英日対訳:トーマス・ビーチャム自叙伝「A Mingled Chime」第21章(1/2)「サロメ」上演のエピソード








To the foreigner the principal charm of England is its odd mixture of sprightly modern resource and stately mediaeval lumber. In most countries when a custom outwears its use it is abolished; with us hardly ever, even though it be quite obsolete or has long been crying out for reform. But no one can do anything about it, for a mysterious force, almost an occult influence creeps insidiously through the body politic and social to head us away from the folly and danger of change. We become ashamed of our seriousness and falter in our determination to make wrong things right, nor does it matter in the least that our conservatism is not only an inconvenience to ourselves but the object of ridicule to others. We have a sneaking affection for the one and an open contempt for the other, and abuses or absurdities that would make some nations blush for shame and others rush to the barricades we endure cheerfully for the sole reason they are our own, just as some parents delight to protect and indulge the weakly among their offspring.  




A few years before the war a certain German envoy to our shores, whose particular bee in the bonnet was Communism, fired off one evening at a dinner table a harangue in the best style of Third Reich oratory about the activities of some of its British followers, who incidentally are a mere fraction of our population. A well-known politician who was present listened for a while in polite silence and then interrupted the stream of eloquence by observing dryly, "I think, Herr X, you might remember that they are after all our Communists.'"  




One of our most characteristic institutions is the Censorship, which functions as the watch dog of decency over all that touches the drama, literature, painting, or any other art, easily the most difficult and delicate duty to fulfill in the world. I am no advocate either for or against it, and I shrink from expressing an opinion on the theory of some of our thinkers past and present that to the average Englishman there clings a vestige of the old Adamic taint that stands in need of constant repression. But that his rulers have a concern for his spiritual health as well as a rigid belief in the perpetual adolescence of his mentality, is sufficiently evidenced by their assumption of a paternal authority which none elsewhere care or dare to exercise over their own citizens.  




The history of the stage is full of episodes which illustrate the manifold workings of the censorial mind but few, I think, have been more closely linked with the true spirit of comedy than that of Salome, and some weeks after my conversation with the Prime Minister, in which he promised to look into the matter of the ban upon it, I received an invitation to present myself at St. James’s Palace, where I was received by the Lord Chamberlain and his second in command. Sir Douglas Dawson. These gentlemen informed me that their refusal to grant a license was due in no way to personal prejudice, but to the huge volume of letters they had received from every comer of the country protesting against the appearance on the stage of a sacred character. Saint John the Baptist. I at once pointed out that Samson and Dalilah had been given now for many years in London although it labored under a similar disadvantage; but the Lord Chamberlain, who had undoubtedly been waiting for this obvious rejoinder, caught me up quickly with “There is a difference, a very great difference; in one case it is the Old Testament and in the other, the New.”  




Here followed a lengthy dissertation on this important distinction, punctuated by a wealth of doctrinal example of which I, although severely brought up in the bosom of the Church of England, had hitherto been ignorant, and the conversation, which had gradually taken on the tone of an elaborate theological debate. had to be diverted once more into the terrestrial channel of the theater by the third member of the party.  




“But we think we have found a way out,” he interpolated. “There is no doubt that there are many people who want to see ;this work, and it is the view of the Prime Minister that subject to the proper safeguards we should do everything we can to enable you to give it. Now if you will consent to certain modifications of the text likely to disarm the scruples of the devout, it would help us to reconsider our decision.”  




I could offer no objection to what seemed at first hearing a quite reasonable suggestion, and inquired how he proposed to get to work on the task; to which he replied that both he and the Lord Chamberlain were prepared to give their personal attention to it if I would do the same. I agreed without hesitation, and we arranged for an early conference at which Salome would be trimmed so as to make it palatable to the taste of that large army  

of objectors who would never see it.  




The first thing we did was to eliminate the name of John, who was to be called simply The Prophet; and having invested him with this desirable anonymity, we went on to deprive every passage between him and Salome of the slightest force or meaning. The mundane and commonplace passion of the precocious princess was refined into a desire on her part for spiritual guidance, and the celebrated line at the end of the drama “If you had looked upon me you would have loved me” was transformed into “If you had looked upon me you would have blessed me.” It is only fair to say that my collaborators in this joyous piece of nonsense were, in spite of their outward gravity, as exhilarated as myself; for we all of us alike felt that we were making a solemn sacrifice on the altar of an unknovra but truly national god.