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Mr. and Mrs. Herne by Hamlin Garland

MR. AND MRS. JAS. A. HERNE.

MR. AND MRS. JAS. A. HERNE.

In May last, in a small hall in Boston, on a stage of planking, hung with drapery, was produced one of the most radical plays from a native author ever performed in America. Mr. and Mrs. James A. Herne, unable to obtain a hearing in the theatres for their play, which had been endorsed by some of the best known literary men of the day, were forced to hire a hall, and produce Margaret Fleming bare of all mechanical illusion, and shorn of all its scenic and atmospheric effects. Everybody, even their friends, prophesied disaster. In such surroundings failure seemed certain. But a few who knew the play and its authors better, felt confident that there was a public for them. It was a notable event, and the fame of Margaret Fleming is still on its travels across the dramatic world.

There were two reasons for this result, the magnificent art of Mrs. Herne, which “created illusion by its utter simplicity and absolute truth to life,” and second, because the play was, in fact, as one critic said, “an epoch-marking play.” It could afford to dispense with canvas, bunch-lights, machinery, as it dispensed with conventional plot and epithet, and as its actors discarded declamation and mere noise.

The phenomenal success of Mr. and Mrs. Herne brought them prominently before the literary public. Interest became very strong in them as persons as well as artists, and from an intimate personal acquaintance with them both, I have been asked to give this brief sketch of their work previous to Margaret Fleming, for epoch-marking as it was, it was only a logical latest outcome of the work the Hernes have been doing for the last ten years.

Mr. Herne is a man of large experience, having been on the stage for thirty years. He has been through all the legitimate lines. He has been a member of a stock company, manager of theatres, and author and manager of several plays of his own, previous to the writing of Margaret Fleming. His first real attempt at writing was Hearts of Oak. The home scenes, and notably the famous dinner scene, which became such a feature, showed the direction of his power. This play, produced about twelve years ago with Mrs. Herne as “Crystal,” was their first attempt to handle humble American life, and was very successful.

Mr. Herne’s next venture was an ambitious one. It was the writing of a play based upon the American Revolution. In the spring of ‘86 he produced at the Boston Theatre The Minute Men, where it was received with immense enthusiasm. It was somewhat conventional in plot, but in all its scenes of home life was true and fine. The central figures were Reuben (a backwoodsman), and Dorothy, his adopted daughter. Whatever concerned these two characters was keyed to the note of life. Like all Mr. Herne’s acting, Reuben was utterly unconscious of himself. He went about as a backwoodsman naturally does, without posturing or swagger. With the sweetness and quaintness of Sam Lawson, he had the comfortable aspect of a well-fed Pennsylvania Quaker.

Mrs. Herne’s Dorothy was a fitting companion piece, faultlessly true, and sweet, and natural. Her spontaneous laugh is as infectiously gleeful as Joe Jefferson’s chuckle. Those who have never seen her in this part can hardly realize how fine a comedienne she really is.

Mr. Herne’s next play was simpler, stronger, and better, though less picturesque. Drifting Apart was based upon the commonest of life’s tragedies—the home of a drunkard. It is the most effective of sermons, without one word of preaching. The drifting apart of husband and wife through the husband’s “failin’” is set forth with unexampled concreteness, and yet there is no introduction of horror. We understand it all by the sufferings of the wife, with whom we alternately hope and despair. I copy here what I wrote of it at the time when I knew neither Mr. and Mrs. Herne, nor any other of their plays.

The second act in this play for tenderness and truth has not been surpassed in any American play. A daring thing exquisitely done was that holiest of confidences between husband and wife. The vast audience sat hushed as death before that touching, almost sacred scene, as they do when sitting before some great tragedy.

What does this mean, if not that our dramatists have been too distrustful of the public? They have gone round the earth in search of material for plays, not knowing that the most moving of all life is that which lies closest at hand, after all.

Mrs. Herne’s acting of Mary Miller was my first realization of the compelling power of truth. It was so utterly opposed to the “tragedy of the legitimate.” Here was tragedy that appalled and fascinated like the great fact of living. No noise, no contortions of face or limbs, yet somehow I was made to feel the dumb, inarticulate, interior agony of a mother. Never before had such acting faced me across the footlights. The fourth act was like one of Millet’s paintings, with that mysterious quality of reserve—the quality of life again.

In this play, as in Hearts of Oak, there was no villain and no plot. The scene was laid in a fishing village near Gloucester. I can do no better than to give you a taste of the quaint second act.

