I have to take issue with Professor Higgins over his suggestions of Haggard as a sexual philanderer. He offers no evidence apart from a sketchy reference to a letter from Frederick Jackson, and he himself reports that Lady Louie Haggard was part of the efforts to help Lily Archer and her sons with education, support and money and in no way shows proof of any sexual peccadilloes on Haggard's part. Gossiping rumours abound, but there is no fact. Attacking a famous imaginative writer for assisting a close friend of the family (Frederick Jackson, Lily's brother, was a close friend of the Haggard brothers also. See Manthorpe ), is not a balanced view, considering that Louie attended Lillith's funeral with Haggard after supporting her and the children for a number of years after their return from Africa.
The late-Victorians had to come to terms with a rapid increase in technology that made them reconsider their culture and often reexamine their way of life. It opened up whole new futures to the populace where increasing challenges were being placed in their path, not only in technology but in revolutionary new philosophies, exciting new geographical, scientific and other discoveries, and challenging and worrying theories on the nature of evolution.
If the late-Victorian period was an age of ‘transition’ to use Shaw’s term, then where the romance novel would progress to is a matter of some concern to the literary critic. Haggard’s novels certainly appealed to the masses who were experiencing this transition from old established forms into new ones. These changes taking place in technology, particularly in editing, printing and distribution, to which I have referred, allowed for the rapid production of the romance novels and their early success
At the battle of Tugela, Cetewayo’s brother, Umbelazi was killed. There was a total, bloody, annihilation of the Zulus. Armed only with shields and the assegai, the slender javelin or spear of the Bantu-speaking people of southern Africa. the clash of the shields in battle was described by Haggard “like the roar of the sea.”[vi] The two armies were lined up against each other and wave upon wave of impis, threw themselves upon the front to be met by death and destruction. Behind each line was a solid array of spearsmen ready to fall into the breach. Each regiment of Zulu warriors took the place of the fallen one and the numbers of dead ran into tens of thousands, and the “ground around them was piled with dead."[vii] The attack left tens of thousands strewn upon the battlefield in scenes not to be repeated until the First World War.
Major Wilson goes out on patrol with a group and encounters a fierce band of impi warriors. Totally outnumbered, they succumb to the onslaught and perish. As for the
dead: “Let them be” said the Matebele general, “they were men who died like men, men whose fathers were men.”[xxxviii] The thrill of reading about the fierce impi
with their assegai and shields beating out a thunderous sound and their “long, monotonous baying or growling”[xxxix] gave the late-Victorian reader of this discourse
something of the “True Story” of African adventure and vitality.
It is revealing that Thomas’s love should be called Lilith, reflecting Haggard’s own life – his love for Lilith Jackson. There are rumours, started by Sydney Higgins, that Haggard had relationships
with African women whilst in Natal, and that he had always loved Lilith Jackson. D S Higgins discovered her death certificate at the General Register Office in London in her married name of
Elizabeth Archer. In his autobiography Haggard recounts that “[I ] was present at her death-bed - for happily [I] was able to be of service to her in later life.”[i] Mrs Nada Cheyne, Haggard’s
granddaughter, opined that "if [Haggard] had a strong love in early life that would have explained" [it]. She added that “one’s first love is always the strongest.”[ii] The author of Early Days
in East Africa, Frederick Jackson, the first Governor of Uganda, who is the brother of Mary Elizabeth Archer. wrote a letter to his cousin, Arthur C. Hunter, giving the revealing information that
"[I] have been away, staying with Rider Haggard and Lilly since the second and only returned last night." Lilly cannot surely refer to Louie, but assuredly, in its family terms, refers to Elizabeth
Jackson. Does it mean staying with them together, or visiting them separately? Higgins does not say. It seems unlikely, at 43 years of age with Rider Haggard's children born eighteen
years before, that this speculation can be very relevant to the story promoted by Higgins.The ability to see into the recesses of Man’s soul, to find a vision of infinity and to weave it throughout
his romances, along with the amazingly torrid output of text in the highest imaginative veinpossible, are his greatest legacy..