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[ 599 To the Editor of Blackfriars Blackfriars, 19 (Mar 1938) 217 AMENDES HONORABLES.1 Mr. T. S. Eliot has kindly written to us drawing attention to a grave misunderstanding which may arise from our all too brief reference to his important observations in the current Criterion:2 In your admirable “Extracts and Comments,” which I invariably read with profit, I am a little nettled to find, in the current number, a brief reference to my having commented “charitably” on Lord Nuffield’s benefactions to Oxford. While I hope that my comments always show Christian charity . . . I take a mild exception – not to the brevity of the reference – but to the use of the word “charitably” in such a brief reference. Are you sure that all your readers will take it simply that I have shown Christian charity towards this appalling blunder? – and that they will not interpret your remark as meaning what in journalistic language is called “qualified approval”? I wished to express unqualified disapproval. . . .3 Notes 1. Trans: honourable reparations 2. Commenting on the contents of the Jan issues of contemporary journals in its issue of Feb 1938, Blackfriars stated of the Criterion: “T. S. Eliot comments charitably on Lord Nuffield’s ‘benefactions’ to Oxford University” (142). In his Jan “Commentary,” TSE had questioned the potential consequences of Lord Nuffield’s gift of £1,000,000 for clinical research and the announcement of a further appeal for funds by Oxford, expressing his concern for the effect on the “Humanities” of such specified gifts and appeals and for the danger of the “ultimate incorporation of Oxford, with Cambridge and the Scottish universities, into one vast system manipulated from Whitehall” (5.572). 3. In correspondence with the editor, Rev. Victor White (1902-60), TSE stated that he was “sure you have as enlightened a circle of readers as any periodical in the country. In this circumstance, I think it would be making perhaps too much fuss to print my letter as a letter, but I am quite willing that you should quote from it if you think best.” In the first ellipses, White excised TSE’s parenthetical comment – “(I fear that sometimes they do not)” – and in the second ellipses deleted the remainder of the letter except for a sentence included in his editorial comment printed after the excerpt. TSE’s letter continues: The point might not matter if any considerable part of the press had taken a similar view to mine. But so far as I know, mine was a solitary voice warning against the subject of the Essays, Reviews, Commentaries, and Public Letters: 1938 600 ] Oxford of “Dominus illuminatio mea” to the purposes of materialism. And, so far as I know, mine was the only voice raised in criticism of the preposterous Appeal for Funds signed by Lord Halifax and the Master of Balliol. I need hardly say, that this letter is not intended for publication. I am, Reverend Sir, Your obedient servant, T. S. Eliot The opening words of Psalm 27, “Dominus illuminatio mea” (“The Lord is my light”) serve as the motto of the University of Oxford. Notice of Lord Nuffield’s gift and the second Oxford appeal appeared in the Times of 11 Dec 1937 (14); the original Oxford appeal, signed by Lord Halifax, chancellor of the university, and A. D. Lindsay, master of Balliol and vice-chancellor of the university, appeared under the heading “Future of Oxford /Appeal by the Chancellor / Needs of a Modern University” in the Times of 9 Feb 1937 (15-16). At the end of TSE’s edited letter, Rev. White printed his response: “We would deeply regret any such deplorable misunderstanding; and can plead only that the justice and urgency of Mr. Eliot’s comment seemed to us so self-evident that we were the more impressed with his charity and moderation. We can find less excuse for having referred with such casual brevity to Mr. Eliot’s important and almost solitary protest against a situation fraught with a threat of sheer disaster to the University of Oxford. For, as Mr. Eliot goes on to complain, “So far as I know, mine was a solitary voice of warning against the subjection of the Oxford ‘Dominus Illuminatio Mea’ to the purposes of materialism.” Still more deplorable is the fact that, so far as we are aware, no effort has yet been made by the responsible authorities to meet Mr. Eliot’s protest, let alone to avert the irremediable degradation to which...


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