It is Christmas eve and Jack and Mary have been married a year. Jack is preparing to go out. Mary is secretly disturbed over his going but hides it. “Mother” sits by the fire knitting. Mary is sewing by the window.

Jack. Say, Mary! D’you know, I can shave myself better’n any barber thet ever honed a razor?

Mary. I always told you you could, Jack, if you’d only try.

Jack. Feel my face now—ain’t it as smooth as any baby’s?

Mary. (Feeling his face.) Yes, Jack, as smooth as any old baby’s.

Jack. Oh! say, look here now, thet ain’t fair; a feller don’t know nothin’ till he’s forty, does he, mother? Old baby’s! (sitting on the arm of Mary’s chair) I ain’t too old to love you, Mary, that’s one thing. I’ve loved you ever since you was knee-high to a grasshopper. I rocked you in y’r cradle—I’m blessed if I didn’t make the cradle you was rocked in, didn’t I, mother?

Mother. Yes, Jack, an’ d’ye remember what yeh made it out of?

Jack. A herrin’ box. (General laugh.)

Mary. (Tenderly.) I married the man I love, Jack.

Jack. Honest?

Mary. Honest.

Jack. (Kissing her.) Then what’n thunder you want to talk about a feller’s gettin’ old for? Where’s my clean shirt? Say, mother, don’t you t’ hang up them stockin’s.

Mary. Oh! Jack, what nonsense.

Jack. No nonsense at all about it. Christmas is Christmas. It only comes once a year an’ I’m goin’ to have th’ stockin’s hung up. So for fear you’d forgit ‘em I’ll hang ‘em up myself.

. . . . . . . . . .

Mary. Please, Jack, give me those stockings.

Jack. Now it ain’t no use, little woman. Them stockin’s is a-goin’ up. Mother, you give me three pins.

Mary. Don’t you give him any pins, mother. Suppose the neighbors should come in and see those stockings hangin’ up.

Jack. Let ‘em come in, I don’t care a continental cuss. Why, Mary, everybody wears stockin’s nowadays, everybody that can afford to. I want the neighbors to see ‘em, then they’ll know we’ve got stockin’s. (Holding up the three stockings.) Got one apiece anyhow.

Mother. Oh, Jack, Jack! you’ll never be anything but a great overgrown boy, if you live to be a hundred (goes off).

Mary. (Tenderly.) Jack!

Jack. Hey?

Mary. (Putting her arms about his neck.) Did you never think that perhaps next Christmas there might be another stocking, just a tiny one, to hang in the chimney corner?

Jack. Why, Mary, there’s tears in your eyes. (Goes to wipe her eyes with the work she has in her hands; it is a baby’s dress.) Bless my soul! What’s this, Mary?

Mary. (Falteringly.) Do you remember Bella and John in “Our Mutual Friend” that I read to you?

Jack. Yes. Warn’t they glorious?

Mary. Well, these are sails, Jack, sails for the little ship that’s coming across the water for you and me.

Mr. Herne as Reuben Foxglove in "The Minute Men." See page 544. Mr. Herne as Reuben Foxglove in "The Minute Men." See page 544.

I quote a few lines from another scene.

Christmas morning. Hester and Silas, some young friends, have come in to take breakfast. All are seated at the table with much bustle and laughter. Lish Mead, Mary’s foster father, pokes his head in the door.

Lish Mead. Wish you Merry Christmas.

All. (Hilariously.) Merry Christmas! Come in.

Lish. Can’t less some on ye hol’s th’ door open.

Silas. I’ll hold it, Lish. (Lish enters, hauling a warehouse truck on which is a barrel of flour and a large hamper.)

Lish. Mister Seward wanted I should hand ye these with his complements.

Mary. Oh, how kind of Mr. Seward, and how good of you to bring ‘em.

Jack. Set down here, Lish, and have a bite o’ breakfast.

Lish. (Taking off mittens, cap, comforter, etc.) Whatcher got? Chicking? Waal, that’s good ‘nough. (Seats himself at table.) Say, Jack, d’ you know, you left a goose a-layin’ on Jim Adamses bar las’ night? I was goin’ to fetch it along but Jim said you gin it to him, swore you made him a present on it.

Mother. Jack Hepburn, did you give that goose—

Mary. (Interrupting her.) Have a cup of coffee, mother.

Lish. Jack, have you got the time o’ day? (Chuckles.) Here’s y’r new Waterbury. The boys wanted I should fetch her ‘round; ye went off las’ night without her.

Jack. Ye can take her back again; I don’t want her.

