25 OCTOBER 1930, Page 16


[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.]

Sia,—Sir Charles Spencer must have congratulated himself on his sharp diatribe against the " dry sentimentalists," pub- lished in the Spectator of the 11th inst. One, least of all myself, could hardly expect to improve upon the comments upon it made by the Editor. A comment more dignified, more candid, yet less lengthy, I cannot conceive. But I fear Sir Charles may not understand it in its best light.

Those who are " looking out for wrongs (in the excise policy of the Indian Government) to be righted " are branded as " sentimentalists " by Sir Charles. He consumes himself with the lurid flames of mercy for the " millions of people accustomed to drink," and who in his opinion could not be " deprived of their favourite beverage all their lives " I He sheds bucketfuls of tears at the possible " plight of thousands of toddy-drawers to be driven from their ancestral occupation by the executive order." Naturally enough, because it is only obvious that in days gone by Sir Charles himself kept "the millions of people accustomed to drink" by his own " executive order " ! Also, with the milk of his "benign" human heart, he oiled what he calls the " inhuman machine," and would now wish it to go just as before, forgetting as he does that it is an eighteenth-century model !

IIe further goes on to assert that the Indian Government

is rightly called " paternal " in India. Here again he is confusing fact with fantasy, satire with truth. I daresay he has picked up this word from some Congress organ that used the word in an avowedly sarcastic sense, a sense in which the Morning Post would write of the Communists as " com- radely " ! If at all, it is only in such a sense that the word may have been used in India ; otherwise it must better be a cerebral effusion of Sir Charles himself.

Now, it is clear as crystal who are the " sentimentalists "- whether those who earnestly are " looking out for wrongs to be righted," or whether those who stand effortless and helpless, " looking out for wrongs " to be better kept intact lest their rectification should deprive people of their " favourite beverage," such as toddy, opium and drink. Once it is admitted by the Government that there are " wrongs to be righted " in its abkari policy, and it does not get them " righted " as such, would it be anything else than weak, senile, cowardly, and unpopular ? Would it not he an " inhuman machine full of hypocrisy," as Sir Charles terms

it ? Nothing worse can happen to the excise policy of the Government if it takes up the gratuitous advice of Sir Charles as it is imploringly asked to do, and thus refuses to better its excise policy in any possible way until, as Sir Charles suggests, there is a unanimous move in favour of entire