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as the automobile was supposed to go forward. The audience was breathless with surprise at the novelty, and lost itself in following the familiar scenes as they sped past. But what, meantime, became of the dialogue? In "The Stubbornness of Geraldine," Mr. Fitch gave up his first act to depicting the deck of an Atlantic liner, rolling in the trough of a gentle swell, with all the familiar details of sea-sickness, love-sickness and the rest. The act was one of the most amusing ever written by an American playwright, but such was the force of the realism, and the consequent weakness of the story, that when the hero and heroine leaned together over the rail toward the audience, even the serious-minded questioned whether they were love-sick or seasick. Mr. David Belasco has given up the last scene in his latest production, "Sweet Kitty Bellairs," to a flood of real, wet rain. By means of his clever lighting, he has produced so strong an atmospheric effect that at the final curtain many in the audience instinctively grope on the floor for overshoes that are not there, and others, when they reach the foyer, absently lament forgotten umbrellas, though the frost outside is nipping noses and the glacial stars are glittering above. But what of the dramatic climax of the story? It has been drowned out, like a rat in a flooded cellar.


IN such Shakespearian plays as "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "The Tempest," it is perhaps possible to use lavish appurtenances with effect. Their genre is precisely that of modern musical comedy, lyric numbers alternating with grotesque fooling and pretty sentiment in a land of fairy enchantment. And there is evidence that even Shakespeare gave them a more embellished and masque-like setting than has yet been conceded. But in the purely dramatic plays, our abuse of scenic effects has reached its climax. They were written for a stage that was open to the public on three sides, and of necessity had no proscenium arch, no wings and flies and only such set pieces and properties as could be quickly shifted. The "two hours' traffic on the stage," of which Shakespeare speaks, must have been mainly a matter of action and dialogue. In


modern productions, in order to give time for the various changes, the scenes of the play have to be mercilessly cut; and if this is not enough to dim the character-drawing and halt the narrative, long pauses have to be made for the scene-shifter. And when the scenery is revealed it impairs the effect of the acting. Can an eye that is bent on Venetian tapestries and Roman archæology give full heed to what Shylock or Coriolanus is doing?

Worst of all, the poetry of the lines is killed. When the curtain rings up before Macbeth's castle, one sees a jutting wall which, in spite of all the scene-painter can do, is obviously paint and canvas, and is, furthermore, hopelessly out of proportion to the actors and even the trees. Duncan and Banquo come in, and looking at the mimic castle, Banquo says:

This guest of summer, The temple-haunting martlet, does approve By his loved mansionry, that the heaven's breath Smells wooingly here: no jutty, frieze, Buttress, nor coign of vantage, but this bird

Has made his pendent bed and procreant cradle. Could anything be in more beautiful and effective contrast with the dark fate which, as the audience well knows, is awaiting Duncan within? But with the trivial image of the scene-painter stamped on the mind, is it possible to get the visual images Shakespeare intended? Is it possible to feel their full emotional value? Instinctively the eye tallies off the items in the lines with the details in the scenery, and whether or not it sees the martlet's pendent bed and procreant cradle, the effect is equally fatal to a moment of beauty and foreboding. It is so with Horatio's " morn in russet mantle clad," so with the moonlight on Portia's terrace at Belmont, so, in fact, in the case of all the marvellous verbal suggestions with which Shakespeare has been at pains to envelop and reënforce his action. Instead of illustrating them, the redundant splendor kills them.


THE past generation has introduced into the drama a new element of great power for good and evil. It rests with the public, quite as much as with the managers and the critics, to welcome it when it is intelligently used, and to resent it when it is fatal to sound and harmonious art.




By Thomas Nelson Page

HAT the "old-time negro" is passing away is one of the common sayings all over the South, where once he was as well known as the cotton plant and the oak tree. Indeed, he has become so rare that even now when a gray and wrinkled survivor is found he is regarded as an exceptional character, and he will soon be as extinct as the dodo. That he will leave a gap which can hardly be filled is as certain as that the old-time cavalier or the foster-father of romance has left his gap.

