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observations at each station, should be made, and the trawl should
(1) Scottish Geog. Mag., Vol. XXI., No. 8, August, 1905, pp. 402-412.
This project for Antarctic exploration does not lend itself in the least to the attainment of a high latitude. It is almost certain. in fact, that the ship in question would not pass the seventy-fifth parallel of latitude, and it is more than probable that it would pass little beyond 70° S., but there is no doubt that for systematic serious scientific work, this would be one of the most profitable forms of Antarctic exploration that we could undertake. I have again taken a single example of what is to be done in Antarctic seas, but I might point out that half a dozen ships doing this same work in similar but different areas all round the South Pole would all obtain results of the highest importance.
As regards land work in the Antarctic regions, this can, I consider, be undertaken more satisfactorily after we have obtained a more definite idea of the confines of the Great Southern Ocean around Antarctica. At present there is too much hazy conjecture, and we find what one believes to be part of Antarctica itself another declares to be an island. But the land work has begun, and to the keen landsmen there is no reason why it should not be going ahead. In the past the splendid land journeys of Scott and Armitage have given us the first definite idea of the interior of Antarctica, and, doubtless, Shackleton, whom we watch with interest, will be able to make important additions to our knowledge of the interior of the Antarctic continent. An important feature is that he commences his land journey at a new point, and thus every inch he covers will be over new ground. Similar inland expeditions should be made at many points all round the Antarctic continent, and every expedition of this kind must necessarily have a good base station. The retention of a ship at the base is entirely unnecessary, though, as I have indicated previously, ice conditions might unwillingly entrap the vessel, in which case sho must be properly prepared for wintering.
Such work could be carried out by the party I have suggested to accompany the proposed expedition to the South Atlantic, Weddell, and Biscoe Seas. Here the coast-line of Antarctica will probably be found to lie somewhere between 70 and 75° S. and to run in a more or less east and west direction. Having found a suitable anchorage, and the house being set up with a complete establishment for meteorology, magnetism, biology, and other scientific investigations, the party would make inland excursions towards the south. Should there be sufficient funds, it would be well to have a second ship for the express purpose of carrying an extra supply of stores and a house, rather than lumber up the oceanographical ship with all this material. If the lie of the land be found to be as we
(1) Since going to press, Lieut. Shackleton has been compelled to change his plans, his base now being at McMurdo Bay.
expect, a serious attempt should be made to
the Antarctic continent and to emerge somewhere along the coast of the Ross Sea, the journey being made along the meridian of Greenwich on the Atlantic side, and continuing along 180th meridian on the Pacific side. Such a journey would be of more intrinsic value than a journey towards the South Pole and back. It would give us a complete sectional idea of the continent of Antarctica, and the expedition would never be covering the same ground a second time. This is a big project, and one would have to face the chances of failure, but it ought to be attempted. Shackleton has wisely led the way by actually trying motor power, which I for one have been advocating for many years, for the accomplishment of such a journey, and Dr. Charcot is also to try this new power for traction. It is an experiment; it may fail, but it is more likely to succeed, and even if it fails it will be one step in advance towards the use of motor power in future polar expeditions. All such pioneer attempts must take their chance of success or failure in a new application given to us by the advance of science.
This area, where Bellinghausen and Biscoe almost a century ago have alone given us a clue, strengthened by the investigations of Ross and of the Scotia, offers an especially fine field for meteorological and magnetical research. This is because of the systematised series of meteorological stations which exist to the north-westward of the region right up to the South American continent-thanks to the efforts of the Scotia and of the energetic Argentine Republic that has backed up and continued the work of that expedition. Observations taken here would also fall in with those about to be undertaken by Charcot in the region of the Bellinghausen Sea, and with those of Shackleton in the neighbourhood of the Ross Sea. These three expeditions would, in fact, give us a very complete idea of the meteorology and magnetism of the South Polar regions in all western longitudes, and especially in meteorology we require a systematic and synchronous series of observations such as are here indicated.
The world shrinks, I have said, but, after all, this is only from the point of view of those who do not look into futurity. Each scientific investigation leads to the discovery of new scientific facts and problems not only unknown, but often entirely unconceived. Newer and wider fields for investigation will offer themselves in the future than in the past; rather then, should we say, the world expands!
