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THE career of Mr. Louis N. Parker has hitherto been chaT racterised first by promise, then by pertinacity without promise ; now it has touched at something closely approaching to performance. Those who saw the “Sequel" spoke highly of its merits. I did not see it; but, spurred by these praises, I made a point of seeing several successive plays of Mr. Parker's, all of which disappointed me deeply. They certainly were not well done, and they did not seem to me to hold much hope of good work to come. It is, therefore, with the more satisfaction that I can avouch that “ David” interested me, pleased me largely, and that it deserves a very large measure of praise. It is not a very great work; it is not a very perfect work, even in its degree ; but it has a great deal of ability, it is thoughtful, painstaking, at moments almost profound. It really has the promise which, so far, I have sought for in vain in the plays of Mr. Parker.
“David” is, as it were, a collection of grim medical, psychological, and ethnological problems, focussed within the narrow circle of English country life. It suggests the inspiration of Wilkie Collins; it suggests especially the inspiration of Mr. Grant Allen. The author of " The Woman in White” need not have been ashamed of the central idea of “David ;” the author of “Strange Stories” night rejoice in the study of crime, in the study of racial hatreds, which “David ” represents. If “David” resembles a novel, it resembles a very interesting novel-a novel that the reader is eager to follow out to the final chapter. The more is the pity, therefore, that the final chapter should be the less successíul.
For, unhappily, the interest awakened in the first act, and kept alive during the second, wanes in the third, to wither in the fourth. The authors—for there is another name associated with Mr. Parker's on the playbill -- either had not the courage of their opinions or had no clearly defined opinions. They started with what seemed to be a new story in the most modern spirit, but it drifted away at the end into conventional situations, conventional episodes. But, with all its faults, it is by far the best piece of work that has thus far been associated with the name of Mr. Parker ; and if his next piece is as marked an advance upon “ David ” as “David ” is upon its predecessors, we may hope for a very good play indeed.
There is a small error that must be commented upon. The play was originally to be called “The Bar Sinister," and the central figure of the piece, Dr. Wendover, speaks of Da Silva as bearing the bar
sinister. Now this of course is absolute nonsense, and nonsense that one imagined had been exposed long ago. There is not the slightest harm in a man's not knowing heraldry; he has even the authority of Mr. Herbert Spencer and of the late Lord Sherbrooke for thinking there is positive harm in knowing it. But when he does not know it he will do well not to write about it without consulting some one who does. There is no such phrase in heraldry, there is no such phrase possible to heraldry, as a “bar sinister.” A bar sinister is as impossible as a crooked straight line. A bend sinister is a possibility, though the assumption that a bend sinister must denote illegitimacy is an erroneous assumption. The blunder is a trifling blunder, but it makes one a little doubtful of the accuracy of the author's other studies. How if his psychology is as bad as his heraldry; how about his science; how about his knowledge of racial peculiarities and racial antipathies? I speak with some slight knowledge of heraldry; my library includes more than a score of books on heraldry, from Guillim yesterday to Woodward and Burnett to-day, as well as text-books of foreign heraldry. I can only hope that in those sciences with which I have less acquaintance I may rely more implicitly upon Mr. Parker's authority. But whether his science be right or be as wrong as his heraldry, Mr. Parker has written a play that is in its major part exceedingly interest ing. It had the advantage of being exceedingly well played. I praised Mr. Murray Carson's Bosola; I can praise as unreservedly his Dr. Wendover. From the first moment to the last this was a remarkable piece of acting, carefully pondered, largely conceived, daringly executed. Scene by scene and act by act the wretched man's mania grew upon him. He suggested admirably the few, the insignificant, yet how significant, signs that marked the overwrought mind, the twitching lip that disturbed the physical composure of the face, the slight impatience that disturbed the intellectual urbanity of the bearing. These signs deepened as the drama moved, deepened into persistent fretfulness, irritation, almost ferocity as the intellect clouded and the temperament warped under the spell of the dominant idea. No finer piece of acting has been seen on the stage for some time. Indeed, for the matter of that, no piece of acting so fine has been seen on the stage for some time. Mr. Carson was well supported. Miss Bateman recalled and renewed her triumph of “Karin" in her presentation of the stately, stern old lady, in whose bosom race-hatred against the Jews and passionate love for her son are the two most living emotions. The part was not a part like that of the mother in “Karin,” it was not VOL. CCLXXIII. No. 1944. U U.
sketched with so firm, so unfaltering a hand, it did not dominate with the same tragic horror. But within its limited range the figure was impressive enough to give a far less gifted actress than Miss Bateman a good opportunity; an actress as gifted as Miss Bateman gave it all the grim intensity that it needed, and made it a commanding figure. Miss Burney, as the daughter of Dr. Wendover, played a part of a kind that has not hitherto been associated with her name, and played it with a grace and charm that shows that her artistic powers are wide and varied. To be able to play with success in the one evening two such widely differing parts as those of a young English girl of a more or less conventional kind, and the subtle, wily, imperious heroine of one of Alfred de Musset's daintiest comedies, shows that Miss Burney is not only willing to work hard at her art, but that it is very well worth her while that she should work hard.
