HC Deb 23 April 1913 vol 52 cc454-95

I beg to move, "That, in the opinion of this House, there should be established in London a National Theatre, to be vested in trustees and assisted by the State, for the performance of the plays of Shakespeare and other dramas of recognised merit."

In the year 1904, at a banquet of the Royal Academy, a distinguished actor used some words which I think may be regarded as an anticipation of the present occasion. The words were:— In the presence of so many distinguished members of the Legislature I would venture to express a hope that on some fair spring afternoon, when, free from the graver cares of State, their minds may lightly turn to thoughts of love—to love of the arts—they may help us to the fulfilment of our legitimate aspirations, the endowment of a National Theatre—a theatre which should uphold the noblest traditions of the British stage, where the best and worthiest dramas of British authors should be performed, and to which a sound school of gratuitous dramatic teaching should be attached. This is the fair spring afternoon, and for the purpose in view we could hardly have a fairer, because, as the newspapers have been pointing out, it is the traditional anniversary of the birth and death of Shakespeare, and with the support which I know is drawn from all parties in this House I may venture to hope that we may put aside the discords of politics and turn our thoughts to love—to love of the arts. We who have taken some interest in this movement are thinking more of this day three years than we are of to-day. This day three years there will be celebrated a festival throughout a large part of the civilised world—the tercentenary of the death of Shakespeare, which festival, if we play our part in it, as I hope we shall do, may be utilised for the purposes of peace in the world. Along with everyone else, I have long been aware that the name of Shakespeare is great, not only in English literature but in German. But I confess that until I came to think over what I should say this evening, and to review the facts as they stand at the moment, I had no idea of the depth and breadth of the influence of Shakespeare, and therefore of our country, in the literature in which the German youth is brought up. I hold in my hand advance sheets of the "Shakespeare Jahrbuch," and in that volume, shortly to be published, there will appear statistics which, from more than one point of view, are worth recording. To take the first typical example, I find that in Germany "Hamlet" was performed, in the year 1912, 148 times by no fewer than fifty-two theatrical companies, an average of about three times for each company; "The Merchant of Venice," 141 times by fifty-seven companies; "A Midsummer Night's Dream," 124 times by thirty-eight companies; "Othello," 119 times by fifty-nine companies, and so on. The total may be summarised thus: There were 178 separate theatrical companies who performed twenty-one of Shakespeare's plays on 1,156 occasions. That is in a single year, and with German thoroughness these statistics are supported by a list giving particulars of all those separate occasions. Having looked through the list, I can vouch for it that these numbers are not made up by taking into account the performances of amateur companies, but that in the vast majority of cases we are dealing either with municipal or State theatres.

There are two or three things remarkable in that list. In the first place, of course, there is the enormous influence of our poet in Germany, and the reality of the homage which will be paid to this nation as the nation of Shakespeare three years hence, and also for the purpose of this evening there is the very pertinent fact that those performances were not long runs, but were performances in repertory theatres to the number approximately of 180. I venture to think that we have nothing in this land of Shakespeare to show which is comparable in the least degree to the facts indicated by these figures. I turn now from the subject of the approach of the tercentenary of Shakespeare to the proposal which I bring before the House this evening, for which I trust the tercentenary will give the occasion of fulfilment. In the first place, I must say a few words with regard to the movement which is in progress with a view to the realisation of the idea. Our British way is for the State not to initiate but to crown the efforts of a movement privately initiated. I think we may say that the present movement was started by Matthew Arnold. Towards the end of his life there came to this country on a visit the Comédie Franchise. Some of us may remember that visit. In connection with it Matthew Arnold used words which I would ask to be allowed to quote, because they put more tersely than I could hope to do the view of a great critic. He said on that occasion:— We have a splendid national drama of the Elizabethan age, and a later drama which has no lack of pieces conspicuous by their stage qualities, their vivacity, and their talent, and interesting by their pictures of manners. We have had great actors. But we have been unlucky, as we so often are, in the work of organisation. It seems to me that everyone of us is concerned to find a remedy for this melancholy state of things, and that the pleasure we have had in the visit of the Comédie Francaise is barren, unless it leaves us with the impulse to do so, and with the lesson how alone it can rationally be done. 'Forget'—can we not now hear these fine artistes saying in an undertone to us, amidst their graceful compliments of adieux?—'your claptrap, and believe that the State, the nation in its collective and corporate character, does well to concern itself about au influence so important in national life and manners as the theatre. The people will have the theatre. Then make it a good one. The theatre is irresistible; organise the theatre.' From the days of Matthew Arnold a certain number of distinguished men, pioneers, have written on this subject, but it did not take what I may describe as corporate form until the year 1905, when I well remember that a meeting was held at which a committee was appointed, and among those upon that committee, and very active on the sub-committee, which worked on the subject afterwards, were, two of the most distinguished literary Members of this House—Sir Richard Jebb and Mr. S. H. Butcher—and along with them, of course, Sir Henry Irving—two scholars, and an actor. The idea, in the view of that committee, was to found a memorial to Shakespeare. In the first instance, a statue was suggested. Alongside of that committee there was another aiming at a National Theatre, and in the year 1908 these two movements were brought together, and a great meeting was held, at which it was decided that there should be a single movement for a memorial to Shakespeare and for the foundation of a National Theatre. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. George's, Hanover Square (Mr. A. Lyttelton) undertook the office of treasurer. I regret to have to say that this evening the right hon. Gentleman is indisposed, and, greatly to his disappointment, cannot be present in support of this Motion. The immediate result was that a munificent donation of some £70,000 was obtained from an anonymous donor whom we now know to be Sir Carl Meyer. Other funds were added to that, amounting in all to nearly £100,000. Then the London County Council was approached for a site, and among those who signed the appeal to the county council were, I believe, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer and the present First Lord of the Admiralty.

The idea was that the site of the present central offices of the County Council in Spring Gardens should be devoted to this purpose, when on the completion of its new building on the far side of the river the county council should migrate from its present offices. The county council was quite willing that that should be the destiny of the site. The land belongs to the Crown, and I believe that there are somewhat complicated conditions in connection with it, and the county council, of course, could not give to the trustees any better tenure than it itself held; and, owing to the difficulties involved, I understand that the Crown could not see its way to extend the duration of the lease. It was felt that to place a great national monument on anything short of a freehold site would be a mistake. Therefore those negotiations, though promising at one time, did not result in the obtaining of the prominent site which was felt to be necessary, before, under any favourable conditions, an appeal could be made for money, whether to the rich man, or for small sums from the masses of the people. I am allowed to say this evening that a most excellent site is now in view for which negotiations have progressed some distance. For obvious reasons I cannot give any further indication as to the where abouts of that site. All I can say is that the responsible persons believe that at no distant date, if the movement can be carried forward in the way that we hope, they may be in possession of one of the finest sites for the purpose that can be found in the Metropolis.

There has been some criticism with regard to the delay which has occurred. That delay has been in a large measure advised, because it has been felt that it would be foolish to make any appeal until conditions were such as to make probable the success of that appeal. It was felt that, above all, two things were necessary: on the one hand, a site which could be pointed out to the donor; and, on the other hand—and feeling in regard to that has strengthened of late—that there should be some support, recognition, and sympathy from the Government of the country. That is the present position of the movement. There is a powerful body of trustees, a committee which has a considerable sum of money in hand, and the support of a large number of prominent literary and political persons in this country. I think that a list of those who in one way or another have been associated with the movement and are Members of this House has been circulated. What I have to do now is to state with such precision as I can what it is we are contemplating, and to show why I believe that State assistance is necessary. Before definitely answering those two questions, I want very shortly to refer to two or three general considerations in the light of which I think that any answer which I may give to those two questions should be judged. I think that we ought to realise the enormous and increasing part which stage entertainment is playing in the life of our people. I have taken means to obtain such statistics as are available in regard to the administrative county of London. As far as I can find, there are no statistics of the average attendance at the places of entertainment, but we have available very close approximate figures obtained by the London County Council in regard to the seating accommodation, and I find—I think it was in the year 1911—that there were in the licensed theatres in the administrative county of London 67,000 seats, and in the music halls there were 73,000, making 140,000 altogether. I have not the figures in regard to the cinematograph halls. These figures I gather are not obtainable, but I think that they should be added, because anyone who has taken the trouble to go into these cinematograph shows, and to try to understand what is the nature of the entertainment now before the masses of our people, will realise that to an increasing extent what you have shown to the people there is what I may describe as mute drama, very crude, but drama, tragedy, comedy, and farce, increasingly it is drama; and what the people go for is to be amused with a play, a story, pictured before them without words, just as they might read a novel in order to obtain a story in words only, and without any illustrations, let alone flesh and blood before them.

