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  • Writer's pictureHabranthus

A Knight of the XIX Century

Updated: Jan 31

E. P. Roe


Dodd, Mead, & Company

A 465 page sermon


A spoiled, arrogant, rich young man brings ruin to himself and disgrace to his family, then redeems himself through perseverance and religious faith.


Young Egbert Haldane is brought up by his mother to have everything he wishes, without restrictions or discipline. He turns into a young man who spends money without restraint and is prone to a fast life of drinking, dubious friends and impertinent behavior. Eventually he finds himself in jail, and is aided by Mrs. Arnot, a family friend, who encourages him to attend church services and become a Christian. Although released from jail, Haldane lives a life of disgrace and poverty, shunned by the community as a criminal. After several years of hard work, determination, and an effort to follow Christian principles, Haldane regains his respectability and wins the hand of the lady he loves.


The book is essentially a drawn out sermon on the virtues of Christian principles, thinly spread in the beginning and heavily layered by the end. The story itself is predictable as rain: bad boy meets misfortune, realizes his evil ways, makes himself a better person and gets the girl. It's a tried and true formula, as we all love to hate a spoiled rich kid and we love a man who works hard to make something of himself.

Overall the writing is good, and the story engaging and quite believable for the most part. I can imagine it was well-received in 1877 and thrust into the hands of many a young person. The moral of the story is explicit: wrong behavior brings misfortune and disgrace; right behavior brings good fortune and respect. Right behavior is, of course, equate to Christian principles/beliefs.

There is additionally a subtle lesson that having a lot of money is not a good thing. The two wealthy families are shown to be unhappy, and the author relieves both the hero and his lady of their generous inheritances and doesn't return them.

To the author's credit:

He does a commendable job of reviewing different aspects of human behavior through the various characters of the story, in an impartial way that is helpful in understanding people.

To the author's discredit:

No humor, no action, and heavy on dreary prose.

Best Lines:

True self-respect he had never possessed, and his best substitute, pride, at last gave way. convince and convert by a single broadside of truth...

He was prostrate, and felt the foot of adverse fate upon his neck...

...his sermons occasionally went off into rarefied realms of moral space, where nothing human existed.

...the relation had become more a cherished memory of the happy past than a congenial intimacy of their mature life.

Young people are often their own worst enemies, and if you wish to do them good, you must do it, as it were, on the sly.

"I fear that you are dwelling too largely upon your feelings and experiences, and are giving to them a value they do not possess."

Nice Vocabulary:



capricious lawlessness

disingenuous character


an utterance so thick, (slurred drunken speech)

cerulean in their vital fluid

cordial pressure

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