Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]




[ocr errors]





Come, and sing a merry song.'
Trio and Chorus. •Lo! the bugle's waking call.'

Mr. SIMMONDS, Mr. Foster, and Mr. MELLOR.
• Cold the blasts may blow.'

• The Castle of Schoenberg.'

Miss J. MESSER, Miss S. Bagg, Mr. J. Foster, and Mr. GILLEADE.
Glee. .
• Winds gently whisper.'

Mr. Payne, Mr. J. Foster, and Mr. GARRAD.
Arise, arise!'

Mainzer. Duet.

• Ladies, fly from love's smooth tale.' Balfe.

Mr. Ainsworth and Mr. RoFF. Chorus.

"A long pull and a strong pull.' (American.) Glee.

Come, Fairies, trip it o'er the grass.' J. Parry.

Miss Bagg, Master J. Foster, and Mr. AINSWORTH. Chorus.

• God speed the Right.' "The ADVANCED CLASS meets on WEDNESDAY Evenings at Eight o'Clock, and will commence a Course of Instruction and Practice next Wednesday Evening, December 31, 1856, in one of the Class Rooms. Terms, 1s. 6d. per Quarter. Music PROVIDED.

66 The ELEMENTARY CLASS meets on THURSDAY EVENINGS at Halfpast Seven o'Clock, and will commence a Course next Thursday, January 1, 1857, in the Large Room. Terms, Is. per Quarter. "

With regard to the Drama, we find less unanimity of expression among our correspondents and authorities.

On one side there is the expression of decided hope. The references to German experience are certainly encouraging. We believe we may say that the drama has never met with the same degree of severe reprobation among serious people in Germany, as it certainly deserved in England, when the Puritans pronounced against it, and as the French drama, in some of its forms, seems to deserve now. The hint given at Weimar, by Goethe and Schiller, is suggested as one which deserves following out, and which points at the possibility of the purification and control of the theatre by people of conscience and character. And here we must say to the authorities of any one of our smaller towns, who are discussing the question whether they will or will not license the occasional applicants for leave to give theatrical representations, that their wiser course will be, to appoint a firm committee of supervision, some of whom shall be present at every performance, - with taste as severe as the authorities may choose, - and in that presence to bid the performance go on.

[ocr errors]

There will be no danger then that disgraceful dancing, loose innuendo, or disgusting singing will be flung in to make a part of the entertainment. The audience in that town need never be led to expect such divertissement. But the authorities who choose the other course, of beginning with a refusal to license at all, will find, unless their experience is happier than any other New England town has seen, that, after a series of illicit performances have squeezed themselves in, under every possible disguise, they will be obliged to yield the permission which they at first refused, and that their theatre will start with an audience trained to the lowest laxities of the itinerant stage. We have a good deal of hope as to what may be done where the whole matter of a theatre is


be watched from the very beginning.

Where it is an old story, it is not so easy. There is no doubt, however, that the theatre has been in general steadily purifying itself, since the grossness of two centuries ago. We say “in general”; there are local, we hope temporary exceptions. It is a little curious, that, just at the moment when one of our leading moralists is trying to get a fair hearing for the New York stage, the New York stage should itself be running into an experiment of some of these exceptions ;— trying American comedy which disgusts Americans, and translating the grossest Parisian melodrama without the dainty veil of the elegance of Paris. We know nothing of the contemporary drama of London, but by its printed results. We are bound to say that, as these reach us, they are not hopeful. The religious disposition of London succeeded in substituting the name of Nino for Nabuco, in Verdi's opera, lest an Old Testament hero should appear upon the stage. But with this triumph it seems to have rested. It is at this point that Dr. Bellows reminds us that we have no right to expect any advance in purity from the drama, while men of religion carefully keep aloof from it; - and that here are only so many indications that it is the business of Christianity to make it more pure.

Beginning at the 'other end, we are pleased to find little indications, which point perhaps to quite a different class of dramatic entertainments, - a class, however, which certainly

promises more for the real amusement of over-worked people. The German Turnvereins of our large towns supply the want of a German theatre, by their amateur performances of the clever little comedies of the German stage;. more apt, we believe, to be free from a shade of suspicion than French vaudeville or English farce. The same taste is showing itself through our country towns, and in all private circles in our cities. In the exhibitions of schools, - even in the anniversaries of Sunday schools, - in the occasional rhetorical performances of Christian associations and of library societies, there creep in bits of dramatic representation; sometimes aspiring as high as the performance of a whole piece. Mr. Hale alludes to the performance of “ Still Waters Run Deep," or a long abridgment of it, in the vestry of an Orthodox church, by one of the societies of its young men. All these indications seem to us gratifying, as evidences that, even if the stage has not purified itself so far as to receive upon its boards those best qualified to maintain its character for innocent relaxation, the peculiar gift for imitation and representation with which some people are born is still not to be lost from our resources for making the world a cheerful world. The English experience runs parallel with our own here. At the brewery school, of whose concerts we have spoken, they have found it answered well to have soirées for their men, with their wives and children, giving them tea, music, recitations of poetry, pathetic and amusing, and acting a passage out of Shakespeare, Dickens, or some light farce. These performances are sustained by amateurs, from among the subscribers to the reading-room.