Therefore, I think anyone who has considered any of these cinematograph shows will think the number is not excessive, if we add something like 60,000 seats, so that you will have something like 200,000 seats—in what I would call, in the main, places of dramatic entertainment of one kind and another, of a higher or lower kind—available within the administrative County of London alone. If you say that those places are filled with the population of Greater London, I am aware that the stranger comes to them, but, after all, the stranger in our hotels in London is more important from the point of view of filling the stalls than the pit, and in the main I take it that these seats are filled by those who live fairly close around Charing Cross. If you take the population of Greater London at seven millions, we see something like one seat for every thirty-five or so of the population. If you write off infants in arms, and those who are sick, I think you will come to the conclusion, especially if you allow for a certain number of places of entertainment outside the administrative county but inside Greater London, that it is not unfair to say that on the average each adult member of our population, man or woman, goes to places of dramatic entertainment probably once a fortnight, and not less than once in three weeks. I submit that those figures, which I admit are only approximate, show that the theatre may be having an influence, I will not say as great as that of the churches, but an influence which must be placed in the same order, so far as the amount of time which is given to receiving it is concerned.

I am well aware, of course, that some who go to the churches never go to the theatres, and probably some who go to theatres never go to the churches, but we are concerned with the mass, and on the facts we are dealing with, I venture to make the statement that you must not underrate the magnitude of the part that the drama already plays, good or bad, whether you like it or not, in the social life of our people. As Matthew Arnold said, "The people will have the theatre; let us have it as good as we can." That is my view. Of course it is easy for the moralist to decry this, and to say that it is all a sign of the degradation and increasing degradation of our people. I think that there is a far more satisfactory and far more probable explanation. Frankly, I am an optimist in this matter. I believe that this is a healthy indication—it is crude I admit—of what is taking place. You have at the present time admittedly increasing leisure on the part of the vast masses of our people—shorter hours of work, increased time that is not devoted either to eating, sleeping, or working for their daily bread. Moreover, you have at the present time, as all will admit, an increasing monotony of employ- ment among the vast mass of our people. Machinery, mechanical operations, division of labour, have brought that about, and also, with regard to the higher grades, the joint stock system, with the result that you have in the hands or in the brains of the comparatively few the burden of responsibility and of thought for great numbers.

The result is that men are having less and less interest in the daily work by which they earn their bread, and they are driven to look for intellectual interest outside. I believe the immense vogue of football, and in our long evenings of drama, is a natural and a healthy result of that condition of things. Provided the leisure is well used, I am not at all sure that it is not in the long run a matter making for higher civilisation that we should be able to earn the necessary living by less consumption of the higher powers of the mind, and that we should enable to be devoted to the higher things which we have had handed down to us from the Greeks, an increased portion of the time not only of the few but of the great mass. I cannot help feeling that we have at the present time a great phenomenon in the change which inevitably comes to the course of industrial organisation and of industrial operations, and what we as a legislature have got to undertake, is not to attempt to stem that hunger and that interest in life, but to divert it into not only harmless but useful channels. There is just another point in regard to the general position to which I would like to refer. It is that, admittedly, the character of our education is changing. If I may put it shortly, there is a revolt against the excessive use of books. There is a demand for more concrete life in the teaching which we give, whether to children, adolescents, or adults. In science, long ago, you had the student turned to the laboratory, and away from the mere book. So it should be in literature. After all a composition was originally intended to be delivered, even poetry, certainly the drama.

What great literary monuments of our race live at the present time? The Bible for one. Why? Because it is read in the churches aloud, and the music of our translation rings in the ears of our young people, and it is carried by them to their graves. Or take Scotland. Why is it that Burns knits together a nation? Because Burns is sung and quoted everywhere there is a Burns' club, and I am not quite sure where I can say there is not one. With regard to Shakespeare, how is our Shakespeare really to live for the masses of our young people, and not merely to be a name, unless it be that they have had the opportunity of seeing the whole gamut of Shakespeare's genius. At the present moment they may see occasionally a play sometimes converted to a mere spectacle, and sometimes shown, I admit, with consummate art. But at the present moment the chance of seeing a play of Shakespeare is something equivalent to the turn of a private Member in the ballot; it comes once in a few years. [An HON. MEMBER: "NO, no."] It is a mathematical question, and I daresay the hon. Member thinks that mathematical calculations are hardly fit for literature. You have no chance, like the Germans, of seeing twenty-one plays in the year, and repeated in as many places. You have no chance of seeing, for instance, the series of the historical plays of Shakespeare acted in London, as they should from time to time. Those plays which are as much a national monument as Westminster Abbey itself were created by Shakespeare in the enthusiasm after the Armada and placed before England at that day a history dating from Cressy and Agincourt. What we want is education through our Shakespeare, and what we are seeking in our National Theatre is to teach literature, and not merely for amusement as a spectacle.

The last general point to which I want to refer is what I will describe as the Imperial and National. John Richard Green it was who said that after the great authorised translation of the Bible had become general in the churches of our country, the people of England became the people of a book, that is to say, that that language was enriched by references which all could understand. I remember talking to the former Father of this House, Sir John Mowbray, and on many occasions he used to tell me, in the fifties of last century there would be heard in this House on almost every evening classical quotations in the original Latin, if not in the original Greek. At that time it was possible because most men in this House passed through the same mill, and the quick and pregnant way of calling up an idea in their mind was to refer to some well-known quotation from "Horace," which had been the companion of their youth. I venture to say that a nation is held together by the fact that you can appeal to the members of it with a common history, if you will to a common religion, and to a common literature, and for that reason, I want as an Imperialist that our British race, coming to this London, visiting it either as Rhodes scholars or as Statesmen responsible for the Dominions, that when any one of them come here on a pilgrimage, it may be once or twice or thrice in their lifetime, that he should have the opportunity of seeing the great national dramas presented, not a chance one or two of them in the course of a long time, but a series of them, so that a serious study may be made of them, and that a term may be kept of national literature just as you keep a term at the university.

From the Imperial point of view I believe that is necessary for another reason, and that is that our language is in danger of breaking into dialects. We live at great distances one from the other, in Australia, in South Africa, in America, and here in this land. There are constant evidences that even in these days of the telegraph, that there is in progress a divergence of standards of language in those different countries. It is true, to a considerable extent, the same printed language is read, but, after all, in China we have a language which when written can be understood by every educated man in China, but when spoken breaks up into dialects which can be understood only by the men of a particular district. If we wish to retain a language which shall be, when spoken, and not merely when written, one, then we must have a standard for that language, and the way in which you are to maintain that standard is by having it heard pronounced by those who have studied it, and to have heard it you must have it heard as expressing its literature in some such central position, as a National and Imperial Theatre would have in London, and which might be visited and would be visited by the vast mass of Americans or Provincials, or of men from the Dominions who visit this country. Those are the broad objects that we have in view. The hon. Member for Hyde (Mr. Neilson), who will second this Motion, will put before you practical points which have come within his experience, and which I do not pretend to understand as he understands them.

There are a few practical objections I wish to meet. What is it precisely that we are setting out to do? An hon. Member who met me in the Lobby the other day told me he was sorry he could not be here because he would have the greatest pleasure in opposing me, "because," he said, "your object is to either endow a lot of rich actors who do not want it, or a lot of second-rate actors who do not deserve it, and to make an income for a number of second-rate novel writers whose books will not sell." I venture to say that those who criticise thus have not really and fully understood what it is we are aiming at. May I just read the six objects which the Committee of the Trust have kept steadily before them, and have placed before all whom they approached. They say that their main objects are: (a) To keep the plays of Shakespeare in the repertory of the theatre; (b) to revive whatever else is vital in English classical drama; (c) to prevent recent plays of great merit from falling into oblivion; (d) to produce new plays, and to further the development of the modern drama; (e) to produce translations of representative works of foreign drama, ancient and modern—translations and not merely adaptation; and also (f) to stimulate the art of acting through the varied opportunities which it will offer to the members of its company. In regard to this may I just say that our idea is that a National Theatre should place the plays of Shakespeare, the whole of them, with a few exceptions, before the people, at any rate, in three years, and that it should revive whatever else is vital in English classical drama. How many people of the present time have seen, for instance Bulwer Lytton's "Money" or the play of "Caste"—a certain number, but the vast number of people go to see anything which is for the moment popular and which has been advertised. If you had a National Theatre in which you had a series of plays selected right away from the time of Marlowe to the present, so that they might be studied in historical sequence and compared for the purposes of study, people would go to see those things and to learn about them, and the effect would be that they would see our literature and our drama as a whole, and not merely have isolated plays in connection with them.

"To prevent recent plays of great merit falling into oblivion"—everyone knows that every year or two you have a striking or even perhaps a great play produced. That play runs for a hundred or a hundred and fifty nights. At the end of that time you have exhausted the public for that purpose, and five years afterwards a young person coming along has no chance whatever of seeing that play. The play is dead, forgotten, and perhaps buried, instead of being saved, as it might be, by a great National Repertory Theatre, and added to the list of those which count in the national literature. I have been asked why we do not make this also an opera house as well as a theatre. I very much hope that that red-herring may not be drawn across the trail, because, in the first place, opera means that you would have a totally distinct company from the theatrical company needed to work the National Theatre. You are dealing with a different public, and you have not got an educational ground of the same kind as you have in the theatre. I do not want to deal with the matter at large, but I may say that that matter has been very carefully thought out by those who are in charge of this scheme, and they have come to the conclusion that the two things cannot be mixed. An Amendment is to be moved by the hon. Member for Clare (Mr. Lynch). I am not in the least antagonistic to the idea which I believe is contained within that Amendment. The only thing I have to say is that it seems to me that for the esoteric drama, for the drama which necessarily may be in advance of its time, there should be some appropriate stage, but it can hardly be a national stage. For this reason, although I sympathise with the hon. Member's aims, I believe that his Amendment does not in the least traverse the case which we put forward for a National Theatre. Our idea is that a theatre of this kind should be popular and educational, that you should allow schools opportunities for attending en masse and to form the whole audience on occasion.

