dying!' And when Melba got out into the street her friend stared at her. Her face was daubed with the dying Bernhardt's rouge.

Melba's own make-up was always extremely efficient. She brought her father's business temperament on to the stage. No sacrifice of time or food was too great in the cause of her work, and she prided herself upon singing exactly what the composer wrote. Only once, apparently, did she fail, when she sang Brunhild in Siegfried. "The music was too much for me.

I had a sensation almost of suffocation, of battling with some immense monster' - and she never sang Wagner again. But the crown was not without its thorns. She has been accused of having no roof to her mouth, of eating three raw eggs before each act of La Bohème, and finally half London believed that Melba had to give up singing because of her passion for eating mice. The real culprit was a magpie; for birds and beasts, scents and ices, have all been named after her; but even so, there are compensations.

Plays: Sixth Series, by John Galsworthy. London: Duckworth. 78.

[Times Literary Supplement]

THERE are three plays in Mr. Galsworthy's new book- The Forest; Old English; and The Show; and the only one of the three that is artistically just is the play in writing which Mr. Galsworthy did not care twopence about any right or wrong except that of dramatic art. In The Forest he set out, perhaps from his story-teller's delight in those thrilling adventures, those violent displays of raw character in the South African wilds. He told them well. But he allowed another consideration to cut across his delight in the good yarn; and that was his dislike, which all share, of the soft-bodied, hard-hearted creatures that sit in armchairs in offices, preying upon brave men to feed their lust of money or of power; his dislike, also, of cranks and fanatics who allow themselves to be humbugged by their own dreams. There was no reason why the two themes should not have been welded together. The reason why they are not welded together, and why the play is not one thing but two things, feebly joined, is Mr. Galsworthy's failure to bring his moral feeling under subjection to his artistic rectitude. When he ought to have thought of nothing but the right and wrong of dramatic art, he was thinking partly of another sort of right and wrong. In The Show he thought almost wholly of the wrong of two instruments of social life that every intelligent

person knows to be inevitably clumsy-the Law and the Press.

His story-teller's cap lay in a draw while he brooded over the clumsiness and the inevitable pain, and he patched up a one-sided tale that must rely for drama largely upon the old tricks of surprise and coincidence; a made-up thing which, just because it is dramatically lifeless, sets the reader or hearer eagerly picking holes in the argument and determined to see only the good in two social powers that he instinctively mistrusts. But the cap was firmly on when Mr. Galsworthy wrote Old English. And this, we believe, is the play which, of all three, has been most severely criticized by sticklers for the dramatic conventions. It is a short story spun out, a oneact play stretched into three acts, and so forth. It may be so, but it does not matter. When he wrote it, the author was thinking of no kind of right and wrong except the artistic. "The grand old fightin' gintleman! The great old sinner he was!' Old English was a sinner, no doubt; but we are not concerned with morals. The point of the pretty housemaid's lament lies in the other words: grand, fighting, gentleman, great. To read or to see this play, Old English, is to ‘experience,' in Clutton-Brock's phrase, a work of art; something real and alive that was not before and now is. To read or to see The Show, and all of The Forest except some parts of the adventure scenes, is to experience nothing.

I Heard a Sailor, by Wilfrid Gibson. London and New York: The Macmillan Company. $2.00.


MR. GIBSON's talent is essentially dramatic; and his concern is the human tragedy. His style is very simple, yet surprises by its flexibility. He is never 'transcendental.' The poems 'Others' are the best he has written. He has adopted the milieu, and something of the manner, of Mr. Hardy with success. He deals in rustic, primitive passions; and from their eternal sameness extracts again and again the 'element of surprise.' 'Beauty for Ashes' is almost as good, but slightly more vague, less inevitable. Scarcely a page of this book has not a revealing flash of beauty.


BONN, MORITZ J. The Crisis of European Democracy. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1925. $1.25.


The Romantic '90's, by Richard Le Gallienne. Garden City: Doubleday, Page and Company, 1925. $2.50.

THE trouble with the nineties is that they have not been dead and buried long enough to acquire the savor of antiquity. In his closing paragraph Mr. Le Gallienne says that they 'emphasized the modern determination to escape from the deadening thralldom of materialism and outworn conventions, and to live life significantlykeenly and beautifully, personally and, if need be, daringly.' Yet even those of us who find this attitude vieux jeu and tiresome will be entertained by these thoroughly charming reminiscences. The author tells us about Swinburne almost as well as Max Beerbohm did in his perfect essay, 'No. 2, The Pines.' He has a good deal to say about Oscar Wilde, and lesser celebrities get their share. Mr. Le Gallienne may be inclined to go off at half cock over the genius of Mrs. Meynell and George Meredith, but it is this very enthusiasm that gives the book personality and makes it thoroughly readable from

cover to cover.

Vainglory, by Ronald Firbank. New York: Brentano's, 1925. $2.00.

