IT is a pleasant annual task to welcome the new edition of the indispensable Whitaker's—not that 1 go so far as the gentleman I heard ot the other day who has made Whitaker's his exclusive bed.ime leading for many years and has consequently become a living Whitaker. 1 he new Parliament, with all details, has been bound into the new edition and makes the Almanack fully up-todate. A curiously conservative tradition is maintained in the anniversaries noted in the calendar. Where else would you find annually recorded in January the deaths of Cardinal Manning, Henry Labouchere, Bishop Creighton, Bulwer Lytton, and the births of Comte and J. M. Neale ? But Whitaker's is rightly a volume where the latest film star shines in vain.
A Visit to Gimpels
mAY I urge London readers to pay a visit these days to the Gimpel Galleries in South Molton Street. There they will find not only the wholly delightful paintings of Dom Robert (the two depicting the monks playing cricket are unforgettable), but some most attractive pottery by James Tower !who is, i believe. of our Faith) most attractively priced. The housewife is ho wants to give a specially distinguished note to her dining room should get to know his work.
"Top of the Form," which is broadcast by the B.B.C., and which has an enormous listening public, had a hit of a shock for those of us who talk of Britain as being a Christian country. In the Scottish finals a boy was asked " What is Lent ? " He frankly admitted he had no idea. Then. given another chance, he said: "I think --I'm not sure— but I think it's got something to do with religion—a religious feast or something." I'm glad to think that the answer lost his side two marks.
A Wondrous Canon
I HAVE never, alas, heard of Canon R. de Saint-Laurent, nor, for that matter, of his publishers, Aubanet, Dublin. This would certainly seem to he a pity since I have had for some weeks a little tower of books on my desk which reveal the help that the Canon is prepared to give to all and sundry. Eight of them! Tho Canon can cure you of shyness, deliver to you the secret of happiness, guarantee your success through mental poise, teach you how to control your will-power, cure you from being " emotive," show you how to increase your personal output, train you in mental concentration, prepare you for the arts of conversation and raise you to the arts of speaking in public (the last two for 7s. and 6s. each; the remainder for 3s.) I should like to meet the Canon.
No doubt, I was " guided " to open One of the volumes at random and find: " The mania for incessantly interrupting is a double fault of the gravest kind that could be committed socially. It is first of all a sin. shall we say a mortal sin, against the art of conversation, for it attacks the very essence of this." " Shall we not say " seems theologically sounder. and also more consistent with the Canon's thesis.
The Spirit Test
I NOW discover further ingenuities. These hooks are in red cover print for non-Catholics and blue for ('atholics. " The contents of both series are identical but the blue ones (marked *) contain in addition. advice based on spirituality," the publishers observe.
They Should Meet
0 sooner had I written the above, and handed the books over to a member of our staff who was disappointed to find no volume on how to be a good reporter, than I received back a news item describing another wondrous man, the Belgian Fr. de Wit, whose hobby it is to collect university degrees.
He has earned the following university degrees; doctor of laws, doctor of letters, doctor of philosophy, candidate of socio-political sciences, candidate of criminology, chemical engineer and candidate in biology. He has passed examinations also in philolegy, psychology, ethnology, geology, anthropology, physiology, toxicology, pre-history, petrology, sociology, bacteriology, hygiene, social and juridical medicine, and stratigraphic archaeology.
To fill out his spare time he has studied comparative German, classical and Roman grammar, historic grammar of the German and F.nglish languages, Gothic, Old Norse, Italian, Spanish, Russian. Hebrew, Arabian, Persian. Sanskrit, Old Egyptian, Accadian and Assyrian. He is also interested in the arts, not modern, but old Arabian, Egyptian and Near East art, as also Roman and Gallo-Roman antiquities. At present he is engaged in the study of Indian religions and of anatomy.
Opera and Morals
WITH all this talk of contempor
ary looseness of language and ideas in literature and entertainment, it is rather disconcerting to go to &idlers Wells to see the splendid programme of "The Marriage of higaro," and be impressed by the fact (made clear perhaps by the exceptionally good enunciation of the singers) that nothing could be " looser " than this joint production of the Catholic Mozart and his librettist priest, the Abbe Lorenzo da Ponte. This aspect comes over today a good deal more forcefully than the original revolutionary implications of a story directed against the upper classes. Pointing this out to a conservative minded lady who perhaps tends to think that our times are in this respect particularly bad, she answered by saying that when Mozart wrote no girl would have been allowed to go to the opera until she was well and truly married. There is certainly a difference there. It is true also that no one really pays much attention to the story in this long four-act flow of arias — and how well they were sung by a cast for each of whom Mozart ca re fullv prepared his or her moment of glory on the stage A delightful performance.