1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Drama/11e
France was the only country, besides Italy, in which classical tragedy was naturalized. In 1531 the Benedictine Barthélemy of Loches printed a Christus Xylonicus; and a very notable impulse was given both to the translation and The French regular drama. to the imitation of ancient models by a series of efforts made in the university of Paris and other French places of learning. The most successful of these attempts was the Johannes Baptistes of George Buchanan, who taught in Paris for five years and at a rather later date resided at Bordeaux, where in 1540 he composed this celebrated tragedy (afterwards translated into four or five modern languages), in which it is now ascertained that he had in view the trial and condemnation of Sir Thomas More. He also wrote Jephthah, and translated into Latin the Medea and Alcestis of Euripides. At a rather later date the great scholar M. A. Muret (Muretus) produced his Julius Caesar, a work perhaps superior in correctness to Buchanan’s tragic masterpiece, but inferior to it in likeness to life. About the same time the enthusiasm of the Paris classicists showed itself in several translations of Sophoclean and Euripidean tragedies into French verse.
Thus the beginnings of the regular drama in France, which, without absolutely determining, potently swayed its entire course, came to connect themselves directly with the great literary movement of the Renaissance. Du Bellay sounded the note of attack which converted that movement in France into an endeavour to transform the national literature; and in Ronsard the classical school of poetry put forward its conquering hero and sovereign lawgiver. Among the disciples who gathered Jodelle. round Ronsard, and with him formed the “Pleiad” of French literature, Étienne Jodelle, the reformer of the French theatre, soon held a distinguished place. The stage of this period left ample room for the enterprise of this youthful writer. The popularity of the old entertainments had reached its height when Louis XII., in his conflict with Pope Julius II., had not scrupled to call in the aid of Pierre Gringoire (Gringon), and when the Mère sotte had mockingly masqueraded in the petticoats of Holy Church. In the reign of Francis I. the Inquisition, and on occasion the king himself, had to some extent succeeded in repressing the audacity of the actors, whose follies were at the same time an utter abomination in the eyes of the Huguenots. For a time the very mysteries of the Brethren of the Passion had been prohibited; while the moralities and farces had sunk to an almost contemptible level. Yet to this reign belong the contributions to farce-literature of three writers so distinguished as Rabelais (non-extant), Clément Marot and Queen Margaret of Navarre. Meanwhile isolated translations of Italian as well as classical dramas had in literature begun the movement which Jodelle now transferred to the stage itself. His tragedy Cléopatre captive was produced there on the same day as his comedy L’Eugène, in 1552, his Didon se sacrifiant following in 1558. Thus at a time when a national theatre was perhaps impossible in a country distracted by civil and religious conflicts, whose monarchy had not yet welded together a number of provinces attached each to its own traditions, and whose population, especially in the capital, was enervated by frivolity or enslaved by fanaticism, was born that long-lived artificial growth, the so-called classical tragedy of France. For French comedy, though subjected to the same influences as tragedy, had a national basis upon which to proceed, and its history is partly that of a modification of old popular forms.
The history of French tragedy begins with the Cléopâtre captive, in the representation of which the author, together with other members of the “Pleiad,” took part. It is a tragedy in the manner of Seneca, devoid of action French tragedy in the 16th century. and provided with a ghost and a chorus. Though mainly written in the five-foot Iambic couplet, it already contains passages in the Alexandrine metre, which soon afterwards J. de La Péruse by his Médée (pr. 1556) established in French tragedy, and which Jodelle employed in his Didon. Numerous tragedies followed in the same style by various authors, among whom Gabriel Bounyn produced the first French regular tragedy on a subject neither Greek nor Roman, and the brothers de la Taille, and J. Grévin, distinguished themselves by their style. In the reign of Charles IX. a vain attempt was made by Nicolas Filleul to introduce the pastoral style of the Italians into French tragedy; and the Brotherhood of the Passion was intermingling with pastoral plays its still continued reproductions of the old entertainments, and the religious drama making its expiring efforts, among which T. Le Coq’s interesting mystery of Cain (1580) should be noted. Beza’s Abraham sacrifiant (1550), J. de Coignac’s Goliath (dedicated to Edward VI.), Rivandeau’s Haman (1561), belong to a group of Biblical tragedies, inspired by Calvinist influences. But these more and more approached to the examples of the classical school, which, in spite of all difficulties and rivalries, prevailed. Among its followers Montchrétien exhibited unusual vigour of rhetoric, and in R. Garnier French tragedy reached the greatest height in nobility and dignity of style, as well as in the exhibition of dramatic passion, to which it attained before Corneille. In his tragedies choruses are still interspersed among the long Alexandrine tirades of the dialogue.
During this period comedy had likewise been influenced by classical models; but the distance was less between the national farces and Terence, than between the mysteries and moralities, and Seneca and the Greeks. L’Eugène Comedy under Italian influence. differs little in style from the more elaborate of the old farces; and while it satirizes the foibles of the clergy without any appreciable abatement of the old licence, its theme is the favourite burden of the French comic theatre in all times—le cocuage. The examples, however, which directly facilitated the productivity of the French comic dramatists of this period, among whom Jean de la Taille was the first to attempt a regular comedy in prose, were those of the Italian stage, which in 1576 established a permanent colony in France, destined to survive there till the close of the 17th century, by which time it had adopted the French language, and was ready to coalesce with French actors, without, however, relinquishing all remembrance of its origin. R. Belleau, a member of the “Pleiad,” produced a comedy in which the type (already approached by Jodelle) of the swaggering captain appears, J. Grévin copied Italian intrigue, characters and manners; O. de Turnèbe (d. 1581) borrowed the title of one Italian play and perhaps parts of the plots of others; the Florentine F. d’Amboise (d. 1558) produced versions of two Italian comedies; and the foremost French comic poet of the century, P. de Larivey, likewise an Italian born (of the name of Pietro Giunto), openly professed to imitate the poets of his native country. His plays are more or less literal translations of L. Dolce, Secchi and other Italian dramatists; and this lively and witty author, to whom Molière owes much, thus connects two of the most important and successful growths of the modern comic drama.
The close conjunction between the history of a living dramatic literature and that of the theatre can least of all be ignored in the case of France, where the actor’s art has gone through so ample an evolution, and where the theatre has so long and continuously formed an important part of the national life. By the middle of the 16th century not only had theatrical representations, now quite emancipated from clerical control, here and there already become matters of speculation and business, but the acting profession was beginning to organize itself as such; strolling companies of actors had become a more or less frequent experience; and the attitude of the church and of civic respectability were once more coming to be systematically hostile to the stage and its representatives.
