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English theatreseven in the estimation of
the men who act before them.

And what is to remedy this? Nothing can
remedy it but a change for the better in the
audiences. I have good hope that this change
is slowly, very slowly, beginning. "When
things are at the worst they are sure to
mend." I really think that, in dramatic
matters, they have been at the worst; and I
have therefore some belief that the next turn
of Fortune's wheel may be in our favour.
In certain theatres, I fancy I notice already
symptoms of a slight additional sprinkling of
intelligence among the audiences. If I am
right, if this sprinkling increases, if the few
people who have brains in their heads will
express themselves boldly, if those who are
fit to lead the opinion of their neighbours
will resolutely make the attempt to lead it,
instead of indolently wrapping themselves up
in their own contemptthen there may be a
creditable dramatic future yet in store for
the countrymen of Shakspere. Perhaps we
may yet live to see the day when managers
will be forced to seek out the writers who
are really setting their mark on the literature
of the agewhen "starvation prices"
shall have given place to the fair remuneration
of a past periodand when the prompter
shall have his share with the publisher in
the best work that can be done for him by
the best writers of the time.

Meanwhile, there is a large audience of
intelligent people, with plenty of money in
their pockets, waiting for a theatre to go to.
Supposing that such an amazing moral
portent should ever appear in the English
firmament as a theatrical speculator who can
actually claim some slight acquaintance with
contemporary literature; and supposing that
unparalleled man to be smitten with a sudden
desire to ascertain what the circulation
actually is of serial publications and successful
novels which address the educated
classes; I think I may safely predict the
consequences that would follow, as soon as
our ideal manager had received his
information and recovered from his astonishment.
London would be startled, one fine morning,
by finding a new theatre opened. Names
that are now well known on title-pages only,
would then appear on play-bills also; and
tens of thousands of readers, who now pass
the theatre-door with indifference, would be
turned into tens of thousands of play-goers
also. What a cry of astonishment would be
heard thereupon in the remotest fastnesses of
old theatrical London! "Merciful Heaven!
There is a large public, after all, for well-paid
original plays, as well as for well-paid original
books. And a man has turned up, at last, of
our own managerial order, who has absolutely
found it out!"

Although I have by no means exhausted
the subject, I have written enough to answer
your letterenough also, I trust, to suggest
some little glimmerings of hope, when you
think of the future of the English drama.
As for the present, perhaps the best way
will be to look at it as little as possible.
When any intelligent foreigner innocently
questions you on the subject of our modern
drama, I think you will take the best way
out of the difficulty if you ask him, with all
possible politeness, towait for an answer.

With true regard, yours, my dear Sir,


A DAZZLING glory of light, radiating through
marble halls of marvellous beauty and
unknown dimensions. A flow of bewitching
music from strange instruments. The light
movement of tiny feet; and robes of
wondrous beauty. A moving crowd of superbly
armed Rajahs and luxurious Nabobs; of
wealthy merchants, of great zemindars, of
military nobles, of hill chieftains, of lightly-
clad Bengalees, and still more lightly-clad
dancing girls and musicians. The voice
of melody rising above the hum of the
motley throng, and the tread of a myriad feet
on the marble pavement. The splash of
many fountains in the outer courts; the song
of many birds; the perfume of gorgeous
flowers, clustering in rich profusion from each
lofty window and door; the bright moon of
an Indian night flashing its rays amongst
the orange groves and tamarind topes beyond
the ample green lawn. These, and some
other pictures floated through my imagination
as I sealed the note in which I accepted an
invitation to a Nautch on the thirteenth of
September, at the princely dwelling of a well-
known Calcutta Baboo.

It was a close, stagnant September night.
The rains had ceased and the damp steamy
ground sent up choking vapours: the south
breeze avoided such a hot-house, and the
north wind found a much cooler halting-
place far away, amongst the hills. The
green mouldy crust left on the outer
walls of buildings by the late rains was gradually
assuming a tawny tinge, and was, in
places, crumbling away.

I managed to struggle through the agonies
of dressing with the thermometer at ninety-
nine and three-quarters under the punkah,
and contrived to squeeze the tips of my
feverish fingers into a pair of five-rupee
gloves from Bodelio's. Every thread of my
apparel was wet through before I had reached
my buggy at the hotel door: indeed, to make
an effort on such a night required the stimulus
of a conflagration, a mutiny, or a nautch.
Through an ample square with a tank,
gardens, and lofty buildings; along narrow,
crooked, dimly lit lanes; round ugly corners;
amongst bazaars still reeking with the thronging
traffic of the clay, whence grey-bearded
old usurers peered at you from little low
stalls, and grim, dangerous Budmashes
eyed you askance from suspicious apertures