The arrival of the Lindberghs in this country was the occesion of some selfrighteous pillorying of the excesses of the American "tabloid" papers by a section of our press, which at the same time did a
little modified "tabloiding" itself. This was followed up on Tuesday of last week, the day after the death of King George, by an even more disgusting exhibition on the part of several newspapers.
It is no defence of this sort of thing to say, however truly, that these papers are produced to suit the tastes of people who themselves make very free and highlycoloured comment on the domestic joys and sorrows of themselves and their fellows. Many people are in the habit of adorning their conversation at all times and without consciousness of offensiveness to the more refined, with expletives and phrases which would not be tolerated in print in a newspaper on the ground of indecency.
The public exploitation of private grief (or any other private affair) is as much a matter of indecency as is technically obscene language.
" Please, Mr. Proctor...."
Undergraduates of the University of Oxford are now forbidden to give Or join in giving, without permission. any party outside college where " drinks " are served or more than 15 people are present. Permission must be sought three days beforehand and a list of guests must be sent to the proctors with the application.
No doubt these reported new regulations will provoke explosions of indignation from several quarters, arid they must indeed be extremely galling for the unfortunate undergraduates. But what else can be expected? For some generations now, what with keeping boys and girls of the middle-classes at school till 18 or so, and the absurd adulation of youthfulness that has gone on, the age of adulthood has been
getting higher and higher. Moreover, certain puritan-inspired movements in this country have done Much to reduce sense of the iroport imposition of personal responsi bility by the of coercive or
restrictive measures, endeavouring to " make men virtuous by act of Parliament." It is only consistent, therefore. that the gentlemen of Oxford University should be treated as if they were young schoolboys, which probably many of them are in effect, But we should like to hear the comments of some of their predecessors of past centuries.
All Hallows', Lombard Street
We have a good deal of sympathy for the Bishop of London, who is supporting the demolition of the church of All Hallows, Lombard Street, and its reerection elsewhere. The church, which is in some disrepair, occupies an ecclesiastical site of 900 years and is alleged to have been designed by Wren. Dr. Winnington Ingram is being opposed by the Court of Common Council and by the representatives of nine antiquarian and other societies.
Certainly the unnecessary or wanton removal of ancient monuments is deplorable, but the City of London is not wanting in such monuments, and it is a cogent argument of Dr. Winnington Ingram that were the site of All Hallows' sold the price would pay for " ten, if not twenty, churches " where places of worship are badly needed.
The plea of the beauty of the building is being put forward, as well as its historical interest. This is another concession that this marvellous twentieth century does not feel itself capable of building, in its own way, as good a church as any of the seventeenth (or of any other except, perhaps, the nineteenth). This diffidence of the otherwise intolerably self-satisfied last hundred years of " progress " is a curious phenomenon. The "Early English" builders had no doubt they could improve On the Normans, the " Decorated " on the " Early English," and so on, and pulled down their predecessors' work without the slightest compunction.
A correspondent writes:
"The public interest excited by Rudyard Kipling's illness and death brings vividly to mind the concern shown by all classes in the United States when, at the close of the last century, he lay hovering between life and death in New York. No royal personage, no political or financial magnate could have aroused the anxiety shown in the case of this typically English writer. In the ward of the military hospital in which I then lay his illness was the chief topic of conversation. Those American soldiers seemed to regard him as one of themselves. They were mostly unlettered men, and their acquaintance with his writings was of the most meagre kind, yet somehow they seemed to know him and love him. Their interest in his recosery was due to no mere publicity stunt, but was a genuine thing."
A tribute of this kind makes us realise how fully Kipling realised the ideal of the poet-laureateship. Poetry has fallen into the hands of the artist class. The bard, as the present Poet-Laureate has confessed, is remote from the heart of the world. How remote the holder of that office could be was left to Robert Bridges to show. But poetry once was a popular and public thing, and the Poet-Laureate was supposed to be representative of the whole nation, voicing popular thoughts and feelings in language which all alight understand. This was what Kipling did, not simply for the British Empire. but, as the incident reported above shows, for very many other English-speaking people as well.
Dictators And The Public
The victories which Mussolini has been able to announce have restored his credit for the time being with the Italian people. There were indications that a continuance of the stale-mate in Abyssinia might have had serious effects upon his popularity.
Paradoxical though the statement is, it is true that the weakness of dictatorial power is that it is dependent upon and must placate public opinion. An unpopular dictator is almost unthinkable: one holding that position must excicise all the arts of the demagogue. If violent gestures are demanded, he must be violent. If dramatic ruthlessness is required, he must storm and strut and threaten pitiless measures. If only aggressive action against neighbouring states will keep alive the enthusiasm by which he is supported, then, however unjust or impolitic such action may be, he must take it. The vision conjured up by the term " dictator," of a single individual imposing his will on a subservient nation, is false. Though all the machinery of democratic government be scrapped the people remains and can exert its power effectively.
Conscripts Of Motherhood
Returns issued by the Registrar General indicate that of late there has been an increase of infantile mortality, and at the same time the number of labours which ended fatally is causing anxiety. It would seem that medical precautions have failed to get to the root of the trouble, and, in any case, something more than regulations are needed. Psychology has a say in the matter.
If the mentality of an age is saturated with ideas which cause women to look on motherhood (and, for that matter, men to look on fatherhood) as a misfortune to be avoided, and if they face their ordeal in a spirit inspired by those ideas, then the figures given are not so inexplicable. Conscripts cannot be expected to fight like volunteers, and if women in labour are conscripts fighting for their lives and those of their babies in the spirit of aggrieved victims of circumstances, then happy results cannot be expected. Neither politicians nor midwives nor doctors, as such, can remedy the state of things disclosed. Only a renewing of the national mind will do that; and any such renewing is largely contingent on an improvement in economic conditions.
To Boil Or Not To Boil
Should you boil your cabbage or should
you not? That is a question that has been worrying scientists. One man says that if you boil it you waste the vitamins, but the British Medical Journal tells you that it does not matter one way or the other. Cows like their cabbage unboiled, but if you mix it up boiled with cotton cake, middlings, and bran they take no notice. It is baffling for the ordinary lay person to be confronted from time to time with conflicting statements from men of science about the preparation of foods.
lf these gentlemen are in the position to say definitely what vitamins conspire to the production of the perfect Al man why do they not experiment with a synthetic food and produce such a result? We could then amuse ourselves by speculating about an approaching generation of supermen, seeing that despite the indiscriminate consumption of every sort of food people have lived long lives without expert dietetic assistance.