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reserve. If it proved a success, its total could be doubled, when we should have our 100,000 reservists.
Nor should the resources which Canada and Australia offer for the recruiting of a good Naval Reserve be overlooked for a moment longer. From these quarters we could draw 10,000 to 20,000 excellent men.
It is essential that the total of trained officers should be increased with all possible rapidity. France, Russia, and Germany are all adding largely to their total of officers; indeed Germany proposes inside the next twenty years to double her staff. This she will do, as she does all things, quietly and systematically.
Another essential is to excite the officers who command in our navy to think and write on professional questions. Scharnhorst has said that 'the test of a great army [or navy] in peace-time is its output of professional literature.' Tried by that test-which is, be it remembered, that selected by a great master of war, whether on the practical or theoretical side-we do not make a good showing. There is no technical naval periodical in England corresponding to the German semi-official Marine Rundschau.
Of our navy it may truly be said, in Scharnhorst's words, describing the Prussian army on the eve of Jena, that It is animated by the best spirit; courage, ability, nothing is wanting. But it will not, it cannot, in the condition in which it is, do anything great or decisive.'
The moral is plain. We must have organisation, carried out by an organiser who understands war. It is at Whitehall, at Downing Street, that the real fault is to be found. Responsibility when it is 'spread' spells unreadiness and inefficiency. Germany, says M. Lockroy, 'views war as she does one of the national industries. She nurses her navy as though it were a commercial undertaking what dominates our attention is not so much the number of her ships or the size of her arsenals, as her application of method to the acquisition of naval supremacy.'
Let us not be ashamed to copy her and improve upon her. What we require is not so much a vast outlay, as better method, more business-like procedure, the wisest use of the great advantages which unquestionably we possess.
H. W. WILSON.
THE DRAMA IN THE ENGLISH
WHEN I became a provincial playgoer in 1870 the old circuit system had been dead for nearly a generation, and the stock company system was already dying. A very vivid and charming little miniature sketch of the old circuit actor is to be found in M. Filon's account of the English stage reprinted from the Revue des Deux Mondes. But the strolling player perished before my playgoing days, or lingered only in the provincial stock company that was itself on its last legs. It was, of course, the railway that did to death both the old circuit actor and the settled provincial stock company.
I was able to watch the transition in the provinces from the stock company to our present system of travelling companies moving from town to town and playing only one piece. For a year or two almost every evening saw me regularly in the pit of the theatre of a Northern manufacturing town. The company was probably an average stock company of the time. There was the 'leading' man, the leading juvenile' man, the 'heavy' man, the 'low' comedian, the 'old' man, the first utility' man, the 'general utility' man, and the 'light comedy' man. This latter performer did also in his own single person body forth those types of male humanity whose character, bearing, and form, clearly proclaimed them to be 'walking gentlemen'—that is, when suitably attired in woefully-fitting lavender trousers and a pair of split and dirty lemon kid gloves.
To turn to the other sex, there were the leading lady,' the 'heavy' lady (whose appearance provoked a sorry obvious jest), the 'old' woman, the general utility' lady, the chambermaid,' and the 'walking' lady, whose style, manner, and dress, displayed a large imaginative caprice, and were a fitting pendant to those of the 'walking gentleman,' though indeed they were not readily recognisable as appropriate to any 'lady' who ever walked' our own or any other land. It will thus be seen that the company contained representatives of those twelve or fourteen everlasting types into which, according to the delightful classification of our English
theatre, our Fashioner is always moulding and baking His creatures as if He were some decrepit old potter whose invention had decayed. There was not, so far as I can remember, a singing chambermaid.' Heyday! Here's a tempting mad-cap theme! Hist!
Ravishing and desirable visitant to this sad earth, thou twinkling shaft of sunlight shot across our northern gloom, would that troops and troops of thy saucy sisterhood skipped everywhere amongst us, and everywhere infected and inflamed our stubborn bleak commercialism till it danced and sang in rampant unison with thee, even to the scandalous verge of making England merry again, thou impudent charmer! Alas, what boots it, songstress, to sing thy praises! Thou art not any past or present actuality of English life! Thou art not to be found carolling on thy errands along the corridors of any company hotel! Thou art a phantom of the footlights and theatrical advertisements, from whence thou art shabbily vanishing or hast shabbily vanished. Adieu, figment!
In addition to representatives of those twelve or fourteen welldefined types, into which, according to theatrical phraseology, it has pleased Providence to cast humanity, there were two leading supers who were occasionally augmented for special productions. These two supers were always present as the main body and trusty henchmen of Richard's or Macbeth's army, or the chief guests in a modern drawing-room. One of them was very sallow, with thick black hair and a low forehead. His only expression was a determined savage scowl, which might indeed have been of some happy service on those occasions when the business of the scene naturally required an onlooker to regard it with that expression of countenance. But unfortunately for his usefulness even at such rare moments, his scowl was always directed at the audience, and I never detected in him the least approach to any interest in the performance. The other leading super was a large sandy man, with an amiable moonface and a pronounced squint. So far as the shifting and impenetrable vagaries of his glance allowed one to guess what was passing in his mind, he appeared to take a fatherly benevolent, but somewhat contemptuous, interest in what was being enacted before him. He gave one the notion that his mind was a storehouse of futile irrelevancies, and his peculiar expression, added to his wonderful (apparent) power of focussing his vision simultaneously on the middle occupant of the gallery and on the bald spot in the conductor's coiffure beneath him, conspired harmoniously with his fellow-super's scowl to convict every scene in which they appeared of candid and whimsical imposture. In saying this I do not mean to imply that their efforts achieved a different result from that usually achieved by provincial supers, or even by far more exalted performers in London; but only that their respective methods of obtaining that result were noticeably original and unique.
