The tone is decidedly lower, more immoral, worse than it was twenty years ago; and when it is recollected how much influence the drama exercises in France on public opinion, it becomes an important fact in regard to the moral state of the capital and country. The old French drama, and especially the comedy, from Moliere's time downwards, contained often gross and indelicate phrases and allusions, but the tone of the pieces, as a whole, was generally respectable. The recent theatre reverses all this. It contains hardly any indecorous phrases or allusions, but its whole tone is highly immoral. I have not yet seen one piece that is to be considered an exception to this remark. The popular literature of the time, too, is in the same tone. Victor Hugo, Balzac, the shameless woman who dresses like a man and calls herself George Sand, Paul de Kock, and I know not how many more, belong to this category, and are daily working mischief throughout those portions of society to whom they address themselves. How is this to be explained? Is it that the middling class of society, that fills the smaller theatres and reads the romances of the popular writers, is growing corrupt; that the progress of wealth, and even of education, has opened doors to vice as well as to improvement? I fear so. . . . . . At any rate, I know nothing that more truly deserves the reproach of being immoral and demoralizing than the theatres of Paris, and the popular literature of the day. It is all much worse than it was twenty years ago. Society, so far as it has changed at all, has changed by becoming more extensive, and more political in its tone. The number of those who go into the higher salons is much increased, and especially in those that are purely political, like Moleas, Guizot's, Thiers', etc., and the numbers that resort to each fluctuate disgracefully, exactly according to the political position of the host. It was quite ridiculous to see how this principle operated once or twice this winter, when the Ministry were supposed to stand insecurely. But in all the salons it is perceptible. Even the Tuileries is not an exception. Party lines decide who shall and who shall not go there. Carlists, of course, are never seen. Deputies in citizens' dresses and black coats go only to show that they are in the opposition; and many a Bonapartist cannot or will not be seen there, though the King himself treats
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