16 FEBRUARY 1940, Page 16

I asked him to give me instances. He said that

on many points the American undergraduate was better informed upon European affairs than the British undergraduate. He knew about the Southern Dobrudja, and who the Kutzo Wallachs were and what was the extent of autonomy now enjoyed by the Slovaks. And then suddenly would come a question which, without arousing even momentary consterna- tion in the audience, showed that the true proportions of the world situation were in no way understood. " For instance," he said, " at three or four places I was asked whether the moment had not come for Great Britain to grant independ- ence to Canada. They only smiled a knowing smile when I explained to them the true nature of Dominion status." How well I recognise that knowing smile! It is the smile which flickers across the face of a Soviet school-teacher when you inform her that education in Great Britain is universal ; it is the smile which illumines the Aryan features of a Nazi youth- leader when you assure him that the British Conservative party are not in fact instruments in the hands of international Jewry ; it is the smile with which the believer rejects heretical truth, with which the ignorant reassure themselves that faith is a firmer thing than knowledge. Of all forms of facial expression it is perhaps the hardest to bear.