9.0 P.M.

I do not believe that it would have any evil influence on dramatic enterprise of a private character. This would be a school for drama. There would be no great salaries for stars of the first order. The experience of the Théàtre Francais is that when a dramatist has obtained a certain celebrity, a certain power in his or her art—has obtained, so to speak, a certain monopoly value—as often as not, as the great Sarah Bernhardt did, he or she will migrate, and become a star or central celebrity for the rival theatre. This is a case in which, like so many others, if you cast your bread upon the waters you will find it again. Why do we trust not to the private donor, not to the mass of small subscriptions, but to State aid? I hope I need not argue the question that endowment is necessary if you are to have anything in the way of such a theatre as I have been describing. The effort has been made again and again in this country to run a great repertory theatre, but notwithstanding the enterprise, notwithstanding the losses incurred and accepted by those who initiated it, we cannot agree that at the present time we have anything approaching the theatre at which we aim, or even the theatre which has been realised in France and in Germany. The sum of £500,000 has been put as the cost of such a theatre—£250,000 to bring in the £10,000 a year subsidy which has been found necessary in the case both of the Théâtre Francais in Paris, and of the Court Theatre in Berlin; £100,000 as the cost of the site, £100,000 for the building, and £50,000 for equipment. I imagine that the site and the building may quite probably cost more. I am quite certain that the equipment would cost more.

Therefore, we believe that, as in other countries, there might be some sharing between the private donor and the State, and we ask that the State should do something in the way of an annual subvention to meet what I believe would be, if that subvention were once promised under certain conditions, the magnificent generosity that would be called out, not only in this country, but in the Dominions and probably in foreign countries, in connection with the celebration of the tercentenary three years hence. We make Grants for universities, and those Grants are met by the fees of students. Why should we not make a Grant to what we regard as a school of literature, which should be met by payments for entrance in order to see presented great works? That you place the State in competition with private enterprise is nothing new. You already build some of your battleships in Government dockyards, and a greater number in private dockyards. You exchange even your constructors between the national dockyards and private dockyards. And so it might be with your actors. In conclusion, I believe that a small Grant made by the State would have the effect, in not a long term of years, of stimulating the drama throughout the country by, in the first place, cultivating the public, in the second place, training actors, and in the third place, holding up a high standard. I believe that these are functions in which the State may legitimately take the lead, and with that object I have brought forward the Motion which I now beg to move.


I beg to second the Motion which has been so ably put before the House by the hon. Member for the Camlachie Division. It gives me great pleasure that this matter has at last been brought to the floor of the House of Commons. I remember that eleven years ago a comprehensive scheme for a national opera was laid before Gentlemen who now sit on both Front Benches in this House, who, after examining it, came to the conclusion that the time was not yet ripe for such a scheme. There has been a great deal of propaganda work in regard to national opera and national drama since that time. I have often found, when the matter of the national opera and national drama has been mooted, that those who are in favour of it have been very modest, indeed so modest as really not to call forth any enthusiasm in the people whom they wished to approach. Now that the matter has been brought to the floor of the House of Commons I sincerely hope that, if the Government are going to give it their blessing, they will do so, because it is a great big scheme that will inspire enthusiasm all over the land. I can imagine a national drama house dedicated to Shakespeare, not tucked away in a corner of some place in the crowded centre, but where there is plenty of air and space round about it, such as you see at Wiesbaden. I should like the house itself to be an architectural monument, not only to Shakespeare, but in some form to nationalised architecture here. I should like the stage to be of such a nature that people all over the country would be interested in it, not only in the mechanism of the stage itself, but in the productions that could, having such a stage, be put before the public. There is no doubt that in Hungary the stage of Buda-Pesth is one spoken of in many little country towns. The people discuss it and its mechanism, and when they come to Buda-Pesth they like to go to the national opera, because in all probability they will see the Asphalae system in operation. That system is one of hydraulics. The stage is raised by hydraulics twenty feet above and twenty feet below the level of the stage, it is in many sections, and can be thrown into any position in which they wish to mount the drama. There was the Kroll's Opera House, in Berlin, that was reconstructed some years ago with the interest of the Kaiser. This is also a house which attracts numbers of people to it to see its productions, because they can be so sumptuously mounted, and mounted in a different way to where you have only the old encumbrance that was called a stage.

I believe that the lighting of a theatre can call forth enthusiasm in people. Indeed it is a matter which is hardly ever spoken of, or at the end of a review in our great papers of some big drama of Shakespeare, it gets perhaps a line or two, saying that this sunset was very fine, or, on the other hand, that this sunset was very bad—very often the latter. The lighting at Buda-Pesth is astonishing. I do not want to go into details, but I may tell the hon. Members to what a fine art this matter has been reduced, what science there is, and what very fine artists are all the people connected with the lighting department at Buda-Pesth. There, the whole of the lights on the stage can be worked from a machine no larger than a type-writer, and the man working the machine can be in full view of the stage all the time without being seen by the audience. Scenery can inspire enthusiasm. In the old days of Stansfield in this country the scenic artists that were gathered round Covent Garden and Old Drury were men that really brought forth pæans of admiration when new productions were brought forth. I remember not very long ago when "Julius Cæsar" was presented in London. We had there a production that really was worthy of the most critical attention of admirers. Alma Tadema was brought there to design the scenes, and all the properties and the scenic effects. Indeed, to have Shakespeare mounted in such a way that not even the most critical could possibly carp at what was produced before them would lend an added interest to the production of our Shakespearean plays. Archæologically we can inspire enthusiasm in a National Drama House by the way costumes are made, and properties that are akin to costume. Indeed, the Mover of the Resolution quoted somebody saying that what we needed in our drama was the organisation that you see in the Court Theatre in Berlin. That a new play is read is something very rare I think—I am only speaking from hearsay—in our theatres here. I believe that when a new drama is read in the perfectly organised system in Germany, or Austria, or Hungary, every person that is to be interested in the production and the performance of that play is called the first reading—the man that makes the shoes, the man that makes the wigs, the man that makes the armour; not only the actors and actresses, but the man that is attending to the lighting, the man paints the scenes—everybody is there to begin with.

That can only be done when you have a National House, and get it so perfectly organised that you can afford the time to begin the rehearsals of the play in that way. In the equipment of such a theatre, I do not suppose we should for some time reach the stage that exists in Germany, where they do, twenty-one plays of Shakespeare in the season. An attempt could be made to do ten, but you could not do ten if you had a National House on a small scale. If you did ten Shakespearean plays in the first year of a first season, which would be about forty weeks, you would need room, system, and a perfect organisation as a preparation of those ten Shakespearean plays. Before the production of the first night you would need special rehearsals, special valet rooms, special singing rooms. All that has to be done apart from the stage. You would have to have special painting rooms, so that the work could be expedited by the scenic artists. What I mean by just giving the House these one or two details is to show the necessity of looking forward to a National Drama House on a big scale; on such a scale indeed that we should be proud of it. I sympathise to a very great extent with the Amendment which is to be moved by the hon. Member for West Clare. I want to see one of his national dramas done by our National Drama House. I do not think it ever will be done until we have a National Drama House. I refer to the Synge classic. There are many other plays that I want to see. There are two of Marlowe's plays I want to see, and if well done I am certain they would draw many many people to the theatre who perhaps have never heard of Marlowe's name before—Marlowe who was really the precursor of Shakespeare, and perhaps as fine a technician as Shakespeare. I want to see some of the plays of Beaumont and Fletcher. It is our habit to talk about some of these men without reading them. I think you could inspire people to read Beaumont and Fletcher if you produced one of their plays in the first season in the National Drama House.

The mover of the Resolution said that plays were put forward for 150 nights, excited the public, and then fell into desuetude. They come forward five or ten years afterwards, because, I daresay, the managers thought that the time had come for their revival. There are plays that I want to see done; there is "The Blot on the Escutcheon," a great play I want to see a National Opera House, that would have the pluck to give perhaps at some special performance, parts of plays that have been written for the theatre and that have not been done in their entirety. There are many scenes from Browning's plays which could be done. People should see them not once but two or three times for the ringing clear English that ought to be preserved, which would make us familiar with it, and perhaps would get the tongues of our scholars in the country chanting it. Besides that, I do not want to see "Becket" fall into limbo and never be heard of again. "Becket" is, I consider, a great drama. I should like to see the Drama House where we could see "Becket"; but it must be a National Drama House, a repertory theatre cannot do it, and indeed, those managers are passing away to-day who, like Sir Henry Irving, thought poetry in his house, and gave the poets of his day as fine a production as he did Shakespeare. There are something like fifty plays to be staged in the first forty weeks of the new Drama House, so I say we need a big scheme. I should like to see a drama house on the basis of that in Konigliches, and then I believe we should have a national school of acting. I am not now saying anything by way of criticism on any school of acting, such as exists to-day; they are doing splendid work there is no doubt, but when you enter a school of acting to-day you feel it is a struggle in which sometimes even the strongest quail, to try to make your way in the profession, especially when they know they have but little of this world's goods. If you had a National Drama House, a place where they act Shakespeare, all who enter can be certain that in the end of two or three years they will have some sure plane to which they can rise, and then after their names are made and they have passed out of the National Drama House into the profession, into the combination of other managers, they do so with a feeling of confidence. It seems to me if anybody loves the drama, loves Shakespeare, loves our stage, we ought to aim in this great Drama House at the idea that everyone who has this higher feeling in them of being an actor or an actress, should have the opportunity of studying Shakespeare and of having his characters brought favourably before them.