Of a considerable number of English institutions, of which we have the annual reports and prospectuses, that which seems least afraid to own that it has established a theatre, on this footing, is the New Swindon Mechanics' Institution, an association instituted for “disseminating useful knowledge and encouraging rational amusement amongst all classes of people employed by the Great Western Railway Company." This association consists of six hundred and fifty persons, mostly connected in some way with that company. These pay at various rates of subscription, according to their'wages,

from sixpence a month each up to one shilling. Those who are not employed on the Great Western pay, if gentlemen, 15s. per annum; if ladies, 10s. This association maintains " the G. W. R. R. Brass Band," a quadrille band, a drum and fife band, a bell band; choral, dancing, and drawing classes, for which three there are additional assessments; and an amateur theatrical club. It has a library of 2650 volumes, and a well-supported reading-room. All this pro

gramme looks, at first, as if this were something on a much grander scale than our Lyceums and Young Men's Associations. But the report of a year's performance shows, that, with the single exception of the theatre, it amounts to much the same thing. There are a railway excursion, ten lectures, some of them illustrated, two musical performances, and four performances by members of the theatrical club. The theatre is relied upon as so permanent a source of revenue, that they lay out quite considerable sums for scenery, and other apparatus.

How all this works with the men who act is, of course, a question. It remains to be seen, whether the young men in our Young Men's Associations, whether the stokers in the New Swindon Association, whether the Germans in the Turn-Verein, have their heads turned by the applause which they receive, and whether these minimums of minor theatres, starting with every advantage of conscientious management, will collect around themselves the drinking-shops and other ruin which surround the more legitimate drama. We do not dare speak with confidence, but we do feel that it is on this side that there is most reason for hope, in New England, for the renovation of the drama. There is no question that a large share of dramatic taste, of dramatic talent, and of subtile humor, exists as an element of the national character of our people. We are giving them all that sort of public education which makes boys and girls perfectly fearless before an audi

We may wish that they all had the shrinking modesty of children educated in profound retirement.

But our whole system, which we have no thought of abandoning, tends to make that shyness impossible. At the same time, we all have a passion for trying everything for ourselves. We shall 5th s. VOL. I. NO. I.




[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

not be surprised, if these deeply seated elements of character unite in fostering the fancy, now so generally observed, for entering into simple theatrical entertainments. And if this fancy can be kept under that control which has thus far regulated our schools, our lectures, and our public libraries, we see no reason why the theatre itself should not eventually feel the advantage of it. If this prove so, it will be floated off the mud-banks, where it is now resting, by two rival waves. It will receive an audience unwilling to countenance impurity, and a staff of performers unwilling to present it. We may say, in passing, that we believe this fancy for dramatic exhibition has received decided encouragement from the high tone of Mrs. Mowatt's books of her theatrical experiences.

We must speak more briefly of the facilities for public entertainment offered by exhibitions of painting and sculpture. The high character of our best exhibitions, provided, as all our good public entertainments are, for people who could do very well without them, blinds us, perhaps, to the utter ignorance, with regard to fine art, in which we keep the larger part of our population. The wretched failures of the fine-art side of our “ Mechanics’ Exhibitions” exhibit more fairly the average ability and resource in such matters. The English call themselves behind the Continental nations in their education of their people for fine art. But their National School of Design seems to be working out of the blunders of its beginning. The Sydenham Palace shows a great advance, and the Manchester Exhibition, just now opened, is an immense gift to all England. The British Museum is open, three days in the week, to everybody; the National Gallery, four. Mr. Sheepshanks has just offered to the nation his rich collection of paintings, to be open to the public for ever. We commend to the Art Committee of our Athenæum the example of the Liverpool Art-Union, which, during the last weeks of its exhibition, opens its collection for threepence entrance fee. We must not say this, without our thanks to the Art Club for the free gallery which they have already established in Boston. Everything is fragmentary in this speculation. It is a great deal better that it should be so. Let the demand, whatever it be, create the supply.

« ZurückWeiter »