Imatges de pÓgina

The Act further gives the public trustee considerable discretion as to apportioning the costs of the audit, presumably according to the conduct of the parties, although in a normal case the costs would generally come out of the estate.

Of great importance, but less general interest, are the powers of the public trustee in the administration of small estates, and in particular of estates of a gross capital value below 1,0001., where those interested are persons of small means. In order to make the procedure simple and inexpensive, the statute gives the public trustee certain of the powers of the Chancery Division of the High Court, and in addition direct access to the judge, and other administrative advantages. In a proper case, by means of a signed and sealed declaration in which he undertakes to administer the estate, the public trustee can transfer it to himself, a power so original and so useful as to suggest that it may provoke much discussion hereafter.

It only remains to consider how the public trustee is likely to put his great powers into operation. Will he succeed or will he fail ? There are not wanting those who already predict his failure, much as the life assurance schemes of Government have failed. But another great Government department, the Post Office Savings Bank, has not been a failure, -because it was wanted ; and, similarly, as the early part of this article went to show, the public trustee has been rendered inevitable. But prophecy as to failure is, in this not less than in other cases, unsafe ' unless you know'; and, if rumour be accurate, as there is ground for thinking she is, the public trustee is already a success. Some outcry has been raised at the progress of officialism and its burdens, one estimate placing the annual cost of the public trustee at no less than 1,000,000l. It may be that the mind which evolved this estimate was the same as that which devised the adverse memorandum of 1892, wherein ` in the opinion of the most competent judges nothing but failure is anticipated from the appointment of a public trustee'; which opinion was the subject of some good humoured banter by the Commission of 1895. In any event it is to be regretted that, if there was a case against the public trustee on the ground of anticipated expense, it was not stated with more sense of responsibility. It is safer to say, on the other hand, that, if the expenses of the department should ever come to 1,000,000l. per annum, it would be because it was earning more than that in fees, owing to the vast extent of its business. However, putting aside the bogey of the cost of officialism, the defects of its impersonal character must be fairly met. Happily this very defect has nowhere been more clearly foreseen than in the Report of the Committee on Trusts Administration of 1895, presided over by the present Lord Chancellor, upon whom, by happy chance, the duty of selecting the first public trustee has devolved. That Report said, it is indispensable to the success of any system that it should be inexpensive; that those who administer it should be easily and promptly accessible, and personally ready to take the same steps as a sensible private trustee now takes, to acquaint himself with all that belongs to the trusts committed to him. Whether the system is to be worked by an official Department or by a Court of Justice, or by co-operation between the two, the individual who on any particular occasion manages the trust must not be separated, either by official red-tape or by judicial etiquette, from those with whose interests he has to deal. It must be made clear that he is not a person to be approached by formal proceedings either of an official or of a legal character, requiring to be satisfied of the most triling fact by prolix and expensive proof; but a man empowered to use his own judgment, to make any necessary inquiries for himself, and to take the initiative in the interests of the trust, either of his own motion or at the request, however informal, of anyone concerned. If such administrators be made available to anyone who desires their services, the system would be of the highest utility.

With regard to expense, it may be said that the fees fixed are conceived upon a very moderate scale. Taking an estate valued at 10,0001., the lowest known fee for administering the same is 10s. per cent., or a cost of 501., which is alleged to be by itself unremunerative. The public trustee, with the absolute security of the State guarantee, and debarred from all indirect profit, charges only 128. per cent., or in all 601. In Australia, a trustee company would charge 2001., and in America 5001., and in some cases 1,0001. for the same services.

With regard to charges upon income, the public trustee charges 2 per cent. on all income up to 5001. a year, 1 per cent. upon any income in excess of this sum, and 1 per cent. all round where the income is paid directly to the person entitled. These fees include the maintenance of the trust in a proper state of investment, the due collection and distribution of income, keeping and rendering accounts, attention to all matters arising in the life of the trust, correspondence and interviews, and for this catalogue of services would seem extremely moderate. Moreover, by the appointment of the public trustee the expense attendant upon the appointment of new trustees is for ever avoided. So that the first essential, that the department should be inexpensive, seems to be secured. It remains, then, only to consider the personal element. As has been said, the skilled private trustee is practically unknown. The skilled public trustee, being invested

every legal superiority, must further endeavour at least to equal, if not to surpass, his honorary competitor in human sympathies. He need not follow the example of his colleagues on the Pacific Coast and send to the beneficiaries Christmas and birthday presents, since children, in England, are not, at present at any rate, accustomed to regard their trustees as givers of good things; nor need the department provide those adroit enticements by which the American manager of a


trust company beguiles his clients into business relations. But in the words of that fine passage in the most eloquent of recent rectorial addresses, the public trustee will doubtless prefer to base his long and beneficent career upon the conviction that the life of the State, in its controlling power for good, is as real and great as that of the individual.'





