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them together. The supremacy of the Théâtre Do we, after all, fare so badly under our priFrançais is an inheritance from the past. It was vate enterprise system that there ought to be any established by royal influence, when royal in- vehement desire for a change? The only want, fluence was all-powerful, and there were few we believe, really felt is a commodity of good dramatic companies. Such a headship could not plays, and that, we may depend upon it, is felt be established among the thirty-three theatres quite as much by theatrical managers as by the of Paris now, if it had not descended from an public for whom they cater. The great advanearlier time. The most unshakable conviction in tage of our present system is that it is so sensithe paramount importance of a national theatre tive to the demand of the play-going public; in this country, the most indomitable energy, managers are all keenly on the outlook to anticicould not give a new institution the necessary pate, or at the least keep pace with the wishes stamp of authority among the hardly less numer- of play-goers. If people imagine that a national ous theatres of London. We might as soon try to theatre would satisfy the public appetite for somechange a ganglionic animal into a vertebrate. thing new, they have only to look to France, where
For good or for evil, our theatrical system is it has for some time been a prevailing complaint, established on the free-trade principle, and it among the writers of new plays, that the Théâwould require very strong proof that this system tre Français devotes itself too much to the rehad failed to produce a general feeling in favor production of old masterpieces, and looks for novof trying to improve the drama by subsidies.elties to play-makers of established reputation. The endowment of a national theatre would As regards costumes, furniture, and scenery, practically mean giving a bounty to some one our private adventure theatres will compare fakind of entertainment. If a knot of superior per- vorably with the state supported institutions of sons, dissatisfied with everything now to be seen our neighbors. All that an endowed theatre at our numerous theatres, choose to subscribe to could do would be to secure the very best artissupport a kind of entertainment which the pub- tic and the very best archæological talent. For lic will not support—we may assume that, in the many years this has been done in England by keen competition among theatres, managers do private adventurers. Macready could not have not need to be bribed into producing anything taken greater pains than he did to be accurate in that people in sufficient numbers would pay to every detail. If he was not so accurate as he see—there is no reason in the world why they might have been, the fault was to be attributed should not do so. But if they claimed for their not to him, but to the condition of archæological venture that it was national,” they would make knowledge in his time. We doubt whether the themselves a laughing-stock. Before they had Théâtre Français was more accurate than Maany right to call their theatre a national theatre, cready in his generation. Since that time, the they would have to gather round them a represen- study of the antique and the mediæval has made tative company, consisting of the acknowledged great strides, and our stage has kept pace with leaders of “the profession” in all its walks. The it. The stage all along has been in the most inincomes which these leaders make are so enor- timate relations with the artistic world, and has mous, by comparison, for example, with what grown with its growth. To take the most recent can be made by an associate of the Théâtre instance. The play of “Coriolanus" is to be Français, that any management which aimed at produced under Mr. Irving's management at the including them all would have to provide itself Lyceum, and Mr. Alma-Tadema has been enwith a very long purse. Everything would have gaged to sketch the scenes for the scene-painter. to be done by the power of the purse in the pro- Could the managers of a national theatre have posed national theatre; it could not pay its mem- done better? And, if we cast our vision over a bers, as a long-established and venerable institu- wider range, over the last ten or fifteen years, tion might do, in distinction. And supposing it can it be said that the managers of our leading were possible to bring all the acknowledged stars theatres have stood still in the old grooves, while of our theatrical world together under one man new ideas stood clamoring at their doors for adagement, where is a national theatre to find an mission ? No national theatre could have seauthority capable of reconciling conflicting pre- cured more enlightened talent for the production tensions in the apportionment of parts? Re- of scrupulously accurate scenic accessories than marks have often been made upon the difficulty Mr. and Mrs. Bancroft employed at the Prince of keeping the Liberal party together, but that of Wales's. Mr. Hare's management of the would be nothing compared with the difficulty of Court Theatre, an offshoot from this, can not be managing a national company of actors. There said to have been more careless about accuracy would be wigs upon the green in a national of scenic detail. No endowed management theatre before many months of its existence were could have taken greater pains in this respect
than they have done.
