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present the results of erudition with a certain lightness of treatment which might recommend his account of our earliest plays to that more or less mythical person, the General Reader. He shows how and why the ancient drama disappeared and how and why the modern drama was born again in the church. He traces the evolution of the liturgical plays and explains how there came to be an invasion of the humorous. He sets forth the coalescing of separate episodes from the Bible story into long-drawn cycles. He shows the relation of the miracle-plays to the moralities and the interludes; and he suggests the later development into romantic comedy.
Perhaps he does not bring out clearly enough the dominating French influence upon the English drama in the medieval period. Not in the nineteenth century and not in the Restoration is the example of the French dramatists more potent on English playmakers than in the Middle Ages. Professor Gayley seemingly sees this himself; he traces the English clown's soliloquy to the French sermon joyeux and the witty English dialogues to the French débats; and he points out the superiority of the French plays over the English in characterization; but perhaps he fails to impress on his General Reader the full extent of the indebtedness of the compilers of the English mysteries to their French predecessors. Professor Schelling is also not quite emphatic enough in setting forth this indebtedness of the earliest English drama to the French.
Professor Gayley's book is carefully put together. It contains many suggestive and interesting remarks, like that which points out that the knowledge of the Bible story possessed by the Canterbury Pilgrims seems to be due not to a searching of the Scriptures, but to attendance at the performances of the mysteries. In one respect Professor Gayley might have been more careful-in the indication of the source of his illustrations. One of these pictorial embellishments (facing page 102) is entitled "a pageant," and yet it is pretty certainly only a puppet-play, an early form of Punch-and-Judy. We should like to be told exactly where to find the Monument to a Boy-Bishop, here copied from Hone, and also to be informed as to the date and origin of Robert the Devil at the Emperor's Court, here borrowed from Mantzius. The one source from which our knowledge as to the methods of presentation obtaining in the Middle Ages can now possibly be enlarged is a conscientious search through the illuminations, wall paintings, altar-pieces and other records of medieval custom. The painter thought of sacred characters as he had seen these portrayed in the mysteries; and his pictures ought, therefore, to supply us with a host of hints as to the manner in which these characters were acted in the church and on the scaffold in the market-place.
Professor Schelling's account of the Elizabethan drama is the most elaborate yet published in English, more elaborate than Professor Ward's History of English Dramatic Literature, which is not really a history, but only a collection of critical biographies of dramatists. The British author did not really trace the growth of the drama and he paid little attention to the theatre itself or to the desires and expectations of the playgoers, which must always condition the drama. The American author considers the playhouse and the playgoer a little more than his British predecessor, although perhaps not so fully as he might have done with profit, not so fully as Professor Thorndike has done in his illuminating history of English tragedy. But it is not too much to say that Professor Schelling's is a better book than Mr. Ward's, not only because it is later and ampler, but because it is built upon a better plan.
The American author traces the development of the secular plays out of the sacred plays and shows how the medieval drama slowly expanded and enriched itself as it cut loose from the church, and how it gave birth in time to that splendid expression of national genius, the Elizabethan drama. Perhaps the author does not sufficiently emphasize the fact that this Elizabethan drama remains semi-medieval and that it becomes only semi-modern, owing to its necessary utilization of stage-devices taken over from the Middle Ages. Then Professor Schelling considers in turn the growth to maturity of each of the several dramatic species which flourished in those spacious days-the chronicle-play and the allied historical play on foreign themes, domestic drama, the comedy-of-humors, romantic tragedy, tragi-comedy, the masque, the pastoral, the college-drama and the comedy of contemporary manners. By no other treatment could the extraordinary variety of the drama be so clearly made manifest. Perhaps there would have been profit in putting more emphasis on one of the most significant of Elizabethan species, the tragedy-of-blood, the revengedrama, which is the result of the stiffening of the chronicle-play by imitation of Seneca and which was the link between the formless history and true tragedy. But no two students of the period can be expected to see its development from exactly the same point of view; and with Professor Schelling's point of view no other student has a right to find fault.
He has done his work very well indeed, and it is an honor to American scholarship, worthy of comparison with the best that has been done in Germany or in Great Britain. It is not only well planned but well written, and its criticism is sober and sane; it is as free from the dithyrambic rhapsodizing of Swinburne as it is from the mere dry-as-dust enumeration of the ordinary Teutonic investigator. He has accomplished an immensity of labor, a labor of love, for only an intense devo
tion to his task could have carried him through it. Perhaps his enthusiasm has blinded him now and again to the deficiencies of the dramatists he is dealing with and has led him to cloak the unreality which is often obvious in their work, the false psychology, the willingness to delight an eager and unthinking audience by the arbitrary surprises it relished and the sudden and unjustifiable transformations of character which it enjoyed. Here M. Jusserand is a safer guide.
