By Fr. Martindale, S.J.
DOWNSIDE, by Hubert van Zeller, O.S.B.(Sheed & Ward, 21s.).
0UR elders told us that our sehooldays were the happiest in our life. Neither they nor we believed it: but really this book might make us feel there was something in it. True, the book begins m.ith the school's remoter history, and relates the risks it ran of becoming, in France, a school for French boys only; and then, in England, a seminary for future English priests. But this earlier history, too, is enlivened by incidents often entertaining and at times heroic, such as marked all the return of Catholic education from exile to the homeland.
But Downside did not develop from its "chrysalis" till Dom Leander Ramsay took it over in 1902. In ten years he had "brought about a greater change in the running of the school than any that had gone 'before." (Is there not a quaint oversight in the index, p. 312? Abbot Ramsay's name does not appear, but his pages are enumerated as if he were an Abbot of the Radcliffe family.) The author agrees that, as quite modern times approach, his own memories may infiltrate into his history and give it a colour* not equally recognised by all. No matter. Not a page but has its lively paragraphs and pictures of men, either the great headmasters or Abbots or of less well-known men like Dom Roger Hudleston, song-writer, actor, expert on pedigrees (antiquarian), and spiritual writer and heir of Dom John Chapman. Accounts of schoolboys' antics and their mysterious customs and diatect are always good fun, especially if written of by one who, like this author, can maintain both sympathy and detachment; but more valuable still is the intimate description of those to whose formation are entrusted so many boys who should grow up to be Catholic leaders in this land and, often, far afield.
SUSAN, BILL AND THE WOLF DOG, by Malcolm Saville (Nelson, 35. 6c1.).
SUSAN, BILL AND THE IVYCLAD OAK, by Malcolm Saville (Nelson, 3s. 6c1.).
THESE two books are the first of a 1 series that will undoubtedly number many volumes. The charm and matter-of-factness will appeal to those young readers anxious for adventure that appeals to any young boy or girl.
On the next occasion when a present is due, parents will probably he asked to buy the new "Susan, Bill and the . . . ?"