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SIR RIDER HAGGARD'S "AWFUL EXAMPLE." Rider Haggard is what Booth Tarkington calls one of the most author authors alive. He has written a Parliamentary blue book with a title so long that we cannot devote space to its reproduction here, states the New York "Sun." It is about Salvation Army colonies in the U.S.A. (not the Union of South Africa, either). Then he wrote a hook about Cetewayo-our inven tory is not chronological-and seven books on economics and social problems (Colonel hioosevelt likes 'em) and about a dozen novels, and two-or is it three ?-dozen "romances." "She" is one of the romances; so is '`King Solomon's Mines," which in cautiously we read as a small boy just be fore bedtime. What a night Oh, what a night ! Sir Rider-he's a knight, you know, a "parfit gentil knight" with whom Chaucer would have been satisfied, and who could have given the author of the "Canterbury Tales" cards and spades in a game of story telling-Sir Rider has now written another novel, called "Love Eternal," which pleased the London "Times," and maybe satisfied King George that the knighthood had been decently bestowed. Maybe. Any thing is possible in the world we live in, and so it is possible that English novel readers went breathlessly through "Love Eternal" from kiver to kiver. Ourselves, we have proceeded faithfully but without much speed. We walked, we did not run, to tlhe nearest exit, which was on page 368. For Sir Rider has done a dreadful thing, he has set himself up as an awful ex ample to every young writer. They will read hihn-the young writers-consceien tiously and with a high, stern sense of duty animating their every resolve, three re selvos to a chapter will carry you through! the twenty-one chapters. And why will the young writers read Sir Rider ? To learn how to write, silly. You don't suppose they'll read "Love Eternal" for fun, do you ? Nor to learn anything about witchcraft, demonology, superstition, immortality, how to win the wai-, what Sir Rider thintks of religion, what Sir Rider thinks of some clergymen, what Sir Rider thinks of big male bullies, &c. ? Nothing. They can find all about witchcraft and de monology elsewhere with less painful exer% tion by reading articles in encyclopiedias or the sermons of Cotton Mather. They don't care what Sir Rider thinks about religion or male bullies, because they have their own sets of thoughts on these sub jects. They might read "Love Eternal" to find out how to win the- war, but if they do they will be disappointed, or else will come away with a deep- conviction that the way to win the war is to send your hero first to India and then to France and then- . Here, here; "Love Eternal" may be a mighty inferior novel, but it is.; a novel, and it will have readers who will not than?k us if we spill the story to them in advance. Some of it, of course, it is perfectly pro per to impart. "Know then by these pre sents (copies of "Love Eternal" ,"for edi torial use") that the novel, starts with:a;: first page whi.ch lifts you uip to the lieights.; and wraps you in the mist of .the pre-,. primeval past. "IEons ago," and all that sort of thing. You get the impression that.: love is rather a long-standing phenomenbn: in the world's history. People loved :vheri he was a tadpole and she was a fish in the.: antediluvian habitat which, carefully and] scientifically reconstructed, you may- view i at the American Museum of Natural His-i tory, hours-what are the hours:' One' never kniows the hours at these ii'stitu.I It's a great fir·st page. lit has a.lift and:' granldeur. We say it :at thied. risk of being mmi,,:'iue'-tood in LomIdoiLd i.vhere:alift is a, ,,, ntur. " Si" 41i:ler' starts :iii the best style ,of his best roimances and :with Sbre,,Ic. ?eleo. you turn the page bnly. to find that his name was Godfrey Kiuighl and hIr's Isobel Blake, and to dip into the singuIarly. uninteresting history of the
ground on which stands, for fictive purpose, Blake Hall. WVell, to get on, Godfrey Knight had only a father, and a meaner soul never lived. He was a clergyman. For a clergy man's son Godfrey was a surprisingly well behaved youngster. We don't mean that he didn't drini, smoke or swear-later he smoked a pipe exclusively--but he was kind to Isobel, and never pulled her hair. Un doubtedly it was because her father was almost as mean a devil at Godfrey's, though in quite a different way. He was ahlways browbeating his gentle, little wife. Isobel stood up to him, rather. As if the hatred. of her father wasn't enough, she incurred the hate of Godfrey's, who saw in her a child unafraid of him.. The Rev. Mr. Knight--have to give him his handle-shipped Godfrey away to Switz erland, to a elergyian named Boiset, a pasteur as, for some inscrutable reason, Sir Rider prefers to designate him. Pastor would have been as good or better. The pastcur isation of Godfrey is about as plea sant as. any part of the novel. Not very exciting, this beaming old Swiss, but rest ful and human. You accept him easily. What you don't accept easily i. Madame Riemnes. But to arrive at her we must go back. On the way to Switzerland Godfrey had made the acquaintance of a Mrs. Ogilvy who, being interested in such matters, dis covered the boy to be clairvoyant. She used to get him over to her fine house at Lucerne on Sunday afternoons, and there Madame Riennes looked him in the eyes and Godfrey lost consciousness for an hour or two. Madame Riennes was doing her spiritual best to kill Airs. Ogilvy, an un pardonable enterprise in which she finally succeeded. Mrs. Ogilvy left her all her money, or nearly all, to Godfrey, and in such form that his father couldn't lay hold of it. Just before she died Godfrey's friend warned him to keep away from Madame Riennes, but the boy would never have been able to do so had he not confided in the stout old Pastor Boiset. The scene in which the pastor accompanies Godfrey to Madame Riefines' den and routs the witch utterly is somewhere near the level of Sir Rider Haggard's beot. The picture of the spectacled, breathless, flaming old clergyman with his feet planted firmly on the crushed chest of the Madame's favorite mummery while Godfrey sneezes from mummy dust and the Madame raves is good. Isobel, Isobel, where is Isobel ! Home, where her mother is dying, or gone to Mexico with her uncle, the British ambas sador: just before he left England Godfrey saw something that estranged him from her, and though she did write to him God frey's father grabbed the letter and locked it up in a drawer in the parsonage. So she thought lie wanted nothlng to do with her, and they were parted, as is inevitable. Sir Rider goes to some pains to explain the long separation and to make the utter absence of communication less implausible. He doesn't make out particularly well. Such a mess of dulness and bi:'a.rreiass and moralising and nonsense as Sir Rider Haggard has compounded in "Love Eter nal" has not come to our attention in many, many months. The story is quite meaningless, but that would not matter at all if it were entertainitng. It is not en tertaining, and that would not be anything to shed tears about if it exnosed any useful. purpose, however inegectively. It is nl a novel because it is devoid of truth, amusement, purpose. Anything of a cer tain lent.h which serves one or more of those objects, incapably or not, is entitled to be called a novel. "Love Eternal" is not. And now do you see why we say that the parfit gentil knight has pet an awful examnle ? Think of the harm he may do, not to readers, but to writers !