21 AUGUST 1936, Page 6


TO describe the attitude of the Daily Mail in regard to the Spanish Civil War as outrageous is to practise an almost quixotic economy of language. I am not speaking of the paper's opinions. No one cares what they are. But there are certain canons of journalistic honesty to which even the Daily Mail might be expected to pay some kind of reluctant tribute. After reading its account of the fall of Badajoz that illusion is dispelled once for all. The Mail, unique among English papers, had a special correspondent in Badajoz. He entered it with the victorious insurgent forces. And to judge liom his report as printed he is unique among special correspondents in his capacity for failing to see what stared him in the face. (I say, designedly, "to judge from his report as printed," for he may well have tele- graphed far more than his paper chose to publish.) For the Mail knows nothing of the hideous atrocities, the mass- executions of defenders in hundreds, the hideous massacres by the Moors, of which every other London paper—The Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Morning Post and the rest—was full. The Daily Express spoke in headlines of " the Badajoz Horror " ; to the Mail there was merely " a brilliant feat "—the capture of the town. The captors, Moors and the Foreign Legion, figure as " Gen. Franco's seasoned African troops." On the other hand, " The action of the Daily Mail in exposing the Reds' atrocities in Spain was warmly commended from pulpits in all parts of Britain yesterday." A colour-blindness which leaves atrocities invisible except when Reds commit them is either misfortune or malignity, according to whether it is involuntary or deliberate.

Lord Banbury of Southam was a survival from a past epoch, for his role of obstructor-in-chief was played exclusively in the House of Commons, of which he ceased to be a member in 1924, and he had largely abandoned it sonic time before his career in that Chamber ended. Not that he ever transgressed, or came near transgressing, the rules of the House. He knew them far too well. But those interminable, unilluminated speeches could kill any debate, and frustrate any snap division while the Whips called their men up. Much could be forgiven the right honourable baronet, none the less, for the ardour and profound sincerity of his campaigns against cruelty to animals. "

• The service in Cornish in Truro Cathedral on Sunday has got a paragraph in most of the papers, • but it is very hard to see any raison d'etre for it. The Cornish language is stone dead so far as common usage is concerned—a lady named Doll Pentreath, of Mousehole, was said to be the last person to speak it naturally, and she died, I fancy, a century or more ago—and there could be no possible point in trying to revive it. For philologists and antiquarians it no doubt has a legitimate interest, but it would take a good many of .them to. fill Truro Cathedral. A quotation in this column headed " Our Gram- marians " has elicited the comment that The Spectator might properly be castigated for using the heading, What Should We Fight For ? " since " a preposition is a had word to end a sentence with." But is it ? And why ? I know the purists say so, and no doubt the thing can be carried too far ; for example, " What book would you like to be read to out of ? " But far better he clear and vigorous than stilted and ineffective.

* * If the German Foreign Office really controlled German foreign policy the appointment of Dr. Dieckhoff as State Secretary and Baron von Weiszacker as head of the Political Department, would be distinctly reassuring. Dr. Dieckhoff was well known in London as Counsellor at the Embassy in Carlton House Terrace and he has handled Germany's relations with Great Britain ever since his return to the Wilhelmstrasse. Baron von Weiszacker was for several years head of the League of Nations section at the Foreign Office, and regularly attended all meetings of any importance at Geneva. Both he and Dr. Dieckhoff, like the Foreign Minister, Baron von Neurath, are men of international outlook. but they have, of course, to reckon with Nazi party leaders who are not.

* * *.

The impending publication (first of all in the Daily Telegraph) of the memoirs of Colonel Dreyfus is an event of singular interest. Only the middle-aged re- member the succession of sensations created throughout Europe by the charge against Dreyfus of the sale of military secrets ; his condemnation ; Zola's famous J' Accuse ; the account of the re-trial at Rennes in 1899 by that brilliant journalist' G. W. E. Steevens ; the final confession of Esterhazy ; and the belated rehabilita- tion of Dreyfus after four and a half years on Devil's Island. No one can understand Anatole France's L'Ile des Pingouins without knowing something of the case and the anti-semite campaign of which it was the climax, and admirers of that novel will welcome the oppor- tunity of refreshing their memory on the facts of a case that shook the French Republic to its foundations.

* * I am glad to be able to record that Dr. Rendel Harris, whose life was despaired of a couple of months ago, has made a remarkable recovery. Superest vita in vetere cane, he assured a visitor last week, in the course of a conversation in which classical quotations, textual emendations and philological conjectures came as thick and fast as they did, when Dr. Harris (who' is still confined to the house) was 48 instead of 84.

* * Juniper Hall is not in peril after all. It is the adjacent estate of Juniper Hill that is in the market.. The fault was mine. Defective vision , or my car's. excessive .speed caused me to- mis-read the notice as I passed. „I