It may, we think, be taken for granted that all probability have the effect of producing a sufno amount of endowment would insure greater ficient supply of competent players for the smallattention to the arts by which the stage produces er parts. They might be cured of ungainly gesits illusion of reality than has been shown by in- tures, and they might be taught to speak blank dividual enterprise single-handed. It is the natu- verse with good accent and good discretion. ral tendency of competition under our present if they had not the making of decent playsystem that the projectors of novelties should ers in them, they might be stopped at the threshave a fair hearing. Supposing that a genius hold. should arise with the capacity for revolutionizing Nor would the mediocre actors alone benefit scenic representation-say by abolishing foot- by a dramatic school, conducted by accomplished lights and applying electric lighting to stage pur- professors. The few men and women of genius poses, or by developing hidden properties in the would be saved much of the painful drudgery, illuminating power of wax-candles—he would be the weary process of trial and failure, by which much more likely to get an opportunity of try- they now slowly build up the mastery of their ing his experiment from a private manager than craft. The knowledge which, under the present from the manager of a national theatre. The system of self-teaching, reaches them by acciutility of endowment begins only when perfec- dental hints and discoveries, they might start tion has been reached, and the potentialities of with from the beginning, and their genius would invention have been exhausted. Even with a be left free and unwasted to search out new view to the maintaining of advances already means of triumph. made, to the conservation of progress, the pri It is at this point that public or private envate enterprise system is not altogether ineffec- dowment might advantageously come to the astive. We are not to suppose that when a new sistance of private enterprise in theatrical mat. line has been struck out, a new light seized and ters. But we should deprecate any idea of pasuccessfully flourished, it serves its day unre- tronizing a great profession like that of acting. marked by the purveyor for the future. There If a school of acting is, as we believe it is, a deare keen eyes at work to see that nothing with sirable thing, the initiative in establishing it ought which play-goers are pleased be allowed to to come from actors themselves. They are perdie.
haps more keenly alive to the need of it than any Managers do not need to be encouraged by outsiders. Why should they not combine and bounties to pay attention to scenic accessories. organize a society of the members of their proIt pays them directly to do so. They have their session, as men of science have done, and paintreward in well-filled theatres. There really is ers? We have no doubt that if they did so, and only one respect in which subsidies might enable projected a college for the training of actors, they them to raise stage representations above their would not appeal in vain for public help in setpresent level, that, namely, which was indicated ting the institution upon its legs. Such an inby Mr. Hare when he showed apropos of Mrs. stitution might also become a central depository Pfeiffer's proposal that a national theatre was im- for the knowledge which each generation conpracticable. The education of actors for their tributes to the craft and mystery of representing profession might be endowed. There might be plays. a national school of acting.
New Quarterly Magasine. Actors at present have few facilities for learning their art, and the result is only too apparent upon the stage. Self-teaching succeeds only
A MODEL ART-CRITICISM. with the very finest instincts, and such a multitude of performers are required for a stage rep [The “Athenæum" recently described a new resentation that we can not expect all of them to picture by Rossetti—“The Lady at the Window"have those requisite gifts of nature without which "a profoundly pathetic exposition of the motive of self-culture means loutishness and harsh eccen
a passage in Dante's 'Vita Nuova,'” and permitted tricity. Much of the crudeness which offends a
itself to indulge in a strain of comment of which cultivated audience in our attempts to deal with the following sentences afford a good example: “The the poetic drama is referable to want of rudi- profundity of the pity which is marked so distinctly
in the eyes and lips is in keeping with the deep symmentary training. Managers at present often
pathy of that womanhood which, although it has have no choice but to engage incapable perform- ripened, is incomplete. This incompleteness, or ers, performers whom they know to be incapable, rather this physical and mental expectancy and in.and whose tones and movements inflict agony sufficiency of self, is impressed by nature on the upon them. No amount of training would in all sumptuous loveliness of the lady, and appears in the cases develop histrionic ambition into histrionic suppressed languor of her broad eyelids, in the potenfaculty, but a properly organized school would in tialities of passion rendered plain in the morbidessa
of her marble-like cheeks, which have been refined our of these it were good to linger long; but I in form and blanched in tint by the urgency of must hasten on to the chief glory of the work, unperfected love." This effusive outburst led the the pledge (I write it in all seriousness) of its “Pall Mall Gazette” to print the subjoined amus. immortality—the two flying figures in the foreing burlesque :)
ground. Of these, however, I hardly dare trust
myself to speak. No impatient lover in flight ANOTHER IMMORTAL PICTURE.
