24 APRIL 1915, Page 22



WE hove often had occasion to note the predominance of the spindle-side in modern Irish or Anglo-Irish fiction, and the popularity of Mrs. Conyere's novels only adds fresh evidence in confirmation of this view. She stands quite outside of and aloof from the modern "Celtic renaissance," and makes no pretence to any literary distinction. Her stories are, with certain varintions, in the direct line of descent from those of O'Hara, Lover, and Lever, in which sport and sentiment go hand in hand. It would be interesting, again, to compare the heroine of her new book with The Wild Irish Girl of Lady Morgan, or the succession of irresistible though impecunious damsels portrayed in the novels of the late Mrs. Hungerford, author of Molly Dawn and many other delectable tales beloved by sentimentalists of the last generation. Heave is certainly "a wild Irish girl" with a vengeance, and her environment has much in common with that in which Mrs. Hungerford's heroines moved and had their flirtatious being. There is the same ramshackle house. hold, ill-kept grounds, financial difficulties, and cheerful irresponsibility. We are never harrowed by the prospect of impending disaster, because we feel in our bones that all will come right ; that the pristine splendours of the old house will he restored by one or other of the eligible suitors. In this case the story is eo entirely ante-bellum in its atmosphere that one of Heave's admirers is a German Prince, an amiable young man whose intentions are quite above reproach. But while there is plenty of love-making in Mrs. Conyers's story, it is treated with a reserve far removed from the romantic effusivenees of Mrs. Hungerford. This is partly a sign of the times, but chiefly due to the fact that sport comes first, and that the real motive of the book is the restoration to the chase of a retired foxhunter. Moore was not a sentimentalist, though she wept on occasion. She was, as her uncle said, "placid, utterly fearless, and obstinate," and a great lover of dogs and horses. She had read all the old books in her home, and, to judge from a passage on p. 52, was not an admirer of either Mrs. Barclay or Mrs. Elinor Glyn.

The surprise and dismay caused in precise English visitors, possessed by the habit of making invidious comparisons, on their introduction to the realities of Irish life, has been a favourite theme of Irish humorists from the days of Lever. Mrs. Conyers has adroitly inverted the formula by picturing the revolution wrought in a well-conducted English bachelor establishment by the tempestuous advent of a young Irish Amazon, accom- panied by several dogs, a talking magpie, and an Irish handy- man. Heave, it should be explained, is en orphan who lives

• Dam. 117 Dorothee Conyera London: Elute-hi:mon and Co. PIO

with her uncle and guardian in a hunting county in Ireland- A. sudden summons to Australia on business coinciding with the chance of letting his place to a hunting tenant involves the necessity of providing for Heave in his absence, and ahe is accordingly unloosed on her English uncle, a choleric old bachelor of despotic ways and violent prejudices, who has quarrelled with the local Hunt, sold all his horses, and is only visited by parasitic relatives. On his extremely well-regulated household Heave, ill-dressed, unconventional, and unpunctual, with her menagerie and her eccentric retainer, Mael Dunne, bursts like a human bombshell. But we are never for moment in doubt as to the result. Her uncle storms and roars and bellows, but Heave always gets her way in the long run. In the gradual process of humanizing her uncle Heave has an invaluable ally in Mael Dunne, an irresistible youth of varied accomplishments, who conquers the frigid English domestics by his ingratiating manners, and wears down the truculence of their master by his imperturbable good humour. Besides, his skill as a fisherman and tier of flies wee beyond question. Sir Crighton is first lured back to the river and finally to the bunting field by the wiles of Heave and her fellow-conspirators, the local M.P.H. and Captain Aldegonde. Incidentally she carries on an intermittent duel with her cousin Susette, paralyses the neighbours, and keeps four suitors at bay, until the return of her Irish uncle, when most of the principal actors in the comedy return or migrate to Ireland for the hunting season. The wedding belle do not sound in the last chapter, but they are not far off. But Heave has tamed her English uncle, reconciled him to the countryside, rejected a Prince, and made practically certain of the succession to a handsome estate—not a had record for a few months of consistent insubordination.

Mrs. Conyers writes with intimate knowledge as well as enthusiasm about horses and hunting. She is also a shrewd observer of characteristic types, and her portrait of the squireen lover is well done. Better still are his sisters— Miss Letitia and Miss "Elieha "--of whom Heave epigram. matically remarked: "They may pray and do woolwork, but they hunt." When their brother was suffering from unrequited affection, but would not disclose the came of his gloom, "they Blipped Epsom salts into the teapot and hoped it would improve him." Mad Dunne is also a great "cbarfickther," and some of his sayings are a joy—as when he advised his "misthress" to keep out of her uncle's way." for he is as bitther as two lots of weasels the day." Heave is an engaging hoyden. but her habit of calling her uncle " Nunkey" is fatiguing, and typical of the element of somewhat noisy extravagance which is the chief defect of a high-spirited book. In conclusion, we may take exception to Mrs. Conyers's spelling of certain words in the Anglo-Irish dialect. " Sphite " and "sthop " should be " alipite" and "ebtop." These lapses are all the more notice- able because the dialect is in the main faithfully represented. not only in the form but in the turn of sentence.