20 DECEMBER 1946, Page 5

I heard this week a story which may have appeared

in print before, though I doubt it. Campbell-Bannerman entered the Cabinet for the first time as Secretary of State for War in 1886 in Glad- stone's third administration. When the King's Speech was under consideration it was found to contain a Latin quotation, and the new Secretary for War made bold to question its accuracy. His colleagues were aghast at his temerity, but the classicist Prime Minister received the suggestion with urbanity. "Bring me," he said to his secretary, " the Martial I was using yesterday." The volume appeared, and was carefully consulted. " I find," said the Prime Minister, " that the Secretary for War is perfectly right. But," he added, glaring round the table, " the words are taken from a poem which no decent man ought to read."