The " new issue" at which the old-time negro, who had been the servant and the associate of gentlemen, once turned up his nose from his well-secured position, and of which he spoke in terms of scornful reprobation, has, with the passing of time, ousted him from his stool, and he is no longer the "new issue," but the general type that prevails commonly-the negro with his problem; a problem which it may take all the wisdom, all the forbearance, and all the resolution of the white race to solve.

Some of the " Afro-Americans," with the veneer of a so-called education, to judge from recent works written by certain of them, presume to look down somewhat scornfully on this notable development of their race, and assume a fine scorn of the relation which once existed all over the South between the old-time Southerner and the old-time darky, and which still exists where the latter still survives.

They do not consider that large numbers of this class held positions of responsibility and trust, which they discharged with a fidelity and success that is the strongest proof of the potentiality of the race. They do not reckon that warm friendship which existed between master and servant, and which more than any other one thing gives promise of future and abiding friendship between the races when left to settle their relations without outside interference.


One going through the South nowthrough those parts where the old-time darky was once the regular and ordinary picture, unless he should happen to drift into some secluded region so far out of the sweep of the current that its life had been caught as in an eddy, would never know what the old life had been, and what the old-time negroes were in that life. Their memory is still cherished in the hearts of those to whom they stood in a relation which cannot be explained and cannot be understood by those who did not know it as a vital part of their home-life. Even these will soon have passed from the stage, and in another decade or two the story of that relation, whose roots were struck deep in the sacredest relations of life, will be only a tradition kept alive for a generation or two, but gradually fading until it is quite blurred out by time.

Curiously, whatever the Southerners may think of slavery-and there were many who reprobated its existence-whatever they may think of "the negro" of to-day, there is scarcely one who knew the negro in his old relation who does not speak of him with sympathy and think of him with tenderness. The writer has known men begin to talk of new conditions fiercely, and on falling to talking of the past, drift into reminiscences of old servants and turn away to wipe their eyes. And not the least part of the bitterness of the South over the negro question as it has existed grows out of resentment at the alienation of what was once a relation of warm friendship and tender sympathy.

Of slavery it might be said that whatever its merits and demerits, it divided this country into two sections, with opposing interests, and finally plunged it into a vast and terrible war. This is condemnation enough.

One need not be an advocate of slavery because he upsets ideas that have no foundation whatever in truth and sets forth facts that can be substantiated by the experience of thousands who knew them at first hand.


It is well known by those who knew the old plantation life that there were marked • divisions between the negroes. There were among them what might be termed different orders. These were graded by the various relations in which the individuals stood to the "white folks"-that is, to the master and mistress and their family.

The house-servants represented a class quite distinct from and quite above the "field-hands," of whom they were wont to speak as “cornfield niggers," while among the former were degrees as clearly defined as ever existed in an English gentleman's house, where the housekeeper and the butler held themselves above the rest of the servants, only admitting to occasional fellowship the lady's maid.

Among the first in station were the mammy, the butler, the carriage-driver, the ladies' maids, the cook, and the gardener, with the "boys" who were attached to one or the other position as assistants and were in training for the places when the elders should fail. Among the "field-hands" was, first, the "head man."*

The "head man" was the equal of any other servant—a rank due, perhaps, partly to his authority and partly to the character that brought him this authority. He was the foreman, or assistant superintendent of the plantation. He carried the keys; he called the hands to work; directed them, and was, to some extent, in authority over them. Such a one I knew, mighty in word and act, who towered above the hands he led, a "head man," indeed.

A somewhat inaccurate idea prevails of the Southern plantation life, due, possibly, to the highly colored pictures that have been painted of it in books of a romantic order, in which the romance much outweighed the ha'pennyworth of verisimilitude. The current idea is that a Southern plantation was generally a great estate, teeming with black slaves who groaned under the lash of the drivers and at night were scourged to their dungeons, while their masters revelled in ill-used luxury and steeped themselves in licentiousness, not stopping at times to "traffic in their own flesh and blood.”

* The name "driver" was unknown in Virginia, whatever it may have been in the South. And the "driver" of slavehorror novels was as purely the creature of the imagination as Cerberus, or the Chimera.

