Books November 2006
The spy who cured me
A review of Europe's Physician: The Various Life of Theodore de Mayerne by Hugh Trevor-Roper.
If anything can redeem the posthumous standing of Hugh Trevor-Roper, Lord Dacre (1914–2003), Europe’s Physician should do so. But is he thus redeemable? The mixture of spite, gullibility, and suppressio veri which formed Trevor-Roper’s chief contribution to public life over the decades was ruthlessly epitomized in an Encounter piece by A. J. P. Taylor—himself hardly a neophyte in the malice department—when he caught Trevor-Roper redhanded doctoring extracts: His “methods of quotation might … do harm to his reputation as a serious historian, if he had one.” It is tempting to cite at length Trevor-Roper’s newly published letters, written with the obvious expectation of a voyeuristic posterity. Suffice it to note that he accused C. S. Lewis (“a purple-faced bachelor and misogynist”) of resembling “a hog-reeve or earth-stopper,” as well as, ludicrously enough, of...
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