The marked public interest taken in all matters pertaining to the stage is my excuse for taking up my pen to break through a rule which has been a very firm one with me all my professional life.

Let me explain that I served my apprenticeship as an actor before the days of modern advertisement, and drew my inspirations from men and women—and one great artist in particular-who taught me that the actor's duty was behind the proscenium and his best and most telling pronouncements were those made when the curtain was up. In that faith I have lived and worked earnestly and sincerely ; and if I turn aside from that course now, it is because so many (as I think) false conditions have crept in between the actor and his public, and so many opinions are expressed, almost daily, which bear the marks of ignorance or inexperience, and, perhaps, some views of one who stands midway between what are known as the old and new schools, and who has played with and alongside practically every artist of eminence, male and female, of this and the last generation may be deemed worthy of consideration by those who have the real welfare of the drama at heart.

For or against the apparently ever-popular musical comedy or modern comedy I have nothing to say. The public are entitled to what they choose to pay for, within limits of good taste and decorum, but I think it cannot be denied that they have become very decidedly apathetic towards the Shakespearean and poetic or serious drama. And that is the point I desire to deal with and endeavour to explain. In doing so I propose to write only of what has come under my own notice, and what is within the range of my own professional career. Why is the taste for the higher and nobler forms of the drama at such a low ebb? Why is it a common expression among old playgoers that ' acting is not what it used to be '? Are they right or wrong? I contend they are distinctly right. And I propose to give three cogent reasons for my contention. I am gravely afraid the fault is not all with the public, but, to a great extent, with the actor himself. In the strenuous fight for success on the stage errors have grown


lack of consideration-from lack of time or inclination to stop and think-and one must mentally revert to some little time ago to point them out.

First, the modern actor's life is, I believe, all wrong. The numberless social amenities which have become part of it are impossible in a life demanding endless study and application if great things are to be achieved ; and a paying public assembled in a theatre has a right to expect an artist's best mentality and effort, not, as is often the case, the jaded, tired performance of one whose time and thoughts have been used up in other directions. The actor's art is surely a very exacting one, and the theatre (to him) is not a playground or a pastime.

Then, again, my observation teaches me that the public themselves are disposed to think far more of the performance of one whom they do not know than of one whom they meet constantly and whose name is under their eye at every turn. This may, at first sight, appear paradoxical, but I have no doubt of the fact, and I am quite sure that the line of demarkation between the actor and his audience, marked by the proscenium, thirty years ago was an essential, or at all events a very valuable asset, in his hold on the public's appreciation.

Some years ago there was an actor at the Olympic Theatre who thrilled his audiences in part after part for years. What did it matter to them if his private character or habits were not quite exemplary? They worshipped him for his acting and applauded him to the echo. To-day his faults would be trumpeted to the ends of the earth, and his habits would be a veritable gold-mine for the modern paragraphist. In recent years I have rehearsed in a theatre all day—and sometimes nearly all night—where the manager and leading actor would be called away from rehearsal almost every hour to attend to social matters, or meet private friends, and a first night would come round and find the manager and company worn out and jaded to a degree unbelievable except by those who have experienced it. Does anyone suppose that best work can be done under these conditions ? Surely it is quite impossible. I do not blame the actor entirely for the altered state of things. Personal journalism has had some hand in it. But the change is not for the better, either for the actor or the public, of that I am convinced.

My next reason calls forth perhaps the strongest impression evolved out of my experience, and it is the marked difference in the method of attacking the heroic drama between the actors of the past and present generation. Great heroic or romantic parts, or broad characters of the poetic and classic drama, were written for great heroic and romantic or broad acting, and no amount of the detail of modernity will compensate for the absence of these qualities. It is all very well for critics (professional or otherwise) to write of natural acting, but, in great parts, ought not the word used, as well as the ambition of the actor, to be “ideal'? Natural in ideality, if you will; but no modern

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