« ZurückWeiter »
brother, her child, and herself. He wherein they make Faust express his plays with the utmost possible success intention of pursuing a life of benefiupon the passion, prejudice, and inhu- cence, in the threefold form of sickmanity of man. What ensues on the nursing, engineering, and peace propaother side is entirely arbitrary and de- ganda. It may be possible to reconvoid of dramatic logic. The redemp- cile this conception with the “Leitmotion of Margaret implies that heaven is tif”—arguing that if Mephistopheles a little less cruel than earth, but it is had not thrown Margaret in Faust's in no sense a result of Mephistopheles' path he would never have had the action. Margaret would presumably strength to work out his own salvation. have gone to heaven even if she had But what are we to think of the dranot been seduced. She arrives there, matic, or even the moral, value of this in effect, not because Mephistopheles' batiling of the powers of evil, in the policy defeated itself (as the "Leitmo- last three minutes of the play, through tif" would require) but because Faust's mere expression of a desire to higher power intervened to defeat it. reform? Mephistopheles might aptly As for Faust, the idea which most peo- have quoted an adage which must bave ple seem to carry away from stage- been tolerably familiar to him—"Hell versions of the play is that he is saved is paved with good intentions." Read through the superabundant merits, or it how we may, and manipulate it how the intercession, or, quite vaguely, we may, the ethical significance of the through the “love," of Margaret. This action remains either utterly false or idea of the redemption of man through hopelessly obscure. This is what the intinite devotion of woman became comes of presenting, in the hard light a commonplace of romanticism and of the theatre, snippets from a great haunted the mind even of Ibsen in his patchwork phantasmagory of poetry, romantic period. If it is to be ac. metaphysics, and caprice. cepted, we may find in it a certain At His Majesty's, then, we have the justification of Mr. Tree's "Leitmotif”; seduction-story robbed of its exquisite for in making Margaret the victim of lyric vesture; the philosophy reduced Faust, Mephistopheles provided him to meaningless shreds and tatters; and with the intercessor who was ulti- the good old mediæval diablerie helped mately to rescue him, and thus "willing out by the mechanical appliances of the the evil, achieved the good.” But the modern stage. This it is, without a idea of the redemption of the man doubt, which renders Faust perennially thro!igh the woman does not seem to attractive to the great child-public, and be Goethe's idea at all. It would ap
correspondingly irritating to those who pear to be founded on a misunderstand- have, in a theatrical sense, arrived at ing (not inexcusable, I admit) of the years of discretion. I confess myself last scene of the Second Part of Faust. one of these unhappy persons. "No Ilie one thing quite certain is that the more, no more, ah, nevermore, on me,” angels who bear Faust's immortal part shall Mr. Tree, in scarlet, posing in a to heaven ascribe his salvation to ruby limelight, produce the slightest ilworks, not to grace:
1 May it be mine to watch the couch of
To him that faints in cities to bring dew, Wer immer strebend sich bemüht,
To drain the marshland, circumscribe the Den können wir erlösen.
And warring peoples to persuade to peace.
It is noteworthy that these lines do not ocAnd this, oddly enough, is the view of cur in the printed book, but only in Mr. Tree's
manifesto; and they are certainly spoken on the matter explicitly adopted by Messrs. the stage. They would seem then to be an l'hillips and Carr in their adaptation,
afterthought -- an attempt to rationalize a
transaction felt to be hopelessly obscure. VOL. XLI.
lusion of Satanic Majesty, or even of dition, liberally and ably, indeed, but diabolic cynicism and wit.
with no innovation of much importance. of terms can express the indifference The production is neither better nor with which I see Mephistopheles Worse than Sir Henry Irving's: it "shrink and cower” at sight of the stands on the same plane of theatrical Cross, or close his ears and dance about art. There was, indeed, a certain novin agony at the sound of the church- elty in the attempt to convey some bells. (Does Mr. Tree perform the lat- slight suggestion of the Prologue in ter manæuvre? I really forget. It Heaven; but its pictorial effect, poor at was one of Sir Henry Irving's greatest best, was fatally marred by the seleceffects, and there seems to be no reason tion of three charming young ladies to why Mr. Tree should eschew it.) La represent the Archangels Raphael, Gadlles spilling flames, pens and swords briel, and Michael. Surely, surely sparkling with electricity, witches rid- something better than this might have ing through the air, showers of glit- been attempted. For those scenes and tering gold-foil, and even transparen- for all the supernatural passages in cies in which lovely ladies recline in the play, Mr. Tree might have sought picture post-card attitudes—all these inspiration from two sources—one dead portents and marvels leave me inex- and one living--William Blake and Mr. pressibly cold. But the public de- Gordon Craig. I am no unqualified adlights in them, and I am far from quar- mirer of Mr. Craig's methods; but it is relling with its innocent pleasure. I precisely in such a production as this am only trying, in a spirit of scien- that they are undeniably applicable. tific curiosity to discover why an en- We must, on the whole, look to our tertainment of such respectable parent laurels in the matter of stage-mounting. age and such proved fascination for Time was when in this branch of art the masses, should be so very much the we were unquestionably in advance of reverse of fascinating to people who all our neighbors. But of late years look for a certain amount of intellectual (partly through the influence of Mr. satisfaction in their theatre-going. Craig) Germany and even Italy have
In the matter of mounting, Mr. Tree gone ahead of us. has simply followed the Lyceum tra
William Archer. The Fortnightly Review.
