By FRANCIS KENT
IF I ever kept a pub a popular ambition among writers I have thought I would call it "The Cross and Keys."
What terrific symbols they are of the fundamentals we hold dear! The cross-in hoc signo vinciswhich from a sign of ignominy and shame became the most venerated emblem in the world, without which there is no salvation.
And the keys of Se Peter. which open or close the gates of heaven, the sign of absolution from sin, of the sacramental binding or loosing. by which the flood of redemption from the cross is released upon the repenting sinner.
Could one wish for a better banner under which to sail on art unknown sea, or fight battles against the known but elusive and deceptive enemy of mankind?
I think not.
BUT, instead of a pub, I've got a column; which is fun for me and. I hope, will be for you. I shall still try to provide refreshment. but for mind and spirit; and it is likely to prove a matter of getting a quart into a pint pot, instead of the stricter measures I should certainly have to serve in the "Cross arid Keys" tavern of my dreams.
hope, as the weeks go by, to lind something for the good and the bad, the glad and the sad, and in the process to enjoy myself a good deal. I cannot hope to rival the great work of my predecessor during the past twelve years, nor to achieve such magnificent results as he did. Dare I expect to discover, instead of a skiffling Jesuit, a dancing Dominican, a rock-androll Redemptorist, or even a Benedictine beatnik?
But I promise an endeavour, at any rate, to make my column even all-sortier than Fr. Bernard Basset's all-so rt lest.
Up the pole
TO that end I commend myself A to your help and prayers. For my part, I shall seek the intercession of that patron saint of sll columnists, St. Simon Styli lea (e. 390-459), who lived 37 years on top of a pillar.
I think it must have been hard to be happy up there all that time. Yet I don't know-no telephones, no newspapers prophesying doom. no postman bringing bills. It would depend upon the weather, suppose-even in Syria, where he did it. Otherwise, under God, it must have depended mo.stly upon himself.
Looking back over the years, I recall a sermon by the late Mgr. Ronald Knox to a congregation of boys. He could only recently have been appointed Chaplain to Oxford University. He ended by reciting Robert Louis Stevenson's poem. "The Celestial Surgeon": If I have faltered more or less In my great task of happiness; If I have moved among my race And shown no glorious morning face; If beams from happy human eyes Have moved me not; if morning skies, Books, and my food, and summer rain
Knocked on my sullen heart in vain :- Lord, Thy roost pointed pleasure take An stab my spirit broad awake; Or, Lord, if too obdurate I, Choose Thou, helore that spirit die,
A piercing pain, a killing sin, And to my dead heart run them in!
L OYAL as we are, which miser' able one of us did not rejoice at the birth of our Queen's third child? All last week. newspapers wondered which of them-mornings or evenings-would get the news first. They recalled the old nursery rhyme: Mondays child is fair of face, Tuesday's child is full of grace, Wednesday's child is full of woe, Thursday's child has far to go.
Friday's child is loving and Kiting. Saturday's child works hard for its Aiidac day
child is born on the Sabbath Is fair and wise and good and gay.
I have tracked this down to a mid,19th century work by A. E. Bray, "Traditions of Devonshire": hut I am sure its origins go back further than that.
Which day were you born on? I am glad that the Queen's child was not horn on Wednesday. My own case is difficult to diagnose-I was born, I am told, at midnight between Saturday and Sunday. The first part of the rhyme's finale is certainly true; I am much too modest to claim the second part!
TO the Times Literary Supple
merit reviewer of Fr. Philip Caraman's "The Other Face" (Longmans, 30s.) who remarked u pon current enthusiasm of scholars fm the not-so-happy times of Queen Elizabeth I. Reflecting upon the ardour of some of her latter-day apologists, he mentioned A. E. Rowse "who wears her scarf upon his sleeve", and then went on to the books by Sir John Neale on Elizabeth and her Parliaments.
"Can any percipient reader." he asked, "lay down Six John Neale's works without concluding that he is captivated, that La Belle Dame sans Merci hath him in thrall?"
That's the lady all right. I had almost written "beldam"!
A new note
My parish priest, congratulating his congregation on collecting £500 for mending the church organ, added: "You may like to know that the repairing firm assures me It is now good for the next 200 years . . by which time most of us will, I hope. be more interested in harps!"