3 SEPTEMBER 1943, Page 13


Sta.—Mr. Lewis begins his article on equality with a brilliant statement of the truth which the world must some day discover and accept for its own salvation. Then unaccountably he loses his way and his argument becomes a defence of egoism. As a small child, secure in family affection, I cherished the notion, as children will, that I was an adopted foundling whose unknown parents were persons of high genius. Later, a classmate copied into my autograph album a maxim that helped curb my exuberant vanity. "Never despise any man, for each can do something you cannot." My progression thereafter was in the bright path of faith that most men were saints, to its dark conclusion that all men are sinners and myself not the least of them. It was a typical journey, and perhaps Mr. Lewis came a parallel way; in any case, here we meet—and part. Mr. Lewis travels on into a drab region in which equality has been so nearly achieved that its dangers-have become apparent. But where I go man has not yet learnt to identify himself in others, and so is incapable of loving his neighbour as himself.

From all the descendants of fallen Adam Mr. Lewis makes an arbitrary selection of two superior classes, monarchs and husbands. To him, honouring a king is food for the spirit ; honouring an actor or an athlete, spiritual poison. This dietitian classifies without analysing. The virtuous monarchist's opposite number is the republican of stunted and envious mind. Yet I fancy it was neither a desire to see himself in purpte velvet nor even a hatred of beautiful apparel that shaped Tom Paine's opinions, but a recognition that a truly healthy society can support no position 01 power or influence that is not open to merit.

Mr. Lewis sees in the male's physical domination of the female in primitive societies his right to a position of authority in modern marriage. The greatest pleasure in human relationships is the knowledge that the beloved has delight in one's love ; the deepest joy, the knowledge that the beloved benefits by it. Since such realisation is an intrinsic part of all consummated love I should have thought that a sense of inferiority or a consciousness of lets active participation cannot exist for the woman in the perfect sexual union, nor a feeling ';of superiority in the man: humility surely belongs to both. On the technical side modern theory confirms that ideally the partners are equal in desire, action, satisfaction. Mr. Lewis's lovers do not look towards each other ; they proceed in single file.

If there is any grace to be found in a position of subordination its significance is overwhelmed by the fact that men who abuse their power In legal and economic inequality are no more likely to prove incorruptible in the sphere of personal relations. There, too, equality is a necessary remedy against the Fall. To undress each night as Mr. Lewis suggests is an essential act of humility. For only then does one recognise that the body beneath the clothes that have been purchased by toil or talent or beauty or position or privilege is of like flesh to all other human