Before, however, either tragedy or comedy in France entered into the period of their history when genius was to illuminate both of them with creations of undying merit, and before the theatre had associated itself enduringly French tragedy and comedy in the 17th century before Corneille. with the artistic and literary divisions of court and society and the people at large, the country had passed through a new phase of the national life. When the troubles and terrors of the great civil and religious wars of the 16th century were over at last, they were found to have produced a reaction towards culture and refinement which spread from certain spheres of society whose influence was for a time prevailing. The seal had been set upon the results of the Renaissance by Malherbe, the father of French style. The masses meanwhile continued to solace or distract their weariness and their sufferings with the help of the accredited ministers of that half-cynical gaiety which has always lighted up the darkest hours of French popular life. In the troublous days preceding Richelieu’s definitive accession to power (1624), the tabarinades—a kind of street dialogue recalling the earliest days of the popular drama—had made the Pont-Neuf the favourite theatre of the Parisian populace. Meanwhile the influence of Spain, which Henry IV. had overcome in politics, had throughout his reign and afterwards been predominant in other spheres, and not the least in that of literature. The stilo culto, of which Gongora was the native Spanish, Marino the Italian, and Lyly the English representative, asserted its dominion over the favourite authors of French society; the pastoral romance of Honoré d’Urfé—the text-book of pseudo-pastoral gallantry—was the parent of the romances of the Scudérys, de La Calprenède and Mme de La Fayette; the Hôtel de Rambouillet was in its glory; the true (not the false) précieuses sat on the heights of intellectual society; and J. L. G. de Balzac (ridiculed in the earliest French dramatic parody) and Voiture were the dictators of its literature. Much of the French drama of this age is of the same kind as its romance-literature, like which it fell under the polite castigation of Boileau’s satire. Heroic love (quite a technical passion), “fertile in tender sentiments,” seized hold of the theatre as well as of the romances; and La Calprenède, G. de Scudéry and his sister and others were equally fashionable in both species. The Gascon Cyrano de Bergerac, though not altogether insignificant as a dramatist, gained his chief literary reputation by a Rabelaisian fiction. Meanwhile, Spanish and Italian models continued to influence both branches of the drama. Everybody knew by heart Gongora’s version of the story of “young Pyramus and his love Thisbe,” as dramatized by Th. Viaud (1590-1626); and the sentiment of Tristan (1601-1655) overpowered Herod on the stage, and drew tears from Cardinal Richelieu in the audience. J. Mairet was noted for superior vigour. P. Du Ryer’s style is described as, while otherwise superior to that of his contemporaries, Italian in its defects. A mixture of the forms of classical comedy with elements of Spanish and of the Italian pastoral was attempted with great temporary success by A. Hardy, a playwright who thanked Heaven that he knew the precepts of his art while preferring to follow the demands of his trade. The mixture of styles begun by him was carried on by the marquis de Racan, J. de Rotrou and others; and among these comedies of intrigue in the Spanish manner the earliest efforts of Corneille himself are to be classed. Rotrou’s noteworthier productions are later in date than the event which marks an epoch in the history of the French drama, the appearance of Corneille’s Cid (1636).
P. Corneille is justly revered as the first, and in some respects the unequalled, great master of French tragedy, whatever may have been unsound in his theories, or defective in his practice. The attempts of his predecessors had been Corneille. without life, because they lacked really tragic characters and the play of really tragic passions; while their style had been either pedantically imitative or a medley of plagiarisms. He conquered tragedy at once for the national theatre and for the national literature—and this, not by a long tentative process of production, but by a few masterpieces, which may be held to be comprehended within the ten years 1636 to 1646; for in his many later tragedies he never again proved fully equal to himself. The French tragedy, of which the great age begins with the Cid, Horace, Cinna, Polyeucte and Rodogune, was not, whatever it professed to be, a copy of the classical tragedy of Greeks or Romans, or an imitation of the Italian imitations of these; nor, though in his later tragedies Corneille depended less and less upon characters, and more and more, after the fashion of the Spaniards, upon situations, and even upon spectacle, were the forms of the Spanish drama able to assert their dominion over the French tragic stage. The mould of French tragedy was cast by Corneille; but the creative power of his genius was unable to fill it with more than a few examples. His range of passions and characters was limited; he preferred, he said, the reproach of having made his women too heroic to that of having made his men effeminate. His actions inclined too much to the exhibition of conflicts political rather than broadly ethical in their significance. The defects of his style are of less moment; but in this, as in other respects, he was, with all his strength and brilliancy, not one of those rarest of artists who are at the same time the example and the despair of their successors. The examens which he printed of all his plays up to 1660 show how much self-criticism (though it may not always be as in this case conscious) contributes to the true fertility of genius.
In comedy also Corneille begins the first great original epoch of French dramatic literature; for it was to him that Molière owed the inspiration of the tone and style which he made those of the higher forms of French comedy. But Le Menteur (the parent, with its sequel, of a numerous dramatic progeny) was itself derived from a Spanish original, which it did not (as was the case with the Cid) transform into something new. French tragi-comedy Corneille can hardly be said to have invented; and of the mongrel growths of sentimental comedy and of domestic drama or drame, he rather suggested than exemplified the conditions.
The tragic art of Racine supplements rather than surpasses that of his older contemporary. His works reflect the serene and settled formality of an age in which the sun of monarchy shone with an effulgence no clouds seemed Racine. capable of obscuring, and in which the life of a nation seemed reducible to the surroundings of a court. The tone of the poetic literature of such an age is not necessarily unreal, because the range of its ideas is limited, and because its forms seem to exist by an immutable authority. That Racine should permanently hold the position which belongs to him in French dramatic literature is due to the fact that to him it was given to present these forms—the forms approved by his age—in what may reasonably be called perfection; and, from the point of view of workmanship, Sophocles could not have achieved more. What his plays contain is another question. They suit themselves so well to the successive phases in the life of Louis XIV., that Madame de Sévigné described Racine as having in his later years loved God as he had formerly loved his mistresses; and this sally at all events indicates the range of passions which inspired his tragic muse. His heroes are all of one type—that of a gracious gloriousness; his heroines vary in their fortunes, but they are all the “trophies of love,” with the exception of the scriptural figures, which stand apart from the rest. T. Corneille, Campistron, Joseph Duché (1668-1704), Antoin de Lafosse (c. 1653-1708) and Quinault were mere followers of one or both of the great masters of tragedy, though the last named achieved a reputation of his own in the bastard species of the opera.
