7 FEBRUARY 1936, Page 6


A GOOD many battles will break out again with the publication of the second volume of Mr. Duff Cooper's Life of Lord Haig. The first instalment of it, appearing in advance in the Sunday Pictorial, gives the Commander-in-Chief's version of the famous Calais Conference in February, 1917, when it was decided that the British Army was to he put under the orders of the ill-starred General Nivelle. Mr. Lloyd George and Sir William Robertson have already given their versions. Lord Haig's, as might be expected, accords with Sir William Robertson's and differs radically from Mr. Lloyd George's. It is based, of course, on contemporary records in his diary, not on subsequent recollections, and some of the entries quoted by Mr. Duff Cooper—e.g. "it is too sad at this critical time to have to fight with one's Allies and the Home Government in addition to the enemy in the field " or " all would be so easy if I only had to deal with Germans "—give some idea of the atmosphere created. The crux of the whole affair was the discovery that at a War Cabinet meeting, from which Sir William Robertson, the C.I.G.S., had been encouraged to absent himself, the single command under Nivelle had been secretly decided on. Sir William has recorded the facts about the Cabinet and his own absence from it in his volume of memoirs. Lord Haig entered them at the time in his diaries. Mr. Lloyd George omits them. Wherever the right and wrong lay, the Calais Conference put the relations between the Commander-in-Chief and the new Prime Minister on a permanently unsatisfactory footing.

News reaching me in private letters from the United States gives an astonishing picture of the impression made on Americans by King George's death. The New York Times of January 21st devoted ten full pages (and a page of the New York Times contains far more matter than a page of the London Times) to the King's life, and illness, the Herald-Tribute nine pages, and Mr. Hearst's American eight. Within two hours of the announcement of the death (which came, of course, at about 7 p.m. by New York time) the Columbia Broadcasting Corporation radiated a dramatisation of the King's life, with child and boy actors for the earlier scenes. With this news comes the suggestion that America would be deeply gratified if King Edward should think fit to make some recognition of the sympathy universally felt and expressed throughout the United States.

* * * * The leading article on Russia in last Saturday's Times may be an isolated phenomenon, or it may mark the dividing-line between two epochs. I rather favour the latter interpretation. If there is one subject—and I think in fact there has only been one--,-on which The Times could be credited -with a closed mind and an idee fixe in the past fifteen years, it is Soviet Russia. Through the whole of that time, Moscow : voila rennet*. The Times has had no correspondent in the Forbidden City, and the news diligently telegraphed to it from its watchman at Riga has been markedly critical in its general tone. Nothing could be more strikingly indicative of Russia's rehabilita- tion than the leader I have mentioned. A note of understanding, almost of sympathy, ran through it. All foreigners in Russia are alarmed and disconcerted at the closing of the' Torgsin shops where they could buy cheap in foreign currency. But, says The Times," it is difficult to see that the Soviet Government could have done other- wise." Moreover, " to Western observers many of the recent measures of the Soviet Government are surprising, even agreeably surprising " ; the Government of Soviet Russia " is more firmly entrenched than any she has had 'since 1905, the year of the people's great demonstration, In several spheres of industrial production she is among the leaders of the world." And much more of the same order—sensible and sound, but rather new for The Times. Russia, in a word, is back in society again, Most of us have at one time or another felt a certain curiosity about the financial aspect of the association of various eminent persons, their photographs and their autograph signatures, with Messrs. Snip and Snap's suitings; or Messrs. White and Pink's complexion tonic or Messrs. Nicotine's cigarettes. A little hard fact, furnished by Mr. Fred Astaire, satisfies the emotion opportunely. Mr. Astaire, it appears, has lodged a claim of £20,000 against an American magazine which published an advertisement showing him in evening dress and adorned with cheap jewellery. That is neither here nor there ; such demands usually suffer from a little preliminary inflation. What is more to the point is that Mr. Astaire says that in the past year he has refused more than £10,41100, offered to him for sponsoring hats, coats, ties and shoes and other constituents of the masculine wardrobe. From which it may be inferred that there is more than love and public spirit behind the photos and the autographs.

The statement that the National Socialist Party in Germany is to purchase the notorious " Stiirmer " from its equally notorious owner Herr Julius Streicher and suppress it is one of the most encouraging pieces of news that has come out of Germany for some time. No one who has not studied a copy of that foul organ, with the unspeakable attacks on the Jews that deface every issue of it, can conceive- what a publication of this kind can be. Its proprietor may be suffering from some mania, but persons suffering from mania can properly be subjected to some kind of restraint. That the " Stiirmer " should have proved too strong meat, or too strong poison, even for the party leaders must be taken as a sign of grace.

In a reminiscent mood Sir John Marriott has been turning over his old Oxford mark-books and finds that round about thirty years ago first-classes were awarded to the personages now known as Lord Halifax; Sir Samuel` Hoare and Lord Lothian and a second to Mr. Attlee: " Who will cast a doubt, after this;" he asks, " on the competence of Oxford .examiners'? " Well, I should think Mr. Attlee might, for one. JANUS;