EIGHTH SITUATION 35
(or our parlor diplomats who talk of it) . . . . Yet others "for fear" of vexing the Grand Turk!
Is it possible, notwithstanding all this, to find a single instance in which a dramatic production has brought about a national calamity such as our censors fear? The pretext is no more sincere than are those urged for excluding from the theater any frank and truthful representations of love. A rule against admitting children should be sufficient to satisfy modesty on this point; even that is little needed, since children unaccompanied by their elders rarely apply for admission.
Our sentimental bourgeoisie apparently holds to the eighteenth-century opinion that it is more dangerous to listen to these things in public than to read of them in private. For our dramatic art — which, be it noted, has remained, despite its decline, the one great unrivalled means of propagating French thought throughout Europe — has been forbidden, little by little, to touch directly upon theology, politics, sociology, upon criminals or crimes, excepting (and pray why this exception?) adultery, upon which subject our theater, to its great misfortune, now lives, at least two days out of three.
The ancients had a saying that a man enslaved loses half his soul. A dramatist is a man.