The type of French tragedy thus established, like everything else which formed part of the “age of Louis XIV.,” proclaimed itself as the definitively settled model of its kind, and was accepted as such by a submissive world. Proud Characteristics of French classical tragedy. of its self-imposed fetters, French tragedy dictatorially denied the liberty of which it had deprived itself to the art of which it claimed to furnish the highest examples. Yet, though calling itself classical, it had not caught the essential spirit of the tragedy of the Greeks. The elevation of tone which characterizes the serious drama of the age of Louis XIV. is a true elevation, but its heights do not lose themselves in a sphere peopled by the myths of a national religion, still less in the region of great thoughts which ask Heaven to stoop to the aspirations and the failures of man. The personages of this drama are conventional like its themes, but the convention is with itself only; Orestes and Iphigenia have not brought with them the cries of the stern goddesses and the flame on the altar of Artemis; their passions like their speech are cadenced by a modern measure. In construction, the simplicity and regularity of the ancient models are stereotyped into a rigid etiquette by the exigencies of the court-theatre, which is but an apartment of the palace. The unities of time and place, with the Greeks mere rules of convenience, French tragedy imposes upon itself as a permanent yoke. The Euripidean prologue is judiciously exchanged for the exposition of the first act, and the lyrical element essential to Greek tragedy is easily suppressed in its would-be copy; lyrical passages still occur in some of Corneille’s early masterpieces, but the chorus is consistently banished, to reappear only in Racine’s latest works as a scholastic experiment appropriate to a conventual atmosphere. Its uses for explanation and comment are served by the expedient, which in its turn becomes conventional, of the conversations with confidants and confidantes, which more than sufficiently supply the foil of general sentiments. The epical element is allowed full play in narrative passages, more especially in those which relate parts of the catastrophe, and, while preserving the stage intact from realisms, suit themselves to the generally rhetorical character of this species of the tragic drama. This character impressed itself more and more upon the tragic art of a rhetorical nation in an age when the loftiest themes were in the pulpit receiving the most artistic oratorical treatment, and developed in the style of French classical tragedy the qualities which cause it to become something between prose and poetry—or to appear (in the phrase of a French critic) like prose in full dress. The force of this description is borne out by the fact that the distinction between the versification of French tragedy and that of French comedy seems at times imperceptible.
The universal genius of Voltaire found it necessary to shine in all branches of literature, and in tragedy to surpass predecessors whom his own authority declared to have surpassed the efforts of the Attic muse. He succeeded in impressing the world with the belief that his innovations had imparted a fresh Voltaire. vitality to French tragedy; in truth, however, they represent no essential advance in art, but rather augmented the rhetorical tendency which paralyses true dramatic life. Such life as his plays possess lies in their political and social sentiments, their invective against tyranny, and their exposure of fanaticism. In other respects his versatility was barren of enduring results. He might take his themes from French history, or from Chinese, or Egyptian, or Syrian, from the days of the Epigoni or from those of the Crusades; he might appreciate Shakespeare, with a more or less partial comprehension of his strength, and condescendingly borrow from and improve the barbarian. But he added nothing to French tragedy where it was weakest—in character; and where it was strongest—in diction—he never equalled Corneille in fire or Racine in refinement. While the criticism to which French tragedy in this age at last began to be subjected has left unimpaired the real titles to immortality of its great masters, the French theatre itself has all but buried in respectful oblivion the dramatic works bearing the name of Voltaire—a name persistently belittled, but second to none in the history of modern progress and of modern civilization.
As it is of relatively little interest to note the ramifications of an art in its decline, the contrasts need not be pursued among the contemporaries of Voltaire, between his imitator Bernard Joseph Saurin (1706-1781), Saurin’s royalist French classical tragedy in its decline. rival de Belloy, Racine’s imitator Lagrange-Chancel and Voltaire’s own would-be rival, the “terrible” Crébillon the elder, who professed to vindicate to French tragedy, already mistress of the heavens through Corneille, and of the earth through Racine, Pluto’s supplementary realm, but who, though thus essaying to carry tragedy lower, failed to carry it farther. In the latter part of the 18th century French classical tragedy as a literary growth was dying a slow death, however numerous might be the leaves which sprouted from the decaying tree. Its form had been permanently fixed; and even Shakespeare, as manipulated by Ducis—an author whose tastes were better than his times—failed to bring about a change. “It is a Moor, not a Frenchman, who has written this play,” cried a spectator of Ducis’ Othello (1791); but Talma’s conviction was almost as strong as his capacity was great for convincing his public; and he certainly did much to prepare the influence which Shakespeare was gradually to assert over the French drama, and which was aided by translations, more especially that of Pierre Letourneur (1736-1788), which had attracted the sympathy of Diderot and the execrations of the aged Voltaire. Meanwhile, the command which classical French tragedy continued to assert over the stage was due in part, no doubt, to the love of Roman drapery—not always abundant, but always in the grand style—which characterized the Revolution, and which was by the Revolution handed down to the Empire. It was likewise, and more signally, due to the great actors who freed the tragic stage from much of its artificiality and animated it by their genius. No great artist has ever more generously estimated the labours of a predecessor than Talma judged those of Le Kain; but it was Talma himself whose genius was pre-eminently fitted to reproduce the great figures of antiquity in the mimic world, which, like the world outside, both required and possessed its Caesar. He, like Rachel after him, reconciled French classical tragedy with nature; and it is upon the art of great original actors such as these that the theatrical future of this form of the drama in France depends. Mere whims of fashion—even when inspired by political feeling—will not waft back to it a real popularity; nor will occasional literary aftergrowths, however meritorious, such as the admirable Lucrèce of F. Ponsard and the attempts of even more recent writers, suffice to re-establish a living union between it and the progress of the national literature.
