Page images
PDF
EPUB

final formulæ are from the hand of the Shoaib (vv. 88-91). Again, in Chapter Deuteronomic editor, and that the sto. 21, after the mention of Abraham, Isaac ries to which they form the setting are and Jacob, we read (v. 72): "Each of by much older writers—it is generally them We made pious and We made supposed by the two authors men- them guides to lead at Our command, tioned at the beginning of this article. and We showed them how to do good,

Now let us turn to the Korán. In and to pray, and to give alms, and they the Korán we find certain chapters served Us”; again, after naming Ishmade up in whole or in part of stories mael, Idris and Dhu'l Kif (v. 85): about the prophets; for example, in "Each one was of the number of the Chapter 7, about Noah, Húd (the patient, and We caused them to enter prophet of the tribe of Ad), Salih (the into Our mercy; every one of them was prophet of the tribe of Thamúd), Lot, of the pious"; and, again, after referShoaib (the prophet of Midian), Moses. ring to Jonah (v. 87): “We delivered Similarly, in Chapter 21-which is him out of his affliction, and in like called the Chapter of the Prophets, wise will We deliver those who bemention is made of Moses, Abraham, lieve." Similarly, in Chapter 18, beLot, Isaac, Jacob, Noah, David, Solo- tween the story of the Sleepers of mon, Job, Ishmael, Idrís (Enoch), Dhu'l Ephesus and that of Moses there is inKifi, “He of the fish” (Jonah), Zacha- serted a parenetic discourse too long rias, the Virgin Mary. So in Chapter to quote. 18 we have the stories of the Seven in the Korán, therefore, we meet Sleepers of Ephesus, of Moses in search with the same phenomena as are found of Al-Khidr, and of "the man of the in the Book of Judges, and, to a less two horns" (Alexander the Great). In extent, in the Books of Samuel_series Chapter 19 we have the stories of Zach- of stories of heroes set in a religious arias, John the Baptist and the Virgin or “Deuteronomic" framework. The Mary, of Jesus, Abraham, Ishmael- prevailing view at the present time in "who was true to his promise”-and regard to the Old Testament books is others.

that the stories come from the pen of These stories are repeated over and the author, or authors, of the books, over again, and the motive is always and that the framework in which they the same. A tribe-Ad or Thamúd or are embedded is from the hand of an Midian-rebel against God; God sends editor who wished to turn these narraan apostle to bring them back to their tives to a religious purpose. The analfaith; they declare the apostle to be a ogy of the Korán shows that the supliar; God destroys them; and the posed redactor is, in fact, the author prophet possesses his soul in patience of the book, of the narrative as well Between the longer stories there inter- as of the hortatory parts. The narravene some sentences of a hortatory or tive portions had no previous literary parenetic nature, dwelling on the existence as far as he was concerned. moral to be drawn from the tale. In They were the folk-lore of his day, Chapter 7 the story of Húd concludes popular tales with which every one (v. 70), “And We delivered him and was familiar, but which no one had those who were with him, with mercy committed to writing, or, indeed, would from Us, and we cut off the last of have thought of committing to writing those who said that Our signs were for their own sake, and which would lies, and who did not believe." Sim- perhaps never have been written at all, ilarly, after the stories of Noah (v. 62), had it not been for the religious use to Salih (vv. 76, 77), Lot (vv. 81, 82), which they could be put. Even so

Muhammad would never have dreamed taken from an elegy composed by a of retailing these old world sagas and contemporary of Muhammad upon his legends of rejected and persecuted brother:apostles and prophets, but for their religious value in mitigatng his own suf. We were enriched by his goodness for ferings at the hands of his persecutors,

a space,

Then she who strikes all men assailed and in turning them from the worship

us. of Al-Lat and Al-Ozza and Manát to

I know that the longest lived of men the service of that One Eternal who Is for an appointed time, of which the begetteth not nor is begotten, like furthest term is near. whom there is none.

Death bath wrought ruin of life, and Of all portions of the Books of Sam

there has come to his day

One who was close to my side and nel it is agreed that the poetical pieces

dear. --the Song of Hannab (1 Sam. ii. 1-10),

If the world were for sale, I would the version of the eighteenth Psalm

buy him back with it, (2 Sam. xxii.), and the last words of Seeing that in him men's hearts reDavid (xxill. 1-7) are the latest.

re the latest. The

The joiced. elegies which David pronounced over By Allah, I will not forget him as long

as the sun shines, Saul and Jonathan (2 Sam. i. 19-27),

And I can brandish a lance made from and over Abner (iii. 33, 34), are on all

a branch of ardk. hands allowed to be authentic, and there is a lingering belief in the au- The authenticity of Hannah's Song thenticity of parts at least of the is denied on the somewhat contradicPsalm; but the Song of Hannah and tory grounds that there is nothing in it the last words of David have gone by answering to Hannah's circumstances, the board.

