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A disclaimer

To the editors:

I am very grateful to Henry Fairlie for his generous—too generous—review of my book Hermit of Peking (June 4). What cat would not purr, so deliciously stroked? But I must disclaim one achievement which he ascribes to me. He says that I have "put down" my colleagues A.J.P. Taylor and J.H. Plumb. It is true that once, 20 years ago—in a review of one particular book, The Origins of Ihe Second World War—I expressed dissent from the historical interpretation of Mr. Taylor, whose other works I have invariably praised. But I have never expressed anything but admiration for the historical work of Professor Plumb.

Hugh Trevor-Roper

In reply:

My suggestion that Hugh Trevor-Roper has ever "put down" his fellow historians was more qualified than he implies. I thought I was simply teasing, as I have heard all three of them, in their day, being teases.

 Henry Fairlie

Memory and interpretation

To the editors:

 For many years, I have regularly read The New Republic. I have found the magazine to be interesting, informative, and challenging, and I have come to believe in the accuracy and integrity of facts presented by its journalists.

I was, therefore, deeply disturbed by an alleged quotation of me on the "Washington Diarist" page of your May 28th issue. To understand the importance of the alleged quote one must read the entire paragraph:

Gerald Ford had no memory or stomach for the past. That's why. I think, he pardoned Nixon almost before he'd found his way around the White House, Ford did not know his real father until one day, when he was working as a soda ierk, a man came up to him and said. 'I am your father.' Ford immediately responded, 'I forgive you.' What he was forgiving was the greatest of pains, that of desertion by a parent. Someone who forgives that so easily is capable of forgiving anything.

 M.P. never contacted me, and I have no idea as to the source of that alleged quote. I can say with emphasis that it does not and never will accurately express my feelings. To publish an alleged quote, which in fact was never made, and to come to the conclusion reached by M.P. is not in keeping with the high standards of The New Republic.

Gerald R. Ford
Rancho Mirage, California

In reply:

 Mr. Ford's forgiveness of his real father was described in several magazines. I incorrectly telescoped a lengthier process into a single confrontation. For that I apologize. If Mr. Ford and I differ on how his relationship with his father is to be interpreted, I cannot apologize for that.

 M. P.

Electoral reform

To the editors:

I was pleased to see M.E.K. make so able a rebuttal ("Election Reform," TNR. June 25) to recent TNR editorials on the Electoral College and voter registration. I never expected Populist sentiments from an editorial crew that evidently prides itself on lineal descent from Hamiltonians like Herbert Croly and Walter Lippmann. But I was shocked to see you argue that the problem of voting fraud in places like Cook County justifies diluting the value of the franchise, and tolerating the decline in voting, all over the country. Hamilton himself might have gagged on that.

 Isn't there a powerful whiff of blaming the victim {not to mention self fulfilling prophecy) in your argument on behalf of the Electoral College and against universal registration? Why not go after the corrupters of the ballot box, instead of the voters whose ballots get corrupted and those who don't vote because they're sick of political corruption? Who's more cynical, Chicago pols who manipulate the rubes' votes, or Washington editorialists who can't see that it matters whether the rubes vote at all?

I enjoyed M.E.K.'s dissent so much that I'd like to know to whom credit is due. Which M.K. on your mast is M.E.K.? Is it Michael Kinsley or Morton Kondracke? Or Martin Peretz making mischief?

Eugene E. Leach
Trinity College
Hartford, Connecticut

In reply: It is Michael Kinsley, Martin Peretz makes enough mischief over his own initials.

The editors

The Irish have a word for it

To the editors:

Henry Fairlie, it appears, finally was able to deliver himself of the 25-year-old retained news that he was "one of the few people in the world who has legitimately defecated high in the transept of Westminister Abbey" ("Vivat Regina," TNR, June 18). His recollection will live in the annals of journalism.

This lofty scatological note finally, I feel, gives me license to tell of my Eighth Air Force bombardier's penchant. An Irishman who ardently hated the monarchy, he would defecate in his flak helmet and, from 24,000 feet in our Liberator, dump helmet and contents on Buckingham Palace, and, in fact, on Westminster Abbey—some nine years before Fairlie's deposit.

In fairness I should say that our bombardier also similarly bombarded targets in Berlin, Hamburg and occupied Paris (notably the two dirigible hangars that used to serve the Cermans at Orly),

Arthur Shay
Deerfield, Illinois

Hu Feng's foot

To the editors:

 Re Simon Leys' review of Comrade Chiang Ch'ing (TNR. June 25):

 Shamefacedly, I must admit that I, for one, did not know that Hu Feng never set foot in Yenan.

 I am outraged.

 Marc Robbins
Washington, DC

This article originally ran in the July 9, 1977, issue of the magazine.