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had no followers of any importance, and the imitations of the books of the one and the music of the other have been usually disastrous. But their joint creations have served to show that contemporary England can produce good comic opera of its own, and is not or should not be obliged to accept in this form of dramatic art imperfect and necessarily incoherent adaptations of Parisian successes. “Incognita,” the new piece at the Lyric Theatre, is not a very good successor to “The Mountebanks.” It has been tinkered at by too many hands, and the result has not made light work. Mr. Burnand can always make up an entertaining book, but he was too heavily handicapped by the conditions under which an unpresentable French piece was to be transmuted into a presentable English piece. The music, again, is not satisfactory; the work of a number of hands, it lacks artistic completeness and oneness of conception, and gives to the performance something of the air of a variety show. But “Incognita" has its good points. It is, on the whole, very well acted. It is beautifully put upon the stage. There is a very delightful dance by Miss St. Cyr in the last act, to see which it would be well worth while to sit out a far longer and far less entertaining piece. Among the actors, Mr. Monkhouse takes the lead. His own strong natural sense of humour seems to have greatly improved since his success in “The Mountebanks.” The guidance of Mr. Gilbert is always of excellent service to a conscientious and ambitious actor, and Mr. Monkhouse has learned much from his experience, so much that, though his part in “Incognita” is quite unworthy of his genuine ability, he still contrives to invest it with an unctuous whimsicality that is intensely diverting, and that suggests a blend of Friar John of the Funnells and Mr. Weller. The acting of Miss Jenoure in “The Mountebanks” promised to lend a new artistic force to acted comedy. Naturally, it was highly interesting to see how far the young actress would fulfil her promise on her second appearance before a London audience. The part of the dancing-girl in Mr. Gilbert's play was so good a part, that there was at least the possibility that something of the applause which was given to its interpreter was due to the cleverness of the author's conception. It is pleasant, therefore, to be able to record that Miss Jenoure has more than fulfilled the promise of that first performance. , The part she plays in “Incognita” is so poor a part that at first one r is tempted to regret that Miss Jenoure's remarkable gift of comedu should be wasted upon it. But after all the work of an artist, y never wasted, and Miss Jenoure, by making this poor part live, is N N 2 . by
breathing into it a gracious breath of comedy and of poetic feeling, only gives a stronger proof of her dramatic ability. A clever actress might very well despair of so trifling a part and treating it in a trifling spirit might allow it to pass into undistinguishable mediocrity. Or again, a clever actress of another temper might endeavour by the sheer force of her cleverness to play the part at an exaggerated pitch, and so force attention to herself by an abuse of colour. Miss Jenoure makes neither of these mistakes. While she moves within the limits of her part she gives it a life and a character of its own, a life and a character that for bright humour and unaffected grace suggest an incarnation of some one of the daintiest and most delightful of the dream women of Marivaux. While it is always a pleasure to praise, it is always a pain to find fault. I have already expressed elsewhere my opinion, which I here repeat, of the capabilities of the lady who takes the prima donna's part. I said that it is always a dangerous policy for the dealer in any kind of wares to praise his merchandise too highly before displaying it. Persistent rumour assured the public that the management of the Lyric Theatre had discovered the nonpareil and marvel of the age, the one fair woman, the pearl of actresses, the pink of all possible perfections. This kind of overpraise of the untested and the unknown is generally a fatal blunder ; in this instance it has proved merely a very foolish blunder. The actress untrumpeted would have been very welcome for what she is—a pretty young woman from a country where pretty young women are fortunately very commonly endowed with a voice of a certain, or perhaps it would be truer to say of an uncertain, sweetness. But when expectation had been goaded to the point of preparing for a miracle made flesh, one who should prove the Avatar of all the Muses and all the Graces, disappointment was inevitable. And the disappointment was very great. It is not necessary nowadays to criticise the physical advantages or disadvantages of players with the frankness that Hazlitt employed in his day. So the singer's personal appearance may very well be suffered to pass without discussion. But for her other gifts the epithet “meagre” is the best found. Her singing voice is meagre in its quality, her power of acting is meagre, her power of dancing is more meagre still. Her performance never acarries conviction with it ; it is pleasing enough in its degree, but uch pleasure as it affords is pleasure of a listless kind; it is not very of teresting, but it may possibly improve. Much no doubt of the Mronishing disappointment may be set down to the inevitable Perkousness of a first night. The question is, how much P
Y far the most interesting dramatic event that has happened for long enough has been the appearance of Ibsen's “Peer Gynt” in an English translation, made—and admirably made—by Mr. William Archer and his brother." At last a dramatic masterpiece which holds something of the same relationship to modern Scandinavian literature that “Faust” does to German literature, is at the service of every lover of a great poetic play. I expressed, in another place, the wish that one might have the promise “though distant, yet, indeed, revealed,” that there should be sooner or later a performance of “Peer Gynt” on an English stage. I feared that it was not likely, but the privilege of Pandora's is always ours, and in hope, at least, the thing is done. It is perfectly feasible, of course. Does not Germany often play the whole of “Faust” P But we are not Germany, and the thing would be, I fear, beyond the powers of the Independent Theatre just yet; for it would be an expensive business to stage it to the show. Is there, I asked, in that other place, in any corner of the world, a millionaire who is devoted to the study of Ibsen P. There may be at this moment in some Nevada silver mine or Australasian sheep-run, some individual of enormous wealth, whose delight in life is in the reading of Ibsen's plays, and whose ambition is to pay some worthy tribute to the master. If such an one there were, I urged him to send me a large cheque, and I promised to give a performance of “Peer Gynt” that would mark an epoch in the history of the stage. But I added that I did not expect to get that cheque, or to mark that epoch.
