Sir: Ian Thompson in his review of Freedman’s book “ The Murderous History of Biblical Translations …” (Spectator 14th. May) speaks of James I as being “a well known bisexual”. In a paper delivered to a meeting of the Australian and New Zealand Orthopaedic Associations some years ago well known medical historian Wynne Beesley noted that James, only child of Mary Queen of Scots, was born after a prolonged and difficult labour lasting some 24 hours. He also noted that spastic diplegia or Little’s disease was first described by William John Little in the 19th. century, one of the causes of which is foetal anoxia during labour. Beesley suggested that James suffered from this condition and that his habit of putting his arms around his accompanying courtiers while walking was to steady himself. James also, to the best of my knowledge, never rode, no doubt for the same reason.
Sir: Peter Dutton’s recent comment regarding illiterate and innumerate refugees languishing in unemployment queues is rather unfair and I suspect he is afraid of the competition and that they could end up as cabinet ministers in a future Turnbull government.
Spring Hill, Qld
Republicans in the dark
Sir: In likening Brexit to Australia’s 1999 republican referendum, Christopher Akehurst (14/5) says that while voters rejected a republic, the result was ‘’close’’. How wrong can you be! Mr Akehurst should have consulted the Australians for Constitutional Monarchy website which would have revealed the following:
Notwithstanding the vast resources, a powerful and almost unanimous media campaign and the support of about two-thirds of the politicians, the republican referendum was defeated nationally by a landslide margin of 54.87 per cent to 45.13 per cent.
To be successful, a referendum for constitutional change must also be adopted in a majority of states. The republican referendum was rejected in every state
To give a picture of the geographic spread, it is relevant to note that the referendum was rejected in 72 per cent of all federal electorates, with support centred on mainly elite inner-city electorates.
Mr Akehurst also suggests the republican movement could ‘’flare up’’ and become irreversible.
According to most of the polls over the years since 1999, support for a vague undefined republic has fallen and now fluctuates in the 30 percentile range.
But once a specific model is indicated (essential for a referendum where each voter has the bill amending the Constitution before him or her), the republican vote fractures. Then a considerable number of opponents to any model will indicate a preference for the constitutional monarchy.
There is one significant difference from the time of the referendum. While the middle-aged have tended to prefer change, the young now rival the old as the strongest supporters of the constitutional monarchy.
Phillip Bay, NSW
Grace in the darkness
Sir: In his book review Daniel Hahn shows that the personal account of the Holocaust by Philippe Sands is noteworthy for two reasons. Firstly the author has described the emergence of new crucial legal concepts, namely genocide and crimes against humanity, both of which transcend national sovereignty. Secondly Philippe has rescued the identity of some protagonists from the anonymity with which they were destroyed.
The reviewer poses the critical question of what could be redemptive in such a context. Neither international law nor restoring identities to the victims can redeem.
Some philosophers have long given up hope in redemption because so much evil and suffering cannot be reconciled with an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good God.
Other philosophers say we cannot rule out the possibility of a morally sufficient reason for such a God to allow suffering and evil.
An anonymous inmate of Auschwitz left a text written in German on a wall:
“There is grace, though,
And wonder, on the way.
Only they are hard to see,
Hard to embrace, for
Those compelled to
Wander in darkness.”
(quotation from Wandering in Darkness by Eleonore Stump).
New Lambton, NSW
Black and White issue
Sir: In my review of an excellent new life of Dante (Books, 21 May), I spoke of the poet falling foul of ‘the bitter feuding between the “White” Guelphs and the “Blacks’’.’ This has been changed to read: ‘‘Whites’ (Guelphs) and ‘Blacks’ (Ghibellines). In fact the Whites and the Blacks were both Guelphs. Forgive pedantry.
Leave’s grumpy grassroots
Sir: James Delingpole should join us at a Remain street stall. He would soon be disabused of his idea that Remainers are ‘shrill, prickly and bitter’ and Leavers are ‘sunny, relaxed and optimistic’ (‘What’s making Remain campaigners so tetchy?’, 21 May). We can often spot a likely Leaver by their angry expression. As we offer a leaflet with facts about the EU to counter the lies and distortions our acquaintance has imbibed from the Leave campaign, we are lucky to escape with anything less offensive than ‘Piss off’. If a leaflet is taken, we often see it torn up. At the grassroots, Leave is certainly grumpy.