“My greatest enemy is still that old Presbyterian, John Knox,” complained Lord Harewood, artistic director of the Edinburgh Festival and cousin of Queen Elizabeth. A former sovereign, Charles II, had found the same thing in Scotland—a land in which “there was not a woman fit to be seen and where it was a sin to play the fiddle.” Even that merry monarch might have changed his mind had he attended the festival which closed earlier this month. A nineteen-year-old nude model was wheeled across the organ gallery for thirty seconds as part of an “action theatre” display. The avowed purpose of the display, staged by Kenneth Dewey, young avant-garde director from Los Angeles, was “to get the audience involved in the conference.”

One man who did get involved was Lord Provost Duncan Weatherstone, whose city council contributes $140,000 toward festival expenses. “It is quite a tragedy,” commented the civic chief, “that three weeks of glorious festival should have been smeared by a piece of pointless vulgarity.… It has been suggested that the Edinburgh International Festival is handicapped by a Presbyterian outlook. This is offensive, and the sooner everybody realizes it the better. I am quite certain that the majority of our people will continue to be enthusiastic about the value of the arts, but they have not the slightest intention of surrendering their standards in the process.”

Refusing to be drawn when asked if he thought Edinburgh was “too Presbyterian” for this kind of incident, Dewey said he had staged a similar scene in Helsinki. Meanwhile the festival had been under fire at the London Moral Re-armament Conference—it seemed to be producing dirt, debts, and decadence, said Mr. Michael Barrett of Edinburgh, who continued: “Some people think the once fair name of Edinburgh, the Athens of the North, is being besmirched by the soot of Sodom and the godlessness of Gomorrah.”

Temporarily superseded by the greatest train robbery in history, the Christine Keeler story regained the front page earlier this month when the 21-year-old ex-waitress was arrested on charges of perjury and obstructing justice. The London girl who ruined a ministerial career and nearly toppled a government has found the wages of sin so high that even the $8,400 bail set by the judge constituted only a fraction of what one Sunday newspaper paid for the privilege of serializing her love-life.

This development comes at a time when the principal medical officer of Britain’s Ministry of Education, Dr. Peter Henderson, has gone on record as saying that a young couple intending marriage are not wrong in having pre-marital intercourse. Commented Lord Fisher of Lambeth, formerly Archbishop of Canterbury: “If you need not wait until marriage, why wait until you are in love and meaning to be married? Why wait, indeed, until you are in love? In fact, why wait at all?”

Sir Edward Boyle, minister of education, said his ministry does not dictate what teachers should teach on morality. The Archbishop of York replied that it is the duty of political, religious, and educational leaders to give a clear lead in moral matters. He condemned the view that premarital intercourse is not unchaste.

Even responsible statesmen have accused the school of theologians associated with Cambridge of contributing to a situation in Britain in which “popular morality is now a wasteland, littered with the debris of broken convictions.” George Goyder, an influential lay member of the Church Assembly, writing to the Church Times, says: “I believe the present moral climate of this country, and the tragedy of Mr. Profumo, both rise up in judgment against the blind guides of Cambridge, who reject the law of God, and with it the morality of society, in favour of a morality of self-development and social selfishness.”

Meanwhile a governmental commission of inquiry into security, with special reference to the Vassall spy case, has recommended that no more bachelors in the foreign service should be posted behind the Iron Curtain. In view of this, there is a certain piquancy in recalling an ironical comment made some months ago by a correspondent in The Observer: “At least the Profumo affair has given due warning of one thing—the necessity of purging all heterosexuals holding high Government posts as potential security risks.”

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.