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“I have reasoned out Fröken Julie's sad fate by a whole crowd of circumstances : the natural instincts of the mother; the false education of the girl by the father; her own nature, and the effect of the bridegroom's suggestions on her weak and degenerated brain; also by momentary influences : the festivities of St. John's Eve; the absence of the father ; the business with the dog ; the exciting influence of the dancing; the approach of the night ; the strong intoxicating scent of the flowers; and, finally, the chance that brings the two persons together in a secret place, as well as the importunate advances of the man.
"I have, therefore, not been one-sided, either physiologically or psychologically ; I have not thrown the fault only on the inheritance from the mother, nor alone on 'immodesty'; neither have I simply preached a moral.
"I am proud of this many-sidedness of the motif, for it corresponds with the character of the age. And if others have done so before me, why I am proud not to stand alone with my paradoxes, as all discoveries are called.
“As to the different characters, I have tried to make them rather uncharacteristic, and for the following reasons :
“The word "character' has gained a many-sided meaning. It probably meant originally the ruling feature of the soul's complexness, and was mistaken for temperament. Then it became the middle-class person's expression for an automaton; so that any individual whose nature has once and for all come to a standstill, or has adapted himself to a certain part in life—in one word, has ceased to grow, has been called a character; and the man who is sensible of development, the able sailor on the stream of life, who does not sail in the beaten track, but lets the vessel run before the wind, in order to luff afterwards, has been christened 'characterless.' And in a degrading sense, of course, because he was so difficult to catch, to register, and to control. This plebeian idea of the immutability of the soul was then transported to the theatre, where plebeian thoughts have ever ruled. A character there was a man always cut and dried, who appeared without variation as a drunkard, a joker, a mourner ; and to characterise any one it was only necessary to give the body some deformity, such as a clubfoot, a wooden leg, a red nose, or to let him use some special words, such as 'That is gallant,' 'Barkis is willing,' and the like. Even the great Molière has this way of viewing men from one side only. Harpagon is only a miser, although Harpagon could just as well have been both a miser and an excellent financier, a splendid father, or a good
citizen ; and, what is worse, his defect is most advantageous for his daughter and his son-in-law, who inherit from him, and therefore may not blame him, even though they must wait somewhat before they get his wealth. Therefore I do not believe in plain theatrical characters. And the realist should inveigh against the summary judgment of men by the author that So-and-so is stupid, So-and-so brutal, So-and-so jealous, So-and-so miserly, &c. &c., for the realist knows how rich the soul is, and understands that vice has a reverse side, wonderfully near to virtue. As my personages are modern characters, living in a transition period, more hysterical, at any rate, than the previous one, I have depicted them as more vacillating, more worn out, more composed of a mixture of old and new ; and it seems to me not improbable that modern ideas may have penetrated, by the medium of newspapers and conversation, into the lower strata of society, even into those where lives a man-servant.
"My people are conglomerations of past degrees of culture and fragments of the present time, fragments borrowed from books and newspapers, bits of men, tattered pieces from gala-robes turned into rags ; just as the soul is patched together. And I have also depicted a little the process of development, by making the weaker steal from and repeat the words of the stronger, by letting the souls find ideas, suggestions, in each other.
"Fröken Julie is a modern character, not because the half-woman, the man-hater, has not existed at all times, but because it has now been discovered, and has stepped forward and attracted attention. The half-woman is a type that now pushes itself forward, and sells itself for power, authority, distinction, and diplomas, as formerly for gold, and indicates degeneration. It is not a good species, for it is unhealthy. It brings forth, however, new members notwithstanding its misery, and degenerate men seem unconsciously to choose from among them, so that they increase and bring forth creatures of undetermined sex, to whom life is a misery, but who luckily fall to the ground, either in discord with the reality, or in consequence of the irresistible breaking out of suppressed propensities, or in disappointment at being unable to become men. The type is tragic, for it offers the spectacle of a desperate fight against nature ; it is tragic as a romantic inheritance that will now be destroyed by naturalism, which only wills happiness ; and to happiness belong only strong and healthy species.
