Imatges de pÓgina

plished, he says : 'The condition of the vilayets is 80 serious as to call for immediate and effective action. To the theory that we have no responsibility he answers that the Government have been influenced

by a desire to discharge the responsibility which they have felt rests upon them in common with the other Powers.' To the idea that reform would not work, he replies, 'I am convinced that the Macedonian problem can be settled, if only the Concert will seriously take it in hand.' To 'People have cried “Wolf” too often,' ‘Macedonia, if it continues to be neglected, must sooner or later provoke a catastrophe. To ‘We must not risk a diplomatic rebuff,' “The danger is that the Concert itself might perish for lack of vitality.' To ‘The Turks would fight,' 'If a strong and unanimous representation to the Turkish Government were made by the Great Powers, it could not fail to be effective. To 'We must not offend a great Moslem Power,' 'His Majesty's Government cannot regard the fact that objections will be raised by the Turkish Government as a reason for not putting forward proposals at Constantinople. We rub our eyes as we read on. 'If,' Sir Edward concludes, 'the Powers are not prepared to assume this attitude, they will in effect declare that the Concert, as an instrument for securing reforms, has ceased to exist.'

Never again need any man plead the need of reform; he has only to quote the incontrovertible authority of Sir Edward Grey.

So much for what the despatch will teach, and secondly, the policy will succeed. Sir Edward is not a man to risk a rebuff which would injure British prestige, nor is he likely to have entered on such an attempt without providing for victory. The idea that this despatch is intended only to clear this country of responsibility is precluded by Sir Edward's own protest of last July. 'To put forward a proposal,' he said, 'of a far-reaching character, which meets with a negative from the other Powers, is from one point of view a cheap and easy way for the British Government to meet criticism at home. But it does not meet the situation, and it weakens our position abroad.' Further, it is clear that England is not without support, when we remember the Foreign Minister's statement, that no sweeping proposal could be made unless the Government is assured that other Powers will both accept it and join in imposing it.

Sir Edward does not say what he will do if the Powers decline to join him, but we can read between the lines. It would be undiplomatic to explain his intentions in the event of a breach of the peace, but he urges that a breach will come, and it is obvious that after such an utterance, the British Government, failing the action of the Great Powers, will support a liberating factor from whichever side it comes. But these are contingencies that we need not contemplate. The British ideal is a peaceful leadership of the reforming Powers within the Concert. It is not necessary that all of them should give more than moral support.

A mandate for coercion entrusted to one or more of them would be a temporary thing, of less magnitude than the lengthy mandate entrusted to Austria and Russia in 1903. Its execution will be effective as it will be brief.

Sooner or later Baron von Aehrenthal will learn that while Great Britain desires peace, she must have peace with honour.'





The idea of a National Theatre is at first glance an attractive one. The arts which cluster round the drama are arts which all men love, and each of which has individually established claims for respect and consideration far beyond the mere faculty of giving pleasure. One and all they can be, and are, of great educational value, teaching the power and worth of organisation in very high forms. Music and the plastic arts generally-all arts and crafts which deal with form and colour, are willing to assist in the development of dramatic form. This has been the gift of several ages; that which high civilisation has won in one phase of strenuous effort at advance. If, then, all the arts can be united in some formal and continuous manner so as to create a veritable temple of arts dedicated to human profit and worthy delight, the possibility of an effort to effect this is surely well worthy of consideration.

So far, this is true in principle. It applies to the drama and the theatre ; it is only when we try to localise it that trouble begins. In an enlightened age like our own it is too late to begin to consider ethical values in the matter. It is apparent to all who have eyes to see and minds to understand that the theatre is an existing fact and that it has come to stay. But we are now in the stage when the direction of its working is still within our power. Drama and theatre have each educational possibilities for good or ill; it is for us to discriminate and to help. This can best be done by countenancing publicly that which is worthy; the exercise of force majeure is but a poor device in the government of the free.

