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THE fundamental thing in Rousseauistic morality is not, as we have seen, the assertion that man is naturally good, but the denial of the "civil war in the cave." Though this denial is not complete in Rousseau himself, nothing is more certain than that his whole tendency is away from this form of dualism. The beautiful soul does the right thing not as a result of effort, but spontaneously, unconsciously and almost inevitably. In fact the beautiful soul can scarcely be said to be a voluntary agent at all. "Nature" acts in him and for him. This minimizing of moral struggle and deliberation and choice, this drift towards a naturalistic fatalism, as it may be termed, is a far more significant thing in Rousseau than his optimism. One may as a matter of fact eliminate dualism in favor of nature and at the same time look on nature as evil. This is precisely what one is likely to do if one sees no alternative to temperamental living, while judging those who live temperamentally not by their "ideal," that is by their feeling of their own loveliness, but by what they actually do. One will become a realist in the sense that came to be attached to this word during the latter part of the nineteenth century. Rousseau himself is often realistic in this sense when he interrupts his Arcadian visions to tell us what actually occurred. In the "Confessions," as I have said, passages that recall Lamartine alternate with passages that recall Zola, and the transi

tion from one type of passage to the other is often disconcertingly sudden. In reading these realistic passages of Rousseau we are led to reflect that his "nature" is not, in practice, so remote from Taine's nature as might at first appear. "What we call nature," says Taine, "is this brood of secret passions, often maleficent, generally vulgar, always blind, which tremble and fret within us, illcovered by the cloak of decency and reason under which we try to disguise them; we think we lead them and they lead us; we think our actions our own, they are theirs." 1

The transition from an optimistic to a pessimistic naturalism can be followed with special clearness in the stages by which the sentimental drama of the eighteenth century passes over into the realistic drama of a later period. Petit de Julleville contrasts the beginning and the end of this development as follows: "[In the eighteenth century] to please the public you had to say to it: 'You are all at least at bottom good, virtuous, full of feeling. Let yourselves go, follow your instincts; listen to nature and you will do the right thing spontaneously.' How changed times are! Nowadays 2 any one who wishes to please, to be read and petted and admired, to pass for great and become very rich, should address men as follows: 'You are a vile pack of rogues, and profligates, you have neither faith nor law; you are impelled by your instincts alone and these instincts are ignoble. Do not try though to mend matters, that would be of no use at all.""

The connecting link between these different forms of the drama is naturalistic fatalism, the suppression of moral responsibility for either man's goodness or badness. Strictly speaking, the intrusion of the naturalistic

1 Lit. Ang., IV, 130. 2 About 1885. 3 Le Théâtre en France, 304.

element into the realm of ethical values and the subversion by it of deliberation and choice and of the normal sequence of moral cause and effect is felt from the human point of view not as fate at all, but as chance. Emotional romanticism joins at this point with other forms of romanticism, which all show a proclivity to prefer to strict motivation, to probability in the Aristotelian sense, what is fortuitous and therefore wonderful. This is only another way of saying that the romanticist is moving away from the genuinely dramatic towards melodrama. Nothing is easier than to establish the connection between emotional romanticism and the prodigious efflorescence of melodrama, the irresponsible quest for thrills, that has marked the past century. What perhaps distinguishes this movement from any previous one is the attempt to invest what is at bottom a melodramatic view of life with philosophic and even religious significance. By suppressing the "civil war in the cave" one strikes at the very root of true drama. It does not then much matter from the dramatic point of view whether the burden of responsibility for good or evil of which you have relieved the individual is shifted upon "nature" or society. Shelley, for example, puts the blame for evil on society. "Prometheus Unbound," in which he has developed his conception, is, judged as a play, only an ethereal melodrama. The unaccountable collapse of Zeus, a monster of unalloyed and unmotivated badness, is followed by the gushing forth in man of an equally unalloyed and unmotivated goodness. The whole genius of Hugo, again, as I have said in speaking of his use of antithesis, is melodramatic. His plays may be described as parvenu melodramas. They abound in every variety

of startling contrast and strange happening, the whole pressed into the service of "problems" manifold and even of a philosophy of history. At the same time the poverty of ethical insight and true dramatic motivation is dissimulated under profuse lyrical outpourings and purple patches of local color. His Hernani actually glories in not being a responsible agent, but an "unchained and fatal force," and so more capable of striking astonishment into himself and others. Yet the admirers of Hugo would not only promote him to the first rank of poets, but would have us share his own belief that he is a seer and a prophet.

It may be objected that the great dramatists of the past exalt this power of fate and thus diminish moral responsibility. But the very sharpest distinction must be drawn between the subrational fate of the emotional romanticist and the superrational fate of Greek tragedy. The fate of Æschylean tragedy, for instance, so far from undermining moral responsibility rather reinforces it. It is felt to be the revelation of a moral order of which man's experience at any particular moment is only an infinitesimal fragment. It does not seem, like the subrational fate of the emotional romanticist, the intrusion into the human realm of an alien power whether friendly or unfriendly. This point might be established by a study of the so-called fate drama in Germany (Schicksaltragödie), which, though blackly pessimistic, is closely related to the optimistic sentimental drama of the eighteenth century.2 The German fate drama is in its essence ignoble 1 Je suis une force qui va!

Agent aveugle et sourd de mystères funèbres.

2 E.g., Lillo's Fatal Curiosity (1736) had a marked influence on the rise of the German fate tragedy.

because its characters are specimens of sensitive morality

incapable, that is, of opposing a firm human purpose to inner impulse or outer impression. The fate that thus wells up from the depths of nature and overwhelms their wills is not only malign and ironical, but as Grillparzer says, makes human deeds seem only "throws of the dice in the blind night of chance." It would be easy to follow similar conceptions of fate down through later literature at least to the novels of Thomas Hardy.


Some of the earlier exponents of the sentimental drama, like Diderot, were not so certain as one might expect that the discarding of traditional decorum in favor of "nature" would result practically in a reign of pure loveliness. At one moment Diderot urges men to get rid of the civil war in the cave in order that they may be Arcadian, like the savages of the South Sea, but at other moments as in "Rameau's Nephew"- he shows a somewhat closer grip on the problem of what will actually come to pass when a man throws off the conventions of a highly organized civilization and sets out to live temperamentally. Diderot sees clearly that he will be that least primitive of all beings, the Bohemian. Rameau's nephew, in his irresponsibility and emotional instability, in the kaleidoscopic shiftings of his mood, anticipates all the romantic Bohemians and persons of "artistic temperament" who were to afflict the nineteenth century. But he is more than a mere æsthete. At moments we can discern in him the first lineaments of the superman, who 1 Wo ist der, der sagen dürfe, So will ich's, so sei's gemacht, Unsre Taten sind nur Würfe In des Zufalls blinde Nacht.

Die Ahnfrau.

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