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My Fill of Days

Nature volume 139, pages 347348 (27 February 1937) | Download Citation



THE modern practice of using single words, or fragmentary sentences, bearing little or no relation to the subject-matter, as the titles, not only of novels—where it is excusable—but even of important biographical works, will undoubtedly cause much embarrassment, and even loss, to the historian and bibliographer of the future; but if ever such a title was justified, it is justified by the absorbingly interesting volume before us. It may be said at once that no man has ever lived, the fullness of whose days has been more striking and complete than those of Sir Peter Chalmers Mitchell, from the time that he made fireworks and other scientific experiments as a schoolboy, until he left the smoking ruins of Malaga, on a British destroyer on February 11, 1937. Chalmers Mitchell is a man devoid of fear—though perhaps, to quote Dr. Johnson, he never snuffed a candle with his fingers—but probably the boldest, one might say the most foolhardy event of his life, was his return to Malaga immediately after the publication of this volume, in which he gives a vivid account of Malaga in 1936 (chap, xx) and makes no concealment of his attachment to the so-called Red (Government) regime, and his activities in protecting and assisting the escape of ‘Red’ prescripts. What emerges most significantly from this book for ‘the eye of wisdom’ is a side of the author known only to his most intimate friends. He reveals himself here as a poet and as an artist, capable of warm-hearted and disinterested sympathies for the oppressed, and a loving and lovable nature—rarely to be found in those who, like him, are actively disinclined to the suffering of fools gladly—as recommended by St. Paul.

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