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England's Brilliant Social Philosopher and g||\ Playwright Explains in the April Cosmopolitan Magazine How Much Easier It Is to Write a Novel Than a Play jT/* ^ // ? "He turned and saw Macduff there, glaring ( at him." By George Bernard Shaw In The APRIL COSMOPOLITAN MAGAZINE. IN a plf-astint little hook Arnold Bennett talks shop and drhits harmless torh about technique for the entertainment of literary amateurs in a very agreeable and suggestive manner, as he has every right to <i<\ I if inf." so distinguished a master of the craft. But wh< n 1 found the words. "Onn reason why a play i.s easier to write than a novel"? 1 need have read no further. ] <ii 1 not want to know "one reason" for .o outragcou a j.of novelist's hlutf. But the Impetus of my rending carried tne on, in spite of the Fhock, and so I learned that this one reason is "that ? play is shorter than a novel." 1? is, and so is the HiMo short r than the London Directory. "Excuse the length of my !? tt? r." said Pascal, "1 had no time to write a .-hort one." I Now, 1 am not going to argue. 1 never do. I will iust take one of the shortest, most intense and most famous scenes in English dramatic literature and rewrite it as a chapter ot" a novel in the style of my friends Bennett and Wells and Galsworthy when they ;<ro too laxv to write plays. It is the scene from Shakespeare's "Macbeth" in the fifth act beginning with the lines "Why should I play the Roman fool,' and ending with "lirst cries hold enough!" M ACBITil. ? A Novel, by Anybody. The Last ; < * 11 it} ?1 ??!?. P !1? was to fail, after all. then. The day was grting against liitn. His men were not really lighting. They had conveyed to old Siward that they were open to an offer of quarter; and the hint had ntf been lost on that ancient campaigner, whose son ho had just slain. } What v.as the use of killing? Duncan, Banquo, the Maednff people! IP- had waded through their blood: and how much better would it not he if it were all a ? dream and they were alive ami kind to him? u How the martens were singing! Banquo, always a ? bit of a fool, had been sentimental about the martens. ! <',ruacb. the dear, dead wife whom the Southrons per | sisted in calling Lady Macbeth, had argued with Ban quo about them, telling him that their habits were in J sanitary, and that they were infested with small hugs 1 which toi into the castle, already too rich in insect i life. But Duncan had agreed with Banquo; and when j <!ruach became queen, she would not let the martens' nests be broken down, being anxious to copy Duncan's tastes in every way, lest any one should say that she did not know how kings lived. And so the martens | were singing, singing, always singing when they were i not fly catching. It came to hint, with a twist at (he heart, that he had ; never told Gruach the truth about Banquo. He had J left her to believe that he had killed him because the ! -witches had foretold that his posterity should be kings. I But the real reason was that Banquo had given himself [ moral airs. That is hard to bear at any time; but when you are within ten minutes of committing a murder, it j is insufferable. Morality was easy for a man who did not. intend to do anything; but a man of action could ; not stand on scruples. These idle thanes who sat ; down on their little patrimonies and had no ambition? ' they had invented this moral twaddle to excuse their laziness. j What an exquisite morning it was! Was there any thing so blue as a blue sky, anything so white as a white cloud, any gold so golden as the gold of the gorse? l-'rom the summit of Dunsinane he could see , almost to the Roman wall on the south, and to the , Forth Bridge on the north. The wind hud backed a j little to the north; perhaps it would rain later. I But no such foreboding troubled the wood-pigeon . that now called lo him, "Tak two coos, Taffy; tak two coos. Taffy." lie smiled grimly. He had taken, from [ first to last, not Jess than two thousand coos; aud this | funny bird kept, on exhorting him to tako two. And Syet he did not throw a stone at it, as ho once would have done. I? seemed .t 1! so useless. You strove ami strove, an<l killed and killed, and' made Journeys to consult witches; and at the end of it all the wood pigeon had no more to say to you than before; and the sky was no bluer, the cloud no whiter, the whins no yellower. Curse the sky! Curse the whins! Doubly damn the wood-pigeon! Why not make an eml of it, like the Roman fool at I'hilippi?' lie stood his claymore on its hilt on the flag and bent over the point. .Inst to lean on it. and let it go through him: then the wood pigeon might coo itself (dark in the fare: Macbeth would he at rest with huncan. Where had he heard about I'hilippi? it se< jned un likely that he could have learned Roman history; and yet he found tha' lie did know. Do