19 JULY 1940, Page 15

FOX AND THE BASTILLE SIR,—Your quotation of Charles James Fox's

words "How much the greatest event that ever happened, and how much the best," as apply- ing to the fall of the Bastille, has the constantly repeated authority of text-boob to support it. I do not know if it has ever been ques- tioned. But the letter in which the statement, or something like it, occurs (given in the Memorials and Correspondence edited by Lord John Russell) is worded rather ambiguously and my own very distinct impression on reading it was that Fox referring not to the specific event of the fall of the Bastille, but tooth e French Revolution more generally. If this interpretation be true, Fox's "exaggeration of en- thusiasm" becomes-much more pardonable and makes better sense. I Write from memory and cannot quote the exact wording of the letter.

But I fear it may be as useless now to question so oft-repeated a view as to ask why Fox is almost always accorded his two Christian names, when he was always plain " Charles " to his contemporaries.-

[The Dictionary of National Biography (S. V. Fox) records: "After hearing of the taking of the Bastille, Fox wrote to Fitzpatrick on July 30, 1789: ' How much the greatest event it is that ever happened m the world, and how much the best.' "—En. Spectator.]