Слике страница
PDF
ePub

“WHY MARRY?” The popular success of Why Marry?, by Jesse Lynch Williams, obtrudes a hopeful indication that our theatre is becoming civilised. This piece. has been published by Charles Scribner's Sons-under the different title, And So They Were Married: and it constitutes a contri. bution not only to the American drama but also to American literature.

Mr. Williams has come forward as a satirist of marriage as a social insti. tution. The defects of marriage are discussed and illustrated from the different points of view of half a dozen various and truthfully imagined characters. The author's art is indicated by his reticènce in for. bearing to express, ex cathedra, an opinion of his own. In answer to his initial question, “Why marry?”, he finally says, “Why not?”: and this rejoinder is the biggest joke of an unusually lively evening.

Mr. Williams is so much a public figure that it is scarcely necessary to inform the reader that he has been happily married for a score of years and is the father of three sons, one of whom is sufficiently grown-up to be serving now in the navy of the United States. This author, in his own experience, has never had occasion to quarrel with the institution of marriage. Precisely for this reason, he is ready to laugh-with liveli. ness of mind-at the causes and ef. fects of matrimony. His wit is all the more engaging because it dallies lightly with ideas that are sacred to such persons as himself; and the suc

If; and the success of his satire bears witness to a corresponding nimbleness of mind on ine part of the theatre-going public.

Mr. Alan Dale has chosen as a target for satirical attack in his playful comedy entitled The Madonna of the Future. The heroine of this play is a very rich young woman, unencumbered with relatives, who desires to become a mother but does not desire to be saddled with a husband. In consequence of her convictions, she picks out an apparently eugenic mate and becomes, in due time, the mother of a nameless child. The play deals with her endeavour to replay deals establish, after this adventure, her position in conventional society, and records her ultimate surrender to that extraneous insistence which demands that she shall marry the father of her child.

Mr. Dale, with agile mind, has dallied lightly with many intimations of immorality; yet his play is sound in thesis and reasonable in its resolution. The author may not care to have the reader furnished with the information that he is himself the father of a successful family: yet this personal point affords an underscoring to the lightness of his laughter.

“THE GIPSY TRAIL” There is nothing more sacred in life than the miracle of being young. As Stevenson remarked, in his im. mortal essay on The Lantern-Bearers, “A poet has died young in the breast of the most stolid.” To recall the poetry of youth and to crown it with the laurel of commemorative laughter is to achieve a satirical endeavour of the highest order. This endeavour has been accomplished by Mr. Robert Housum in The Gipsy Trail. In this play, a very young and very foolish hero [as foolishness is reckoned up by men much wearier and wiser than himself is inspired to dive headlong into life and enjoy a series of madcap and preposterous adven. tures. Finally, however, the laugh is turned against him when he is caught and tamed and married by an utterly conventional young lady. One trembles to think of the future of this

"THE MADONNA OF THE FUTURE”

No idea is cherished more punctiliously by nine-tenths of humankind than the idea of motherhood: yet this is precisely the point that

ill-assorted couple:--but that is, of patron in New York who has encourse, another story.

joyed The Concert and The Master The play takes its tone, as well as would be willing to deny his maniits title, from the glowing song com fest ability; and in Josephine he has posed, in the heyday of his young written a satire that is delightful to adventuring, by Rudyard Kipling. the civilised intelligence. There is ample evidence, throughout No historical idea is more comthe dialogue, that Mr. Housum has

monly accepted than the image of steeped his mind in the collected

Napoleon as a sort of super-human works of the greatest living master of hero. This idea is ridiculed by Herour English fiction. It is evident man Bahr in Josephine. He sets also that the author of The Gipsy forth, with sufficient plausibility, the Trail has trained his ear by reading leading points in the chronicle of lovingly aloud the chapter entitled Napoleon's rise to power, and, as Wayfarers All in Mr. Kenneth Gra

each successive incident

occurs, hame's The Wind in the Willows. laughs lightly at the hero of the narThese annotations are intended in his

rative. The play contains a memorpraise. Too few of our American able scene between Napoleon and the playwrights are endowed with ears to famous actor, Talma. The Corsican hear, or give evidence that they have adventurer, on the eve of being ever read anything worth reading. crowned, realises that he stands in Mr. Housum is a graduate of Yale; need of lessons in imperial deportand New Haven should be proud of ment. He sends, therefore, for the his developed literary taste, and his noted artist who has never failed to light ability to laugh at many mat live up to that line of Shakespeare's ters that must, perforce, seem sacred