with willing or unwilling maiden, no dark-browed Of the central figure in this great work of Pluto bearing his Proserpine from flowery Enna, the mighty minstrel whose strains have sounded no tauriform Zeus aswim in the strait-waters with to such wondrous issue—it may suffice to say Europa on his back, no centaur Nessus exulting that Mr. Priggins has reported of him with his in the capture of a Dejanira, has been treated by usual resolute and unshrinking veracity. The the greatest of ancient masters as Mr. Priggins theme is not one to which belongs in any mea- has treated the same subject in this noble picsure the quality of loveliness; but whatever ture. Conception and execution, line and color, charm of forthright craftsmanship, whatever attitude and movement, all are perfect. The force of downright utterance can inform and delicate curves of the rapt one's form, recalling innerve the conception of the artist, is truly here. in some mysterious wise the contours of the The viol-player stands almost, but not quite, minstrel's viol; the sober sheen, as of tarnished erect, swayed to and fro, as it should seem, by silver, of her robe; the sweeping curve of her the immitigable might of Pan—a reed shaken by lover's figure, the fantastic blue-and-white arathe passion-wind of creative minstrelsy. He besque, propounded with such assured exquisitegrasps the finger-board of his instrument with I ness of tracery in his dress—these are but a few know not what of frenzied intensity; the bow is of the outward beauties which enthrall the most raised in act to fall upon the vibrant strings. carelessly alighting eye. Its deeper magic yields The sacred fury of inspiration is visible in the itself only to a longer and more reverent study. contorted limbs of the musician, and in the part- But, as for that, it is no part of the critic's duty ed lips (from which we can almost hear issuing to wait the leisure of a preoccupied public. It is the night-shriek of his race), no less than in the better to speak the truth at once, and to say that green lambency of the flaming eye. Above him we have in Mr. Symphony Priggins a master as a weird wan moon plunges through a rack of great as the greatest; and in this picture the haggard clouds—itself bestridden for a moment masterpiece of a master; and in this episode of by an awful flying figure, set down for us with a this picture the master-stroke of a master's maswholly lurid fidelity. Yet even here it should be terpiece. The sublimity of Buonarotti, the ponoted that in the very storm and stress of his etic fervor of Raffaelle, the tremulous intensity embodiment of these wild imaginings Mr. Prig- of Sandro Botticelli, the correggiosity of Correggins's artistic composure has never for a moment gio, have never raised these masters to higher failed him; that he can still turn aside to cull and heights than our own Priggins has attained in bind for us whatever flowers of color-fancy may this transcendent rendering of the Dish running have sprung up beneath his brush-still incline a away with the Spoon. purged ear to all the subtile hue-harmonies that The artist, like some others of his craft, is, as press for utterance upon his canvas. So that the is known, a poet of no mean pretensions; and he moon of this portent and the figure that over- has set forth the inner meaning of his picture in soars it, and the clouds and sky that engirdle and the following lines, which form the motto on its embathe it, do more than simply recite their nar
frame : rative, content if it be recounted without error or prevarication. They have a decorative value as well; they chant their message in epic rhapsodies of color, not rehearse it in mere pedestrian
Ah, night! blind germ of days to be,
Ah me! ah me! discourse of line and stroke. But with what
(Sweet Venus, mother!) bold and far-resonant chords of brown and dun
What wail of smitten strings hear we? and purple in the cloud-mass, with what tender
Ah me ! ah me! modulations of sky-surface, with what exquisite
Hey diddle dee! appoggiature of moon - smitten mist - flakes, it were hopeless to describe in words. I must dwell
Ravished by clouds our lady moon, no longer upon this portion of the artist's work ;
(Ah me! ah me!) nor yet upon that strange but utterly credible
Sweet Venus, mother! and convincing presentment of the mocking Sinks swooning in a lady-swoon. cynic whose sardonic laugh reëchoes from the
Ah me! ah me! middle distance. On these things and the glam
Dum diddle dee!
