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arts, academic influences of any kind can replace this old system of apprenticeship. The decay of painting began in the middle of the eighteenth century, when exhibitions, expert criticism, and theories of art came into fashion. Art was becoming exotic, a thing over which taste presided and theories hovered. People have been wondering what art is, ever since they left off regarding it as a trade and a “mystery,” a thing made up of knacks, habits, and secrets, communicated, one hardly knew how, by the master to the apprentice, who watched and imitated the master's procedure, helped him on the work in hand, and imbibed rather than learned the technical part of his profession - a part not separated in the mind of anyone from its spiritual meaning. To be sure, a faint survival of the old system may be seen in the modern practice of painters, who allow their admirers to work in studios which the master visits, making comments on the work done by the aspirants, somewhat as a swimming-master might stand on the bank and make comments on the progress of young porpoises. But the old family life is gone, the bonds of art are broken between each two generations, and theory takes the place of tradition.

If the tradition of Shakespeare be once lost it will have to be sought for by a labor like that of digging in Pompeii to find frescoes: the meaning and the naturalness of the craft will never be quite recovered. I wonder what a revival of the “Tempest” or “Macbeth” would be like, if given by men who had got all their Shakespeare from books. The plays are full of stage secrets which books cannot preserve, and which are beginning to perish to-day like sea urchins at low tide. They have been expounded and illuminated during eight generations by the genius of great actors, whose interpretations have become almost a part of their text. The very glances and byplay of Betterton and Garrick and Kemble and Booth ought to shine all through a performance of “Hamlet”; and if these things be forgotten by posterity, a chapter of the human spirit will be lost. To the legatees of the old school we must still go for our staging of Shakespeare. We must graft upon living stock. It will not do to wait until the old fires are extinct, and then found an academy to revive them. A Shakespeare revival is already overdue, and the sooner it comes the more brilliantly will it blossom. It should come before the heart of the older tradition is cold. The practices of earlier masters may seem to the great public to be worn-out and unnecessary things, but to the artists they represent inspiration.

The staging of Shakespeare is not a case for dogmatism or for historic correctness, or a case for verbal piety. The plays cannot be produced textually, and they differ so widely from one another that there is a special atmosphere in each of them. We must suffer ourselves to be caught by the spirit -- and then tread lightly. The bareness of the surroundings in which they were born is the very thing that forced all their genius to express itself in language. And we ought, I suppose, to rely upon language for our effects, so far as modern fashions will permit. But even here our convictions must amount to a mere tendency, not to a method.

Shakespeare had many different styles; he worked rapidly, experimented, indulged his humors, and ran through the gamut of possible ways of writing. He will pass from prose to poetry in the middle of a scene, in the middle of a sentence, and the general quality of his work is improvisation. The commentators dislike to hear this said, because they are men of leisure, of paste-pots and scissors, and cannot conceive of rapid thought. But it is likely that Shakespeare, during an afternoon walk, and before he began writing a play, was visited by the angels, the wraiths and prophetic intimations of the characters and situations which, later, in the good plays at least, welled up under his pen in all their complexity and perfection. No mind can "put together” such a play as “King Lear.” The proof is that you cannot take it apart. You do not know where the joints are. Shakespeare thus keeps us all as fluid as he was himself; and whether we read him or act him, he keeps telling us : "You can live in me, but you cannot catch me.”


ROMEO AND JULIET Those who know tell us that there is more money in “Romeo and Juliet” than in any other play on the boards. This does credit to human nature, for “Romeo and Juliet” is a most simple-hearted, romantic love-story, all one single plan of action, incident, and catastrophe. The tale itself triumphs. People follow it to-day much as its first auditors followed it

more nearly so perhaps than they can follow any other tale of Shakespeare. It is swifter, hotter, younger than the “Tempest” or “Cymbeline.” In vain did Mrs. Kemble exclaim that no woman who was young enough to act Juliet could ever have acquired art enough to act her well. The young ones please : Juliet's lines set their aureole on the brow of youth. The sight of their young cheeks and the sound of their young voices carry the illusion, and we accept any immaturities in the acting as a part of the character. It is the same with Ophelia, if indeed one can call Ophelia a rôle; for Ophelia never gets on the stage at all, but remains in the mind as a ballad, a legend, an experience.

“Romeo and Juliet” is Shakespeare's triumph over the actors, for he has written a story of such convincing interest that the actors cannot spoil the narrative. He has given them hardly a chance to show their good points, or work up “conceptions” of the rôles. Yet he has given them just a hook or two on which to

hang stage characters, and they almost always hang bogies on these hooks, to the damage of the play. Their main chance lies in Mercutio. I have in my life seen only one Mercutio who played the part so rapidly and naturally as to keep it in the background and make it a mere foil to Romeo. For Mercutio is not a character, but a supplement - the missing part of Romeo. It takes both of them to make a gay gallant. Mercutio is the phantasm that leaps from the brain of Shakespeare when his mind has been fatigued and a little disgusted with the monotonous egotism of his lovesick, over-romantic hero. This witty, cynical, galvanic Mercutio lashes himself into obscenity at the mere sight of Romeo. What a relief he is ! But he must flash and vanish; he is only a recreation, a shaft of sunlight on a passing cloud. Let him not try to stay the heavens and drag out his business. At the back of the stage in all these plays, there is a demon in Shakespeare's employ working a machine that emits soft mysterious lightnings. We must not kill his work with our crude antics and modern apparatus. No one who is reading a play to himself will allow the entire show to be held up while Mercutio stages Queen Mab, or Jaques produces a conscientious pantomime of the Seven Ages of Man, which turns under his treatment into a lesson in burlesque.

The vignettes in Shakespeare must be lightly handled. Hamlet's speech to the players, Iago's picture of the good woman, Katherine's portrait of Wolsey, and his other roulades of wit, must be flung oft, - or tossed or smiled or handed or dropped off, but never ground in. It requires the most consum

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