For before appearing in the ingénue part in “David” she had played the part of Madame de Lery in a rendering of Alfred de Musset's “ Un Caprice.” And between a part like that of Madame de Lery and an ingénue part there is a very great gulf fixed indeed. Madame de Lery is a very exquisite, very human woman. Grande dame de par le monde, she is the peer of these gracious, brilliant women whom Balzac loved, the Princesse de Cadignan, the Duchesse de Maufrigneuse, Madame de Cerizy, and the rest of that splendid sisterhood. But she is in some ways more fascinating than they, for the eternal melancholy of De Musset is intimately blended in her composition; her brightest laughter seems to be answered by echo with a sigh; her mirth comes from her head rather than from her heart, where we suspect that an eternal ache lingers. She is exquisite womanhood, and such the world often crucifies; she has loved and suffered, and she is brave, and sweet, and deeply sad, and no one suspects her sorrow. Not an easy part to play, but Miss Burney played it very well, played it delightfully, beyond my hopes. It is by far the best thing that Miss Burney has yet done; it suggests a power of emotional expression, a variety of emotional expression which I had not expected from what I had previously seen her do. Miss Burney can and will learn; she is of the stuff that succeeds. I think she ought to go far.
JUSTIN HUNTLY MCARTHY.
CONCERNING DICTIONARIES. J F the present generation does not know thoroughly the language T it speaks, the fault will not rest with its teachers. Every form of assistance that can be desired is supplied, and dictionaries of every class multiply with alarming rapidity. When Johnson, in 1755, published his monumental work the world drew breath and contented itself for well on to a century with multiplying editions. Richardson, a schoolmaster, then hit upon the ingenious idea of setting his pupils to extract quotations from Chaucer and other early writers. Unhappy in arrangement, and equally far from correctness and completeness, Richardson's Dictionary has remained a work of much interest, and what a good dictionary ought to be-a delightful book to read. Philology has made giant strides since Richardson's time, and his book is out of date. The student, unless he possesses the great American dictionary known as the “Century,” turns now to Professor Skeat, and waits, without much hope of living to profit by it, for the completion of the gigantic task undertaken by Dr. Murray and his allies, of seeing through the press the huge dictionary of the Philological Society. To aid him, however, he has dictionaries and glossaries innumerable, from the works of Wright, Halliwell, and Nares to the latest compilation of the Dialect Society. If his studies be more profound he will find a Dictionary of Middle English near to his hand. Should he be disposed to investigate folk-speech, a Dictionary of Slang and its Analogues is making rapid strides towards completion.
THE STANFORD BEQUEST.
do not deal with the innumerable works intended for casual reference-I am inclined to regard as the most important the Stanford “Dictionary of Anglicised Words and Phrases.”] Two years ago the University of Cambridge accepted a bequest of £5,000, left Cambridge University Press.
by the late Mr. J. F. Stanford for the express purpose of publishing a dictionary of this class. Mr. Stanford had himself made notes and collections towards this end. With a view to drawing up a scheme a committee was appointed by the syndics of the University Press, including the best scholars the University could boast—Professors Mayor, Skeat, Bensly, Mr. Aldis Wright, and Dr. J. B. Postgate ; I)r. C. A. M. Fennell, the editor of Pindar, was appointed editor, and the result of their associated labours now sees the light. It is difficult to over-estimate the value and importance of what has been accomplished ; and as space will not permit of my supplying particulars of the scheme, my assertions must be taken on trust. From how many sources our language has enriched itself is evident upon the most cursory glance. Putting on one side the rapidly increasing scientific terminology, let me take a few words from Dr. Fennell's first list. Here are bulbul, redolent of Persia and Arabia; bungalow, from the Hindoo and Mahratta ; coffee, coming through French from the Turkish ; gobang, from the Japanese ; pah, from the Maori ; / roa, from the Malay, and so forth. Almost innumerable are the languages from which we have borrowed. The list includes Aramaic, Ethiopic, Dravidian, Russian, Chinese, African, and Red Indian. Many of these words are, naturally, to be found in dictionaries easy of access. Many others, however, are given in no book which the scholar can easily consult. One more merit of the book is that it is a complete guide to those French phrases which Englishmen continually misquote ; and that colife gue coilse, and other misused expressions, are given in their correct form. A tremendous range of reading is shown in the quotations, and the book, to a man of scholarly taste, is stimulating reading.
THE TILDEN LIBRARY.
NGLAND is not alone in owing to the munificence of a citizen the possession of a magnificent library. What Mrs. Rylands is doing for some great centre, Manchester or elsewhere, the late Samuel J. Tilden has sought to do for America. By will he left in the hands of trustees a fortune amounting to some millions of dollars for the purpose of founding in New York a library worthy of the first of American cities. Less fortunate, however, than ourselves, the Americans will benefit only to a limited extent by the bequest. Mrs. Rylands takes the means of avoiding all possibility of dispute, and makes in her own lifetime an absolute gift of the great Althorp library, the noblest, assumably, of purely private collections. Mr.