The One Concerning Abyssinia
SIR,--Father Martindale, in his article on Mr. Teeling's hook, mentions the debunk ing of the Abyssinian Myth by Mr. Evelyn Waugh. When my children asked me for an explanation, I regretted that I had not been more attentive to the subject. On consideration, however, there appear to me to he only three possible meanings of the phrase: (I) The Abyssinians are a Myth.
(2) The Abyssinians are a Fact, but the Myth is the belief that their country has been annexed, by a foreign aggressor with the aid of a devilish form of chemical warfare used for the first time in the history of man on their primitive and unclothed population by the Italians,
so aptly described by Fr. Martindale as logical, realist, and caustic.
(3) While many persist in believing that the Abyssinians have lost their country and a great number of their relations, it issa Myth that they are anything but most unpleasant people who deserve all they have got. Mr. Waugh has seen them at home and doesn't like them a bit. Moreover, it is a Myth that mustard gas is more grievous in its immediate or ultimate effects than H.E. As mine are soldier's children, with shrap nel in their rattles, they appreciate the technical details.
One of my daughters asked. as I feared she would : " Was no-one sorry for the poor Abyssinians, Mamma?"
I told her. from my memory of the newspapers of that year that many nations were very shocked and sorry, and protested their sorrow as strongly as they could with due regard to their own political safety. England. being sentimental, muddleheaded,
and gullible, doesn't count. America is much the same; besides, in these countries are many Nonconformists with notoriously tiresome consciences. When Mr. Waugh's book has been translated into Irish, the Scandinavian tongues. Polish. Lettish, Yiddish, and all languages, these nations will cease to be sorry and will rejoice in the glorious victory of the Italians.
One of my children, who always goes straight to the point, next asked: "And who is Mr. Evelyn Waugh?"
I told him that he is a writer who writes very amusing books that make grown-up people laugh quite a lot.
M. C. CLAYTON.
[We hope that these intelligent children do not confine their awkward questions to the case of Abyssinia. History lessons about the fate of the ancient Gauls, the ancient Britons, the Saxons, and the other poor races which have been destroyed or conquered in the course of making us what we are must he most interesting. True, mustard gas was not invented, but there were plenty of other unpleasant ways of dealing with the conquered. But perhaps these children are clever enough to suggest that so much cruelly has been employed in making them what they are that they would prefer not. to he at all. That, at any rate, is a very arguable point.—Ettma. I