George Streynsham Master.

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quently, the young man destined for Isabella. The
dear old Doctor is so glad to see him that he opens
a bottle of wine, which proves to be a narcotic, and
Carlos falls into a deep sleep. The Doctor, thinking
that he has poisoned the son of his old friend, is
completely crushed by the committal of another mur-
der, and hides the body of his second victim under
the sofa in his room. About this time Setior Bal-
thazar arrives, and the Doctor's house being small,
the sofa is assigned to him for a bed. In the



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dead of night Carlos recovers and crawls out from
under the sofa. There is an encounter in the dark,
lights are lit, friends and neighbors rush in and a
general explanation ensues. The plot is full of
action and comical situations. The setting of both
acts is the same : a room, plainly furnished, with a
large window in the center; a cabinet of drugs
against the wall, a table, a sofa high enough for a man
to crawl under, and a few chairs. The costumes
are simple enough. The Doctor generally wears a
dressing-gown; the other men wear Spanish cos-
tumes of a century ago, and the women appear in
short, gay-colored skirts, high combs, and Spanish
veils. A little research in illustrated books and in
closets and a little feminine ingenuity will provide
these without much difficulty.

One of the joUiest little pieces for stage or draw-
ing-room is " Cups and Saucers," a " satirical musical
sketch," in one act, by Mr. George Grossmith, Jr.
Mr. Grossmith is one of the cleverest young actors
in England. He was the original Sir Joseph Porter
and has played that part for over five hundred nights.
He is also the author of a musical monologue called
" Eyes and Ears in London," which Miss Kate
Field is to produce in America before long. There
are only two characters in "Cups and Saucers,"
Mrs, Nankeen Worcester^ "a china maniac," and
Genera/ DeetaA, ** another " Mrs. IVofrester dresses
in fashionable widow's attire, and the General in
evening dress. The scene is a drawing-room with
handsome furniture, a piano at left and a five o'clock
tea-table in the center, with tea-things. The music
of this Httle piece is very pretty, the duet "Foo
Choo Chan " being unusually ear-catching. I
believe that Mr. Grossmith wrote " Cups and Sau-
cers " expressly to be played before " Pinafore,"
for they like a good long bill in London. At any
rate, that is the purpose it served, and it met with
great favor.

Mr. J. R. Thomas's " Diamond Cut Diamond "
was written with special reference to amateurs, and,
like ** Cups and Saucers," is in one act, and, also
like that piece has but two characters. It is not,
however, to be compared with Mr. Grossmith's satire
for brightness of dialogue. The action takes place
in the parlor of a hotel. The characters represented
are Clara^ soprano, and Charles, tenor. The dress
of the former is a ball-room costume with mask,
and a maid-servant*s dress as a disg^e. Charles
has three changes : a dress-suit, an Irish servant's
dress with comic wig, and a gondolier's suit, — ^which
may be made of a water-proof cloak, — ^knee-breeches,
and slouch hat. ** Knee-breeches " sounds formi-
dable, but these can be made very readily by cutting
off the fore-legs of a pair of old trowsers and pulling
on a pair of long stockings. The personator of this
character should wear low shoes, unless he wants to
be taken for a *• pedestrian." In what are called
** shape " plays, amateurs in the country are often
put to it for ** tights." Kings, and even courtiers,
find it necessary to wear this article of apparel, which
is the most expensive part of the costume, often
costing as much as $20 a pair, when of silk. For
$i.$o or $2.00, however, one can get long leggins



that reach to the waist and at a short distance pass
for very respectable tights.

Ambitious amateurs who may desire something
more difficult than either of these operas will find
** The Bells of Comeville " worthy their attention.
The music is exceedingly pretty, and there is an
opportunity for the display of more histrionic abihty
than is necessary in the operas I have mentioned.

