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discuss "the immense talent and originality" of "the Lyceum Knight," for instance, is not obviously hazardous, and we still wonder where, our hero fought the fights to which he refers with so noble a sentiment. To descend to plain prose, Mr Clement Scott has been more fortunate than most: he has reached a pinnacle of fame to which his talents hardly entitle him. Editors have never refused his copy, and now his merits are publicly celebrated in a monument, confected by himself, of some thousand pages. More, he conMore, he confesses that the public, with a constancy worthy of Mrs Micawber, has never deserted him! And as for the profession, which by the way he loves, "I leave it and its professors," he explains with splendid scorn, "one and all to their own conscience. I have helped them more than they have helped me. I never turned against them." What, then, is the trouble? Did Mr Scott find at last that the adjectives of adulation failed him? We do not think so, since, being always thrifty of his style, Mr Scott never shrank from giving to one actor the praise he had manufactured for another. "And but herself admits no parallel❞—this useful phrase does duty for a round dozen, and it is not much trouble to repeat when once its pertinence is assured. Why, then, did Mr Scott quarrel with all those whom he had covered with the flattery of forty years? Alas! he does not tell us. His reminiscences furnish no evidence of
malice, and assuredly his enemies are foolish as well as ungrateful. For without doubt Mr Scott is the best friend that the actor ever had.
But from end to end of the book you may recognise a kind of discomfort. The great critic is, as he would say, no laudator temporis acti-he, too, likes his Latin tag; but his utterances contradict him. Somewhere or other there is a "rift within the lute." In the good old days, when at the Arundel Club you might enjoy "a chat with some of the jolliest and cheeriest fellows in the world," a general spirit of loyalty was abroad. "So it used to be; so it will be again before long. All "the jolly fellows" " sang each other's praises, and were ready at a moment's notice with help or compliment. Logrolling, in fact, was in fashion long before its name was invented, and seems to have vanished from the world, so says Mr Scott, very soon after its formal discovery. And Mr Scott regrets it. He cannot bear to disappear from his pedestal as his idols disappear from theirs. He sighs for the days when Tom Robertson and Byron (not the author of of "Don Juan," of course) were universally accepted as men of genius. For he lived in the sunshine of their smiles, and caught in the act of appreciation a flash of their notorious brilliance. But nowadays the harsh world has turned its face even from Robertson, and only too few are found to agree with Mr Scott that Harry Greenbank
Scott is sad, and persuaded to believe that the world decays. However, one quality Mr Scott possesses more highly developed than any man of his generation. His sentimentality is never in doubt. If the public has never deserted him, he has never deserted the public. Indeed, he worships the people, or such of it as haunts the pit, with a constant heart. "I love to hear the people laugh over a good comedy," he says in his jovial way; and you are quite sure he does. Whatever we may think of his head, there can be no kind of doubt that Clement Scott's heart is in the right place. None of your tragic endings for him, none of your psychological introspection, none of your Mrs Tanquerays with their shady pasts! Give him a good old cup-and-saucer comedy, and a long night afterwards with "the cheeriest fellows in the world.” That's the sort of man he is! He desires to make everybody happy, to flatter everybody, to take the kindest possible view of human infirmity. But the actors won't let him. "They They want such a lot of praise," he complains, and it is easy to recognise a genuine cry from the heart. They do want a lot of praise; and if Clement Scott doesn't satisfy them, then no man ever will. Such,
in fact, is the tragedy of the dramatic critic's career. Mr Scott cares nothing for the drama, and very little for the stage; the smell of sawdust and oranges does not excite him. But he adores the actor and the
