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buting for many years to the Pall Mall Gazette and The World newspaper have been so scholarly, but at the same time so readable, as to demand a place more permanent than the ephemeral columns of a periodical. The two volumes now before us are, in fact, made up from these sources, and the dramatic criticisms of the past fifteen years give us a complete review of every notable play, new and old, and glimpses of every important actor of the period. It is interesting to watch, as we can in this current record, the gradual development of certain well-known actors; like Irving, for example, who at the outset is playing minor parts in a careful" and "respectable" manner, but by degrees, with his Digby Grant and Eugene Aram, and Shakespearean parts, wins the critic's cordial recognition. Few of the leading actors of to-day were firmly established in 1867, the time to which Mr. Cook's first chapters take us; in fact, Volume I. opens with a review of Mrs. Scott-Siddon's first appearance on the stage, when she played Rosalind, at the Haymarket; and of course, on the other hand, there are actors of promise here mentioned who have since disappeared from view. But one of the most interesting though melancholy features of the book is to be found in the reviews which Mr. Cook likens to "graveyard inscriptions." To read of new plays that have failed is as instructive as to study those that have succeeded, and even more interesting. Of the one hundred and fiftythree plays here reviewed, many have never seen the light of a revival, though all were dramas of merit; and how many playgoers of to-day have any recollection of Lord Beaconsfield's Tragedy of Count Alarcos, put on at Astleys in 1868?-to take a single example.
AFTER reading Mr. Dutton Cook's Nights at the Play, one is somewhat startled on opening Mr. Archer's English Dramatists of To-day, by the assertion, at the very outset, that" we have no contemporary drama of our own." We had been settling down into the belief that the English stage had a drama, and that actors and dramatists, with all their shortcomings, were developing hopefully. Mr. Archer goes on to say, however, in explanation, that though the English drama does not exist as literature, "it exists and flourishes as a non-literary product;" and the purpose of his book is to show how far short it falls of any literary merit, and in so doing to indicate possibilities of improvement. His ideal drama of the future is one that may be printed and read, as well as acted. This standard seems not to be an unreasonably high one, yet to many successful modern playwrights it would no doubt prove very severe. Mr. Archer goes on to
1 English Dramatists of To-day. By WILLIAM ARCHER. 8vo. pp. 387. London: Sampson Low & Co.
show that in France, Germany, Italy, and especially in Scandinavia, the modern drama is far higher intellectually than ours. In England the Queen Mary of Mr. Tennyson, some of Mr. Gilbert's comedies, and a volume of Historical Dramas by Mr. Tom Taylor, are the only modern plays that have been published, save in the very humble pamphlet form of the Lacy series, and of these Mr. Archer declares that for a pound he bought every play in the list that was of any value.
A great deal is said in the book about the adaptations from French plays, and of the unfortunate choice that is made by English borrowers; and on this subject Mr. Archer displays much erudition as well as judgment. Before introducing the dramatists of to-day a chapter is devoted to "Playwrights of Yesterday," in which category are placed Mr. T. W. Robinson, Mr. Tom Taylor, Mr. Charles Reade, and Mr. Boucicault, and in the case of each some of his plays are analysed, and the proper degree of fault is found with them. In the chapters which follow, fifteen English dramatists and one American, Mr. Bronson Howard, are placed under examination after the same fashion. A good deal is said in the book concerning the condition of theatrical criticism, the abominations of modern burlesque, and the work of the Licenser of Plays. As to Mr. Archer's criticisms of individual dramatists, we cannot here venture an opinion. He touches sometimes with severity, but generally with consideration upon matters he does not approve; he seems to have an intimate knowledge of his subject, and he certainly has a very entertaining way of writing about it.
The Story of English Literature1 is the attractive title of a very compact little handbook, designed apparently for the instruction of young people and the edification of older ones; at least it is well suited to fill this double purpose. The author has followed in a measure the plan of Professor Morley's larger work on English Literature, and besides giving sketches of the lives of the various authors and outlines of their works, she has pictured their surroundings and the manners and customs of the people of their day. The range of the book is very great, in fact almost too great for a volume of this modest size, for it starts as far back as A.D. 248, with the Keltic, and traces English Literature thence up to the year 1850. Naturally the utmost conciseness is necessary in speaking of authors, and as regards prose writers this has been practised steadfastly; but to the poets in general Miss Buckland gives more than their equitable share of space. For example, to the poets of the first half of the nineteenth
1 The Story of English Literature. By ANNA BUCKLAND. 8vo. pp. 519. London: Cassell, Petter & Galpin.
century she devotes no less than thirty-two Though A Foregone Conclusion, the first of pages, while the prose writers of the same period receive less than seven pages-Thackeray being dismissed with six lines, George Eliot with four, and Hazlitt, Lamb, and De Quincey being barely mentioned by name. This defect is more visible in the latter half of the book than in the earlier portion, where the style and arrangement are unexceptionable.