“But Fröken Julie is a remnant of the old warlike nobility, that now sinks before the nobility of the nerves and the brain ; a victim of the discord a mother's fault brings into a family ; a victim to the errors
of the age, to circumstances of her own weakly constitution; all of which signifies as much as the destiny of earlier times or the universal law. The realist has done away with guilt as he has done away with God, but the consequences of a deed, the punishment, the hard labour and the fear thereof, cannot be obliterated, because they will remain whether he absolve or not ; because people to whom any wrong has been done are not so kindly disposed as those can easily be to whom no harm has happened. Even should the father renounce for earnest reasons the punishing of his daughter, she would punish herself, as she does here in consequence of the inborn or acquired feeling of honour, which the higher classes inherit—from where P From barbarism, from the Asiatic native country of their ancestors, from the knighthood of the middle ages P All of which is very fine, but unprofitable to the existence of species. It is the nobleman's Harikari of the Japanese law of conscience which commands him to cut open his body when anyone insults him, and it exists in more modified form in the duel, the privilege of the nobility. Therefore, the servant Jean lives on, but Fröken Julie cannot live without honour. It is the servant's advantage over the master to be free from this dangerous judgment as to honour ; and in all of us Aryans there exists something of the nobleman or Don Quixote, which causes us to sympathise with the suicide who has committed a dishonourable act, and so lost his honour ; and we are noblemen enough to feel sorrow at a fallen greatness, even when the fallen could rise again, and try to set things right by honourable deeds.” Here my extract from Strindberg must pause. It will show at least that there are still dramatic authors who have a very serious theory of their art and accept very seriously its responsibilities.
JUSTIN HUNTLY McCARTHY
WOMEN OF THE RESTORATION. N O mistake greater than that of supposing the Court of IY Charles II. to be in any sense representative of the general state of England can easily be made. While the Court was degraded by orgies and rites worthy of the Cotyttia, the inmost heart of the nation was cleanly, and even Puritan. The modest virtues of decency and sobriety were not even confined to the dissenting or ex-Commonwealth party. More than one of those who had fought most heroically and made most sacrifices for the First Charles, and had hailed with delight the Restoration of the Stuart dynasty, withdrew in disgust into solitude, and exhibited there the graces and proprieties which had moved the satire of a Sedley or a Wilmot. The idea of compiling a biography of the good women of the Restoration originated with the late Dean of Wells, Edward Hayes Plumptre. It has been carried out by a lady, Grace Johnstone, whom his ideas inspired, and for whom, had his life been spared, he would have written a preface. Of the names that at once spring into the memory, that of Rachel, Lady Russell—“that sweet saint that stood by Russell's side”—is the most conspicuous. Mrs. Hutchinson, however, and more than one of the Verneys come scarcely behind. Mary Boyle, subsequently Countess of Warwick, is a less known type of adorable womanhood; while of Margaret Blagge, Mrs. Godolphin (Maid of Honour to the Duchess of York and to Queen Catherine of Braganza), we know little except what is told us by Evelyn ; and of Margaret, Lady Maynard, just what is told us in the funeral sermon upon her by Bishop Ken. The record supplied us concerning these priestesses who aided in a dismal time to keep alive the fire of purity is interesting and instructive. I can only regret that the list supplied does not include Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle ; in some respects, perhaps, the most interesting and-a little madness apart—the greatest woman of her epoch
· Digby, Long, & Co.
“THE SISTERS.” "
UT for the play within a play which it contains, Mr. Swinburne's new drama might hope for a success upon the boards of a theatre. Unlike his previous pieces, it is dramatic throughout, and not in portions, and its length is commensurate with what Shakespeare in the Prologue to “Romeo and Juliet” calls “the two hours' traffic of our stage.” One or two poetical passages might call for lopping. Little excision would, however, be requisite, and the whole could not fail to stimulate and stir an audience. The scene of lovemaking, in which Mabel compels Reginald to propose to her, is eminently tender and pathetic, and could not fail to wring tears from the public. Supremely touching are, indeed, the
Misadventur'd piteous overthrows
of this “pair of star-crossed lovers.” To the enjoyment of the artistic perfection of the whole, to realise the manner in which history not only repeats itself, but forges for itself the conditions of its reputation, it is needful to have the intercalated scene, the notion of which Mr. Swinburne has avowedly taken from “Dodsley's great old plays.” Upon the stage the story might possibly be narrated. It could scarcely at least be allowed, as at present, to constitute an act to itself in a work with which it is remotely and accidentally connected. That “The Sisters” has robustness enough for an evening entertainment may not perhaps be maintained. A series of afternoon performances at a West End theatre would, however, attract. The only reason I see why these should not be given, lies in the fact that the male characters are all chivalrous, and that no masculine part has such supremacy as would commend it to a manager.
MR. Swinburn E's PRAISE OF North UMBERLAND.
N calling a tragedy, and not a tragic comedy or a drama, a piece which depicts the rivalry of two sisters for the love of a youth, and the murder of one sister by the other, Mr. Swinburne departs from the ancient custom which confined the use of the word to the line of Pelops, or at least depicted tragedy with “sceptred pall.” As its action is confined to Northumbrian families, the poet, himself a Northumbrian, may regard the departure as not greater than that of Shakespeare in “Romeo and Juliet.” Very eloquent is his praise of his own county. There are those who will not admit the
| Chatto & Windus.