"Homesickness For The Mud"
Context: Émile Augier, a French playwright, was outraged at the romanticists' applause of the younger Alexandre Dumas' La Dame aux camélias, known as Camille in English. The idea that a prostitute is to be forgiven her filthy life because she has loved deeply, so revolted Augier that he wrote Le Mariage d'Olympe. This is the story of a courtesan, Olympe Taverny, who had had a notorious career in Paris; she entraps the innocent and inexperienced young son of a high-born family into marriage and gains wealth and a title. Although Olympe glories in being a wealthy countess, a year's virtuous living in small-town hotels far removed from the gaiety of Paris brings her to the verge of distraction from pure boredom; she has been in the company of no one but her husband, Henri de Puygiron, who is too tame for her tastes. She arranges matters so that she and Henri join the de Puygiron family in Vienna, where she soon enters into an affair with a rich young man of common antecedents, the ultimate end of the affair being her death by shooting at the hands of her husband–a conclusion very different from that of Camille. As the play opens, the Baron de Montrichard, the Marquis de Puygiron, and Baudel de Beauséjour are discussing the reported death of Olympe Taverny in California. Montrichard says that times are changing, and that such creatures as Olympe are marrying the sons of good families. The marquis suggests that such women should not be allowed to keep the names they gain by their trickery. Baudel takes a romantic view:
BAUDELBut, M. le Marquis, suppose the woman in question does not drag her stolen plumage in the gutter?MARQUISI cannot admit the hypothesis, Monsieur.BAUDELIs it not possible that she should like to give up her former life and want to lead a quiet and pure existence–?MARQUISPut a duck on a lake among swans, and you will observe that the duck regrets its mire, and will end by returning there.MONTRICHARDHomesickness for the mud!