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American History On The Stage

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In needs no special insight io see bat the tifié subject which lies at the liearfc of our history since the Kevolution is tho ojio sabject in which dramatic incidente are itnbedded. Slavery and its extinclion constitute thetheme of our history since the Union was reached ; and because the extinction oí slavery has made possible a nation no longer diyiüed by irreconcilable differences, thaïe is always in every drama based on the slavery coutest, however tragic may be its incidents, the possibi'ity of a triumphant conclusión, accordar.t with history and the prophecy of history. The conflict for freedom is so large and so moving in its nature, and lias always been so dramatic in its incident; its roots lie so deep in the moral nature, where only the great drama thi i ves; and it is so involved in natioual development, that all othcr subjectö in our history are weak and insigniflcant before the possibilities of this theme. We stand, perhaps, too near the scones of the late war, and are too much a part of the conflict, to be able to bear the spectacle of that uramareenacted on the stage; but in due time the events not so much of the war as of the moral and political conflict will find adequate presentation, when the vast proportions of the theme will be reduced in epitome and made vivid In action, which concentratea tho thought of the historie movement into a few charactera and situations. A great drama íb not to be had fcr the ordering, and more tlian a great work uf art of any kind, but the chances for it are increased by the gradual recovery of the stage to wider relations. The hope of good drama does not lie in the repetition of oíd playa; it is not a dead power ; its lif e is in the present, and thero can be no real vitality in the drama iu any country unless it takes root in the soul. The drama is still a foreign thing with us, - foreign from our traditional lastes,and foreign in its appoiutments. To my thinking the chance for greater things lies through historie scene3 rétmer than through social contrasts. It is significant that Tennyson, an Englishman throngh and through, expressed his politica! feeling in Queen Mary. It wns not a success, because people are not yet accustomed to go to the theatre as they read the newspaper, and Tennyson ahares in the disaüvantage of taking up the drama as aoinethiag foreiga from English literary culture His assutnption of archaic forms of speech w; s an ïndication of his effort to bring hi3 play into relation witfo the older Englisb tlieatre; it suffered trom its excess of antiquananism. But Pennyson's tailure points toward a, and it is net iinpossible that in America, where prejudice sits more lightly on its throne, we may witnass an increased consciousneüs of nationa) being through the preseutatiün of hisloiy in dramatic form, as well as Lhrough other forms of literary art. v.liich have hitherto been more familiar tous. There has been gathering a delightful moss of legend and romance to cover the stony f acts of our nistory. It may well be that the reader of Hawthorne and Irviug V.-Í11 yet have the pleasure of seeing the kisto ric Hfe of America epitomized on the


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Ann Arbor Democrat