24 OCTOBER 1941, Page 13

So Long

A writer who tries to look at country life in an anu-sentimental way, and writes accordingly, makes more friends than you might suppose. For that reason alone it is hard for me to give up this column. But even writers must join up. Perhaps the most satisfying thing about "Country Life " is that it invokes correspondence, as I pointed out a week or two ago, from as far north as the Arctic Circle to south of the equator. Undeterred by the fact that The Spectator reaches them many weeks late, correspondents write from New York, the Middle- West, Vancouver, Kenya, South Africa, New Zealand, and a good many other places where you might well suppose an interest in English country life was not flourishing. These correspondents, and scores of others nearer home, have written to me for advice on almost everything, from storing tomatoes to the best way to set up a chicken- farm ; they have corrected my grammar and pointed out mistakes of botany ; they have sent seeds, plants, cuttings, Press-clippings, books, pamphlets, patent gardening tools, gadgets for slicing vegetables, poems, peppermint candy, buns, recipes, brick-bats and bouquets. Letters from professors, parsons (" only the toad under this particular harrow knows how hard it is . . . "), M.P.s, soldiers, dukes, labourers, reformers, nurserymen, farmers and countless others have proved again and again how wide the modern interest in country life is. To many of these correspondents I have been able to reply ; to some I have not yet been able to do so. If they will accept this note as one of thanks and apology I shall, therefore, be grateful. To the rest, [Mr. Bates having now joined the Royal Air Force, Sir William Beach Thomas has agreed to resume charge of the column with which his name was so long associated.—ED., The Spectator.]