10 MARCH 1939, Page 14



p OLITICIANS share with theatrical companies the fre- quent disadvantage of travelling on Sundays. Few experiences are more dispiriting. So potent is the Sabba- tarian tradition of the British railways that they adopt every known device to impress upon the pagan traveller a sense of sin. Unheated, uncorridored, and ill-lit do these Sunday penitentiaries rumble across England. The oldest engines, the most ancient carriages, arc dragged from their sheds to minister to this mortification ; a single gas-light, with its mantle askew, winks at the sunset 2nd the later moon ; and the platforms of unimportant stations gape at one—recurrent, wooden and aloof as the benches in a village school. The repos hebdomadaire is rendering Sunday communications upon the Continent almost as bad. Coming back from Brussels on Sunday last, I discovered that the night boat from Antwerp had also turned Sabbatarian, and that I should be obliged to drag my way home by Rotterdam and the Hook. The light in my compartment, which had been quite garish when I entered it at the Southern station, suddenly dimmed to a Sunday obscurity ; I laid down my book and glanced at the other occupant of the carriage. We exchanged words of sympathy and commiseration. I found that he was a Belgian industrialist of advanced middle age. I also found that he was ostentatious regarding the extent and the sources of his information. I adopted the pose of the modest listener.