and that an editor inserted it because This is a point upon which the Korán v. 5 is really to the point. This takes cannot give us any assistance, for al. for granted that we know what kind though it ranges from the most intense of song Hannah would have sung. inspiration of poetry to the dullest We can know this only by comparing prose, it contains no formal verses nor analogous cases, but the Old Testaany poems corresponding in subject to ment offers no parallel. Hannah is in those found in the Books of Samuel. the precise position of a poet who has In the old Arabian poetry, on the other received largess from some exalted hand, we find parallels in plenty. In personage, and who out of gratitude the Arab elegies the two themes upon composes a poem in his honor. An which the poets love to dwell are the Arab poet in these circumstances does warlike courage and the generosity of not recite a panegyric upon his patron. the fallen hero. It is the same with He composes a poem on any subject David's elegy for Saul and Jonathan he pleases, generally upon a horse, or except that whereas for the Arab gen- a she-camel, or a lion, putting his best erosity takes the form of hospitality, workmanship into it, and presents it with the Hebrew it shows itself in the as a beautiful work of art for the acgenerous distribution of the spoil. In ceptance of his patron. The ode which both the specially religious element, Kaab ibu Zuhair recited before Mueven in the early fanatical days of Is- hammad, when seeking his protection, lám, is kept well in the background. contains a minute, almost anatomical, At all the most strenuous turning description of his own she-camel, and points of life the Semite falls back another of a lion. We cannot thereupon Fate. The following lines are fore tell what the subject matter of Hannah's song would have been, but upon nearly contemporary coins. Witb its "execution" would bave been the all its self-contradictions and inconbest she was capable of. In that re- sistencies, its flights from the loftiest spect the simple verses tradition has poetry to the tamest prose, it had but handed down are beyond criticism. one author-Muhammad. Of the early

Considerations, such as the forego- Hebrews, it is true, no coins exist, ing, appear to point to the conclusion and, but for one or two inscriptions, that the theory of dual or triple we have nothing to go upon beyond authorship does not afford us an ade- the national tradition. The inscripquate explanation of the difficulties tions and the tradition, however, are with which we meet in the historical in agreement, and tradition with the parts of the Old Testament. That it Hebrew and the Arab is a more reliis to European scholars a satisfactory able source of knowledge than are and convincing solution is due to the written documents with us. As Proscientific and philosophical discipline fessor Strack observes in the new ediin which they are trained. If we turn tion of Genesis : Nations, like individuto such a purely Semitic literary prod. als, remember their earliest years best. uct as the Korán, we find the same It is hardly an exaggeration to say phenomena as beset us in the Hebrew, that a study of the Korán would sugand, to a less degree, in the Christian gest that instead of splitting up the Scriptures. Yet the Korán is the rock books of the Bible into innumerable upon which higher criticism goes to sources, we would be nearer the mark pieces. To apply to it the theory of if we supposed, for example, that the double sources is out of the question. first three books of the New TestaIt is hard to get behind a text, the ment were from a single hand. words of which are extant, engraved

T. I. Weir. The Contemporary Review.

THE BACKGROUND OF DRAMA.

from artistic grounds, against the In his Shakespeare and the Modern elaborate productions of to-day, is that Stage Mr. Sidney Lee has dealt in a the initial expense demands a long run trenchant style with the elaborate before the manager can be recouped, scenic production of Shakespeare's and long runs do not make for the best plays which is the fashion of the day. achievement of the actor's art. UnHe gives many reasons why scenic fortunately, Shakespeare is not the display should not be too elaborate, only sufferer from this state of things, among them the practical one that the and long runs are not always the recost of such productions is so exces- sult of an expensive production. sive that two or three pieces could be While the theatre is a commercial mounted for the same cost as one. speculation, the manager will naturally That is a matter which need hardly attempt to squeeze every penny piece be discussed, for presumably managers he can out of his commodities. The know their own business and do not plays themselves suffer. Mr. J. M. spend money on their productions un- Barrie's Peter Pan is an instance. It less they have good reason to expect is now in its third year, and, we may it will be returned to them with profit. assume, will gradually take its place The chief practical objection, apart as a dramatic perennial. It has not been improved in its subsequent call for some consideration. Mr. H. growths. The acting has not im- Beerbohm Tree, in a lecture to the proved, and all kinds of tasteless members of the Salon, thus expressed *business" have been grafted on to the faith that is in him: the original stock. The problem of long runs is very difficult to solve. It I take it that the entire business of is all very well to say that an artistic the stage is-Illusion. To gain this end, manager should withdraw a play after all means are fair. The same is somea reasonable number of performances,

times said of love and war, though I which would be determined both by

incline to dismiss this declaration as

an ethical fallacy. Illusion, then, is public demand and the players' inter

the first and last word of the stage: est in their work; but London is 80 all that aids illusion is good, all that large that, if a play be really success- destroys Illusion is bad. This simple tul, it may run for a year without law governs usor should govern us. baving exhausted its audience. Mr.

