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[59]

What enhances the zest of the affair is that, while Mr. Lang thus leaves his Scott thus insufficiently read, he yet holds his neighbor of the Tweed as a rod over the head of any luckless modern writer who dares to criticise him. Mr. Howells cannot so much as venture the remark that good Sir Walter's opening chapter of genealogy is sometimes a little long-winded, and that it may be permissible to begin with Chapter Second, but he rouses Mr. Lang's utmost indignation. Mr. Haggard cannot be classed as a dime novelist without protests of amazement and assurances that he is the lineal successor of Scott, and that to have left unread a single story of Haggard's is to have fallen short of the highest culture. Omit, if you will, the

Widowed wife and wedded maid,
Betrothed, betrayer, and betrayed,

but read every word about She-if the phrase be not ungrammatical-or you are lost. It is painful, but really Mr. Lang's confessions recall the case of that New England bookseller in a small town who recently informed an inquirer that he had never heard of Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, but that he was probably the husband of Mrs. Mary J. Holmes, who wrote such lovely novels.

1896

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