27 MARCH 1942, Page 14


Sta,—In the article headed " Coupons and Conscience " which appeared in your issue of March 13th, Mr. Williamson Williams describes By and large as " that meaningless phrase." It is one of the expressions derived from sea-faring which have passed into general, metaphorical usage. The bitter end and Taken aback are two others ; perhaps the commonest. Most of them belong to the days of sail. A ship is (or was) said to be sailing By [the wind] when her course makes an acute angle with the direction of the wind: Large when the angle is obtuse. In the nature of things she must do one or the other, so that metaphorically By and large is the equivalent of " In the aggregate " or " Taken all round."

I therefore think that Felicity's use of the phrase can be defended. She might have known, more or less, what it meant if she could not have explained it.--Yours very faithfully. R. H. MALDEN. The Deanery, Wells, Somerset.