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misery. With fatal exaggeration, Octave attitudes of pre-Raphaelite grace; old Mirabeau wrote* of this play: “M. Mau- men, symbolic of experience, wisdom, rice Maeterlinck nous a donné l'æuvre la abstract justice; blind beggars, intoning plus géniale de ce temps, et la plus extraordi- the song of the world-malady; little wise naire et la plus naive aussi, comparable children, whose instinctive divination et-oserai-je le dire ?-supérieure en beauté gives new veracity to the words ex oris à ce qu'il y a de plus beau dans Shakes- infantium. .. There are castles in the peare. plus tragique que Macbeth, depths of haunted forests, fountains playplus extraordinaire en pensée que Hamlet.” ing softly in the misty moonshine of secret Plus, plus, and again plus. Bernard gardens, where errant princesses lose their Shaw delightedly accused even the pre- golden crowns in magic pools, or their cise and careful Archer of conferring the wedding-rings in caverns echoing with “Order of the Swan” (the Swan of Avon) the murmur of the sea. These are pictupon Maeterlinck. There are many sug- ures in which may faintly be traced the gestions of Shakespearean characters in lineaments of humanity; but the figures this little play—Hamlet, Ophelia, Juliet, are dim and confused, more abstract than Lear, the nurse in Romeo and Juliet, and vital. In Pelléas and Mélisande the acLady Macbeth; one rather feels, how- cent is everywhere raised from off the ever, that · M. Maeterlinck is not the human characters and the stress thrown “ Belgian Shakespeare,” but a rather upon forces of a supersensible dreammorbid and immature young man, re- land, beyond the frontier of the natural. interpreting and rehandling the plots and Throughout every scene, in almost every personages of the master-poet, in order speech, there lurks a hidden meaning, to express
himself and his faith in terms so suggestive, so elusive, so profound, that of the psychic chirography of to-day. the unembodied forces of another world Maleine is full of the unnamed terrors of seem to adumbrate and control the desthe Poe of The House of Usher, of ghost- tinies of humanity. Mélisande is a childhaunted regions, of dark, pestilential princess, wedded through no will of her tarns—the Poe of Ulalume and The own to the gaunt, rugged, silent Golaud. Haunted Palace. It is not until M. As soon as Mélisande and the
and Maeterlinck's second, or rather third, handsome Pelléas, Golaud's half-brother, period, is reached that his theories find meet, their mutual insight tells them that plausibly human concretizations.
they are destined for each other. StrugIn Pelléas and Mélisande we have a gle as they will against fate, its coils are play of conventional plot-a modern re- too strong for them and they succumb to vision of the Da Rimini story of Dante- the inevitable call of soul to soul. yet in Maeterlinck's play there is no such Through the little Yniold, his son by a thing as couleur locale, no trace of Italy, former marriage, Golaud learns of Mélifor example, no suggestion of the thir- sande's infidelity, surprises the lovers in teenth century. So distant is the milieu, each other's arms, strikes Pelléas dead, so fanciful is the setting-a pathetic love- and gives Mélisande a mortal wound. story projected against a gloomy back- Throughout the whole play there ground of old, forgotten castles-that we breathes an atmosphere of the most promight almost think of it as taking place found symbolism. Even the simplest out of space and time. It is typical of acts, the merest words of all the characthe plays of this period, peopled with ters, are charged and freighted with symprinces and princesses from No-Man's bolic meaning. The beautiful balcony Land, named after the characters in the episode, suggestive as it may be of Romeo Morte d'Arthur, striking stained-glass and Juliet and Cyrano de Bergerac, is not * Paris Figaro, August 24, 1890.
only cast in exquisite poetic form, but is
animate with tragic significance. The incident of the flight of Mélisande's doves, the fluttering of her hair to her lover's To M. Maeterlinck, as both his plays lips, the loss of the wedding-ring, the and essays affirm, tragedy to-day is of cave scene, and the clandestine meetings necessity of a different cast from the beyond the walls of the castle loom large tragedy of the past. Speaking of his art, , with hidden import. Nowhere is the Ibsen once significantly said: “We are novel dramatic method of M. Maeter- no longer living in the time of Shakeslinck more manifest than in this play, in peare. However he may have carried that he causes nature in its faintest move- his theory out, at least Gerhart Hauptment to coöperate with the thoughts and mann has said: “Action upon the stage deeds of the characters in suggesting the will, I think, give way to the analysis of overshadowing dominance of the divinity character and to the exhaustive considerwhich shapes our ends.