Amateurs, as well as the general public, owe a
heavy debt to Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan for
what they have done to popularize wholesome
comic opera. The mysteries of "that infernal non-
sense, 'Pinafore,'" to quote from Major-General
Stanley, have long since been explained in this
department. There are, however, other operas by
these authors that are in every way worthy the con-
sideration of amateurs. First among them is *• The
Sorcerer." This sparkling and witty opera was
performed at the old Broadway Theater last winter,
but was so badly done that it can hardly be said to
have been done at all. Some of the music of the
piece is quite as good, if not better, than •* Pina-
fore," and its elements of popularity are almost as
many. The Sorcerer is John Wellington Wells, a
"dealer in magic and spells," who sells a potion
which, when taken, makes the one who drinks it
fall madly in love with the first man or woman he
or she happens to meet The situations that arise
from this potion-drinking are extremely comical*
yet the piece, like " Pinafore," must be acted with
perfect seriousness. It is written in two acts, and
there are ten characters besides the choms. The
scene is laid in England and the time is the pres-
ent. Both scenes are out-of-doors, but if the ama-
teurs have the use of a theater they will find little
trouble in setting them. The costumes are not
difficult to arrange, if one remembers that p^>er-
muslin makes excellent silk or satin, and that can-
ton-flannel, which may be bought in a great variety
of colors, will do excellent duty as velvet

" Trial by Jury," by the same composers, is well
suited to parlor performance. The scenery b eas-
ily managed, and the costumes are of the present
day. The dialogue is extremely funny, and the
music attractive.

All of the foregoing operas are put^hed by Oliver
Ditson & Co., Boston, or C. H. Ditson & Co.,N. Y.

It will be a long time before "The Pirates of Pen-
zance "will be accessible to amateurs, for neither the
words nor the music are published yet, nor are they
likely to be. It would be a difficult opera to produce,
as the scenery of the second act could only be set on
a real stage by expert carpenters and scene-shifters.
Moreover, the music is difficult Few amateurs
could do justice to the whispering chorus of the
first act or to many of the solos of the second.

In this connection the " Frog Opera" should not be
forgotten. It is quite popular among amateurs. The
libretto is by Mr. Charles J. Miller, and the music
is selected firom various sources. Part of the per-
formers dress as frogs, and the effect is said to be
very amusing. I have not seen this opera, though
it was performed in Brooklyn quite recently.

M. L.E.



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Jamet't *• Hawthorne.** *

When it is a writer's purpose to sketch the life of
a great literary man, it is not enough that he should
do his best The task b peculiar in this way,
that nearly every one who reads the biography
lias formed his opinion of the subject beforehand.
In the case of Hawthorne an additional complication
ensues from the fact that so few sketches of his life
have been written that his character has not yet
become as it were common property for the critics
to air their private conceptions upon. On the one
hand Mr. James has to encounter — in this country,
at least — minds made up on the subject, and on
the other he is sure to meet with rebuff if he treats
the matter off-hand. In one sense Mr. James's
treatment of Hawthorne is fieur from off-hand. Here,
as elsewhere, he is the same careful workman, fiis-
tidious as to his phrases and quite as self-conscious
as any of the New Englanders upon whom he
throws the slur. So, although as workman he has
done his best, it does not follow that his best is
appropriate to just the thing he has undertaken.
Delicate as many of his criticisms are, and admirable
as is the discrimination which separates the finer
from the less excellent productions of Hawthorne,
it is apparent from the first page that Mr. James
lacks the underlying characteristic which a good
biographer must have, namely, sympathy.

Mr. James shows no sjrmpathy whatever with the
United States, New England or Hawthorne. It is
not now his fault; it has become his misfortune.
Hence we see the curious spectacle of a writer
brought up in New England and having imbibed
the ideas, character and even phraseology of New
England people, not only treating that section of the
country vnth contempt, but unable to rise to a sym-
pathetic appreciation of her most exquisite literary
product That he should have learned to abhor the
narrowness and priggism so often associated with
Boston is not much to be surprised at, but that
he could maintain a frigid attitude toward Haw-
thorne is singular indeed. Verily, there is a narrow-
ness of the cosmopolite as well as of the provincial.

The spirit of the book, therefore, not the letter,
is what is deprecated. The study is full of good
things, well considered opinions; moreover, these
are admirable without respect to the odd mixture of
French persiflage and English insolence which gives
the study its general tone. For instance, in partial
accord with Emile Mont^gat, but also with strong
divergence, Mr. James puts his hand on the dom-
inant chord of Hawthorne's mind as follows :

" This is the real charm of Hawthorne's writing —
this purity and spontaneity and naturalness of fancy.
For the rest, it is interesting to see how it borrowed
a particular color from the other faculties that lay
near it — how the imagination in this capital son of

