The International Weekly Miscellany, Volume I. No. 8

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The International Weekly
Miscellany, Volume I. No. 8

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I. No. 8, by Various This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at
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Title: The International Weekly Miscellany, Volume I. No. 8 Of
Literature, Art, and Science, August 19, 1850
Author: Various
Release Date: October 19, 2004 [EBook #13796]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

Produced by Joshua Hutchinson, William Flis, the PG Online
Distributed Proofreading Team, and Cornell University

Of Literature, Art, and Science.
* * * * *
Vol. I. NEW YORK, AUGUST 19, 1850. No. 8.
* * * * *

The following interesting sketch of the Drama in the empire of the Czar
is translated for the International from the Leipzig Grenzboten. The
facts it states are not only new to most readers, but throw incidentally a
good deal of light on the condition of that vast empire, and the state of
its population in respect of literature and art in general:
* * * * *
The dramatic taste of a people, the strength of its productive faculty,
the gradual development of its most popular sphere of art, the theater,
contain the key to phases of its character which cannot always be
recognized with the same exactness from other parts of its history. The
tendencies and disposition of the mass come out very plainly in their
relations to dramatic art, and from the audience of an evening at a
theater some inference may be drawn as to the whole political scope of
the nation. In truth, however, this requires penetration as well as
cautious judgment.
In the middle of the last century there were in the kingdom of Poland,
beside the royal art institutions at Warsaw, four strong dramatic
companies, of genuine Polish stamp, which gave performances in the
most fashionable cities. Two of them were so excellent that they often
had the honor to play before the court. The peculiarity of these
companies was that they never performed foreign works, but literally
only their own. The managers were either themselves poets, or had
poets associated with them in business. Each was guided by his poet, as
Wallenstein by his astrologer. The establishment depended on its
dramatic ability, while its performances were limited almost
exclusively to the productions of its poet. The better companies,
however, were in the habit of making contracts with each other, by
which they exchanged the plays of their dramatists. This limitation to
native productions perhaps grew partly out of the want of familiarity
with foreign literature, partly from national feeling, and partly from the
fact that the Polish taste was as yet little affected by that of the
Germans, French, or English. In these circumstances there sprung up a
poetic creative faculty, which gave promise of a good and really
national drama. And even now, after wars, revolutions, and the
schemes of foreign rulers have alternately destroyed and degraded the
stage, and after the Poles have become poetically as well as politically

mere satellites of French ideas and culture, there still exist, as
respectable remains of the good old time, a few companies of players,
which, like their ancient predecessors, have their own poets, and
perform only his pieces, or at least others of Polish origin that he has
arranged and adapted. Such a company, whose principal personage is
called Richlawski, is now in Little Poland, in the cities Radom, Kielce,
Opatow, Sandomir, &c. A second, which generally remains in the
Government of Kalisch, is under the direction of a certain Felinski, and
through his excellent dramatic compositions has gained a reputation
equal to that of the band of Strauss in music. Yet these companies are
only relics. The Polish drama in general has now a character and
destiny which was not to be expected a hundred years since.
The origin of the Russian theater is altogether more recent. It is true
that Peter the Great meddled a good deal with the theater as well as
with other things, but it was not till the Empress Catharine that
dramatic literature was really emancipated by the court. Under
Alexander and Nicholas the most magnificent arrangements have been
made in every one of the cities that from time to time is honored by the
residence of the Emperor, so that Russia boasts of possessing five
theaters, two of which excel everything in Europe in respect to size and
splendor, but yet possesses no sort of taste for
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