Page:Rolland - People's Theater.djvu/43

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practically dead for us of today. It was a political art, intended for statesmen, patriots, and those interested in the theory of government and revolution. As has been said, it reflects the generation of great ambitious men, laid low, not without difficulty by Mazarin and Richelieu, whose dominant passion was government, and who in thought and sometimes in action, after trying all forms of politics and contemplating all things, contributed to the elaboration of the powerful machine of the State in the seventeenth century. It was for them that the discussions in Cinna, Sertorius, and Othon were written. No matter how clear-sighted and penetrating these discourses were, what possible interest do they offer us of today? Undoubtedly, our own age, like Corneille's, is a political one, and we have resolutely set ourselves to solve our problems of government and society, to find a new formula which shall satisfy our moral and intellectual needs. But our present-day problems are not the problems of two centuries ago, and as for politics, we are interested in nothing that does not immediately concern us. The reasoning of Cinna and Maximus is as valid as it ever was, but (as is almost always the case with Corneille) it is an aristocratic sort of reasoning, a thing apart from practical affairs, and consequently disdained by the people. And they are right. These discussions and reasonings lead almost invariably to the apotheosis of monarchy, and a victorious peace after long wars. We can easily understand why Napoleon used Cinna to