Every boy who enters a school in America enters it with the idea that if born in America he has as good a chance of becoming President as any other man. If in this country you can give the impression to the children that there is a chance for them to enter the National Drama House and of having the best instruction there, what a change it would make in our educational methods and in the habits of education which we have to-day. We should show them that all education is not merely commercial; and that it is not only a matter of humdrum existence, that it is not merely a matter of creating wealth and industry and mechanism, that it is not merely that they should look to a lot as mechanics, operatives, or agricultural labourers, but that there is something open in the intellectual sphere for them to rise to; something that they should be as proud to enter into as they are to enter the halls of Cambridge and Oxford. I feel deeply on this question; my heart has been in it for a long time, and I sincerely hope that those who to-night lay their case before the Government will not hesitate to ask for a lot. Let us do things as befits this great Empire which we mouth so much about. Do not let us have our House compared to some House in Germany like Stuttgart or Wiesbaden. Let it be a British House of which the United Kingdom may be proud, and, in the words of the Mover of the Amendment, let it be a House that will speak to Canada, South Africa, and the Antipodes.


We have listened to two interesting and eloquent speeches. The effect of the first was rather to confirm my prejudice against the Motion, and the balance was not entirely restored by the eloquence of the second speaker. It is not that I am opposed to the principle of the Motion itself, but I am inclined to think the manner in which this object is sought to be carried out will be greatly detrimental to the best interests of the drama in this country. The same project has been tried in other countries—France, Italy, Spain, and elsewhere—and I believe only in France has it been an undoubted success, and there it has been a success for many reasons which do not appertain to this country. The first project for a national theatre in France dates as far back as 1657. A certain d' Aubignac laid down rules, which still exist, and which are called the rules for the National Theatre, and which have had the effect throughout the centuries of crippling the free play of dramatic genius. Fortunately those rules were not carried into full effect because he committed the imprudence of writing a play himself and it was so bad that it greatly discounted the authority of his rules. Subsequently the Théâtre Francais was started, with the modest foundation of £12,000, and perhaps never for the glory of literature was £12,000 better spent. But there is this peculiarity in France: First of all, they have a wonderful language; we have a wonderful language, but it is rather a great quarry of a language from which a man of genius is able to command inexhaustible stores of richness, but the French language is better organised. By an attrition of thousands of meanings becoming macerated and distilled into finer essences, so that even to speak French correctly is to rise to a high level of literature. Then the French people have a wonderful capacity for acting. During my long residence in France I was often struck by the fact that in their daily lives they act continually, and that they have the theatrical conception so much before their eyes that on the stage they are entirely natural. Further, ancillary to their theatre is the Conservatoire, and by the Conservatoire system year by year are made efficient actors and actresses who are turned out eligible for the Comédie Francaise. None of these conditions hold good here, and it would be exceedingly hard to graft them on to our system. In Berlin it has been attempted, as was mentioned by the Proposer of this Motion, but in Berlin the system has been a ghastly failure.

You can hold up to us no greater warning than this Berlin system and this desire to Prussianise our institutions. The Schauspielhaus is one of the innumerable ways of glorifying that stupendous Prussian system. Who are the Berlin dramatists? Where is their great national drama? Where is their great and inspiring work? Why, their best plays are all adaptations from the French, and when they do adapt plays from French authors they invariably choose second-rate writers. If you were to take a retrospect of the plays produced in the National German Theatre you would find that the plays in which the German public are most interested and to which they are most attracted are bad adaptations from second-rate French writers. The attempt to establish a National Theatre in Spain almost killed the national genius of Spain in this respect, which afterwards found such extraordinary expression in the works of Lope de Vega and Cervantes. I join issue with what has been said in regard to Shakespeare, for this reason that if such a national drama had been in existence in Shakespeare's time, I doubt whether he would have had a chance of being represented. We always read history backwards and we always think of Shakespeare through the perspective of three hundred years, and imagine that that was Shakespeare as he appeared before his own contemporaries. That was not the opinion Shakespeare held of himself. All through his wonderfully interesting sonnets one finds a complaint about the low esteem in which he was held by the great patrons of his own time. Those sonnets are worth reading, not so much for their æsthetic value as for the glimpse they give into the character of the great writer. In the XXV. Sonnet he says:— Let those who are in favour with their stars, Of public honour and proud titles boast, Whilst I, whom fortune of such triumph bars, Unlooked for joy in that I honour most. In the LXXX. Sonnet Shakespeare writes: But since your worth (wide as the ocean is)— The humble as the proudest sail doth bear, My saucy bark, inferior far to his, On your broad main doth wilfully appear. and in the LXXXVI. Sonnet he says: Was it the proud full sail of his great verse, Bound for the prize of all too-precious you. Those are the most remarkable passages from the different sonnets of Shakespeare, and they all make the complaint that he was unrecognised by his own immediate friends and patrons, and held in lower esteem than by those who are now hardly ever mentioned in the same breath as Shakespeare. I have seen great representations of Shakespeare's plays, and if I were to make a confession I would say that perhaps at no other plays have I been so unutterably bored. The fault was not with Shakespeare, and the fault may not be entirely my own, but it was due to the travesty of Shakespeare which is generally given. I once saw a great performance of "Cleopatra," and I remember that the only thing which came vividly before my mind was that at a certain moment two horses were led upon the stage. If I remember this I have some excuse, because I had ceased to look at the play so much as at the audience, and the only moment the audience showed a glimpse of real interest was when those circus horses were brought upon the stage. I have also seen performances of "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Now, if there is any play which should be run trippingly off the tongue, a play as light as gossamer wings, and as rapid as the dance of fairy feet, it is "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Instead of this the play was produced in a style as portentious and heavy as a Front Bench speech.

My objection, however, has a deeper base. Certainly I approach Shakespeare's name with veneration, and I am inclined to say with Byron:— I beg his British Godship's humble pardon, If in my extremity of rhyme's distress I touch a single leaf where he is warden. But after all I owe allegiance to something greater than Shakespeare, something more stimulating and real and actual, and that is my aspiration for the free development of literature. I doubt whether Shakespeare is a great model for the literature of the time to come. All through Shakespeare's works there is in the construction of his plays, the fairy tale model. Shakespeare was not a man greatly alert to the more modern influences even of his own time, and so far from being the great eponym and governor of English literature for time to come, he was rather the closure and the apotheosis of the feudal system, which he did so much to glorify. Throughout the whole course of Shakespeare's plays one never finds the stirring of a modern spirit. Shakespeare was the helot of feudalism, inspired, but the inspired helot of feudalism. Therefore I think Shakespeare is a bad model for a great National Theatre for the years that are to come. Then, proceeding from Shakespeare, what representatives have we, and how would a National Theatre foster them? The name of Burns, the great representative of Scotch literature as Shakespeare is one of the great representatives of English literature, naturally occurs to us. Had such a theatre as here proposed been in existence in Edinburgh in Burns's time would it have fostered Burns's genius? No. Would not the great author of "Holy Willie's Prayer," of "The Jolly Beggars." of "Tam o'Shanter," of "Hallowe'en"; would not the great democratic poet of Scotland have found all the massed and organised forces of a great National Theatre used to crush him out and even to deny him his genius. Even if they had consented, in view of the celebrity of his name, to represent something from Burns it would have been taken from the model, not of "Holy Willie's Prayer" or of "The Jolly Beggars," or of "Tam o'Shanter," the from "The Cottar's Saturday Night," the one caput mortuum of the greater works of Burns. When opinion becomes organised and established, it has already become moribund. There is something in organisation, particularly of literature, which is fatal to what is the very spirit and essence of literature; and, taking the example of our universities, which has already been cited, I would ask: what have our universities done for literature? Can any man point out any great writer in the English language who has been a real and veritable product of any of our universities? [HON. MEMBERS: "Tennyson."] Well, yes; I have a prejudice against Tennyson perhaps on that very account, but I am quite content to give you a present of Tennyson.

One reason why universities, and therefore why a great national drama, are unable to foster great literature is because great literature does not depend upon rule and convention. The great writer, perforce, must, first of all, have been a great rebel, not because he is an iconoclast, but because he is a forerunner, and because by his sensitive nature he is the first to be impatient with that which has done its service, which has passed its time, and which only now extends the cold hand of a mouldered past to kill and restrain the flight of genius of those yet warm with life. Great literature and great drama depend upon personality, that peculiar, subtle, but irrefragible charm of personality; and that can never be bestowed by any organised and pompously endowed national theatre or university. I had drafted an Amendment to the Motion, but I do not propose to move it so as to keep the Debate within the limits of that Amendment, because I am doubtful still whether I am wholly opposed to the spirit of the Motion. I believe, if this National Theatre could be rescued from a certain type of trustee, it might possess many valuable points—the dry-as-dust trustee, the trustee educated too much in mere book-learning, the trustee attaching too much importance to the university, or the trustee holding up Tennyson as a great national poet. If he were a trustee of flesh and blood, or a trustee endowed with some of the spirit of Robert Burns, if that were possible, if he were a trustee who would look upon all our institutions with a candid eye and touch them fearlessly with a little rod of light, then the National Theatre might be saved.

