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watching for a lifetime the grey dunes and long stretch of blue Northern sea. Nurtured on folklore, the boy became a folklorist aud was himself the Folklore Society of the island. All stories came to him, and had he but written tales with the art of Grimm and Andersen the obscurity of his island would not have prevented his fame. But I think he had little imagination-a good fault in a folklorist, though bad in a story-teller. He was always rather a chronicler than a spinner of fairy tales.
One characteristic of North Frisian legends which I must mention before ending is the underlying strain of sadness. The murmur of the sea is through them all, for no land has suffered as these islands have suffered. Generation after generation for uncounted centuries has seen the land diminish and the shoals increase. Whole islands have vanished; the site of many a village has had to be removed again and again inland. To recount these storms would here be out of place, but in 1634 almost all the island of Nordshand was destroyed, and 6,200 men and 50,000 head of cattle perished. It is not difficult to think how profoundly such a catastrophe affected men's minds, or how one might have said, as Mr. Swinburne sings, of the same wild sea :
The pastures are herdless and sheepless,
No pasture or shelter for herds,
And restless and songless the birds.
Their wings are as lightnings that flee,
Death's self and the sea. With all their love for the ocean that beats ever on their islands, the North Frisians live as its slaves. No family is there which has not paid its tribute to Ran, the sea goddess. There is little wonder that there is scarce a tale or a song in all the islands of this eerie group that does not smell of salt seas and is not blown through by salt and boisterous winds.
WILLIAM GEORGE BLACK,
Quid sit futurum cras, fuge quærere.
AH, met and what is life?
H, me! and what is life?
An ardent, anxious, chequered race
Of care and strife.
Alas ! poor fools, we little know
Our courses speed.
Why should we struggle, fight, and die,
Or whither go?
Why should we longer tarry here
Why not be freed?
My present lot? If God so will
Need I ask more?
Will death no brighter prospect bring ?
It might have had ?
Will not my gain be greater still
And all its pain ?
To Him who marks the sparrow's fall
PAGES ON PLAYS.
‘HERE has been very little spirit, very little interest, in the
dramatic work of the last few weeks. Several new plays have made their appearance, but none of them call for comment. They have been written, they have been produced, presumably they please some beholders. But they do not invite criticism, and may very well be left in peace.
In this desolate condition of the stage, in this dramatic stagnation, one welcomes eagerly any sign that seems to show a quickening of the public intelligence in what concerns the theatre. It would be impossible to deny that the stage is in a pitiable condition, and yet there seldom probably has been a time in which the stage has been the object of so much attention. It is more written about, more talked of, becomes more and more a portion of the life of the citizen than it ever was before. You can hardly take up a serious review without finding that it has some article by some well-known critic dealing with some dramatic question. Theatres multiply, plays increase, people go to the play assiduously, and yet with all this England cannot be said to possess a drama worthy of consideration or to hold as a whole the same position in acting that is held by other countries.
Yet, from a commercial point of view, the drama was never so successful. I read in the Pall Mall Gazette the other day a series of statistics concerning the drama of the day which contained much matter for reflection. I will assume that the facts and figures are more or less correct ; there may be a little exaggeration ; exaggeration has a way of clinging about the prices paid for all kinds of artistic work.
To be a successful playwright, in A.D. 1893, is to enjoy the income of a Lord Chancellor, wield the power of a Lord Chamberlain, and dispense patronage like a Premier, says this week's Wit and Wisdom. Goldsmith got but £1,000 all told, from “She Stoops to Conquer,” a farce which drew the town as “Our Boys" did a century later. Lord Lytton was luckier. Ilis “ Lady of Lyons” —with the exception of “Hamlet,” the most popular play ever written-his “Richelieu,” and “Money,” brought a fortune, but a fortune which, compared with that of modern men, must be accounted little. After Bulwer Lytton's time
the drama fell on evil days. Maddison Morton's farces sold for a five-pound note. Buckstone wrote dramas for £30. A prize of £100, offered for the copyright of a play on nautical lines, was sufficient to induce scores of capable writers to compete. Tom Taylor, with some forty or fifty plays to his credit, and many of them bighly popular ones, “ Ticket-of-Leave Man," " 'Twixt Axe and Crown," “To Parents and Guardians,” among the number, left no such fortune behind him as Anthony Trollope, with his £60,000, had delved from the iron-bound soil of literature proper. Nor was it until comparatively recent days, that the author began to squeeze from the manager his pecuniary and artistic dues.
