Responsive to all this widespread interest of the people at large, men and women all over the country are busied with the difficult art of the dramatist. In turn responsive to their needs, our colleges are developing courses in dramatic composition, though ten years ago not one existed. But to these playwrights comes sooner or later the question: “Shall I write so as surely to make money, but pandering to the lower artistic and moral taste of my public; or shall I keep to my inculcated and self-discovered standards of dramatic art till I win my public to them?” For the latter result there must be a considerable part of the public which so understands and loves the best of the drama of the past that it can quickly discover promise in the drama to-day. Out of the past come the standards for judging the present; standards in turn to be shaped by the practice of present-day dramatists into broader standards for the next generation. The drama possesses a great literature growing out of an eternal desire of the races. The drama is a great revealer of life. Potentially, it is a social educative force of the greatest possibilities, provided it be properly handled. You cannot annihilate it. Repressing it you bring its poorer qualities to the front. How, then, can any so-called educated man fail to try to understand it? But to understand it one must read closely, sympathetically, and above all widely.

For such results a collection like this must be but the fillip that creates a craving for more. Here is only a little of all the Elizabethan and Jacobean drama. Here it is possible to represent only by a few masterpieces the vast stores of the drama in France, Germany, England, Scandinavia, Italy, Spain, and Russia in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. To-day, English drama, with only a few exceptions better than any written since the seventeenth century, comes often to the stage. From month to month the drama is making history. In England and the United States to-day it is wonderfully alive, independent, ambitious, seeking new ways of expression on an infinite variety of subjects. Yet it is often crude, especially in this country. It will never know how crude till its public forces it to closer, finer thinking, more logical characterization, and stern avoidance of mere theatricality. Back of any such gains must stand a public with a love for the drama, gained not merely from seeing plays of to-day but from wide reading in the drama of different periods and different nations in the past.

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