A SPECTATOR 'S NOTEBOOK
IT is always pleasant to know what Cabinet Ministers think of one another. Probably they think more than they say, but even what they say has its interest. I have just been looking through Lord Londonderry's new book, Wings of Destiny. The author
was in the Cabinet from 1931 to 1935. So was Lord Simon. Of him we learn that (in connexion with the Disarmament Conference) " he [Ramsay MacDonald] and Arthur Henderson had fallen out, and he never understood Sir John Simon—nor for that matter did anyone else."
So was Lord Baldwin. Of him: "I will go so far as to say that MacDonald would have endeavoured to carry on, even in his deplorable state of health, had he thought for one moment that Baldwin would be his successor." [Whom on earth else could he have expected to see as his successor?] " S. B. invariably made the most catastrophic blunders every time he made a speech, and it always fell to me to try and restore the damage he had done."
So was Mr. Eden. Of him, to Sir Henry Page Croft: " I am horrified at our foreign policy of the moment, and am wondering whether your powerful group in the House of Commons could not compel the Government to take a sane view instead of the policy which I see Anthony is pursuing at Geneva."
This last, it is fair to add, was written after Lord Londonderry had left the Cabinet. It is fair to add also that there were Cabinet colleagues, notably Sir Samuel Hoare, of whom he speaks with warm commendation. Bonar Law was never a Cabinet colleague, which is perhaps as well, for " I never got on well with Bonar Law. I did not understand his somewhat pawky conversation and I did not feel he had any breadth of vision."
Not even over the Ulster question and the Curragh?
The interest aroused by the announcement that Sir Max Beerbohm Is to deliver the Rede Lecture at Cambridge in May will be increased by the knowledge that he is taking as his subject Lytton Strachey. The views of an undeniably eminent Victorian on the author of Eminent Victorians and the school of historical writing—history by means of selective biography—which the latter did so much to popularise, should be of singular interest, particularly as they are at the same time the views of a distinguished Oxford writer on a distinguished Cambridge writer. It cannot be often, by the way, that a country parish of the size of Abinger produces two Rede lecturers in three years. In 1941 Sir Max's neighbour, E. M. Forster, took as his subject Virginia Woolf—in this case a Cambridge novelist and critic on an essentially Cambridge novelist and critic.
The bulletins of the past fortnight made it clear that there could be little hope of Cardinal Hinsley's recovery, and it is inevitable that in circles where the importance of the Archbishopric of West- minster, particularly at such a time as this, was recognised anxious thought should be given to the question of the succession. I have heard two names mentioned, those of Monsignor Godfrey, the Apostolic Delegate, and of Bishop Mathew, the present Bishop Auxiliary of Westminster. Both are relatively young men, the former being 53 and the latter only 41, a difference which migh in this connexion tell in favour of Monsignor Godfrey, who h wide ecclesiastical experience both at Rome and in England. Bish Mathew (who served as a midshipman for a short time at the of the last war, afterwards going on to Balliol) is a historian distinction, and his appointment, I judge, would be welcomed b
many of the younger Roman Catholic clergy.
* * * * Few men who have known so much have been so unencumbere by their knowledge as Laurence Binyon, who died last week. I the forty years of his work at the British Museum he studied fo delight, with the result that he became a rare interpreter of Orient art to the West ; and at a later date, when he visited Japan an reversed the process, he was no less successful. But I believe th in his view poetry was the art that governed all the others, an that perhaps was why he was so successful a critic of Blake's wor At all periods of his adult life he found expression from time time in original verse, in which his shy, meditative nature, perce tive to the undercurrents of modern life, gave rare and new quail to traditional metres. " To the Fallen " has become imperishabl Having seen the first great war in that spirit, Binyon was p foundly moved and disturbed by the coming of a second, whic came to sadden his last years in retirement—though he was sti translating Dante—in the beautiful farmhouse he lived in on th Downs near Streatley.
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Sir Ernest Benn has disturbed me gravely. He has unearth a scandal which, so far as I know, had gone completely unobserved and the matter must obviously be probed to its hidden depths "Millions of copies," he affirms, writing on the Beveridge Repo in the Daily Telegraph, "have been circulated at the taxpayers expense." Millions. Sir Ernest does not say how many million but there must be at least two to justify the use of the plat Let us pursue the implications of this for a moment. The Statione Office's total print, of both the full report and an official condensa tion, is, I learn, in the region of half a million. That would see to leave some 1,5oo,000 unaccounted for. Actually it leaves th whole 2,000,000, for the official publications are paying their wa cheerfully and not costing the taxpayer a penny. There is on], one conclusion. The 2,000,000 are being printed secretly and circa lated surreptitiously. This must be tracked down relentlessly.
Government whose plans are clandestine as well as prodigal descry
to be ruthlessly exposed. Sir Ernest has rendered a notable publi service. Se non e vero
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This war has brought to birth one or two terms and phrase that I wish it would bring to death. "Under-belly," for exampl Who coined the phrase "under-belly of the Axis " I don't know nor do I want to know him. I have no objection to belly as such When over-stpleamish sixth-form boys regularly translated vente as " stomach " my headmaster used to say, very rightly, " Don' be afraid of the word belly ; it's a perfectly good old English word.
So it is, and highly Biblical. But "under-belly " is neither good nor old, nor English. So at least I submit with some confident (in spite of the fact that one gentleman did, I believe, use it one three hundred and more years ago to denote a kangaroo's pouch) Why not assume that the Axis has just one belly, and that it is tha which is going (or not going) to be attacked? jANus.