In the familiar category of reporters' novels is Troubling of
a Star, a neat routine job, but very well done, on the Korean war. with attractive excursions to Japan : excellent on cowardice. insufficiency, matrimonial chitchat, and horrors; and with a good ear for dialogue. As peace propaganda its descriptions of napalm bombing beat anything 1 can think of.
The Political Ideas of Harold J. Laski, by Herbert A. Deane, reviewed last week, is published by Columbia University Press and O.U.P., not C.U.P. as stated.
The Imitable Max
SPECTATOR COMPETITION No. 269 Report by Edward Blishen
Competitors were asked to suppose that there has always been a Max Beerbohm and to provide an extract from his reminiscences of Shakespeare, Milton, Blake, Byron, lane Austen or Charlotte Bronze.
THE famous epithet did not deter. A very few entries had no dandy's way with words; a few made Max-how improbably ! -pro- nounce important judgements on the great. But most competitors understood how beautifully, with what deft clumsiness, he would have missed his chances. 'Our hostess addressed him as "Will.". . . Only after- wards did it flash upon me what an incom- parable opportunity I had bungled away' (R. Kennard Davis). They knew his trick of measuring himself against a giant in such a way that gianthood is made faintly ridiculous. 'It would have been difficult to find two persons differing more profoundly, and in more respects, than Lord Byron and myself. Indeed, apart from an interest , in literature and sex, or rather-to put it less ambiguously-apart from sex and an interest in literature, we had no character- istics in common' (R. S. Stanier). They caught the very sighing sound of his voice. I journeyed into Hampshire not unbeset, I must aver, by some faint apprehen- sion. . . . Was it an ungallantry in me to suspect a novelist's stratagem to amplify her gallery of victims?' (John Digby). They caught, too, that elment of exquisite decorum in Max's style that suggests that Fowler's Modern English Usage might have taken to the pen. 'Riderless and unattended the horse was as it stood outside the theatre, and I fancied that I detected in its eye the glint of a purposed nomady. None the quicklier for my nescience of equine lore, I Was stretching forth 'a detaining hand, When I noticed a man in a passageway' (Leslie Johnson).
among. R. Kennard Davis, Ongar and J. Aitken. A short head behind were all those mentioned above and Findlay P. Murdoch, C. H. P., Allan M. Laing, L. E. J. and A. M. Sayers.
(a. KENNARD DAVIS) On Jane Austen
Whenever I am introduced to a lady novelist, I feel like some particularly humble beetle in the presence of an entomologist. I become conscious of a pair of penetrating eyes, and the possibility of a yet more penetrating pin. Would Miss Austen decide to exhibit my desiccated form, coupled with that of another victim, under some such label as 'Pomp and Petulance' or 'Arrogance and Affability'? I hoped that among those brilliantly coloured Comets, those sleek and posturing clerics who surrounded her, I might pass as a specimen too ordinary for the showcase. However, for greater security, I appealed to her as a modest fellow-author (since dog, they say, does not eat dog) and asked for her advice.
'Use your eyes,' she counselled me, 'and write only of what you understand.'
`That, madam,' I replied, 'would curtail my output quite intolerably!' 'Intolerably?' she queried. 'Pray, to whom?'
(oNamt) On Milton
THE post-budget behaviour of the 'Stock Exchange has been disappointing but- not surprising. The shadow of the General Election has begun to creep over the mar- kets, and the , threat of another major strike has been damping investment ardour. Moreover, the return of the newspapers brought the return of the commentators, and their not very intelligent comment on the outlook for the gilt-edged market was distinctly bearish. 31 per cent. War Loan has been marked down to 81i ex-dividend, against 86 'cum' a short while ago. At this price it yields over 4+ per cent. The equity share markets began to recover in the middle of the week. The fall was never severe—the Index reacted only from 189.3 to 183—and it was occasioned by very little selling. Steel shares were perhaps affected more than others because a bull position had been built up, but good buy- ing was reported for UNITED STEEL at 32s. At this price the yield is 6.15 per cent. As the shares had previously been carried up to yield 5.8 per cent., it suggests that a Conservative victory would put them on a 51 per cent. to 51 per cent. basis. Not every 'blue chip' followed the decline. BOWATER'S were 5s. up on the sharply in- creased dividend and profits. IMPERIAL CHEMICAL also went against the trend with a rise to 44s. This was in anticipation of the dividend due this week. Some optimists are going for 12-} per cent. for the year against an equivalent 7+ per cent, So impor- tant is this announcement that it may well set the tone of the market for some time.
