"The Question of Marriage and the Contemporary Stage; Paul Hervieu" was the subject of M. Deschamps's second lecture on the modern French drama, given yesterday afternoon.
M. Deschamps first reviewed the works of Paul Hervieu and analyzed the spirit and motive of the work. Hervieu, in his "Flirt," in "Peints par euxmemes," "L' Armature," "Les Tenailles," and "La Loi de Phmme," has taken his stand as the defender and the champion of the rights of modern woman. He has voluntarily circumscribed the field of his observations to society, the sphere in which woman finds opportunity to show her grace and charm, and to exercise her supremacy. Society life is the life in which he lives in thought, and it is the subject with which he prefers to deal. To him there is something fascinating in the luxe of modern civilization, which, if too often the hell of less fortunate mortals, can yet be considered the paradise of the rich. Hervieu has described with minute imagery the whole fabric of civilization as some great and gorgeous temple, and in this temple rules, he says, the idol of all time, woman.
But Hervieu believes this adulated idol is far from being happy. He sees her subjected to and caught in "Les Tenailles" of wedlock, and believes here to be oppressed by "La Loi de I'Homme" Against this subjection and oppression of woman, his sense of justice revolts, and from them, through the medium of his writings, has he sought to free here. The Roman law as it is manifested and re-imbodied in the Napoleonic code, appears to him unjust. He would like to emancipate women entirely, and he desires also to have French social legislation framed after the pattern of the American laws.
M. Deschamps, though unwilling to go to the limits of Hervieu's daring conclusions, yet on essential points and in general theory agrees with him. He believes that to Hervieu is due unstinted praise for the sincerity, the eloquences and the talent with which he has defended the love marriage against the "mariage de convenance" and the "mariage de raison," so often opposed to the invincible instinct of love.
In concluding his lecture, M. Deschamps outlined the general position of contemporary French writers on the question of marriage. These writers, as a class, remain faithful to the doctrines of authors of the older schools, they have steadfastly opposed the introduction of mercenary considerations into the question of marriage, and have championed the principle that the union of man and woman should be dictated and guided by love alone.