Crockett is wholly undeserving of censure in this regard, that he has not in any way asked or aided the manufacture of this balloon of a reputation in which he has been floated to such heights. Apart from the pretensions of his claque, there is no earthly reason why a critic should hold him up to ridicule.
Oscar faced the American Philistine public without his accustomed "claque", and under these circumstances a half-success was evidence of considerable power. His subjects were "The English Renaissance" and "House Decoration."
Lastly, in the group of first-night deadheads come the members of the unrecognised, ill-organised, generally tactless claque. The species that lately has been attacked is divisible into two groups. The first consists of the people who will not go to the theatre without an order, but do not expect first-night tickets one may call them the "cadgers."
Your friends' feet will be loud on the floor, in payment for the dinners you give them; if they observe you in difficulties, they will come to the rescue, and give you a chance, in the relief afforded by rounds of applause, of thinking how to go on. A devoted claque of your own, by the way, is among your requirements.
The claque is an institution so openly recognized in French theatres that the proudest dramatic or lyric temple in Paris would not know what to do without it.
This same emotional contagion is, of course, the psychologic basis for the French system of the claque, or band of hired applauders seated in the centre of the house. The leader of the claque knows his cues as if he were an actor in the piece, and at the psychologic moment the claqueurs burst forth with their clatter and start the house applauding.
Paul would think were he here, and concluded not to be over hasty about giving the women the vote. At the Democratic convention an anti woman suffragist spoke. The applause in the gallery and in the standing groups filling the outside aisles was uproarious and clearly represented an organized, carefully planted claque.
"Gentlemen," said he, addressing the audience, "I desire to know if M. Auguste is not here." M. Auguste does not answer, and the spectators look at each other in surprise. "M. Antoine!" Silence again. "Well, gentlemen, I am the victim of the dishonesty of the chef and sous-chef of the claque. I gave them forty francs this morning to call me out, and neither of them is here.
Yes, sir, sold her own child! If I had a daughter, I would wait on her hand and foot as I wait on Coralie; she is like my own child to me. These are the first good times she has seen since I have been with her; the first time that she has been really applauded. You have written something, it seems, and they have got up a famous claque for the second performance.
You know the claque is a set of men who are hired to clap at certain points in the play indicated beforehand to them, in order that the audience may appreciate the most salient points and join the applause, if they wish to. Every one enjoyed the play immensely. There were portions of it which were very pathetic.