18 MAY 1912, Page 3

Mr. Balfour was one of the speakers at the Royal

Literary Fund dinner on Thursday, which was presided over by Mr. Owen Seaman, the editor of Punch. Mr. Balfour's plea for a cheerful note in literature is one with which we feel the strongest sympathy. Literature, he declared, was less cheerful now than when he was young :

" What I ask from literature mainly is that in a world which is full of sadness and difficulty, in which you go through a day's stress and come back from your work weary, you should find in literature something which represents life, which is true, in the highest sense of truth, to what is or what is imagined to be true, but which does cheer us. Therefore when I ask you, as I now do, to drink the toast of ' Literature,' I shall myself sotto voce, as I drink it, say not literature merely, but that literature in particular which serves the great cause of cheering us all up."

In other words, Mr. Balfour agrees with Mr. Rudyard Kipling's delightful defence of the old-fashioned novel in his poem "The Three-Decker" : "They are taking tired people to the islands of the blest." Brilliant speeches were also delivered by Mr. Seaman and Sir Walter Raleigh.