« 이전계속 »
plicity or the tremendous earth-shaking sincerity and strength of the greatest work. Such lines as
• Vex not his ghost: 0, let him pass! he hates
Stretch him out longer;' or,
"" Quel giorno più non vi leggemmo avante !"
Mentre che l' uno spirto questo disse,
Io venni men, così com' io morisse ' - were and are, both at the first and now,' altogether beyond his compass.
Tadpole hapes; then, instead of
ART. IX.-1. The Theatre: its Development in France and
England, and a History of its Greek and Latin Origins.
1901. 2. Drame ancien: Drame moderne. Par EMILE FAGUET.
Paris : Armand Colin et Cie. 1898. 8. Plays : Pleasant and Unpleasant (1898) and Three Plays
for Puritans (1901). By BERNARD SHAW. London :
Grant Richards. W hat do we mean precisely by modern ' and 'ancient'?
Each term implies the other, and Messrs. Taper and Tadpole are not the only phrase-mongers who have found it impossible to keep them apart. It was Mr. Taper, according to the author of Coningsby,' who suggested to Mr. Tadpole the electioneering cry of Our Young Queen and our Old Institutions.'
"The eyes of Tadpole sparkled as if they had met a gnomic sentence of Periander or Thales; then, turning to Taper, he said :
60 What do you think of ancient 'instead of 'old'?"
"«You cannot have 'Our Modern Queen and our Ancient Institutions,'” said Mr. Taper.'
Ingenious writers sometimes amuse themselves by explaining how many things that pass for ancient are of all things most modern; how the Darwinian hypothesis may be discovered lurking in the speculations of some forgotten Greek philosopher, and how the ‘Pickwick Papers' may be discerned, by those who have eyes to see, in the Odyssey.' Thus Matthew Arnold exhibited the modernity of the chattering Sicilian women in a Theocritean idyll.* M. Jules Lemaître points out how Euripides, in Ion,' 'méprise
Scribe vingt-quatre siècles d'avance, ce qui est prodigieux't -as prodigious it assuredly is—and how (he is speaking of Herondas) certains dialogues de la “ Vie Parisienne," du «« Journal” ou de “ L'Echo de Paris" vous donnent une idée “fort exacte de ce que furent les mimes grecs.' † And what chiefly interests Mr. Herbert Paul in the ‘Poetics' of Aristotle is the fact that they are “intensely modern.' S
• Essays in Criticism, first series : ' Pagan and Medieval Religious Sentiment. At the Eton “Fourth of June' this year Gorgo and Praxinoe were tricked out with parasols and bonnets.
of Impressions de Théâtre, neuvième série, p. 12.
This is to darken counsel, as well as to fly in the face of Molière's common-sense observation that les anciens sont les anciens et nous sommes les gens d'aujourd'hui.'
It may be thought that, whatever the general vagueness about 'ancient' and 'modern,' there can be no difficulty in assigning them a precise meaning when applied to drama. There is the 'ancient' drama of the Greeks and Romans, the drama about which the Examiners were expected to interrogate the Heathen Passee, with his
'notes on the rise of the Drama,
A question invariably set;' and there is the modern' drama which came into being towards the end of the sixteenth century. That is the arbitrary division, for instance, adopted alike by M. Emile Faguet in his ‘Drame ancien : drame moderne' and by Mr. Charles Hastings in The Theatre : its Development in • France and England, and a History of its Greek and Latin 'origins.' No two works on the same subject could differ more completely in method and value. M. Faguet offers a rigorously logical catena. Luminous theories and suggestive correlations abound on every page. Mr. Hastings's portly volume is a catalogue laboriously compiled, but only a bare catalogue-not even a catalogue raisonné of which the value may be judged from a single extract :
The plays of Pinero, H. A. Jones, and Sydney Grundy are constantly reappearing on the playbills, and find admirable interpreters in George Alexander, Forbes Robertson, Beerbohm Tree, Wyndham, John Hare, and Martin Harvey, who are ably seconded by actresses like Mrs. Kendal and Mrs. Patrick Campbell.' But the point is that two works in all other respects so different both adopt the old arbitrary and, as it will be our endeavour to show, misplaced line of cleavage between ancient and modern drama.
