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audience, not to be satisfied unless it feels rapidly borne to a definite goal. It requires the clear initial situation; and thereupon would either gratify its acute sense of logic by more or less sure prevision of the climax, or thrill in curiosity, suspense, surprise. And character, to suit these requirements, has to be reduced to consistency, and barely allowed growth and uncertainty. For the rest, the minor details of technique fare as they may. There is constant rebellion; in its turn the new procedure stiffens into convention; outworn expedients are discreetly revived as novelties. In brief, the dramatist must be the master of technique, and not allow it to master him.
And what of the Mours, the manners and moral tendencies which this Comedy presents ? The future historian will draw upon a rich store of information. But it is always to be remembered that art, as Goethe said, is precisely art because it is not reality. Dramatic art proceeds upon conditions. If it take the form of pure comedy, does not comedy assume throughout that all the world is more or less mad and plays the fool ? If it take that of the Comedy of Manners, of dramatic comedy, what is drama, action, but the accentuation, the necessary exaggeration, of whatever divides us and makes us suffer? Novel and drama alike thrive upon exceptional characters and cases. The more intense these are, the more painful; and pain in art is pleasurable. The audience seeks pleasure of tears, or of mingled tears and laughter. Further, it has no special desire to be edified; it is well content to be amused, or thrilled. Amused and thrilled, it has no care to consult the exact relations of actual life and the life presented on the stage. It freely accepts illusion, and for the time being is gladly released from the daily use and wont, from respectability and social restraint.
With such thoughts, and more of the like, one may approach the uneasy question of that which furnishes the larger half of French dramatic wares. Necessarily so; for one may remember that love and money gave Balzac his all-embracing programme. And first, of love. Critics, even dramatists, may now and then call for a sweeping change, the ridding of a theme overexplored, outworn. They may express resentment that
the dignity of the French woman is compromised at home and abroad, may urge the lesson of Augier, insisting on the sound and family life. But then the whole Gallic nation has delighted, from the time of the Fabliaux-writers, in ridiculing marriage. Even when moved to idealism, as Trouvères and Troubadours, they sharply separated marriage and love. It was not until the Restoration that marriage came to be regarded seriously. So, at least, it is stated, with smiles or regrets. There followed the lawless individualism of the Romanticists. Then, reacting against this reaction, Augier counselled honour and right discipline, and Dumas fils pressed for the possibility of divorce, that marriage might thus be set on the firmer footing. It was even supposed that, with divorce, the dramatist would be robbed of half his range. But what merely ensued upon the passage of the Nacquet law was that, while the material for dramatic conflict was enlarged, the marriage-breach was presented with unabating ingenuity. For a passing novelty, the question of pardon was set forth on the stage, and discussed. It had been raised already by the Romanticists; and the Russian literature of pity brought a new poignancy. But was not pardon mere weakness, or an insufferable arrogation of moral superiority? The question was dismissed ; and the new cry was for enlargement of the grounds for divorce. Whereupon the younger and youngest dramatists discovered that the true remedy lay in the concession of full equality between the sexes. Economic equality, free concubinage and free separation, the unhampered rights of passion and caprice and selfishness being secured, the ménage à trois—the veritable three unities of the drama-would disappear. But would not marriage itself also disappear, and the field of dramatic conflict be abridged? Before such question could well be asked, that of the child' was raised. Marriage was found necessary, even if unpalatable to some or many; and the drama escaped desuetude.
The programme of Balzac, of Dumas fils and Augier further included the conflicts due to finance and politics. Scandal following scandal, the dramatist freely plies the lash of satire. • Corrupting and corrupted' is the least charge laid upon the foul combination of politics and finance. For private men, busied in their quest of woman and wealth, irony serves sufficiently. With the aid of the dramatist, they betray themselves as trifling, worthless, incapable of effort, inconspicuous either for good or evil. And these characteristics are emphasised by the critics, who note the likeness of to-day and the times preceding the crash of the Great Revolution. There is the same easy scepticism, they say ; the same smiling nihilism, without the polish and elegance that once earned some slight condonation. The influence of the newer philosophy that would sever conduct from ethical considerations is also increasingly pervasive. Not that there is novelty in this, one might add ; strenuous and unscrupulous egoism dates from hoary antiquity. The forceful of to-day, pursuing self-interest, is but the fool after the latest pattern, and thereby the fit subject of comedy, which welcomes him, if only he is lively enough in his trips and falls upon the path of fancied happiness. Looked at closely, when the dramatist has given us him, he is but a variation of the beast of prey that Balzac presented. While one misses Balzac's constant insistence, as it were in an undertone, that religion is necessary, even if only for a curb and social safeguard. Yet, upon the boards, the priest may make his occasional entrance, as an instrument of drama. The politico-religious question could suggest Le Duel' of M. Donnay, or the two dramas of M. Trarieux and M. Paul-Hyacinthe Loyson which considered the case of the child when its parents are opposed in belief. To be dramatic, religion must be matter of strife. Once more, it has to be remembered that the stage is the mirror of life ; but also that its realism is dramatic, with all the limitations thus implied.