* Hawthorne. By Henry James, Jr. " Engliih Men of
Lectera." Edited Inr John Motley. London: Marmilbn &
Co. N«w York: Harper ftSfochcn. z88a



the old Puritans reflected the hue of the more
purely moral part of the dusky, overshadowed con-
; science. The conscience, bv no fault of its own, in
* every genuine offshoot of tnat somber lineage, lay
I under Die shadow of the sense of sin. This dark-
I ening cloud was no essential part of the nature of
the individual ; it stood fixed m the general mond
I heaven under which he grew up and looked at life.
It projected from above, from outside, a black patch
over his spirit and it was for him to do what he
could with the black patch. There were all sorts
of possible ways of dealing with it ; they depended
. upon the personal temperament- Some natures
; would let it lie as it fell, and contrive to be tolerably
I comfortable beneath it Others would groan and
I sweat and suffer ; but the duskv bli^t would
: remain, and their lives would be lives of misery.
Here and there an individual, irritated beyond
endurance, would throw it off in anger, plunging
probably into what would be deemed deeper abysses
of depravity. Hawthorne's way was the best ; for
he contrived, by an exquisite process best known to
himself, to transmute tnis heavy moral burden into
the very substance of the imap^ination, to make it
evaporate in the lieht and charming fames of artistic
I>roduction. But Hawthorne, of course, was excep-
tionally fortunate ; he had his genius to help him.
Nothing is more curious and interesting tlum this
almost exclusively imported character of the sense
of sin in Hawthorne's mind ; it seems to exist there
merely for an artistic or literary purpose. He had
ample cognizance of the Puntan conscience; it
was his natural heritage; it was reproduced in
him ; looking into his soul, he found it there. But
his relation to it was only, as one may say, intel-
lectual; it was not morsd and theological. He
played with it, and used it as a pigment; he
treated it, as the metaphysicians say, oojectively."

Passages like this redeem the study ; but it must
be acknowledged that on the whole Mr. James, far
from approaching the subject with proper reverence,
saunters up to Hawthorne with his hands in his
pockets and begins to criticise both the genius and
his birthplace with the air we see too often in our
friends whose traveling has' been more extensive
I than their thoughts have been profound. Has
; Mr. James described the floating American pop-
I ulation of Europe so long that he has ended in
becoming assimilated to the types in his novels ?
< It is certain that the essay is pervaded with some-
thing very like a most detestable practice of Ameri-
I cans abroad, consisting in a species of self-conscious
apology for the peculiarities of life in America, an
uneasy depreciation of things American, because
European ill-will is felt before it is uttered. Mr.
I James has described, in his own excellent way, per-
I sons who err after this common fashion. For fear
I of incurring the charge of native hero-worship, has
I he gone to the other extreme and entered into the
I other affectation of cynicism? Or is he merely
I striving to put himself in the place of his English
I audience, when he adopts the superior, condescend-
' ing tone of insulars, justly infuriating to reasonable
men of other nations ?
Whatever answer is made to these natural ques*



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tionsy it cannot be greatly to the credit of Mr.
James as a thinker of breadth and force. It might
seem that a more liberal soul would find in the
episode of the evening passed at the Peabody
house over a bookful of Flaxman's attenuated
outlines nothing to give rise to a covert sneer, but
rather a source of admiration that from such
unpromising surroundings anything great should
come. Notwithstanding Hawthorne's remark in
the preface to "The Marble Faun," as to the con-
nection between ruins and romance, Mr. James's
belief that ivied ruins and such things are necessary
to literary growth is astonishingly crude, when ema-
nating from a man so discriminating and observant
as he. It is on a par with the vulgar modem
painters of France, who, through all the glamour
produced by extraordinary technical ability,, show
the triviality of their natures by surrounding them-
selves with studios fiill of bric-^-brac especially
arranged to dazzle the reporters for the daily press.
Indeed Mr. James is sadly deficient in the true
artistic sense, even when shown in a literary phase.
The Hawthorne theory of ruins he carries out into
commonplace. He gives quotations from Haw-
thorne's Note-Books (at the same time making
clever and true criticism on the general relation
of these Note- Books to Hawthorne and the world),
which defeat in themselves the argument for which
they are quoted. To a true artist, such as Haw-
thorne was, the "trifles" quoted are not trifles.
"The aromatic odor of peat-smoke in the sunny
autumnal air is very pleasant "~ Mr. James cannot
understand of what use that was. Of course it
spoke to Hawthorne of a whole picture, just as an
incomprehensible jumble of strokes in an artist's
note-book is seen by him to represent a landscape.
At the same time it may be true that the Note-
Books are self-conscious. But people in glass
houses should not throw stones.