IN our day a brilliant letter-writer is about as rare as a Sanscrit scholar, and a far greater ornament to society. Letterwriting as an art may not be quite dead we have the incomparable letters of Prosper Merrimée, among others, to show that it is not--but it is fast dying under the combined effect of cheap postage and telegrams; and if we compare the average published correspondence of our own time with the beautiful writing that used to be put into letters in the days of Laurence Sterne, or Lady Mary Wortley Montague, we cannot but be struck by the difference in quality. Mr. Baptiste Scoones has facilitated the drawing of comparisons of this sort by collecting into a compact volume a series of letters chosen from the correspondence of a great many distinguished people. To collect and arrange the best and most characteristic letters that have been published within a period of four centuries would be an immense task of itself, but Mr. Scoones has gone further and prefixed to each letter a resumé of the circumstances under which it was written. He has also provided an invaluable index of authors and subjects, which places all within easy reach, and furthermore a chronological table of contents, in which the names of the authors with the dates of their birth and death can be found in a moment. In making the selections it was necessary to establish limitations, and one of these has been wisely drawn at political letters, yet several of these are included in the book.
SYDNEY SMITH'S famous question, "Who reads an American book?” is in a fair way of being answered, if we may judge by the testimony of the book-stalls and circulating libraries; and in the case of one, at least, of the Transatlantic novelists, Mr. Howells, if any material help were needed to commend his books to the attention of strangers, the dainty little volumes, in which his Edinburgh publisher has already produced several of them, would go far towards winning a favourable first impression. But by this time Mr. Howells is almost too well known to need a formal introduction.
1 Four Centuries of English Letters. Selections from the Correspondence of One Hundred and Fifty Writers, from the Period of the Paston Letters to the Present Day. Edited and arranged by W. BAPTISTE SCOONES. 8vo. pp. 591. London: Kegan Paul, Trench & Co.
the newly published Edinburgh series, was published in the United States about ten years ago and was extremely successful, it has been until quite recently unknown in England, except to patrons of the forbidden but popular Tauchnitz volumes. The plot of the story is a simple one, as Mr. Howells's plots always are, and the interest centres in the characters, and in the colour he manages imperceptibly to throw about them, by reflection, as it were, from their surroundings. The scene is Venice; and those who have enjoyed Venetian days live them over again under the magic of his page. The leading characters, Miss Vervain, a young American of fortune and refinement, but difficult temper, Ferris, the somewhat colourless American Consul, and Ippolito, a Venetian priest, are involved by degrees in a network of half perceptible but clearly felt difficulties. The priest has a turn for mechanics, and is the inventor of a breech-loading cannon. He is poor and· gladly accepts an opportunity of earning something by giving Italian lessons to Miss Vervain. There is something very winning about Don Ippolito; his cleverness, his naivete and deep earnestness interest the Vervains, and their kindness to him, and the friendly and unaffected manner with which he is received by Miss Vervain, lead the poor priest by degrees into a hopeless passion, in which he sometimes contemplates flight from the priesthood and Italy and a new career in the unknown outer world. the dénouement of this story, which comes nearer than Mr. Howells has ever come before, or since, to tragedy, he has displayed some of his best work, and no one who makes acquaintance with the book can ever forget its vivid descriptions and lifelike characters.