MR. FIRBANK is one of those horrid people who have had such an unfortunate influence on Carl Van Vechten since he forsook Cedar Rapids and even the Chicago stockyards to lead the Higher Life in New York. Vainglory succeeds in doing what Mr. Van Vechten has so persistently failed to achieve. It is futile, delightful, witty, and bizarre. It has flavor and, though artificial to the last degree, is quite as realistic in its own way as anything by Anderson or Dreiser. To be sure, it does not deal with the complexes of sensitive yokels; it tries to mirror the activities of a silly group of seedy aristocrats - a much more subtle and difficult job. Our chief criticism of Mr. Firbank is that in his recent rewriting of this work he has still left his characters completely indistinguishable from each other, although each one is brilliantly characterized when first introduced to the reader. Also it is a little difficult to tell just what is going on. However, as a character in another book by the same author says, 'Life 's like that.'

Carlyle on Cromwell and Others, by D. A. Wilson, New York: E. P. Dutton and Company, 1925. $5.00.

THIS is the third volume of the new Life of Carlyle. It covers the period from 1837 to 1848, during part of which time Carlyle's work on Oliver Cromwell was written, and, quite apart from the ample treatment which the central figure receives, much light is shed on the great literary and social notables of the time. The very fullness of Mr. Wilson's treatment necessitates a somewhat disjointed method of writing; at the same time it means that little of importance has been passed by. The volume contains five excellent portraits.

South Africa, by W. H. Dawson. New York:

Longmans, Green and Company, 1925. $5.50. THIS is neither travel-book nor textbook, but a compendium of information about South Africa, gained from recent first-hand experience. Here is all that the most particular prospective settler might wish to know about the country, its possibilities and problems. The question of the color bar is faced with no attempt at evasion, and no aspect of the problem is left without a real effort to propose a constructive solution. The style, even when aided by many excellent illustrations, cannot be called attractive, but any reader who wants to understand South African problems will not regret reading this volume.

The Road, by Hilaire Belloc. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1925. $3.00.

WITH attractive erudition, Belloc traces the five great epochs in the development of the roaddelightful even when historic and economic learning is in the forefront of his discussion. There is a fascination even to the most untutored about a Roman road, but when the why and wherefore of it and its neighbors are clearly revealed the itch for exploration becomes irresistible. Now that we stand at the beginning of a sixth epoch, Belloc's ideas on the future of the road repay attention. The charming drawings, the maps, and the admirable printing, make this a most attractive little book.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]






This novel marks, we believe, the dawn of a new reputation. It is the full expression of the interests, the passions, the exaltations of the new generation now laying hands on the levers of the world.

The writer is a young Englishwoman whose name will be very
familiar as the months pass.

From the breaking of war over the happy and secluded family of an
Austrian in England to the days of starvation which peace brought to
Vienna, the book moves forward among living and questioning groups of
men and women, the love-story of Zina and Colin its central theme.

The half-forgotten world of before the war finds its belated represen-
tatives in the Barret-Sandersons; the children who grew up in the days of
the conflict have Wendy as their spokeswoman. In the forefront of the
picture stand Zina and Colin, interpreters of the mistakes, the struggle
and the triumphs of the age in which we live.

A complete résumé of the plot would give no impression of the sincerity and charm of the telling, of the truthfulness or the characterization, of the moving background of life as it was led in pre- and post-War Time.

Price $2.00

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

THE LIVING AGE. Published weekly. Publication office, RUMFORD BUILDING, CONCORD, N. H.


VOL. 328 FEBRUARY 20, 1926-NO. 4259





MUSSOLINI'S temperamental outburst against Germany in the Italian Parliament on account of that country's alleged aggressive intentions in Tyrol is the culmination of a strained situation that has existed since the Peace Treaty but that has been aggravated by a number of events during the past three months. It is a somewhat broader question than the present incident indicates, for it involves Switzerland, and also, though much more remotely, France.

In the first place, Italy has proceeded with a somewhat rough hand to Italianize the German-speaking Tyrolese transferred to her by the Treaty. Under the new educational law, the use of their native tongue in the public schools, which for the most part is guaranteed to minority nationalities under the Peace Treaty, is gradually being taken away from them. The Italian authorities naturally try to prevent the formation of societies designed to perpetuate Irredentism among the quarter of a million Germans in their annexed territorities. A royal

decree has prescribed under heavy penalties that all families of Italian or Latin descent that have adopted German names shall resume Italian names and that all place names shall be Italianized. According to the German papers, the requirement as to family names applies also to those of pure German descent, and in fact it is almost impossible to distinguish between the two groups. Another measure greatly resented is the action of the Italian Government in refusing Tyrolese suspected of unfriendliness to the Italianization programme their right under the Peace Treaty to elect Italian citizenship, thus threatening them with the prospect of forcible deportation. These and similar measures have naturally begotten exaggerated reports north of the border of still other arbitrary acts. For example, a false rumor was circulated that the monument of Walther von der Vogelweide, the great Tyrolese Minnesinger, had been removed from Bolzano, and that the monument of the Empress Elizabeth at Meran had been mutilated or destroyed.

Last summer an unusual number of Italian peddlers entered Northern TyCopyright 1926, by the Living Age Co.

« ForrigeFortsett »