—“Every inch a king”—to rehearse to a mind so cultivated as his own. him in the part that he is called up"JOSEPHINE"

on by destiny to play. Talma studies In past years, most of the success his physical peculiarities and limitaful satires that have been shown on tions, and finally invents the pose the American stage have been writ and gesture that have come down to ten by authors that were not Ameri- posterity-immortalised by

by many can. The reason for this fact is ob painters--as most definitive of the vious. A successful satirist—so to imperial Napoleon. speak-must have a grandfather; and The American public is still sufthe literary lineage of most of our ficiently provincial to be bewildered American playwrights cannot be by the satirical intention of a Eurotraced back beyond the second gen pean author who has dared to make eration. In the special realm of a joke of the most tremendous man satire, our native theatre is still ad of modern times. For this reason it mittedly provincial, and tributary to seems likely that a New York audi. the primal sources overseas.

ence may miss many of the subtle Our tardy decision to defend our laughs that have been planned and selves against the insufferable bes planted by the author of Josephine. tiality of the Huns has led us to re Napoleon, no doubt, was a very gard their friends, the Austrians, as human person and was subject to "alien enemies”; but critics of the many of our common frailties. But, arts cannot forget the fact that to most minds, the image of NaVienna is, in many respects, a more poleon calls up an image of France. cultivated capital'than New York. And France is not a joke, and neverHerman Bahr is the second greatest more a theme for jesting:--not even living dramatist of Austria. While

among minds more nimbly satirical regretting his nationality, no theatre than any others in the world.

ECHOES

ful cages.

I. TRIVIA

“My own view is!”—from perch to THE AVIARY

perch. PEACOCK Vanities, great great crested

REASSURANCE Cockatoos of Desire and painted Day. I look at my overcoat and hat dreams—what a pity it is that all hanging in the hall with reassurthese blue birds of impossible Para ance; for although I go out of doors dises have such beaks and dangerous with one ego to-day, when yesterday claws, that one really has to keep my individuality was quite different, them shut up in their not very cheer- yet my clothes keep my varying

selves buttoned up together, enable

these otherwise irreconcilable aggreACTION

gates of psychological phenomena to I am no mere thinker, a creature pass as one person. of dreams and imagination. I stamp and post letters, I buy new boot-laces

VOICES and put them in my boots; and when “You smoke too much," the still I set out to get my hair cut, it is with small voice of Conscience mutters; the iron determination of a man of “you are a failure; nobody likes action and intrepid will of those you,” Self-Contempt keeps whisperCæsars and Napoleons whose foot ing; “What's the good of it all?” steps shake the earth.

sighs Disillusion, like an arid breath

from Sahara. THE EPITHET

I cannot tell you how these perOccult,” “night-wandering,” sistent voices bore me; but I can “enormous,” “honey-pale,”—

listen all day with grave attention to There lay the morning paper un the plausible and wise voice which opened-I knew I ought to look at with polite but incontrovertible logic the news, but I was too busy just keeps on unweariedly proving that then trying to find an adjective for all my appetites and inclinations and the Moon-the magical unheard-of, actions are in the completest harmoony epithet which, could I find or mony with Reason's dictates and the invent it, what then would the Moral Law. Only I am a little stag. earth’s conflicts and quakes matter? gered sometimes by the image of my

self which this bosom-Jesuit forces IN THE CAGE

on me: can anything of such exceed"My own view is, my own view”– ing brightness, so pure, so noble, so I vociferate, as a Parrot in the great unspotted, really exist, really go on cage of the world, I hop screeching existing in this imperfect world?

Logan Pearsall Smith.

II. MAKING THE NURSERY SAFE FOR unaware that there are forty-eight DEMOCRACY

States in the Union, or indeed that Our Four-Year-Old is profoundly such things as States exist, or even ignorant of history and political ex the Union itself. The struggles of perience. He would not distinguish our forefathers, the founders of the between a Tammany alderman and Republic, to establish democracy and a justice of the supreme court. He is overthrow the rule of kings have not

come within his knowledge. The story would puzzle him. Undoubt. edly he would feel aggrieved over the action of those heroic radicals who deprived our country of the trap pings of royalty forever.

Kings, in his experience, are invari. ably wise and good and princesses surpassingly beautiful and princes wonderful and brave. He is pleasantly familiar with their appearance and habits. In fact he can recognise a king at a glance-in his story books. The word democracy is without significance in his young life, but he is most enthusiastic about kings

Each evening after he has finished his meal and while I am waiting for mine, he sidles up to my chair with the request: “Daddy, read me a story?

If I agree to this he comes in hugging an armful of multi-coloured vol. umes, of which he carefully selects one, usually night after night the same one.

“What's this, son?” I exclaim, registering astonishment.

“Henny-Penny,” he replies triumphantly, as he scrambles up on my knee.

I read:

“One day a hen was picking peas in a farmyard, under a pea-stack, when a pea fell on her head with such a thump that she thought the sky was falling. “I must run to tell the king,' she cried.

