23 JANUARY 1926, Page 23


The Brighter Side of European Chaos. By Vernon Bartlett. (Heath Cranton. 10s. 6d.) WnEx a Bolshevik guard enters a railway carriage, stands on one foot and then the other " like a little girl at a party," and says, " I suppose you haven't any rifles or revolvers hidden about you ? So sorry to disturb you," there is something wrong. Things are not as we have imagined them ; there is courtesy in revolutionaries, blood in stones.

It may be, as Sir Philip Gibbs suggests in his introduction to Mr. Bartlett's book, that the author might have used his sense Of humour more bitterly to expose the bungling idealists and narrow animosities of after-War Europe, and to make us feel " extremely uncomfortable." But it might almost as well be argued that Mr. Bartlett did well in using his sense of humour exactly as he has used it. Foreign policy, as it is discussed in newspapers, is almost completely de-humanized ; it is a matter of governments and not of peoples. If sympathy between different nations is desirable—and Mr. Bartlett as a supporter of the League of Nations must believe that it is —then it is possible that this book may have as good an effect, because it is kindly and amusing, as it would if it were satirical. Out of the chaos Mr. Bartlett has selected a few unrelated ingredients, some humour, some sentiment, some on the border-line between tragedy and comedy.

The author arrived at Cluj in Rumania with a bandage over his eye; having been bitten by an insect en route. " When explained to the Rumanians," he writes, " that I had not been in a motor accident, but merely a wagon lit, they hastened to point out that the sleeping-car had come from Hungary. And when my Hungarian friends in Budapest learned the cause of the black shade that I wore over my left eye, they

shrugged their shoulders : " If you will travel in Rumania," they observed, " what can you expect ? "

This is an eminently readable book, discursive and agreeable, with many vivid sidelights on the mentality of Europe as it is to-day.