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done, well done).” They could have Commissariat Department asking him cried out of very pride to see him. No to forward at once a long outstanding man had earned his Cross better surely return that was required to make upthan he.

some accounts. That was the letter.. So the Major of the besieged post of the greater ironies of life there is. got his letter with its urgent inscrip- nothing to be said. One cannot even. tion, and read it. It was from the laugh.

Harold Fielding. Macmillan's Magazine.

PEOPLE'S THEATRES IN RUSSIA.

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Very few Englishmen have come in a much greater antiquity. This away from St. Petersburg of late with- movement, which may be summed up out having paid at least one visit to the by saying that its object is to provide Narodni Dvorets, or People's Palace of rational amusement for the working Nicholas the Second, which was opened classes, has, of course, a parallel in all, two years ago for the recreation and parts of Europe. But it is very reamusement of the working classes of markable that in a shorter time and the city. The building itself, with its working upon much less fertile great theatre, lecture halls, and dining ground, the movement has developed. rooms, with its accommodation for in Russia to a measure of success 6,000 persons, is imposing enough to at- quite unparalleled anywhere else. At. tract the attention of any passer-by; the present time there are about 200 and its apparently anomalous position People's Theatres, great and small, in in the capital of an autocratic country, Russia, and projects for the construcwhere, as the legend goes, the people tion of fifty or sixty others are on foot. exist only to pay taxes and carry rifles, Accomplishments and projects alike strikes the majority of visitors are to be found in every part of the something absurd. It is regarded as a empire, from St. Petersburg to Odessa matter of pride that London so early and from Warsaw to Vladivostock; had its People's Palace, and in Berlin and even the uncompleted town of the Schiller People's Theatre is hailed Dalny, which has as yet no population, as a triumph of social enterprise. That is building a theatre for the workmen a backward capital like St. Petersburg with whom its unpeopled streets are should have an institution of the same soon to be thronged. kind, differing only in that it is, if It is very remarkable to see a social anything, more successful than either, movement springing up apparently seems anomalous. But it would seem from a common impulse among a people stranger still if it were generally reputedly so apathetic as the Russians : known that this theatre, so far from to all but material betterment, and not being the first of its kind in Russia, is very enthusiastic even about that. The itself only the outcome of a very re- Russians themselves never cease la markable movement which has been menting the lack among their own going on in Russia for the last fifteen influential classes of the civic spirit years, and which indeed has its roots which finds in service of the locality the

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best of all services to the State. They and it has left nothing behind. Such point with despair to the popular uni- is urban Russia, as portrayed by those versities, the workmen's clubs, the free who ought to know it best, and the libraries and free lectures of the West. grey picture is acclaimed as a masterCasual visitors bring away from the piece in all quarters of the empire. country the idea of an inert mass of How far the artist's license is relatent energy twitched into occasional sponsible for the coloring, it is not spasmodic activity by the central gov- easy to say, but it is certain that obernment; the mass itself, they find, jective evidence, not colored by sentihas neither volition nor operative en- ment, might be adduced to prove that ergy. The popular Russian novelists relatively to wealth and culture, there confirm this impression, and sum up is as great a manifestation of civic the inhabitants of the government vigor in Russia as in any country in and district town—the doctors, law- Europe. For instance, we find that yers, schoolmasters, and that consid- two years ago there were some 15,000 erable class of manufacturers and private societies in the country enmerchants which has sprung up of gaged in all kinds of educational, solate in the mechanism of an artificially cial, and charitable work, and coverstimulated industrial activity-as

ing everything, from the relief of famsodden, undistinguished mass of inert ine to the sending of tired school chilignorance, enamored of vodka and vint, dren to seaside camps. This repremade humorous only by a pathetic sents a very high level of social activstupidity-a people among whom no ity for a poor and unorganized country lamp of civic patriotism or enlighten- like Russia, especially if it be noted ing zeal has ever burned. The mob is that many undertakings which are bestial and incorrigible; the local in- here regarded as work for private ortelligence narrow and vulgar; and offi- ganizations are there maintained out cialdom so stupid as to be capable-as of public funds. In Russia, hospitals, in one of Tchekhoff's masterpieces of asylums, crêches, and Sunday schools tricking into the Zemstvo lunatic asy- (for secular education) are kept up by lum a stray enthusiast of humanity local authorities. The Zemstvos insure whose civic zeal was limited to purg. village buildings, publish cheap literaing the district hospital of bribery and ture, carry on courses of free lectures, bugs. The grey shade of venality and provide medical aid.

