19 JUNE 1964, Page 13

Sta,—Opera has always bedevilled the policies of the Arts Council,

as Sir Alan Herbert has recently pointed out. Is this florid, melodramatic art, alien to England, always to be encouraged at the expense of our literary arts? Without being bemused like Mr. Duncan with the idea of institutionalising the arts via the two-political parties, let us now applaud the efforts of A. P. H. and the Society of Authors. And may I refer Mr. A. C. H. Smith, who mistakenly imagines that good writers and painters flourish in capitalist America, to a scathing essay by a leading critic, Professor Richard Blackmur, in his book The Lion and the Honeycomb, published over here by Methuen? This pretty factual evidence— figures of earnings of some key figures among his friends--is meant to move and shock. Actually, they seem far worse than some spotlighted by the Earl of Longford in the Lords Arts debate. Painters also should be warned against the easy dollar market, as another myth.

Mr. Hallinan is exceptional for a Welsh Tory in 'the City of Dreadful Knights,' in which amateur standards have won the day. I wish his statements were true of the Welsh capital, where the family of philistines and materialists has engulfed a very wide radius of the country.