men know every thing he fore death" 11 *? shuddered. Strange that he. who rather enjoyed killing other people, should feel an intense repug nanee to kill Jiirnself' Besides, there was an advantage in sui cide that no thrifty Scot would waste. You could kill as many people as you liked first, with out considering the conse quences. He would, please God. spit a few mote of his enemies on that sword before his own turn came. He tossed it into the air by the point and caught the hilt as it eame down, lie no longer heard th? wood-pigeon. And yet. what was that'.' Had the wood-pigeon called him a hell-hound? II" turned and saw Macduff there, be tween him and the sun, elat ing at. him. If the sun had been in his eyes, he could not have Blared. It was clever of him to cotne that way and get the advantage of the sun. Macduff! Yes, .Macduff - the man of whom the spirit called up by the witches had bade .him beware the man whose wife and child he had .-laughtered. Could he blame him for glaring? Would not any man glare after such an experience? Macduff had stopped to sharpen his claymore on the flags, lie was squatting down in an attitude which brought his bony knees into promi nence just below his kilt, and drawing his blade to and fro with a harsh, rhythmical grat ing on the granite. By the mere instinct of imitation. Macbeth did the same. His knees were fleshier, and it was harder for him to stoop; but he did it. It was never easy for u king to stoop, but fate will have it so sometimes Now there were two blades scraping. ? The birds stopped ON 10 of llu' most brilliantly amusing articles ever written by tJeorge Her nard Shaw appears in the Cosmopolitan Magazine for April. .Mr. Shaw by rewriting a scene of Shakespeare's Mac beth sets himself the task of proving how much easier it is to write a novel than it is to w rite a play. Mr. Shaw's delightful essay is reprinted here l?\ courtesy of the Cosmopolitan Magazine. 'The innocent blunder gave him an impulse to untimely laughter." singing, and listened in astonished, suspicious silence. On'\ a jav lnughed. Macbeth licard it. Something stirred in liiin. ami distorted lu's 1 ipt into a grin. It seemed lo him that he s i*l'! iily opened ,i boolc that lia<l always lien (1 to hiui. W'lien Oruach was dying, he had asked ilie tit?? tor for some physic for the mind: and the doctor had failed him. Then ho had asked the porter, because h<* had noticed that the porter, alone among all the men of his acquaintance, was light-hearted, and would laugh, even when nohodv was being hurt or ridiculed, and sebmed to despise ambition. And the porter had told iiiin that life is not so bad if you Old Si ward had nailed the porter to the door that morn ing. hecausc he refused to open it to the enemy. Did iio see thi> fun of that, Macbeth won dered ? <? Yet here, as he s<iuatted be fore Macduff, anil they both sharpened their blades on the tlaas, a deep sense of some thing laughable in the situation touched him, though, God knows, there was nothing to laugh at if the warning witches were trustworthy. The spiri* had said tiiat no man born of woman should harm Macbeth, t hat seemed pretty conclusive. Mut they had also said that ho would not be vanquished until Itirnam Wood came to I Minsiuane. That also seemed conclusive; vet the thing had happened; he had seen the wood walking. lie decided to give Macduff a ha nee. lie was tired of killing people 9named .Macduff. He said so. lie advised Macduff to co away. Macduff tried to speak, gulped, and came on. His voice was in his sword. Macbeth was not afraid. thou;.'h he knew lie was not the man he had been, lie had drunk heavily since he had seized the throne; the Scots expected that from a king. Hut he could lulu as well as over for forty-live seconds; and try to .net in his dirk some where. After all. Macduff was no teetotaler, if one might judge by his nose, which was red and swollen. Only, tli?? doubt < ame; was the redness and the swelling from drink or from weeping over his slaughtered family? Willi that thought came Macduff's first blow a feint, followed by a vicious thrust at the groin. Macbeth was quick enough to drop his targe and stop the thrust, even while he guarded the blow did not come. "He could fight as well as ever for forty-five seconds, and I hen he could clinch and try to tjct in his dirk somewhere." i * i \ Copyright, lfUG. by tho Star Comr?any. Great Britain Rights Reserved. "Macduff had stooped to sharpen his claymor? on the flags." That reassured him and took some of the bounce nut of Macduff. He was equally successful the next time, and the next. He became elated. At last his pride in his charmed life sot the better of his prudence. He told Macduff that he was losing his labor, and told him why. The effect was exactly the contrary of what ho had anticipated. A gleam of savage delight came into Macduff's eyes. What did it