17 APRIL 1936, Page 6


IN his election speech at Lyon on Friday M. Herriot 1 made what seems to me a remarkable statement, though no notice appears to have been taken of it. • Sir- Austen Chamberlain, lie is reported to have said, told him that the Geneva Protocol of 1924 was rejected by the British Cabinet by a single vote. I find it hard to believe that actually only a single vote turned the scale between approval and rejection, and quite as hard to believe that even if that were so a Minister so rigorous regarding all t he proprieties as Sir Austen Chamberlain would have divulged the fact. The general impression, which M. Herriot's words do not dispel, was that the Protocol, in whose elaboration the Labour Government•had co-oper- ated actively at Geneva, found no friends in the Conserva- tive Cabinet which succeeded it. The case against the Protocol was stated in a memorandum submitted to the .Cabinet by Lord Balfour, who was then Lord President of the Council, and his colleagues were so impressed by his reasoning that the document was read almost as it stood by Sir Austen Chamberlain to the League Council in March, 1925, as the British Government's statement of its reasons for declining to ratify the Protocol.

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There is one French word whose mis-translation is so frequent and can make such an unfortunate impression that I mention it in the hope that this paragraph may possibly catch the eye of some -habitual translators from the French. A glaring example of it occurs- in the reproductions in Tuesday's daily papers of the important article contributed by M. Laval to the Moniteur of Clermont-Ferrand. Speaking of Herr Hitler's proposals 111. Laval is made to say, " If it is argued that we are going to encounter any deceptions I reply that we must show and prove that we have a persistent desire to construct peace," and further on the phrase occurs, " France has been deceived by Great Britain's attitude." In both eases, particularly the first, the translation suggests a clear ascription of deliberate intent to mislead. Did M. Laval mean that ? Not at all. There is no such implication in the French word " deception," which has, as usual, obviously been simply transliterated instead of translated. " Deception " most commonly means merely " disappointment." Substitute that word for " deception " in the first case, and " disappointed " for " deceived " in the second, and the whole thing becomes clear and inoffensive. And Herr Hitler is no longer charged with intent to mislead.

• • On Sunday evening a woman walked in a cloak to the altar in St. Paul's Cathedral, dropped the cloak and stood there naked. It was a strange proceeding, and it laid a severe tax on our Victorian daily Press, which, as is well known, can never face the horror of the word " n*k*-d." In this case the Daily Telegraph described the lady as " unclothed " ; so did the Daily Mail; so did the Daily Ea-press. The Daily Herald went so far as to call her " nude " in a heading and " unclothed " elsewhere. The News Chronicle favoured " unclothed " and " unclad." I may be a libertine, but I cannot for the life of me see why in such circumstances you should not tell the naked or nude; or unclothed, or unclad—truth. The National Union of Journalists at itS Conference at Carlisle lait week passed a resolution -" deploring the recent tendency to introduce what amounted to a covert censorship by Government Departments on news bearing on foreign affairs." No paper that I have seen gives the full text of the resolution or the arguments on which it rested, but it will be very unfortunate if the impression gains ground that newspapers in this country are prevented from saying what they like about foreign affairs. With some considerable experience in this particular field I have never come • across anything that could be remotely described as a covert censorship. There is, of course, a news department at the Foreign Office, and very necessary it is and very ably it is staffed. But the invariable attitude of the officials of that depart- ment as I have known it is to say in effect, " That is the position as we see it ; of course you must use your own judgement and say what you like about it." Advice is often sought by journalists, and it is given " to be taken or left." So far as the Foreign Office is con- cerned, and that is obviously the Department primarily responsible for " news bearing on foreign affairs," its relations with the Press are a model of what such things should be.

* .* • The report of the head of the Dutch Red Cross unit in Abyssinia, to the effect that he had 'lost 64 out of his 67 mules owing to the grass being poisoned by mustard- gas bombs dropped by Italian aeroplanes, should not go unnoticed. A fortnight or more ago, when the first reliable reports of the use of poison-gas were being received in this country, a British General commented on the immense suffering that would be caused to animals, quite apart from the injuries to human beings. Men and women can at any rate make some attempt to protect themselves from asphyxiating gases, but animals are obviously blind and helpless victims, and the lot of any. beast wandering into a gas-area for weeks afterwards may be simply a lingering and agonising death.

* * When I read in a leading article in the Daily Express that " Lake Tana is still British, and will remain so " I wonder for a moment whether it is geography or politics that I am being taught. Not geography, I see, for a little earlier the writer mentions the incontrovertible fact that the lake is in Abyssinian territory. As to the political side, the much-discussed sheet of water was till last week just as much and as little British as the Lake of Lucerne. Has some secret annexation taken place since ? .

*- * " This step," said Mr. Baldwin, " Was not a progressive but a retrograde step, and in his view the time was not nearly ripe for it." But a time for moving backwards will evidently come.

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" The rescuers raced to the scene by horse and buggy over an inaccessible mountain-tra4."-'—The Belfast News Lefler.

Quite right. I always take a buggy myklf when I want