Letter: Furore over a few words

From Mr Anthony Goldstaub, QC

Sir: What Eric Cantona probably had in mind was the ghost of a memory of Tacitus: Cum aves piscatores sequntur pisces eis iacturi esse credunt sed sola intestina donantur (Agricola, 31; Fife). The seagull following the fishing boat expects to be thrown fish but receives only offal.

Joseph Needham (obituary, 27 March) gave me some years ago several variants of a provincial Chinese proverb about sparrows and the dung cart; all of a piece, he said, with Tacitus' comment on great reputations and the sad reality they may conceal.

Mr Cantona has tasted the English legal system and we have his view of it.

Yours faithfully,



1 April