Mary. O Jack!

Jack. No, Mary, I don’t. I wish the durned ol’ Waterbury ‘d never been born.

Mary. The boys meant well, Jack; I wouldn’t send back their present.

Jack. All right, Mary, if you say so, I’ll take her. There’s one thing sure, every time I wind her up she’ll put me in mind how durn near I come to losin’ the best little wife in the whole world.

This play brought me to know Mr. and Mrs. Herne. It needed but an hour’s talk to convince me that I had met two of the most intellectual artists in the dramatic profession, and also to learn how great were the obstacles which lay in the way of producing a real play, each year adding to the insuperableness of the barriers. Mr. Herne was at that time (two years ago) working upon a new play, in some respects, notably in its theme, finer than Drifting Apart. It was the result of several summers spent on the coast of Maine, and is called Shore-Acres. The story is mainly that of two brothers, Nathaniel and Martin Berry, who own a fine “shore-acre” tract near a booming summer resort. An enterprising grocer in the little village gets Martin interested in booms and suggests that they form a company and cut the shore-acre tract up into lots and sell to summer residents.

Martin comes with the scheme to Nathaniel.

Martin. I’d like t’ talk to yeh, an’ I d’ know’s I’ll hev a better chance.

Uncle Nat. I d’ know’s yeh will.

Martin. (Hesitates, picks up a stick and whittles.) Mr. Blake’s ben here.

Uncle Nat. (Picks up a straw and chews it.) Hez ‘e?

Mrs. Herne as Dorothy Foxglove in "The Minute Men." See page 544. Mrs. Herne as Dorothy Foxglove in "The Minute Men." See page 544.
Martin. Yes. He ‘lows thet we’d ought to cut the farm up inter buildin’ lots.

Uncle Nat. Dooze ‘e?

Martin. Yes. He says there’s a boom a-comin’ here, an’ thet the lan’s too valu’ble to work.

Uncle Nat. I want t’ know ‘f he dooze. Where d’s he talk o’ beginnin’?

Martin. Out there at the nothe eend o’ the shore pint?

Uncle Nat. Yeh don’t mean up yander? (Pointing with his thumb over his shoulder.)

Martin. (Slowly.) Y-e-s.

Uncle Nat. Dooze ‘e calkalate t’ take in the knoll thet looks out t’ Al’gator Reef?

Martin. I reck’n he dooze.

Uncle Nat. Did yeh tell him thet mother’s berried there?

Martin. He knows thet ‘s well ‘s you do. (Sulkily.)

Uncle Nat. What’s he calkalate t’ do with mother?

Martin. He advises puttin’ her in a cimitry up to Bangor.

Uncle Nat. She’d never sleep comfort’ble in no cimitry, mother wouldn’t.

Martin. He says thet’s the choice lot o’ the hull pass’ll.

Uncle Nat. Then who’s got so good a right to it as mother hez? It was all her’n once. Thet’s the only piece she ast t’ keep. Yeh don’t begrutch it to her, do yeh, Martin?

Martin. I don’t begrutch her nothin’, only he says folks hain’t a-goin’ to pay fancy prices ‘thout they hev ther pick.

Uncle Nat. D’ye think any fancy price hed ought to buy mother’s grave?

Mrs. Herne as Mary Miller. "Here was tragedy that
appalled and fascinated like the great fact of living." "Drifting
Apart." Act IV. See page 545. Mrs. Herne as Mary Miller. "Here was tragedy that appalled and fascinated like the great fact of living." "Drifting Apart." Act IV. See page 545.

Martin. Yeh seem to kinder shameface me fer thinkin’ o’ partin’ with it.

Uncle Nat. Didn’t mean to. Law sakes! who’m I thet I should set my face agin improvemints, I’d like t’ know? Go ahead, an’ sell, ‘n build, an’ git rich, an’ move t’ Bangor, unly don’t sell thet! Leave me jes’ thet leetle patch, an’ I’ll stay an’ take keer th’ light, keep the grass cut over yander, an’ sort o’ watch eout fer things gin’rally….

Ann. Sakes alive! Martin Berry, bean’t you a-comin’ to your dinner t’day? Come, Nathan’l, y’r dinner’ll be stun cold. I say yer dinner’ll be stun cold. ‘T won’t be fit f’r a hawg t’eat.

Little Mildred. (Going to Nat, looks up into his face.) He’s cryin’, momma.