The peashangs all over the town; with the ant communes provide for their own floods of spring, children are drowned aged and infirm. Most of these works in the abysses of unpaven streets; the have been carried on energetically postman opens letters for the amuse- ever since the Emancipation, so that ment of his mistress; sordid love, aim- it was not altogether in a milieu of less secretiveness, and barbarous in- social stagnation that the movement sensibility make up the only tragedies, for providing recreation for working and the pride and ignorance of local people originated and developed to its magnates the only comedies of provin. present remarkable stage of success. cial life. In the capitals, a little in- The first People's Theatres in Russia effective, ill-cultivated intelligence sprang up in the larger cities; it is only struggles in a larger sea of similar within the last three or four years squalor. But nowhere does the jeal- that they have spread to the provincial ous, critical citizen exist as he exists and district capitals, and still more in Western Europe. The irresponsible

1 "Institutions de bienfaisance de l'Empire de humanitarianism of Virgin Soil is dead, Russle." St.-Petersbourg, 1900.

recently to the villages. Up till a re- all village industries, and the simpler cent time the urban proletariat in forms of open-air sport are impossible Russia was very small. The vast ma- in winter. In default of work, no jority of the workers in the capitals country ever wanted to be amused so and manufacturing towns were drawn badly. To this consciouness a great from the neighboring villages, to number of social reformers simulta. which they remained bound by bonds neously and all over the country awoke, which could be broken only by, taking and among societies, individuals, and certain formal legal steps. These peo municipalities, a movement, soon afterple worked all day, seldom for less wards attaining almost to a mania, for than twelve hours, slept in the factory building theatres for the people bebarracks, and only on Sundays and gan. This movement proved a comholidays returned to their families in plete success, not only financially, but the villages. The few thousands who in its educational and moral fruits; came from distant localities, or who and it has developed in such a way had been released from the communal as to offer to social reformers who bond, remained in town, drank and have to grapple with the dulness of fought, and generally ended their holi- city life among the very poor, and the day, according to Gogol's prescription, depopulation of the villages by the by going to sleep in the middle of the mentally active, a model well worthy street. The fact that these men earned of study. but a fourth of the wages of Western It is probably the first time on recworkmen, while living in towns where ord that Russia could boast of teachthe cost of all the amenities of life is, ing the world anything in social reif anything, higher than in the West, form; and it is an admirable illustrashut in their faces the doors of even tion of the saying that “when Russia the cheapest places of public amuse- ceases to be a hundred years behind ment. A shilling

hopeless the times she will be a hundred years charge to a man who earns

in advance." Indeed, a People's Theaverage rather less than that sum in atre of a sort actually existed in Rustwelve uninterrupted hours of heavy sia more than a hundred years before toil. Drink, tossing for kopecks, fight anything of the kind was thought of ing, and an occasional orgy on some

in Western Europe. As long ago as local Hampstead Heath, followed by 1750 (a few years before the National the untroubled sleep of the habitually Theatre proper was founded by the drunk, were the only holiday joys of Empress Elizabeth Petrovna) a Yarothe transplanted peasants in the Rus- slavl manufacturer named Volkhoff sian cities. In the country things were established a theatre in his works for better, for the week's healthy labor in the benefit of his employes. This was the field was followed by village the first of the Russian "factory thesports, and gatherings for the singing atres," many of which exist in Russia of those miraculous choruses which to-day, their difference from the orditurn rural Russia on holidays into a nary People's Theatres being that nest of song-birds. But this was only while the factory theatres are intended in the summer. In winter neither for the use only of the employes at the work nor play came to vary the ice- works to which they are attached, the bound monotony which binds all the People's Theatres are open to all workRussias in a common bond of stagna. ing men. In this first factory theatre tion throughout half the year. Me

audience and actors alike were drawn chanical competition has killed nearly from the ranks of the workmen. The

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idea of training serfs to provide their own amusement seems strange to-day. But before the Emancipation, many of the great Russian nobles had private theatres at their country houses, and maintained vast numbers of servile actors, mimics, buffoons, dancers, and even opera singers. It is even related of a certain Count Kamensky, that he used to interrupt the performances, and publicly flog his opera artistes when they failed to sing in tune.

Thirty years ago an unsuccessful attempt was made to found a theatre for working people at Odessa, and two years later Moscow opened its “Everybody's (Obstchedostupni) Theatre.” This latter was not, strictly speaking, a working man's theatre, being open to all classes, and distinguished from other theatres merely by its low charges for admission. It was left for the remote city of Tomsk in Siberia to make the first successful experiment in founding a genuine and successful workmen's theatre. This theatre, like nearly all similar institutions in Russia, had a directly educational origin, being founded by the local society of "Friends of Education.” For the first two years of its existence this society had contented itself with helping poor students, organizing lectures, and holding evening classes for workmen. But in 1884, owing to the beneficence of a local resident, M. Valgunoff -one of that remarkable class of merchants, not found outside Russia, who are able to draw cheques for millions of roubles to which they can hardly sign their names—the Friends of Education founded an institute, to which was attached a small theatre for working men. The experiment proved so successful that the revenue of the society was trebled, the theatre doubled in size, and a museum and a number of class-rooms added to the institute. While this experiment was in progress, a similar movement was being organ

