Historical Romance (letter)

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Historical Romance is a letter written by H. S. Perris first published in The Daily News on 17 november 1906.

The critic wrote that Arthur Conan Doyle's novel Sir Nigel was « bad history, false sentiment, and bad ethics. » Conan Doyle wrote a reply published in the same newspaper on 24 november 1906.

Historical Romance

The Daily News (17 november 1906, p. 4)

(To the Editor of "The Daily News.")

Sir, — A debt of gratitude is due to Mr. Edward Garnett for sensible review in to-day's "Daily News" of Sir A. Conan Doyle's pseudo-historical "romance," "Sir Nigel." As a sample the fustian that is put into the hands of our youth, and passed off as "historical romance," the book is well worth parsing attention. It is, in brief, highly conventional mixture of bad history, false sentiment, and bad ethics. It idealises all those tawdry conceptions of patriotism and personal "honour" of which the "age of chivalry" was full, and tells nothing of the miserable failure and futility of the Hundred Years' War with France and the dream of a Continental Empire for which the wretched peasantry of France and England paid so dearly.

Wholesale slaughter is carried through in such delightfully easy and kid-glove fashion as to imply that the victims quite enjoy being impaled on stake or smashed with battle-axe. The fact is that the warriors of this story are buckram-warriors — a stage army ; and the sentiments they express have no real relation to historic truth either then or now.

For my own part I believe our countrymen know too much have any desire whatever to go back to the manners and customs of those "Bad Old Times." Let Sir Arthur Conan Doyle close his books of heraldry and open his "Piers Plowman." — Yours, etc.,

Nov. 15.