Julian Hawthorne's "Sebaitian Strome."*

It is Mr. Hawthorne's fate that comparisons
are always instituted between his own work and
that of his illustrious father. Nor is it any more
his fault, or any less his misfortune, that there
is some shadowy basis for the comparison. Even
in "Sebastian Strome," which differs materially
and delightfully from "Bressant" and "Garth,"
there is a reminiscence of Nathaniel Hawthorne,
and singularly to say, of one of his greatest
works, that on which his fame was founded, and
which, it may safely be said, he never surpassed.
Sebastian Strome, the chief actor in this new story,
is obviously like the young minister in " The Scar-
let Letter," for he, too, although preparing for the
ministry, has the same terrible secret to conceal.
Yet, though the plots in their most general terms
are similar, the unlikeness otherwise could not well
be greater. It is not merely that the epochs are
different, Strome being the son of an English curate
of to-day ; the spirit in which father and son have



* Sebastian Strome A Novel
^thor of " Garth," etc. New-York :



Julian Hawthorne,
. Appleton & Co.



treated an analogous theme is as far asunder as the
poles. Nathaniel Hawthorne belongs to the ideal-
ists ; his son to the realists. While one represents
the cold but lofty speculations of the beginning of
this century which found greatest expression in New
England, both in literature and sculpture, the other
adheres to modem Positivism and Realism, or say
even to Impressionism, that ofT-shoot and partial
protest against both the others.

Characteristic of the two epochs and the two
men as seen in their work are the different modes
of coming before the public. Nathaniel worked
many years against discouragement and neglect;
Julian has the press and the public on his side
from the start. The elder seems to have warmed
slowly and thoroughly to his profession ; the
younger begins life by boiling over at once, pro-
ducing short stories and novels that in spite of
their virtues are cdnspicuous for faults of excess.
Nathaniel required, if he required anything, en-
couragement and knowledge of life, travel, sympa-
thy, excitement. Julian needed discouragement,
hard work, rebuffs and neglect. The father got
what he needed later in life, but we may hope that
the son has passed the age where hard treatment
will be longer necessary. " Sebastian Strome " has
many indications that he has learned of his own
accord how to prune away the faults of his former
style.

In " Sebastian Strome " we find Mr. Hawthorne
dealing with some of the problems proposed in
"Daniel Deronda," but purposely dealing with
them, and taking views entirely different from those
of George Eliot. He seems to have felt a natural
distaste for the improbable character of that last hero
of the great English novelist ; perhaps his tempera-
ment rebels more than another's at what may seem
to him the girlish inadequacy of Daniel Deronda.
Or it may be that the mere idealism of that
character runs so counter to his own views of life
that he could not help this protest. For ** Sebas-
tian Strome " is a protest against Daniel Deron4a
and many other charming ideals. The work begins
by showing us the beautiful life of Sebastian's
father and mother in the parsonage ; then we scent
a crime in the person of pretty, naughty Fanny
Jackson ; then we are sure that while the father
and mother are thinking of their son as one of the
elect, that son has given himself to the devil in
most of the shapes in which he appears to young
men. Another protest against Daniel Deronda
is Selim Fawley, the unctuous young English Jew
who carries off Mary Dene, the heiress. Has Mr.
Hawthorne imbibed in Germany a hatred of Jews,
or is this merely a literary protest against George
Eliot's fiction ? At any rate, Selim Fawley, besides
being personally obnoxious, is a scoundrelly wretch,
— vrriting anonymous letters, intriguLig to get the
heiress more for money and his own comfort than
love, dri vin g bargains with a vulgar Yankee, and form-
ing a " pool " to make money out of the needs of
the English soldiers during the Crimean war. When
this oily young banker does finally get Mary Dene
to wife, he is physically in the condition of



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Oasaubon, the decrepit husband of Dorothea, in
**Middlemarch." Mary Dene may be called a
protest against both Dorothea and Gwendolen; and
if she be not so carefully finished and rounded a
character as either of these women, it is quite cer-
tain that she is conceived on a larger scale, more
attractive to both men and women, — ^in fine, is a
more heroic heroine. What surprises the reader of
Mr. Hawthorne's books more than anything else,
is the faculty he has discovered of representing
lovely characters of women side by side with the
most repulsive tjrpes of men. Mary Dene has the
tenderness and home-loving qualities of the best
English girls, joined to the dash and spirituelle
charm of American women. She is so fine a char-
acter that readers will have no patience with the
gross and vindictive young hero whose utter selfish-
ness wrecks the early years of her life.