Where then is the true line of cleavage to be found ? In order to answer that question an obvious course is to examine a few typical plays, selected from successive theatrical periods, and to seek the causes which differentiate them from the drama of to-day, or rank them with it, as the case may be. By common consent, the most 'modern' of all Shakespeare's plays is the tragedy of Hamlet.' Its hero exhibits what the nineteenth century was fond of calling 'la maladie du
siècle,' as something pre-eminently its own. His case is, in Shelley's phrase, a pure anticipated cognition of the late lamented Henri Frédéric Amiel. Hazlitt discerned a
stand cement of thace in the
data of this the proteine duty
Hamlet in all modern men. Musset wrote a Lorenzaccio' so rife with Hamletism that Mme. Sarah Bernhardt, after appearing as the protagonist of that play, was in the nature of things bound to undertake the Prince of Denmark. One peculiarly 'modern' novelist, Tourgenev, cannot choose but write a 'Hamlet russe,' while another, M. Paul Bourget, reproduces the whole story in ‘André Cornélis.' Then there is the veteran author of 'John Gabriel Borkman’ who gives us a Hamlet, as it were, reversed, a Hamlet who makes "il gran rifiuto,' and blithely refuses to take up the burden of the old generation under which the Shakespearian Hamlet was crushed. Nevertheless, it has to be asked, does. Hamlet' show the distinguishing marks of the drama as we understand it to-day? Does every scene contribute to the advancement of the story? Do every action and word take their due place in the composition of a character ? Nothing of the kind. With the data of the play, its business, according to modern ideas, is to exhibit the progress of the conflict between Hamlet's temperament and his duty, between his irresolution and his revenge 'mission. But this business is persistently neglected. Any irrelevance serves to set Hamlet off at a tangent. While he is waiting on the platform at Elsinore for the Ghost, some one drops an observation about the King keeping 'wassail,' whereupon he moralises upon the general passion for strong drink. Meanwhile the play marks time. When the players arrive, Hamlet puts aside his revenge project in order to deliver a lecture upon histrionics. If he meditates on suicide, he must bring in a reference to the law's delay and the insolence of office-matters which have nothing to do with his case. In the churchyard he must draw' the gravedigger. It is in complete forgetfulness of his 'mission' that he accepts the challenge to a bout of fence with Laertes. His mind, on this side of it, is like Squire Brooke's, 'a jelly that runs
easily into any mould.' The obvious truth is that Shakespeare, having, as Walter Bagehot said, the experiencing
temperament,' must needs endow Hamlet with that temperament too. He expressed himself in Hamlet in disregard of dramatic propriety. The story might get on as best it could; what he was intent upon was exhausting the possibilities of the moment, enjoying the moment for the
moment's sake,' as the late Mr. Pater might bave said, The same disregard of dramatic propriety runs through the other characters. Polonius, a fool at one moment, is a sage at another, so that Coleridge was driven to contend that
rence to the nothing to do redigger. It to the
he is not a comic character. Laertes cannot take leave of his sister without generalisations about princes’ love and maidens' modesty, 80 that, only half in jest, a former Examiner of Plays described him as an instance of heredity. Gertrude, rushing in with the shocking news of Ophelia's death, pauses to deliver a set piece of poetic description
"There is a willow grows aslant a brook,' with eighteen lines to follow-during which Laertes has to stand aside and bottle up his emotion. It comes to this, that, any topic once started, Shakespeare proceeds to expatiate upon it at large, and he is comparatively indifferent as to which character shall be his mouthpiece or to the progress of the dramatic action. Clearly 'Hamlet' bears the marks of something essentially different from a 'modern' play.
To draw attention to these points of technical method is not, of course, to call in question for a moment the virtues of • Hamlet' as a poetic tragedy, its' noble excess' as the fine fleur of Renaissance romanticism, its triumphant fulfilment of the test laid down by Goethe for all work really classic -namely, that it sball be energetic, fresh, and well-liking." Such aspects of the matter are beyond discussion. But Shakespeare was no more free than any other man from the material limitations of the theatre in which his plays were produced ; and it is in those material conditions that the explanation of his craftsmanship is to be found. Yet how seldom is that explanation sought in this the only proper quarter! We have seen S. T. Coleridge and Bodham Donne, two men of letters, explaining Polonius, one solemnly, the other only half jocularly, by purely literary and logical means. To this day our Shakespearian commentators, in the seclusion of their studies, pursue this false method—the bookman's method—of exegesis. If they would only come out of their studies and look at the stage at some picture or model of the Elizabethan playhouse
- they would save themselves the discovery of many mares' nests. A project has been recently mooted for the erection of an Elizabethan playhouse in facsimile, as a Shakespeare memorial, in one of the new London thoroughfares. We can perceive one, and only one, good reason for this other
Mr. Bodham Donne. See More Letters of Edward Fitzgerald," p. 131: 'Had any one quoted to me Laertes' parting advice to his sister, I should have sworn it was Polonius.' Donne thinks that Shakespeare may have intended pedantry in the blood.'