Nothing in the book is more worthy of high praise than its index of more than a hundred columns and than its bibliographical apparatus extending to more than two hundred pages. Here Professor Schelling has provided the student with an invaluable mass of matter not anywhere else presented with the same precision and the same amplitude. It reveals a masterly control of the material, and its incidental criticisms, brief as they must be, are generally helpful. A careful examination of this bibliographical essay has revealed very few omissions. Perhaps it would have been well to cite, under the Duchess of Malfi, Mr. Archer's paper in the New Review, January, 1893, and Mr. Clayton Hamilton's essay in the Sewanee Review, October, 1901. And certainly it was an error to omit all reference to George Henry Lewes's little book on the Spanish Drama, which would have drawn the author's attention to the skill with which Fletcher, for example, in the Custom of the Country, heightened the value of the situation he had derived from Cervantes.1
And if a critic is condemned to the ungrateful task of finding petty faults with an admirable piece of work, a word of protest may be permitted here against Professor Schelling's trick of employing French words for which it would have been easy for him to find fit English equivalents. He writes résumé when summary would serve his purpose and repertoire when repertory is better; and he does not hesitate to use régime and habitué and par excellence. A writer who has Professor Schelling's command of English has surely no need to foray on the vocabulary of French. Brander Matthews.
INTROSPECTION AND SOME RECENT POETRY
BY BRIAN HOOKER
PERHAPS no age has ever studied itself with so eager a curiosity as our own. Other times have given their chief attention to War or Worship or Art or Learning; and we still do these things; but even in the
'It may be noted also that there is a later edition of Work for Cutlers than that cited in this bibliography.
The Age of
doing, we keep a sedulous eye upon the mirror. Perhaps cheap print and cheap education are accountable for this obsession of self; perhaps it is that science, triumphant in the conquest of material comforts and conveniences, has set us all to work cardcataloguing the universe. Certainly we are abnormally interested not only in how the other half lives, but in comparing its way of life with our own. New sciences are born overnight. We are universally examining ourselves, writing about ourselves, gossiping about ourselves; insomuch that we can hardly love without orienting ourselves to the sex-problem, or fight without simpering at future history, or pray at all, for wondering in just what type of Anthropomorph we believe.
Now, this omnivorous introspection has impressed itself very strongly upon all contemporary art. It has mated science and creation by a theory of eugenics which has produced a spawn of Isms. It has set the critic in the laboratory of the scientist, where he has so given himself over to classifying that he seldom allows himself to praise or advise or condemn. It has raised up the literature of locality, the problem-play, the analytical novel; it has turned the rivulet of our poetry almost entirely into the lyric channel-for the lyric is of all poetry most subjective; and it has brought to perfect and profuse fruition that most conscious of literary forms, the Short Story. Obviously there is much profit in all this. It is good, within limits, to make two Aristotles grow where one grew before; the short story is a precious possession; and they who hold that modern Realism is an advance in art are too many for me to dispute with them. Even in poetry, though introspection has possibly attenuated the current, drying up Epic and deflecting Drama, it has yet been productive of much good. All previous ages could not produce so beautiful, varied, and intimate an efflorescence of lyric as have the few years since Burns. It is well for the poet to look in his heart and write, well for him to examine the precise quality of his intent and the technical resources of his craft. The danger is that through looking too precisely he be smitten with the paralysis of Hamlet. It is possible to consider what one is trying to say so carefully as to say nothing; there is nothing more painfully artificial than a conscious effort after naturalness and simplicity, such as we find sometimes in Wordsworth. Breathing, in short, is an easy and a natural process until voluntary consciousness of the act makes it difficult and troublesome.
And the comfortable respiration of the muse has been disturbed by contemporary consciousness in two respects: first by limiting her free
heritage of the air. In our egoism, we would have all the subject-matter of poetry contemporary. Leave off singing of old wars and loves, retelling
ancient myths. What's Hecuba to us? "Lord, send a man like Robbie Burns to sing the song of steam!" And we would teach our poets that poetry is being lived all about us; that they should be mouthpieces of their age; that no man can step off his own shadow; and that we cannot sing those old songs truly. Now it is true that our time contains as much poetry of life as any; but precisely because it is our own, this poetry of life is unready for translation into poetry of art. For poetry deals of necessity only with what is either old or ageless. You may poetize a kiss or an arrow; you cannot poetize a locomotive, not because the thunderous fire-breathing steel monster is unbeautiful or unpoetic, but simply because it is too near. It is yet raw, surprising, commonplace but not connotative, unfledged of glamour. The mounted messenger is poetic substance; our mail system, like gunpowder and some other elder inventions, is just becoming so; wireless telegraphy is magical, but . . . impossible. When modern material of life shall have aged, then and not before will the song of steam be sung. All poets in all ages have felt this. Homer was no contemporary of Achilles; in his day the gods no longer mingled with men. And this truth is clinched by the failure in all times of even genius to poetize the physically contemporaneous. Milton's artillery is absurd; Tennyson's guns are poetic, his railroads ridiculous. Of course no poet can possibly help being the mouthpiece of his own age, not by choice of subject or imagery, but in treatment. We may tell of the beginning of worlds, yet we cannot see it but out of modern eyes, nor sing of it but with timely tongues; and all attempt to imitate the manner of another age is as futile as to exploit the matter of our own. The things which are not seen are eternally poetry. The temporally visible and the timbre of modernity must and should be left to adjust themselves.
The second cause of Pierian asphyxiation is the vicious analytical tendency to separate the ideas of substance and style. For purposes of reasoning we distinguish the two as we distinguish soul and body. But to speak of this poet's great thought ill-expressed or that one's exquisite style which expresses nothing is to make a contradiction in terms. For poets communicate only by language; and to the hearer that which is expressed otherwise is another thing. Who told you the poet's thought, if not himself? If he has conveyed to you a great thought, that