In that compound of all the arts. Pinero's His House in Order is a case

which is the art of the modern theatre,

the sweet grace of restraint is of in point, for that play is not of the

course necessary, and the scenic emtype wbich people desire to see many bellishments should not overwhelm the times, so that every audience is prac. dramatic interest, or the balance is uptically a fresh audience. Nor can itset-the illusion is gone! be said that Mr. Beerbobm Tree, who is the arch-priest of elaborate Shakes These be wise words, but it will be pearian productions, keeps any one noted they contain a very drastic modplay on his stage for an exceptionally ification of the blessings of "scenic long run. Whether be changes them embellishments." for financial reasons or other I do not Mr. Sidney Lee, whose opinions may know, but a year's history of work at be taken as representing those of the His Majesty's shows sufficient variety. bulk of literary admirers of ShakeMuch Ado about Nothing, The Tempest, speare, bewails the fact that the imag-. Business is Business, Colonel Newcome ination of modern audiences is so weak. and Antony and Cleopatra, besides a that they cannot create the environShakespeare week in the summer, is ment of Shakespeare's dramas for not a bad record for one theatre, and themselves, as audiences did in the compares favorably with any stage poet's day. But Mr. Lee is in favor but that of the Court Theatre. The of adequate scenery. He is not of Mr. practical side of theatre management Beerbohm Tree's "certain pedants' is beset with so many difficulties that who "apparently imagine that Shakewe bad best not touch upon them. The speare should be presented on the stage complication of the problem by the of the twentieth century in the same magnificence of scenery, upholstery, manner and with the same limitations. and costumes supposed to be de- as were necessarily observed on the manded by modern audiences does not stage of the Globe Theatre in the sixapply to Shakespeare only. It will teenth century." The general question be more to the purpose to examine the of the place of scenery in drama is modern decoration of Shakespeare, and complicated, however, by the loose scenic elaboration in general, entirely construction of Shakespeare's plays. from the artistic standpoint.

Mr. Beerbohm Tree bas quoted the chorus which precedes Henry the Fifth

in support of his contention that There are two opposed views which Shakespeare did not consider the

LIVING AGE. VOL. XXXV. 1819

11

limited scenic conditions of his own tion of life itself, in all its movement day “as perennial and eternal":

and action, lies outside the range of the

stage, especially the movement and acBut pardon, gentles all,

tion of life in its most glorious maniThe flat unraised spirit, that hath dar'd,

aria festations. On this unworthy scaffold, to bring

If Shakespeare meant that as an forth So great an obiect: Can this cockpit æsthetic theory the less Shakespeare hold

he. A poet who knows that "the literal The vasty fields of France? or may we presentation of life itself . . . lies outcram

side the range of the stage" and yet Within this wooden 0, the very casques

attempts that presentation, and exThat did affright the air at Agincourt?

cuses it in a prologue, merely shows 0, pardon! since a crooked figure may Attest, in little place, a million;

that he has not thought about the theAnd let us, ciphers to this great ac ory of drama. And, indeed, the compt,

greater part of the speech is a lame On your imaginary forces work: excuse for the disregard of dramatic Suppose, within the girdle of these

unities which makes Shakespeare's walls

plays so difficult to present on any Are now confin'd two mighty monarchies,

stage without emphasizing their chaos Whose high upreared and abutting of construction. We really must not fronts

account this chaotic chronicling of inThe perilous, narrow ocean parts cidents as a virtue, or even as a magasunder.

nificent lapse which can be made good Piece out our imperfection with your

by the imagination of an audience. thoughts; Into a thousand parts divide one man,

This free-and-easy marshalling of inAnd make imaginary puissance:

cidents in Shakespeare is a weakness Think, when we talk of horses, that and a sign of drama in a low state of you see them

development. Printing their proud hoofs the re- In this respect many of his works ceiving earth:

are mere chronicle-plays, however For 'tis your thoughts that now must

magnificent they may be in the higher deck our kings, Carry them here and there; jumping sense of drama: in their truth to huo'er times;

man nature, their presentment of charTurning the accomplishment of many acter, and their gorgeous verse. At years

the same time, although no modern Into an hour-glass.

scenic art can amend an essential

breach of unities, Mr. Tree is partly Mr. Tree sees in this a prophetic vision and justification of His Majesty's right in considering this speech as eviTheatre. Mr. Sidney Lee, on the other

dence that Shakespeare could imagine

a better setting for his play than the band, considers the lines

Globe Theatre was able to give him. gpirited appeal to his andience not "Into a thousand parts divide one to waste regrets on defects of stage man" plainly cries out for the multitumachinery, but to bring to the observa- dinous supers of His Majesty's Theation of his piece their highest powers tre. Possibly, too, Shakespeare would of imagination, whereby alone can have liked to see his horses "printing full justice be done to a majestic

their proud hoofs i' the receiving theme. The central topic of the choric

earth,” nor would he have objected to speech is the essential limitations of all scenic appliances. The dramatist re- his king being decked in more dazminds us that the literal presenta zling apparel than the thoughts of his

« PreviousContinue »