To sum up the company, it was fairly capable in domestic and legitimate drama. The leading performers knew their business,' and while I cannot say that I ever saw a great performance, I certainly saw many sound and respectable ones. The piece was changed two or three times a week, but the répertoire remained the same to some extent during the season. The Man in the Iron Mask, Leah, The Corsican Brothers, The Porter's Knot, and other and more bloodthirsty melodramas constantly changed places with The Daughter of the Regiment, A Hundred Thousand Pounds, and Hamlet. Sometimes leading performers like Toole and Sothern came and brought a new piece for trial, filling in the smaller parts from the local company. A very unequal and slovenly performance, except in the leading parts, was generally the result.
The scenery and furniture were atrociously bad. A shabby orange-coloured chamber nightly challenged every law of architecture, decoration, and archæology; brazenly pretending to be a midVictorian parlour to-night, while last evening it had claimed to be Joseph Surface's library, and the night before it had ambitiously posed as Portia's palace. A kitchen scene played much the same pranks with architectural possibility and human credulity; while the Forest of Arden might perhaps have passed muster as the ramparts of Elsinore if it had not been unblushingly announced the week before as the Exterior of a Cottage at Clapham;' at the same time showing a background of wonderful rocky sea ravine such as no Rosalind nor any maiden of South London has ever gazed upon.
No performance of any striking merit stands out in my provincial remembrances apart from the occasional visits of London performers. Already the stock company was doomed. Travelling companies playing the Robertson comedies of Caste, School, and Ours, had lately visited the leading towns, and it soon became evident that this Was to be the coming form of organisation for the drama in the provinces. From that time to this the provincial stock companies have dwindled in numbers, importance, and ability, as the travelling companies have correspondingly increased in the same regards, and have virtually taken possession of the whole field. Many tears are continually shed over the decease of the stock provincial company; many cries are continually raised for its resurrection. There are good reasons for lamenting it; there are good reasons for wishing its restoration—if that were possible. But in considering the future of the drama in the provinces, the wiser plan is to plainly recognise that the old provincial stock company is dead. Killing time has glared upon it, and it lies a veritable corpse before our eyes.
A very interesting correspondence concerning the provincial drama appeared last summer in the pages of the weekly newspaper, The Clarion. Mr. William Archer, Mr. Courtneidge (the manager of the two leading Manchester theatres), Mr. Thompson (the critic of The
Clarion), Mr. George Bernard Shaw, and many others, continued the discussion for several weeks. Much truth was raked out, many complaints were made, some suggestions were started, and nothing was done.
The general situation was well described by Mr. Courtneidge in a very able letter, showing great knowledge of the subject, great enthusiasm for the drama, and a willingness to join in any practical scheme for its betterment. To put the matter as briefly as possible, the main facts are as follows:
The first thing to note in the situation is the great and continued increase of country people who constantly visit London. Not only our leading families, not only the professional classes, but almost every tradesman goes up to London every year, for periods varying from some days to some months. This means that English playgoing has become largely centralised in London. Our long runs in town are largely supported by the constant flux of country visitors. Country people do most of their play-going in London, and tend to have their tastes and judgments formed by London standards. The plays that obtain sufficient success in London to be sent into the country have been already seen in their best presentment by most of the regular provincial play-goers. And unless a play has some feature of absorbing interest it is rarely visited in the country by those who have already seen it in London to better advantage, or to what they suppose to be better advantage.
The large towns, eight or ten in number, are visited nearly every year by some of the leading London managers-Irving, Tree, Alexander, Hare, the Kendals, the Cyril Maudes, and others. These leading managers take their London productions and their London performers at any rate in the leading parts. There is generally a little reduction in the salary lists, a little weakening of the London cast, but the performance is not markedly inferior to the one given in town.
These visits of the leading actors are almost always crowded, and bring a very substantial profit to both London and local manager. And these few weeks, at most some six or eight in the autumn, are almost the only profitable ones in the whole year for our leading country managers-apart from pantomime and musical comedy. There is perhaps a chance successful week or so of a London success, a popular melodrama, or an extraordinary farce like Charley's Aunt.
It is not worth while to quibble about words, but these visits of London managers can hardly be counted as the provincial drama. When the whole cast and scenery of the Lyceum or Her Majesty's are taken to the Theatre Royal, Manchester, it is virtually London play-going that is being done in Manchester.
The annual pantomime, extending from Christmas to some time