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bullion and exported; and therefore a greater demand might for that purpose be made upon the bank for gold coin than in ordinary cases. Upon the resumption therefore of cash payments, the proportion which the coin in possession of the bank should bear to its notes in circulation, will in part depend on the course of exchange. If the course of exchange be favorable, the proportion may be less; if unfavorable, it must be greater. In preparing for the resumption of cash payments, should it be found necessary to increase the proportion which the gold in store bears to the notes in circulatiou, it may be a question, how this can be most conveniently effected ? whether by the bank diminishing the issue of fresh notes, or increasing the quantity of gold in its possession ; or whether by both these operations at once? Of the course to be pursued in this respect, the bank directors are perhaps the most competent judges. Therefore to them principally must be confided the means of preparing for the resumption of cash payments; but it is incumbent on them, at the same time to recollect, that the resumption of cash payments is a measure which justice and the national faith imperiously demand, and in which are involved the welfare and happiness of a great part of the community, since upon this will depend whether their property shall bear its just value, or be liable to depreciation, without any assignable limit.
ON THE FOLLOWING QUESTION;
WHICH ARE THE BEST MEANS OF MAKING THEATRES VIE WITH EACH OTHER IN PROMOTING THE
PERFECTION OF TASTE AND THE
IMPROVEMENT OF MORALS?
(A Publication rewarded with the Prize by the Society of Arts,
Sciences, and Belles Lettres of Bordeaux, August 27, 1812.]
BY A. DELPLA,
“ When it is dangerous to describe men as they are, we must represent them as they ought to be.”
I was resolved to publish this little work, because many useful remarks may perhaps be found in it relative to the object of the question proposed.
Critics may, among other things, reproach me with having particularised the question in relating every thing that belongs to our Theatre. I have acted so, because our Theatre interests us more particularly, and is better known to us than those of other ancient and modern nations; because it embraces all the varied style of the known Drama, all the modifications that Dramatic art has until now undergone, and because it offers the advantages and inconveniences of this kind of spectacle. If these reasons be good, may I not infer, that in speaking particularly of our Theatre, it will be found that I have treated on Theatres in general?
DRAMATIC taste appears so natural to man that it has been exemplified at all times, and in all places, in every circle of society, and at every period of life. The magnificent picture that nature constantly offers to his views appears too uniform ; always eager after novelties, he has invented others more interesting, which he has varied and improved so far as to lead him to suppose that the pleasures derived from them really are essential to his happiness.
Civilised or polished nations have always had Theatres analogous to the degree of civilization at which they have arrived : and in wild and uncultivated nations, we have always found whimsical dances, vulgar pantomimes, religious rites, and magical ceremonies. But the
where these men are actors and spectators at the same time, are, properly speaking, no more than physical movements, which do not produce any fatal or durable impressions. It is not the case in the spectacles of civilised people, the most important of which are the scenic games ; these games which invade the heart and understanding, in interesting them warmly, can be more or less useful or dangerous, according as the sentiments and ideas which they inspire are conformable or contrary to the rules which serve as a foundation to social order.
But if it be impossible to destroy these institutions inventeel by nature, and which long habit has consecrated, is it not indispensable to give them a more useful and less dangerous direction than that they have hitherto had, in order to make them promote the perfection of taste, and the refinement of morals; in a word, to offer in them solid instruction under the allurement of genteel amusement ?
Such is the object of this important question, the solution of which this respectable society wish to ascertain from literary men, capable of appreciating the wisdom of these designs, and worthy of associating with them. I dare take upon myself this difficult task: and I shall think I have fulfilled it, if, after having examined the genius of Theatres in general, I point out that in which it ought to be formed; and if, in enumerating the defects of the stock of our's in particular, I explain, at the same time, the means to clear and preserve it in that state of perfection to which a necessary reformation would lead.
Man resembling soft clay which yields to every impression, (by this same perfection which he has received from nature) seems destined to differ from what he originally was. Submitting to the influence of the climate he lives in, and the institutions which govern him, he varies his opinions and manners according to every change in his situation. Keen fallacious arguments mislead his reason; a vain and dangerous eloquence seduces his understanding, and perverts his heart; good or bad examples hurry him on indifferently to act right or wrong ; in a word, susceptible of every possible modification, man is the constant sport of the objects to which he has any affinity:
It is from this knowledge of our nature that we can and ought to judge of the effect of Theatrical representations, and from this deplorable fickleness of the heart and human reason, several moralists (among whom may be noticed the eloquent citizen of Geneva) have not hesitated to condemn them as fatal to morals.
These austere men, in considering the nature of Theatres in general, have thought that by means of improving the mind, agitating the heart, and staggering the soul, actions and speeches which are the constituent elements of scenic games, ought infallibly to unfold the elements of our passions, that in analysing the passions and vices with so much art, in surrounding them with all kind of illusions, the Theatre should incline us to forget or cease to fear any danger. The natural conclusion to be drawn from this argument is, that these exhibitions only tend to injure the character, and corrupt and degrade man, whose dignity consists in being always master of himself, and in listening to the principles of reason, combined with the inspirations of a noble and sensible soul, and not in following the capricious wanderings of the heart and understanding, (the excesses of which ought never to be displayed before his eyes) for the best safeguard of yirtue is in the calmness of the heart and in the ignorance of vice,
But what should become of us, if these arguments rested on a solid foundation ? To how many admirable institutions might we not apply them? Our schools, our best books, all our plans of