Play List:

1. The Rath Boys

2. The Witchfinder

3. A Madcap Prince

4. Corinne

5. The Queen of Connaught

6. The Nine Days’ Queen

7. The Mormons

8. The Shadow of the Sword

9. Lucy Brandon

10. Storm-Beaten

11. Lady Clare

[Flowers of the Forest]

12. A Sailor and His Lass

13. Bachelors

14. Constance

15. Lottie

16. Agnes

17. Alone in London

18. Sophia

19. Fascination

20. The Blue Bells of Scotland

21. Partners

22. Joseph’s Sweetheart

23. That Doctor Cupid

24. Angelina!

25. The Old Home

26. A Man’s Shadow

27. Theodora

28. Man and the Woman

29. Clarissa

30. Miss Tomboy

31. The Bride of Love

32. Sweet Nancy

33. The English Rose

34. The Struggle for Life

35. The Sixth Commandment

36. Marmion

37. The Gifted Lady

38. The Trumpet Call

39. Squire Kate

40. The White Rose

41. The Lights of Home

42. The Black Domino

43. The Piper of Hamelin

44. The Charlatan

45. Dick Sheridan

46. A Society Butterfly

47. Lady Gladys

48. The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown

49. The Romance of the Shopwalker

50. The Wanderer from Venus

51. The Mariners of England

52. Two Little Maids from School

53. When Knights Were Bold


Short Plays

Other Plays

Buchanan’s Theatrical Ventures in America

Poetry Readings





The Fleshly School Controversy
Buchanan and the Press
Buchanan and the Law

The Critical Response
Harriett Jay

Site Diary
Site Search


35. The Sixth Commandment (1890) - continued


The Echo (20 October, 1890 - p.1)


     Well-wishers of that charming actress Mrs. Lancaster, in whose ranks we may safely include the entire regular play- going public of London, experienced an evil quarter of an hour on Saturday night, or at least such of them as went to the Shaftesbury Theatre. During the week a notice had been circulated freely in the papers that the fair manageress would ask a question. Seeing that, though on Mrs. Lancaster herself the critics have rightly lavished every praise, acknowledging her much improved acting, admiring the artistic self-abnegation with which she has distributed the plum- róles of the piece, granting her discrimination as shown in its casting, and loudly conceding homage for beautiful mounting and staging, they have with practical unanimity been unable to approve the play, Mr. Buchanan’s Sixth Commandment; it was, therefore, greatly feared that the question would be an unwise appeal from the verdict of the whole body of London’s dramatic critics and a first night audience to the public as represented by a special theatrefull of persons. The worst fears were realised. After brilliantly sustaining her part in an improved, because shortened, play, Mrs. Lancaster timidly advanced to the footlights, confessed that during the week the audiences had been mediocre, and practically asked her friends in front whether the present play should continue. The answer, it may be imagined under the circumstances, was in accordance with the actress’s wishes. In point of fact, too much so. Certain persons in the pit and gallery fired a volley of abuse, individual and otherwise, at the dramatic critics; and Mrs. Lancaster unexpectedly found herself obliged to pronounce a very pretty little homily on the qualified utility of her friends the enemy. This was the reduction to absurdity of a scene which should have been rehearsed to have achieved even the success of a moment.


     Mrs. Lancaster has won the goodwill of all her talents admit of no denial, she has a beautiful theatre of her own, and plenty of money to give effect to her strong desire to do everything well, moreover, she has several promising plays up her sleeve; but she has produced a play not generally popular. Why persist? Why stir up animus and partisanship? Why throw the bright future after the indifferent present? Why kick against the pricks? To produce a good drama by a young and unknown writer would be a veritable triumph, or to mount a new play by one of our two or three popular dramatists would be a step towards certain success


     Mr. Buchanan, who is responsible for The Sixth Commandment as it appears in English, has also fought for his own hand in a morning contemporary. Many years ago that lucid and poetic critic, Mr. E. C. Stedman, wrote of this gentleman: “His critical prose writings are marked by eloquence and vigour; but those of a polemical order have, I should opine, entailed upon him more vexation than profit.” If Mr. Buchanan were only of his American admirer’s opinion!


The front page of this edition of The Echo also included an article about Buchanan which is available in the Buchanan and the Press section.]



The Times (20 October, 1890 - p.4)


     For some days it was announced that on Saturday night Miss Wallis would “put a question” to the audience at the Shaftesbury Theatre, where Mr. Robert Buchanan’s romantic drama The Sixth Commandment is being performed. Accordingly, on the fall of the curtain on Saturday night Miss Wallis came forward and said the matter she had to submit to the public was this:—Mr. Buchanan’s play had been subjected to a certain amount of criticism in some quarters, and she wished to know whether the public liked it, and whether it ought to be continued in the bill. Shouts of “Yes” went up in reply, and some little disorder ensued, in the midst of which Miss Wallis retired, apparently satisfied with the result of her experiment.



The Derby Daily Telegraph (20 October, 1890 - p.2)

     There was some amusement created last week when the Shaftesbury management advertised that on Saturday night, as soon as the curtain fell on the last act of Mr. Robert Buchanan’s “Sixth Commandment,” Miss Wallis would ask the audience a question. The piece has been unlucky, and the public have given it the cold shoulder. Curiosity drew a large house to hear the question, which turned out to be, “Is this play to be continued?” I am sorry Miss Wallis didn’t give her idea better shape. The gallery roared a tremendous “Yes,” but I fear much the pit and stalls didn’t care one brass cent whether it ought to die or not. Had I stood sponsor to the original question I should have recommended that the house be polled every night for a week by means of voting papers, and independent tellers nominated. But it is obviously all up with the Shaftesbury play, and the best thing to do is to substitute something else, and not ask foolish questions.



The Glasgow Herald (20 October, 1890 - p.9)

     Last night at the Shaftesbury Miss Wallis was announced at the close of the performance of the “Sixth Commandment” to “ask a question of the audience.” Some mystery had been preserved as to what the question would be. Miss Wallis, however, candidly stated that “We have not, unfortunately, been playing to large audiences, but I have given no free admissions, as I wish to obtain the verdict of the public. I wish to ask you whether you like this piece?” At this, of course, there were loud cries of “Yes,” although the value of such a reply from an excited audience may possibly not be very high.



Birmingham Daily Post (20 October, 1890)


                                                                                                                               LONDON. Sunday Night.

. . .