The rival influences under which classical tragedy has after a long struggle virtually become a thing of the past in French literature are also to be traced in the history of French comedy, which under the co-operation of other influences Comedy. produced a wide variety of growths. The germs of most of these—though not of all—are to be found in the works of the most versatile, the most sure-footed, and, in some respects, the most consummate master of the comic drama whom the Molière. world has known—Molière. What Molière found in existence was a comedy of intrigue, derived from Spanish or Italian examples, and the elements of a comedy of character, in French and more especially in Italian farce and ballet-pantomime. Corneille’s Menteur had pointed the way to a fuller combination of character with intrigue, and in this direction Molière’s genius exercised the height of its creative powers. After beginning with farces, he produced in the earliest of his plays (from 1652), of which more than fragments remain, comedies of intrigue which are at the same time marvellously lively pictures of manners, and then proceeded, with the École des maris (1661), to begin a long series of masterpieces of comedy of character. Yet even these, the chief of which are altogether unrivalled in dramatic literature, do not exhaust the variety of his productions. To define the range of his art is as difficult as to express in words the essence of his genius. For though he has been copied ever since he wrote, neither his spirit nor his manner has descended in full to any of his copyists, whole schools of whom have missed elements of both. A Molière can only be judged in his relations to the history of comedy at large. He was indeed the inheritor of many forms and styles—remaining a stranger to those of Old Attic comedy only, rooted as it was in the political life of a free imperial city; though even the rich extravagances of Aristophanes’ burlesque was not left wholly unreproduced by him. Molière is both a satirist and a humorist; he displays at times the sentiments of a loyal courtier, at others that gay spirit of opposition which is all but indispensable to a popular French wit. His comedies offer elaborate and subtle—even tender—pictures of human character in its eternal types, lively sketches of social follies and literary extravagances, and broad appeals to the ordinary sources of vulgar merriment. Light and perspicuous in construction, he is master of the delicate play of irony, the penetrating force of wit, and the expansive gaiety of frolicsome fun. Faithful to the canons of artistic taste, and under the sure guidance of true natural humour, his style suits itself to every species attempted by him. His morality is the reverse of rigid, but its aberrations are not those of prurience, nor its laws those of pretence; and, wholly free as he was from the didactic aim which is foreign to all true dramatic representation, the services rendered by him to his art are not the less services rendered to society, concerning which the laughter of genuine comedy tells the truth. He raised the comedy of character out of the lower sphere of caricature, and in his greatest creations subordinated to the highest ends of all dramatic composition the plots he so skilfully built, and the pictures of the manners he so faithfully reproduced.
Even among the French comic dramatists of this age there must have been many who “were not aware” that Molière was its greatest poet. For though he had made the true path luminous to them, their efforts were still often Molière’s contemporaries and successors. of a tentative kind, and one was reviving Pathelin while another was translating the Andria. A more unique attempt was made in one of the very few really modern versions of an Aristophanic comedy, which deserves to be called an original copy—the Plaideurs of Racine. The tragic poets Quinault and Campistron likewise wrote comedies, one or more of which furnished materials to contemporary English dramatists, as did one of the felicitous plays in which Boursault introduced Mercury and Aesop into the theatrical salon. Antoine Montfleury (1640-1685), Baron and Dancourt, who were actors like Molière, likewise wrote comedies. But if the mantle of Molière can be said to have fallen upon any of his contemporaries or successors, this honour must be ascribed to J. F. Regnard, who imitated the great master in both themes and characters, while the skilfulness of his plots, and his gaiety of the treatment even of subjects tempting into the by-path of sentimental comedy, entitle him to be regarded as a comic poet of original genius. With him C. R. Dufresny occasionally collaborated.
In the next generation (that of Voltaire) comedy gradually—but only gradually—surrendered for a time the very essence of its vitality to the seductions of a hybrid species, which disguised its identity under more than a single name. A. R. le Sage, who as a comic dramatist at first followed successfully in the footsteps of Molière, proved himself on the stage as well as in picturesque fiction a keen observer and inimitable satirist of human life. The light texture of the playful and elegant art of J. B. L. Gresset was shown on the stage in a character comedy of merit; and in a comedy which reveals something of his pointed wit, A. Piron produced something like a new type of enduring ridiculousness. P. C. de Marivaux, the French Spectator, is usually supposed to have formed the connecting link between the “old” French comedy and the “new” and bastard variety. Yet, though his minute analysis of the tender passion excited the scorn of Voltaire, it should not be overlooked that in marivaudage proper the wit holds the balance to the sentiment, and that in some of this frequently misjudged writer’s earlier and most delightful plays the elegance and gaiety of diction are as irresistible as the pathetic sentiment, which is in fact rather an ingredient in his comedy than the pervading characteristic of it. Some of the comedies of P. H. Destouches no doubt have a serious basis, and in his later plays he comes near to a kind of drama in which the comic purpose has been virtually submerged. The writer who is actually to be credited with the transition to sentimental comedy, and who was fully conscious of the change which he was helping to effect, was Nivelle de La Chaussée, in whose hands French comedy became a champion of the sanctity of marriage, and reproduced the sentiments—in one instance even the characters—of Richardson. To his play La Fausse Antipathie the author supplied a critique, amounting to an apology for the new species of which it was designed as an example.
The new species known as comédie larmoyante was now fairly in the ascendant; and it would be easy to show how even Voltaire, who had deprecated the innovation, had to yield to a power greater than his own, and introduced the sentimental element into some of his comedies. The further step, by which comédie larmoyante was transformed into tragédie bourgeoise, from which the comic element was to all intents and purposes extruded, was taken by a great French writer, D. Diderot; to whose influence it was largely due that the species which had attained to this consummation for more than a generation ruled supreme in the dramatic literature of Europe. But the final impulse, as Diderot himself virtually acknowledged in the entretiens subjoined by him to his Fils naturel (1757), had been given by a far humbler citizen of the world of letters, the author of The London Merchant. Diderot’s own plays were a literary rather than a theatrical success. Le Fils naturel ou les épreuves de la vertu was not publicly performed till 1771, and then only in deference to the determination of a single actor of the Français (Molé); nor was the performance of it repeated. Diderot’s second play, Le Père de famille, printed in 1758 with a Discours sur la poésie dramatique, went through a few public performances in 1761; and a later revival was unsuccessful. But “at a distance,” as was well said, the effect of Diderot’s endeavours, the earlier in particular, was extremely great, and Lessing, though very critical as to particular points, greatly helped to spread it. Diderot had for the first time consciously sought to proclaim the theatre an agency of social reform, and to entrust to it as its task the propagation of the gospel of philanthropy. Though the execution of his dramatic works fell far short of his aims; though Madame de Staël was not far wrong in denouncing them as exhibiting not nature itself, but “the affectation of nature,” yet they contained, in a measure almost unequalled in the history of the modern drama, the fermenting element which never seems to subside. Their author announced them as examples of a third dramatic form—the genre sérieux—which he declared to be the consummation of the dramatic art. Making war upon the frigid artificiality of classical tragedy, he banished verse from the new species. The effect of these plays was intended to spring from their truth to nature—a truth such as no spectator could mistake, and which should bring home its moral teachings to the business as well as the bosoms of all. The theatre was to become a real and realistic school of the principles of society and of the conduct of life—it was, in other words, to usurp functions with which it has no concern, and to essay the direct reformation of mankind. The idea was neither new nor just; but its speciousness will probably continue to commend it to many enthusiastic minds, whensoever and in whatsoever shape it is revived.
