By Sir DESMOND MORTON
FRIENDS, FOES AND FOREIGNERS, by Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart (Putnam and Co. Ltd., 21s.).
ANYONE who has met Sir Robert, or who has merely read his books, must recognise his astonishing natural genius
for making acquaintances and friends. Although this gift has been of undoubted advantage to him in his career as a diplomat and author. it would do him the greatest injustice to suggest he has used it cynically for business purposes.
He really likes peoplealmost all sorts of people-for their own sakes. He not only makes acquaintances readily largely because those he meets at once appreciate his genuine interest in their lives and thoughts-but lie turns them into friends, if worthy. and, if unworthy, heartily regrets the fact.
A kindly roan. he has been accused of reluctance to criticise adversely. It must have cost him a lot to include in this book some account of one acquaintance for whom he can feel no admiration and for whose conduct no excuse.
S1.1( Robert ascribes his magnanimity to the fact that he is a Scot and that. whereas the Scots are taught to forgive, they never forget. while the English easily forget and so forgive. For the sake of the Scots, it is hoped that this is not wholly correct.
Forgiveness must involve forgetting, while forgetting an injury must involve forgiving. But. as in forgiving. so in forgetting. the will is concerned, whence the alleged action of the English seems the more commendable. However, it is very nice of Sir Robert to be so kind to us.
At first, it is rather puzzling why Sir Robert, out of his abundant store. has chosen for immortality the decidedly mixed bag that he has done. The majority of his friends selected are unknown outside a limited circle. though a few are of international repute.
Actually. this does not matter. since the interest lies in Sir Robert's own reactions to those about whom he writes and the circumstance of his contacts with them. With 'his customary facility, he uses these circumstances to interpolate. or slyly suggest, comments and opinions on the political. social. and sporting atmosphere of the times through which he has lived.
These comments are of much more than passing interest. A very C njoyable book, stimulating thought in the thoughtful reader.