THE unexpected death of Eric Gill follows, alas, immediately after the little note about his illness and operation in this column last week. Actually the operation for lung trouble was a success, and death a few days after was apparently due to collapse. 1 have known Eric Gill for a good many years, but it was only quite recently that I overcame a certain shyness and awe and felt able to chat with him at case. This was certainly not his fault, for he always struck me as the gentlest and kindest of men. But one sensed a rock-like conviction about him, and knowing how strongly he felt about many things with which one did not wholly agree, or perhaps which one did not understand, I wondered whether I would be tolerated as a fool " gladly " or only otherwise.
In one of his last conversations he joked about his forthcoming biography and said he ought to die before it was published. I don't think there was any premonition about this, but he may have felt deep down that he had fulfilled the task which God had given him.
Prophet and Arrist
THERE is no doubt that Gill was out
standing in the very small company of Catholics who stood out in the national life. It is true that this was because of his merits as a sculptor artist and craftsman. But in the man himself religion and work were one and the same thing. everything being an expresson of his Catholic faith. He was radical and uncompromising in his views, as in his art. but while the country
was able to appreciate his great talents it was not ready for his thorough-going criticism of our industrial civilization. Even Catholics were often scandalized by one who so completely unified the different aspects of his personality in Christ. One may hazard the guess that Gill will live, not only as one of the biggest artists of our time, but as a prophet who was not heard in his own land and hi, own time Posterity. I think, will sec him as the biggest Catholic figure in Britain of the first half of this century.
Aiming High to Ensure the Bull
ACATHOLIC member of the A.T.S., staying with us, told us of the great interest many members are taking in religion. But the instance was very unusual. A girl has decided that she will become a nun after the war. " And if I'm to be a nun, I might as well be as real a nun as possible, so I may as well become a Catholic," she said. Now she is reading books on the Church lent her by our friend.
BY accident I read this month's Month immediately aim' Monday's Daily Herald. In the latter I read Hannen Swaffer's view: " Negrin was the highminded Prime Minister of Spain !by the way. I wish Swatter would read Alison Peers' latest book on Spain, and learn some history for a change . . ."1 It is not Negrin who should
go—but Halifax I flow much longer can Winston ignore the general protest against the retention in office of our present Foreign Minister?" And then the Month: " When the history of these past few years shall have been written, it will surely stand to England's lasting credit that she ha6 a Foreign Secretary of the calibre, character and ideals of Lord Halifax."
I refrain from comment except to note that Swatter is read by millions daily and the Month by a handful in comparison monthly, and to ask what bearing, if any, this has on the view that ours is a Christian crusade?
A Third View
IAM fated this exening to read about Lord Halifax, for here is a third and very disturbing view, from a recent book, Middleton Murry states that Lord Halifax, as Major Edward Wood, M.P., was one of the 20() Conservative Members of Parliament who wrote to Lloyd George in 1919 and insisted on his maintaining his election pledges and demanding the utmost severity against Germany. Murry holds that this Christian statesman is therefore deeply implicated in the culpable causes of the war.
Patriotism from Carmel
IHAVE been sent from a Carmelite con1 vent some verses called " The Citadel." They are by an old priest who is the temporary chaplain. It is interesting to get from so remote and hidden an enclosure
verses that might well be reproduced by that hectic centre of British activity, the Ministry of Information.
Enthroned within thy sea-girt isle Britannia great! I see thee smile, Whilst far and near thy foes revile And fain would see thee overthrown/ But thou dost stand By sea — by land And through the air, with gesture grand Dost send abroad thy high command And bow thy head to God alone!
While many nations cling to thee In sad defeat and misery
The Seven Seas secure and free Salute thee as their Royal Queen! And through the doors of darkest Hell Against thee pour their legions fell, Still safe within thy citadel,
Upheld by God thy power shall dwell In majesty — supreme — serene!
M. F. W.