IN The Flower of her Youth,2 by Mabel Collins, deals with a problem which it is to be hoped does not often come up in real life, yet we cannot doubt that it has presented itself to people who silently pondered it and found no help. What shall a woman do if she discovers that her husband, whom she devotedly loves, is infatuated by another woman who is equally fascinated by him? If after every effort to regain his dead affection has failed, and the future promises nothing but misery for the three people involved in the living tragedy, the unhappy wife discovers a perfectly innocent way of effecting a solution of the problem, the three ought to consider it a matter for congratulation. It is not our intention to reveal here the very curious means adopted by the heroine of Miss Collins's novel, except to say
1 A Foregone Conclusion. By WILLIAM D. HOWELLS. 16mo. pp. 316. Edinburgh: David Douglas.
2 in the Flower of Her Youth. A Novel. By MABEL COLLINS. 3 vols. 8vo. London: F. V. White & Co.
that it was one not at all likely to suggest itself to the average reader, and the complications to which it led afford ample scope for a story of uncommon interest. Such elements as unrequited love and the despair of a young wife open the way to pathetic scenes in which Miss Collins excels; but the part of her story which lingers most pleasantly in the mind is that in which are sketched the girlhood of the charming young heroine, her early married life, and the relations of happy comradeship between the father and daughter.
THE scene of All Sorts and Conditions of Men, one of the latest and best of Mr. Besant's novels, is laid in a part of London to which few novel-readers ever penetrate the unknown and marvellous East. Here at a cheap boarding-house in Stepney, a region of shipping and marine stores, of junk-shops, foundries, noise and squalor, the author introduces his hero and heroine freshly arrived upon the scene. Both are people of delicate breeding, who have gone to live in Stepney, where they are perfect strangers, for a special purpose. Angela Messenger is a young and beautiful heiress, the actual owner of a great brewery at Stepney, and after completing her education at Newnham, resolves not to go on living by the toil of
1 All Sorts and Conditions of Men. An Impossible Story, By WALTER BESANT. With Illustrations by Fred. Barnard. 3 vols. 8vo. London: Chatto & Windus.
the people and giving nothing in return," but to carry out a system of philanthropy in person. She accordingly adopts the name of Miss Kennedy, and sets up as a dressmaker in the place where we and the hero make her acquaintance together. Harry Goslett has been adopted and brought up as a gentleman by Lord Jocelyn le Breton, to whom he believes himself to be a relative, but at the age of twenty-three he learns that he is of humble birth, and though his benefactor urges him to continue in his comfortable place, the high-spirited young man determines, for a time at least, to try his fortunes among his own people in the East end. He accordingly adopts a trade, and becomes a lodger in the same boading-house where Miss Kennedy has begun her career of philanthropy. This boarding-house, by the way. is one of the most admirable bits of realistic work we can call to mind in English fiction. Balzac's famous picture of the pension in Père Goriot is not more perfect, and some of its characters, notably the landlady and the American claimants to a peerage, are not to he forgotten. Later in the story the Salvation Army comes in for a share of realistic description which is extremely entertaining. The development of the philanthropic mission, the opening of the " Palace of Delights' for work-people, the discovery of the heiress's identity, and dénouement of the story need not be gone further into here, suffice it to say that the book is in every respect a charming one.
Editor's Bistorical Record.
THE BRITISH EMPIRE.
UR Record opens April 10 and closes
OUR May 12.
April 10.-A Bill providing severe punishments for persons dealing unlawfully with explosive substances, which passed through both Houses of Parliament in one night, in order to meet promptly the danger arising from plots against public buildings, alleged to be directed by Irishmen in America, received the Royal Assent. The maximum punishment under the Act is penal servitude for life.
April 12.-Final meeting of the London Mansion House Fund Committee for the relief of destitution in Ireland. The total amount contributed was £5505.
Commencement of trials in Dublin of persons charged with the murder of Mr. J. H. Burke and Lord Frederick Cavendish in Phoenix Park.
April 13.-Joseph Brady sentenced to death in Dublin for the Phoenix Park murders.
April 18.-Above two hundred English, Scotch, and Irish Conservative associations were represented at a conference held in
London, in which Lord Salisbury and Sir Stafford Northcote took part.
Daniel Curley sentenced to death at Dublin for the Phoenix Park murders.
April 19.-Statue of Lord Beaconsfield unveiled in Parliament Square, Westminster. Several persons charged at Bow Street, London, with treason-felony, being principals and accessories in the alleged plot for the destruction of buildings in London by dynamite.
A conflagration at Delhi destroyed two thousand houses.
April 20.-In reply to questions in Parliament, the Queensland Government was admitted to have annexed the island of New Guinea upon its own authority.
A resolution adopted in Parliament, condemning the Contagious Diseases Acts, upon which Government suspended the operation of the Acts.
Quebec Parliament House destroyed by fire, alleged to have been caused by a Fenian incendiary.
April 23.-The Prince of Wales held a levée at St. James's Palace.
