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critic's duty in the way of restraint and cautious judgment, I think he would have done better to follow somewhat more the forthright, dogmatic old Doctor whom he writes of, who so loudly enunciated and so vigorously upheld his judgments whether right or wrong. In his comments upon Boswell or upon Johnson the author is clear and just; in his effort to make the reader appreciate what value he would place upon the salon and the social influence, he seems less happy. PIERCE BUTLER.
BEYOND DISILLUSION. A DRAMATIC STUDY OF MODERN MARRIAGE. By
William Norman Guthrie. The Petrus Stuyvesandt Book Guild at St. Mark's-in-the-Bouwerie, Manhattan.
Holy matrimony, which was commended of Saint Paul to be honorable among
men, has received scant honor at the hands of many modern playwrights. The present drama, however, attempts a defence of the institution and a solution of its problems. A brilliant architect, harassed by the worries of a domesticity which includes four noisy children, and obliged to do work which does not satisfy his artistic ideals, determines to leave children and wife. To the latter he confesses that she no longer represents the ideal which he once found in her. Later in the play, the wife too deserts the children that she may become a dancer. In the last act the husband sees the wife dance to the music of his own composing and finds that she again expresses his ideal. So after both have independently discovered their ideals in different spheres of activity, they are reunited in love and return to domesticity.
In the Foreword the author suggests that a bridegroom and a bride should be respectively “prepared, nay, passionately eager, to be crucified on the cross which the other should represent, because of a holy devotion to the ideal of fellowship and loyalty, and the devout hope of offspring better than themselves and of a nobler civilization to supersede that of their generation.” The characters in the present play are not willing to suffer such crucifixion. It is rather a begging of the question to settle it as the author does. He admits indeed in the Foreword that he has "resorted to what may seem an improbable solution of his problem, thinking it far less serious to be taxed with improba
bility in plot, considering how very extraordinary are the happenings of life, than to have the ideal purpose of his work miscarry.”
But the trouble is that in real life the ideal settlement must be confronted with just this simple question: Will it work? And even granting that the solution lies in the independent development of husband and wife so that they meet on the highest planes of their respective personalities, even then the development of the wife's personality through public dancing will not commend itself as a practical solution to most matrons approaching middle-age.
Moreover, the present characters are not sufficiently life-like to make the solution convincing. Like those in such a play as Shaw's Marriage, they are to a great extent only masks through which the author discusses his problem. But for the keen wit of the earlier play there is substituted a rather flaccid rhetoric. Thus: “Since these things have occurred, and words have been spoken that ripened my decision irrespective of any opinions my family and my intimate friends may cherish"— which is the language of The Polite Letter Writer and not of real conversation. The talk of the children which attempts to be realistically slangy strikes me as forced and unnatural.
The play's moral is undeniably on the side of the angels, but the author does not speak with the tongues of either angels or real men, and his progress is pedestrian rather than winged. His muse, like that of so much well-meaning fiction, plants one foot squarely on the commonplace and points the other upward in a rather indefinite direction towards the stars and idealism. This attitude is less suggestive of advance than of instability.
In an Afterword follows a sequence of seven very Meredithian sonnets, in the course of which the author finds occasion to ask,
“What shall to th' spirit its extreme bliss grant
like solar photosphere leap, blaze, and pant?"
L. WARDLAW MILES.
The LORD OF MISRULE, AND OTHER Poems. By Alfred Noyes. With
frontispiece in colours by Spencer Baird Nichols. The Frederick A. Stokes Company. New York. October, 1915. $1.60.
This volume of shorter poems, the first that Mr. Noyes has published since the collected edition of 1913, shows no considerable divergence in philosophy or form from what we have come to expect as his normal. We observe here the same healthy optimism, the same range of subject matter, the same perfection of rhythm and beauty of diction which, on the whole, have characterized his previous work.
The passing, however, of two years, even quiet ones, would be likely to show change if not advance in any save a moribund poet, particularly in a young one whose country is engaged in a world-war. Accordingly we find poems inspired by the British fleet of dreadnoughts, the sinking of the Lusitania, the death of an army aviator; poems also of love for England and belief in English destiny. England's past receives attention, too. The title-poem and several other pieces deal romantically with themes from Cædmon's time to Shakespeare's, and among much that is fine in the volume the greatest claim to distinction is probably possessed by these. The exotically beautiful past of Greek mythology was felicitously handled in “Niobe," "Actæon," and other earlier poems, but from Sherwood and Tales of the Mermaid Tavern on, Mr. Noyes has shown more and more interest in the equally beautiful yet more robust past of his native land. Few poets, indeed, of any period have drawn upon this material so largely and with such success. The volume further contains several good love lyrics and an especially noteworthy modern fairy poem. Some of the subjects, moreover, are drawn from Canada and the United States.
