Page 4, 6th May 1938

6th May 1938
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Page 4, 6th May 1938 — Explanations Of
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Explanations Of

Philip II On April 22, Mr. Oliver J. G. Welch reviewed in our columns a book on Philip II which was written by W. T. Walsh. A correspondent gives another angle on the character of Philip in a letter to the editor. He writes:

" Your review of W. T. Walsh's Philip II ' is extremely interesting. Especially at the present time it is 'of real importance that the pet villain of antiCatholic legend should be cleared of the smoke of historical prejudice. We need to be shown a Philip neither tarred and feathered on the one hand nor whitewashed on the other.

" There is something strangely paradoxical in such a character being called upon to deal with the problem that he inherited. In the peculiar circumstances it is easier to be misled by the sinister close-ups ' so plausibly presented by Froude, Motley, Stirling-Maxwell and Co. than convinced by the well-meant efforts of some of his apologists.

"How effective a figure of drama is the recluse of the Escorial tirelessly at work upon his evil web of red tape! On the other hand, with the best will in the world one is merely bewildered by such verdicts as Monsieur Ballester's: that Philip was un homme jovial et expansif.'

* * * * "` It is hard to see what Philip could have done other than what he did,' writes your reviewer. May I suggest that he had two alternatives, of which one at least might ultimately have saved the situation.

" l. He might have gone in person to the Netherlands, verified the position there and acted accordingly. If taken in time. the prestige of his name might have greatly assisted this course.

2. He might have given his loyal and capable viceroys unlimited trust and hacked them unreservedly with his utmost resources.

" No monarch had ever more devoted and gifted servants in charge of his affairs abroad. No monarch more consistently let them down' at the psychological moment to the immediate advantage of his enemies.

Philip deserves a statue in every Dutch city : the independence of Holland is due hardly less to his inopportune—and often treacherous—meddling with her affairs over his lieutenants' heads or behind their backs, than to her own heroism."

FRANCIS KELLY.




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