SALLY: A STUDY.
cried Miss Mabel Le Mesurier, atut. “Why are you crying? Only babies thirteen, throwing back her mass of cry."
ruddy golden hair with a shake of her “Go away!"
pretty head. "How dare you say such
wicked words! Where do you suppose Baby, baby bunting!
that you will go to when you die il Father's gone a-hunting;
you swear like that? If I were to tell Mother's gone to get a skin,
father he would whip you." To wrap the baby bunting in!
"Xo, he wouldn't,” said Saleh say“Go away! Damn you! I hate agely. you!"
"Yes, he would." “Oh, you naughty, shocking boy!" "He wouldn't dare, because I should
kill him,” said Saleh, with the calmness of utter conviction, while the tears still stood upon his face.
“You couldu't kill my dad if you tried ever so, he is much too big and strong and brave, so there; but he would beat you worse than anything if he heard the awful wicked things you say.".
“Go away! I hate you!"
"I shan't go away. This is my garden-house, not yours. I shall stay here just as long as I like. You are a lorrid little savage blackamoor, that's what you are, or you wouldn't be so dreadfully rude and wicked.”
“I'm not rude and wicked and a blackamoor,” (ried poor Saleh, throwing his arms across the little rustic table before him, and sinking his head face downward between them. "I'm unhappy, and I hate everybody, and I wish I
dead." His shoulders heaved with a fresh paroxysm of sobs.
Mabel stood looking at him thoughtfully, biting at the corner of her blue pinafore the while. She was a tenderhearted little woman, and she had come there to comfort, not to aggravate, Saleh's sorrows. She had only given way to her natural instinct when she had derided his unmauly tears. She had not intended to hurt him wantonly. Now she stepped nearer to him, and laid a tiny grubby hand upon his shoulder. He shook it off with an irritable shrug, but she declined to take offence.
"Don't cry, Sally. Dear Sally, don't cry," she whispered. “Tell me what's the matter. Why do you hate every and why do you say
such naughty, wicked things?”
For a time Saleh strove sullenly to repel her advances; but her persistency and his own craving for sympathy at last prevailed, so presently he found himself telling her, brokenly, inarticulately, for the strange tongue still fettered his thought, the story of his misery. To the little girl more than half of what be said was unintelligible, for
the things that most irked this oriental boy were to her matters of course, to which custom had inured her from babyhood. Also Saleh, apart from the difficulty he experienced in giving form to his ideas, discovered that it was one thing to be acutely conscious of a sensation, and a wholly different matter to describe that feeling in words. But the little girl, with the ready sympathy that belongs to womenkind, even to womenkind in the bud, listened to his halting explanations, and made no sign when she failed to follow the meaning which they were intended to convey, while Saleh was aware of a sensible al. leviation of his trouble, merely because he had met with someone who was willing to listen to him kindly, someone of whom he was not shy.
The sharp pangs of homesickness had become numbed into a dull ache; the awful fear with which this world of white men had at first inspired him had passed away; in his new home he was treated with kindness, and he no longer felt it necessary to stand on the defensive, no longer had the panicstricken sensations of a trapped animal. None the less his surroundings were utterly uncongenial to him. Their iron regularity oppressed him. The household was as punctual as a nicely adjusted piece of clockwork, and he, who had never been taught the value of time, chafed at the extravagant importance which the Le Mesuriers attached to never being so much as a minute late for meals, play, or lessons. Then discipline-another thing entirely new to him-had come to the ordering of his days. Each hour marked for the special use to which it was to be put. To Saleh this was the veriest tyranny,-the tyranny of the slave-driver,—and he felt himself to be covered with ignominy because he was obliged to submit to it. Then, too, this world of the white men seemed to be ruled by ideas, abstractions, which pre
viously had had no meaning to him. Mr. Le Mesurier was perpetually putting his son George, and Saleh with him, upon their “honor" to do this, that, or the other, and George would turn upon Saleh, calling him a "cad" with the bitterest contempt, if he sought to break through the impalpa. ble barriers thus arbitrarily set up. Saleh, who in common with most Malays had a keen desire to stand well in the estimation of his fellows, did not want to be looked upon as a "cad,” but he could not for the life of him understand why Mr. Le Mesurier, of whose general wisdom he was profoundly convinced, had the wanton folly to put trust in any one. Then also he had made the acquaintance of another obscure thing called “Duty." He was constantly being told that it was his duty to do this or that; or it was declared that duty required of him that he should abstain from doing something upon which his heart was set. Here was a notion which as yet was altogether beyond his powers of comprehension; but the children about hidi accepted it as a matter of course, and were obviously ill at ease, and out of conceit with themselves, when they succumbed to the temptation to sin against its precepts. Those other ab. stractions, "Right" and "Wrong," were a perpetual puzzle to him. In his own country he had been used to hear of things that were pâtut or ta' pâtut-fitting or not fitting-but they had been largely questions of good or bad taste, matters of opinion dependent upon the point of view of the individual. Among white men, however, Saleh discovered, to his astonishment, that they were bard-and-fast categories into which actions were divided past all possibility of debate, and the simple answer, "It would not be right," sufficed in most cases to deter his new comrades from participating in the most tempting pleasures. Once again, for the life of
him, he could not understand it. When he had suggested to George that indulgence in a certain vice-a vice for which in his father's court men and women mainly lived—would relieve the tedium of their studies, the English boy had looked upon him with horror, had threatened to "knock his head off" if he talked like that again, and had shown him with true British bluntness bow unfathomable was his disgust.
