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that ranks him among our Fortschrittsmcinner; he did, however imperfectly, bring the stage into some sort of relation to life. As with all new developements, the method was a method of exaggeration. Hawtrey and Eccles and Polly and Sam Gerridge are caricatures, but the basis of observed fact underlies them all. Hawtrey is a caricature which might have been signed 'John Leech,' as Eccles or Sam Gerridge might have been signed ' Charles Keene.' Robertson, then, accomplished something. The Robertsonian drama counts. It gave a lead, and a fairly good one, for the picture-stage. But, English in its many good qualities, it was English also in its chief defect; it was 'unidea'd.' Happily no quotation in proof of this statement is called for—happily, because Robertsonian prose is absolutely unreadable. 'School' and 'Ours ' have been revived in quite recent years, and 'Caste' has been played during the season just expired, so that the present generation of playgoers has had ample opportunity of acquaintance with some typical Robertsonian plays. They show that, while Robertson observed his time and responded to its pressure, he had no critical ideas about it. By ideas we do not, of course, mean the puerile commonplaces of the copybook.
In harping upon this question of ideas, their presence or their absence, we do not forget that we are presenting only one aspect—important as that aspect may be—of a manysided matter. The future historian of the English stage— unhappily the epithet'future,' which has long since become stale in this connexion, is still obligatory—the future historian of the English stage will have to describe many phases of it which are here left out of account. Our less ambitious task is to contrast the modern French and English theatres, and that contrast turns upon the inequality in their stock of ideas : abundance, even to excess, on the one hand, on the other a lamentable penury. To such an inquiry the theatrical record for many years after Robertson's death is scarcely relevant. Those years witnessed the rise of Henry Irving, the return of London society, at his call, to a theatre from which it had long held aloof, the gradual perfection of the art of mise-enscene, and many other important things. But none of these important things had aught to do with the theatre of ideas. That suited neither Sir Henry Irving's interesting qualities as a romantic actor nor his still more conspicuous ability as a manager, a generalissimo of stage forces. Sir Henry, to be sure, added Tennyson to our list of acted poets, but only, we fancy, with the result of bringing the world in general to the mind of Tennyson's candid friend 'Old Fitz,' who ' wished A. T. had 'not tried the stage.'* And, of course, there were those gorgeous Shakespearian revivals which it is a duty to remember, as well as those pseudo-poetic plays of W. G. Wills which it is a pleasure to forget. Of the Shakespearian revivals there is one thing to be said germane to our present purpose. They represented an effort to pour old wine into new bottles: to accommodate the platform-drama to the picture-stage. Charles Kean had made a similar attempt in the fifties, which failed, because the new conditions were imperfectly understood and because public opinion had not yet escaped from the bondage of the old rhetorical ideal. In the eighties this ideal had vanished, and though a few veterans grumbled, the Lyceum experiment did achieve a certain success. It was Walter Bagehot, if memory serve3, who said that, though Eton boys might not learn much Latin or Greek, they left school with the firm impression that there were such languages. So the Lyceum public, all agape at the 'solid sets' and the rich costumes, carried away a conviction that there had indeed been a Shakespeare. As to the difference between the old and the new styles we cannot do better than give the unconscious evidence of FitzGerald and his cronies, who had seen both. They found the scenery of the Lyceum 'Much Ado' 'too 'good,' while 'Irving was without any humour, Miss Terry 'with simply animal spirits.' t On the other hand, of Macready's Macbeth FitzGerald remembered the actor's * Amen stu-u-u-u-ck in his throat.' % In other words, overelaboration of scenery was the besetting sin of the picturestage, as that of the platform-stage had been over-emphasis of delivery or 'ranting.' The truth is, Sir Henry Irving stands apart. By sheer force of individuality he has impressed himself on the time; he has rendered signal service to the playhouse by making it once more a social institution, and to the actor's calling by making it, perhaps for the first time, an entirely respectable profession; but in the developement of modern drama, as we are considering it, he has taken no share.
This complete, if 'splendid,' isolation of the Lyceum in the later eighties reminds us of those enthusiastic Parisian anglers who, so the story runs, continued to fish for gudgeon under the Pont-Neuf while the Eevolution was raging
• More Letters of Edward FitzGerald, p. 273.
t Letters of Edward FitzGerald to Fanny Kemble, p. 255.
% Ibid. p. 45.
* Nose,' with their coarseness of feeling and their provinciality of thought, it is better not to dwell. But what a chaotic output! How is Mr. Jones's criticism of life to be disengaged from this tangle of themes and modes, schools and styles, violent affirmations and flat contradictions? He flouts Mrs. Grundy in 'Lady Susan' * and brings her in as 'dea 'ex machina' for ' The Liars.' He was an idealist in ' The 'Crusaders,' and a sentimentalist in 'The Dancing Girl' and a cynic in 'The Tempter,' and Mr. Worldly Wiseman in ' Mrs. Dane' and goodness knows what in' The Princess's 'Nose.' Is it permissible to suppose that a hodge-podge like this was ever inspired by any constant ideal, directed towards any definite end? Tour serious French dramatist knows his own mind and takes care that we shall know it tco. The purpose of Dumas fits we have seen emphatically declared in the preface to 'Le Fils Naturel,' and Dumas kept his word. M. Hervieu says his purpose is to plead the cause of the oppressed; M. Brieux regards himself as the 'commis voyageur de 1'intellectualiteV We all know, then, what these men are driving at. But what Mr. Jones or Mr. Pinero is driving at remains an inscrutable mystery.
