Revolt of the Netherlands
IN Book World of June 28, Witold Rybczynski slightly mars an otherwise excellent and stimulating review of Simon Schama's The Embarrassment of Riches with a statement that could lead the unknowing reader into error. He refers to the "brand new" Dutch nation which broke away from Spain in 1609. That was the date when Spain finally and formally recognized the existence of Holland by treaty. However, the new Dutch Republic had been declared in 1581 -- it simply took the Spanish that long to accept that it could not be reconquered. After all, the United States rightly celebrates its year of birth as 1776. This was when Independence was declared, not when it was finally accepted by the British after several years of struggle. Robert M. Lacey Washington, D.C.
I DO not mind when critics take issue with a point of view in my book Remaking Motherhood, but I do mind it very much when reviewers get their facts wrong. In Suzanne Gordon's review (Book World, May 10), she states that I had two bad experiences with family day-care, and that because of that I counsel women to avoid family day-care. On page 147 of my book I state very clearly, "I have had two experiences with family day-care providers, one good and one bad, and both of which I feel represent the two extremes in the family day-care spectrum." I then go on at length to describe my first, extremely positive experience with family day-care. Moreover, I discuss very clearly both the advantages and disadvantages of family day-care, and if I counsel women to be cautious about family day-care, it is not because of my personal experience with it, but because not all states require family day-care providers to be licensed; and even when they do, in some states, standards for licensing are minimal. Anita Shreve Valley Cottage, N.Y.
Suzanne Gordon Replies: I apologize for a misreading of Shreve's section on family day-care. Nonetheless, I still feel that she has allowed personal feeling to intrude upon her judgments. As she herself points out, center-based care in this country is plagued by a host of problems. The fact is, almost all day-care in this country is inadequate. Why then does she single out family day-care for such negative treatment?
More to the point, I was disappointed that Shreve -- a journalist of obvious intelligence and commitment -- chose to engage a minor point in my review rather than its major argument. It would have been far more interesting to learn of her reflections on the subject of post-feminist visions of power at home and in the workplace than to discuss how many bad experiences she had with family day-care providers.
YOUR REVIEWER Duncan Spencer, in his review of William F. Buckley Jr.'s Racing Through Paradise: A Pacific Passage (Book World, May 24), is in need of a good dictionary of quotations. He ascribes to H.M. Tilman the statement: "Fate cannot touch me today; I have eaten well."
Tilman's recollection of the original is imperfect. It was the Rev. Sydney Smith (1771-1845) who wrote this couplet:
Serenely full, the epicure would say,
Fate cannot harm me, I have dined today.
Tilman was undoubtedly aware of the original, even though he paraphrased it. The irony here is that Spencer is castigating Buckley for misspelling Tilman's name ("Tilghman") while using his quote. Harold C. Cannon Annandale, Va.
A Question of Gender
IN JUDITH JUDSON'S interesting and sensible comments in Letters to the Editor (Book World, May 17) on S. Frederick Starr's review of E.D. Hirsch's Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know (Book World, April 12), she referred to the author of "Mangnall's Questions" as "the E.D. Hirsch of his day" (my italics).
The author of "Mangnall's Questions" was a woman, Richmal Mangnall (1769-1820). The English historian C.V. Wedgwood devoted an essay to Mangnall in her book Velvet Studies (1946). Esther L. Kininmonth Washington, D.C.
FOR A descriptive bibliography of the writings and caricatures of Sir Max Beerbohm (1872-1956) to be published by Oxford University Press, I would appreciate learning of unusual material in public or private collections. Beerbohm's manuscripts and drawings, inscribed copies of his books, periodicals in which his work was published, and items relating to his plays, speeches, broadcasts and recordings are of particular interest. Mark Samuels Lasner Apt. 101 1870 Wyoming Ave. NW Washington, D.C. 20009
FOR A project to research and restore the old State, Navy and War Building (renamed the Old Executive Office Building) in Washington, information is being sought regarding its construction and decoration. Of particular interest is information about the location of original furnishings. Information is also needed regarding four designers/architects who were involved in the project. They are Stephen D. Hatch and Otto C. Ficht of New York, Richard von Ezdorf of Washington and William J. McPherson of Boston. Paula Mohr Preservation Office, Room 484 Old Executive Office Building 17th and Pennsylvania Washington, D.C. 20503