Christmas weather AT the time of writing it looks as though the children's delight in a white Christmas will be denied them. It's merely the poor old grown-ups who have had to endure frost and snow ten days too early. Where I live, such conditions not only add to the cold and damp which penetrate so eagerly into old houses in the country, no matter what one does about it, but positively isolates us. Our half-mile climbing narrow lane becomes a glass track, and no public authority wastes its sand and cinders on the likes of us. Progress is best by putting on Wellingtons and tramping through the thick snow in the fields. No, all things considered, I prefer my Christmas to be green and spring-like.
Anyway, Jotter's best Christmas wishes go to each and every reader of the column, but especially to all who have actually written to him during the year—whether to praise or curse him, to smile with him or to tell him what a 'bore he is with his compost. rotter loves them all.
Two letters TWO letters printed in our issue • this week are of exceptional interest. 1 he first constitutes, so far as I know, the first published answer to . her critics by Miss Monica Baldwin who, much to her surprise, wrote a hest-sePer in I I.eap Over the Wall. The second publishes for the first time the authentic account of Oscar Wilde's reception into the Church on his death-bed, written by the priest who received that tragic figure.
THE interest in Miss Baldwin's • book is shown by the fact that since we printed the first letter on the book every post has brought letters from readers anxious to express their own view about it. Unfortunately. we have not been able to spare the space to print more than a handful. Miss Balchvin, I happen to know, has herself received an enormous fan-mail, of which only an occasional letter (less than one in a hundred) has been hostile. I should be the last to hold that the majority is always in the right, but in such a matter one does derive th impression that her critics arc rat:ter exceptional and perhaps captious.
MY own experience in regard to Ibis account of a long convent life and subsequent emergence into the world again with the fullest ecclesiastical approval may well, in essence, be that of many others. I look at most newspapers, but usually confine myself to seizing thc headlines of the more popular brands. The glaring headlines of the Sunday Express about its extracts from the book caught my eye; but whether I really read them or not I cannot recall. Anyhow, I jumped to the conclusion that this was another " Maria Monk " book, and dismissed the matter. When a copy of the book reached me for reviewing purposes. I decided not to touch it. (Such is the effect of newspaper headlines.) Flut a member of our staff wanted to read it—and much to my surprise she assuredme that it was a really good and serious book deserving careful treatment. So then I read it. I enjoyed it immensely, not only because of its intriguing subject-matter, but because it was brilliantly written. Certain matters of detail did strike me 45 surprising. if not extravagant; hut even so where it is a case of a sound and solid book calculated as to ninetenths of it to do good, and precisely to squash the never completely buried Maria Monk idea of convent life, it seemed to me then, and seems to me now, captious to dwell on minor puzzling details. Miss Baldwin is a creative writer—every page of the book shows it—and surely we can allow something to that active. creative imagination but for which the book would be yet another dull and prosy piece of writing.
Novelist Cardinal • ARCHBISHOP David Mathew's novel The Afattgo on the Mango 7 rec continues to get good reviews. Now. after the novelistArchbishop comes the novelistCardinal. I see that the Catholic Press in America reports that a first novel by Cardinal Spellman of New York will be published in the spring. It is to be called The Foundling.
In Town the Other Night
FR. Caraman, the Editor of the Month. organised a fine party to celebrate the thousandth issue of the Month. Perhaps it is not generally realised that 1.onginans are the Month's publishers — the Catholic department of this great publishing house is a very long-standing one, and we should be grateful for the work it has done to further good Catholic literature, The party was held at Longmans. and it was interesting to note how many of the guests inflowed from well outside the usual Catholic circle of literati. This is thoroughly in the Ignatian tradition which recommends entering by the world's door. Among guests with whom I had the opportunity of useful and amusing conversations were the Rev. Hugh Ross Williamson (whose excellent recent letter to Time and Tide about the Assumption we quoted in this paper), and the venerable Victor Gollancz who is just about to devote a week to reading John Scotus Erigena in the original.
" IN no field, however, have the Communists been less successful. Religion, it was once remarked, is like a nail; the harder you hit it, the further it goes in. But how to remove the nail no Communist leader has yet discovered." This summarises the moral of an excellent middle article in the Telegraph called " War on Religion is Communism's Greatest Failure." The only pity, perhaps. is that it is apt to take an imminent crisis to persuade our leading papers to take seriously the religious aspect of world news. What
such papers are discovering today has been said a thousand times and for years in Catholic papers.
" Joyful News"
pROM Joyful News. an evangelical • journal, I cull the following : "Rome rules Eire. Its laws are dominant where once the impartial British law ruled." The title of the editorial leader in which this appears is "The Roman Catholic Menace in Ireland."
Advice to the Prime Minister
'READ of complaints that exLabour M.P.s find it hard to get jobs, as employers take connection with the Labour Party. as a bad mark. The solution is easy. Every Labour M.P. at retirement or after defeat should be made a Peer. Few employers can resist the snob value of a Lord on their staff.
Our Great Thinkers
FREIGNERS interested in con temporary religious thought often ask me to let them know the really important Catholic books which have been written in this country during, say, the last 20 years. Or they ask me to advise them about the Catholic names in that period which are outstanding as leaders in Catholic religious thinking. Only today I was asked by an American Quaker for such names and works as would enable him to keep abreast of developments in working out fundamental Catholic religious thinking, especially in relation to the doctrinal and mystical approach to the non-Catholic world. Frankly I was completely stumped by the query, and I could only think at such short notice of Fr. D'Arcy and his book, The Mind and Heart of Love. Perhaps .4 some of my more 'learned a n d assi
duously reading readers could offer