ation of the motives which prompt men In all the love-dramas—“Alladine and to act. Passion does not move at such Palomides,” “Pelléas and Mélisande,” headlong speed as in Shakespeare's day, and “Aglavaine and Sélysette”—the mood so that we present not the actions themis ever individualistic, symptomatic of the selves, but the psychological states which modern thinker. The action, simple cause them.” Maeterlinck believes that to the verge of bareness, is but a the bold bloodshed and gaudy theatricism frail framework through and beyond of the conventional drama of the past which we gaze into the depths of the must be replaced by psychic suggestion human soul. Maeterlinck
to and the silent conflicts of the soul in this throw some faint gleams of light into the modern day of analysis and introspection. dark pool where humanity has lost its The “character in action” of a Shakesgolden crown. The march of events is peare will be superseded by the inverted but a passing show, life is a tiny oasis in “action in character” of a Maeterlinck. an illimitable desert, a narrow vale be- Or, to be more precise, life reveals its tween two eternities. The characters meaning to us only in static moments, in do not bring things to pass; they are set the passive intervals of our life. “It is in a magic maze of tragic destinies: no longer a violent, exceptional moment through them are ever sweeping the im- of life that passes before our eyes-it is pelling forces of the universe. Action is life itself. Thousands and thousands of but the simulacrum, emotion is eternal laws there are, mightier and more venerreality. Deeds are but the evanescent able than those of passion. ... It is expression of the temporary, feelings are only in the twilight that they can be seen the vital concretization of immortal truth. and heard, in the meditation that comes
The realities, the crises of life, are found to us at the tranquil moments of life.” in silence and in sadness: “sunt lacrimae Maeterlinck's ideal mood is static: he rerum.” Across the stage with dominant would relegate the dynamic, the violent, step strides no vital, tremendous, self- to the ages of whose life it was the countercaptained soul, incarnate with the deep- part. He protests against this false anaseated elements of religion and Christian chronism which dominates the stage to morality. Love is ever the fleeting vic- such an extent that dramatic art dates tim, wantonly broken upon the wheel of back as many years as the art of sculpfate. The characters, one and all, sol- ture. He cites modern examples of the emnly acknowledge the supremacy of art of painting to prove that Varius tridestiny and morally acquiesce in its de- umphing over the Cimbrians, or the ascrees. The call of soul to soul cannot sassination of the Duke of Guise is no be disregarded: the forces of Love and longer the type. The drama is no longer Chance conspire in the tragic dénouement. dependent upon the exhibition of violent
convulsions of life: “Does the soul flower touch, almost in communion, with anonly on nights of storm?” It is only other world. Such stuff as dreams are when man is at rest that we have time to made of, they stand with arms outstretchobserve him. “To me, Othello does not ed towards the ambient immensities, the appear to live the august daily life of infinite mysteries of life and time In Hamlet, who has time to live, inasmuch permeating these dramas with mysticism, as he does not act. Othello is admirably Maeterlinck has made an original conjealous. But is it not perhaps an ancient tribution to our time. A mystic may be error to imagine that it is at the moments imperfectly defined as one who seeks to when this passion, or others of equal vio- realize the hidden, unspoken mysteries lence, possess us, that we live our true of life, to tear aside the veil between the lives? I have grown to believe that an seen and the unseen, to bring mankind old man, seated in his arm-chair, waiting into close communion with the superpatiently, with his lamp beside him, natural, to cross the frontiers of the ungiving unconscious ear to all the eternal knowable. He would realize in his own laws that reign about his house, interpret- person the inscrutable workings of Deity, ing, without comprehending, the silence he would lay strong hands upon the very of doors and windows and the quivering passport of the soul. M. Maeterlinck voice of the light, submitting with bent has sought to embody and vitalize his head to the presence of his soul and his philosophy of mysticism in dramatic form. destiny-an old man who is conscious not It is not so much what his characters do that all the powers of this world, like so as what they feel; he is not dealing with many heedful servants, are mingling and the glorious freedom of the individual to keeping vigil in his room, who suspects fashion his own life, but with the undernot that the very sun itself is supporting current of fate that penetrates the regions in space the little table against which he of his inner consciousness, directing and leans, or that every star in heaven and controlling the frail bark of human life. every fiber of the soul are directly con- Delicate studies of psychic states, of atcerned in the movement of an eyelid that mospheric, impalpable yet decisively actcloses or a thought that springs to birth, ive agencies impressing themselves upon I have
grown to believe that he, motion- the human soul, of death as an almost less as he is, does yet live in reality a deep- personal influence in its collision with er, more human, and more universal life humanity—all these things are the revethan the lover who strangles his mistress, lation of Maeterlinck, the mystic. the captain who conquers in battle, or 'the husband who avenges his honor.”