mean? Macbeth was not left long in doubt. He stood petrified while a tale poured from Macduff's lips such as had never before blasted the oars of mortal man. it cannot be repeated here?there is such a thing as the library censorship. Let it, suffice that it wan a tale of the rude but efficient obstetric surgery of those ancient times, and that it established, beyond all ques tion. the. fact that Macduff had never been born. After that, Macbeth felt that he simply could not iinht with him. It was not that ho was afraid, even now. N'or was it that he was utterly disgusted at the way the witches had let him down again, lie just, could not bring himself to back at. a man who was not natural. It. was like trying to eat. a. cat. He flatly refused further combat. Of course, Macduff called him coward. He did not mind that so much; for he had given his proofs, and nobody would believe Macduff: nor, indeed, would any reasonable man expect him to tight an unborn adversary, lint. Macduft hinted at unbearable things. At defeat, disgrace, the pillory, even. . A surge of wrath went through Macbeth. He wan. above all things, a country gentleman: and that an other country gentleman should move his timber with out acquiring any rights infuriated him. lie became reckles.- Hirnam Wood- his wood- -had lieen taken to Dnnsinane! Was that, a thing ho could be ex pected t<i stand? What though Macduff had not been properly born? Was it not all the more likely that be. had a weak constitution and could not stick it out if he were pressed hard in the light? Anyhow, Macbeth would try. He braced himself, grasped his claymore power fully, thrust his shield under the chin of his ad versary. and cried. "Lay on, Macduff!" lie could not have chosen a more unfortunate form of defiance. When the news had come to Macduff of the slaughter of his wife and boy. he had astonished the messenger by exclaiming: "What! All my pretty chickens and their dam at one fell swoop!" Ac customed from his earliest youth to deal with horses, he knew hardly anything of poultry, which wan a woman's business. When he used the word "dam." properly applicable only to a mare, in referring to a hen. Malcolm, though deeply moved by his distress, had a narrow escape from a fit of hysterics; for th*> innocent blunder gave him an impulse to untimely laughter. The story had been repeated: and something of it had come to Macduff's ears, lie was a highly strung man. exquisitely sensitive to ridicule. Since that lime, the slightest allusion to chickens bad driven him to transports of fury. At the words, "Lay on!" ho saw red. Macbeth, from the instant those fatal words passed his lips, had not a dog's chance. In any case, he would not have been ready to meet a sudden attack. All his life he had been subject to a strange discursiveness which sent his mind wander ing to the landscape, and to the fauna and flora of the district, at the most exciting crises of his fate. When he meant to tell Cruach that he had ar ranged to have Itauquo killed, he had said to her. in stead. "Light thickens; and the crow makes wing to the rooky wood." And bis attention had strayed to the wood-pigeon when Macduff's yell of fury split hi-, ears. and. at the same moment, he felt bis foe's teeth close through his nose and his foe's dirk drive through his ribs. When Malcolm arrived, there was little left of Macbeth hut a pile of mince. Macduff was panting. "That will teach him." be said, and stopped, ex sufflicate. They laid Macbeth beside (irunch in Clod's quiet acre in the little churchyard of Dnnsinane. Malcolm erected a handsome tomb there, for the credit of the institution of kingship: and the epitaph, all things considered, was not unhandsome. There was no re proach in it. no vain bitterness. It said that he had "succeeded I hincan." I'lie birds are still singing on Duusinaue. The wood-pigeon still coos about the coos; and Malcolm takes them frankl> and generously, it is not fot u.i to judge him, or to judge Macbeth. Macbeth wat born before his time. Men call him a villain; but had the press existed in his time, a very trifling pecuniary sacrifice ?>n his part would have made a hero of him. And, t?? do him jn.-tice, he was never stingy. Well! Well! T1IK K.\l>. There! That :?* what is called novel-writing! I raise no idle question as to whether it is easy or not. Hut that sort of thing I can write by the hundred thousand words on ui\ head I believe that, if t turned my attention to mechanics for a month or two, 1 could make a typewriter attachment that would do it, like the calculating attachment that has lately come into use. The odd thing is that people seem to like it. They swallow it in doses of three hundred pages at a time; and they are not sit all keen on Shakespeare. Decidedly, when my faculties decay a little further, I shall go back to novel-writing. And Arnold Bennett can go back to writing plays.