“So she ran and she ran, till she met a goose," etc.

Now in the world of reality no man, bird or beast who was convinced that the sky was falling would think of running to a king. He might call up the police department, or attempt to get in touch with Washington, or communicate with Mr. Edison or the Standard Oil Company (thereby probably sending the price of gaso line up a notch) or the Associated Press.

I picture to myself a king, seated in state at his evening repast, being

interrupted with this intelligence. Probably he would exclaim: “My word, what a bother!” and, after an interval, frowning petulantly over the food, would continue his meal. Or he might turn to his German consort (so many kings seem to be provided with German queens) and remark: “My dear, I am informed the sky is falling. Most annoying, I'm sure.” And the lady, biting angrily through a peach stone or chewing up the stem of her wine glass, would reply: “Humph! I don't believe it. It's probably just another British lie,” and would hurry through her dinner and go out to distribute Potsdamerei among the officers of the royal army.

At this point in the narrative of Henny-Penny these misanthropic reflections occur to me, but my son is not troubled with them. To him, in the case of some untoward event, it seems most natural to seek the wise aid of some crowned head.

Among the illustrations in our edition of the excellent tale of Henny. Penny is no picture of a king, but usually, as soon as I conclude the reading, the new generation rum. mages through some other story book and holds up triumphantly for my admiration the likeness of a resplendent individual with crown and sceptre, clad in purple and gold and ermine. “There, daddy! There's the king!” There is a thrill in his voice!

We take up our Mother Goose and find ourselves in a nest of royalty.

When the pie was opened,

The birds began to sing.
Wasn't that a dainty dish

To set before the king? On the next page is that jovial in. ebriate, King Cole, and beyond him the melancholy tale of Humpty Dumpty, whose accident was so serious that even the king's restorative might could not aid him. Even a king, it seems, is unable to unscramble eggs. Just beyond this tragedy we find the itinerant feline:

Pussy cat, pussy cat,

and rule, our children scarcely out Where have you been?

of the cradle are being made into I've been to London,

staunch little monarchists. To visit the queen.

What are we going to do about it? Thus we progress from one crowned

How can we make the nursery safe head to another, and finally, if

for democracy? mother is lenient, we take up

Probably it is impossible at this Grimm's Fairy Tales, a veritable gal.

time to abolish autocracy from the axy of royal personages.

literature of childhood. Kings and “Then," I read, “the king took

queens are too deeply rooted there. Gretel to his palace and celebrated Long after the last throne has fallen the marriage in great state. And she

and the last monarch has become told the king all her story, and he

he merely an unpleasant item of his. sent for the fairy and punished her.”

torical record, little boys will be Think of having the power of pun.

devouring tales of kingly adventure ishment over fairies! The King und

and little girls will be thrilled with Gott! But my son swallows it all

stories of millers' daughters and complacently. He does not question

butchers' girls and woodcutters' the divine right of kings.

wenches who are wed by princes and After he is tucked away in bed

live happily ever after. (In real life I continue to turn the pages mus

the daughters of some of our best

known millers and packinghouse ingly. “Once upon a time two princes

millionaires and lumber magnates went out into the world to seek their

have married princes and the like, fortunes." ... “Snow-drop and

only to find their unions neither the prince lived and reigned happily

happy nor permanent.) over that land for many many years."

Once you delete royalty from the . . . “One fine evening a young

nursery stories, you rob them of their princess went into a wood and sat

charm and glamour. Reduce them to down by the side of a cool spring of

reality and you make them unintelli. water. She had a golden ball in her

gible to the juvenile hearer. Take the hand, which was her favourite play

lines thing, and she amused herself by

The money.king was in his counting house, tossing it into the air and catching

Counting out our money; it.” The idle-rich hussy! . . . “À The mayor was on the roof garden, certain king had a beautiful garden, Dancing with his honey. and in the garden stood a tree which Here you have both rime and rea. bore golden apples.”

son, but the metre has suffered and Of course the Brothers Grimm the story has entered the puzzling were of that race which our most realm of American politics and respected newspaper editors love to finance. refer to as Huns, butchers and bar For many nights without success barians. Probably they didn't know I have projected my intelligence into any better than to celebrate kings the task of writing a democratic and queens and their offspring. If Mother Goose and democratic fairy the trouble were with the Grimm tales. I have lain awake cogitating book alone, it could be easily dis- the problem. Last night, after tossposed of. But the other volumes in ing restlessly, I fell into a slumber the nursery library are tainted to troubled with ghastly dreams, and in an equal extent with the obsession one of them I was reading to my of royalty. In a world wherein we son a revised version of Hennyare pouring out our blood and treas. Penny. ure that democracy may live safely “One day a hen was picking peas

« ПретходнаНастави »