From this point the history of the French drama becomes that of a conflict between an enfeebled artistic school and a tendency which is hardly to be dignified by the name of a school at all. Among the successful dramatists The comedy of the Revolution and the first empire. following on Diderot may be mentioned the critical and versatile J. F. Marmontel, and more especially M. J. Sedaine, who though chiefly working for the opera, produced two comedies of acknowledged merit. P. A. C. de Beaumarchais (1732-1799), who for his early sentimental plays, in which he imitated Diderot, invented the appellation drame—so convenient in its vagueness that it became the accepted name of the hybrid species to which they belonged—in two works of a very different kind, the famous Barbier de Séville and the still more famous Mariage de Figaro, boldly carried comedy back into its old Spanish atmosphere of intrigue; but, while surpassing all his predecessors in the skill with which he constructed his frivolous plots, he drew his characters with a lightness and sureness of touch peculiar to himself, animated his dialogue with an unparalleled brilliancy of wit, and seasoned action as well as dialogue with a political and social meaning, which caused his epigrams to become proverbs, and which marks his Figaro as a herald of the Revolution. Such plays as these were ill suited to the rule of the despot whose vigilance could not overlook their significance. The comedy of the empire is, in the hands of Collin d’Harleville, Louis Picard (1769-1828), A. Duval, Étienne and others, mainly a harmless comedy of manners; nor was the attempted innovation of N. Lemercier—who was fain to invent a new species, that of historical comedy—more than a flattering self-delusion. The theatre had its share in all the movements and changes which ensued in France; though the most important revolution which the drama itself was to undergo was not one of wholly native origin. Those branches of the drama which belong specifically to the history of the opera, or which associate themselves with it, are here passed by. Among them was the vaudeville (from Val de Vire in Calvados), which began as an interspersion of pantomime with the airs of popular songs, and which, after the Italian masks had been removed Vaudevilles, etc. from it, was cultivated by Ponsard and Marmontel, while Sedaine wrote a didactic poem on the subject (1756). Sedaine was the father of the opéra-comique proper; Marmontel, as well as Rousseau, likewise composed opérettes—a smaller sort of opera, at first of the pastoral variety; and these flexible species easily entered into combination. The melodrama proper, of which the invention is also attributed to Rousseau, in its latter development became merely a drama accentuated by music, though usually in little need of any accentuation.
The chief home of the regular drama, however, demanded efforts of another kind. At the Théâtre Français, or Comédie Française, whose history as that of a single company of actors had begun in 1680, the party-strife of the The stage. times made itself audible; and the most prominent tragic poet of the Revolution, M. J. de Chénier, a disciple of Voltaire in dramatic poetry as well as in political philosophy, wrote for the national stage the historical drama—with a political moral—in which in the memorable year 1789 the actor Talma achieved his first complete triumph. But the victorious Revolution proclaimed among other liberties that of the theatres in Paris, of which soon not less than 50 were open. In 1807 the empire restricted the number to 9, and reinstated the Théâtre Français in sole possession (or nearly such) of the right of performing the Transition to the romantic school. classic drama. No writer of note was, however, tempted or inspired by the rewards and other encouragements offered by Napoleon to produce such a classic tragedy as the emperor would have willingly stamped from out of the earth. The tragedies of C. Delavigne represent the transition from the expiring efforts of the classical to the ambitious beginnings of the romantic school of the French drama.
Of modern romantic drama in France it must suffice to say that it derives some of its characteristics from the general movement of romanticism which in various ways and at various points of time transformed nearly every The romantic school. modern European literature, others from the rhetorical tendency which is a French national feature. Victor Hugo was the founder whom it followed in a spirit of high emprise to success upon success, his own being the most conspicuous of all; A. Dumas the elder its unshrinking middleman. The marvellous fire and grandeur of genius of the former, always in extremes but often most sublime at the height of danger, was nowhere more signally such than in the drama; Dumas was a Briareus, working, however, with many hands besides his own. Together with them may, with more or less precision, be classed in the romantic school of dramatists A. de Vigny and George Sand, neither of whom, however, attained to the highest rank in the drama, and Jules Sandeau; A. de Musset, whose originality pervades all his plays, but whose later works, more especially in his prose “proverbs” and pieces of a similar kind, have a flavour of a delicacy altogether indescribable; perhaps also P. Mérimée (1803-1870), who invented not only Spanish dramas but a Spanish dramatist, and who was never more audacious than when he seemed most naïf.
The romantic school was not destined to exercise a permanent control over French public taste; but it can hardly be said to have been overthrown by the brief classical revival begun by F. Ponsard, and continued, though in closer contact with modern ideas, both by him and by E. Augier, a dramatist who gradually attained to an extraordinary effectiveness in the self-restrained Modern schools. treatment of social as well as of historical themes. While the theatrical fecundity and the remarkable constructive ability of E. Scribe supplied a long series of productions attesting the rapid growth of the playwright’s mastery over the secrets of his craft the name of his competitors is legion. Among them may be mentioned, if only as the authors of two of the most successful plays of the historical species produced in the century, two writers of great eminence—C. Delavigne and E. Legouvé. Later developments of the drama bore the impress of a period of social decay, prepared to probe its own sufferings, while glad at times to take refuge in the gaiety traditional in France in her more light-hearted days, but which even then had not yet deserted either French social life or the theatre which reflected it. After a fashion which would have startled even Diderot, while recalling his efforts in the earnestness of its endeavour to arouse moral interests to which the theatre had long been a stranger, A. Dumas the younger set himself to reform society by means of the stage. But the technical skill which he and contemporary dramatists displayed in the execution of their self-imposed task was such as had been undreamt of by Diderot. O. Feuillet, more eminent as a novelist than on the stage, applied himself, though with the aid of fewer prefaces, to the solution of the same or similar problems; while the extraordinary versatility of V. Sardou and his unfailing constructive skill was applied by him to almost every kind of serious, or serio-comic, drama—even the most solid of all. In the same period, while E. Pailleron revived some of the most characteristic tendencies of the best French satirical comedy in ridiculing the pompous pretentiousness of learning for its own sake, the light-hearted gaiety of E. Labiche changed into something not altogether similar in the productions of the comic muse of L. Halévy and H. Meilhac, ranging from the licence of the musical burlesque which was the congenial delight of the later days of the Second Empire to a species of comedy in which the ingredients of bitterness and even of sadness found a place.