     The question which Mrs. Lancaster-Wallis (Miss Wallis) put, as had been advertised, to her audience at the close of last night’s performance of “The Sixth Commandment,” at the Shaftesbury, was, as had been expected, whether the run of the play should be continued. The answer was polite, and to a certain degree satisfactory; but the real reply has to be given by other audiences than that of last night. Abbreviation may make a poor play less unsatisfactory, but it cannot transform it into a good one; and, as a fact, the talents of Miss Wallis and such admirable colleagues as Miss Robins, Mr. Waring, and Mr. Waller are wasted upon the piece. The example set by Mr. George Alexander, at the Avenue, in deferring to the popular verdict upon one of Mr. Buchanan’s latest adaptations may, therefore, be fairly followed in the case of the other.



The Pall Mall Gazette (21 October, 1890)


     In his attempt to lead the public to believe that his latest play is a work worthy of their most earnest consideration, Mr. Robert Buchanan has fairly out-Buchananised himself. We all know the author of “The Sixth Commandment,” and his rough sledge hammer methods. We are all acquainted with his unaccountable readiness to rush to the tourney, and break a lance with any one and every one on any and every conceivable subject under the sun. But who would have imagined that even this universal provider, this literary Whiteley, would be bold enough to champion the cause of the unsatisfactory and uninteresting play which now holds the boards at the Shaftesbury theatre? Yet so it is. Mr. Buchanan has thought fit to pour down upon the innocent pages of the Daily Chronicle a column of virtuous indignation, in which he inveighs freely against the critics and the audience who failed to recognize in “The Sixth Commandment,” on its production, a work of high literary and dramatic merit. Every one, apparently, was wrong on the first night. The play bored us to distraction; but our weariness was caused by our extraordinary lack of appreciation of the beauties which its author now points out to us.
     Here are a few specimen counts in Mr. Buchanan’s indictment of the critics:—

     Then comes the whole series of perversions, as illustrated in my own case. because a play is strong and gloomy it is a coarse Coburg melodrama, a production quite unfit for educated people to witness; because it represents things as they really are, it is a vulgar catalogue of transpontine horrors; because it is not charged with bourgeois sentiment or inflated with Cockney fun, it is dismal and dull; because it bores a jaded appetite, spoiled by Robertsonian lollipops and bon- bons, it is not to the taste of English audiences; and because two or three hired ruffians hoot at the author from the gallery, he has received the condemnation of the great English public.

     What can one say to a dramatist who meets failure in this spirit? “Hired ruffians,” forsooth! If ever a long-suffering and lenient audience were assembled within the walls of a theatre it was the devoted band of playgoers who endured with scarcely a sign of impatience or derision the deadly dreariness of “The Sixth Commandment.” Not till the author—the fons et origo mali—appeared at the end of all things were any sounds indicating marked disapproval audible. That an unfavourable verdict could have been sincerely and honestly recorded is seemingly beyond the range of Mr. Buchanan’s imagination; and so the humble folk in the gallery, who did not like the play and said so when the right moment arrived, are coolly classed as “hired ruffians.” Hired by whom, Mr. Buchanan?
     In truly execrable taste, too, is the writer’s cheap sneer at the “Robertsonian lollipops and bon-bons.” Is not the notion delicious? “Caste,” “Ours,” “School,” and the style of play originated by that bright genius whose light first shone forth from “the little theatre in Tottenham-street,” have spoiled our dramatic appetites and made us turn up our noses in wrongheaded and wilful daintiness at “The Sixth Commandment,” that wholesome dose prescribed for us by Dr. Buchanan. Our conversion, I fear, will not be quickly accomplished, nor shall we immediately elevate Mr. Buchanan to a supreme position among our playwrights merely because he scoffs at the success of Mr. Henry Arthur Jones’s works at the theatre which has witnessed his own discomfiture. Let Mr. Buchanan give us as fine a play as either “The Middleman” or “Judah,” and he will then be entitled to a rather more serious hearing when he tries to force his wares down the throats of the public.
     For Mrs. Lancaster-Wallis I am really sorry. I think she is wrong in persevering with “The Sixth Commandment,” for the simple reason that it is impossible to see how the play can be made genuinely attractive at the Shaftesbury Theatre or elsewhere. At any rate there is no earthly object to be gained by “asking a question” on one particular evening. The Shaftesbury booking-sheet will furnish the only reliable answer to Mrs. Lancaster’s query, and to that document alone should the manageress turn her attention.



Manchester Times (24 October, 1890)



. . .

     An extraordinary and perhaps unprecedented incident occurred at the Shaftesbury Theatre on Saturday night, at the fall of the curtain on Mr. Buchanan’s “Sixth Commandment.” The play has been very severely handled by the critics, and it has been defended by the author in his usual slashing style. Its success has been rather dubious, and Miss Wallis on Saturday night came forward and made a little speech in which she asked her “kind friends in front” whether they liked the play, and whether it should be continued. The answer was a very decided affirmative mingled with complimentary and sympathetic ejaculations from the gallery, and a good deal of hearty abuse of critics from the pit.



The Graphic (25 October, 1890)

     Mrs. Lancaster-Wallis’s “question” on Saturday evening at the SHAFTESBURY Theatre has given rise to a great deal of comment. It took the form of an appeal to a crowded house against the unanimous judgment of the critics upon Mr. Buchanan’s new drama of Russian life. “Shall the performance be retained in the programme?” asked the lady; and there was at once a boisterous outbreak of affirmatives from all parts of the theatre. This may be the precursor of a new method of dramatic criticism, but it is just to both parties to say that Mrs. Lancaster-Wallis admitted that The Sixth Commandment, as played on this occasion, was not exactly the play on which the first-night audience sat in judgment. It had, to begin with, been curtailed “by forty minutes,” and the lady was generous enough to confess that the excisions, as well as certain “alterations,” had been made in deference to “the advice of the Press.”



Punch (25 October, 1890)



Will you allow me, as one who knows Russia by heart, to express my intense admiration for the new piece at the Shaftesbury Theatre, in which is given, in my opinion, the most faithful picture of the CZAR’s dominions as yet exhibited to the British Public. ACT I. is devoted to “a Street near the Banks of the Neva, St. Petersburg,” and here we have a splendid view of the Winter Palace, and what I took to be the Kremlin at Moscow. On one side is the house of a money-lender, and on the other the shelter afforded to a drosky-driver and his starving family. The author, whose name must be BUCHANANOFF (though he modestly drops the ultimate syllable), gives as a second title to this portion of his wonderful work, “The Dirge for the Dead.” It is very appropriate. A student, whose funds are at the lowest ebb, commits a purposeless murder, and a “pope” who has been on the look-out no doubt for years, seizes the opportunity to rush into the murdered man’s dwelling, and sing over his inanimate body a little thing of his own composition. Anyone who has been in Russia will immediately recognise this incident as absolutely true to life. Amongst my own acquaintance I know three priests who did precisely the same thing—they are called BROWNOFF, JONESKI, and ROBINSONOFF.