In structure, also, Mr. Noyes shows reaching out. Rhymeless verse is not absent from the volume, and “Astrid" is an experiment in initial rhyme. Yet it is safe to predict that a poet who has made such a phenomenal achievement with the traditional forms will do little with an innovation so revolutionary as the latter.
The Lord of Misrule was highly satisfying upon the first reading, more so upon the second. The book is the natural
sequel of the past work of the author, but has sufficient individuality to make us interestedly look forward to what he may write in the future.
John Owen BEATY.
John M. SYNGE: A FEW PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS WITH BIOGRAPHICAL
Notes. By John Masefield. New York: The Macmillan Company. RABINDRANATH TAGORE: A BIOGRAPHICAL STUDY. By Earnest Rhys.
New York: The Macmillan Company.
Of the two volumes before us it is perhaps natural to deal with the brochure by John Masefield on his fellow-poet Synge before taking up the longer and professedly more critical estimate of Tagore by Mr. Rhys; both because the former is so much the slighter work, and because its protagonist and to a certain extent the movement to which he belonged are now a part of literary history, while the neo-romantic and neo-religious ideas and ideals of Tagore are but now finding fertile ground, at least here in the West.
Among the group of enthusiasts that rallied to the side of Yeats and Lady Gregory when they launched the so-called Celtic Revival, none was more talented or more picturesque than Synge. They were all aflame with visions of the possibilities of giving tongue to the hitherto silent feelings of their race. They all wanted to catch "the music of the waters of the western sea and its isles" in order to perpetuate it in literature.
But Synge went a bit deeper into the Irish character than the rest. He alone knew the childish thirst of the Celt for the violent and supernatural, as well as their naïvely imaginative quest of the beautiful. As Yeats himself says, Synge “loved only what was wild in its [Ireland's] people, and in the 'grey and wintry sides of many glens.
His imagination impersonalized even his own experiences, so that like all children of Romance he looked at life and his fellow-men (in particular those of his beloved Arran) as from a distance, as though he were but an onlooker at their aspirations and their struggles. “He was a new Adam and saw things as they looked on the first morning.” When with this intensity of insight and this imaginative gift he wrote of people he knew or strange folk-tales he had heard, a Playboy of the Western World resulted, -a masterpiece that even the Irish attacked, it was so true a caricature.
Mr. Masefield in the present volume has adopted much the same method and manner that Mr. Yeats did in his 'personal reminiscences' of their common friend. When read together, a strikingly composite picture of the real Synge is gained, since the one touches rather the personal characteristics of the man, and the other his spiritual background and artistic achievements. But both emphasize his strange aloofness, his “golden silences," his excellence as a companion on a journey, his gypsy-like wanderings to wildest corners of Europe and Ireland in search of atmosphere and life, and the masterful though unconscious art which he wrought out of his colorful experiences. When the biography of Synge comes to be written, both these monographs will be treasured as first-hand accounts of a notable literary figure of our time by fellow-workmen who knew and loved him.
It is not such a far cry from Synge to Tagore, for though they are essentially different in many ways they both belong to the great household of Romance that surrounds with a like sort of faery glow such differing offspring as Homer and Shakespeare, Villon and Æschylus. But even more directly Synge and Tagore are comparable, since both try to give voice to the genius of their particular race, to preserve its folk-life, the local atmosphere, to catch the cloud-effects on the national spiritual horizon. In fact, Tagore's short stories have been traced in influence to the very door of the Celtic movement, Yeats in particular being credited with having inspired the great Hindu. But, on the other hand, the differences are quite as marked as the resemblances, and Tagore cannot be made a Celt even by the literary critic.
Mr. Rhys has written a striking biography on a subject that might well have discouraged an Occidental. So ably has he completed his task, however, that it is difficult to see how the lovers of Tagore can long be without this first adequate interpretation of their inspiring teacher. For it is in the role of teacher that his manifold activities and writings can best be studied, and it is in his boys' school at Bolpur that all his talents find their richest and most enduring increase. From the first to the last chapter Mr. Rhys touches on so many matters of