actress. If ever a man was stage - struck, that man is Clement Scott. Why he was not a mummer himself, we do not know. Maybe he believed, in sincere humility, that he was not worthy to follow the great calling. Maybe his voice and his presence did not support his ambition. But from the first he took the romantic view of the profession, as his friends call it, and he firmly believed that all the women on the stage were virtuous, and all the men miracles of courage. To enter a green-room must have seemed heaven to his enraptured imagination; to sit at the same table with "dear old Johnny or "the clever little manageress was, it appears, the end of his desire. And how dreary it all is! If ever there was a craft whose practitioners should live apart and be no more known when their work is done, it is the craft of the stage. For, while actors are all alike, they are disqualified by their temperament for general intercourse. When in the old days they were cloistered by prejudice, they were assuredly better actors, and probably better men; at any rate, their faults were not so egregiously advertised as they are to-day. In the first place, the mummer is everywhere a familiar figure; he earns his bread by exposing himself to view. view. He cannot walk in the street without being recognised, and by a perverse reasoning he concludes that recognition is a proof of greatness. To be known, says he, is to be a man of genius, and on this insecure
basis he establishes a vast colossus of vanity. In the second place, the mummer, if he be distinguished in his craft, must always possess more temperament than intelligence. It is his business to act (in the strict sense), not to think, and the result is that his knowledge of men and things is generally bounded by play - bills on the one hand, by press-cuttings on the other. He is, therefore, seldom a cheerful companion to those who do not belong to his own class. Lack of intelligence, combined with an overweening vanity, might appear insuperable obstacles, yet modern society has taken them in its stride, with the consequence that actors and actresses are no longer rogues by Act of Parliament, but men and women like the rest of us. It sounds a platitude; it is really a paradox. For actors and actresses, for all their good qualities, are seldom, if ever, men or women. Their vanity has no better justification than a narrow gift of imitation; their wealth (it is vast) comes so easily to hand that they esteem themselves wiser and wittier than the rest of mankind. But they are not, and their childlike arrogance puts them outside the pale of humanity.
And as their vanity has an insufficient basis, so it produces an ineffectual result. The mummer lives only in the adulation of Mr Clement Scott and his colleagues. When he has sought the solace of retirement, his work is not only done but done with. Nor is there the smallest hardship in this.
The applause which the actor wins is louder and stronger than the applause that greets the poet, the general, or the statesman. But it is compressed within a smaller space; it is, so to say, an extract of popularity's beef; and when once it is swallowed, there is, or there should be, an end of it. However, Mr Scott does not take this view of the mummer's profession. No sooner has a man acted than in our critic's eyes a halo glitters on his brow. And the halo continues to glitterstill in the critic's eyes-long after the mummer has laid aside his transitory work. There is something almost pathetic in Mr Scott's ingenuous admiration. He loves all actors, even though he has never seen them, and he speaks of them all in such terms as would seem extravagant if applied to Homer, Shakespeare, or William Pitt. Indeed, he ascribes to them all the virtues and qualities of all the characters they have ever played; and if perchance they personate a villain, that is a proof not of wickedness but of versatility. So it is that anything which relates to the stage affects Mr Scott more poignantly than the affairs of the State. For instance, it was "under a burning sun in Egyptian desert that he heard the news of Fred Leslie's death. It fell upon him "with a thud and a shock." Fred Leslie dead! "I could think of nothing else," he writes. "My companions shook off the intelligence with feeling words of regret; they were busy pointing out the battle - fields of Tel-el-Kebir
have excellent reason to be proud of the Victorian era of Dramatic Art." We havethere's no doubt about that; and here we discover Clement Scott's talent. He can appreciate once he has sat at the
and the scene of the midnight atmosphere of the playhouse, charge at Kassassin. They tried to rouse me from an inevitable stupor of melancholy. Don't you want to see the actual scene of your own poem, "The Midnight Charge'? they asked me as I sat moodily in a corner of the carriage, gazing, eternally gazing, over the desert, and thinking of home and the dead artist! No, they could not rouse me." How, indeed, should they? They had never sat in Box 14 and heard the immortal glee, "The Moon has got his Trousers on." Not even the reference to that famous poem, "The Midnight Charge (a subtle, sly touch that), availed to move Clement Scott from his reverie. Empire and warfare, save that warfare waged in Fleet Street, are ridiculous when "one of the greatest artists of our time" is dead. Such is the anecdote which gives us the best measure of our critic. As we have said, if ever a man was stage-struck, that man is he who once did the theatres for the 'Daily Telegraph.'