April 24. The decision of Parliament
allowing the underground railways of London to be ventilated into the streets was reversed by a vote of the House of Commons. April 25.-Bishops of Llandaff, Truro, and Tasmania consecrated at St. Paul's Cathedral, the Archbishop of Canterbury officiating, on the sixth anniversary of his own consecration.
Prince Batthyany, a Hungarian magnate, who had lavishly supported English horseracing for forty years, died suddenly on the course at Newmarket.
Freethinker blasphemy trial in Court of Queen's Bench: a new statement of the law was made by Lord Chief Justice Coleridge, and the prisoners Ramsay and Foote were discharged.
April 27.-A new decoration, the Order of the Royal Red Cross, was created by the Queen's proclamation, to be conferred upon ladies who distinguish themselves by their devotion in nursing sick and wounded soldiers and sailors in time of war.
New galleries of the Institute of Painters in Water Colours in Piccadilly opened by the Prince of Wales.
An international chess tournament began at the Criterion Restaurant, Piccadilly. Michael Fagan sentenced to death at Dublin for the Phoenix Park murders.
April 30.-A motion of Lord Oranmore to inquire into the losses of Irish landlords through the working of the Land Act was negatived in the House of Lords.
Corner-stone laid of a new Council Chamber for the City of London.
May 2.-National Liberal Club opened in London with a dinner at the Westminster Aquarium, where Lord Granville and Mr. Gladstone spoke.
Mr. John Bright spoke at the annual meeting of the Society for the Liberation of Religion from State Control, and thus declared himself in favour of the disestablishment of the Church.
May 3.-Mr. Gladstone's Government defeated on the second reading of the Affirmation Bill by 292 votes to 289, after a debate protracted over five nights. To secure a triumph in this division both parties had made extraordinary efforts, many members being brought up from great distances, and others voting who had been previously absent through illness.
Freemasons' Hall, London, destroyed by fire. The headquarters of the Grand Lodge of English Freemasons' had been held there for very many years, and with the building a large quantity of masonic insignia and valuable collections of portraits of Past Grand Masters were destroyed. From a masonic point of view irreparable damage was done.
Subscriptions to the amount of £4000 were announced at the annual dinner of friends of King's College Hospital, at which the Prince of Wales presided.
Several prisoners charged with the Phoenix Park murders pleaded guilty and were sentenced to death.
May 5.-Mr. Bradlaugh presented himself at the Bar of the House of Commons and desired to take the oath, in order that he might perform the duties of a member, Sir Stafford Northcote moved that he be not allowed to take the oath. Mr. Labouchere proposed as an amendment "the previous question," which Mr. Gladstone supported. The amendment was defeated by 271 votes to 165.
Government consented to a proposal for making the Railway Commission a Court of Record.
Lawrence Hanlon convicted at Dublin of the attempt to murder Mr. Field, a juror, and sentenced to penal servitude for life.
Annual banquet of the Royal Academy on the evening of the " private view."
May 6.-This being the first anniversary of the Phoenix Park murders prayers were offered in all Roman Catholic churches in Dublin for the soul of Mr. Burke. A memorial to Mr. Burke was unveiled in the chapel at which he was a worshipper. An unknown person placed crosses of ivy leaves and wallflowers on the spot where the murdered men fell, which remained during the whole day, and the scene was visited by throngs of sightseers.
May 7.-The Prince of Wales opened the Royal College of Music in buildings given by Sir Charles Freake. The College is the outcome of an appeal made by the Prince to the English people which produced £110,000, a sufficient fund for the immediate endowment of fifty scholarships. The Queen conferred knighthood on Professor Macfarren, Mr. Arthur Sullivan, and Mr. George Grove.
Alarm was caused in Halifax, Nova Scotia, by the receipt of a letter threatening the destruction of the Government works and shipping by Fenians, and defensive measures were promptly taken.
May 8.-A resolution moved by Lord Dunraven in the House of Lords for the opening of Museums and Galleries on Sundays was negatived by 91 votes against 67.
Mr. Gladstone's Government defeated upon a motion respecting the finances of India.
Lord Dufferin returned to Constantinople after conducting the reconstruction of Egypt under the Khedive's authority.
May 9.-Timothy Kelly, respecting whom two juries had disagreed, was found guilty of the Phoenix Park murders and sentenced to death.
May 10.-A drawing-room held by the Princess of Wales on behalf of the Queen, whose illness still prevented her from appearing in public.
