3 MARCH 1939, Page 6

* * * * More people, on both sides of

the English Channel, read " Pertinax "—M. Andre Geraud—than agree with him. But he is always worth reading, and equally worth hearing, for he is an admirable speaker. At the Anglo-French Luncheon Club on Tuesday he discarded a prepared speech on the French Press and substituted an impromptu one on the inter- national situation. It contained one striking assertion, for which M. Geraud claimed unimpeachable authority—that Mr. Chamberlain when he saw French Ministers in Paris told them that if at the end of the Spanish war the Italians did not evacuate Majorca France would have " both the right and the duty " to eject them by force, and Britain would help her. Italy, in the view of " Pertinax," intends to mass troops in Africa, create a local incident and defeat the French, and count on France's deciding to accept the fait accompli rather than precipitate a European war. He believes that the Italians could not do this successfully in Tunis, and that the blow will fall at Jibuti. This, incidentally, is pre- cisely what a particularly experienced European statesman, neither British nor French, said to me six weeks ago. And Lord Halifax's " Halt. Major road.ahead " speech suggests that the Foreign Office has reason to apprehend an incident of that kind.