Next we have the Palace of the Princess Orenburg, and make the acquaintance of Anna Ivanovna, a young lady who is the sister of the aimless murderer, and owner of untold riches. We are also introduced to the Head of Police, who, as everyone knows, is a cross between a suburban inspector, a low-class inquiry agent, and a flaneur moving in the best Society. We find, too, naturally enough, an English attaché, whose chief aim is to insult an aged Russian General, whose sobriquet is, “the Hero of Sebastopol.” Then the aimless murderer reveals his crime, which, of course, escapes detection save at the hands of Prince Zosimoff, a nobleman, who I fancy, from his name, must have discovered a new kind of tooth-powder.

Next we have the “Interior of a Common Lodging House,” the counterpart of which may be found in almost any street in the modern capital of Russia. There are the religious pictures, the cathedral immediately opposite, with its stained-glass windows and intermittent organ, and the air of sanctity without which no Russian Common Lodging House is complete. Needless to say that Prince Tooth-powder—I beg pardon—and Anna listen while Fedor Ivanovitch again confesses his crime, this time to the daughter of the drosky-driver, for whom he has a sincere regard, and I may add, affection. Although with a well-timed scream his sister might interrupt the awkward avowal, she prefers to listen to the bitter end. This reminds me of several cases recorded in the Newgatekoff Calendaroff, a miscellany of Russian crimes.

After this we come to the Gardens of the Palace Taurida, when Fedor is at length arrested and carted off to Siberia, an excellent picture of which is given in the last Act. Those who really know Russian Society will not be surprised to find that the Chief of the Police (promoted to a new position and a fur-trimmed coat), and the principal characters of the drama have also found their way to the Military Outpost on the borders of the dreaded region. I say dreaded, but should have added, without cause. M. BUCHANANOFF shows us a very pleasant picture. The prisoners seem to have very little to do save to preserve the life of the Governor, and to talk heroics about liberty and other kindred subjects. Prince Zosimoff attempts, for the fourth or fifth time, to make Anna his own—he calls the pursuit “a caprice,” and it is indeed a strange one—and is, in the nick of time, arrested, by order of the CZAR. After this pleasing and natural little incident, everyone prepares to go back to St. Petersburg, with the solitary exception of the Prince, who is ordered off to the Mines. No doubt the Emperor of RUSSIA had used the tooth-powder, and, finding it distasteful to him, had taken speedy vengeance upon its presumed inventor.

I have but one fault to find with the representation. The play is capital, the scenery excellent, and the acting beyond all praise. But I am not quite sure about the title. M. BUCHANANOFF calls his play “The Sixth Commandment”—he would have been, in my opinion, nearer the mark, had he brought it into closer association with the Ninth!

Believe me, dear Mr. Punch,

Yours, respectfully,




Northern Daily Mail (25 October, 1890 - p.4)

     Robert Buchanan has made a “frost” with his play “The Sixth Commandment” at the Shaftesbury, but Robert Buchanan will place no faith in his first night audience, nor does he take the opinion of the critics regarding his dreary production. The only authority Robert Buchanan will accept is Robert Buchanan himself. In the London Daily Chronicle he has set forth his views to the extent of a column, in which he inveighs in unmeasured terms against the audience which paid to see his play and did not like it, and against the critics who had the hardihood to tell him that his play was not satisfactory. In Robert Buchanan’s defence of Robert Buchanan’s own literary wares, or rather in his attack upon all those who like not his “Sixth Commandment,” he says:—“Then comes the whole series of perversions, as illustrated in my own case. Because a play is strong and gloomy it is a coarse Coburg melodrama, a production quite unfit for educated people to witness; because it represents things as they really are, it is a vulgar catalogue of transpontine horrors; because it is not charged with bourgeois sentiment or inflated with Cockney fun, it is dismal and dull; because it bores a jaded appetite, spoiled by Robertsonian lollipops and bob-bons, it is not to the taste of English audiences; and because two or three hired ruffians hoot at the author from the gallery, he has received the condemnation of the great English public.”
     Now, all this abuse of the Robertsonian comedies and the “hired ruffians” is characteristic of Mr Robert Buchanan, but if he wants to know anything I will tell him that the public would rather have one of the creations of T. W. Robertson than fifty of Buchanan’s. Robertson’s comedies will live in English dramatic literature long after his have perished. It strikes me as an act of folly for any man in Mr Buchanan’s position to go out of his way to insult the intelligence of an audience and the critics, simply because in their judgment they effectively damned one of his plays.
                                                                                             “Tony Lumpkin,” in the South Durham Herald.



The Illustrated London News (25 October, 1890 - p.22)


