24 DECEMBER 1910, Page 18


[TO THY EDITOR OF THE "SpEcrwros.") SIR,—I often in a wind when the sun shines use a burning-glass for lighting cigarettes. Could you tell me whether the next time I take one to France I shall have to pay 2 fr. or 40 fr. duty on it, and whether the rate will vary according to the length of daylight and probable sunshine on that particular day ? Could I get the duty refunded if I could prove that it had been foggy all the time I was in the benighted country P—I am,

[In Italy, where salt is a Government monopoly, it used to be, and for all we know may still be, an offence against the revenue to fill a saucepan with sea water wherein to boil vegetables. We have heard of a cordon of soldiers being drawn across the shore to prevent such breaches of the law. In the same way, it would seem necessary to hold that to steal fire from the sun would be to infringe the Government match monopoly. If so, Bastiat's reductio ad absurdum of the candlemakers' petition to be protected from the unfair competition of the heavenly illuminant would have come true.—ED. Spectator.]