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tors by profession, male and female, might escape the danger of running foul of each other, as several have unfortunately done; or perhaps an insurance office might prove a more desirable scheme. It is very entertaining to watch the Monthly Review's attitude towards Kotzebue, as indicative of his popularity. Some figures may perhaps be more convincing still. From 1795 to 1805, then, the number of editions of plays and acting versions was successively : 0, 2, 0, 18, 71, 10, 13, 4, 1, 2. In the last year of the century Kotzebue reached the apex of his fame with seventy-one editions ! But in 1800 the Monthly Review was, in its own words, ‘sick of him.'
Parodies sprang up, proving both his popularity and the opposition of what was still a minority. Pizarro had its plentiful share of ridicule. A general skit appeared in a collection of satiric poems called The Meteors, under the title of The Benevolent Cut-throat, a play in seven acts. Translated from the original German drama, written by the celebrated Klotzboggenhaggen. But this was only a stray echo from the open warfare which several writers and reviewers had been waging against Kotzebue. Thomas Dutton, a journalist who claimed to have acquired a thorough knowledge of German by a long residence in Saxony, never ceased to oppose him in his Dramatic Censor. This weekly review, of which he was himself the sole contributor, is the work of a well-educated, clear-headed, and outspoken man. He was fairly unprejudiced, deeming 'the genius of Schiller
· unquestionable,' praising Thompson's collection of plays from the German, but simply loathing 'the ill-digested, hasty, and bombastic productions of Kotzebue.' From his nationalistic point of view Dutton had every reason to oppose him, for the threatened contract between the London managers and Kotzebue or a regular supply of his newest manuscripts might have imperilled the very existence of the English Drama in this age of weakness, had it been carried out. That he attacked his foe with the utmost energy may be gathered from the fact that in the first year of his review (1800) Kotzebue is referred to thirtysix times. And his clear, crisp, and forcible English made every blow tell.
A Tory periodical, the Anti-Jacobin Review, which systemati. cally opposed all new ideas from the Continent, was less fair, and sometimes scurrilous in its abuse. "To degrade religion under the appearance of hatred to superstition, to decry all legitimate authority under the pretence of exposing tyranny, and to sanction the gratification of the most ardent of human passions under the flimsy veil of sentimental love,' such were, according to the Anti-Jacobin Review, 'the ends which Kotzebue had set himself to attain.' The True Briton joined in the outcry, and
eventually became so vehement as to elicit protest from other
it found many believers at the time. It was a heavy charge, especially in England, where the love of fair play and straightforward dealing is national. The Illuminati' that were meant were the Order of the Illuminati,' founded at Ingolstadt in 1776 by Adam Weishaupt. They were originally a secret society of Bavarian Catholics, whose general aim was to spread moral enlightenment, and who especially attacked the Jesuits and their methods. But they had become possessed of wide-reaching means of information in every country, and were, so it was said, mysterious and terrible in their dealings. The impression produced on the English public by such scanty knowledge of them as was available abroad, was that of a secret society connected in some way with Catholics. This was enough to rouse fear and hatred, and this the AntiJacobin knew. Even Hannah More, the educational authority of the early nineteenth century, reasonable and clear-minded though she was, concurred in this attack.
Strange to say, Thomas Dutton now took up Kotzebue's defence against that celebrated moral female quack,' as he called Mrs. More. Nevertheless, in her Coelebs, she advised young ladies not to waste their time in learning German, and in her Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education (1799) she warned them earnestly against the danger of German literature, which in every form, she said, has only one aim-namely, 'to instil the principles of Illuminatism.' And as a specimen of the very worst in German literature she quoted the admired play of The Stranger.' The indictment only calls for a smile now: but it was well calculated to impress the mass of middle-class playgoers and readers at a time when deism was not quite forgotten, and when, to a country that had been carrying on war against the French Republic ever since 1793, all theories of rationalism and republicanism were hateful to a degree.
1799! Times were getting worse and worse for Kotzebue. His splendid vitality had outlasted the fiercest attacks, and be might have held his own for yet many more years to come if the soil on which he stood had not suddenly shifted. In 1800 be dropped like a stone from the summit of his glory. The temper of the age had changed. Sensibility and affectation were instantaneously struck out from the standing list of female perfections. The languishing, fatalistic, glib-tongued, and sniggering female vanished and made room for a new type, 'the bold and independent beauty,' as Mrs. More describes it, “the intrepid female, the hoyden, the huntress, and the archer; the swinging arms, the confident address, the regimental, and the four-inhand.'
Kotzebue, England's - idol for ten years, was down! But he must needs be crushed. For, lo! from quarters high came two more crashing bolts. Sir Walter Scott levelled a lance against the 'wretched pieces of Kotzebue,' and Byron's fiery outburst sang the German dirge :
Awake, George Colman! Cumberland, awake!
