THE ROMANTIC DRAMA
The case is far different with the Romantic Drama. Our problem is not so much to render it accessible to the people, as to keep it from them if, as it seemed, they showed signs of liking it too well. I need not repeat that the Romantic Drama is a kind of melodrama; and all the purely verbal poetry with which it is garnished can only increase its perniciousness. It is merely a lion's skin thrown over a bit of trifling nonsense. With all its superb intentions to supply the key to the universal enigma, depict and expound the whole world, "to observe everything at one time and in its every aspect"—as the poet naïvely proclaims in the preface to Marie Tudor—this form of drama requires very little ability in the writing. So far as observation is concerned, it relies on abstractions, as in the tragedies of Voltaire, wherein the author seeks to overwhelm one with a wealth of detail as meticulous as it is questionable. So far as thought is concerned, it is a motley harlequin of contradictory whims, in which
- ↑ It goes without saying that I do not here refer to the admirable aristocratic reveries of Musset, nor to the few cold and anti-popular plays of Aldred de Vigny—which, by the way, are vastly inferior to their reputation.