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and active a fellow is he. The new broom that shows how clean he can sweep is much more satisfactory to the electors than the wise man who leaves well alone; the trouble of it is, however, that in the case of the theatre it is the manager who has to pay for this outbreak of energy and activity. Were these places of amusement placed under the jurisdiction of a Ministry of Fine Arts, these vexatious if well-meant regulations would not be frivolously imposed and paid for out of the manager's pocket. Should we not have much more judiciously administered theatrical law if it were left to a properly trained staff of Government officials to give their well-disposed attention to any dangers or abuses that might occur in a public place of entertainment, instead of, as now, being exposed to a shifting body of men, kaleidoscopically changing with every election fought on local party lines? The supposition that these men of standing who have so long catered for the public have not the interest and safety of their patrons at heart is an untenable one, yet the whole energies of the local bodies who sit in judgment on such men are based on the suggestion that the manager, but for a watchful committee, would sacrifice the welfare of his clients. The practical answer to this is that it would be against the manager's personal interest to do so. Now a Government Office takes up an entirely different standpoint with regard to such enterprise-it is established to protect, to encourage, to foster, but not to hinder. Any changes to be made at the recommendation of a department would be weighed and discussed—not only from the public's, but also from the manager's side of the question. The process might be slow, but it would also be sure.
Nor can I see why the whole question of licences for the appearance of children should not be regulated from that office, nor why children should be forced to appear personally in a police court before a magistrate, and wait their turn, like patient little lambs brought to the slaughter, while unsavoury cases are being tried. The presence of a child in such a court is an outrage in itself, and when, in the case of an actress-manageress who personally applied for a child of eleven to be allowed to appear at half-past ten in the evening in a play she was producing, an irascible old magistrate lectured her on the heartlessness of keeping a child up until eleven o'clock at night, and then passed some other fifteen or twenty children for a ballet without a remonstrance, the Hogarthian humour of this licensing comedy could go no further. To those who have worked among the poor and who know that these hours in the warmth and light of the theatre, surrounded by kindly and hard-working people, are often the only wholesome influences that these children receive in their poverty-stricken lives, and that they look forward to their
evening's work as keenly as their more fortunate little sisters and brothers look forward to a juvenile party, this farce of creating difficulties and taking bread out of the little ones' mouths is not laughable, it is criminal. It belongs to the sentimental type of legislation that Democracy has brought into fashion.
Now, whether a reader of plays exists or does not exist, let him at any rate no longer be the servant of an officer attached to the Household. Time was when the Licenser of Plays was the ‘Master of the King's Revels by night and by day,' in the days when a merry monarch took an active interest in the stage and when the drama depended on the patronage of the Court; there was then some justification, with plays and interludes constantly produced before the King and Queen, for a personal control of the stage. But to-day, when it has become a vast public business, it is not right that an officer of his Majesty's Household should be called up to adjudicate on such questions. It is grossly unfair to the author, to the manager, and to the actor, who has no appeal against this Royal officer; and insomuch that it is imperilling the dignity of an official who writes from no less a place than a Royal Palace, every loyal subject would willingly see such duties removed from the ridicule and obloquy that have been attached to the Censorship during the last weeks. Even the most conservative London newspaper can no longer break a quill in defence of the office as it stands now, and whether the Press leads public opinion or public opinion leads the Press, the result is the same.
It is, of course, easy to destroy and difficult to construct; but if a licence for a play must be obtained for performance, then let the reader or readers be chosen with some educational preparation for the work, let them be scholars who by virtue of their wide reading have enlarged their sympathies and their appreciation of something more than mere box-office literature, and let them, above all, be attached to a Ministry of Fine Arts. Thus, when there are vexed questions of good taste or of political allusion they may refer it to the proper quarter, which shall be directly responsible for the decision. It is not within the spirit of the Habeas Corpus of which we are so justly proud to condemn a man without a hearing, but that is what has been done to the theatrical profession ever since the year 1649. We theatrical managers are censored, we are condemned to pay the fine of heavy loss of capital without appeal, because it is the King's representative who has judged us.
Clearly there is no hope for the theatre, for free thought or for good art, until we have a public office prepared and authorised to deal with the Arts themselves.
The time has come when Art must be officially recognised as an important necessity in the history of a State. There should be and can be no reason why the plastic and æsthetic crafts should receive less consideration from the hands of politicians than any other handicrafts. Why should the sculptor in marble, for instance, have less of a place in the political mind than the mason who hews stone?
