3 DECEMBER 1937, Page 42


The only excuse for this little book (Maclehose, 12s. 6d.) lies in the fact that Elizabeth Haldane belongs to a remarkable family, and in her own sphere has done good public work. She does not press this fact unduly upon the reader, in fact is rather too consciously arrayed in humility. Her brothers have made a deep mark on the history of their time through politics and science, but to read " after this my brother John and I made a very enjoy- able visit to Essen," followed by a catalogue of meetings and schools, and ending with " we were allowed to see nothing of the works of Essen itself," is hardly inspiriting. Many distinguished names appear on her pages but Miss Haldane has not the gift of phrase nor the observation of an artist and the result is pedestrian. For example, the following sentence is not redeemed by the mention of a great name : " I met Lord Milner last at Windsor Cast2,_ and had an interesting talk with him." There is too much of this sort of thing ; no doubt the states- man did make himself pleasant to her but we would rather hear what it was he said. By far the most interesting part of a volume which treats of great events is the account of Miss Haldane's early childhood in Scotland, with its restric- tions and rigid discipline, and an alarmed shrinking on the part of parents at the idea of any form of independence for their daughters. On Sundays no secular reading, or sport, not even a walk outside the grounds of Cloan, the family home. The clothes seem to have been dreadful ; voluminous and heavy, flannel petticoats, tightly swathed necks. All this is told with great good humour, and one is left with an impression of the horror of woollen stockings, and a sense that Miss Haldane, to her credit, likes silk ones better.