The life of the dramatic critic, like that of the policeman, continues to be anything but a happy one. He has not only to attend the regular evening performances of such new plays as are submitted for public approval, but he has to “sample” derelict dramas at matinées, he has to pronounce judgment on amateur work that has been rejected by every practical manager, and, according to the latest precedent, he has to attend a theatre at eleven o’clock at night, when otherwise he would be free and at peace, in order to hear a manager or manageress ask questions of the public. This last terror is one scarcely to be borne with equanimity, and, if it become popular, it will be necessary to have a bed made up at each of the various theatres or to take a permanent room at some central hotel in order to be ready for the managerial discussion. For instance, a critic is startled when he sees a money-lending Jew called Abramoff by the author, and distinctly called a Jew by one of the leading characters in the Shaftesbury play (Mr. Waller), strangled before his very eyes by the Nihilistic hero; and in less than five seconds after the murder up comes a procession of Greek priests—it matters little whether they are “orthodox” or not—prepared apparently, without invitation, to sing a requiem over the still warm body of the Semitic usurer. Now, if a critic did not point out the absurdity of such an incident he would be scarcely worth his salt. In the first place, the friends of a dead Jew would not send for a Greek priest, orthodox or not, on the occasion of a death by murder or otherwise, simply because, in the estimation of the dead Jew’s relatives, the Greek ritual would be of little avail in the ultimate saving of the dead Jew’s soul. The “good curtain,” as it is called—begging the question whether it is not in reality a very bad curtain—implies a double absurdity. First, that Greek priests, in full canonicals, are kept on tap as it were, and summoned, like the Russian fire brigade, to sing requiems over any heretic that may chance to die: and secondly, that it is “inhuman” of a minister of any religion not to force himself into a dead man’s family, whether he is wanted or not. Now, an antagonism of this kind having sprung up between author and critic, who are at direct issue on matters of fact, surely it would be impolitic in the extreme to turn the audience into a jury to decide who is right and who is wrong. It seems to me that the management starts an awkward precedent by asking questions of any audience: in fact, speechifying on the stage has become somewhat of a nuisance. Where is it all to end? While Miss Wallis is at her new game of cross questions and crooked answers, she had better ask whether organs are ever found in Russian churches, or how far the Tosca has been imitated in “The Sixth Commandment,” and whether there is, after all, much resemblance in it to the novel that has suggested its main incidents. If audiences, and not experts, are to be asked to decide whether the relatives of dead Jews appreciate the “humanity” of the Greek ritual over the bodies of their dead friends, they may also be asked whether Catholic priests cease not only to be priests, but men of honour, when they have a miraculous revelation imparted to them by means of a flash of lightning when reading the Book of Samuel at a lectern in the vestry! I venture to think I can see through the whole difficulty. Mr. Buchanan, anxious for a telling termination to his first act, and forgetting the murdered man was a Jew, introduced the “popes” and the procession and the requiem. This was an afterthought to secure a good curtain, as it is called, which is very often a clumsy and inartistic effect. Presumably this effect was introduced after the play had been studied and rehearsed; and at the very last moment, in all probability, Mr. De Lange, who is a clever and observant actor, called the author’s attention to the fact that his name was Abramoff, and that he was a Jew. So Mr. Waller, who strangled the Jew, was asked to omit on the stage all reference to his enemy’s Semitic origin. Unfortunately, Mr. Waller forgot, and called Abramoff a Jew on the first night. Hence these tears. But the facts being as they were, it is a little hard to turn round on the critic, and put the blunder on his shoulders by saying that Abramoff is not a Jew and is nowhere alluded to as a Jew! All I maintain is that, on the evidence of my own ears, Abramoff was called a Jew at the first representation of “The Sixth Commandment.” To correct an obvious blunder and to ridicule the critic for frivolous criticism is one of the commonest of modern managerial dodges. A blunder is pointed out on the first night, it is corrected on the second, and then the critic is ridiculed who pointed out the mistake. “What a fool So-and-so is!” at once remarks the innocent manager. “We do nothing of the kind; go to the play and see for yourself!” This occurs over and over again, according to my experience. An actor is courteously told that he takes a scene too fast or too slow, as the case may be. He takes the hint on the second night, and then with mock innocence appeals to his friends. “Now, is this fair? He says I do so and so. You see I do nothing of the kind—now do I?” Over and over again I have known a play entirely altered after the first night, and yet the manager has not the common honesty to own it, preferring to say and to hint that the critic has said exactly the contrary to what has happened.
     Now, to my mind, I consider that Mr. Charles Wyndham, in a very important essential, has altered his reading of John Mildmay, and altered it wholly for the better. As I see it now, it is a different performance to what it was when first given at the Criterion some time back. The actor has in the earlier scenes substituted manliness and a certain reserve of mystery for what appeared at the outset to be an undue lackadaisical tone. I quite see the actor’s object as he first read John Mildmay. he wanted deep affection to be the dominant chord, and not strength of character. It was a good idea, but, somehow or other, it did not “come off.” He now, with great subtlety and art, shows clearly to the audience what manner of man John Mildmay is—how reserved, how earnest, how affectionate, and how manly; but he keeps the characters wholly in the dark as to his true character. That is the essence of the play. The audience can see that Hawksley, Potter, and Co., Mrs. Sternhold, and the rest of them are mistaking their man. The audience is cleverer than the company. That is the object of the dramatist. That is the intention of the play. By altering his reading Mr. Wyndham has made the play more interesting. Again, Mrs. Bernard-Beere has altered her Mrs. Sternhold wholly for the better. At the outset she, to use a homely colloquialism, “upset the apple-cart.” She brought her grand style to bear on the vexed widow, and she literally trampled on the little play. She used so much force that she put the picture out of drawing. She forced tragedy into a very simple and homely little comedy. But Mrs. Beere has changed all that. As a clever critic has already pointed out, she has two styles, two vocal methods. She now uses the softer and gentler one. She has forgotten the Tosca and remembered Mrs. Sternhold, not, indeed, that the actress could ever realise the spiteful, passée woman, jealous and on the shelf, that Mrs. Sternhold is intended to be if the play has any meaning at all. But the moderation of tone in Mrs. Sternhold is as valuable to the ensemble of the acting as Mr. Wyndham’s rejection of the pathetic and sentimental stop in John Mildmay in scenes where it is not wanted—nay, where it misrepresents the man. Now it is open to Mr. Wyndham and to Mrs. Bernard-Beere to turn round and say: “I never did anything of the kind! I never made John Mildmay a man of sentiment! I never played Mrs. Sternhold tragically! It is you who are mistaken, not we. We play the parts exactly as we played them at the outset!”
     Well, who is to decide when there are such differences on matters of fact/ The critic has only his eyes and ears to guide him. Perhaps the manager will arrange a packed house on a given evening and ask the public to decide. That the decision would be in his favour who could reasonably doubt?
                                                                                                                                                           C. S.



The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News (25 October, 1890 - p.22)



Lloyd’s Weekly London Newspaper (26 October, 1890 - p.7)

     One of the many important alterations in The Sixth Commandment is the shortening of the last act and the death of the libertine, Prince Zozimoff. As the play was at first constructed he apparently escaped free; now he is stabbed by Kriloffski, the drosky driver, whose daughter had been a prey to his “caprice.” This instance of poetical justice is a very great improvement to the play. Instead of lasting nearly four hours, the play is now performed in three.



The Sheffield Daily Telegraph (27 October, 1890 - p.4)


     Despite the carping of the critics the pit has approved Mr. Robert Buchanan’s new play, “The Sixth Commandment,” and the Shaftesbury Theatre is now well filled every night. Quite unexpectedly I have come upon a pleasing confirmation of the strong confidence I placed in the judgment of the pit. In Mrs. Kendal’s “Dramatic Opinion” she confesses, “I delight in playing to the pit.” She adds, “No one who is not in the profession could tell what an exhilarating effect the pit has. I love it. One gets such a quick response to the sentiments we arouse.” Again she says, “The re is no doubt about it, the pit is a delightful institution. There is much virtue in a pit.” In another place she says, “I myself have been to only three first nights as a spectator in the whole of my professional career, and when I go to the theatre then I invariably ask for the stalls in the last row, that I may be near the pit and hear their verdict—so great is my belief in the pit and its verdict. I have seldom known it wrong.” As to the influence of the Press critics Mrs. Kendal seems to be of opinion that a great deal depends upon whether the judgment be just. If a good play be damned by the critics the attendance will dwindle to small proportions for the first few nights, but when people begin to find out it is a good play it will succeed in defiance of the critics. Mrs. Kendal has herself known a play to run a hundred nights in spite of adverse criticism. She believes in the pit. So also did Mr. Buckstone, and so do all good actors. It is the pit that has come between the new play at the Shaftesbury and the hostile critics, and secured for it a unanimous verdict of approval when Miss Wallis put the question to a crowded house.



