19 MARCH 1921, Page 12


[To THE EDITOR Or ME " SPECTATOR.") SIR, —The test piece which you quoted in your issue of March 5th from Lady Glenconner's The Earthern Vessel ran thus:— " It is to be found in a room downstairs. The page is number 14, and the message is three-quarters way down the page. It is in the eighth book on the third shelf counting from right to left. You will find something round connected with the book in question. Close to it there is a book which tells of great spaces. ' It is a book which tells of the stare.'" Lady Glenconner put this to the test to the satisfaction of all concerned. I too have put it to the test, with this result: The eighth book on the third shelf counting from right to left is Lecky's Eighteenth Century, Vol. VIII. Immediately underneath it on the fourth shelf is Whitaker's Almanack with the signs of the Zodiac strung out on its paper cover and title-page, telling of " great spaces . . . of the stars." For some time I failed to find " something round connected with the book in question." The eighteenth or any other century represented a fairly " round " number—but that did not seem to satisfy. On the cloth of the cover, which was otherwise as good as new, there was a round blot of ink as large as a finger nail—a frontispiece (Lady Glenconner's interpretation) is not " connected with " a book, it is included in it—my blot is incidentally " connected " with the outside cover. There is no 'doubt about the book. So I turn to p. 14, and three-quarters was' down I find the words: " It is by this kind of seduction that numberless of the ignorant . . . were drawn . by better informed traitors."

When I read this aloud " it was met with the laugh of instant recognition " of its suggestive appropriateness. This was in What I call my working library.

Later in the evening, I went into another room, and tested the matter in my " fancy " library. The eighth book on the third shelf is Vol. II. of Isabella D'Este. Immediately above it on the second shelf is a volume of Keats. Who can think of his. work without recalling his sonnet on Chapman's Homer, and the lines:— " Then felt I like some watcher of the skies When a new planet swims into his ken"; or his last sonnet :— "Bright star! would I were stedfast as thou art."

Next on the second shelf are Lewis Morris's volumes, Epic of Hades and Vision of Saints—books that tell of great spaces. So the spacious star-spangled environment of the volume is secure enough. The " something round " connected with it appeam to refer to the grapes that figure prominently in the cover design. On p. 14, and three-quarters way down, clear and distinct in the midst of a very long-winded sentence about nothing in particular, comes the definite recommenda- tion within inverted commas: " Of whom the less said the better." It is the whole and sole quotation on p. 14, and it sounds appropriate : Non tali auxilio.

It remains to add that both rooms were downstairs. I leave all comment to the reader.—I am, Sir, &c.,