Holy Week at Geneva It used to be a commonplace of journalism, when a crisis was interrupted by the present solemn season, to say that all parties would have time for quiet and reflection. The secularism of Geneva has changed all that, and the Locarno Powers (without Germany) are to meet to-day with the French and German peace plans before them. We do not propose to follow their example and examine the plans in detail now. But it is right to say that the principle asserted by France, of founding security upon all-round guarantees of mutual assistance, would be more constructive, if sincerely carried out, than the method of bilateral pacts of non-aggression, which is capable of leaving great gaps (such as are manifest in Hitler's assurances of peacefulness) and might even be used as an insurance against interference with aggression against a third party.
But this method is really more Russian than German, and France herself is deeply implicated by her own separate pact with the Soviet Government. It is right to take care that a settlement in the West shall not be Hitler's opportunity for breaking loose in Eastern Europe, but it is at least as important that it should not be planned in such a way as to be an instrument of Bolshevik • foreign policy, which on a long view is far more dangerous to Christian civilisation. Too much licence has already been given to Litvinoff to tour Europe setting one half of it against the other. It is the kind of work the devil would particularly enjoy seeing consummated in Holy Week.
The End of Hauptmann
How much a man suffers can only be known to himself and how much he deserves to suffer can only be known to his Maker, but it is a fact that, judged from without, this man has had to undergo a protracted ordeal that compares favourably, as far as refinement of torture goes, with what the East or the Middle Ages, according to the novelists, can offer. When a cat plays with a mouse, the mouse presumably knows that the end is bound to come soon, and when a prisoner is kept on tentel-hooks by a sadist despot, the prisoner at least knows that he is the victim of evil. But it was Hauptmann's fate to be treated as a pawn and a plaything : a pawn in the hands of good men who wanted to safeguard their sensibilities and ideas of justice and in the hands of indifferent men,who used him for party purposes; a plaything on which the refined sensation-mongers of half the world feasted for four years.
We are not numbered amongst those who oppose capital punishment, but if our age is at once unable to endure the thought of capital punishment unless its justice is made mathematically certain through the exploration of every avenue that can be related to the crime and at the same time is unable to refrain from indulging its repressed cruelty by gloating over the delayed processes of too-just justice, • we plead for pity's sake that capital punishment should be abolished. Just as we sometimes wonder whether the very protractions and complications of the international machinery for making this a perfect world do not necessarily involve suspenses, dangers and self-congratulations more evil in themselves than the evils that it tries to avoid.
For hundreds of years the world believed that any over-haste on this side of the grave could easily be compensated for on the other side. Having lost that faith, the modern world in trying to make a paradise on this side of the grave comes near at times to making it a hell.
Cardinal Bourne's Biographer
Now that he is free of editorial preoccupations in The Tablet's chair, Mr. Ernest Oldmeadow, K.C.S.G., will have leisure to apply himself to the important task of writing the official biography of Cardinal Bourne. It is no more than an interesting coincidence that two of The Tablet's editors should be also the respective biographers of two successive archbishops of Westminster; for Mr. John G. Snead-Cox, who wrote the Life of Cardinal Vaughan, held the editorship for thirty-six years, and produced his magnum opus with the reins still in hand. Mr. Oldmeadow, as a letter from the present archbishop has lately emphasised, has played no small part in literature. Many books had come from his pen before he laid such work aside in 1923, at the late Cardinal's request, in order to embark upon the strenuous task of weekly journalism. He had already proved his worth both as a writer and as a critic. Mr. Oldmeadow was an editor nearly forty years ago. Although the list of his published volumes suggests, in the main, an industrious devotion to fiction, he has produced biography also, in the shape of lives of Chopin and of Schumann. The large and more exacting biography which is now to engage him will be awaited with interest, and with a confidence that he will make of it very good reading. Mr. Oldmeadow enjoyed Cardinal Bourne's friendship during many years, and must have had numerous opportunities of forming impressions of the man and his work.
It is a great pity that the new British weekly "newsmagazine" Cavalcade (edited on the lines of the American Time, which has a circulation of 600,000 copies weekly) should give in one of its earliest issues a full page of publicity to Marie Stones. Or rather, that it should do nothing to correct the glaring mistakes made by that lady whenever she speaks on the subject.
It is too bad, after having had for years to meet the argument that Rome is too old-fashioned, to be faced now by the accusation that she is too up-to-date. One thing people cannot stand is the unchanging—it always looks out of place. But even so hard a nut to crack can scarcely excuse the impudence of the heading: "Rome does as Stopes does." Nor should we bother to refer to it at all, were it not for the fact that the readers of Cavalcade will go away with seriously false impressions. The full Catholic teaching about birth-control is obtainable in many books, but as it is a specialised subject of importance only to a portion of the population, and as its treatment inevitably involves subject matter arousing unhealthy curiosity, the books are not widely advertised. Does that mean that people are left in ignorance? In every confessional in every church all over the world expert and full advice may be obtained gratis—a fact somewhat difficult to reconcile with Marie Stopes's remark, as reported in this paper: "The game is one of withholding what the Church really teaches wherever possible." Further, the report in outlining in technical terms what the Church allows commits the very sin which the Church wishes to guard against by refusing to disseminate its doctrine broadcast. The report in this particular is roughly correct, yet we should guarantee that nine readers in ten would entirely misunderstand it, unless they asked advice.
Let us hope that it is only because of her confusion that "Stopes does not do as Rome does."
After Cavalcade it is pleasant to congratulate the Daily Express for looking at facts in the face, instead of wasting time on half-digested controversy.