This estrangement, and the results that flow from it, form the simple basis of Shore-Acres, a play full of character studies, and permeated by that peculiar flavor of sea and farm, which the New England coast abounds with. The theme is the best and truest of all Mr. Herne’s plays of humble life.

Mr. and Mrs. Herne have lived for twelve years in Ashmont, a suburb of Boston. They have a comfortable and tasteful home, with three children, Julie, Crystal, and Dorothy [aged ten, eight, and five], to give them welcome when they come back from their seasons on the road. Mr. Herne is very domestic and lives a very simple and quiet life. And he enjoys his pretty home as only a man can whose life is spent so largely in fatiguing travel. He is fond of the fields which lie near his home, and very many are the long walks we have taken together. He is very fond of wild flowers, especially daisies and clover blossoms, and in their season is never without a bunch of them upon his desk. Books are all about him. He writes at a flat-top desk in the room he calls his, but his terrific orders to be left alone are calmly ignored by the three children who invade this “study,” and throw themselves upon him at the slightest provocation. He is much tyrannized over by Dorothy, whose dolls he is forced to mend, no matter what other apparently important work is going forward.

Mr. and Mrs. Herne in "Drifting Apart." Act II. See page 545. Mr. and Mrs. Herne in "Drifting Apart." Act II. See page 545.

Mrs. Herne is a woman of extraordinary powers, both of acquired knowledge and natural insight, and her suggestions and criticisms have been of the greatest value to her husband in his writing, and she had large part in the inception as well as in the production of Margaret Fleming. Her knowledge of life and books, like that of her husband, is self-acquired, but I have met few people in any walk of life with the same wide and thorough range of thought. In their home oft-quoted volumes of Spencer, Darwin, Fiske, Carlyle, Ibsen, Valdes, Howells, give evidence that they not only keep abreast but ahead of the current thought of the day. Spencer is their philosopher, and Howells is their novelist, but Dickens and Scott have large space on their shelves. All this does not prevent Mr. Herne from being an incorrigible joker, and a wonderfully funny story-teller. All dialects come instantly and surely to his tongue. The sources of his power as a dramatist are evident in his keen observation and retentive memory. Mrs. Herne’s poet is Sidney Lanier, and she knows his principal poems by heart. “Sunrise” is her especial delight. But to see her radiant with intellectual enthusiasm, one has but to start a discussion of the nebular hypothesis, or to touch upon the atomic theory, or doubt the inconceivability of matter. She is perfectly oblivious to space and time if she can get someone to discuss Flammarion’s supersensuous world of force, Mr. George’s theory of land-holding, or Spencer’s law of progress.

Mr. and Mrs. Herne in "Drifting Apart." Act III. See page 545. Mr. and Mrs. Herne in "Drifting Apart." Act III. See page 545.

Her enthusiasms bear fruit not only in her own phenomenal development, but in her power over others, both as an artist and friend. Wherever she goes she carries the magnetic influence of one who lives and thinks on high planes. Her earnestness is tremendous.

They are both individualists in the sense of being for the highest and purest type of man, and the elimination of governmental control. “Truth, Liberty, and Justice,” form the motto over their door. Mr. Herne has won great distinction as a powerful and ready advocate of the single tax theory, and they are both personal valued friends of Mr. George. It is Ibsen’s individualism as well as his truth that appeals so strongly to both Mr. and Mrs. Herne. They are in deadly earnest like Ibsen, and Margaret Fleming sprang directly from their radicalism on the woman question. The home of these extraordinary people is a charged battery radiating the most advanced thought. As one friend said: “No one ever leaves this house as he came. We all go away with something new and vital to think about.”

I give these personal impressions in order that those who saw them in Margaret Fleming may know that its power was certainly a reflection of the high thought and purity of moral conviction and life which Mr. and Mrs. Herne brought to its production and its performance. It voices their love of truth in art, and freedom in life, and specifically their position on the woman question.

The story of Margaret Fleming is briefly:—

Philip Fleming is a fairly successful business man in a town near Boston. He has a devoted wife, a child just reaching its first year’s birthday. The first scene develops the situation by a conversation between Fleming and his family physician. Fleming offers a cigar which Dr. Larkin refuses.

Philip. You used to respect my cigars. (Laughing.)

Doctor. I used to respect you….

Philip. Why not, for heaven’s sake?

Doctor. Because you’ve no more moral nature than Joe Fletcher has.

Philip. Oh! come now, Doctor, that’s rather—

Doctor. (Looking sternly at him.) At two o’clock last night, Lena Schmidt gave birth to a child.

Philip. (His eyes meet those of the Doctor, then drop to the floor.) How in God’s name did they come to send for you?