Honor, duty, morality-straitening things which seemed to clog the feet of liberty, as Saleh had always understood it—had come upon him suddenly, new ideas difficult to assimilate, and in their own fashion more numbing to the brain, more paralyzing, more appalling than those other revelations, the vastness of the universe and the multitude of humanity, had been. Then, too, the life in which he found himself was strenuous, earnest, instinct with a resta less energy that jarred upon his indolent nature. It seemed to him
as though he had been transported to some lofty mountain-top, and were called' upon, without preparation, to breathe the rarefied atmosphere of the upper airs. He stood there morally panting, gasping,-moving with acute discomfort on a plane too high for him. He longed for the denser atmosphere of his fatherland, and he despaired of ever becoming habituated to that which seemingly was natural, congenial, to those with whom he now associated. As to ever winning to a real understanding of the extraordinary points of view of these people, that obviously was a patent impossibility.
Beyond this there were half a hundred minor matters which appealed to Saleh as incongruous. His manhood was offended, revolted, by the position occupied among white folk by the women. Even after weeks of use, his meals were a humiliation to him because Mrs. Le Mesurier and her daughters sat at table. Even his own mother would
not have dreamed of taking such a lib- retired to the arbor in tears. "Chaff," erty with her son. The service ren- as George would have called it, was dered by the maid-servants was nat- again something foreign to Saleh's ural enough, but it hurt his pride and experience. To him it was simply a his self-respect to find that he was ex- rudeness, a brutality-not fitting. pected to give way to the daughters of As much of all this as his mental the house in everything, that he was and linguistic limitations could make chidden if he neglected to offer to carry articulate he now sobbed out to Mabel, a cloak for a lady, if he did not run omitting only all reference to his diswillingly on trifling errands for Mrs. approval of the undue exaltation of her Le Mesurier, if he was not active in sex, for Malays are not devoid of a cerforestalling the wants of her and of tain instinctive tact. His trouble was her daughters. From the moment of of a nature too complex to be readily their first meeting Mrs. Le Mesurier, comprehended by his little listener; by her grace and kindness, had won but, fortunately for mankind, his heart; but still, to his thinking, she woman's sympathy is not always dewas but a woman,-a being of inferior pendent upon her understanding, and clay to the material from which he was Mabel, knowing he was very unhappy, fashioned, -and he was irked by a sys- without inquiring too closely into the tem that made of her a central pivot causes, patted his shoulder and whisround which the household revolved. pered words of consolation into his ear. This unquestionably was ta' pâtut-not “Don't cry, Saleh dear,” she said. fitting-yet seemingly it offended the "We all like you very much, and you sense of propriety of no one save him- are going to live with us for a long self. The absence of all forms, too, time and be very happy too when you struck him as barbarous. All his life get used to us. You mustn't mind he had been hedged about by ritual, George. He is a boy, you know, and Those who had spoken to him had de- boys are like that. He is always try. scribed themselves as pâtek-thy slave; ing to get a rise out of all of us. He for was he not the son of a king?—but likes you very much too, really. He here all ceremony was dropped, and. was only saying the other day how shorn of his titles, he found himself beautifully you swim, and how clever answering to the name of "Sally," and you are in the gym. He says you can being scotfed at and mocked because do things on the bar at the first try "Sally" was in England a woman's which it takes English boys years and name. George, the young barbarian, years to learn. He only calls you even called him “Aunt Sally" at times, 'Aunt Sally' for fun, just as he calls and once at a fair had gravely intro- me Furze-bush' when I have had my duced him to a dilapidated cockshy, hair in curl-papers." which he declared must be one of his Saleh shuddered at the recollection, near relatives,--a hideous idol of the His taste, moulded by the lank, sleek, white men at which certain savage oil-dressed heads of his own creatures were engaged in throwing kind, was greviously offended by the missiles with grotesque antics and an sight of curls. outrageous uproar. It was when he “And you called me a blackamoor," next was addressed as “Aunt Sally," he said sulkily. that he had first tried to fight George, “I'm sorry, Sally." and finding that the attempt was a "You white people are so failure,-for what could a man do who proud. You think many things of had no knife ready to his hand ?-had yourself, but we Malays have beated