By SIR DESMOND MORTON
THE DESERT AND THE GREEN, by The Earl of Lytton (Macdonald, 25s.).
WORKING out the possibilities
of being heir to such forceful ancestors as a famous novelist, a Viceroy of India wish was also a recognised poet. the Lord Byron who was a lot of other things besides being a poet too, together with a majestic rebel and denouncer of Governments as a grandfather, who at one time turned towards Islam hut died a Catholic, and a noble lady, expert breeder of Arab horses, might make an average man worry over his fate in this world if not the next.
Fortunately, however, the present Lord Lytton is not an average man—how could he be with such a pedigree'? By some means he has contrived—so far at least, for he was only born in 1900 —to control his potentially warring
genes or whatever is supposed to condition one's tendencies to selfexpression; persuading the contending elements to conclude a happy pact of mutual tolerance.
The literary skill continues with a fine power of vivid description. Poetry seems to have become subordinate to good prose; the cavalry has yielded to what a staff officer of the First World War named " muscle-propelled troops"; hut the grand old rebel insists on peeping out occasionally, less violently than in life but with better judgment.
This most readable biography divides itself into three parts. First. the author's upbringing and education to the time when he began his career as an officer in the Rifle Brigade. Then comes Lord Ls tton's experiences and observations as a young officer of the King's African Rifles in Kenya. Here grandfather Blunt makes many shrewd comments about Whitehall and the Colonial Office. suggesting that the seeds of Mau Mau were sown thirty years ago.
Finally, hut all too briefly. we have Lord Lytton's later activities, including that of a Civil Administrator in liberated Greece, where Lord Byron proved undeniably useful, then as a member of the Military Government in Italy and Austria. where again Grandfather Blunt prompts worthy comments. It is greatly to he hoped that Lord Lytton and his ancestors will not easily commit themselves to final rustication on Exmoor.