The Adveatures of the Young Soldier in Search of the Better World, By C. E. M. Joad. (Faber and Faber, es.)
Rojo' ed by PROFESSOR CATLIN
NOT long ago Mr. H. G. Wells described Dean Inge in print
as " a licensed public scold." Mr. Wells at his best is the Ordinary Man raised to an extraordinary degree. In the phrase used by Voltaire, he " has in him more of that spirit that every man has than any man has," While one applauds Mr. Wells' recognition of the attempt of the Papacy to realise the ideal of the City of Gad, one deplores " H. G." in his less forornate mood, when he is out for connoversy at ell costs; .peevishly and arrogantly intolerant; conducting the superficial " warfare of science and religiou " in a fashion that dates; missing with abuse what was good enough for such a spirit as aria Gill's. He displays himself as an enemy of all organised Christianity and especially of the strongest forms. One turns, at such times, with a shrug of the shoulders and with relief. to the work of a younger, better disciplined and---I use the word advisedly—more serious philosopher.
To .call Joad the Laughing Philosopher is so obvious a temptation that I suppose every cub reporter in search cif a phrase has used the title. As a frank admirer of Lin Yutang 'and the Chinese: as a disciple of St. Bernard Shaw; and as something of an epicure, the phrase fits. But the laughter bubbles from -the spring of no inconsiderable disillusionment, and is part of the pro fundity of his wisdom. I ant often startled — although I know this is not the common opinion—to find, behind the publicised broadcaster, how profound and, yes, modest load is. I wish Wells were—for I admire Wells as a humanist, even ir T think him a hate-stirrer.
THE great psychologist Jung, in a re1 cent book, writes: " Among all fly paticnts . . . over thirty-five, there hos not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life." This is the kind of psychological datum which load is:seldom found CO overlook.
In the present book load assumes that his Young Soldier seldom darkens a church door. Unfortunately, Anglican bishops will bear. out how probable this assumption is. A detached observer may care to note the significance of the tact that the Catholic Church alone seems to have withstood this rotting. Perhaps that is what alaums Mr. Wells. load, however, having conducted his Soldiei through anIAlice in Wonderland world of Captain Nicks and Mr. Red Tapeworms, ends up with a discussion of a Voice which certainly will be unintelligible to the man " with no use for religion."
" Mr. Transport-ouse " (Joad here needs to take 'another aspirate) is dealt with in friendly fashion. But it is interesting to notice that load, Labour candidate, finds else Labour Party, nonMarxist though it is. still a little too hazy abeta all those things which cannot be touched and seen. Good wages, good housing, good health and a full stomach are excellent, but they don't alone end human pride and wars. So we are provided as corrective—which goes too far the other .way—with the discourses of that stomachless spirit, " Mr. Heardhux." I AM not sute that load, who has caricatured the Communists a:, " Mr. Ultra-Red Robot," the ally of Mr. Red Tapeworm, is quite fair to Messrs. Aldous Huxley and Gerald Heard, thus thinly disguised. .. I have not perhaps read the latest manifesto from Mount Carmel, California; but I was under the impression that Mr. Heard did not demand any " biological mutia don " in any sense in which Mr. load's pretty wit is not such a muta tion. And a cultural mutation " (which leading anthropologists such as Dr. Benedict advise) seems to me quite practicable. It might end war and poverty. The other name far it is " change of heart "—not nearly so simple a process in psychology as some sappose. We need to get our hearts scraped, as the doctors would say—a delicate operation,
Dr. Joad 'dune', very alive and complete with beard and other aura bales, triter Mr. Hcardhux has followed the Cheshire Cat into pure thin air, to the thicker air of his own pipe-smoke. He there preacbes, like a sensible man, the Chinese Golden Mean and Federal Union. He reflects that all civilised people were once barbarians, that most of them still arc, and that you as well as the•Germans have your dose of Original Sin. " If Christianity doesn't revive soon, something much worse will supersede its followers." The Catholic worker needs to have an intelligent grasp of why he believes, and, to get it, he must be menially alive himself.
T can't believe that any intelligent man can be otherwise than cheered by reading this book, cheap at the price. It is a kick in the mental pants for the heavy-minded.