Home Archive Search Result OUR CAPTIOUS CRITIC

OUR CAPTIOUS CRITIC

ORIGINAL WEB VERSION
Close Comments

Leave a Comment

This 'web version' uses Optical Character Recognition (OCR), to interpret the original printed copy and convert it to computer-readable text. This technology can result in text errors.

THIS is a tale of how Edward Hamilton, a young Englishman, went out to Japan, presumably to do some work, but who, when he saw the work, respected it so much that he left it for someone else to do, and instead took to himself a little house in a garden, where he lived on rice and walked about the rooms in his stockinged teet–an expensive habit for only P’hilistines wear boots in a house in Japan. In themorning h e would write a roem nrayine for rain (justlike people on air-raid nights), go out and hang it on a willow tree for the gods to read it (without considering their feelings) and on his return to the house would sit cross- legged on a cushion waiting for an answer to prayer whilehe honourably ate more rice. But as the clouds never broke “during all the three acts I suppose the verses were not good enough. As assist ants he kept two Japanese menser- vants, probably one to worthily cook his rice, one to darn his honourable stockings it is the summer of 1914 when mending material was cheap and bath to laugh at him for to up- to-date natives of Japan, such as these servants were, he must have looked like a Frenchman who walked about London in Eliza bethan costume would look to the modern cockney. His friend Geof- frev Fuller, a mer chant, also laughed at him and foretold the early decease of the rice regimen and the simple life. No doubt Geoffrey’s prediction would have been justified if Hamilton had continued to live alone and had never bought a life-sized image of a beautiful maiden from an old imncrp-mnkpv rn 1 1 erlTomato– or is it Tomotada It was a curious taste in furnishing for a man who professed to live solely for the flowers and the sun, the rice and the stockinged feet, but we have known similar monstrosities knocked down to the unwary in Oxford -street auction rooms. We never knew, though, Qf one that came to life, as this one d:d when Hamilton dropped a little mirror down the front of its bidice, simply because he had been told not to do any such thing by the lady’s architect. Pome peoDle might arguethat there was more reason for the birth of Galatea, or even that the doll of Hilarius was a more plausible creation, but the sacred name of Nippon is often used to hide artistic defects, and when writers have a poor story to tell it sounds better to run off with it to the East. Anvhow, the lady having come to life, and having given evervbodv a terrible fright in the process, turned out to be so loving and so beautiful that Edward Hamilton was more than ever convinced that Japan was a finer place for a week-end than Brigh ton. She tripped about the house, showing that mixture of ignor ance and educationusual to statues brought to life, for she could use words of four syllables but had never heard of the com modity called money, and, on yearning for something to nurse, announced her intention of having five children by the next morning, and eo on. Hamilton was com pletely infatuated, was rude to visitors and told themto call again in a few years time and even demonstrated toMary 1 emple, the English girl who had altered her mind about giving him up and had come out fro m England to tell him so, that in future he could only be a brother to her. So Mary, on discovering that the bachelor’s cot tage already con tained a sister-in- law who had gradu ated on a plinth, quitted the menage like a cyclone and Edward and the Image might have gone on with their honourable kissings and their so-much admired an*J worthy epoonings till this very dav had not word arrived that England was at war. Hamilton wanted to fight for what his pretty companion called “your George King and Country, but he also “felt the East a-calling and was troubled about the equivocal position in which he might be leaving behind him the daughter of theOrient who kept house with him A way out of th’e dilemma isdiscovered by the Image herselt, who knew that if a particular willow tree in the garden werelaid low her life would end with it. So she despatched one of the faithful menservants off with an axe, and went singing on her way to death like Desdemona, quietlv listening while her menial delivered some h e f t v thwacks on the hapless tree, though each stroke was robbing her of a slice of life. “My too top-high hopes I tread at my humble feet,” is her way of putting it. And Hamilton honourably left for Berlin via England, worthily weeping. The weakness of this fairy tale is that we have not only often heard the eame thine before, whether in comic opera, grand opera or in novels, and have heard it as a plain human story without :vny supernatural element in it, that there seems little reason for repeating it at nil nnrl iirnt wlinfouol1 ifit had to be said again, for lessening its appeal by making its heroine a spirit, a dream girl, or whatever she should be called. But if that had to be done a dreamy atmosphere should have been maintained throughout and not, as here, everyone made normal except the Image, who seems out of place amidst the other people in the house, as well as being a distinct bar to practical housekeeping. From the writing we come to the mummers. Miss Rence Kelly, as the Image, is pretty and pert and bird-like rather than romantic, relying more on rapidity of movement and utter ance than on long glances of lan guorous love. It was therefore only to be expected that she would fail, as she does, when the test of tragic emotion comes as the tree is being felled, and in sing- i n g her swan song she s e e m <s r a t h e r a trifle dashed in spirits than conscious of the eternity o f separation from her lover which awaits her. n fine it is merely a small and dainty performance w here passionate colour and high romance were needed. She doubles the part of the Image with that of Mary Temple, suggesting M r Maskelyne’s enter tainment when she vanishes from her cabinet as a Japanese maiden and reappears as a “Bright and beauti ful English girl.” Mr. Owen Nares,as the hero, never seems to come to grips with the Dart or the lady. He looks fair and .-esthetic, devouthut not mpaesioned, and always seems atraid ot breaking his Image by touching her. Mr. A. E. Matthews is the matter of fact Geoffrey Fuller and gets every possible laugh out of the contrast between himself and his friend. He looks somewhat stouter than of yore, andgave us plainly to understand he was not struck with the idea of living on rice. The two ser vants were admir ably played by Mr. Michael Sherbrooke and Mr. Leon M. Lion. Mr. George Elton, as the Image- maker. nla:ntive!y re presented Old Japan, whi’e Mr. Ben Field, as his son, stood for New Japan. The latter was horribly dressed in imitation of an Englishman, but made more plav with his trouser braces than be comes an English gentleman when pay ing a morning call. And so home to bed and honourable snoring, an ancient habit to which the Image told us “her Hamilton” was honourably ad dicted.


Close Comments

Leave a Comment

to post a comment.

Browse this issue

You are on page 319 of 1

Issue 2,305. - Vol 88

Nov, 17 1917

Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News