Reference > The Library > Helen Rex Keller > Reader’s Digest of Books

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
H. R. Keller.  The Reader’s Digest of Books.
Lord Beaconsfield (1804–1881)
Lothair, by Benjamin Disraeli, Lord Beaconsfield (1870). The scene of this extravagant, but at the same time remarkable, story is laid chiefly in England about 1570, at the time when it was published.  1
  The hero, Lothair, a young nobleman of wide estates and great wealth, is introduced a short time before the attainment of his majority. Brought up under the influence of his uncle, Lord Culloden, “a member of the Free Kirk,” he has been surrounded by a Protestant atmosphere. When, in accordance with his father’s will, he goes to Oxford to complete his education, his other guardian, Cardinal Grandison, determines to bring him into the Roman Church.  2
  The story is a graphic description of the struggles of rival ecclesiastics, statesmen, and leaders of society to secure the adherence of the young nobleman.  3
  On a visit to the ducal seat of Brentham, the home of Lothair’s college friend Bertram, he falls in love with Bertram’s sister, Lady Corisande, and asks for her hand, but is refused by her mother.  4
  Lothair next comes under the influence of Lord and Lady St. Jerome, and Miss Arundel. Charmed with the beauty and peace of their life, he is almost won over to the Romanist side. At the critical moment he meets Theodora, the wife of Colonel Campian, an American, “a gentleman, not a Yankee; a gentleman of the South, who has no property but land.” Theodora is an Italian but not a Romanist, and the scale is turned toward the Protestant side. Colonel and Mrs. Campian are friends of Garibaldi; and through them Lothair is inspired to join the campaign of 1867 against the papal forces. He is severely wounded at Mentana, and is nursed back to health by Miss Arundel, who by degrees re-establishes her influence over him. Again he is saved by Theodora, who appears to him in a vision and reminds him of the promise given to her on her death-bed, that he will never join the church of Rome.  5
  By a desperate effort, Lothair escapes the vigilance of his Romanist friends, and after travels in the East, returns to London.  6
  A second visit to Brentham renews his deep admiration for Lady Corisande, whose love he succeeds in winning.  7
  The narrative of ‘Lothair’ never lags or lacks movement. The intervals between the adventures are filled with witty sketches of English society and portraits of English personalities. The character of Lord St. Aldegonde is perhaps the happiest of these. “When St. Aldegonde was serious, his influence over men was powerful.” He held extreme opinions on political affairs. “He was opposed to all privilege and to all orders of men except dukes, who were a necessity. He was also strongly in favor of the equal division of all property except land. Liberty depended on land, and the greater the land-owners the greater the liberty of a country.” “St. Aldegonde had married for love, but he was strongly in favor of woman’s rights and their extremest consequences.”  8

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