• The'trading results of sPitLERs for the year ended January 31 last were par- ticularly good. Profits arc up by 121 per cent. and, thanks to the saving of EPL, net profits (after tax) arc 60 per cent. up at £1,489,000. Earnings amounted to 28.4 per cent., and the dividend on the capital, increased by a 50 per ccnt. bonus, is brought up to 11 per cent. (against the equivalent of 81 per cent.). At 43s. 6d. the yield is 5.2 per cent. The freeing of the millers from Government control of their raw material undoubtedly enlarged their again the housing industry has defied all predictions of a slow-down.
• • • Yet there is still something wrong about the steepness of the Wall Street rise. The Fulbright Committee did not secure enough statistical information about the buying of pension funds and trust funds and the effects of the capital gains tax on market supply. These factors may well account for the inadequacy of the supply of 'blue chip' equities to meet the ever-increasing de- mand. The Sears Roebuck pension fund, for example, now holds 26 per cent. of the total capital of the company. General Motors has bought nearly every day for the past four years 2,000 of its own shares in the market—for an 'incentive compensa- tion plan'—which is said to be 15 per cent. of all GM shares traded. It seems to me that the Securities and Exchange Commission should conduct a more searching inquiry into demand and supply on Wall Street.
profit margins, but the bad harvests of 1954 must also have increased Spillers's sales to farmers of animal feeding-stuff. With the exception of MCDOIJGALLS TRUST, Spillers is now giving the highest of the dividend yields in the milling group and, without exception, the highest of the earn- ings' yields.
THOMAS TILLING is now an industrial trust whose 'family of firms' is still grow- ing apace. Last year it acquired a Notting- ham firm of dyers and finishers, and a holding in the Brush Group for £548,000, which at the end of December had a mar- ket value of £750,000. Since December it has bought Mutual Finance, a hire-pur- chase, brokerage and banking business, Walton Hosiery, a Nottingham firm mak- ing nylons, and a further holding in Lime- Sand Mortar. Its other subsidiaries include Spray and Burgass, dyers and finishers, of Nottingham; Newey arid Eyre, electrical engineers, of Dudley; Bagshawes, of Dunstable, manufacturers of conveyors and chains; Mark Dawson, worsted spin- ners, of Bradford; Hobourn Aero Com- ponents, of Rochester; James A. Jobling, makers of Pyrex ovenware; Daimler Hire; Stratstone, Troy and Company, builders; and the Cornhill Insurance Company. Not every one of these subsidiaries did so well last year—the Cornhill had 'an un- usual toll of disaster'—but the directors of Tilling are building up their industrial group on quality and character of manage- ment. They take infinite care, they say, to assure themselves that their subsidiaries are directed by men of high character and proved ability. No doubt this policy will pay good dividends in the long run. Last year earnings amounted to 17 per cent. and dividends were raised from 71 per cent. to 10 per cent. The earnings' cover will have to he built up, and at 44s. 6d., to yield 4} per cent., the ordinary shares are discounting a good deal. The directors are replenishing their finances after their many acquisitions by raising over £2 mil- lion from an issue of 2,200,000 preference shares.
THE CUNARD STEAM-SHIP COMPANY LIMITED
A Shipbuilding Liability of £19 Million Reply to the "Clever" Figure Merchant
COLONEL Denis H. Bates, Chairman of the Company, in a statement to stockholders for submission at the 78th Annual Meeting to be held on May 18th says : The Cunard, Port and Brocklebank Lines maintain world-wide services and 1 express warm thanks to all in the ships and to all our shore staffs and agents who have overcome the many difficulties of 1954.
Whilst North Atlantic passenger trade has been reasonably good, cargo results have been disappointing. In the consolidated accounts, the reduction in operating surplus of £1,946,164 is mainly due to the continuing impact of reduced cargo earnings and lower freight rates as well as labour troubles and increased running costs. Ilk 1954 balance-surplus of £2,157,266 is satis- factory in view of the year's difficulties and when so many factors arc outside our influence. Recommended is a final dividend of 7% on the increased ordinary capital.
The board have had capitalisation for pur- Poses of maintenance, under constant review. In early autumn 1953 it was clear the fleet value in the 1954 balance sheet would show a considerable increase, despite the depreciation allowance, which between 1949 and 1953 had roughly absorbed the cost of new tonnage. Accordingly the board prepared for the capital Increase to £13,000,000 of 1954.
PROSPECT'S REASONABLY GOOD and set aside for replacement by normal de- preciation £12,815,000 with a further £11,877,000 to reserve to meet part of the extra cost of building.
Operational costs continue to rise and delays in port are not only costly but stultify to pro- vide more efficient ships.
REPLY TO CRITICISM OF DIRECTORS' POLICY Another problem is that of the "clever" figure merchant, who without practical know- ledge of running ships, juggles with figures to press directors for higher dividends than they in their experience consider wise in the Com- pany's interests. COMPANY MEETINGS