|Information about this edition|
|Edition:||Thomas Nelson and Sons, Ltd., London, Edinburgh, and New York, 1923(?)|
|Source:||Internet Archive and Project gutenberg, Canada (EBook #59178)|
Review. From the Forum, 1923.
At first glance another romance about of of the ill-fated attempts of Charles Stuart to seat himself on the throne occupied by George I would seem to be superfluous. But John Buchanan (Midwinter, Doran) has mixed his ingredients well. The well-known story of indecision, bad management, and inertia has been coated over with intrigue and mystery until it fairly shines. There are the Spoonbills, the men of Old England, led by the philosophical Master Midwinter, who live in the forest and can be summoned by certain ditty whistled where a tuft of broom is tied to the signpost at a crossroads. There is the soldier of fortune who has many adventures on the way to bring news to his Prince. There is the moment of fearful suspense when a madman is about to plunge the hero, suffering from the effects of a mighty crack on the head, into the tender jaws of a sawmill. There is the lovely lady, an ardent loyalist and the wife of a worthless young man whom she loves so much that the hero spares his life, thus spoiling his own chances.
And last of all there is Samuel Johnson, not yet the great lexicographer but a poor, ill, clumsy young tutor who loves the lady, too, albeit hopelessly, and is downhearted because he is not permitted to go off to the wars. As Master Midwinter himself might have said: "A pretty tale enough, and one to beguile away a pleasant hour. It contributes nothing to solving the riddle of this strange and fearsome life of ours, but it will do.
There are various innovations; the hero does not marry the lovely lady; by his delay in sparing her husband's life he delivers a crushing blow to his own cause; and he does not, at the close when he is disappointed both in love and war, join the mysterious Spoonbills as a completely disillusioned man. Altogether this tale is, besides being highly diverting, more intelligent than most. It will and should be read.