One classic drama, and reform the stage. Thus sang, in 1808, the English Bard against the Scotch Reviewers. Was Kotzebue dead now? Yes, but his body must be trampled on. A cousin-burletta of the famous Rovers, attributed to Colman, and called The Quadrupeds of Quadlinburgh; ot, the Rovers of Weimar. Tragico-Comico-Anglo-GermanicoHippo-Ono-Dramatico-Romance, set the audience roaring at the Haymarket Theatre. This was indeed the kick of the ass at the lion. But fortunately the laugh,' as Dutton says, 'was at a thing of other days: the German drama . . . past and gone . was beyond the reach of ridicule.'
VIII Was it the sentiment of their common Teutonic origin which drew England and Germany so tightly together in the end of the eighteenth century? Or was it their common fear of the Latin race to which Napoleon was then giving, for the second time in history, an overpowering supremacy in Europe? It may have been both. But whilst from a political point of view England was the greater nation, and eventually proved to be the stumbling-block which made the giant fall, Germany was by
far the stronger literary power. It is not too bold to say that for ten or fifteen years Germany shaped England's stage destiny. Of what Germany's drama was about 1780, England's was to be a faithful copy between 1790 and 1800. To the sharply opposed artistic poetry, as produced by Goethe and Schiller, on one side, and, on the other side, the grovelling tendency towards naturalness in art as represented by Iffland and Kotzebue, corresponds in England the conflict between the acting and the poetical drama. A reference in connexion with the former to any other names than Cumberland, Mrs. Inchbald, or Benjamin Thompson would hardly be appreciated, for they are lost in utter obscurity. As to the poetical drama we know it from Byron's, Beddoes', Shelley's, Browning's, and Tennyson's works, and from repeated experiments, to be inferior for acting purposes. There are not many more memorable failures than that of Tennyson's Promise of May in 1882. Neither could Sir Henry Irving, enthusiastic as was his admiration for Tennyson, greatly as he loved his part of Becket (1893), ever be brought to unqualified approval of the laureate's dramatic efforts.
Nothing could have been more deadly to the English stage than this dissociation of the dramatic and poetical elements. On the other hand, no triumph was ever greater than their harmonious combination, which is Shakespeare's greatest claim to worship. Now, at the bottom of this momentous event, this conflict between the acting and the poetical drama, we findKotzebue : Kotzebue who, by giving exclusive importance to the acting qualities of plays, severed the idea of poetry from that of drama, and who spoilt the public by lavishly catering for its love of strong excitement in plot and glaring contrast in situation. Unfortunately there never was in England a State-subsidised repertory theatre. So, nearly all the managers had to give in and minister to the popular taste, thus excluding from the stage such artists as did not sacrifice everything else to scenic display and sensational situations. Very soon these artists came to forget that a theatre is the only right place for a drama, and neglected more and more to meet the practical requirements of the stage. And now, after more than a century has elapsed, if you hear critics complaining about the poverty of the English stage, say ‘Kotzebue.' If you wonder at the number of tragedies in verse, with or without a pageant,' announced in publishers' lists, which have never been, and will never be, on a play-bill; if you growl at the success of The Eternal Question and plays of the Bella; Donna stamp, or fret over the slow recognition of Mr. Frohman's efforts; if you feel at a loss before such hybrid philosophico-epicodramatic productions as Mr. Shaw's Man and Superman and Mr. Hardy's Dynasts; or finally, if you find that, besides
yuz Tipya vers
Mr. Shaw, Sir Arthur Pinero, and Mr. Galsworthy, you can count the English dramatists on the fingers of one hand, then most emphatically say ‘Kotzebue.'
Fortunately, matters seem to have been mending these few months. English dramatists appear to have found what may well prove an effective antidote against the growing intoxication of sensationalism, viz. decentralisation in time and in space. The increasing public interest in Greek tragedy and the frequent revivals of the early specimens of English dramatic art may lead to a rediscovery of the lost formula. On the other hand, Ireland and Scotland, on which the poison never had its full effect, are making their influence more and more directly felt. If space permitted we would try to show how those factors have already cleared the air for a wholesale transformation of the dramatic atmosphere. 'Back to the past ; back to the land I'might be the cry of the reformers.
Of course, sovereign time and circumstance will shape the new possibilities into facts. Moreover our foresight, we know, falls considerably short of prophecy. Still, we are confident that the future historian of the rejuvenated English stage will have to quote with some gratitude the names of Professor Gilbert Murray, Mr. Poel, Mr. Yeats, a'nd also of the Moffats and the late Mr. Synge.
The other alternative is that Kotzebue might prove too strong even for them.
Jos. E. GILLET.