Dramatic criticism in France has had a material share in the maintenance of a deep as well as wide national interest in the preservation of a high standard of excellence both in the performance of plays and in the plays themselves. Tendencies of the drama and of the theatre in France. Among its modern representatives the foremost place would probably be by common consent allowed to F. Sarcey, whose Monday theatrical feuilleton in the Temps was long awaited week by week as an oracle of dramaturgy. But he was only the first among equals, and the successor and the predecessor of writers who have at least sought to be equal to a function of real public importance. For it seems hardly within the range of probability to suppose that the theatre will for many a generation to come lose the hold which it has established over the intellectual and moral sympathies of nearly the whole of the educated—to say nothing of a great part of the half-educated—population of France. This does not, of course, imply that the creative activity of French dramatic literature is certain to endure. Since the great changes set in which were consequent upon the disastrous war of 1870, French dramatic literature has reflected more than one phase of national sentiment and opinion, and has represented the aspirations, the sympathies and the philosophy of life of more than one class in the community. Thus it has had its episodes of reaction in the midst of an onward flow of which it would be difficult to predict the end. The tendency of what can only vaguely be described as the naturalistic school of writers has corresponded to that even more prominent in the dramatic literatures of certain other European nations; but it must be allowed that a new poetic will have to be constructed if the freedom of development which the dramatic, like all other arts, is entitled to claim is to be reconciled to laws deducible from the whole previous history of the drama. The reaction towards earlier forms has asserted itself in various ways—through the poetic plays of the later years of F. Coppée; in the success (notable for reasons other than artistic) of Vicomte H. de Bornier’s first tragedy; and of late more especially in the dramas—highly original and truly romantic in both form and treatment—of E. Rostand.
The art of acting is not altogether dependent upon the measure of contemporary literary productivity, even in France, where the connexion between dramatic literature and the stage has perhaps been more continuously intimate than in many other countries. Talma and Mlle Mars flourished in one of the most barren ages of the French literary drama; and though this cannot be asserted of the two most brilliant stars of the French 19th century tragic stage, Rachel and Sarah Bernhardt, or of their comic contemporaries from Frédérick-Lemaître down to types less unique than the “Talma of the boulevards,” the constantly accumulating experience of the successive schools of acting in France may here ensure to the art a future not less notable than its past. Moreover, the French theatre has long been, and is more than ever likely to continue, an affair of the state as well as of the nation; and the judicious policy of not leaving the chief theatres at the mercy of shifting fashion and the base demands of idleness and sensuality will remain the surest guarantee for the maintenance of a high standard both in principle and in practice. So long as France continues to maintain her ascendancy over other nations in matters of taste, and in much else that adorns, brightens and quickens social life, the predominant influence of the French theatre over the theatres of other nations is likewise assured. But dramatic literature is becoming international to a degree hardly dreamt of half a century ago; and the distinctive development of the French theatre cannot fail to be affected by the success or failure of the national drama in retaining and developing its own most characteristic qualities. Its history shows periods of marvellously rapid advance, of hardly less swift decline, and of frequent though at times fitful recovery. Its future may be equally varied; but it will remain not less dependent on the conditions which in every people, ancient or modern, have proved to be indispensable to national vigour and vitality. (A. W. W.)
Recent French Drama.—The last twenty-five years of the 19th century witnessed an important change in the constructive methods, as well as in the moral tendencies, of the French playwrights. Of the two leading dramatists who reigned supreme over the haute comédie in 1875, one, Émile Augier, had almost ended his career, but the other, Alexandre Dumas, was to maintain his ascendancy for many years longer. Sardou’s fertility of invention, and extraordinary cleverness at manipulating a complicated intrigue, were also greatly admired, and much was expected from Edouard Pailleron’s brilliant and—as it seemed—inexhaustible wit in satirizing the whims and weaknesses of high-born and highly-cultured society. Alexandre Dumas had created and still monopolized the problem play, of which Le Demi-monde, Le Fils naturel, La Question d’argent, Les Idées de Madame Aubray, La Femme de Claude, Monsieur Alphonse, La Visite de noces, L’Étrangère, Francillon and Denise may be mentioned as the most characteristic specimens. The problem play is the presentation of a particular case, with a view to a general conclusion on some important question of human conduct. This afforded the author, who was, in his way, a moralist and a reformer, excellent opportunities for humorous discussions and the display of that familiar eloquence which was his greatest gift and most effective faculty. Among other subjects, the social position of women had an all-powerful attraction for his mind, and many of his later plays were written with the object of placing in strong relief the remarkable inequality of the sexes, both as regards freedom of action and responsibility, in modern marriage. Like all the dramatists of his time, he adhered to Scribe’s mode of play-writing—a mixture of the drame bourgeois, as initiated by Diderot, and the comedy of character and manners, long in vogue—from the days of Molière, Regnard, Destouches and Marivaux, down to the beginning of the 19th century. In his prefaces Dumas often undertook the defence of the system which, in his estimation, was best calculated to serve the purpose of the artist, the humorist and the moralist—a dramatist being, as he conceived, a combination of the three.
