18 OCTOBER 1963, Page 15

The Approach of Robbins A. D.C. Peterson, J. Daly Mr.

Utley's Non-Answer Philip Skelsey The Lonely Ones Miss Elaine Sherwood Lawyers' Loot 'City SoliciJor' Contact Harold I-Thad Better by Bus B. C. Southant

Shakespearean Valentines Peter Quennell, John White

Lincoln Said It John Papworth Lady Geraldine's Diary Rev. E. D. M urf et , Non-Loo P. B. Darman


SIR,—It is kind of Mr. Amis to constitute himself my schoolmaster and tell me what I should learn. A tutorial from him has always been a rare privilege, but perhaps I should make clear, in case any con- trary impression arises, that it is purely a corre- spondence course which he is offering me. We have never, to the best of my knowledge, met in the flesh. May I return his tutorial kindness with a suggested reading list? He seems to assume that if a large number of people who are not seriously studying pure academic subjects in the way that everybody studied them in his day are admitted to universities, then the opportunities for those who are doing so will be destroyed. The mere presence of more people who are less purely academic but just as seriously engaged in applied science or applied social studies will do the trick.. All this is based on a belief that the ancient tradition of our universities, Which he accuses me of denigrating, is one of excluding all but pure scholars or at least aspiring pure scholars. He is clearly not amenable to arguments put for- ward in terms of facts or figures, but since his own field when he was a university teacher was Eng- lish Literature, may I suggest, as a cure for this de- lusion, a re-reading of Pendennis, Mr. Verdant Green and Decline and Fall.

Incidentally, the whole of Mr. Amis's witty pic- ture of me trying and failing to interpret my own text is a figment of his imagination. I did not, of course, invent the 'stock objection': 'debasing the standard of the degree' is a phrase which has been constantly used in this controversy and occurs in those exact words in Professor Booth's talk re- printed in last week's Listener.