Letters to the Editor. William Buckley and the harpsichord

As a devoted admirer of William Buckley I was delighted to see Tom D'Evelyn's book review [``To measure Mr. Buckley is to measure both language and media,'' Dec 24]. It presents a well-drawn picture of his many-faceted personality, exposing both his brilliant grasp of ``pristine conceptualizations'' and his stylish snobbery.

Both seem reflected in his choice of the harpsichord as his favorite instrument and his love of Bach. However, I must object to his suggestion that ``hearing someone with . . . the requisite skills performing [Bach] on the harpsichord is the pleasure of petit point.''

That is a petit point of view. Hearing Bach performed brilliantly on any instrument is like hearing God think. Margaret Ruddock Belvedere, Calif.

Gerald Raftery's witty comments on ``The Twelve Days of Christmas'' were slightly marred by his reference to ``calling'' birds [``Those unending days of Christmas,'' Dec. 23]. Perhaps he does not realize that the term is ``colly'' or ``collie'' birds, using an archaic meaning to the word which means ``sooty'' or possibly employing a second meaning -- ``European blackbird'' (English dialect).

Another use of the word is found in ``A Midsummer Night's Dream,'' Act I, Scene 1, Line 145, containing the term ``collied night,'' which the annotation defines as ``blackened night.''

The root word in each case is colier, related to the word ``coal.'' Phyllis D. Lever Menlo Park, Calif.

Thanks to E. Richard Churchill for emphasizing that ``what senior citizens need is the freedom to keep the responsibilities they are able to shoulder'' [``Helping elderly parents without robbing their independence,'' Jan. 2]. This has been my experience, thanks to a niece and husband who, living a mile from me, never overemphasize their concern, but are ``there,'' unobtrusively, when help is needed.

When individuals are pushed into becoming too dependent, he writes, `` . . . their sense of accomplishment vanishes.''

To be able to continue to live in one's home, with possessions accumulated over the years and memories of family and friends -- what it means! Emma A. Hunt Charlestown, N.H.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''

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