THE TABLET A WEEKLY NEWSPAPER AND REVIEW

ESTABLISHED 1840 REGISTERED AS A NEWSPAPER

VOL. 172 No. 5123

LONDON JULY 16th, 1938

SIXPENCE

IN T in s I S S U E

IDEALISM IN FOREIGN POLITICS

Editorial

THE RESTORATION OF RHEIMS CATHEDRAL

An Impression by an Eye-Witness

SUAREZ By James Brodrick, S .J . POETRY AND ANARCHY A STUDY OF MR. HERBERT READ

By David Jones

LETTERS FROM PARIS, BURGOS AND ROME DISTRACTIONS FOREIGN BROADCAST

By Hilaire Belloc

PROGRAMMES

Full List o f Contents on page 68.

THE WORLD WEEK BY WEEK The Battle for Valencia

The Will-of-the-Wisp

The battle for Valencia is developing into the most stubbornly contested phase of the Civil War. Little by little, the Nationalist advance is encircling Sagunto. This historic town, from which the second Punic War began, has played its part in recent Spanish history. It was the proclamation of Sagunto which marked the end of the first ill-starred Republic of 1870-73, and the restoration of Alphonso XII. At the moment its importance is two-fold : it is the chief remaining foundry at the disposal of the Madrid command, and its importance, after the loss of Malaga and Bilbao which were also foundry towns, has been great. It is also integral for the defence of Valencia, and Valencia is of importance, not only as the chief port connecting Madrid with the outside world, but as the centre of the fruit-exporting provinces, which still play a real, if attenuated, part in the economy of the Spain over which the Negrin Cabinet still maintains control. The fall of Sagunto and Valencia will make Carthagena Madrid’s only considerable port. The communication by sea with Barcelona will become so long and dangerous as to be practically worthless. In short, the present battle, which is being fought on the extreme edge of eastern Spain, is really a battle to decide whether Madrid shall fall to the Nationalists in the near future. The proximity of the fighting has already destroyed the value of Sagunto and Valencia as bases, but they are being stubbornly defended, not merely for themselves, but because this is the last chance of keeping alive in France the feeling that all is not yet lost. The material means of war are present in abundance for both sides, but the rate of wastage is high, and both France and Italy are watching each other with freely expressed suspicions.

The British Plan, with all its elaborations—for it is a Blue Book of some eighty pages—is being hastened forward so that counting and withdrawals may begin, if possible, next month, and certainly in September. The small wholehearted corps of Spanish revolutionaries, the men fighting what they conceive to be an anti-Fascist crusade, are encouraged in what is admittedly the hardest kind of warfare, one of successive and continual retreat, by no rays of hope inside Spain There are no successful counter-attacks. Nothing has been heard for months of the plan, at one time loudly canvassed, for an offensive south of Toledo that would strike through from Ciudad Real to the Portuguese frontier, at the point where the Nationalist territory is little more than a corridor. The more intelligent of the Spaniards now resisting the Nationalists know very well that there is no serious and widespread disaffection in Nationalist Spain which may bring them relief. Those fictions are for people in France and Britain. Where the Spaniards are misled is the converse of this ; they are encouraged to fight on in the belief that if they maintain their end, organized Labour in France and Britain can yet be mobilized to save them. And in the French Communist paper Humanité, M. Gabriel Peri is advocating direct action. It is an anomalous position that while the Communists in France are part of the Popular Front which is keeping M. Daladier in power, the Party is also advocating the most immediate and far-reaching unconstitutional action. These tactics are not lost on the French Right, which is gaining steadily in strength, and is already looking forward to the spring of 1940 for the end of the miserable four years which will live in French history under the name, half-mocking, half-depressing, of L'Experience Blum.