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Mr. Anthony Hope
by [?]

The Indiscretion of the Duchess is the tale in Mr. Hope’s second manner–the manner of The Prisoner of Zenda. Story for story, it falls a trifle sort of The Prisoner of Zenda. As a set-off, the telling is firmer, surer, more accomplished. In each an aimless, superficially cynical, but naturally amiable English gentleman finds himself casually involved in circumstances which appeal first to his sportsmanlike love of adventure, and so by degrees to his chivalry, his sense of honor, and his passions. At first amused, then perplexed, then nettled, then involved heart and soul, he is left to fight his way through with the native weapons of his order–courage, tact, honesty, wit, strength of self-sacrifice, aptitude for affairs. The donnée of these tales, their spirit, their postulates, are nakedly romantic. In them the author deliberately lends enchantment to his view by withdrawing to a convenient distance from real life. But, once more, the enchantment is everything and the distance nothing. If I must find fault with the later of the stories, it will not be with its general extravagance–for extravagance is part of the secret of Romance–but with the sordid and very nasty Madame Delhasse. She would be repulsive enough in any case: but as Marie’s mother she is peculiarly repulsive and, let me add, improbable. Nobody looks for heredity in a tale of this sort: but even in the fairy tales it is always the heroine’s step-mother who ends very fitly with a roll downhill in a barrel full of spikes.

But great as are the differences between The God in the Car and The Indiscretion of the Duchess–and I ought to say that the former carries (as it ought) more weight of metal–they have their points of similarity. Both illustrate conspicuously Mr. Hope’s gift of advancing the action of his story by the sprightly conversation of his characters. There is a touch of Dumas in their talk, and more than a touch of Sterne–the Sterne of the Sentimental Journey.

“I beg your pardon, madame,” said I, with a whirl of my hat.

“I beg your pardon, sir,” said the lady, with an inclination of her head.

“One is so careless in entering rooms hurriedly,” I observed.

“Oh, but it is stupid to stand just by the door!” insisted the lady.

To sum up, these are two most entertaining books by one of the writers for whose next book one searches eagerly in the publishers’ lists. If, however, he will not resent one small word of caution, it is that he should not let us find his name there too often. As far as we can see, he cannot write too much for us. But he may very easily write too much for his own health.