Though the majority of French playgoers continued to side with him, and to cling to the time-honoured theatrical beliefs, a few young men were beginning to murmur against the too elaborate mechanism and artificial logic. Scribe and his successors, whose plays were a combination of comedy and drama, were wont to devote the first act to a brilliant and witty presentation of personages, then to crowd the following scenes with incidents, until the action was brought to a climax about the end of the fourth act, invariably concluding, in the fifth, with an optimistic dénouement, just before midnight, the time appointed by police regulations for the closing of playhouses. At the same time a more serious and far-reaching criticism was levelled at the very principles on which the conception of human life was then dependent. A new philosophy, based on scientific research, had been gradually gaining ground and penetrating the French mind. A host of bold writers had been trying, with considerable firmness and continuity of purpose, to start a new kind of fiction, writing in perfect accordance with the determinist theories of Auguste Comte, Darwin and Taine. The long-disputed success of the Naturalistic School carried everything before it during the years 1875-1885, and its triumphant leaders were tempted to make the best of their advantage by annexing a new province and establishing a footing on the stage. In this they failed signally, either when they were assisted by professional dramatists or when left to their own resources. It became evident that Naturalism, to be made acceptable on the stage, would have to undergo a special process of transformation and be handled in a peculiar way. Henry Becque succeeded in embodying the new theories in two plays, which at first met with very indifferent success, but were revived at a later period, and finally obtained permanent recognition in the French theatre—even with the acquiescence of the most learned critics, when they discovered, or fancied they discovered, that Becque’s comedies agreed, in the main, with Molière’s conception of dramatic art. In Les Corbeaux and La Parisienne the plot is very simple; the episodes are incidents taken from ordinary life. No extraneous character is introduced to discuss moral and social theories, or to acquaint us with the psychology of the real dramatis personae, or to suggest humorous observations about the progress of the dramatic action. The characters are left to tell their own tale in their own words, which are sometimes very comical, sometimes very repulsive, but purport to be always true to nature. Human will, which was the soul and mainspring of French tragedy in the 17th century, and played such a paramount part in the drame bourgeois and the haute comédie of the 19th, appears in M. Becque’s plays to have fallen from its former exalted position and to have ceased to be a free agent. It is a mere passive instrument to our inner desires and instincts and appetites, which, in their turn, obey natural laws. Thus, in Becque’s comedies, as in the old Greek drama, destiny, not man, is the chief actor, the real but unseen protagonist.
Becque was not a prolific writer, and when he died, in 1899, it was remarked that he had spent the last ten years of his life in comparative inactivity. But during these years his young and ardent disciples had spared no effort in putting their master’s theories to the test. It had occurred to a gifted and enterprising actor-manager, named André Antoine, that the time had come for trying dramatic experiments in a continued and methodical manner. For this purpose he gathered around him a number of young authors, and produced their plays before a select audience of subscribers, who had paid in advance for their season-tickets. The entertainment was a strictly private one. In this way Antoine made himself independent of the censors, and at the same time was no longer obliged to consider the requirements of the average playgoer, as is the case with ordinary managers, anxious, above all things, to secure long runs. At the Théâtre Libre the most successful play was not to be performed for more than three nights.
The reform attempted was to consist in the elimination of what was contrary to nature in Dumas’s and Augier’s comedies: of the intrigue parallèle or underplot, of the over-numerous and improbable incidents which followed the first act and taxed the spectator’s memory to the verge of fatigue; and, lastly, of the conventional dénouement for which there was no justification. A true study of character was to take the place of Sardou’s complicated fabrications and Dumas’s problem plays. The authors would present the spectator with a fragment of life, but would force no conclusion upon him at the termination of the play. The reformation in histrionic art was to proceed apace. The actors and actresses of the preceding period had striven to give full effect to certain witty utterances of the author, or to preserve and to develop their own personal peculiarities or oddities. Antoine and his fellow-artists did their best to make the public realize, in every word and every gesture, the characteristic features and ruling passions of the men and women they were supposed to represent.
It was in the early autumn of 1887 that the Théâtre Libre opened its doors for the first time. It struggled on for eight years amidst unfailing curiosity, but not without encountering some adverse, or even derisive, criticism from a considerable portion of the public and the press. The Théâtre Libre brought under public notice such men as George Courteline and George Ancey, who gave respectively, in Bonbouroche and La Dupe, specimens of a comic vein called the “comique cruel.” Fabre, in L’Argent, approached if not surpassed his master, Henry Becque. Brieux, in Blanchette, gave promise of talent, which he has since in a great measure justified. In Les Fossiles and L’Envers d’une sainte, by François de Curel, were found evidences of dramatic vigour and concentrated energy, allied with a remarkable gift for the minute analysis of feeling. Antoine’s activity was not exclusively confined to the efforts of the French Naturalistic School; he included the Norwegian drama in his programme, and successively produced several of Ibsen’s plays. They received a large amount of attention from the critics, the views then expressed ranging from the wildest enthusiasm to the bitterest irony. Francisque Sarcey was decidedly hostile, and Jules Lemaître, who ranked next to him in authority, ventured to suggest that Ibsen’s ideas were nothing better than long-discarded social and literary paradoxes, borrowed from Pierre Leroux through George Sand, and returned to the French market as novelties. Ibsen was not understood by the French public at large, though his influence could be clearly traced on thoughtful men like Paul Hervieu and François de Curel.
The authors of the Théâtre Libre were sadly wanting in tact and patience. They went at once to extremes, and, while trying to free themselves from an obsolete form of drama, fell into a state of anarchy. If a too elaborate plot is a fault, no plot at all is an absurdity. The old school had been severely taken to task for devoting the first act to the delineation of character, and the delineation of character was now found to have extended over the whole play; and worse still, most of these young men seemed to find pleasure in importing a low vocabulary on to the stage; they made it their special object to place before the spectator revolting pictures of the grossest immorality. In this they were supported by a knot of noisy and unwise admirers, whose misplaced approval largely contributed towards bringing an otherwise useful and interesting undertaking into disrepute. The result was that after the lapse of eight years the little group collected round Antoine had lost in cohesion and spirit, that it was both less hopeful and less compact than it had been at the outset of the campaign. But some authors who had kept aloof from the movement were not slow in reaping the moral and intellectual profit of these tentative experiments. Among them must be cited George de Porto-Riche, Henri Lavedan, Paul Hervieu, Maurice Donnay and Jules Lemaître. Alone among the authors of the Théâtre Libre, É. Brieux secured an assured position on the regular stage. Instead of attacking the vices and follies of his times, he has made a name by satirizing the weak points or the wrong application of certain fundamental principles by which modern institutions are supported. He mocked at universal suffrage in L’Engrenage, at art in Ménages d’artistes, at popular instruction in Blanchette, at charity in Les Bienfaiteurs, at science in L’Évasion, and then at law in La Robe rouge. Of Les Trois Filles de M. Dupont, one is an old maid with a strong bent towards mysticism, another is a star in the demi-monde, and the third is married. Neither religion, nor free love, nor marriage has made one of the three happy. The strange fact about Brieux is that he propounds his uncomfortable ideas with an incredible amount of dash and spirit.