W. S. BRUCE.
THE NEED FOR AN ENDOWED THEATRE IN
From time to time a cry is raised in the dramatic wilderness of London for some one theatre that shall be managed in the interests of art, not in the interests of gain. Sometimes it is called a “ National theatre, sometimes a Municipal ” theatre, some times a "Repertory or an “Art” theatre. Just at present it seems to be called a “ Shakespeare " theatre. But by whatever name it is called, we are assured that without a theatre of the kind the England of to-day cannot hope to produce a drama worthy to rank with the work she is producing in the other departments of literature and art.
There are, I know, some people, including not a few dramatic critics, who do not hold this view, who declare, on the contrary, that the British drama is getting on quite well as it is, and, therefore, cannot possibly need either this or any other nostrum to help it. I envy these people their optimism, but I confess when I look round at the staple fare of the London theatres I am unable to share it. A glance at the advertisement columns of the daily papers during the past twelve months will show that that fare has consisted in the main either of musical comedies or of importations from America or of adapted French farces or of adapted English novels. Now, these may all be excellent things in their way. We all love musical comedies, and American plays may be quite as good as English ones (though they seldom are). There is no reason why French farces should not be adapted, and if Shakespeare dramatised novels, why should not Snooks? Only it cannot be pretended that the filling of the London theatres with these and similar entertainments is evidence of any great fertility on the part of contemporary English dramatists.
But it is unnecessary to turn to the records of the advertisement columns of the daily Press to discover the bareness of the dramatic cupboard. Our managers themselves openly and sorrowfully confess it. They would gladly produce new plays by English dramatists, they assure us, only there are no plays and no dramatists. They read reams of manuscripts, they seek diligently, but they can find nothing. The dramatised English novel is the nearest approach they can achieve to an original English play, and that is often an unsatisfactory one.
It certainly is. In fact, the average dramatised version of an English novel during the past few years in London gives one a gloomier impression of the condition of the contemporary theatre than almost anything else that can be put in evidence. For if one examines these, one notices that the novel has invariably undergone a marked deterioration in the process of adapting it for the stage.
The original story has often been a work of some artistic merit. In almost all cases it has been written with sufficient skill and sincerity to win the approval of the reviewers. The author has put his best work into it, the plot is fairly constructed, the characterisation consistent, the ending such as reasonable probability and consistency demanded. It may not have been a great masterpiece, but the author had no cause to blush for it.
But what of the dramatised version? What, indeed! Plot, incidents, situations, everything has been altered, vulgarised to suit the supposed exigencies of the contemporary theatre. The story has been mangled, the characterisation (if any remains) blurred and distorted. A “happy ending ”-in other words an unhappy marriage-has been provided for the fall of the curtain. No claptrap and no inanity has been considered too gross for insertion in the interests of stage effect, no degradation of the story too great as a bid for success in the theatre even when the author has been his own adapter.
Why is this? Why does a self-respecting writer who would never dream of writing below his standard in his novel condescend so shamelessly the moment he begins to adapt it for the stage? Is there something so corrupting in the atmosphere of the London theatre of to-day that a novelist loses all respect for himself and his work the moment he enters it? Apparently. But if this is so it seems to indicate that there is something gravely wrong with the conditions which prevail in that theatre. For it is not the case in other countries. A French novelist can adapt his novel for the stage without thinking it necessary to vulgarise and spoil it. Why should the English novelist believe himself to be under that necessity? He cannot like treating his work in this way. And the curious thing is that this policy of his does not even achieve the success at which it is aimed. The percentage of bad dramatised versions of novels that have failed recently on the London stage has been high enough to satisfy even me. Neither manager nor author has made a profit out of them. The author has eaten dirt, the manager has lost his money and injured any little artistic reputation he may have possessed, -and all for nothing. The public has refused to go to the play, the critics have damned it, and the manager has withdrawn it.
But neither managers nor novelists seem to learn anything from this experience. Both go on in the old way. A new novelist arises, ready to man-handle his work for the stage. A new manager commissions him to do so. A new monstrosity is duly produced and duly fails. And yet there are people who continue to declare that the English theatre is in quite a satisfactory condition, and that neither an endowment nor anything else is needed to stimulate the production of better plays.
There is, however, another class of opponents of a National or an Endowed theatre who take a somewhat different view from this.