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Vol. XV

APRIL 1938

No. 179


Reviewed by A. R.

IN his recollections of visits to Thomas Hardy, which have lately appeared in the Penguin edition of Great Victorians, Edmund Blunden records "T.H." as speaking unfavourably of modern reviewers. "He urged me to write on the stupidity of hasty reviewing . . . the present reviewers disposed of a new volume in a day or so." (Ifhe had known how many records we poor hacks dispose of in half-a-day, Hardy would have fallen down dead !) And now I

standing of her large flock, with such parents the children could not fail to enjoy and to enrich'life.

Many of us, with very different experiences to look back upon, will envy the free life of the boys who went to Stonehouse, the remarkably original school in Kent, kept by Edward Stone when he left Eton; and where, as an example of the blithe atmosphere prevailing, the headmaster, when he had finished his sausages and bacon, used to fling tile morning's post have to review, in a hasty day or two, surrounded by unplayed records balefully regarding me, this richly laden book by our own F~.*

Hearing that I was to undertake this task, Mrs. Mackenzie wrote urging me to "stress the Monty . and Christopher ele-

The Editor has been i l l with a very bad attack of sciatica, and we apologise to our readers for the lack of an Editorial, for which we are responsible. He is the last to let THE GRAMOPHONE down, but in view of the intense strain of the work he is now engaged upon, which produces these attacks, we have persuaded him. to take a rest from. gram.ophonics this m.onth, and feel sure that readers will sym.pathize and understand.

from the top-table, letter by letter, to his expectant pupils.

My reading in the book was checked, at this point, for some time by two endearing photographsone of the small Faith in a bonnet and long coat, trimmed with fur, and deliciously bulging cheeks, and another of Christments." I shall do no such thing! The modesty of the violet is brazen compared to that of, as I am sure she effacingly pictures herself, the "editor's wife," who sits in secret session at Soho Square.

Now as a rule I find reminiscences of childhood incredibly boring (and prefer to forget my own), but the most vivid part of this lively book is precisely that which deals with the early days of Faith and Christopher, ninth and tenth children of Lily and Edward Stone. I t used to be a commonplace to say that large families were the happiest-before complete bliss was found in having no family at all-and certainly with a father like Edward Stone, schoolmaster, poet and scholar (and the antithesis of the conventional idea of all these) a generous and rich soul: and a mother like Lily Vidal, wrestling always with bad health and a difficult temperament, but patient in all her long suffering and full of sympathetic under-

• The Autobiognphy of Faith Compton Mackenzie (Collins, [25. 6d.) A2

opher (aged six) mounted on a pony.

These two were very special friends, though there were tense moments. Lily Stone wrote: " Booboo (yes, the London Editor!) is very busy with his spade, his face rosy, his laugh cheery and bright. The sweetest little boy that ever was, though he has given Maggie'S cheek an ugly scar with his nasty little nails." And he also gave his favourite sister a bloody wound with his" nasty little teeth," in the course of a fight over a dead seagull. But, even at that age, Booboo was everybody's idol; arid what he was then he remains now. There is a picture, later in the book, of Edward Stone in old age, serene and wise, which, apart from mutton-chop whiskers, is just the way Christopher, I think, will come to look.

I cannot resist giving one specimen of the spelling of the future Eton scholar:

Dear Mother,-It is such a rainne day. lve been playing hosis. I'm doing this letter all by my cellf.