It may be that "Sjjiastian Strome" is only a.
novel of the day and will be forgotten when the
books of Nathaniel Hawthorne and George £liot
are still read with delight. But this much is sure :
there is no escape for the reader on whom the
story has once taken hold. It may be horrible,
bat it holds the attention like a vise. It abounds
in ideas, new views of daily matters, bold and
original declarations that feeble folk slur over as
best they can. The author is possessed with a fiiry
of truth, and makes truth almost the only virtue in
bis hero. Everything must be said outright. The
book still bears traces of an overweening confidence
in himself, and of his inconoclastic desires. • It is still
Gothic, but it is masculine. It sets the pulses to
beating and fills the eyes with tears. Strangely
enough, the three/ chief actors, in turn, become
partially insane for brief periods and their crazy
moments are conscientiously described. Altogether
** Sebastian Strome " may be called meat for strong
men, not milk for babes.

Austin Dobson's Poems.*

If gjravity of intention be a characteristic of the
English mind, as Taine maintains with such perti-
nacity in his ** History of English Literature," it is
not its only, nor its strongest, characteristic, for it is
always accompanied by a sense of humor which
heightens it by contrast, and brings it within the
range of sympathies which it would otherwise
repel. All the great English poets, with the excep-
tion of Milton, were distinguished by their comic
as well as their tragic power — Chaucer as much by
the Wife of Bath as by Patient Grisseli, and Shaks-
pere as much by Bottom and Dogberry as by Ham-
let and Lear, The lesser poets had less of it, and
required less of it, in the work to which they devoted
themselves. It would have been out of place, for
example, in the serious narratives of the Elizabethan
poets, and equally out of place in the love-verses
of their successors. The best of the latter were
not entirely without it, however, as the readers of

* Vkncttes in Rhyme, and Other Verses. By Austin Dob-
son, with an Introduction by E. C. Stedman. New York:
Henry Holt ft Co.



Cowley's '« Chronicle" and Suckling's " Ballad upon
a Wedding " will remember. There is a lightness,
a grace, a jovialty about this last piece which sepa-
rates it from all the poetry of its time, and which
would make it perfect if it were not unfortunately
smirched with coarseness and indelicacy. The ele-
ment of humor in one form or another was conspicu-
ous, though not abundant, in the verse of the
seventeenth century — agreeably so in some of the
smaller px>ems of Suckling, and Carew, and Sedley ;
overpoweringly so in the extravagant satire of
Butler ; and disgustingly so in the classic travesties
of Cotton and Phillips. It mingled with its other
elements in the verse of Pope, and Gay, and Swift ;
in the prose of Addison, and Steele, and Fielding,
and Smollett; and, later, in that of Sterne and
Goldsmith. It manifested itself at a still later period
in the verse of Gifford, and Canning, and Wolcott ; in
the political epistles of Moore ; in the savage literary
satire of Byron ; and in that riotous exhibition of
the best and the worst of human nature — " Don
Juan '* — which is at once the glory and the shame
of his genius. Byron created a new epoch in the
history of English humorous poetry — an epoch
which is of greater intellectual significance than any
since that of Shakspere, and which has since been
sustained and enriched by Hood, and Praed, and
Thackeray, and Locker, — four delightful masters of
metrical pleasantry who are worthy of the race to
which they belong. This epoch has now to acknowl-
edge a new master in Mr. Austin Dobson.

We know nothing of Mr. Dobson, except what
we learn from Mr. Stedman 's preface, which informs
us that he was born in 1840, and that he has been a
government clerk in London for twenty-two years.
He is the author of two volumes of verse, "Vig-
nettes" (1873), and " Proverbs in Porcelain" (1877),
which we read at the time of publication, and in
which we found more enjoyment than in the poetic



Online LibraryGeorge Streynsham MasterThe Century, Volume 19 → online text (page 156 of 160)