A SPECTATOR'S NOTEBOOK
MR. CHURCHILL'S broadcast on Tuesday evening presents something of a problem. That it was less effective than most, perhaps than any, of his wireless talks during the war will, I fancy, be generally agreed. That, of course, means no more than that the talk fell something short of perfection, for the Prime Minister as a broadcaster is supreme. But was this impression merely subjective, due to the fact that atmospherics prevented the speaker's own voice from being heard? Mr. Churchill's addresses do not consist simply of what he says. They are a compound of that and of what he is—and he succeeds beyond any living man in getting his personality across the air. The speech was admirably read from Broadcasting House, but again and again I found myself wondering just what emphasis and inflexion the Prime Minister would have put into this sentence or that. But that in any case was not the whole story. There was some general disappointment, though no general complaint, at the colourlessness of the communiqué issued after the Quebec Confer- ence, and a. corresponding hope that Mr. Churchill would be able to throw a little more light on the general situation, which he did not. Chance, moreover, provided rather a pointed commentary on the speech. Immediately after it came the announcement of Russian victories and the Orders of the Day in which Marshal Stalin sig- nalised them. In a comparison between the Russian Prime Minister's words about what the Russian armies had done and the British Prime Minister's about what the British and American armies would one day do the advantage could not by the nature of things be with the latter.
In one respect Mr. Churchill has caused alarm, if not despondency. This irresponsible word-coining is getting serious. It was bad enough when the Home Secretary perpetrated " triphibious," but when the Prime Minister, to demonstrate Cabinet solidarity, follows with " triphibian," something must be done about it—as I feel certain the President of the Board of Education agrees. Amphi-bious —from amphi, both, and bios, life—is completely correct for creatures that live both lives, a water one and a land one. Tribious—from tri, three, and bios, life, would be equally correct for denizens of three elements—land, sea and air—and there is much to be said for the addition of such a term to the language. But why this Cabinet devotion to the meaningless second half of amphi? The Greek language and its derivations can't be carved about with a hatchet. Phi, phi, Mr. Churchill, Mr. Morrison.
Mr. Brendan Bracken make a debating-point that evidently pleased his audience when, in reply to a question at his Press Conference in New York about the education of Germany, he observed that the best of all possible educators was Air-Chief-Marshal Sir Arthur Harris. But the question is too important for that summary treat- ment, and future problems are not disposed of by " bomb, burn and ruthlessly destroy " threats. Our habit as a nation is to leave loud talk to the other side, and it is a good habit. The air-war on German cities is justified by the conviction that it serves to shorten the war as a whole, but no one can read the description of its immediate effects without being profoundly sobered—if only by the reflection that this might, and may yet, be happening to English cities. In what the Minister said about Rudolf Hess he was, I imagine, trying to explode some of the lurid stories which have gained currency in the United States. One of them (" Inside Story of the Hess Flight "), quoted from the American Mercury, is printed in a- recent issue of the Reader's Digest (American edition). It is asserted there that the whole affair represented a brilliant piece of work by the British Secret Service, which, by corresponding with Hess in the name of the Duke of Hamilton without the knowledge of the Duke of Hamilton, induced the Nazi leader to undertake his flight to Scotland. Faith in the anonymous writer's omniscience is a little shaken by his refertnce to " the tiny village of Paisley " (which happens to tie the fifth largest burgh in Scotland). Meanwhile the popular Press here has broken out superfluously into Hess stories.
I do not always agree with Mr. Bernard Shaw. On the contrary on the whole. But a reply he has sent to some body called " The Council for the International Recognition of Indian Independence in reply to an invitation to join its council deserves quotation. " I cannot give my support," says Mr. Shaw, " because, though I am probably at one with the signatories of the invitation as to making India a separate and self-governing Power [I am not one of those who] imagine that Independence, called in America Isolation, is possible between the Powers. On the contrary, what needs rubbing-in is their dependence on one another for the peace, friendly co-operation and political integrations without which they will destroy one another. . . . Also, India's business is not my personal business ; my intrusion into India's affairs would be an impertinence. India's battle must be won by Indians and not by Europeans with their eyes in the ends of the earth." This is very sound sense. (The words between brackets are conjectural ; the sentence as circulated does not read.) In connexion with its centenary, to which I made some reference last week, The Economist has arranged for the publication (by the Oxford University Press, at 7s. 6d.) of a most interesting book on the paper's history and its place in the national life from 1843 to 1943. The present editor's general article, Sir John Clapham's on " The Economist as a Source for the Historian," and Mr. E. L. Woodward's " Political Retrospect," are on a particularly high level. Most of the critics find obvious difficulty in holding in check their admiration for the journal they serve or have served, which with something like unanimity, they characterise as " unique." (So, for that matter, is Hitler.) Mr. Ray Stannard Baker, President Wilson's biographer, once wrote, under his nom-de-guerre, David Grayson, a pleasant book called Essays in Contentment. That would make an admirable sub-title for the present volume. But no one can take exception to a slight exuberance on so memorable an occasion
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A little privately-printed booklet has reached me which well deserves a wider circulation—if, as I hope and believe, the life and work of the Lake Poets, greater and less, still commands some attention. To those who do care for such things the title of the booklet—Greta Hall—will be all sufficient. The writer, H. W. Howe, headmaster of Keswick School, into whose hands the old home of the Coleridges and Southeys has now passed, does not claim to have contributed anything new to their story (except a very interesting and admirably executed plan of Greta Hall, with the occupancies of the various rooms indicated), but he has very skilfully woven the relevant facts about the famous house, its tenants and their vicissi- tudes, into a monograph which I have read with peculiar pleasure. The price-4s. 6d. for 78 pages, paper-bound—is high, but with a limited number of copies, privately printed, that no doubt must needs be. The inset plan, moreover, covering the equivalent of three pages, must have been expensive. jANUS. pages, must have been expensive. jANUS.