Mr. Gladstone's Government defeated upon a proposal to alter the mode of collecting Income Tax, by 168 votes against 161.
A new Central Fish Market opened in London-the result of prolonged agitation against “the Billingsgate monopoly.'
Joseph Mullett convicted at Dublin of conspiracy to murder Mr. Field, a juror, and sentenced to penal servitude for life.
Medical diplomas conferred on ladies by London University, the first occasion on which women have been admitted in England to the practice of medicine upon equal terms with men.
May 11. Mr. Gladstone announced that the proposed pensions to Lords Alcester and Wolseley would be commuted to lump sums of £25,000 and £30,000 respectively.
House of Commons adjourned for Whitsuntide recess.
Six men charged with the conspiracy to destroy public buildings in London by means of nitro-glycerine were committed for trial on the charge of treason-felony.
May 12. International Fisheries Exhibition opened at South Kensington by the Prince of Wales in presence of many members of the Royal Family, the ambassadors, and diplomatic body, and a vast gathering of distinguished persons. Exhibition to remain open for at least six months.
April 23.-President Arthur returned to Washington from Florida, in greatly improved health.
April 24.-More than 200 persons killed by a cyclone in Mississippi, and between 150 and 200 houses destroyed.
Seven thousand men in the Pittsburg coal district resolved to strike against a reduction of wages.
Mr. Secretary Chandler, United States Navy, selected as envoy to represent the Republic at the coronation of the Czar.
April 26.-A Convention of the Irish Nationalists opened at Philadelphia, under the presidency of Mr. Mooney.
May 3.-Mr. O'Donovan Rossa promises in the American press to destroy London at a cost of £17,251 Os. 10d. by sending 1000 secret agents to set fire to hotels.
May 5.-Cardinal McCloskey said to have been called to account by the Pope respecting an interview with Mr. Sullivan, president of the Irish Land League, which, it appeared afterwards, was a chance conversation.
Extradition of Tynan (“No. 1"), Walsh, and Sheridan said to have been demanded. May 7.-Regulations for the improvement of the Civil Service issued.
FRANCE has been active abroad, but comparatively tranquil at home-even if somewhat disturbed by the confirmation officially given to previous rumours that an understanding tantamount to an alliance had been arrived at between Germany, Austria, and Italy. Credits were voted for an expedition to Tonquin for the assertion of French rights in Cochin China-notwithstanding the irritation caused at Pekin by this undertaking. A French gunboat, too, appeared suddenly on the Congo and occupied two points of vantage, in spite of the protests of the Portuguese. Respecting this region the policy of M. Ferry's Government is not declared, but the avowed object of the steps taken in Tonquin is the establishment of a French Protectorate over the whole territory of King Tu Duc, making Annam an Asiatic Tunis. Meanwhile the Government has effected a saving of £1,500,000 yearly by the conversion of its 5 per cent. Rentes into a 4 per cent. stock. Disaffected workmen continue to give trouble at Montceau-lesMines, and a dynamite explosion occurred there at the end of April. The Government has decided not to rely on moral suasion. A Bill has been introduced to imprison persons who take part in open-air meetings, deface symbols of Government authority, exhibit seditious emblems, sing or cry seditiously, or post up anti-Republican placards or writings.
April 20.-Literary Copyright Convention between France and Germany concluded.
April 22.-Conversion of French Rentes from 5 to 44 per cent. stock, with option of payment in full.
April 26.-M. Ferry's Government demands a credit of 5,000,000 francs for the expedition to Tonquin.
April 28.-France commissions an envoy to represent her at the coronation of the Czar. Franco-Austrian commercial treaty prolonged to February, 1884.
May 1.-French dissatisfaction at the reported Triple Alliance finds expression in an interpellation of the Duc de Broglie in the Senate. Government denies the existence of any alliance against France.
May 5.-The Legion of Honour given to a comedian for the first time, M. Delaunay, of the Théâtre Français, being the recipient, and being decorated by the President himself. M. Delaunay had resigned, but withdrew his resignation.
Protest by Governor of Massachusetts PRINCE BISMARCK has again found himself against the landing of paupers at Boston—in conflict with the German Parliament, but presumably directed at the wholesale emigrations from the West of Ireland.
May 9.-Lightning explodes oil tanks at New York, with great destruction of life and property.
has neither dissolved it nor retired, though there have been the usual rumours that his Excellency intends to retire. Parliament declined altogether the Emperor's proposal that two years' Supply should be voted at once,