Who are our dramatists? We have George Bernard Shaw, bubbling, shining, shimmering Shaw; Shaw, not, as I think, too heavily ballasted with thought, but Shaw, happy as Autolycus in a basket of trinkets—pointed jests and laughing jibes. What is the genius of Shaw? The genius of Shaw is simply this: Here is an irresponsible, audacious Irishman who comes to these English institutions so replete with every kind of sham and hypocrisy, and, looking on these moribund institutions and social humbugs with a calm and candid eye, simply gives voice to the impression of the innocent natural man. That is the genius of George Bernard Shaw. Then, of other great writers, one could mention Galsworthy. Galsworthy is a man of ideas, but I do not know that Galsworthy would be encouraged by the National Theatre. When I saw him I had to go to a little poky theatre whose very name I have forgotten, and although I found ideas, yet I found it was not altogether a theatre of flesh and blood. Galsworthy writes in the style of great morality plays, and simply clothes the great cardinal virtues and vices, instead of giving us living men and women of flesh and blood. Among those who have genius—both those have—I would bracket Zangwill, but Zangwill would be frowned upon by this National Theatre, because he finds it impossible in London to represent his own plays, especially those to which he has given most thought, and for the reason that they are impregnated by that thought. If Zangwill is unable now to find his plays represented because the critics frown upon them and the Censor frowns upon them—and the Censor is the type of your trustee—is there any hope that this national drama would represent the plays of Zangwill? Then there is growing up a fresh and natural school of Irish drama. Of those I have seen I am inclined to re-echo the words of an unknown admirer of Moliere:— Bravo, Moliere, that is the true comedy. There, again, the Irish drama is always represented in poky little theatres, and looked upon as not classical or literary enough for encouragement by the learned pundits of a National Theatre. Another man whose plays would not get encouragement would be Synge. One of his plays, "Deirdre," written at the instigation of his friends, because they thought he ought, as a national poet, to write a national representative drama, remains dead. The danger is that with this project of a great National Theatre, that delicate, iridescent, elusive thing called poetry, and that sensitive apparition called genius, that light, intangible but potent force of thought, might be crushed out by the dead-weight of this portentous edifice. I wish to save the situation by saying that I am not opposed to the spirit of the establishment of this great project, but, as Burns says, "Though I cannot see, I guess and fear." What I most fear is that this project, so pompously introduced—introduced, I mean, with such pomp and circumstance—will be somewhat too pompously managed, and will not encourage what is really vivid and true in the literature of to-day; and literature is moribund unless it takes its interest and stimulus from actual life, life more complex, more various, more instinct with quick, vivid feeling than that of Shakespeare's day. I fear that genius such as we want to encourage will not be discovered and encouraged by this project, but will rather be frowned upon, and a man will have his dramatic genius crushed out by another dead-weight added to the vis inertiae of our society. If it were possible to appoint a trustee such as I have indicated, who would make it his business actively to search for genius and encourage it, then we might have a theatre which would give a soul to the nation, which would lead its aspirations, and point its destiny.


I hope the Government will give serious attention to this Motion. It is very easy to describe this thing as a great measure of national regeneration. On the other hand it is easy to minimise it and regard it as a dilettante proposal. I venture to put before the Under-Secertary the suggestion that this is really a practical measure for the improvement of the drama, and for the creation of a high standard of the drama and of the performance of it. I suggest it will have a permanent usefulness in securing the continuous performance of good dramatic work, and performances of the highest order. The hon. Member who last spoke seems to consider that the result of any such proposal would be to crush out all new merit, and that even Shakespeare, who had great difficulties of his own, in spite of which he managed to get his plays acted, with the result that they survived, would have found greater difficulty nowadays. He mentioned other forms of drama, which, under the proposed constitution of this National Theatre, he thinks would be utterly crushed out. But I take it that the business of those responsible would be to search out signs of dramatic merit wherever it presented itself, and to take care that it had its opportunity under the best possible conditions.

The primary desire of those who promote this scheme is to secure that we should get continuous representation of our great national dramatist Shakespeare, and that the performance of Shakespeare's plays shall not attend upon an occasionally public-spirited management, or possibly on an altered public taste in one or other direction. There have, of course, been periods when there have been no representations of Shakespeare, whereas at other times, the representations have been fairly continuous. This theatre would be bound to produce Shakespeare's plays, and being a repertoire theatre it will be bound to produce a good many of them, so that we should have an opportunity of seeing our great dramatist under thoroughly satisfactory conditions. Not only should we secure a continuous performance and variety of plays of Shakespeare, but the scheme is designed, if I understand the promoters rightly, to afford an opportunity for the revival of other good plays which have lost their popularity for the time being. There are plays of the seventeenth century which might be revived. The hon. Member spoke with discouragement of the performance he witnessed of Shakespeare's play "Antony and Cleopatra." It might be possible to console him by a revival of Dryden's representation of "Antony and Cleopatra" under the title "All for Love; or, The World Well Lost"—a play of great literary merit and of great dramatic possibilities. Then, again, one would be sorry to suppose that the dramatic capacities of the eighteenth century were exhausted in "The School for Scandal," "The Rivals," and "She Stoops to Conquer." There may be other eighteenth century plays well worth revival. Again, there are more modern plays, such as that mentioned by the Mover—"Money"—a most admirable acting piece, as well as a play of great literary merit. There are society plays which bring back the mid-Victorian period, and comedies which received in their day most admirable acting, and repaid it. I think we should not only get a constant and continuous production of Shakespearean plays, but we should have other dramatic riches disinterred from time to time, and produced for our satisfaction. I take it that the management of this theatre would be always on the look out for new genius, and that, so far from its being crushed and put aside, as is feared by the hon. Member for West Clare (Mr. Lynch), their object would be, where any such promise showed itself, to take care that it had its opportunity and got its fair chance under the best conditions.

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We should get a school of drama—that is to say, the public would be continuously presented with good plays. Nobody can say that at this moment any dramatic standard is presented to the public. We have the melodrama, a most entertaining performance; we have the musical comedy, which begins with some semblance of a plot, and ends in a romp; and we have a type of drama, which I have been to see once or twice, admirably acted, in which a number of dreary looking persons in a very ill-furnished room say unpleasant things to one another during three acts, at the end of which time everyone in unhappy and nothing else has happened. I confess that that style of drama seems to be somewhat attractive at the present time, and there is some hope on the part of those who have had the misfortune to witness it that some more cheerful performance, in which human action is presented in a more amiable light and with more vivid results, may be presented in this theatre. Not only should we get a standard of drama but we should get a standard of acting. No doubt the acting of the present day is infinitely superior to that which I recollect in my youth—I mean the average acting—and that the performance throughout a piece of all the players is of an even merit which was quite unknown forty or fifty years ago, when my first experiences in the theatre began. But it must be a great thing for any great profession to have a great central school such as the Théâtre français represents. Anyone who goes to see the performances of those great actors and who watches them, sees how finished and complete their method is, and how by watching even an unskilled person can discover that every syllable is given its due force, that every action has a purpose, and that the slovenly pronunciation and the fidgety movements with which we are too familiar upon our own stage should not find a place in a proper school of drama. I venture to say that these two results of this proposal would be of great benefit to the country generally, that we should not only get a high school of drama and of acting and a continuous performances of the best plays, but we should also fall into line with other countries who have these great national theatres and these great schools always available for those who attend them, in which the best dramas are performed with the best histrionic talent the country can produce. It has been said that our language will gain. I think it will. I think we are too apt nowadays to talk elliptically and slovenly. As in our handwriting we slur over our letters owing to the typewriter, the telegram and the halfpenny card, we are slipshod in our ordinary conversation, not only in pronunciation, but in dramatic use of the language. It would be a desirable thing to give the people an opportunity of going to plays where they will be interested, amused or excited, and their feelings stirred, and at the same time will hear their language spoken as it ought to be spoken and presented to the best advantage. These are the advantages. There are no doubt serious reasons to be satisfied before this great scheme can be brought into effect. Such a theatre requires, in the first instance, a site. It wants a building; it wants a scheme of government, and I take it that the body of trustees which the hon. Member for West Clare desires would not be the persons who would actually select the plays and assign the parts, but that there would be a practical small body who would carry out the purposes which I have ventured to indicate, I hope correctly, as the purposes which the promoters of this scheme have in view. When that is all done there will have to be provided a staff of actors, who would no doubt be animated by a sense of esprit de corps, as presenting the best work of the English stage, and with an ambition to present it in the best possible way. All this means money, and it cannot be started without some assistance from the Government. I ask the Government to look upon this matter with favour, and to lend us some hope or expectation that some assistance will be given and some kindly feeling expressed towards the project. It does not compete with other theatres any more than the Théâtre français competes with the Odéon and the other theatres in Paris. It does propose to do a work which I believe to be a valuable work in the education—I hesitate to use the word—of our own people in the knowledge of their own drama, their own literature, and their own language, and I venture to commend it to the serious consideration of the Government.


