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A battle is raging round the morals of the London music-halls. The Bishops of London and Kensington are conducting a vigorous campaign for' a higher moral tone. An equally vigorous defence is made by the supporters of music-hall performances as they now are. A special commissioner was appointed by the " Daily Mail " to investigate the whole question in the public interest/ • , The question was first raised by the protests of the clergy against the recent performances of : Mdlle. Gaby. Deslys at the Palace Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue. Mr Bernard Shaw wrote to the " Times " denouncing;any clerical or other censorship of the stage. The Bishop of Kensington, in his reply, quoted " Das Programm," " the recognised organ of the ■'music-hall profession on the Continent," to ,show that the clergy are not alone in their dislike of the tone- of music-hall performances.

" Das ; Programm " , declares' that these London performances show "a decadent strain," and include "animal posturing" and " passionate exuberance." " Each and every show," it adds, "is actuated by one _ object— which con produce some item in it that can outdo the other%", in the way of " daringness." "I could iise with greatest truth," adds the writer, "a word far more expressive, but forbidden by the laws of good taste." Mr Alfred Butt, the managing director) of the Palace Theatre, has written a hot reply to .the Bishop of Kensington's criticism of Mile. Deslys's perr formance, in which he states that the directors '©f the Palace Theatre will take action if there be any further reiteration of the statements that obje^tionable matter was introduced into Mile. Deslys's sketch " A la Carte" after its first performances.

"To Secure a Cleaner London." In conversation .with the " Daily Mail" special commissioner, the Bishop of London said : — "I am very glad indeed that■ the ' Daily Mail ' has taken up this matter of stage morality. It .must be understood that it is in no spirit of prudery that I and the Bishop of Kensington have been acting. But we and all right-minded people in London are determined to prevent in a -nominally Christian city a spirit which can only lead -t6 the degradation of ■ its inhabitants. * Our single object is to secure a cleaner London, for the generation to which we belong as well as for the generation which is to follow us." The Bishop of Kensington said: —

"It is not a lonely furrow we are ploughing. We Have a great mass of people behind us, thankful for our. lead. We are not going to drop this. We are going on, and we are expecting both the public, and ths -P.ress to back US, Up." ■■ "•■■ ' ' ';. '' >/'"■ ' "' The "Daily Mail " commissioner writes as follows with reference to his special tour of the various music halls: "The night before last I went to the New Middlesex Theatre; of. Varieties. I had been told that the performance was very clever, bright, and light, with true French vivacity, but undoubtedly risque here and there. Well, I went to see for myself, in order that I might judge for myself, and I.found that what had been told me was really true. But there was this great blot upon the whole performance—that two situations were presented of* an objectionable character.

"I allude to the perambulation of the 'Love Patrol,' a group of five ladies, of marked physique, whose costume from neck to foot was nothing but a suit of grey tights, and whose appearance at once gave rise to an outburst of sniggering of an unmistakable character. And, secondly, I refer to the scene where a- lady brought before a magistrate suddenly flings off _a voluminous wrap to reveal that she is only clothed in her stays and a diminutive pair of pantaloons. , "In my'judgment, the attractivenessof the whole revue was damaged by such unnecessary arid superfluous incidents as these. They seemed to me to be essentially suggestive and unseemly, and quite contrary to the spirit in which your average Englishman seeks his evening recreation.

Satisfactory Verdict. " With one or two doubtful exceptions, the music halls are at the present moment providing the public with programmes which may be described as satisfactory and clean. In only a few cases are there instances of productions which can be regarded as objectionable. ; :' " Taking, howeverj these entertainments as a, whole, the average Londoner who goes with his wife and children to the music halls will find nothing to cause him regret for having patronised them."

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Bibliographic details

MUSIC-HALL MORALS., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIII, Issue 8793, 13 February 1914

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MUSIC-HALL MORALS. Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIII, Issue 8793, 13 February 1914

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