Ah! how he has loved the stage! What panegyrics he has composed of the actors! Yet not even his erudition has driven him aside from the praise of his own country. Though he has always been the champion of free-trade, though he has welcomed the talent of Fechter, Delaunay, and Sarah Bernhardt, his heart has ever been "true to his Poll." It is London which is the real home of art. But again he shall speak in his own words. "We who love the drama, the dramatists, the players, the very
same board with "dear old Johnnie," or the inimitable tragedian, he knows precisely where to lay his hand upon genius. And he approaches genius, as he should, hat in hand. To repeat what he says about Sir Henry Irving, for instance, would be impossible. It is panegyric, doubly distilled. We verily believe that whenever he thinks of this great man he drops involuntarily upon his knees. But his practice is uniform; he praises them all. Here, for example, is a dainty appreciation of Miss Ellen Terry: "Whereas in the delight and joy of temperament, in the irresistible impulse of individuality, in her beauty, grace, and captivating allurement, in the gentle sway of her queen-like qualities, and the peerlessness of her reign over the hearts of men and women alike, the stage of no country in the wide world has ever seen another Ellen Terry.'
Quaeris Alcidae parem? nemo est nisi ipse."
"And but herself admits no parallel." That of course is putting it strong. We who have seen Miss Terry a hundred times may well wonder what it all means. But it means nothing,—it is merely a vague and wandering expression of personal enthusiasm. Mr Scott
seems to believe that mummers are not the servants but the masters of Drama, and SO he worships them all. "Marie Bancroft (Lady Bancroft)" - don't forget the bracket-"stands unrivalled." They all stand unrivalled. Never was genius so frank and free lavished upon any other profession. You have but to walk into the first green-room that comes, and you will find the fine flower of England. There is nothing these heroes and heroines cannot accomplish. They can write, they can govern, they can instruct the people. In brief, they are demigods, not men and women. Who wrote Tennyson's drama "Becket"? We have always thought that the work came from the pen of the Laureate. Not a bit of it. It was only "possible" when it had passed through the hands of the "craftsman," and it is unnecessary to mention the name of that craftsman even in an undertone. But they are all equally endowed-Sir Squire, Mr Wyndham (why not Sir Charles?), Lady Bancroft, Mr Tree (why not Sir Herbert?), Mr Leno (why not Sir Dan?), and if ever any one of them needs a panegyric, why, he knows where to get it.
Of course to produce this effect of sugar, dashed here and there with vinegar, Mr Scott has employed a style of his own. He has attempted nothing less than to put his great heart upon paper. The sentimentality, which wells up within him the moment he enters a green-room, can only be expressed in honeyed
eloquence. So he is forced to use a kind of baby language. He proves his admiration by diminutives and Christian names, a trick which brings us to the sad conclusion that the whole stage is beset by a tiresome familiarity. For instance, Mr Scott counted among his friends "Willie Mathews, son of the brave and bright and cheery champion, Mr Charley. The "artistic Bancrofts rarely march without the otiose epithet. Islington is always preceded by the obvious adjective. The Haymarket is "the dear old oblong theatre." Need we say that the playhouse of his early predilection was “the merry little Strand"? And of course "the clever little
manageress explains herself. Should this gallant gentleman mention the ladies, is he not forced to interpolate "God bless them!" Of course he is, and the marvel is that he never lowers his tone through thousand pages. If a common man dies, well he dies, and his friends grieve over his loss. If a mummer dies, there is an immediate opportunity for sentimentality. If the mummer be a lady, it is a broken heart that carried her off. Why broken, Mr Scott, why broken? If the mummer be a man, the sentiment is different, but no less profound. "The same kindly heart," says Mr Scott, "was as deeply touched when Johnny Toole, whilst acting at Manchester, heard of the passing of Charles Mathews." At any other moment it would have been "Charley," and we