A BALLAD OF HIGH ENDEAVOR.
What profits it to rise i' th' dark ?
Sweet Venus, mother!
Hey diddle dee!)
Art thou not greater who art less ?
Sweet Venus, mother!
Hey diddle dee!
What boots to fall again forlorn ?
Sweet Venus, mother!
Dum diddle dee!
No one, we imagine, would have been dull enough to have missed the allegory of Mr. Priggins's great picture even without such exposition; but many perhaps will only fully feel it after this its setting-forth in "perfect music matched with noble words."
have been commonly intensely indifferent to the GOVERNMENT AS A FORCE IN Civili. honesty or dishonesty, the purity or the profligacy, ZATION.
the wisdom or the ignorance, of the people; but they
have been very zealous in behalf of favorite ecclesiN a recent essay Mr. Froude utters the following: asticisms, and have endeavored with all their might
ernment is restricted to the prevention of crime and zeal in this direction, however, has been solely as a statutable fraud, and where beyond these things all means of wielding power, or as a result of some blind men are left to go their own way—to be honest or superstition. They have concerned themselves a good dishonest, pure or profligate, wise or ignorant, to deal about dogma, but very little about morals; they lead what lives they please and preach what doc- haven't cared a straw about the purity or profligacy trines they please--may have been a necessary step of the community, but have looked well to see that in the evolution of humanity; but, as surely, if no the people have paid their tithes, and acknowledged other principle had ever been heard of or acted on, the supremacy of the established church. In pursucivilization would have stood still, hardly above the ance of these purposes they have at various times level of barbarism."
constituted a good many statutable offenses which in This passage permits two distinctly different in- equity were not offenses, and these fictitious crimes terpretations. It is quite true that a society in which have been punished with abundant energy. At times “no other principle had ever been heard of” than when highways swarmed with banditti, when no one that of the "prevention of crime and statutable fraud," could venture abroad without means of defense, when where men were “honest or dishonest, pure or prof. robbery and violence abounded, when neither life ligate, wise or ignorant," as they pleased, “would nor property was safe because of the gross neglect have stood still, hardly above the level of barbarism." and indifference of the state, men and women were But if this means that no community can rise above zealously burned, and whipped, and imprisoned for the level of barbarism in which the government is some defection in the way of belief. At times when actuated by no other principle than that of the pre- roads were so neglected that travel was laborious vention of crime and statutable fraud, then the ar- and difficult, and rivers were without bridges ; when gument is false through and through, from the foun, on all sides was needed energetic administration in dation upward, and is false with such a curious directions that would advance the practical welfare of inversion as to afford a remarkable illustration of the people, governments always exhibited zeal enough how completely the records of the race can be mis- and found resources enough to build grand catheread.
drals and fine palaces. The whole history of govNow, it is true that no community can advance ernment is a record of meddlesome and oppressive in civilization unless there are powerful moral and things done and necessary things left undone. The intellectual forces at work ; but it so happens that state has always taxed trade, handicapped industry, the governments of the past, even the most pa- vexatiously embarrassed commerce, suppressed opinternal and the most illustrious, have commonly ob- ion, retarded the growth of knowledge, hindered instructed rather than aided those forces. Govern- tellectual activity, and proved itself in a hundred ments have very much neglected the prevention of things a common nuisance. It has always so recrime, and have rarely efficiently punished statutable tarded civilization, either by its interferences or its frauds; nor have they adequately performed in any neglects, that advance has been rendered possible way their legitimate and proper functions. They only by controlling and subordinating it, by virtually
dethroning it, by compelling it to keep within or thority in all the affairs of life. The strength which nearly within its proper province. Rulers have the United States Government exhibited in the late never understood that, by simply limiting the func- war was the only kind of strength that any governtion of government to the preservation of order, they ment should rightly possess--the strength that comes would more effectually than by any other means bring of a zealous cooperation of the people. The Governall the forces of society into full and free activity. In ment was strong in that emergency because the peoview of the wretched mistakes and appalling crimes ple were with it. Let us never have a government governments have thus committed, it is amazing to that possesses strength independent of the people, for see a man like Mr. Froude confound things in the such a strength would in the end be sure to be turned way he does—wholly confusing the forces that un. against them. Despotic governments are strong in derlie government with the restrictions that operate their power to keep their hands on the throat of the in the name of government. The more we study public: this is not the strength we ought to desire the past the more.it becomes evident that, while gov- in the United States, however much it may be ad. ernment is indispensable up to a certain point, our mired by American worshipers of foreign autoccivilization has advanced in despite of it rather than racies. Unless a government is weak enough to by its aid. Governments have created more disor- stand always in wholesome fear of the people, it is ders than they have suppressed ; they have made not a government to be desired. dangerous classes by their oppression and injustice ; and, while we are not yet far enough advanced to do without them altogether, we may yet keep them
ARTISTS AND INARTISTIC DRESS. closely to their proper work. Let them preserve order and keep the peace. Art and letters and indus A WRITER in the last " Nineteenth Century," in trial energy will carry on civilization triumphantly deploring the “present conditions of art," has somewithout their aid or interference.