. . . . . . . . .

Doctor. I don’t believe she’ll ever leave that bed alive.

Philip. Well, I’ve done all I can to—

Doctor. Yeh have, eh?

Philip. She’s had all the money she needed…. If she’d a’ done as I wanted her to, this never’d a’ happened. I tried to get her away six months ago, but she wouldn’t go. She was as obstinate as a mule.

Doctor. Strange that she should want to be near you, aint it? If she’d got tired of you and wanted to go, you wouldn’t have let her.

Philip. (With a sickly smile.) You must think I’m—

Doctor. I don’t think anything about it. I know just what such animals as you are.

Philip. Why, I haven’t seen her for a—

Doctor. Haven’ t yeh! well, then, suppose you go and see her to-day.

Philip. (Alarmed.) No, I won’t. I can’t do that!

Doctor. You will do just that.

Philip. (Showing temper.) I won’t go near her.

Doctor. (Quietly.) Yes, you will. She sha’n’t lie there and die like a dog.

Philip. You wouldn’t dare—to tell—

Doctor. I want you to go and see this girl! (They face each other.) Will yeh or won’t yeh?

Philip. (After a pause subdued.) What d’ ye want me to say to her?

Fleming had been unfaithful to his wife at the time when he should have been most devoted. The next two scenes show us Margaret in her lovely home with the baby crowing about her. Fleming, with the easy shift of such natures, has thrown off his depression, and is in good spirits the following morning. Dr. Larkin calls to warn Fleming that he had better take Margaret away at once. She has trouble with her eyes which a nervous shock might intensify. He promises to do so, but the act closes with Margaret’s departure to visit Lena Schmidt, who has sent for her. The third act takes place in Mrs. Burton’s cottage, where the girl is dying. Dr. Larkin enters, finds Mrs. Burton holding the babe in her arms. I quote the conversation as a fine example of its truth and suggestion.

Mr. Herne as Joe Fletcher in "Margaret Fleming." Act I.
"Can't I sell ye a bath sponge?" See page 553. Mr. Herne as Joe Fletcher in "Margaret Fleming." Act I. "Can't I sell ye a bath sponge?" See page 553.
Mrs. Burton. O Doctor! I didn’t hear ye knawk. Did I keep y’ waitin’?

Doctor. No. How’re the sick folks?

Mrs. Burton. Haven’t y’ seen Dr. Taylor! Didn’t he tell yeh?

Doctor. Haven’t seen him. I suppose you mean—

Mrs. Burton. Yes.

Doctor. Humph! When’d she die?

Mrs. B. ‘Bout half an hour ago.

Doctor. I had two calls on my way here. When did the change come?

Mrs. B. Ther’ wa’n’t no change t’ speak ‘f. About two hours ago, she et a nice cup o’ grule, and asked me to fix the pillers so’s her head ‘d be higher. I done it. Then she asked f’r a pensul ‘n paper, an’ she writ f’r quite some time. After that she shet her eyes an’ I thought she was asleep. She never moved till the Doctor come, then she opened her eyes ‘n smiled at him. He asked how she felt, an’ she gave a l-o-n-g sigh—an’ that was all there was to it.

. . . . . . . . .

Mrs Herne as Margaret Fleming. Act II. See page 554. Mrs Herne as Margaret Fleming. Act II. See page 554.

Margaret comes in and Dr. Larkin, horrified, tries in vain to get her to return. Maria, the dead girl’s sister, comes out of the bedroom, with a letter in her hand, and with barbaric ferocity turns upon Margaret. A scene of great dramatic power follows, and under the stress of her suffering, Margaret goes blind. It all ends in the flight of Fleming, and the destruction of their home. Several years later a chain of events brings wife and husband together in the office of the Boston Inspector of Police. Joe Fletcher, a street pedler, and husband of Maria, the sister of Lena Schmidt, was the means of bringing them together again. Fleming runs across Joe on the Common, and Joe takes him to see Maria. Margaret has found Maria and her child, which Maria had taken. Philip’s altercation with Maria brings them into the police office. After explanations, the inspector turns to the husband and wife, and voicing conventional morality, advises them to patch it up. “When you want me, ring that bell,” he says, and leaves them alone. There is a hush of suspense, and then Fleming, seeing the work he had wrought in the blind face before him, speaks.

Philip. Margaret!

Margaret. Well!

Philip. This is terrible

Marg. You heard the inspector. He calls it a “common case.”

Philip. Yes. I was wondering whether he meant that or only said it.

