THE PEOPLE'S THEATER
tinct power, and every power, be it of words, of metaphor, or of gaiety, is worthy of sympathy—and I am in sympathy with M. Rostand. But if he fails to put himself at the service of truth, we shall be constrained to combat him as a public menace. (It is not given to everyone to be a public menace!) How many poets there are who think they have served their country because they sang of heroism, devotion, and sacrifice! But if their faith has been only of the lips and not of the heart, if they have cared only for verbal felicity and not for serious and stubborn realities, if they have sought personal success and not the welfare of others, then they have rendered heroism, devotion, and sacrifice objects of contempt, and in no wise served their cause. The virtuosos of sentiment, who listen only to their own songs and sing for public applause, are vicious, because they habituate others to self-deception.
It is now a fashion—first introduced, I think, by M. Jules Lemaître—to urge that snobbishness should be encouraged by the public, as the ally of new ideas, bringing, as it does, money and public favor. Possibly this shameful practice is not unwarranted under actual conditions, but we shall have nothing to do with it in our People's Theater. A nation might conceivably do without beauty; but it ought not, it cannot dispense with truth. We do not ask them to respect and admire what they do not understand: that is all very well if you wish to form a nation of petty officials under a despotic leadership. We ask them not to accept anything they cannot