6 FEBRUARY 1886, Page 23

The Revolt of the Netherlands. By Wilfrid C. Robinson. (R.

Washbourne.)—Mr. Robinson tells this story from the Spanish and Catholic point of view. In this, as in other matters, it is a good thing to obey the precept, Audi atteram portent, though the alto-a pare is that of Philip II. and Alva; and we are obliged to Mr. Robinson for giving us the opportunity. He would be more instructive if he had begun by defining his own standpoint in the matter of religious liberty, the great question which underlies all the controversies which this history cuts across. Does he think that it is right now, and that it was wrong in the sixteenth century ? Or always wrong, but forced upon rulers by present circumstances, as one might gather from his expression, "the man of this century, with his wild notions about religious liberty " ? Or does be think it a matter of expediency, not of morals ? Philip is, in his eyes, a model king ; and Philip, to use his own language, "would have sent his own son to the stake, and slain his dearest friend, rather than allow a single heretic space to breathe within his realms." Would he be a model now, were he possible ? It is always impossible to get a plain answer to questions of this kind. Writers of Mr. Robinson's type minimise Roman Catholic and exaggerate Protestant persecutions ; but the tu quoque argument, even were it truer than it is, does not enlighten. England and the Netherlands are bracketed together as the scenes of hideous atrocities wrought in the name of religion,—as if Alva's reign of terror went for nothing more than the execution of two Anabaptists (who were dangerous Socialists), and of a score or so of Romanists who were incessantly plotting the Queen's death. Till Mr. Robinson is prepared to state definitely what he thinks about this matter, he should choose lees difficult subjects.