It may be well to say in the outset that nothing could be further from the truth.

There were great estates, but they were not numerous. There were, possibly, a score of persons in Virginia who owned over three hundred slaves, and ten or a dozen who owned over five hundred. Such estates were kept up in a certain style which almost always accompanies large wealth. But the great majority of the plantations in Virginia, and, so far as my reading and observation have gone, elsewhere, however extensive were the lands, were modest and simple, and the relation between masters and servants was one of close personal acquaintance and friendliness, beginning at the cradle and scarcely ending at the grave.

At the outbreak of the war, while the number of the white population of the Southern States was about thirteen millions, the number of slave-owners and slave-hirers, including those who owned or hired but one slave, was, perhaps, less than a half-million; that is, of the adult whites, men and women, estimating them as onefifth each of the population, less than one in ten owned or hired slaves.†

Thus, while slavery on the great plantations, where the slaves numbered several hundreds, was liable to such abuses as spring readily from absenteeism, on most of the plantations the slaves and the masters were necessarily brought into fairly close contact, and the result of this contact was the relation of friendship which has

† In Georgia, for example, as shown by the investigation of Professor DuBois, one of the best educated and trained

colored men in the South, there were, in 1860, 455,698 negroes and 591,550 whites. Of these, there were 3,500 free negroes and 462,195 slaves owned by 40,773 slave-holders, or about 10 to each slave-holder. Of these slave-holders,

16 per cent. of all-6,713 owned

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been the wonder and the mystification of those who considered slavery the sum of all the villainies.

The chief idea that prevails as to the relation is taken from a work of fiction which, as a political pamphlet written under the stress of deep feeling, whatever truth it had as basis, certainly does not present a true picture.

Work was parceled out among the "hands," the "hands" being divided into sections: plough-hands, drivers, hoe-hands,


Their homes were known as "the quarters." On the larger plantations they were divided by streets.

On the plantation which the writer knew best, there were several double-cabins on the quarter hill and three or four facing on the backyard. In one of the latter was a room which was the joy of his heart, and which, after forty years, is still touched with a light more radiant than many a palace apartment he has seen. It was known as "Unc' Balla's room," and its occupant was so great a man to me that I have never known his superior. "Uncle Balla" was the carriage-driver, and not from Jehu down was ever one who, in the writer's mind, could hold a candle to him. He was the guide, philosopher, and friend of my boyhood. And no better, saner, or more right-minded guide ever lived.

In that room were "chists," which I even now think of with an indrawing of the breath, as I imagine their precious and unexplored contents. Verily, they must have held golden ingots. Then, there was his cobbler's bench, for he was a harness-maker and cobbler-and his cooper's bench, for he made the noggins and piggins and pails for the milkmaids. And when it came to horses! As I have sat and heard the learned at races and horse-shows air their knowledge, I have been filled with a sudden longing wish that Uncle Balla were there to show what real knowledge was.

little yard and garden, and each family had its chicken-house and yard.

On the larger plantations, where the negroes numbered two hundred or more, nearly everything was made by them, so that such an estate was a little world in itself, substantially self-supporting. On our place, while the spinning and weaving and the carpentry-work were done on the place, most of the cloth for clothing and the shoes were bought in town in the spring and autumn, and the tailor and cobbler kept them in order. In purchasing the shoes, each person brought his measure, a stick the exact length of his foot. This stick had certain marks or notches on it, and the negro kept a duplicate, by which to identify his shoes when they arrived.


No servants or retainers of any race ever identified themselves more fully with their masters. The relation was rather that of retainers than of slaves. It began in the infancy of both master and servant, grew with their growth and continued through life. Such a relation does not now, so far as I know, exist, except in the isolated instances of old families who have survived all the chances and changes with the old family servants still hanging on. Certainly, I think, it did not exist anywhere, unless, perhaps, on the country estates of the gentry in England and, possibly, in France and parts of Germany.

This relation in the South was not exceptional. It was the general, if not the universal rule. The servants were "my servants" or "my people"; the masters were to the servants, my master and my mistis," or, "my white folks." Both pride and affection spoke in that claim.