Marg. I guess he meant it, Philip. We’ll be crowded out of his thoughts before he goes to bed to-night.

. . . . . . . . .

Marg. Ah, well, it’s done now, and—

Philip. Yes, it’s done. For four years I’ve been like an escaped prisoner that wanted to give himself up and dreaded the punishment. I’m captured at last, and without hope or fear,—I was going to say without shame,—I ask you, my judge, to pronounce my sentence.

Marg. That’s a terrible thing to ask me to do, Philip…. (She hesitates.)

Philip. Of course you’ll get a divorce?

Marg. Don’t let us have any more ceremonies, Philip…. I gave myself to you when you asked me to. We were married in my mother’s little home. Do you remember what a bright, beautiful morning it was?

Philip. Yes.

Marg. That was seven years ago. To-day we’re here!

. . . . . . . . .

I am calm. My eyes have simply been turned in upon myself for four years. I see clearer than I used to.

Philip. Suppose I could come to you some day and say, Margaret, I’m now an honest man. Would you live with me again?

Marg. The wife-heart has gone out of me, Philip.

Philip. I’ll wait, Margaret. Perhaps it may come back again. Who knows?

. . . . . . . . .

Philip. Is it degrading to forgive?

Marg. No; but it is to condone. Suppose I had broken faith with you?

Philip. Ah, Margaret!

Marg. I know! But suppose I had? Why should a wife bear the whole stigma of infidelity? Isn’t it just as revolting in a husband?…

. . . . . . . . .

Then can’t you see that it is simply impossible for me to live with you again? Philip. That’s my sentence…. We’ll be friends?

Marg. Yes, friends. We’ll respect each other as friends. We never could as man and wife.

As they clasp hands, something latent, organic rushes over her. She masters it, puts his hand aside: “Ring that bell!”

Mr. Herne and his daughter Dorothy as Joe and little
Lena on the Common. See page 557. Mr. Herne and his daughter Dorothy as Joe and little Lena on the Common. See page 557.

Played as Mrs. Herne plays it, this act is the supreme climax toward which the action moves from the first. It is her knowledge of its significance, her belief in its justice, and her faith in its beneficence that makes her reading so intellectually powerful and penetrating. She seems to be all of the woman, and something of the seer, as she stands there as Margaret whose blindness has somehow given her inward light, and conviction, and strength. She seemed to be speaking for all womankind, whose sorrowful history we are only just beginning to read truthfully. It is no wonder that Mrs. Herne appealed with such power to the thinking women of Boston. Never before has their case been so stated in America.

One of the most noticeable and gratifying results of Mr. and Mrs. Herne’s performance was the forced abandonment by the critics of conventional standards of criticism. Every thoughtful word, even by those most severe, was made from the realist’s standpoint. It forced a comparison with life and that was a distinct gain.

Margaret. Act V. "It is simply impossible for me to
live with you again.... Ring that bell." See page 557. Margaret. Act V. "It is simply impossible for me to live with you again…. Ring that bell." See page 557.

The critics got at last the point of view of those who praise an imperfect play simply for its honesty of purpose, and its tendency. My own criticism of Margaret Fleming is that it lacks the simplicity of life. It has too much of plot. Things converge too much, and here and there things happen. Measured by the standard of truth it fails at two or three points in its construction, though its treatment is markedly direct and honest. Measured by any play on the American stage, it stands above them all in purpose, in execution, in power, and is worthy to stand for the new drama. It was exposed to the severest test, and came out of it triumphantly. What the effect will be upon the American drama, it would be hard to say. Certainly whether great or small, that influence will be toward progress, an influence that is altogether good.

Already it has precipitated the discussion of an independent American theatre, where plays of advanced thought and native atmosphere can be produced. It has given courage to many who (being in the minority) had given up the idea of ever having a play after their ideal. It has cleared the air and showed the way out of the cul de sac into which monopoly seemed to have driven plays and players. It demonstrated that a small theatre makes the production of literary plays possible, and the whole field is opening to the American dramatist. The fact that the lovers of truth and art are in the minority, no longer cuts a figure. The small theatre makes a theatre for the minority not only possible, but inevitable.

In the immediate advance in truth, both in acting and play-writing, Mr. and Mrs. Herne are likely to have large part. The work which they have already done entitles them not only to respect, but to gratitude. They have been working for many years to discredit effectism in acting, and to bring truth into the American drama. They have set a high mark, as all will testify who saw the work in Chickering Hall. Now let who can, go higher.