The Pall Mall Gazette (28 October, 1890)

     No, Mr. Buchanan! You are wrong once more. Of course it sounds very modest and convincing when you express an opinion that “The Sixth Commandment” is nearly as good as “Carmen up to Data” and “A Million of Money,” two plays which you suggest the experts pronounced perfect. But I fancy that yet again you have allowed your soaring imagination to carry you beyond the regions of stern fact. If you can demonstrate by the “notices” that the drama now running at Drury Lane was summed up as “perfect” by the critics, I shall be much surprised. As for the current Gaiety burlesque, ask Mr. Henry Pettitt, Mr. George Edwardes, or your collaborator, Mr. George R. Sims, if their ideas on the subject correspond with your own. But, assuming even that you are correct in your statement, would you seriously desire that a play from your pen, of, at least, a somewhat lofty aim, should be measured by the same standard and judged by the same canons of art as the annual combinations of popular elements which each autumn gives us at “Old Drury” and the Temple of the Sacred Lamp? Think it over carefully, Mr. Buchanan, and you will admit—to yourself at any rate—that your words were almost as hasty and ill-judged as any you have written apropos of your latest dramatic production.



Time (November, 1890 - pp.1221-1,226)


     Was there really any need for Mr. Robert Buchanan to assure us that he had not adapted Dostoievsky’s “Crime and Punishment.” Doskoievsky, as the programme hath it. His “Sixth Commandment” is melodrama of the Dick Venables type; and we fear, in spite of the brave appeal of Miss Wallis to the public, it will prove of the Dick Venables order of success.
     And the pity of it is that Mr. Buchanan had in the personages and the central incident of “Crime and Punishment” such good material to work upon, and in the company that Miss Wallis had gathered round her, such good material to work with. In the twenty-three names that appear upon the programme there is, literally, not one unknown. And most of them are names of men and women who have made great mark in the world dramatic. Herbert Waring was excellent with the impossible, and Lewis Walter excellent with the hopeless. Marius, best of stage managers, succumbed after a brave struggle with a comic policeman. Maude Brennan came back to us all very welcomely. Miss Wallis and Miss Robins did wonders with nothing. William Herbert and Marion Lea were supposed to provide the fun, as the Israelites were supposed to provide bricks. For once, Ivan Watson did not please. He should have let General Skobeloff (sic) die a natural death instead of galvanising him into unnatural life.
                                                                                                     Alec Nelson [pseudonym of Edward Aveling]

[This review appears on the Marxist Internet Archive in the Eleanor Marx Dramatic Notes section.]



The Theatre (1 November, 1890)


Romantic play, in five acts, written by ROBERT BUCHANAN.
First produced at the Shaftesbury Theatre, Wednesday, October 8, 1890.

Prince Zosimoff          ...    Mr. Herbert Waring.
Arcadius Snaminski     ...     M. Marius.
General Skobeloff      ...    Mr. Ivan Watson.
Fedor Ivanovitch         ...     Mr. Lewis Waller.
Alexis Alexandrovitch  ...     Mr. R. Stockton.
General Wolenski       ...    Mr. W. Russell.
Arthur Merrion           ...    Mr. William Herbert.
Moustoff                     ...     Mr. M. Byrnes.
Kriloff Kriloffski         ...    Mr. George Seldon.
Petrovitch                   ...     Mr. G. Fane.

Landlord of Lodging House  ...     Mr. Herberte Basing.
The Princess Orenburg        ...    Mrs. Richardson.
Sophia                                 ...    Miss Marion Lea.
Pulcheria Ivanovna               ...    Miss Cowen.
Anna                                   ...    Mrs. Lancaster-Wallis
                                                   (Miss Wallis).
Catherine Petroska               ...     Miss Maude Brennan.
Liza                                     ...    Miss E. Robins.
Katel                                    ...     Miss C. Bernand.
Marfa                                  ...    Miss J. St. Ange.

     In an “Author’s Note” appearing on the programme, Mr. Buchanan states that he has taken certain suggestions from Dostoievsky’s novel “Crime and Chastisement,” but that he disclaims any endeavour to dramatise the work. And this statement may be thoroughly accepted, for though the main incidents, but slightly altered, take place both in the novel and the play, yet under Mr. Buchanan’s treatment they are but such as have been used in many a melodrama. In the novel Fedor commits a murder on two women, partly to work out a theory of his own, and partly for the sake of plunder; in the play he strangles an old Jew, for having been accessory to the ruin of the girl he loves. In the novel Sonia gives herself to a life on the streets that she may save from starvation her worthless father and hungry family; in the play she is made the unwilling victim of the lust of a Prince. The novel is a study—curiously minute and searching—of the workings of the human heart and brain, and sets forth that a woman may be but a very outcast in the eyes of the world and yet be as pure as snow in her innermost self. The play makes almost an idol of a man who has no ruler but his own strong will, which he enforces under the light definition of caprice, and in the culprit all that is in any way interesting is that, like the young minister in “Judah,” from the moment he commits the crime, although an unbeliever, he has no rest, but hears for ever the voice of conscience ringing in his ears, and only obtains peace when he confesses and makes atonement through the punishment meted out to him. This last character is Fedor Ivanovitch. His sweetheart Liza is beguiled to Prince Zosimoff’s palace by Abramoff, who delivers to her a letter which he knows will bring about her ruin. Fedor discovers this and in his rage seizes the Jew by the throat and, without perhaps intending to do so, strangles him. A prey to  remorse, Fedor unwittingly gives Zosimoff the clue by which he can hunt out the murderer—he uses the knowledge gained, to force Anna into a marriage with him; he brings her to an adjoining room to that which Liza occupies that Anna may overhear her brother Fedor’s confession to the young girl that he wants to make his wife. Liza insists that, fallen as she is, she is unfit for him; he tries to prove that he is no better than she is by confessing that he is a murderer. When Fedor learns that Anna will sacrifice herself to a man that she abhors, to prevent him from giving her brother up to justice, he publicly owns to the crime and accepts the consequence in exile to Siberia. In a most improbable manner the author brings all his principal characters to that remote and inhospitable spot (even a young couple on their honeymoon trip). Retributive justice overtakes the Prince. He has followed Anna (to carry out his now shameful designs upon her) but finds that by an “order of the Czar” he is to be stripped of rank and riches and be sent to the mines; whilst Fedor is pardoned and restored to society for having saved the governor Snaminski’s life. Liza is made happy in Fedor’s repentance, for it is she who has first pointed out to him that it was only by confession that he could make his peace with Heaven; and Anna is supposed to marry her lover Alexis. Passing over such a glaring mistake as the rites of the Greek Church being performed in Russia, of all places, over a Jew, there was a fearful waste of words throughout the play, which was prolonged to an inordinate length (later it took nearly one hour less in performance through judicious   excision), and the interest was in a great measure lost. It is pleasant to pass from the shortcomings of the play to the excellence of the acting. Miss Wallis, with rare self-denial in a manageress, did not take to herself the best part, but as Anna increased her reputation by her power in depicting agony of mind, and tenderness and affection towards her lover and brother. Miss E. Robins (who is more the heroine) was very sympathetic as the betrayed Liza. The confession of outrage inflicted on her was most delicately conveyed. Mr. Lewis Waller, had a very trying part, as Fedor, and made a distinct advance by his exhibition of remorse, and the workings of a troubled conscience. Mr. Herbert Waring was almost grand in his villainy; it was so thoroughly consistent throughout, and was shown with such quiet force. Miss Marion Lea played the hoyden well, and brightened up the play a little, as did Mr. William Herbert as her lover, and M. Marius as a police official. A good little bit of character acting was that of Mr. Ivan Watson, as a deaf and decrepit general. Miss Maud Brennan and Miss J. St. Ange, were also pleasant in their respective characters. The play was splendidly mounted, and it was not Miss Wallis’s fault, or that of her company, that it was not accepted as a success.



