An Ignorant Woman Whom Thel Cheap Press Loves
Madame Tabouis is, probably, the best-known newspaper correspondent in the world. Her writings in the Paris Oeuvre are freely reproduced as hot news in the sensational British and American Press. Thousands of copies of her writing in the Penguin cheap edition are eagerly devoured by the British public.
How much does Mine. Tabouis know?
Seventy Years Out Christopher Hollis, Catholic historian and economist, has pilloried Mme. Tabouis in the Tablet in the course of a review of her work.
"A casual reading reveals," says Christopher Hollis, " that Madame Tabouis holds the following strange beliefs: An 'ineffaceable mark ' was left on French character by the memory of
• the Burghers of Calais . . . begging for clemency from a King of England, the aftermath of Agincourt, bloodiest battle of the Middle Ages ' (p. 22). The Battle of Agincourt was in 1415. The episode with the Burghers of Calais was in 1346, and the King of England at that date not Henry V, but Edward III."
After exposing seven more howlers in the first 50 pages, including the wrong year for the American Declaration of Independence and the belief that the Treaty of Amiens was the Treaty of Antwerp, Christopher Hollis continues: In the post-Napoleonic world we are told that England kept out of Europe— which is, roughly speaking, true enough —but, as example of this abstention and its consequence, given (p. 54) the surprising reference to " the French naval victory over the Turks at Navarino." Navarino happens to be the only battle in Europe, naval or military, in which the British did take a part in the generation after Waterloo.
Fifteen more absurdities follow.
But perhaps Mme. Tabouis knows more about recent history—her own province. Listen to this:
No Such Day We come, on page 264, to the story of the remilitarisation of the Rhineland. We are told in explanation of French reluctance to pledge herself fully to British support over Abyssinia, that " England had betrayed the principles of the League of Nations when Germany remilitarised the Rhineland." As everybody knows, the Sanctions against Italy were decided in October, 1935, and the militarisation of the Rhineland followed in March, 1936. . . .
On page 278 we are told that, when Mr. Baldwin began the rearmament programme, " the British public, as one man, was behind " hint. He was, in fact, strongly opposed by the Labour Party. On page 289, Madame Tabouis professes to quote Mr. Chamberlain's words at the Cabinet of February 29: "It would be more opportune," he said, " to detach Italy from Germany." What is her evidence that he said that? Was she hiding under the table? The source of her information upon this mysterious meeting is the more interesting because there was, of course, no such day as February 29 in this year.
A Tip And so Mr. Hollis concludes: "Spreading herself over a generous canvas, Madame Tabouis has in this book ample opportunity of proving that there is no era of history and no country of the world upon which she is not incompetent to write. We must be grateful to her for giving us the proof, for there can, indeed, be few other living writers who are as ignorant of anything as Madame Tabouis is of everything."
We advise all readers who see Mme. Tabouis quoted in their paper to send a cutting of this or of the original article in last week's Tablet to the editor of their paper, with the suggestion that he would make a newspaper job by exposing Mme. Tabouis rather than quoting her.