. But he will probably end his days peacefully in a cosy villa of 40 rooms somewhere in Eire or Spain."