fane pasteboard into the ineffable presence, and risk life and all that makes it dear to me by the horrid suggestion that you should be admitted there ?' If still you persevered a gentlemanly somebody would probably be summoned, who would make it plain to you that the manager was far too important and busy to see you or in too delicate health perhaps (one of those dreadful attacks of distentio capitis, he is subject to, poor man!), and that being clearly understood, if you liked to leave your play-well, you could.

Carrington. And then ?
Blake. Oh, you probably would leave it, you know.
Carrington. Then what would happen?

Blake. Nothing. When you were tired of the play's being there, you would write to them until you got it back again. That is the treatment appropriate to the rank outsider, is it not, Esdale ?

Esdale. It is not much of an exaggeration. You would do better to go with some kind of an introduction.

Carrington. Suppose that I did, and succeeded in making the manager read the play, would he discern the masterpiece at once, and reach for his cheque-book ?

Esdale. If he were an actor-manager, I fancy it would depend very much on what sort of a part you had written for him.

Blake. Chances would be certainly against you; the inevitable conditions of theatrical management tend to discourage the experimental.

Eedale. Yes, of course, there is always the commercialism of the manager to be reckoned with.

Blake. Ah, what is called commercialism is often really merely self-preservation; it is not so much that the manager is over-anxious to make money, as that he cannot afford to lose it.

Put the situation broadly : producing a new play involves the expenditure of a very large sum of money; suppose that play runs for, say, fifty nights, to fairly good houses, the manager has recouped himself, he has got in again the large sum that he has laid out, and he has paid his expenses as he went along. After that, all, beyond nightly expenses, is clear profit ; if the play runs for several hundred nights to full houses the manager makes a good deal of money. On the other hand, if it never attracts good houses at all, he incurs a serious and severe loss. In consequence he is, almost of necessity, driven to play for safety. He may say to himself, I have this play by Carrington and another by X., an old hand. Carrington's play is fresher and more artistic; if it caught on with the public it would probably run even longer than X.'s; on the other hand, if it did not catch on it might fall absolutely flat, whereas X.'s play is almost bound to run fairly for the necessary fifty nights. So that he would very probably decide for Mr. X., and return you your play with thanks.

Carrington. Does a well-known name mean so much as that? I thought that the success of a play was more or less settled upon its own merits, on the first night.

Blake. I don't think that is so. The opinion of a first night's audience is, of course, valuable as a specimen of what future opinions are likely to be. But, having gained the goodwill of the first-nighters and the critics, a play has still to gain that of the general playgoing public.

Carrington. But do not the critics influence the general playgoing public?

Blake. They have some effect upon some of them, but less on the whole, I believe, than one would be inclined to think; you see, they are so many, and have such a remarkable variety of opinions. A playgoer, say, reads an article in a morning paper that gushes about a new play, a second in an advanced evening journal that points out tbat the said play is old-fashioned rubbish, and a third that holds opinions somewhere between the other two; how much of all that will be remember a week later when his wife suggests to him that he should take her to the theatre ? But if a friend who had seen the play had very emphatically told him that it was or was not a thing to be seen, that opinion would remain with him, and have its influence.

Now between the first night's audience and the general public there are some thousand or so of adventurous playgoers whom I will call, for the sake of a name, the first-weekers. These people like the theatre, and make a point of going to every play that they consider of importance; they like to be up-to-date and to form their own opinions, and to tell their friends whether a piece is to be seen or not, and so, if they go to a play, they go as early in the run as possible. If X. is a very well-established author they will say “X. at such and such a theatre is good enough for us,' and, without waiting to see the notices, they will book places as early as they can ; if X. is a little less known they will wait for the notices, and go if they are good. Then every man who writes and whose work produces money has a certain following. X. has a following amongst the first-weekers, who will go and see his play even if it is badly noticed, and will tell their friends, Never mind the notices, go and see it, and you will be interested.'

But, with the production of a new play by Carrington? “Who is Carrington ?' thinks the first-weeker. 'I have never heard his name; well received, I see-notices not bad; still there is no immediate hurry: I'll wait until so-and-so [another first-weeker] has been, and hear what he says.' So that, for a week or so, you might have the first-weekers all willing to flock to the piece on a very little encouragement, and, if themselves satisfied, to send all their friends, and all waiting for one another's opinions. Meanwhile the theatre would be distressingly empty, the general public only very dimly aware of the play's existence, and the manager's spirits down at zero.

There is a curious little ceremony that takes place nightly in a theatre. To the manager, reposing in his dressing room between the acts, enters a gentleman of engaging manners in evening dress, who presents him with a little slip of paper. This slip of paper the manager sometimes glances at with a complacent smile, and puts, significantly, into his waistcoat pocket; sometimes he rends it in fragments and casts it to earth, cursing his night as Job his day. That little document is a note of the box-office receipts for the evening, the financial pulse of the theatre.

