It is but seldom that the newspapers get a chance to criticize a play written by a college professor, and when such a chance is given the most is made of it. This has been the case with the play of Prof. H. H. Boyesen, of Columbia. The fact that Prof. Boyesen, who is already well known in literature, should have ventured to write a play, seems to have been taker as a perfectly good excuse for all sorts of personal criticism of the author. Most of the criticisms of the play have been very favorable, whatever the critics may have said for the author. In commenting on the play, "Alpine Roses," the New York Times says:
"It is not often, at this time, that a distinctly literary man takes up his pen to write a play, a play meant for popularity. This is because literature has gone far astray of the stage, and in spite of the fact that the best literature is in the highest sense dramatic. The plays which are observed today are seldom, even in a crude fashion, literary. Sound literary spirit, nevertheless, adds force to a play. Action is not the one thing needed in a good drama. Thought, and the lucid expression of this thought are also needed in it. The emphasis which has been laid upon action and situation, however, has led the men of literature-the only real writers that we have-to let the stage take care of itself. The result, to say the least of it, is not agreeable. Our dramatists, counting them together, are a poor lot. One must turn to France to find a contemporary dramatist of the right kind. Augier, who is a master of plays, a thinker, and a master of style. Mr. Boyesen has been known to our public during several years, as an author-as a novelist, poet, and critic. It may fairly be said that he is an American author, though he is a Norwegian. His romances and stories have exhibited a sensitive mind, an observant sight, and bright fancy. "Gunnar" and the "Idyls of Norway" are fresh and genuine expressions of his nature. His first play "Alpine Roses," which was presented last evening with marked success at the Madison Square Theatre, is built upon one of his pathetic tales, and the tale has been skillfully amplified for the purpose of the stage. Nothing could be simpler than the story of "Alpine Roses," although the intrigue which runs through the play is not so simple. (Here follows a short account of the plot). This play offers a charming contrast between a frank and honest manner of life, and a life which is heartless, formal and shallow. The contrast is made skillfully. The characters in "Alpine Roses" are brightly shown. The scenes are coherent and interesting. The action, though a trifle slow in the second scene, is elsewhere quick and effective. The whole play awakens sympathy and pathos. Moreover, this work is picturesque and somewhat out of the common of theatrical incident."
We congratulate Prof. Boyesen on the success of his play, and bespeak for it a long run. That the stage is a legitimate and profitable field for the pens of the literary men of our time and country cannot be doubted, and any play, with real literary merit, as well as the merit of action, tends to raise the tone of the stage and thereby benefits society.