Gerhart Hauptmann.

And Pippa dances. (a mystical tale of the glass-works, in four acts) online

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printer's bills, let alone any pay for the kindly sages and seers. A type-
writing machine which when one played upon it would engrave plates, to be
run off by oneself on a hand press, would convert every man into his own
printer and he might then market his ideas at even a small profit.

* * *

These thoughts have been inspired by the appearance of a new infantile
magazine published at 66 Cornhill, and called ' The Inquisitor.' It conceals
its identity behind the terrors of anonymity like the inquisitors of old, and
frankly admits that the editors are not millionaires, and though not 'in-
quisitioning' for money they would be grateful for as many 'quarters' as
possible. We have no quarter for them, but we should like to be able to
present them with the sort of type-writing machine it is our dream that
somebody will some day invent, for we sincerely believe that all the people
who have things to say should be encouraged to say them, principally for
their own good, for after a while they will suddenly wake up to the fact
that millions of people have been saying similar things for thousands of
years and after that whatever they say will be said with becoming modesty,
or at least with some consciousness that their ideas are not entirely new and
startling.

'The Inquisitor' warns us not to decide positively whether we like it
or not on the first issue and we are not going to. We will only fill up its
last page with remarks as it invites us to do.

* * *

Its editorial platform is spiritual freedom. This is good! But it
contends that the world has well-nigh freed itself from physical slavery,
but is not yet spiritually free. Our own observations of society, on the
contrary, would lead us to the exactly opposite conclusion, namely that
there is a vast deal more of physical slavery in one form or another today,
than there is of spiritual slavery. Another article pleads for the living of

414



LIFE AND LETTERS 415

life instead of the realization of it at second hand through novels and plays.
It does not appear to us that any such plea is needed. We should rather
have thought that quite an alarming number of people were experimenting
in their own lives upon the ideas which modern plays and novels present
to them and with effects so disastrous that they ought to be learning by this
time that life is not intended to be experimented with, but to be fashioned
into as perfect a work of art as the raw material will permit. Be it said
that the experimenters, who think they are living life, dodge the palpable,
tragic consequences which an Ibsen or a Sudermann or a Hauptmann
always lay upon the altar of the eternally right; the tragedy with these
would-be livers-of-life is the gradual killing out of all desire for that which
is holy and true and beautiful in life, and the sinking into contentment with
the shams of emotional phenomena. But possibly the writer has in mind
only plays that tell of noble and great actions; perhaps he would like to be
a John the Baptist, rather than a Peer Gynt, or at least the highway-man
in the 'Girl from the Golden West' rather than the sheriff.

* * *

Still another writer doesn't agree with Burbank that a change of
environment may change the nature of a human being. The point he makes
is both subtle and interesting; he writes, 'While doing homage to the insight
manifested in Burbank's book, we would, nevertheless, submit for con-
sideration exactly the opposite view of the relation of environment and the
life force, to wit: that so-called environment has no reactionary causal effect
whatever on the life-force, but that an apparent effect is produced by the
manifestation of this life-force through a different environment, as flame
would appear in varied forms through iron gratings of different patterns.
Under this view, change of environment would in no way alter the nature
of the human being, but would merely supply it a different medium
for expression. The apparent practical effects might be the same,
but the point of view of the observer or experimenter would
be quite different.' It strikes us that the difference of opinion here
is more apparent than actual. Burbank would not claim, for example, that
a cactus could be changed into a rose, only that the cactus nature may be
so changed that it will become a much nicer cactus — all its fine pomts
emphasized, all its unpleasant ones suppressed. Similarly, given a child
that shows a tendency to cruelty and bravery, if trained one way it might
grow up into an abnormally daring and cruel man, trained another vyay,
the cruelty might be completely suppressed and the bravery emphasized
so that when it attained to the full exercise of its own will, it would
find itself possesed of the fine (juality of bravery to work unhampered by



4i6 LIFE AND LE FERS

cruelty. That people do actually develop and do not, upon a change of
environment, revert to past modes of Action, but do truly gain control of
their bad environment, shows that environment is more that a mere medium
of expression to the full)' conscious being. Consequently, to the growing
consciousness, environment may be made a means of permanently turning
the nature into channels tor its best development.

* * *

Another article plunges bravely into a discussion of free-will, the
writer deciding according to his own temperament, as this subject has always
been settled time out of mind.

Discussions in the realm of philosophy are always, however, absorbingly
interesting, if only for the play of intellectual faculty which they bring forth.
We hope this will be a regular feature of the magazine.

* * *

As usual with writers of the day, when the subject of women is touched
upon, the opinions expressed give a rather appalling revelation of the status
of the masculine mind in this regard. There is a poem not bad in expression
but made according to the most commonplace of receipts: An ounce of
love, twenty-five ounces of pain, and the delights of secret passion according
to taste. Can it be possible that the latest-day poets have no other con-
ception of love but this, or is it a disease of youth ? The expression of a
belief in, or at least an inspiration toward a noble, whole-hearted, dignified
love w^ould be, at least, a pleasant change. Perhaps the day may come
when poets will be as much ashamed of these diseases of the emotional
nature as they are now at intellectual or physical degeneracy.



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Online LibraryGerhart HauptmannAnd Pippa dances. (a mystical tale of the glass-works, in four acts) → online text (page 13 of 13)