To Mr. W. S. Gilbert is given the credit of insisting on the author's para. mount importance. His income of £12,000 a year from the Savoy Theatre alone, during the period of the famous triumvirate, as disclosed in the legal dispute between Mr. D’Oyly Carte and himself, is but a fraction of his earnings. When Miss Mary Anderson was acting in “Tragedy and Comedy” and “ Pygmalion and Galatea" at the Lyceum, no less than four plays of his were running simultaneously in London alone, to an estimated aggregate of £800 a night. Upon these receipts, a 15 per cent. royalty yields £120 a night for the lucky author, and the programme held the various bills for many months. “ Pygmalion and Galatea” is reckoned, indeed, the most valuable literary property in the world, its estimated earnings exceeding £40,000.
H. J. Byron, as stated by Mr. Thorne and Mr. David James, received £30 a week for “ Our Boys,” which ran on end 1,400 nights-a total of £7,000, exclusive of provincial fees. Had the arrangement been on the royalty system, the £7,000 would have approached £20,000. Mr. George R. Sims, after many unsuccessful attempts to place his “ Lights o’London" on the metropolitan stage, got Mr. Wilson Barrett to accept it, and immediately stepped into a weekly income of £150, which continued for the best part of a year. After the run of “ The Silver King,” the net profits were found to exceed £33,000, which sum was divided into thirds among the manager, Mr. Wilson Barrett, and the joint authors, Mr. Henry Herman and Mr. H. A. Jones. Melodrama is the great Tom Tiddler's ground, Mr. Henry Pettitt having won-and, it is said, kepta fortune of a quarter of a million by his shrewd labour on this soil, and Mr. Grundy having confessed to a happy jump within twelve months, from an income of £700 to one exceeding £5,000 by simply turning from the writing of “Glasses of Fashion” and “ Mamnons” and “Pompadours” to that of “ Bells of Hazle. mere ” and “ Village Priests"; though one pure comedy, at least—“A Pair of Spectacles "_brought him magnificent rewards, both artistic and monetary. Mrs. Burnett received for her “Little Lord Fauntleroy” some £12,000 from every source.
Here then, on the basis of facts and figures which may be assumed to be accurate, or approximately accurate, we can learn certain remarkable truths. The drama of the day is one of the best paid of all artistic enterprises. It does not, it is true, enter into competition with successful shopkeeping, with even moderately successful stock-broking, but still it shows that men who write plays make very decent fortunes ; and yet so well paid an art does not produce many works of art. There are very few indeed of the successful plays of the last ten years that deserve recollection. As Thackeray says somewhere of
another matter, you might take a very small piece of paper and write down all their names ; and it is not the best plays that make the most money. Melodrama is, as it would seem, the key to fortune, and what melodrama of recent date deserved a thought after it had run its course. Mr. William Archer, in a recent number of the World, indulged in some whimsical reflections upon the sufferings which he assumes must be experienced by the men of ability like Mr. Sims, the men of poetic inspiration like Mr. Robert Buchanan, the men of incisive wit like Mr. Cecil Raleigh, who have to spend their ability, their inspiration, and their wit on melodrama and the kind of comedy that is akin to melodrama. Probably they do suffer, but they are not to be blamed for writing what the public wants them to write so long as fortune lies that way.
Curiously enough the same number of the Pall Mall which contained these interesting statistics contained also a communication upon the subject of the “Decay of the Stage.” It was signed by “ An Occasional Correspondent,” and it attributed all the misfortunes of the contemporary stage apparently to the inertness of the dramatic critics. I have not the slightest idea who wrote the letter, but it is worth quotation and consideration.
There are three classes of men who should never attempt dramatic criticism -poets, actors, and Nonconformist ministers. The first are too susceptible to “personal charm,” the second too prone to mere laudation, the third too ignorant of life and literature. The Dramatic Critic is made, not born. He is the outcome of much matinée-going, much midnight analysis, and many efforts at playwriting. That a Congregational divine should pose as a dramatic critic is an unthinkable thing, or seemed so until lately. The emotional and the critical temperament cannot dwell together; and prayer.meetings are but a sorry education for your judge of stage-plays. But so popular has the theatre become in these latter money-spending days that almost all the old barriers are broken down. Bishops adorn the boxes, and the men of Exeter Hall line the pit. Our play-houses are thrice as numerous as they were thirty years ago. Our younger sons crowd to the dramatic agent, and every wielder of a paid pen pants to criticise Mr. Pinero and Mr. Jones. Yet dramatic art is dying fast from our midst. It were, perhaps, desirable to inquire into one or two of the principles which should govern dramatic criticism. The business has of late become so chaotic that it is probable that even the mere mention of the word will offend many gentlemen with well-known names. However, we love the stage, and come weal, come woe-must speak. I believe that the matter rests largely in the hands of the “critics."
A cultivated sense of the fitness of things is surely the first qualification for a Dramatic Critic. He should be able to point out every solecism of manners, every flight into bombast, every offence against archæology, every defiance of place or period, every descent into bathos, and every merging of humour in vulgarity. Nor should he content himself with merely perceiving these things : he should have the moral courage to point them out, even though the player,