THE DRAMA AS IT is.
UT if the printed drama is inspiriting enough, if the translated Ibsen and the original work of Henley and Stevenson cheer, the actual plays now being played on the London boards are the reverse of exhilarating. It is nearly half a century since Thomas Carlyle, struggling with his Brocken spectre of a Cromwell, turned for one moment his thoughts to the possibility of a Cromwell play by him, and then put the thought from him for ever, with the declaration that the drama was dead in England. Strindberg made the same assertion very lately. Indeed, in ranging over the list of plays now or lately being performed, there is little or nothing to lead one to a contrary opinion. At one theatre a race-horse is the hero of the piece, is, in fact, the piece, a thing which supports Swift's theory of
* London : Sonnenschein & Co.
the superiority of the horse to man. At another theatre a beautif: woman wore beactiful dresses in toe worst play that has been seen upon our stage for many a long day. What is to be said of -A Lucky Dog," of the revival of “Our Boys," of " The Awakenin: ?? What os—but the list is too long. Tedious it were to tell and harsh to bear. And in the midst of all this desolation there never was more fuss made about the stage and its plays and its players Newspapers publish columns of confessions from our dramasc authors, telling the city and the world how they write their plays Critics of reputation, leaders of the Old School and leaders of tbe New, in their feverish excitement about the condition of the drama, forget their suavity, and treat each other with a personality of address that recalls the warrings of the Schoolmen. Infinite talk there is “about it and about,” infinite argument, exacerbating, it would seem, to the nerves of the disputants, and, as far as can be seen, nothing is coming of it. For the plays of Mr. Henley and Mr. Stevenson have not been born of the recent agitation. They were in existence before the existing strife began ; they have nothing to do with the shrill strife and the heady wrangle now raging. The whole business is one to make the angels weep, who with our spleens would all themselves laugh mortal-if, indeed, it could by any stretch of imagination be supposed that angels could have any concern for the plays of this passing hour.
JUSTIN HUNTLY MCCARTHY.
ALFRED BARON TENNYSON, BORN AUGUST 5, 1809.
DIED OCTOBER 6, 1892.
PEERAGE and a tomb in Westminster Abbey-such are the
rewards Great Britain reserves for those she seeks most to honour. Common enough has been in the past each form of distinction. Until recent days, tombs in the Abbey were allotted to absolute obscurities; and the list of names of occupants supplied by Dean Stanley in his “Historical Memorials of Westminster Abbey,” ranges from Chaucer, Jonson, Dryden, Handel, and Newton, to Mr. Thomas Smith and Nicholas Bagenall, an “infant of two months old, by his nurse unfortunately overlaid.” Peerages meanwhile have not seldom been the well-known recompense of servility and venality. Where both honours-a peerage and a tomb in either Westminster Abbey or St. Paul's—have been awarded, national service has generally been rendered. Nine times out of ten the recipient of such distinctions has been a fighter. The soldier and the sailor still stand foremost in the world's pageant, and their brows are those ordinarily “lighted” by the coronet. Whose are the statues that are seen in our streets ? To whom rise the tall columns which grace our squares and public places? To whom are given by a grateful country the palaces from which their descendants lightly part? In almost every case to warriors. If not to such, to successful misrulers and prosperous lawyers. Among these stood Lord Tennyson: a unique instance in this country of a man attaining the highest places for purely literary accomplishment, untainted with military or political service.
His CAREER. A PROSAIC if brilliant recognition is that we have rendered. In
France, where idea stands for far more than in England, a decoration is all that a country, as apart from a king, has been able to bestow. In Italy, in which life has been more picturesque, a wreath of bay leaves accorded during the lifetime of the writer has been