Now with a play by Carrington, a brand-new man, unless it chanced to catch on from the very first, there would probably be the most feverishly fluctuating and perplexing varieties in that pulse: little runs up of a few nights and little runs down again. So that the manager might well be in doubtful dilemma. If he takes the play off he loses all the money he has spent upon it ; if he keeps it on it may work up into a success—it may, also, lose more money for him when he has already lost too much. On the whole, Carrington, even if you had written the play you describe, I would not be too sanguine about the managerial cheque-book.

Carrington. It seems to me that the inexperienced playwright has to very decidedly beat the experienced one on his own ground before he can gain even so much as a hearing! The outlook does not appear a very cheering one for the coming dramatist !

Blake. But don't blame me for it; I do not make facts, I only observe them. A propos, there is an advertisement that always amuses me when I come across it in the theatrical papers; it is, I think, for a travelling baggage-master, able on occasion to speak lines' and make himself useful in a variety of ways. It winds up with this pithy sentence:

• Those born tired save stamps.' The single thing one can safely prophesy about the coming dramatist is that he will have, somehow, to manage not to be born tired.'


Vol. XXXVIJI—No. 222


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In the Spitalgasse in Vienna, about a mile perhaps from the Ring, stands a great yellow building. There is no architectural beauty about the place—artists shake their heads sorrowfully when its name is mentioned—but it has a solid well-built look which promises much in the way of comfort for those who live there. It is in the very healthiest part of the city, too, and is a perfect model of cleanliness and order : its windows are quite dazzling in their brightness, while as for its walls, they are painted and washed more often than those of the Burg. The house is built round a great courtyard, and abuts on the side remote from the street on one of the most beautiful gardens in all Vienna. It is a real old-fashioned garden, with sweet-smelling herbs and shrubs, and great trees that look as if they had been standing there for centuries.

This house is evidently a popular resort : even in a morning many a visitor makes his way thither, and on fine afternoons the garden is often quite crowded. Young men and women stroll in when their day's work is done; and husbands and wives, with their children. Sometimes a bridal party, or a christening, may be seen there, in all their finery, just as they have left the church; sometimes, too, sad little groups in deep mourning. The place is a sort of general rendezvous, in fact, where the old and the young meet together to talk things over. Not that it stands open to all the world ; it is only the friends and relatives of those who live there who are admitted. Still, whether or not they ever cross its threshold, the poor of Vienna all look upon this building as their own special property, and take quite a personal pride in its trim well-kept air. The veriest Ishmael among them, even when things are at the worst with him, never thinks of grudging its inmates their comfort. For it is an Old Age Home, one of the six great refuges which Vienna provides for her worn-out workers.

These Old-Age Homes are an institution peculiar to Austria, one that dates back to very early days. The first of them, the Langhaus as it was called, was built in the thirteenth century by the citizens of Vienna. Here old men and women who had no means wherewith to support themselves were lodged and provided with lights and fuel.

They were dependent for their food on chance charity; but they do not seem on that account to have fared the worse, for we are told expressly that “every day, without exception, they had wine with their dinner, and beer in an evening. The Court when in residence used to send them dainties of all kinds; and the great nobles would give them a buck, or a few sheep, from time to time. It was the custom, too, on high holidays—this is very characteristic of Vienna—for the rich citizens and their wives to pay visits to the poor old folk and make them presents.

The Langhaus was destroyed by the Turks in 1529; but before long another home was built in the St. Marx district, and in this between five and six hundred old people were not only housed, but boarded. During the seventeenth century several institutions of a similar kind were founded.

As time passed, the Old Age Homes lost, unfortunately, much of their distinctive character, and were often used as hospitals, and even as orphan asylums. The Emperor Josef the Second, however, speedily put an end to this state of things; for, if there was one work of social reform he had more at heart than another, it was that of bettering the condition of the aged poor. He was one of the first formally to enunciate the doctrine that a man who has worked in the days of his strength has the right to be supported by his fellows when old age comes upon him. By the Poor Law which he drew up for his subjects, it is enacted that any person who is destitute may, at the age of sixty, claim from his commune either free board and lodging, or a pension equal in amount to one-third of his previous average annual earnings. And this was to be granted to him not as a favour, or as charity, but as a right. The Vienna poor-law regulations of to-day, in so far as they relate to the treatment of the aged, are founded on this statute.

All persons who have a right of settlement in Vienna-i.e. about 36 per cent. of the inhabitants—may, on or after their sixtieth birthday, claim either a pension, or admission to an Old-Age Home, always providing they cannot support themselves, and have no relatives who are bound legally to support them. As, however, there is room in these institutions for only some 4,600 persons, and there are usually more than four times that number who wish to live there the pensions are now miserably small-the PoorLaw authorities are vested with a certain discretionary power in deciding who shall, and who shall not, be admitted. And so far as possible the preference is given to persons of good characters, to those whose destitution is the result of their misfortune, not their heedlessness or extravagance. The great majority of the inmates of these homes, therefore, belong to the respectable poor class. Thus no disgrace is attached to going there : an Austrian would no more think of being ashamed that his father was in an Old-Age Home,

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