The Era (1 November, 1890)


     We sincerely trust that the new departure recently inaugurated by Miss WALLIS at the Shaftesbury Theatre will not be followed by other London managers and manageresses. The practice has about it something feminine and feline which commends it not. The velvet paw of the innocent query, “Do you like the play?” concealed the sharp claws which inflicted the scratch of the implied question, “What do you think of the critics who condemned it?” The wording of Miss WALLIS’S distributed circular was certainly adroit. The preamble was specially ingenious. Miss WALLIS said, alluding to The Sixth Commandment:—“Guided by the advice of the press, which unanimously condemned the play, another piece would have been instantly put in rehearsal, but for one consideration—the applause nightly and what seems very like appreciation of the play on the part of the public.” Miss WALLIS concluded her manifesto by a left-handed compliment to the critics, “whose time, consideration, and forbearance were severely taxed in an unusually long performance on the opening night.”
     On the evening of the 18th inst. Miss WALLIS, in pursuance of an intention announced in the previous week, put the question to the house, “Do you like the play?” The scene which followed is described as having been sufficiently absurd. The fair manageress was uproariously answered in the affirmative, and the naughty critics were contemptuously alluded to by most sweet voices from the popular parts of the house. Nobody was a whit the better or the worse for the incident, except the manageress who had departed from custom by an act of execrable taste. Miss WALLIS is no novice in theatrical business. Her acquaintance with the ways and manners of the British public is of no recent date. It is true that she acknowledged, in her circular, the alterations which had been made in the play since its production. But she must have known very well that, even supposing her audience to be composed of ordinary units, and not to be, to any extent, a “packed” assemblage, the question would have been taken as a challenge, and accepted as conveying an insinuation. If Miss WALLIS’S only reason had been to ascertain the favour of the public towards the piece, surely the amount of the applause bestowed upon the play nightly, or, still better, the receipts for the week, would have given her sufficient information as to the probability of the piece achieving an enduring success. The best test of the popularity of a drama is not the noise made by one particular audience, but the amount of money expended by the collective patronage of the general public during a period. Applause is very gratifying, but it will not pay salaries; and Miss WALLIS can scarcely intend to continue the run of The Sixth Commandment as long as the piece evokes applause, though it come from thin houses—half “paper.”
     Miss WALLIS invited the Press to pronounce judgment upon Mr BUCHANAN’S play. The critics came, saw, and gave their opinions in print. Miss WALLIS profited by their advice, and altered the piece according to their suggestions. The only logical action then to take would have been to invite the critics a second time, or, supposing it impossible to procure “second notices,” to be satisfied with having read detractions and put them to profit. The appeal to what was, in some sort, a special audience convened by a mysterious notice, was, indeed, so fallacious a test that it is difficult to believe that Miss WALLIS’S motive in making it was exactly that suggested by her circular. Like a lady’s letter, which contains the pith of its intention in its postscript, Miss WALLIS’S address bore its sting in its tail, and her deprecatory allusions to the critics were equally amusing and impertinent. Mr CLEMENT SCOTT has, we see, chosen to take them seriously.
     It is a mistake to suppose that the office and function of dramatic criticism is to predict the success or failure of theatrical speculations. In the case of those forms of entertainment which appeal plainly and avowedly to a crude and childish taste it is, perhaps, useless to do more than admit the success of the production, and commend the adroitness of the manufacturers. It is idle to examine into the ethics of a “carpentered” melodrama, or consider the congruity of a fashionable burlesque. But the mercenary spirit in the case of the dramatist is more often affected than genuine. Even that arch-cynic Mr W. S. GILBERT, lapped in luxury and rolling in wealth untold derived from opera librettoes, aspired to be the author of a sterling play; and discriminating and worthy praise is still felt by many to be an equivalent for a smaller allowance of solid padding in the way of percentages. To stimulate and encourage this feeling, and not to give a manager the “straight tip” as to the success of his speculation, is the higher function of dramatic criticism. There are theatres and audiences for all grades of dramatic work. The Shaftesbury Theatre, when Mr WILLARD handed it over to Miss  WALLIS, had acquired a certain prestige and reputation. Mr BUCHANAN, though he has seared his artistic conscience very deeply, is, as some of his works prove, a man of culture and education. The Sixth Commandment was not only crudely conceived, but carelessly constructed. The critics were right to apply the lash severely to this play, written by Mr BUCHANAN and produced at the Shaftesbury Theatre. They had a right to feel indignant that, with all the mental resources at the command of the author and all the financial resources at the command of the management, the length of the performance, even, had not been estimated, and that a great deal of the piece was not only conventional, but unworkmanlike and “scamped.” It might have been thought that, in the circumstances, a certain amount of humility would not have been out of place. When you get people to show you how to revise your work, it is but grateful to avoid slyly offensive action afterwards. However, of one thing Miss WALLIS may rest assured. The shouts of a convened assembly are not only without the least value as a test of the artistic merit of a play: they are equally useless as a gauge of its future profitability. Perhaps, however, the management of the Shaftesbury were “canny” enough after all. The oddity of the experiment of “question-asking” may have secured one good house at least for The Sixth Commandment in addition to the usual “first night” crush. However, we are not disposed to be too hard upon the lady, seeing that she is no sympathiser with the silly abuse levelled at the press by Mr ROBERT BUCHANAN.



