Page:Rolland - People's Theater.djvu/95

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.



of certain plays by the Hébertistes, saying that the "first laws to be respected in plays are the laws of good taste and good sense." The grandeur of his conception of a popular art is even more strikingly evident in a decree of the 11th of Messidor, Year II (June 29, 1794), wherein he pitilessly criticizes not the anti-republican plays, but the republican plays written for the Festival to the Supreme Being, which degraded the subject by their mediocrity.

"There are many dramatists on the alert to detect the current of the fashion; they know the costumes and the colors of the season; they know to the day when to put on one's red bonnet, and when to take it off. Their genius has laid siege to and conquered a whole city, while our brave Republicans have barely opened the breach. … Hence the corruption of taste and the degeneration of art. While genius meditates and casts her conceptions into bronze, mediocrity, cowering beneath the egis of liberty, bears off the laurels of the moment, and gathers without an effort the flowers of an ephemeral success. … Let us inspire our young literary men with the idea that the road to immortality is a difficult one, and that if they wish to offer the French people works as imperishable as their glory, they must avoid mere barren profusion and unmerited success, for these kill talent and cause genius to dissipate itself with a few fugitive sparks shot into a night of smoke; hasty attempts to snatch the wreath of victory, made according to a fixed formula, can only result in the degradation of the