For more than three hundred years we have had in this country a worthy drama and many good theatres controlled by worthy men— drama and theatres with high aims and lofty self-respecting ideas of their own values in the domains of art and thought. Beginning a century and a half later, but running synchronously since then, has been another form of entertainment, without the lofty art-aims and devoted to personal rather than organised effort. The time is coming fast—if, indeed, it has not already come—when the guardians

and supervisors of State discipline will have to make some sort of choice between these two classes of public amusement. Such must-and probably shal—be shown in approval of one rather than in disapproval of the other; an estimable acceptance rather than a ban. As such approval must take some recognisable form, expressing itself either in material shape or honourable recognition, if not in both, it may be as well to consider in good time what must some day be thought over. For this purpose let us consider the question at present in the air through a strenuous setting forth by a few newspapers and many clamant personalities : that of a National Theatre. The occasion of this setting forth is in connection with the World's Memorial to Shakespeare, to which end a powerful committee has been at work for some three years or more. Those who have been persistently calling out for a National Theatre for quite a number of years past have, naturally enough to them, seized the occasion for making the claim on behalf of the memory of the great poet. How they can explain in what way Shakespeare is to be specially honoured by the realisation of a scheme which they hold to be required for other reasons, is a little difficult for ordinary people to understand. But, be this as it may, let us consider the idea of a National Theatre on its own merits and without reference to honouring anyone, however great.

The idea must be of an actual physical theatre-a place for producing and acting plays under the most favourable conditions ; a theatre in the abstract means absolutely nothing whatever. A theatre is by its very nature one of the most concrete and practical workshops in the world; it is a place for doing certain things, and for the purpose must be as real as the life of which it is a part-civic or national, as may be. It is in fact a theatre built and aided or supported by some external power and with some resources outside itself. Ordinarily speaking, a theatre is supported by its own efforts. Some capitalor credit which can take the place of capital-may be required at first; but in the long run it must stand or fall by its own work. The plea, therefore, for a supported theatre can only be put forward on the ground that it may be of some special service in the organisation of public life; that it can supply something impossible under ordinary commercial and individual conditions. Granted, then, that such an institution might be of some direct service, the questions to be considered are : how far such an undertaking might fulfil its objects, and at what cost it could be organised and maintained. Al things are relative, especially in statecraft, and where we are still so far off ideal perfection in the fulfilling of public needs and the organisation of public life the price of commodities for public use is an all-important and unavoidable question.

As to price, then, the requirements and necessary conditions of a National Theatre should be shown in howsoever a rudimentary way, so that students of the subject may form some estimate of the eventual cost. In the first place, as to the theatre itself. This being a national matter must naturally be placed in the national capital—in this case, London. It should be in a prominent and central position; it would not serve its purpose if placed in a back street or in a suburb. It should be of such dimensions and elevation as to serve in some sort as a monument of taste worthy of the nation which in its own way it represents. It should serve as an accredited model for all lesser and local enterprises dedicated to workings of a similar kind, with regard to safety, hygiene, resources, convenience, ease, comfort, elegance, and good taste—in all ways a model and exemplar of what should be and is capable of achievement. Thus it would set a standard

a series of standards—of excellence in many ways which would eventually tend to public good, and would thus justify its creation. Again, in its working it should show similar perfection, similar excellence in the adaptation of means to accepted ends. If such a theatre did not observe these requirements, what possible purpose could it serve? It would be merely one more theatre amongst a whole crowd of others; an eleemosynary undertaking upborne by external resources and thus unfairly competing against similar industrial enterprises unsubsidised in any form.

Granted, again, that such a theatre so conducted would make for public good, let us count the probable cost.

Such a theatre should cover a large space. A small theatre would be of no use; and, besides, we have already in London alone some three score of theatres, most of them of inconsiderable size. It should be large, so as to contain those who, as parts of the nation, must be considered in some respect its owners; and again, as prices should be cheap, so as to give facilities to poor as well as to rich, it would take a large auditorium to hold a sum compatible in some degree with the necessary expenses. In addition there should be ample space for plenty of staircases, passage-ways, crushrooms, cloakrooms, offices, bill-rooms ; in fact room for all the proper and decent, not to say commodious, working of a large establishment employing & vast number of hands. Those who are not familiar with theatres would be astonished to know the number of persons employed in a large theatre. For instance, in the management of the old Lyceum Theatre Henry Irving employed as many as six hundred persons of one kind or another; the number seldom if ever ran below four hundred and fifty. Again, on the stage side there is to be considered not only the stagewhich for such a theatre, where frequent changes of bill would be expected, should be of very considerable size—but room to store away and take out with facility much scenery, properties and wardrobes. Much space would also be needed for dressing-rooms, green-rooms, and sanitary appliances for many people of either sex. Also a good many workshops, for such matters as demand instant attention. All these requirements mean great space, and in London space in a prominent

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