"The social snobbery," it wrote a day or two ago, "which regards a large family as either ridiculous or vicious seems now to be creeping into legislation. The small family consisting of the Only Child, who is to have a first-class chance in life and a pony to ride, or at most the family of two, which in American ads. gives Junior a 'little sister for company, is now firmly established as the rule in most Acacia Avenues and in many cock-eyed societies of geneticians.
"Soon it will reach the Statute-book. Already the law seems to regard three children as the limit."
The writer then goes on to note that in the new Unemployment Insurance Bill for agricultural workers no relief is to be paid in respect of more than three children. This is what they say: 14s. will be paid to the labourer, 7s. to his wife and 3s. for every child—BUT in no case will they pay more than 30s. per family.
Fourteen plus seven plus three plus three plus three equals thirty.—Q.E.D.
M.P.s and Colonies
A group of Conservative M.P.s are asking the Prime Minister to pledge himself that "under no circumstances" will the government consent to the transfer of colonies, protectorates and mandated territories.
The heavens may fall, but still we shall hang on to every inch of our Empire and its annexes. Many of the same M.P.s find themselves in sympathy with Germany's treaty-breaking and critical of France's demand for security.
In referring to the interests of the inhabitants of mandated territories that were formerly German no mention is being made about what those same inhabitants thought when those same territories were transferred to British hands.
Perhaps the most cheering news at this time of the year comes not from Abyssinia, Geneva, Berlin, Paris, or London, but from woodland-ways, where primroses are making their appearance and birds are busy building nests. Spring's multi-coloured troops have lifted the siege of winter and set us free.
In a world strewn with broken treaties, Nature's reliability in keeping her pact with men is a happy relief. She at least can be relied on to keep her word. Sunrise and sunset, seed-time and harvest recur regularly, offering a steady background to our vacillating policies and unsteady wills. Sun, moon, and stars hold their appointed places, though the landmarks of nations be shifted hither and thither.
It is surely the last word of terror in the apocalyptic vision of that End which sometimes seems so dangerously near, that even these shall fall and the very heavens prove unstable. So far, however, Nature is allowed to pursue her unchanging ways. The rainbow woven of spring colours still assures us of respite. Time is yet given us to discover the Things Which Abide, even when skies and mother earth and the punctual tides prove treacherous.
A Questionable Gift
The German Ambassador did not render his country any great service when, in the name of the German All Peoples' Association, he presented the English branch of that association with a number of books which included Herr Rosenberg's Myth of the 20th Century. In placing this book on the Index the Holy See declared that it "condemns and utterly rejects all the dogmas of the Catholic Church and the very foundations of the Christian religion. It maintains that a new religion, a German Church, must be set up, and it propounds the principle that 'to-day a new mythical faith is arising, a mythical faith of blood, a faith whereby men believe that blood can best account for the divine nature in man, a faith based on the clearest demonstration that Nordic blood represents that great mystery which supersedes and excels the ancient sacrament." The ambassador described these books as representative of the new Germany. Perhaps they are, but it was scarcely diplomatic to say so at a time when his country is trying to conciliate that section of English public opinion which has been shocked by the patronage extended to writers like Herr Rosenberg. Doubtless Sir Arnold Wilson, M.P. (who presided) thought that he was being courteous when he thanked the donors and declared that the books in question were ambassadors of that faith and activity which were typical of the new Germany today. But such assertions do not strengthen the cause the speaker had at heart.
IN A FEW WORDS
For Better or For Worse
Pravda tells the story of a Russian woman who decided to marry a young man. The man duly moved into the lady's room and, just before the registration, sent the lady for a day's holiday in the "park of culture." When she returned not only had the young man disappeared, but also all her goods and chattels. She had not even bothered to ask him his name. One element of the marriage promise evidently survives in Russia: "For better or for worse."
Manners Un-Makyth Man
Medical men have been telling the Liverpool Medical Institution about the deleterious effects of blowing one's nose. One doctor suggested that the normal path of secretions was backward, since by this means the body keeps on vaccinating itself against micro-organisms. Another advocated the old-fashioned way which is still used by manual labourers. A third stated that, indulged in too vigorously, noseblowing was bad for the eyes.
A small matter, but if our civilisation is wrong about that, about what can it be right? And if some of the advice were taken would not our public places have to amplify their views on expectoration? If only we were left to do what we liked and no one talked about it at all, would we be much the worse?
If Adam Had Not Fallen
"I took 39 putts, missing seven of 6ft. and less; it is incredible," exclaimed the ex-champion golfer, Henry Cotton, after a round in a tournament last week. If Adam had not fallen we should all presumably hole our holeable putts, and this would put an end to the royal and ancient game. Henry Cotton need not therefore despair. His profession depends on the incredible.
A Golf Story
While we are on golf, may we repeat the old story? Someone may not have heard it and others be glad of the reminder. A man who lived for golf came to die and duly went to hell. His fears were allayed by finding that hell was a golf-course of unbelievable allurement. The best clubs and the latest gadgets were at his disposal. "If this is hell," thought he, "to hell do I gladly go." At length he reached the first tee and told his little devil-caddie, bending under the bag of 36 clubs, to tee his ball. "There is no ball," quietly stated the devil.
Wise and Otherwise
"Freedom of speech undoubtedly is indispensable to all civilisations and cultures . . . yet no other danger so threatens the structure of any society of freemen than the abuse of freedom of speech."-. The Commonweal.
"Nothing can be sillier than sex-conscious or class-conscious or race-conscious art."—Mr. Clive Bell.
"Perhaps it is a part of the irony of God that our rulers should do unrebuked so many abominable things at their ease, and then be cursed because of one disputable detail suggested when they are really in difficulties."—G. K. Chesterton.
"I saw many methods of speeding up (work) which would certainly evoke trade union opposition in this country."—Sir Walter Citrine on what he saw in Russia.