The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News (1 November, 1890 - p.6)

     MR. BUCHANAN’S unfortunate habit of losing his temper enfeebles his powers of argument. He says with a mild attempt at satire that he fancies The Sixth Commandment is nearly as good as A Million of Money or Carmen Up to Data, which he declares were pronounced to be quite perfect by the critics. Whether the critics went so far as this I do not know, but it seems most improbable. The fact, however, is that both the Drury Lane drama and the Gaiety burlesque fulfil requirements. In the first, what is demanded is a realisation on the stage of incidents from real life, and though I have not seen the piece myself, I can well credit the popular opinion that this sort of thing could not be more effectually managed than it is by Mr. Augustus Harris. Carmen Up to Data is designed upon lines calculated to please the frequenters of Mr. George Edwardes’s theatre. What he wants is a species of variety entertainment, and here he has it—excellent of its kind: bright and really pretty dresses, good dancing, taking music, and a greater or less share of burlesque and humour. Both are good in their way, but Mr. Buchanan’s way is supposed to be the artistic, the genuinely dramatic, and in this way The Sixth Commandment is not good.



Gloucester Journal (1 November, 1890 - p.5)

     As Mrs. Lancaster-Wallis adopted the strange expedient of appealing from the adverse but honest verdict of the critics to the voice of a Saturday night audience as to the merit of Mr. Robert Buchanan’s awful play, “The Sixth Commandment,” at the Shaftesbury, she has had to pay the penalty of her rashness, for of course after obtaining a “favourable popular verdict” there was nothing to do but to go on playing the piece, regardless of sordid considerations of profit and loss. As a good deal has been cut out, the play is presumably less dreadful than at first, but I have not been bold enough to venture a second visit, and the impressions left by the first were duly recorded. There has been considerable ink-shedding about this dreary business—notably a conceited epistle from Mr. Clement Scott, who regards himself as the embodiment of dramatic criticism, because he writes flatulent notices for the Daily Telegraph, and a truculent rejoinder from Mr. Buchanan, the playwright, who respects critics when they happen to praise him, but otherwise regards them as insignificant persons arrogantly airing their own individual opinions. The modest playgoer who simply tries to explain when and why he is pleased or the reverse, is not much concerned with these whirlwinds and counterblasts of blatant notorieties.



The Dundee Advertiser (1 November, 1890 - p.5)

     Mr Robert Buchanan has an insatiate stomach for “fechtin’,” his latest encounter being with Miss Wallis, of the Shaftesbury Theatre, where Mr Buchanan’s play, “The Sixth Commandment,” is now running. The other night Miss Wallis asked the opinion of the audience about the play, a course of conduct which was generally condemned by the press. Mr Buchanan, it appears, has declared that he knew nothing about this, but Miss Wallis says he did, and that he came to the Theatre on purpose to hear the verdict of the public. The lady is very angry, and asks indignantly if her word is not as good as Mr Buchanan’s. The author of “The Sixth Commandment” further says that his play remains as he wrote it. Miss Wallis says it has been shortened by 40 minutes. We have not heard the last of this set-to.



Ally Sloper’s Half Holiday (1 November, 1890 - p.6)

     To judge from the hearty affirmative which the audience gave to Miss Wallis’ question as to whether they liked the play, and desired that ti should be continued; the Sixth Commandment has weathered the storm which beset it at the outset of its voyage, and it now sails bravely before the wind of public appreciation. The author, Mr. Robert Buchanan, has made many alterations for the better, and the piece now plays much closer than at first. To those lovers of sensational Russian stories, flavoured with Nihilists, secret police, and Siberia, the Sixth Commandment will prove vastly interesting. Messrs. Lewis Waller, Herbert Waring, Mon. Marius, Miss Wallis, Miss Marion Lea, and, indeed, all concerned, work well for the success of the production.



The Dundee Evening Telegraph (7 November, 1890 - p.3)


     In spite of the favourable answer given to Miss Wallis’s question whether or not she should continue to run “The Sixth Commandment” at the Shaftesbury Theatre, sentence of death has been pronounced upon it. In a few days it will be succeeded by a new piece, written by Mr Malcolm Watson, with the construction of which Miss Wallis herself has had something to do. Of the four plays by Mr Robert Buchanan which were all running at one time in London a few months ago one has been withdrawn as a failure; a second—“The Sixth Commandment”—will follow it into the limbo of forgetfulness almost immediately; a third—“Sweet Nancy”—is maintaining a precarious struggle at the Royalty; while the fourth—“The English Rose”—which has Mr Sims’ name attached to it as well as Mr Buchanan’s, is the only one that is doing really good business.



The Entr’acte (8 November, 1890 - pp. 4-5)

     “The Sixth Commandment” is a heavy piece, but it is decidedly interesting, and in some respects admirably acted. A better villain that Mr. Herbert Waring has not dawned upon us since Mr. Willard first gave us the light of his countenance. Miss Robins acts very nicely and conscientiously, and Miss Marion Lee, in a part of light texture, makes good use of her opportunities; while this may also be said of Mr. W. Herbert, who, I suppose, may now be said to be a practised hand. A dolorous type of part is that allotted to Mr. Lewis Waller, and it may be said that he keeps it down to a very low, monotonous tone. But Mr. Waller is a good actor, and at the point where he confesses his guilt he is very impressive and most able. Mrs. Lancaster-Wallis’s part is one which does not fit her. This worthy lady is seen to best advantage when she has some declamatory work to do; but there is no employment of this kind for her in “The Sixth Commandment,” a piece which, despite the relief given now and then by Messrs. Marius and Herbert and Miss Lee, is unquestionably heavy.

     Mrs. Lancaster-Wallis was guilty of a mistake in making excuses for “The Sixth Commandment;” this part of the business, if considered needful, might have been left to the author, Mr. Buchanan, who presumably does not need the championing of a lady. Especially exasperating to Mrs. Lancaster-Wallis must be Mr. Buchanan’s disavowal of the lady’s procedure, an act which, I should imagine, would be calculated to strain the relations existing between manageress and author.