M. Maeterlinck's hope for the drama The plays of M. Maeterlinck interlies in the paralysis of material action and vening between “Aglavaine and Sélyinsistence upon the methods of the static sette” and “Monna Vanna” possess no theater he proposes: only thus will it be marked significance either in the developpossible to penetrate deeply into human ment of his art or the evolutional trend consciousness. His first little plays, of his philosophy: “ Ardiane et Barbe strange reflections of unusual états d'ame- Bleu ” derives its significance from its subare couched in the language of children and jectively explanatory nature: Mr. Hale octogenarians; the dialogue spoken is correctly describes it as a sort of commensymptomatic of the simplicity of infancy tary. Marchbanks in “Candida” subor senescence. If his characters have tly insists that nothing that 's worth sayno dominant will or great purpose prompt- ing is proper. Ardiane, in Maeterlinck's ing their actions, but are quiescent, ab- play, insists that of all the keys which sent-minded, non-resistant,-all the more Bluebeard has given her, the one forfor this reason do they seem in close bidden is the only one of value. Truth
lies not on the beaten path of humanity, laws of nature. Its sole result is an inbut in the secret recesses of the soul, fast ternal equilibrium, the balance of the locked by the force of worldly authority, conscience, which furnishes the best convention, tradition, and prudery. condition in which we may enjoy material This is the lesson, the doctrine, so mag- well-being.” It is this sense of innate nificently exemplified in “Monna Vanna.” and eternal justice which leads the poet
This play seemed to mark a turning in D'Annunzio's “Gioconda” to desert point in M. Maeterlinck's career. Was his wife and cleave only to his spiritual it, the critics asked, a typical Maeterlinck affinity. Marchbanks defiantly asserts play which approximated nearer than his spiritual possession of “Candida." usual to the modern drama, or the index Max Stirner rhapsodically declared: “My of a permanent revolution in literary truth is the truth.” Nietzsche transmethods ? Discussion of the sort must valuated all moral values beyond good be quieted by M. Maeterlinck's own and evil. Justice, like truth, is in ourstatement that he wrote this play for his selves; each one can see and worship it wife. His marriage, as Mr. Huneker within himself. As Mr. Hale, says: “Real says, accelerated his evolution from mys- justice appears beautiful in Marco; real tic to philosopher of reality: the necessity morality in Vanna; real love in Prinzior pleasure of writing a rôle suitable to valle. Such people will understand each his wife, a gifted actress, doubtless caused other even if everybody else holds them him to create that magnificent specimen of worse than fools or knaves. Those who dauntless womanhood, Giovanna, wife of want to live at a higher level must be satColonna, and called by him Monna Vanna. isfied with very few companions." In
The import of all great modern phil- the end we must revert to Ibsen: the osophy, of much modern drama, is the minority is always right; the strongest
There is a secret and abstract man is he who is most alone. justice, a sphere of ethical equity outside If “Monna Vanna” enforces the lesson of and above the domain of law, conven- of abstract justice, “Joyzelle" celebrates tion and authority. The arbiter of hu- the final authority of love-perfect, eterman conduct should be, not the merciless nal, true. In the words of M. Maeteron dit of the world, but the mystical sense linck: “It represents the triumph of will of justice deep-rooted in the conscious- and love over destiny or fatality, as against ness of the race. To the question: Which the converse lesson of ‘Monna Vanna.' of two forces which work within us, the Through Arielle, his subliminal self, one natural, the other ethical, is the more Merlin has learned to realize “his intenatural and necessary? M. Maeterlinck rior force, the forgotten power that slumwould answer, according to Signor Lor- bers in every soul.” It is thus that, like enzo Ratto: “The great ideas of human- Marco in “Monna Vanna,” he is enabled ity belong to the species, not to the in- to “see into the life of things”: for the dividual. Justice is perhaps an instinct sake of those he loves, “ he would be cruel whose tendency is the defence and con- only to be kind.” In enlarging, in develservation of humanity. Ideal justice is oping our activities, as Novalis has it, we innate and is transformed by reason and are transformed into fatality. M. Maewill into moral force. Justice is within terlinck has only sought to do a little ourselves; outside of us is infinite in- sooner what others will do later, when the justice, which may rather be called jus- soul, in obedience to unknown laws, will tice incomplete, because exposed to all rise to the very surface of humanity. the errors and modifications which result “Let us wait in silence; perhaps ere long from clashing interests. While we are we shall be conscious of 'the murmur of benefited by following the dictates of the gods.”” this inner voice, its influence cannot ex
ARCHIBALD HENDERSON. tend to our surroundings and modify the Chapel Hill, N. C.