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may admire the reticence imposed by a "passing" upon Mr Scott's easy style.
But the truth is-we must state it frankly-Mr Scott has neither knowledge of, nor interest in, the drama. He has been a dramatic critic for forty years, and his enthusiasm is purely personal. Now, the drama, in the actor's despite, is a possible form of art which, though it is moribund to-day, may perhaps revive. But Mr Scott neither knows nor cares anything about it. To cover Sir Henry's retreat, he declares that "actors who have reached the topmost rung of the ladder have never been remarkable for elocutionary excellence, but the reverse. If that be true of England, it is true of no other country, and it explains the mad success of the Music-Halls. any rate, it is typical of Mr Scott's method: there is no problem of the stage of which he offers even a tentative solution. For instance, the paradox of Diderot might perhaps have engrossed him, he might have wondered whether the actor does or does not feel the emotions he is bound to portray. But he merely begs the question in a paragraph. "It is only your insensitive and often indifferent actor," says Mr Scott, "who can instantly break away from chaff and conversation and begin acting somebody else." Has Mr Scott ever been in the actor's foyer of the Comédie Française? Has he ever heard of Kean's exclamation to his son when they were playing Othello, "We're knocking 'em, Charley"? Has it ever occurred
to him that a mummer who felt all that Hamlet felt would die a natural death after ten representations? No, none of these things have ever occurred to him. Pitt perished with the Austerlitz look upon his face. An actor might act Pitt a thousand times, Austerlitz look and all, and never die of the enterprise. And Mr Scott's long experience might have taught him that to counterfeit a sentiment by mechanical means is not the same as to feel your frame shaken by that sentiment. But Mr Scott is content to consult "the Lyceum Knight," or another, and the actor is always resolute to prove that the emotions of his part are his own. The vanity is natural, for if you be not a king, it is passing pleasant to pretend that for two hours you not only acted but felt like a king.
Again, there is another point of the drama which Mr Scott might have elucidated. What part should scenery play in the economy of the stage? Of the three elements which go to make a play, which is the greatest-the dramatist, the actor, the carpenter? Had Mr Scott been a real critic, he might have found abundant material for a judgment. He has seen Charles Kean of whom Douglas Jerrold declared, when they told him that Mr Kean had elevated the drama, "So he has; he has hung it it on a clothes' peg." He has revered the grandiose productions of "the Lyceum Knight.' But Mr Scott expresses no opinion;
an OX is upon his tongue,
decorate; or he takes hold of a musical comedy, and adorns it on an equal scale. In either case his work is the same— elaborate and inappropriate, while his interpretation leaves out of sight the original drama, which it is his business to act. The servant, in fact, has become the master, and all things are topsy-turvy. As one of the triumvirate grows large the others decrease, and while the actor is a colossus, the dramatist has become a dwarf. It is like the monkey and the barrelorgan; the larger the monkey, the smaller the organ. But the actor, who now believes himself a king of his art, has a serious danger ahead. He depends entirely upon his carpenter, and who knows? the carpenter may rise in his wrath and declare that he-and not
All the same, the question is the actor-is the real author worth asking: How do the of the piece. He would be playwright, the actor, and the as well justified as his master, carpenter divide the stage? and doubtless the public would The answer, which is obvious, back him, for the public loves seems a paradox in these days brick and mortar far more than of scenic effect. Of course, the poetry. play comes first, and for the play's interpretation the actor and carpenter are mere hirelings. If they perform their work of interpretation efficiently, they have done all that is expected of them. We know little, and care less, of the men who interpreted Sophocles, or Shakespeare, or Racine. The plays remain; the actors long ago sunk into the oblivion which is wont to overtake them. But nowadays that is all changed. The modern actor patronises Shakespeare, whom he is kind enough to
But the carpenter is the drama's worst enemy. The actor may misinterpret the play which is entrusted to him, the carpenter destroys it. For the essence of the stage is illusion. The men and women who walk the boards speak a dialect which the world knows not, and act rather in accordance with convention than with nature. The rooms in which they disport themselves are obviously not rooms; the lofty castles which frown upon their misdeeds are not castles at all; and the more clearly the car
penter realises the scene, so much the more he detracts from the illusion of the stage. All — writing, acting, decoration-must be kept in the same atmosphere if the result is to impose upon the spectator. But this is what the dramatic critic refuses to understand; and as for the actor, he determined when he went into management to revise Shakespeare, and he has raised up for himself a monster before which Frankenstein himself might have shuddered. As it stands, it is a pretty triangular duel, and we don't much care which wins. We merely desire to record the fact that Mr Scott is so engrossed in the sentimental admiration of the mummer, that he has never been able to take a sincere interest in the stage.
tesque. No doubt he keeps the
None the less Mr Archer is
However, all dramatic critics are not as Clement Scott. Mr William Archer, for instance, is the 'Daily Telegraph's' antithesis.1 It is impossible to imagine Mr Archer addressing his colleague as "dear old Clemay." For Mr Archer is austere, erudite, and philosophical. Why or how he became a dramatic critic is one of the secrets which will never be revealed, and it is obvious that he takes no stock in the Bohemian familiarity so dear to Mr Scott. On the contrary, he judges all the poor little plays which he is asked to witness with an intelligent Of Mr Walkley it is easier gravity which is almost gro- to speak.2 For Mr Walkley
1 Study and Stage. By William Archer. London Grant Richards.
is a pert echo of the French. He believes that he is a disciple of M. Lemaître, a sorry Philistine; but really he is a willing pupil of that amiable bourgeois the late M. Sarcey. And, like his master, he can quote Aristotle, can Mr Walkley, and in the original Greek. So that he is well equipped to pass judgment on Mr Pinero. Yet we cannot but regret his vocation. He is not a very good critic of the drama, and we feel that his facile wit and quick perception might have carried him further on the road of success than the halfhearted appreciation of secondrate plays will ever carry him. His admirers have called him the
modern Lamb, which, of course, he is not; but he is an intelligent journalist who is far above the work which his journals ask him to perform. Of course, for all his French and Greek, he has not the grasp of principles nor the wide reading which Mr Archer throws away upon an ungrateful task; but if only there were a theatre to criticise- who knows? - Mr Walkley might acquit himself moderately well. However, our English theatre has found in Mr Clement Scott precisely the critic which it deserved, and it is a thousand pities that ungrateful actors have permitted him to leave the " good old Strand" and cross the Atlantic.
WHO RIDETH UPON THE WINGS OF THE WIND."
My God, who makest all Thy winds to blow,
Thanks be to Thee that this is so!
Thy sharp-wheel'd chariot from the shuddering East
And every man and every trembling beast
Must cry to Thee to cease,
And give them peace:
But Thou, who lovest, heedest not their moan.
Disease sits crouching there,
A foul and spotted thing, more dreadful than the dead! And when Thine East wind rides
Over her shrinking sides
She shrieks and cowers, and all her hideous power is fled !
Yea, call Thy fierce East wind and bid it blow,
And Thine the stormy breath of the far North,
Proud conquerors, to pile the cloudy sky
But lo! Thy gentle snows descend, and keep
In a soft sleep,
Feeding the secret sources of the year's appointed birth.
Yea, call Thy strong North wind and bid it blow,