And what of French drama in the coming years ? That the present epoch of the Comedy of Manners is not nearing its end is sufficiently apparent in the fact that no books are written by way of retrospective and critical summary. Meanwhile the material for such piles itself up, in the plays themselves, and the criticism which attends the production or revival of them. Above are cited as specimens of such criticism the work of M. René Doumic, austere and incisive, the most authoritative successor of M. Brunetière; and of M. Henry Bordeaux the novelist, kindly, tolerant, but none the less intent to safeguard and promote traditional virtues. Lemaître's ten volumes, and the five of Faguet, make us but regret that they are not still more numerous. For the early years, Sarcey is indispensable, for all his limitations ; and J. J. Weiss is notable for charm of style and the interesting prejudices of his enthusiasm and his dislikes. M. Brisson brings us to the verge of the war.
Returning to the question, it may be remarked that many or most of these critics have been moved from time to time to discover the signs of a new epoch, but presently have withdrawn their prophecy. In truth, a new form of the drama would require a marked variation in the equilibrium of the various classes of society, or new and arresting syntheses of feeling and thought. The continuous commercialisation of the stage, the persistent mediocrity-shall we say ?-of the audience, are conditions also to be considered. War of itself brings no change, at least no speedy change. For victors and vanquished alike, ten or fifteen years had to elapse before the effects-mainly pessimistic-of the events in 1870-1 came into view. Preferably, one could wish for a coming era of poetic realism, for a sustained mood of high thought and feeling, vivid as was that of the Romanticism which followed upon the Napoleonic wars, but stable, less feverish and extravagant, touched to finer issues. But whatever its degree of poetry, it will almost certainly be an era of realism, or even with some touch of naturalism; for the French, with all their generous qualities, are also given to irony, as in fear to be the dupes of their own emotions. Or perchance, so elastic and variable is the formula of the Comedy of Manners, for long there will be development of the present drama rather than a new era.
The programme of Dumas fils--to know mankind like Balzac and the theatre like Scribe-still offers an ample room. And in any case the French will not lightly relinquish the position which they hold as the nation with the longest and most continuous dramatic tradition.
Art. 8.-SOME LESSONS OF THE NAVAL WAR.
1. Naval Operations (Official History of the War). Vol. 11.
By Sir Julian Corbett. Longmans, 1921. 2. Erinnerungen. Von Alfred von Tirpitz, Grossadmiral.
Leipzig: Köhler, 1919. 3. Aus Aufzeichnungen und Briefen während der Krieg
zeit, von Admiral Hugo von Pohl. Edited by his wife.
Berlin: Siegismund, 1920. 4. Deutschlands Hochseeflotte im Weltkrieg. Persönliche
Erinnerungen. Von Adm. Scheer. Berlin: Scherl, 1920. 5. Gallipoli Diary. By Gen. Sir Ian Hamilton. Two
vols. Arnold, 1920.
ADDRESSING the commanding officers of the Atlantic Fleet on Aug. 11, 1917, President Wilson said:
‘Now when it comes to doing new things, and doing them well, I will back the amateur against the professional every time; because the professional does it out of the book, and the amateur does it with his eyes open upon a new world and a new set of circumstances. He knows so little about it that he is fool enough to do the right thing. ...
Lord Fisher's statement that 'to be a good Admiral, a man does not need to be a sailor. That's a common mistake,'* closely corresponds with Mr Wilson's view, and there can be no doubt that such heresies were not confined to these distinguished men.
When the Great War at sea broke out, we were faced with new' technical developments the precise effect of which could not be foreseen; but the broad principles of naval strategy remained unchanged and unchangeable, and we suffered cruelly from failure to apply them. This weakness has almost invariably shown itself at the beginning of our naval wars; and we have been forced, at heavy cost, to relearn the pregnant lessons of the past. We now have
. before us the vast and varied experiences of the greatest war in history, and our salvation may depend upon whether we are able to read them aright and to base our policy upon their teaching. If in the future we are
“Memories.' We have in Blake a classic example of an Admiral who was not a sailor, and Admiral Sir R. N. Custance has shown how his great opponent, Van Tromp, profited thereby.