LIVING AGE. VOL. XVII. 919

ized in St. Petersburg. The Neva Society for Promoting Cheap Recreation was formed with the object of organizing holiday fêtes for the working classes. These fêtes were at first held in the suburbs, the chief attraction being an open-air stage, with clowns, story-tellers, and singers. Ten kopecks (272 d.) was the admission charge. The entertainments paid their expenses, some 67,000 persons, all be longing to the working class, being present at the first season's fêtes. Alter a year's trial the society had got so far as to be able to play Ostrovsky's. comedies by professional actors. So far these entertainments had been held. only in summer-time; but after three years' experience a permanent stone theatre was opened in a park on the Schlüsselburg Road. By 1897 the suecess of the society was so great that they were able to pull down this theatre, and erect in its place a large building, costing 300,000 roubles and holding 1,600 persons. In 1900 the society had a reserve capital of 174,000 roubles, after paying all debts. They had begun fifteen years before with a capital of 1.370 roubles. In the fifteen years they had not only established themselves on a sound financial basis, but they had been enabled out of their profits to build as adjuncts to the theatre two free libraries and readingrooms; and they are at present considering a project for building cheap bathhouses and establishing river boats and skating-rinks on the Neva.

The success of this experiment was so great that the manufacturers on Vassili Ostrof took the hint and raised a fund for building a People's Theatre on the island for 800 persons. This theatre, when full, takes 360 roubles in admission fees, the prices of admission being from 12 kopecks to 114 rouble. The average price of nearly half a rouble is, however, much higher than is usual in Russia, and results

from the relatively high wages earned brary, and a shop for the sale of good by the workmen in the capital. This literature at nominal prices. The theatre has always paid its expenses, municipality, which devoted 100,000 and its success may be judged from roubles to the construction of this the fact that a few years later the building, grants 8,000 roubles a year same manufacturers formed a subsid. for its maintenance and improvement. iary committee for providing dinners But, like nearly all the popular theaand teas for workmen at cost prices. tres in Russia, the Odessa institution

Both the Tomsk and the two St. has been a financial success, the eduPetersburg experiments were due to cational adjuncts contributing to the private initiative, although, it should revenue. The Publication Committee be added, the Neva Society, in their sold in one year nearly 200,000 books second and enlarged undertaking, had and pamphlets at an average price of been subsidized to the extent of 60,000 less than a penny. Here also, for the roubles by the Temperance Board of first time in Russia, was established the St. Petersburg Government. But a Poor Man's Law Bureau. In the the greater number of the People's first year of its existence the Odessa "Theatres now springing up all over Theatre gave thirty-four performances Russia are the direct result of munici- , attended by 28,000 persons, nearly all pal enterprise and civic enthusiasm, belonging to the working class. and in that respect are even more in- The Odessa municipality is, howteresting and instructive than the pri- ever, only one of many who have revate undertakings. The great People's garded it as part of their civic duty Theatre in Odessa is an example in to provide for the recreation of the point. Most of the local governing working class. In some of the larger bodies in Russia, though hedged round towns People's Theatres, founded by in regard to politics by administrative private individuals and educational restriction, have a freedom quite with- societies, have been taken over by the out parallel in Western Europe in the town, while in other cases the municidisposition of public moneys. It is a pality co-operates with individuals and common practice, for instance, for the societies by granting land or public Zemstvos and municipalities to cele- buildings, or by voting money either in brate anniversaries associated with a lump sum or in the form of a yearly the births and deaths of famous men subsidy. In other cases, the Temperby founding courses of lectures, build- ance Boards co-operate with the muniing free libraries, publishing cheap lit- cipalities or with private societies. erature, and opening cheap dining- Co-operation of this kind was the orirooms for working men. The Pushkin gin of the fine People's Theatre which Centenary, which was celebrated in is now being built at Ekaterinoslav. 1899, was the origin of scores of such This theatre, however, had an anteinstitutions all

Russia. The cedent history, which is interesting as Odessa People's Theatre had a like ori- illustrating the growth of the movegin, the municipality having decided ment. The local Committee for Proto commemorate the millenary of the moting Lectures for the People, having death of Methodius by founding an in- outgrown its original programme, apstitute and lecture hall for the use of plied for and obtained a free grant of the poorest class. This project, de- land from the municipality, and spent cided upon in 1885, was not carried out 40,000 roubles on a hall for lectures until 1893, when a working men's thea- and the drama. In their small ball tre, holding 1,000 persons, was built, they carried out a programme of plays together with a lecture hall, a free li- for working men, concerts, free panto

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