All the plays written by the above-mentioned authors, and by those who follow in their steps, have been said to constitute the “new comedy.” But one may question the advisability of applying the same name to literary works which present so little, if any, family likeness. It was tacitly agreed to remove the intricacies of the plot and the forced dénouement. But no one will trace in those plays the uniformity of moral purpose which would justify us in comprising them under the same head, as products of the same school. Then, before the Naturalistic, or half-Naturalistic, School had attained to a practical result or taken a definite shape, a wave of Romanticism swept over the French public, and in a measure brought back the old artistic and literary dogmas propounded by Victor Hugo and the generation of 1830. Signs of a revival in French dramatic poetry were not lacking. The success of La Fille de Roland, by the Vicomte de Bornier, was restricted to the more cultivated classes, but the vogue of Jean Richepin’s Chemineau was at once general and lasting. Cyrano de Bergerac, produced in the last days of 1897, brought a world-wide reputation to its young author, Edmond Rostand. This play combines sparkling wit and brilliancy of imagination with delightful touches of pathos and delicate tenderness. It was assumed that Rostand was endowed to an extraordinary degree both with theatrical genius and the poetic faculty. L’Aiglon fell short of this too favourable judgment. It is more a dramatic poem than a real drama, and the author handles history with the same childish incompetence and inaccuracy as Hugo did in Cromwell, in Ruy Blas and Hernani. The persistent approbation of the public seemed, however, to indicate a growing taste for poetry, even when unsupported by dramatic interest—a curious symptom among the least poetical of modern European races.
To sum up, the French, as regards the present condition of their drama, were confronted with two alternative movements. Naturalism, furthered by science and philosophy, was contending against traditions three centuries old, and seemed unable to crystallize into masterly works; while romantic drama, founded on vague and exploded theories, had become embodied in productions of real artistic beauty, which have been warmly welcomed by the general playgoer. It should nevertheless be noted that in Cyrano and L’Aiglon human will, which was the main-spring of Corneille’s tragedy and Hugo’s drama, tried to reassert itself, but was baffled by circumstance, and had to submit to inexorable laws. This showed that the victorious school would have to reckon with the doctrines of the defeated party, and suggested that a determinist theatre might be the ultimate outcome of a compromise. (A. Fi.)
- Antigone and Electra; Hecuba; and Iphigenia in Aulis. The Andria was also translated, and in 1540 Ronsard translated the Plutus of Aristophanes.
- Trissino, Sofonisba, by de Saint-Gelais.
- La Soltane (1561).
- Daïre (Darius).
- La Mort de César.
- Achille (1563).
- Les Lacènes; Marie Stuart or L’Écossaise.
- La Juive, &c.
- Les Corivaux (1573).
- La Reconnue (Le Capitaine Rodomont).
- Les Esbahis.
- Les Contens (S. Parabosco, I Contenti).
- Les Néapolitaines; Les Désespérades de l’amour.
- Le Laquais (Il Ragazzo).
- Les Tromperies (Gli Inganni).
- “L. du Peschier” (de Barry), La Comédie des comédies.
- L’Amour tyrannique.
- Agrippine, Le Pédant joué.
- Les Bergeries.
- Mélite; Clitandre, &c.
- Le Véritable Saint Genest; Venceslas.
- Steele, The Lying Lover; Foote, The Liar; Goldoni, Il Bugiardo.
- Ruiz de Alarcon, La Verdad sospechosa.
- L’Illusion comique is antithetically mixed.
- Andromaque; Phèdre; Bérénice, &c.
- Esther; Athalie.
- Le Cid; Polyeucte.
- Esther; Athalie.
- Corneille, Rodogune; Racine, Phèdre.
- Brutus; La Mort de César; Sémiramis.
- Œdipe; Le Fanatisme (Mahomet).
- Adélaïde du Guesclin.
- L’Orphelin de la Chine.
- Tanis et Zélide.
- Les Guèbres.
- La Mort de César; Zaïre (Othello).
- Hamlet; Le Roi Léar, &c.
- The lectures delivered by the late Professor A. Beljame at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1905-1906 may be mentioned as valuable contributions to our knowledge of the growth of Shakespeare’s influence in France.
- Quinault, L’Amour indiscret (Newcastle and Dryden’s Sir Martin Mar-all).
- Le Mercure galant; Ésope à la ville; Ésope à la cour (Vanbrugh, Aesop).
- Le Bal (M. de Pourceaugnac); Geronte in Le Légataire universel (Argan in Le Malade imaginaire); La Critique du L. (La C. de l’école des femmes).
- Le Joueur; Le Légataire universel.
- Crispin rival de son maître; Turcaret.
- Le Méchant.
- La Métromanie.
- Le Jeu de l’amour et du hasard; Le Legs; La Surprise de l’amour; Les Fausses Confidences; L’Épreuve.
- Le Philosophe marié; Le Glorieux; Le Dissipateur.
- La Fausse Antipathie; Le Préjugé à la mode; L’École des amis; Méluside; Paméla. L’École des mères was the play which Frederick the Great described as turning the stage into a bureau général de la fadeur.
- See especially Nanine, founded on the original Paméla.
- Le Philosophe sans le savoir; La Gageure imprévue.
- e.g. Eugénie (the original of Goethe’s Clavigo) and Les Deux Amis, or Le Négociant de Lyon.
- Richard Cœur de Lion, &c.
- Zémire et Azor; Jeannot et Jeannette.
- Les Muses galantes; Le Devin du village.
- Charles IX, ou l’école des rois.
- Hernani (1839); Le Roi s’amuse; Ruy Blas; Les Burgraves, &c. Even in Torquemada, the fruit of its author’s old age, and full of bombast, the original power has not altogether gone out.
- François le champi; Claudie.
- Le Gendre de M. Poirier.
- On ne badine pas avec l’amour, as interpreted by Delaunay, must always remain the most exquisite type of this inimitable genre.
- Théâtre de Clara Gazul. La Famille Carvajal, one of these pieces, treats the same story as that of The Cenci.
- Lucrèce (1843); L’Honneur et l’argent; Charlotte Corday.
- La Ciguë; L’Aventurière; Gabrielle; Le Fils de Giboyer, &c.
- Valérie; Bertrand et Raton; Le Verre d’eau, &c.
- Louis XI.
- Adrienne Lecouvreur.
- La Dame aux camélias; Le Demi-monde; Le Supplice d’une femme; Les Idées de Mme Aubray; L’Étrangère; Francillon.
- Les Pattes de mouche; Nos bons villageois; Patrie.
- Le Monde où l’on s’ennuie.