The right hon. Gentleman made a cautionary suggestion that this case should not be put too high. In the course of his speech he indicated that the National Theatre was, if not necessary, at least advisable in order to save the drama, in order to save the stage, and in order to save the pronunciation of the English language. I am sure we are all gratified to hear the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, because he showed a knowledge of musical comedy which I am sure must have been hitherto unsuspected on this side of the House. The Mover and Seconder of the Motion delivered very eloquent speeches on the subject. The Seconder has an experience not only unique in this House, but in the country generally, of special phases in the matter of dramatic representation. In regard to the hon. Member (Mr. Lynch), I do not think he made his position quite so clear. It must have been some advantage to the Mover of the Resolution, who required a National Theatre in order to preserve quotations in this House, to hear the speech of the hon. Member (Mr. Lynch), and to know that the habit of quotations had not died in the absence of a National Theatre up to date. With one remark of the hon. Member I profoundly agree when, in a prophetic spirit, he referred to the dull and portentous speech which would fall from the Front Bench. I agree with him when he said that a great writer must be a great rebel, but do not let him think that a great rebel must be of necessity a great writer, because they are not quite convertible presentations of the same truth.

We were gratified to hear the hon. Member's speech. It was something to excuse Shakespeare; it was more to condemn Tennyson, and it was a still greater achievement to explain Shaw, and the hon. Gentleman who has put this triple Bill before us to-night achieved a success very rarely exampled in the annals of the House. I understand he is in favour of the spirit of the Resolution provided he chooses his own trustees—that is very intelligible—but I understand he is not in favour of the Resolution as it now stands. The hon. Gentleman opposite says he is an old-fashioned dramatist, who believes in Shakespeare and the classical writers, and is not in such familiar touch as the hon. Gentleman with the modern school of dramatic thought. I understand the hon. Member is really in favour of a National Theatre to some extent in order that he may avoid the Censor, because one of his points was that there would be introduced at the National Theatre plays now condemned under the censorship provisions which are now in operation. I understand his idea is that there are a great number of writers, mainly amongst his own acquaintances, who are ready at any moment to write masterpieces if it were not for this dull shadow of the censorship which really condemns all their operations, and when they do write they unfortunately write in such a way that the Censor cannot quite pass what they write. The Censor is a very useful institution after all to the hon. Member's friends, because he performs one or two functions. He is a permanent justification for their silence, or he is the occasional advertisement of their genius. I suppose the hon. Member thinks the National Theatre will wipe all these difficulties away.

I have no right to speak in the literary tone of the Gentlemen who have hitherto addressed the House. I must speak from the lower level, but perhaps one which will be more easily understood. The real meaning of the Resolution is this, shall there or shall there not be a recognition of the theatre by the State as a matter of vital national concern? In other words, do the functions of government extend, as far as the theatre is concerned, to the extent of saying that it is the duty of the State to take part in recognising and endowing a National Theatre? I need not follow the progress of the movement to which the hon. Member has referred. It has been going on for over eight years, and the Shakespeare memorial and the National Theatre were amalgamated some years ago, and they are now working together. Now that there, is an appeal for subscriptions, and as there is a reference to money—I do not mean the play "Money," but the cash product—it is not irrelevant to remember what the figures are in this case. The appeal, for which the hon. Gentleman, amongst others, is responsible, is for £100,000 for a site, £150,000 for the building and equipment, and another £250,000 for endowment purposes, making £500,000 in all. These are very big figures, and although there has been at any rate one very beneficent contribution, all the subscriptions up to now amount to about £100,000. That is to say, a fifth of the capital required has been voluntarily subscribed. As I understand it, the position put by those who support the Resolution is that the State recognition and endowment of the drama is justified in the same sense as the State recognition and endowment of music, painting, and sculpture in the universities and in other institutions of a similar character. As I understand, they put their case a little higher than that, and in this I think they are right, because the drama is more intimately connected with the every-day life of the citizens of the country than either music or painting or sculpture could possibly be. It has been said that if you had this national theatre there would be a revival of the most characteristic English drama that cannot possibly be produced profitably now because the people do not want it. That is why the movement has such popular support in the country! As I understand it, the national theatre is to produce plays to which, if they were produced by private enterprise, no one would go.


Let me point out the difference. You would not get people to go to a long run, and many of the best things you cannot, as a commercial speculation, produce on short runs.


I think in the long run it comes to the same thing. I quite recognise the hon. Member's point. In order that private enterprise may succeed you must have a certain duration of a play, and, although it might last for a week, which would exhaust the people of culture for whom the hon. Member acts, still you cannot in private enterprise produce only for people of culture. That is the difficulty. I also wish to remind him that they must recognise one thing: they are in a minority. Under these circumstances, if the Government is asked to support a theatre which is to produce plays which, if produced by commercial enterprise, would not be successful, it requires a little caution—I put it no higher than that—before we propose to spend public money upon this kind of work. It is quite true that a small country like Denmark has, I think, £20,000 a year for its national theatre; but, on the other hand, there is a precedent in New York, which has not been mentioned to-night. In 1909 a new theatre was built there under the auspices of some millionaires. They only gave money, I understand, and not advice; therefore all their influence was for good. The new theatre was opened and a play was produced there, and it went on for two seasons with a varied programme, and then, after enormous losses—enormous to the ordinary man, not to millionaires—the enterprise was abandoned and the theatre was given over to public spectacles. The reason was, of course, that the general public had not been educated and were not prepared for this cultured representation, which was given in the new theatre. The hon. Gentleman rather admits that the public of this country are not educated up to that any more than himself. It would, I think, be rather a serious risk to run to produce these plays for the general public. Money and equipment, and all that, are not enough, because you must have at the back of a movement of this kind an interested, educated, and enthusiastic public opinion.

I do not minimise in the least what has been said in support of this Motion, but as I understand the argument of the hon. Gentleman this is a request for an assurance of immediate State assistance. I think it is necessary to state, by way of preface to what I intend to say, that I am speaking for myself, because the Government, as such, have nothing to do with these theatrical enterprises. It is perfectly well known that the Members of this Government are not so well acquainted with theatrical affairs as to be able to speak with authority on the subject raised in this Debate. Speaking for myself, I would say that there are cases in which the House can give guidance to the Government, and this is one of them, and the Government feel that the House, representative as it is, can give its guidance on a difficult matter of this kind concerned with the art of the drama, upon which there are so many specialists on both sides of the House at the present moment. The Government does ask the House for guidance so far as this Motion is concerned. I am rather inclined to accept what was said by the Mover of the Motion, when he stated that the duty of the Government was not to initiate but to crown a project of this kind. The time for crowning has not come. The hon. Member admits that only £100,000 out of £500,000 has been subscribed voluntarily. I think the hon. Member, on consideration, would agree that until, at any rate, by far the greater part of the £500,000 has been subscribed voluntarily, the time for crowning has not arrived. That is the view which I take. When the project is matured, when the site about which negotiations has been going on is obtained, when the building is erected, when the theatre is equipped, and when it has a reasonable endowment, I think the time for crowning the movement will then very nearly have been reached. I think that then the time will have come for asking the Government to take into consideration the view it should take in regard to this Motion. But I must say this: If and when a contribution is made by the State to a project of this kind, the contribution when made should be in the form, not of a capital Grant but of an annual subsidy. I think that that is the form which would commend itself to all sections of the House. We look to the House for guidance, and I now ask the House to take whatever view it pleases, and let us know the result.