     The merits and demerits of “The Sixth Commandment” were presumably appraised on the night of production, and the piece was condemned. Mrs. Lancaster-Wallis would have done well to accept the situation, bitter as was the pill, and not spend money in patching up a drama that had been voted distasteful. Special pleading availeth nothing after the verdict has been given. Excuses have been made for “The Sixth Commandment,” but these have not saved it, and the piece is to be withdrawn as soon as convenient.

     The dramas that have “caught on” so resolutely at the Adelphi from time to time have contained a goodly proportion of comedy, but this element is relatively absent in “The Sixth Commandment.” In “The English Rose” we have of course the sorely tried and virtuous hero, but we also have lots of fun; and Messrs. Rignold and Shine are just as necessary to the structure as Messrs. Boyne and Thalberg.



Brooklyn Eagle (9 November, 1890 - p.13)

     Robert Buchanan’s new play, “The Sixth Commandment,” must be about as bad as some of his old plays, to judge from Figaro, for according to that authority it is “notable for the exceeding feebleness and foolishness of its first act, and the almost unrelieved and dreadfully depressive gloom which reigns supreme through the course of the long and tedious action which fills up the many acts in which the piece abounds.”



The Derby Daily Telegraph (10 November, 1890 - p.2)


     By public vote Mr. Robert Buchanan’s new drama, “The Sixth Commandment,” produced recently at the Shaftesbury Theatre by Mrs. Wallis Lancaster, has been dubbed a failure, and after a comparatively brief run it is to be withdrawn in favour of a new three-act original play, “The Pharisee,” by Mr. Malcolm Watson and Mrs. Wallis Lancaster, which will see the light on Monday evening next. The new play does not depend upon elaborate scenic effect, as each of the three acts is played in one scene. The part of the hero will be undertaken by Mr. Herbert Waring, who so specially distinguished himself in “The Sixth Commandment,” and that of the heroine, of course, by Mrs. Wallis Lancaster, while a very strong cast will include the names of Mr. Lewis Waller, M. Marius, Mr. Beauchamp, Mr. H. Esmond, Mr. Herberte Basing, Miss Sophie Larkin, Miss Marion Lee, and little Minnie Terry.



The Graphic (15 November 1890 - p.19)

     It is understood that the new play at the SHAFTESBURY will present the problem of Mr. Pinero’s Profligate, with the exception that the hero and heroine will be found to have executed a sort of chassez-croissez. In The Profligate it was the husband who had concealed his ante-nuptial peccadilloes; in The Pharisee it is the wife. If current gossip can be trusted, however, the authors of the Shaftesbury play have had the courage to present the pharisaic husband as inflexible. If so the happy ending, which is supposed to be so much cherished by English playgoers, will be necessarily wanting. The cast is a strong one, including, as it does, besides the lady named, Mr. Marius, Mr. Waring, Miss Sophie Larkin, Miss Marion Lea, Mr. William Herbert, Miss E. Robins, and that clever child-actress Miss Minnie Terry.
     The new fashion of asking audiences whether a play should go on or be withdrawn does not seem likely to extend. Mrs. Lancaster Wallis tried it the other night with a Saturday night audience at the SHAFTESBURY, and nothing could be more encouraging than the result of her informal plébiscite. Yet somehow Mr. Robert Buchanan’s drama of Russian life has not “gone on.” On the contrary, The Sixth Commandment has just been withdrawn after a month’s trial. On Monday its place will be taken by The Pharisee, already referred to.



The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News (15 November, 1890 - p.6)

     AND so there is to be a new play—and I hope it will be a good one—at the Shaftesbury on Monday! Miss Wallis has been able to ascertain the precise value of an appeal to the audience, and it is now abundantly evident that the paying public fully confirmed the opinion of the critics, that Mr. Buchanan’s Sixth Commandment was a very bad play. For once the critics are certainly justified. As for the appeal, when a lady so popular and justly respected asks her audience a question, what can they say but just what they know she wishes? Of course they declared that they liked the piece, and advised her to continue it, and now she knows what advice given under such conditions is worth. Critics are not better as a class than other people, and an isolated writer may show prejudice or favouritism; but when with unanimous voice the papers all say that a play is dull and disagreeable, the chances are that it is so.



The Illustrated London News (15 November, 1890 - p.6)

[Note: The following article by Clement Scott mentions Buchanan and The Sixth Commandment.]


[A couple of additional notes:

1. The Sixth Commandment lasted a month at the Shaftesbury Theatre and, as far as I know, was never performed again. I was happy to dismiss it as one of Buchanan’s obvious mistakes, his mangling of Crime and Punishment into a melodrama quite rightly consigned to oblivion. However, if you can read German (which, unfortunately, I can’t) you might be interested in a modern view of the play in Sigrid Handel’s 2013 PhD. thesis, Populäres Drama, literarisches Feld und Intertextualität – Robert W. Buchanans Adaptionen für das viktorianische Theater (Popular Drama, the Literary Field and Intertextuality – Robert W. Buchanan’s Adaptations for the Victorian Theatre) which is available online. The section on the play does include the following extract - part of the romantic sub-plot between the English attaché, Arthur Merrion (played by William Herbert) and Sophia (Marion Lea) - which I thought I'd include here. I thought it was quite sweet.

Sophia: Are you a coward?
Merrion: Yes – it’s constitutional.
Sophia: I don’t believe it.
Merrion: You don’t believe it’s constitutional?
Sophia: I don’t believe that you’re such a coward as you pretend.
Merion: Feel my pulse. (Offers wrist –she laughs and feels his pulse)
Sophia: It’s galloping.
Merrion: That’s because I’m frightened.
Sophia: Nonsense –of the General?
Merrion: The hero of Sebastopol. […]
Sophia: I’ll sit down by your side and torment you.
Merrion: Do. I should like that. […]
Sophia: You know I like you very much.
Merrion: (Smiling) I know you do.
Sophia: What! you abominable conceited –(Laughs) Ha, ha, ha! Of all the ways of making love, I ever heard of, yours is the most ridiculous.
Merrion: True, but it’s the way I find effective!
Sophia: What do you imply –
Merrion: Nothing! (Kisses her suddenly)
Sophia: What! you – you kissed me!
Merrion: I did. (Dryly) Shall I do it again?
Sophia: If you dare. (Merrion kisses her) […] I forgive you! but you’re not really an icicle, are you?
Merrion: (Smiling) Feel my pulse.

2. Googling around for The Sixth Commandment I came across this page on a comics site which gives some fascinating background information on Mrs. Lancaster-Wallis.]



Next: Marmion (1891)

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