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and, in fact, to remind us, in his manner, of Mr. Arnold and Wordsworth. “The Father of the Forest” here is in the metre of Mr. Arnold's poem on the Chartreuse, and the historical memories of an old tree have been treated in “The Talking Oak.” Certainly Mr. Watson does not ascend quo nulla priorum vestigia print the path. Burns, too, almost invariably followed somebody-Fergusson, Ramsay, Hamilton, Alexander, Semple of Beltrees, the old song-makers—but Burns's genius, like a forest fire, was wont to consume and obliterate the elder mountain track. Mr. Watson, as he remarks, is, compared to his models,
“But as a knoll About the feet of the high mountains ;” the criticism is accurate, like much of Mr. Watson's criticism in verse. But everyone who has criticised other people, should himself be patient of criticism. Mr. Watson's elegiacs here are fluent and musical ; his sonnets are grave, sometimes majestic. The history in “The Father of the Forest” has this defect, that it might be continued ad infinitum, and that, in one or two petty details, it is not strictly accurate. ample, the name of the archer who shot Richard Caur de Lion is not unknown, I think, and I think Edward I. died English soil.
From the commendatory verses in Jean Hordal's book on the Pucelle (1612) to the grotesque Pucelle of Chapelain, and the Pucelles of Schiller and Southey, and the many tragedies and odes chronicled in the Bibliography by Mr. P. Lanéry d'Arc, there have been poems enough on Joan the Maid. For many reasons none has been adequate, as few are even worthy, but chiefly for the reason that the truth is more poetical than poetry. Jeanne was no speaker of tirades; her reported speeches are brief, and go to the point like arrows, “winged words.” Mr. Skrine has tried once more the perilous venture in his tragedy, “Joan the Maid," and to my taste, of all the poets known to me, his arrow is nearest to the gold. His diction is excellent; his blank verse is original, and a pleasure to read. His hero, Raimond, a young gentleman of Domremy, is, I presume, the Raymundus quidam who, according to Louis de Coutes, was his fellow-page in the service of
Jeanne (Procès, iii. 67). That Raimond should be in love with Jeanne is contrary to the evidence of d’Aulon, d'Alençon, Jean de Metz, and others, but is pardonable in a play. Yet her best friends report that no man could look on her and love her with an earthly love. The character of Tremouille, as a half-repentant traitor, is less unsympathetic than Tremouille deserves. The intrigue as regards Loiseleur, the priestly spy, is very ingeniously managed, and Mr. Skrine, for the first time in poetry, perhaps, gives the Scots their due, and introduces a second-sighted Scots archer, who is sparing of words but ready of hand, the owner of the one portrait of the Maid which history mentions. The opening scene is of a high and fateful cast. Sir James's verbal portrait of the Maid is probably the best that has been drawn :
"My word was 'wonderful.' I said not ‘fair.
If she be fair as men call fair of face,
These were the Maiden, and I saw but these." Though generally true to history, Mr. Skrine brings Louis de Coutes, the page, to Compiègne ; in fact, after the failure at Paris, Louis went back, and rode no more with her. Mr. Skrine adopts, with Captain Marin, the theory that Flavy wilfully betrayed Jeanne at Compiègne. I have no doubt that this is only the reappearance of the inevitable myth of Ganelon. Mr. Skrine's incidental songs are excellent, a lyric chorus to the tragedy. The "abortive plans of rescue” probably began and ended with the files given to the Maid at Arras, perhaps by the Scots archer there, who must himself have been a prisoner awaiting ransom. How Mr. Skrine's Scot could come and go in Rouen is not obvious, his speech (here he speaks English, somehow) would have bewrayed him. But to consider thus in a play is to consider too curiously. Mr. Skrine seems, if I understand him, to make the Maid havę moments of doubt, which
probably never beset her, save for a moment (if rather dubious evidence be correct), on the morning of her death. Her keen humour and the soldierly bluntness of her bearing among soldiers, are not indicated; but, enfin, she was a miracle, and to make the true Jeanne live in verse might have taxed the genius of Shakespeare. But Shakespeare, if he was guilty of “Henry VI.” Part I., was ignorant and prejudiced, and Scott's attention, unhappily, never rested on the subject. On reconsidering, the verse
Flower of the blowing field and open sky, does, perhaps, remind us of Tennyson.
THE THEATRE IN LONDON.
LONDON has not yet recovered from the shock of the discovery that it possesses a live drama. When it was possible, as it was possible a year or two ago, to say that there had been no real vitality in the English stage since Sheridan, when foreigners could declare, as they did with one accord, that there was no such thing as a modern English drama, the general public, which always has consisted, and we are assured always must consist, of people who go to the playhouse for amusement, a digestive or an opiate, was well content with things as they were. Pretty little idealisations of life, the cheap romance and rodomontade of melodrama, farces filched from the Palais Royal, filled the stage, and emptied the playhouses of all who declined to dispense with sound sense, sincere feeling, and serious thought. But the small public of intelligent people by and by grew restive at its exclusion from the theatre. It cast about for something to satisfy its need, and, in the absence of a home-grown article, it imported Ibsen. The effect was seismic. Sects were formed-this, as Voltaire knew, is the country of sects--Ibsenites and Anti-Ibsenites and Reformed Ibsenites and Primitive Scandinavians; the English language was enriched by several new terms of abuse ; and the almanacmakers predicted that the end of all things was at hand. When the earthquake had subsided, the whole face of the theatrical world was found to be changed. Thoughtful people were back in the playhouse once more, clamouring for a “new drama," while the thoughtless found that their former comfortable satisfaction in the old drama had somehow vanished. Both parties stared at each other with a wild surmise. It was a period of suspense. It was also a period of gestațion,
Two astute gentlemen had been watching the Ibsen upheaval --from a safe distance—and had formed their own conclusions as to its probable effect upon the English theatrical system, the new lines of cleavage it was likely to form, the new centres of gravity, the new curves of motion. They both saw that the moment was ripe for a native drama, organic and significant, in touch with life and commensurate with it--something, in short, that should be a modern substitute for antique tragedy in its Aristotelian definition as “an imitation of an action serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude”; and each in his own way set himself to produce dramas of this type. Both were already equipped with a practical experience of the stage. Mr. Arthur Wing Pinero had been a player, and, upon “commencing playwright,” had acquired skill in handling the dramatic material by experimenting with it in all its forms. One of his experiments resulted in a positive and lasting achievement. This was no less than the intellectualisation of English farce. There was nothing new in Mr. Pinero's farce formula—the betrayal of dignitaries into undignified postures. It was at least as old as the thwacking of Géronte “ dans ce sac dont Scapin l'enveloppe." A dean was discovered backing a racehorse, a Cabinet Minister playing the flute, a magistrate in a night-house "raided” by the police. What was new was the real observation of life underlying the fantastic treatment, an ironic criticism, something even of pathos. And, strange as it may seem, these farces were literature; when published, it was found they could be read with enjoyment. Mr. Henry Arthur Jones's dramatic apprenticeship had been no less thorough, though it had been served in a narrower school. Mr. Jones began with romantic melodrama and, unsympathetic critics sometimes hint, has never completely severed himself from it. At any rate, the romantic aspects of life have been the aspects upon which he has preferred to dwell. “Comme chaque genre de composition a son écueil particulier,” said Sainte-Beuve, “celui du genre romanesque, c'est le faux”; and perhaps Mr. Jones has not always escaped grounding upon that reef. He has a velleity for the queer corners of life, modern thaumaturgy, strange dreams; his chosen heroes are visionaries and "solitaries"-inspired