27 JANUARY 2001, Page 29

Miser of distinction

From Mr John Vincent

Sir: Mr Alistair Cooke, in his erudite comments on the rotten borough of Ilchester (Letters, 20 January), is perhaps a shade harsh when he describes Lionel Talmash, 8th Earl of Dysart (1794-1878), as 'one who led an utterly undistinguished life'. On the contrary, the 8th Earl was a miser of real distinction. His habit was to collect £100,000 banknotes, of which at one time he possessed the entire national supply then in circulation. Such 'utter lack of distinction' is something many might be happy to plead guilty to.

John Vincent