We have heard a very interesting Debate to-night on the very wide topic of a National Theatre. I suppose that most Members of the House have received, as I have myself, a circular on this subject, headed "The Shakespeare Memorial National Theatre." I have noticed that every Gentleman who has taken part in this Debate to-night has assumed that these plays, "Hamlet," "Macbeth," and the rest of them, were written by Shakespeare. But, after all, that is a matter of dispute. I do not say that this is a party subject at all, but I believe I am right in saying that the majority of those who believe in the "Baconian theory," as it is called, are Tariff Reformers. I have no doubt that there are exceptions, but I believe that that is more or less true. Sir Edwin Durning-Lawrenee, a gentleman who may be described in one of Johnson's phrases as surely the richest author that ever grazed the common of literature. holds strongly to the theory that Bacon wrote the plays, and he goes so far as to say that Shakespeare, the genius who has been described in glowing terms on the other side of the House to-night, was a drunken, illiterate clown. I do not know exactly why Sir Edwin Durning-Lawrence took that view, but I believe that he was in some way brought to adopt that view of the case by the fact that when Tariff Reform was put before the country bacon was omitted from the list of articles that were going to be subject to taxation. And so we have come to the time when a circular is put before us mentioning in a cold-blooded manner the name of Shakespeare as the poet who is to be celebrated while Bacon is going to be dropped out. I notice that this circular is signed by all kinds of very distinguished men, only one of whom I happen to know, and the list includes two bishops and the Lord Mayor of London. Then they say this:— Few will deny that the amount required— that is, half a million of money— though large, is comparatively trifling when compared with the debt that we owe to our great national poet and dramatist. They do not say who he is. When I am going to vote half a million of money I want to know for whom it is voted. At any rate, whoever this great national dramatist and poet was he was a man who had a great deal of acquaintance, I think, with the methods of Parliament and the proceedings of this House. Take one or two phrases, which I noted down in the Library to-day, which are used in the works of this man, Shakespeare, Bacon, or whoever he was. This is one of his lines: To lie in cold obstruction and to rot. I notice the hon. Baronet the junior Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) present. I am sure that he will agree with me that this bringing together of the words "obstruction" and "rot" is not without significance. Then there is another line which may be said to have something to do with the methods of all-night sittings or prolonged debate. And there from hour to hour we rot and rot. Of course, you notice, I dare say, that this will encourage Sir Edwin Durning-Lawrence in saying that either of those authors, whoever he may be, is in sympathy with himself. The other line is, "Most welcome protection." You cannot get him on one side—he was not a party man. He never, for instance, uses the word "Conservative." You will not find it in Shakespeare at all. Often the word "liberal" is used: "The people, liberal, valiant, and active." That suggests the present condition of affairs. Some hon. Gentlemen opposite may see an allusion to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in this, "Most like a liberal villain." You find him sometimes on one side and sometimes on the other, but always with a knowledge of politics. Who was he? He seems to have been a man of sympathy with this House rather than the other. He uses a phrase utterly out of order in debate in this House, "Who lies in the Second Chamber." That is a suggestion of untruthful debate in another place which nobody in this House would think of making, and he would certainly be called to order if he did. I think, if this question had to be settled, I would accept the ruling of the Chair as to whether Shakespeare or Bacon did write those plays. Before we settle the question of a National Theatre, some understanding should be arrived at. If you give a ruling on that subject, Sir, we shall all be very much obliged. In the absence of that ruling, I am going to support, if there be any Division, this Motion before the House, and I am a Shakespearean so far as I am concerned. I notice my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mr. J. M. Robertson) in his place. He could settle this question in about five minutes. He has written a book, and I am certain a most impressive book, on this subject. I have not read it. I have promised to read it, and I am going to carry out that promise within a reasonable date, but I am sure that, if he would rise in his place and assure us who wrote those plays, and to whose memory we are to erect this theatre, and possibly vote half a million, at some time or other the House would very willingly consent to do so.


Before the House proceeds to decide whether or not it is going to accept the Motion of my hon. Friend, may I take advantage of the invitation given by the Under-Secretary for the Home Department that on one, and only one occasion, the House should give advice to the Government. There has been a good deal of discussion this evening, and some very interesting speeches have been made. They have turned upon whether or not the plays of Shakespeare were written by Bacon or somebody else, and upon whether or not it would be advisable to subsidise a theatre which none except very highly educated people would attend. I would like to bring back the Debate to what may be considered a more common place point of view, and that is whether we are at the present moment in a position to devote a very considerable sum of money to this particular object. I must say I thought there was a great deal of sound commonsense in the speech of the Under-Secretary for the Home Department, because his statement, which I have not heard contradicted even by the hon. Member who has just spoken, or by my hon. Friend on this side; was that unless the movers of this Motion were of opinion that was the ordinary commercial way. They would not get anyone to attend the theatre, they would not come and ask for a subsidy from the Government. In my opinion that is absolutely correct. It is evident that the production of the plays of Shakespeare, however great those plays may be, does not attract the ordinary people who go to the theatre to-day. I would appeal to the hon. Member for Woolwich (Mr. Crooks), who has a considerable fund of humour, and who is also in many ways sentimental, and would ask, would he go to listen to a play, written by a great Englishman, whether Bacon or Shakespeare? I very much doubt, if he did go to a theatre, whether he would go to this National Theatre, and listen to a play of Shakespeare. I do not know whether I am doing him any injustice.


I love Shakespeare.


I said the hon. Gentleman was sentimental and that may account for his desire to go and see this particular play.


"Much Ado About Nothing" is my favourite.


I do not know whether he thinks the Debate this evening is "much ado about nothing," but I do not think that that is quite correct, because apparently the Debate this evening might result in a very considerable burden being put on the taxpayers of the country, unless the hon. Gentleman desires to put it solely on the payers of Super-tax, in which case I should not agree with him. I do hope that the House will approach this question in a serious manner. I am rather afraid that we have been led away by a variety of feelings this evening, and we may possibly have come to consider this proposal as being a proposal which is not seriously made and will not be seriously entertained. I am not quite sure that is right, because, sup- posing this House resolves that "In the opinion of this House there should be established in London a National Theatre to be vested in trustees and assisted by the State." That is a very vague Resolution, and it might, if we agreed to it, give rise to the idea that the House of Commons had committed itself to the opinion that there should be a National Theatre assisted by the State. There is nothing in this about crowning the edifice as the Under-Secretary stated. I am endeavouring now to show reasons why the Government, which is apparently led by the Under-Secretary at present, should vote against this Motion. He asked the House to give him guidance. I am glad he has taken up that attitude, and I am proposing to give him guidance, and I mention that the Motion is very vague and that if it is carried the House might be committed to the idea that a National Theatre should be vested in trustees for the purpose of producing the plays of Shakespeare and other dramas of recognised merit. Who is to be the judge of what are "other dramas of recognised merit"? Is it to be the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Lynch), or the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Hughes), or the hon. Member for Woolwich (Mr. Crooks), or the Under-Secretary for State? We are opening up a very difficult problem. What it really comes to is that there is to be a National Theatre which the State is to assist. I am very fond of the theatre when the Government give me the opportunity to attend it, which is not often; but I think we shall reach the limit of extravagance and foolishness if, with an expenditure of £195,000,000 a year, instead of thinking how we can retrench, we spend more money in this direction. For nearly 2,000 years—and very much longer before that—but in ordinary parlance, this country has been in existence for nearly 2,000 years without a National Theatre. Would it not be advisable to go on for a little longer in the state in which we have been for so many years? The right hon. Baronet below me (Sir W. Anson), from whom I am sorry to differ, is of opinion that a National Theatre would be a good thing. There are many good things I should like to see. I should like to see a dinner hour in this House, but I am not likely to get it. I do not doubt that a National Theatre might be a good thing, but I cannot agree that we ought now suddenly to resolve to spend a considerable sum of money upon it. Will the Under-Secretary put up the Home Secretary to say that after listening to what I have said the Government have come to the conclusion to go into the "No" Lobby? There seems to be a little hesitation in answering that appeal. I do not know whether that is because the Government have made up their minds that they are going to support the Resolution or because they have not the courage to oppose it. I think we ought to know the Home Secretary's opinion now that he has had the advantage of listening to the various speeches which have been delivered. I hope we are not going to allow this Motion to pass without expressing some opinion upon it. If we do we shall probably be committing ourselves to a very considerable expenditure, because I greatly doubt whether we shall get out of it if it is once passed. I have seen a great number of Motions proposed on Wednesdays received in a jocular spirit, with the idea that nothing serious would result from them. But it has been afterwards said that because the House of Commons had considered and passed a particular Motion, it must be considered seriously, and must be taken to mean something. In some cases that has not been so. Seeing we have practically only one Chamber, I do not think we ought to allow the Resolution to be accepted unless everyone is of the opinion that it is a Resolution that ought to be carried out. Under these circumstances I hope we shall hear something from the Home Secretary.


I want to say a very few words in favour of this Motion. I was unfortunately called out of the House and did not hear the speech of the Under-Secretary, but I understand the Government are giving the Motion their favourable consideration.




It amount to that. I hope we shall be able to pass this Motion to-night, because it is really a matter in which I think the State ought to take an interest. It seems rather a contradiction that last Wednesday we were asking the State to withhold its interference—


Hear, hear.


And that this Wednesday we should be asking the State to support the drama. I really do not think there is any contradiction in that attitude. On the contrary we want to free the drama from the shackles of the censorship, and we want the support of the State to help what now is admittedly a great educational force in the country. Education, as I understand it, is chiefly valuable for teaching people how to employ their leisure. An enormous number of people now go to the theatre. Amongst the great countries of Europe we are one of the few that withhold all State support from the drama. I have had experience of the State-endowed theatre in France, Germany, and in Denmark, and in all these cases I must say it has a most beneficial effect. I sympathise with the hon. Member who spoke from the Nationalist Benches when he expressed the fear that the State Theatre might be utilised for merely archcological purposes—for unearthing the old classics, and not encouraging modern plays. I should be the last to support any scheme that was directed to that end. I think it of the utmost importance that the modern drama should be supported, and it is only by a State-endowed Theatre that you can adequately support it. We have lately seen in London attempts made to support the best modern dramatists. Those attempts have generally failed. A repertory theatre was started not long ago. The result of that repertory theatre was that there was a conflict between art and commerce. Unless the thing paid it could not be put on a long enough time for the public really to enjoy it.


Perhaps the public did not want it.