If the British character would finally condescend to give the place to Art that is at present occupied by sport, I think there might be at last some chance of Art being officially recognised as an important necessity in the history of the State. So long, however, as the Briton will sit for many hours an idle spectator of a football or cricket match, and think himself a much manlier fellow for doing so than for visiting an Art Gallery, a disdain of Art will continue to be the standard of morality and excellence by which the Anglo-Saxon will be judged by his countrymen. At the best very little personal prowess or physical perfection can be attained by the masculine habit of watching professionals hit a ball at Lord's or the Oval, though there may be some healthy expansion for the lungs in shouting! Yet it is, I am aware, voted a fine, honest way of wasting the national time, and incidentally playing into the hands of the industrious foreigner, who is making hay while the sun is shining on the cricket and football field.
Once establish a Ministry of Fine Arts, allow a place for it in the country's Budget, place it on a footing of equality at least with Roads or Insurance or Woods and Forests, and immediately the Englishman, with his inherent respect for the Constitution and the Public Office, will begin to realise that a study and appreciation of the beautiful is not necessarily unchristian or unmanly.
OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND THEIR
THERE are being trained every year in the great public schools of the United Kingdom a number approximate to ten thousand scholars, under head masters who are eminent men distinguished not only for their scholarship but for their ability to govern and guide colonies of boys, many of whom are destined to make their mark in the world and to take a foremost place in our national life. These boys are piloted through their studies and watched over in their school career by a body of devoted under masters whose high attainments, generally speaking, and human experience particularly qualify them for the duty.
As a result, there is an annual output of young men well developed in mind and body, and of good manners, who for the most part go to fill vacancies in those spheres of Empire employment which call for the display of intellect and leadership. Failures and disappointments there are, of course, in schools as in every walk of life; but they are quite exceptional to the general rule, and not infrequently it happens that a wider horizon has the effect of turning them into sound and useful members of the community.
It is proposed to discuss in this article some of the means which contribute to the result above mentioned, and some other matters relating to education and the formation of character.
Now, the first question suggested is, What is the primary object in sending our boys to the public schools? To that question it is possible to offer several answers which parents and guardians would probably give in different ways. Few might be able to reply clearly or precisely as to their positive aim, because at the early age of school entry it had not been practicable for them to gauge the bent of their boys; and nearly all would hesitate to lay down a hard and fast line of career that the boys must certainly follow. Nothing, it is well known, is more sure than that youthful impulses are apt to be formed and swayed according as their imagination is played upon by the chums, the sets, the atmosphere with whom and with which they are surrounded at school. So, it is unwise to dedicate a youth to a definite class of work in life unless he has positively lent himself to the idea of
a particular profession, or until he has shown such clear evidence of his fancy as to justify the assurance of his being in absolute sympathy with it. Early and reliable manifestations of that character are unusual, if not rare. Some boys of course are from the first marked down to be soldiers, sailors, doctors or lawyers in consequence of its being in the family'; but they are not quite cases in point because, from the nursery perhaps, tradition determines their choice.
However, the generality of parents would most likely have in their minds the desire to give their children what is commonly called a good general education--and an excellent thing too. Some would declare they meant by that an education of which classics, that is, a respectable knowledge of Latin and Greek, were the leading features; it might be from a prejudice that in Latin and Greek alone are to be found true culture, or from the fact that classics are essential as a preparation for the universities and dignified positions in the law and the Church. Others would see more merit in the modern side on account of its consecration to modern languages, mathematics and science, suitable for the professions say of medicine and what is called 'business ’; they might argue from their point of view that in the world of to-day no boy is adequately equipped for the struggle unless he is acquainted with the principles of natural sciences and physical laws. Others, again, would look with favour upon any system of tuition leading up to success in examinations for the public service or army; and some, no doubt, would have no particular idea at all as to what a good general education ought to comprise.
A philosopher called upon to define on the spur of the moment what he meant by education might probably answer-To cultivate and train the mental powers so as to qualify a person for the business and duties of life. A man of the world might under the same circumstances vary the definition by saying-Education is what remains, in character, after a boy has done with school. Both of them would be right, for we may look at the matter from different aspects. But before doing so let us consider for a moment the composition of the ordinary boy sent to schools of the character of Eton, Winchester, Rugby, etc. As we take him along, the subject will invite discussion of other issues arising out of it affecting the community in general.
Prior to entry there he is generally committed at an early age, say about ten, to a Preparatory, where he is specially prepared for admission to the great school. His time is mainly given to classics, in which he will have to pass a moderate test before matriculating, and he gets in addition an elementary knowledge of other subjects, like history, geography, and primary mathematics. He goes into the nurseries of cricket and other recrea