From Christopher Hitchens’s review of an A.N. Wilson book in the dead-tree edition of this month’s Atlantic Monthly:
The two British teak-heads responsible for the Amritsar massacre, in April of 1919, and therefore for the moral end of the British dominion in India, were . . .
Never mind who they were. What amused me was the suggestion that that was the moral end of the British dominion in India. I wasn’t even aware that the British dominion in India had a moral beginning, let alone a moral end. Anyway, if it did have a moral end, whatever that means exactly, I would have chosen the rebellion of 1857, or, earlier, the Bengal famine of 1770. Hmph.
Anyway, there are two funny bits in the rest of the review. The first:
The late Christopher Hill . . . once told me a small joke in his mildly stuttering style. It seemed that the fifth or sixth husband of Barbara Hutton had been interviewed on his nuptial night, and when asked how he felt at being the latest to possess the celebrated Woolworth heiress, had replied, “Well, I know what I have g-got to d-do, but I am not quite sure how to make it i-i-i-interesting.
Buck up, old chap. We all feel that way sometimes.
And then this, later in the review:
I am told that the great hostess Sybil Colefax, finding Albert Einstein among her guests at one such soiree, was instructed to put him at his ease and began by asking, “Did you hear that mad old Woofles has left Pug-Wug completely flat – and run off with Binky-poo?” There is a reason why Evelyn Waugh can be regarded as a social historian of this epoch.
He does not tell us if Einstein had heard the news yet or not.