thing to say about the ugliness of the dress of the But governments can never cease to be threaten- day. He declares that a well-dressed gentleman ing and troublesome so long as people adhere to ready for dinner or attired for any ceremony is a pitiantiquated notions in regard to their importance. able example of ugliness. “His vesture is nearly The time was when people seemed to think that the formless and quite foldless ; his legs misshapen props, King regulated everything and conferred everything, his shirt-front a void, his dress-coat an unspeakable and the old fallacy still leavens the ideas of to-day. piece of ignobleness. The human form, the noblest Mr. Thurlow Weed, for instance, has recently de- and most interesting study for the artist, is distorted plored the weakness of our Government. “It does in the case of men's dress by monstrous garments, not,” he says, "seem strong enough to assert itself. and in the case of women's dress by extravagant arOur population is increasing very rapidly; the ex- rangements which impede all simple nobility and repansion and development are wonderful and amaz. fined grace of movement." The writer thinks that ing, and under such circumstances a government to an ancient Greek, “accustomed to see the human needs to be and ought to be increasing in strength. form and understand its beauty, an Eton boy would Nevertheless, I see every day, and with more and be a thing to wonder at." To admiring mammas more dismay, our assimilation to English habits, the absurd get-up is “perfectly lovely," and the boy English ideas, and even English costume.” This himself values it beyond measure. The traditions is certainly very puzzling. How does Mr. Weed of the boy unfortunately stick to the man, and, "acexpect the strength of the Government to operate in customed to the ignoble arrangement which has been arresting this alarming condition of things ? Must a glory in his eyes since he was old enough to envy the Government be strong enough to put an embargo his elder brother, he can not know how far he has on English habits and ideas? Must it be invested departed from a sense of the natural ; it is pure perwith authority to regulate styles of dress? Strength version of taste for which convenience can not be of government! How wearisome and senseless is pleaded.” What can be expected, the writer asks, this persistent clamor! It has been well said, and from such habits of mind in matters of taste ? “The by a London critic of Mr. Weed, that “ during the Eton boy grows into the man, dispensing judgments colossal civil war in his own country, of which he and influencing events; he will perpetuate the potwas a witness, his Government, which now seems to hat and the shapeless costume his second nature has him to be too weak to assert itself, manifested a taught him to believe in, and all that is unusual or strength and vigor which might have awakened the least grateful to the eye in color or shape will be envy in the heart of the great Napoleon when at the regarded as bad form.' Yet it is from him as an zenith of his power, and which at this moment the educated gentleman that encouragement to art should Autocrat of all the Russias would not dare to emu be expected. Under such conditions taste must suflate.” This is a little extravagant, but certainly it fer, and no great art can have a natural spring." is idle to talk of a government being weak that in a This all sounds very well. But a question natugreat emergency could display the power that ours rally arises that if ignoble garments have this unfordid. It is declared to be weak, however, because tunate effect upon the taste of the wearer, how is it it does not carry out the notions of those fussy old that our artists have never made any attempt to rewomen who imagine that the strength of government form the evil? The pot-hat is commonly looked lies in its disposition to exercise a meddlesome au- upon by artists as an abomination ; but we are not