It does not always follow, because the public do not go to a play for a few weeks, that in the long run they will not come round and appreciate that particular play. If there is sufficient money to give the play a long enough trial the public will come round and appreciate it. We have seen a very good instance in the attempt at a repertory theatre by Mr. Granville Barker. We know he has produced plays which in the ordinary commercial run would never have seen the light, and has educated the public, but I should say he often found considerable difficulty in making both ends meet, because he always has to find plays that may be beyond the modern taste, or plays that in some way or other do not draw large audiences. The result is that efforts of that sort are constantly failing, and I feel sure that without State support you cannot encourage modern dramatists, and therefore you cannot educate the public taste properly. The day is passed, I think, when the arts are merely looked upon as trivial and frivolous adjuncts of our ordinary life. The arts have come to be part and parcel of our lives, and nobody's education is complete without the arts. It is time in this country that we should have a Minister of Fine Arts who should be responsible for pictorial art, for music, and for the drama. How do we treat music in this country compared, for instance, with Germany? We only give endowment to two institutions—the Royal College of Music and the Royal Academy; to no other hall or establishment do we give any State aid at all. To the Pictorial Arts it is true we give more attention, but I do not see why all these three sister arts should not be encouraged and supported by the State in order that the leisure of the people—and we want to see they have more leisure—should be looked after so that they can get a high class of entertainment which in itself is an education, and that we should not allow the public taste to be turned into channels into which it is turned now, such as musical comedy and the so-called revue.


May I ask the hon. Member where the money for all this is to come from?


The money for the endowment of arts in a country as rich as this could easily be produced.


Where from?


From the Treasury. I will not go into the figures with the hon, Baronet at the present moment, but there are other forms of expenditure I should be very willing to cut down, and there would be plenty to spare. It is perfectly ridiculous to say that a country spending £195,000,000 on various subjects cannot spare £200,000 to endow what I consider to be one of the most important branches of our public life, namely, the encouragement of our arts. I warmly support the Motion, and I sincerely trust when the scheme is brought forward it will not fall into the hands of any actor-manager or any special clique or section. We want to keep it national, as the French have kept it, quite apart from any particular school, and if it has the effect of doing away with star actors so much the better. The star actor is a thing of the past. Plays were written for the star actor, and plays have to be very bad to give the star actor a chance. When the whole play is well played and the whole of the caste are doing their utmost you get a high level and you encourage all that is best and most valuable. I feel very strongly that the modern drama as well as the old should be encouraged. The hon. Member who moved this Resolution made those points quite clearly, and I shall support his Motion most cordially.


rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put"; but Mr. Speaker withheld his assent, and declined then to put the Question.


Really we have had presented to-night one of the most ludicrous spectacles which it has ever been my lot to witness since I have been a Member of this House. An hon. Member for a Glasgow constituency has brought in a Motion in favour of the establishment of a National Theatre. One would think that the thoughts and ideas of the hon. Member would carry him to the neighbouring city of Edinburgh. It is not, however, a National Theatre in Edinburgh the hon. Member desires, but one in London. The hon. Member for Stirling Burghs (Mr. Ponsonby) has got no idea where the money is coming from, and he appears to think that the hon. Baronet who represents the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) is the only hon. Member who is concerned about the Treasury, but I hope to convince him that there is another. The hon. Member does ont attempt, as the representative of a Scottish constituency, to justify his advocacy of State assistance to a theatre in London and not one in Edinburgh. We ought to understand what is meant by a National Theatre. Some hon. Members are strong advocates of Scottish Home Rule, and the hon. Member for Clare. I am not aware whether he was supporting or opposing this Motion—did not throw the light which one would naturally expect from an Irish Member, as to whether the Irish Parliament would be content to join in a State subsidy for a theatre in London after they had got Home Rule. I presume that under Scottish Home Rule they would require a National Theatre in Edinburgh, and under Irish Home Rule they would require a National Theatre in Dublin, but we have no idea whether the money is to come from English funds or not. That is a matter with which the speakers who have taken part in the Debate appear to have had no conconcern whatever. We are entitled to know whether or not it is intended that this should be an English contribution only. It seems to me that the National Theatre conjures up the important question of the different views which different nationalities may take of the drama. The national plays and the right kind of dramatist to encourage would be entirely different in the various parts of the Kingdom. The Scottish people would be likely to work the theatre with the smallest amount of money, and with actors on the most, economical scale. Here is a Motion which means a raid upon the Treasury as if it was a bottomless well into which faddists of all descriptions could come and dip their hands freely. While one does not object to the personal reminiscences of theatre-goers, I think we are entitled as a business assembly to pay some attention to the business aspect of this Resolution. This theatre, which is to be established in London is to be vested in trustees. You are certain to get stereotyped administration. You will certainly get old fossils put in as trustees. No one in his sensed would ever expect that trustees of a State-subsidised National Theatre would encourage individuality and artistic merit in beginners. The hint in the Resolution is that they are to confine their attention to Shakespeare. Why? Because they are not trusted, and you therefore give them a lead. So long as they keep to Shakespeare no one will suspect them. We all remember the warning given to the young minister, "Directly you get to your work, you will find vigorous opposition from three quarters—the devil, the publican, and the trustees." I think that with a Budget of the kind that now confronts us, and with increasing expenditure upon what Members of this House are pleased to call social reform, we should pause before we pass a Resolution of this kind. Whom do you wish to attract to this National Theatre? Is it the poor? I have heard no suggestion that the money is to be used to bring the priceless gems of literature within the reach of the poor. As far as I can make out, the idea is

rather to pamper the intellectuals who can well afford to pay for their own theatre. The expenses of the theatre largely arise from the scenery that is used. What has been characteristic of recent productions of Shakespeare? Simply gorgeous scenery and expansive panoramas passing before the eye. The hon. Member says he wants to change that, but he will not change it by a State-subsidised theatre. That would encourage it: He would change it by cheap production, cheap because there is an absence of expensive machinery. The Chinese can give us a lesson in this. I do not know whether hon. Members have been to the National Theatre in China. I have been privileged to attend a dramatic representation in China by one who is called the Henry Irving of China—


rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the question be now put," but Mr. Speaker withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.


That actor had not any elaborate scenery. In fact, children were playing and people were drinking cups of tea within a few feet of where the actors played. If there is anything in the dramatic force and the intense power of an actor with a message, he is able to give that message without the adventitious aid of expensive scenery. If the object is to get back to good literature and to our great dramatists, it is not to be done by expensive machinery and employing an army of scene shifters. It is suggested that only the plays of Shakespeare and melodramas of recognised merit should be performed in this National Theatre, and I want to ask: What are the dramas of recognised merit?


rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The House divided: Ayes, 96; Noes 32.

Division No. 72.] AYES. [11.0 p.m.
Acland Francis, Dyke Barlow, Montague (Salford, South) Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton) Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, N.)
Agnew, Sir George William Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George) Cave, George
Amery, L. C. M. S. Bowerman, C. W. Clynes, J. R.
Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R. Brace, William Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.
Baird, J. L. Bryce, J. Annan Cotton, William Francis
Baldwin, Stanley Burn, Colonel C. R. Crooks, William
Davies, David (Montgomery Co.) Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts, Stepney) Pirie, Duncan V.
Davies, Ellis William (Eifion) Jowett, F. W. Pointer, Joseph
Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott Kelly, Edward Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.
Duke, Henry Edward Kilbride, Denis Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)
Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) King, Joseph Robinson, Sidney
Esslemont, George Birnie Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade) Royds, Edmund
Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M. Lane-Fox, G. R. Salter, Arthur Clavell
Fell, Arthur Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury) Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)
Fitzroy, Hon. E. A. Long, Rt. Hon. Walter Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)
Flavin, Michael Joseph Lynch, A. A. Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'pool, Walton)
Gladstone, W. G. C. Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich) Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)
Goldsmith, Frank MacVeagh, Jeremiah Steel-Maitland, A. D.
Goldstone, Frank M'Laren, Hon. F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding) Sutton, John E.
Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke) Magnus, Sir Philip Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)
Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds) Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.) Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
Gulland, John William Mond, Sir Alfred Moritz Valentia, Viscount
Hancock, J. G. Morrell, Philip Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)
Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) Munro, R. Weigall, Capt. A. G.
Hardie, J. Keir Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster) White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.)
Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West) O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Whitehouse, John Howard
Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon) O'Dowd, John Whyte, A. F. (Perth)
Hibbert, Sir Henry F. O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.) Worthington-Evans, L.
Hills, John Waller O'Shee, James John Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart
Hudson, Walter Parker, James (Halifax)
Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth) Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Mackinder and Mr. Neilson.
Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Peto, Basil Edward
Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour) Higham, John Sharp Smith, Harold (Warrington)
Adamson, William Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. Spear, Sir John Ward
Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.) Hodge, John Taylor Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East) White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Bridgeman, W. Clive Levy, Sir Maurice Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)
Clough, William McGhee, Richard Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)
Cory, Sir Clifford John M'Callum, Sir John M. Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles Middlebrook, William Yate, Colonel C. E.
Gill, A. H. O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)
Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry O'Sullivan, Timothy TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Booth and Mr. Dundas White.
Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork, N. E.) Parry, Thomas H.
Henry, Sir Charles Sandys, G. J.

Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER declared that the Question was not decided in the affirmative, because it was not supported by the majority prescribed by Standing Order No. 27.

Original Question again proposed. Debate resumed.

It being after Eleven of the clock, and objection being taken to further Proceeding, the Debate stood adjourned.

The remaining Orders of the day were read, and postponed.