In fact, the ties of pride were such that it was often remarked that the affection of the slaves was stronger toward the whites than He lived for thirty years after the war in toward their own offspring. This fact, a little house on the edge of the plantation, which cannot be disputed, has been reand when he began to fail he was brought ferred by Professor Shaler to a survival of a home, where he could be better looked after. tribal instinct which preponderated over At the end, his funeral services were con- the family instinct. Others may possibly ducted from the front portico and he was refer it to the fact that the family instinct followed to the grave by white and black as was, owing to the very nature of the instihis mourners. tution of slavery, not allowed to take deep Each cabin had, or might have had, its root. Whatever the cause, it does not ap

pear even now to have taken much root, at least, according to the standard of the AngloSaxon, a race whose history is founded upon the family instinct.

The family ties among the negroes appear to be scarcely as strong now as they were under the institution of slavery. Marital fidelity is, if we are to believe those who have had good opportunities of observation, not as common now as it was then. The instances of desertion of husbands, of wives, of parents, or children would possibly offset any division that took place under that institution.

A number of old negroes whom I have known have been abandoned by nearly all of their children, who, when they grow up, leave them with scarcely less unconcern than do any order of the lower animals.

The oldest son of our dining-room servant went off at the time of one of Sheridan's raids and was never heard of again until some twenty years after the war, when it was learned that he was a fisherman on the lower James, and although he lived, and may be living yet, within a hundred miles of his old home, where his father and mother live, he never took the trouble even to communicate with them once. The next son went off to the South after the war, and the only time that he ever wrote home, so far as I know, was when he wrote to ascertain his age, in order that he might qualify to vote. The same may be said of many others.

The mammy was, perhaps, the most important of the servants, as she was also the closest intimate of the family. She was, indeed, an actual member of the household. She was usually selected in her youth to be the companion of the children by reason of her being the child of some favored servant and, as such, likely to possess sense, amiability, judgment, and the qualities which gave promise of character and efficiency. So she grew up in intercourse with the girls of the family, and when she married she became, in turn, the nurse and assistant to the mammy, and then the mammy of her young mistress's children, and, after, of their children.

She has never been adequately described. Chiefly, I fancy, because it was impossible to describe her as she was.

Who may picture a mother? We may dab and dab at it, but when we have done

our best we know that we have stuck on a

little paint, and the eternal verity stands forth like the eternal verity of the Holy Mother, outside our conception, only to be apprehended in our highest moments, and never to be truly pictured by pen or pencil.

So, no one can describe what the mammy was, and only those can apprehend her who were rocked on her generous bosom, slept on her bed, fed at her table, were directed and controlled by her, watched by her unsleeping eye, and led by her precept in the way of truth, justice, and humanity. She was far more than a servant. She was a member of the family in high standing and of unquestioned influence. She was her mistress's coadjutress and her wise adviser, and where the children were concerned, she was next to her in authority.

My father's mammy, old Krenda, was said to have been an African princess, and whether there was any other foundation for the idea than her commanding presence and character, I know not; but these were unquestionable. Her aphorisms have been handed down in the family since her time. Among them was one which has a smack of the old times: "Good manners will cyah you whar money won't."

I remember my mammy well, though she died when I was a child. Her name was Lydia, and she was the daughter of old Betty, who had been my great-grandmother's maid. Betty used to read to her mistress during the latter years of her life, when she was blind. Lydia had been my mother's mammy before she was mine and my brother's, and she had the authority and prestige of having been such.

After forty-five years, I recall with mingled affection and awe my mammy's dignity, force, and kindness; her snowy bed, where I was put to sleep in the little upstair's room, sealed with pictures from the illustrated papers and with fashion-plates, in which her artistic feeling found its vent; and the delicious" biscuit-bread" she made, which I thought better than that of all the cooks and bakers in the world. In one corner stood her tea-table, with her "teathings," her tea and white sugar.

I remember, too, the exercise of her authority, and recall, at least, two "good whippings" that she gave me.

One curious recollection that I have of her is of a discussion between her and one

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