Of course we are not contemplating these gentlemen as theatrical craftsmen, as artificers of 'fables' in three dimensions. In that respect their primacy is beyond dispute—unless it is to be shared by Mr. Grundy. But Mr. Grundy is outside our present scope. Although he occasionally took a pot shot, and by no means a bad one, at the drama of ideas (in ' Sowing the Wind,' for example, and in 'The 'Greatest of These'), although, as we have said, he for a time bowed the knee to Ibsen, he seems to have returned to his early love, Scribism, adaptation from French anecdoteplays. We pass over Mr. Grundy, then, to glance for a moment at a man with real ideas and a definite purpose which he is at no pains to conceal—Mr. Bernard Shaw. No one need ask what Mr. Shaw's 'message' is; he is always ramming it down our throats. For his general philosophy you have this: 'The tragedy and comedy of life lie in the con'sequences, sometimes terrible, sometimes ludicrous, of our 'persistent attempts to found our institutions on the ideals 'suggested to our imagination, by our half-satisfied passions, 'instead of on a genuinely scientific natural history.' f
* Of malice prepense it would seem; see the preface to the printed play. t Preface to ' Unpleasant Plays' (1898).
There it is, as circumstantial, and almost as long-winded, as a power of attorney. Mr. Shaw's plays are so many attacks upon what he considers our false ideals, and so many attempts to illustrate what he calls a scientific natural history. The only drawback is that 'with such a being as 'man, in such a world as the present,' Mr. Shaw's plays do not count as plays at all. They offer such a criticism of life as the average man cannot even begin to understand. Mr. Shaw assumes a world of unimpeded intellect; he addresses himself to the pure reason; his characters do not love or hate, laugh or cry, they merely argue it out. It is the Euclidean drama—or would be, if Euclid had set himself to prove that two sides of a triangle are not greater than the third, and that it is a vulgar error to suppose a point to be without parts or magnitude. We must not enter, however, upon so dangerously controversial a subject as the value of Mr. Shaw's criticism of life; nor need we, seeing that he fails to express it in terms of drama. The essential law of the theatre is thought through emotion. No character exhibits real emotion (though occasionally there is a show of 'temper') in those fascinating exercises in dialectic which Mr. Shaw miscalls plays. This fatal defect condemns Mr. Shaw to remain a dramatist of the study or, at best, the dramatist of a coterie. If any one of our playwrights who appeal to the public at large had only a tithe of Mr. Shaw's independence and originality of thought, to say nothing of his vivacity and wit, our contention that the modern English drama is 'unidea'd' would fall to the ground.
It is, of course, irrelevant to the subject of our inquiry to consider the case of Mr. Stephen Phillips. We have been examining the modern French drama and the English on a specific point, appraising their relative contributions to a criticism of life, contrasting the ample stock of ideas in the one with the intellectual poverty of the other. The drama of beauty and mystery and passion enshrined in verse—and Mr. Phillips's work, unless we are much mistaken, takes high rank in that dramatic region—stands outside our comparison. How much the vogue of Mr. Phillips is a vogue of pure poetry, what, on the other hand, is the amount of its debt to the two ablest and most progressive actor-managers of the moment—Mr. Alexander and Mr. Tree—that is an interesting question for those who have a fancy for premature conjecture. But for us it is what Aristotle would call aWos Xoyos.
VOL. OXOYI. NO. OOOOI. P
Abt. X.—1. The Mastery of the Pacific. By Akchibald R. Colquhoun. London: Heinemann, 1902.
2. China and the Powers: a Narrative of the Outbreak of 1900. By H. C. Thomson. London: Longmans, 1902.
nPHEEE is an old story of two men meeting in the public square of Quito, the one clad in all the warm wraps within his reach and shivering with cold, while the other, in his shirt-sleeves and with the perspiration pouring down his face, was complaining of the oppressive heat; the explanation being that the first had just come to the town from the torrid plain below, the other from the snowy fields above. This anecdote from childhood's geography has come strangely back to our memory as we read this latest work by Mr. Colquhoun. From one point of view, it is excellent; from another, it is meagre and disappointing. As a descriptive geography in its best sense, it is admirable. No other book that we are acquainted with deals so well and so comprehensively with the conditions of the several countries which border on the Pacific, or of the islands which gem its surface. Alike in its examination of their physical conditions, their scenery, their products, their people, their commercial capabilities or aptitudes, it is all very good; it is only when it comes—or does not come—to what, after all, the title leads us to expect, a discussion of the political problems involved, that we find it wanting. For surely the mastery of the Pacific in the near or more remote future is a political question; to this country and to the British Empire a political question whose interest and importance it is scarcely possible to exaggerate; for the extent—in its literal meaning—the outstretching character of the Empire is such that no part of the world, and still less so vast a part of it as the Pacific Ocean, does not approach its boundaries. From this point of view, we do not think that Mr. Colquhoun's work answers the expectations which might be justly entertained. It leads up to the question, but it does not directly tackle it; and even the preliminary matter, excellent as it is, is so purely geographical that other considerations of the first importance are omitted, or have to be sought for, instead of being presented as necessary to the discussion of the problem. Still, even with this drawback, serious though it is, the work which Mr. Colquhoun now offers us is of the deepest interest, and does, to a very