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"THE EXAMINER OF PLAYS."
To the Editor of The Daily News.
SIR, – Mr. Donne has, on three occasions, taken objection to passages in my plays. As I consider that I am quite as well qualified to judge of what is fit for the ears of a theatrical audience as he can be, I have systematically declined to take the slightest notice of his instructions. From my experience of the nature of Mr. Donne’s exceptions, I have gathered the following facts:– 1. An actor may "curse" as freely as he pleases; but he may not "damn" under any provocation. 2. He may say, "Heaven forbid that I should stand in my Pip’s way," but he may not say "Lord forbid that I should stand in my Pip’s way." 3. He may not use the German word "sakrament," because it resembles the English word "sacrament." I may have done Mr. Donne an injustice, but I have always accounted for his objections on the theory that the existence of his office depends on his showing that it is of some practical value, and if he is unable to "return" a satisfactory number of revisions, the Censorship of Plays will run some risk of abolition. I have no particular desire to bring about this catastrophe, but at the same time I am unwilling that it should be averted at my expense.
[This letter was also printed in The Orchestra where it was preceded by the following comment: "Mr. Charles Millward has written to the papers in defence of the Censorship. He has written between thirty and forty pantomimes and never had a line expunged. He maintains that the Censor only intervenes in cases of extreme offensiveness. The best commentary on this assertion is Mr. W.S. Gilbert’s experience as follows. If there is a careful and pure writer on dramatic literature it is certainly Mr. Gilbert. Yet even he is handled thus: – "]
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