Especially to be noted is the same perfectly serious pushing of the dramatic commonplaces to an absurd conclusion. There is the same kind of humor too, and the same girding at the stock tricks of stage-craft in H.M.S. Pinafore at the swapping of children in the cradle, and in Tricoche et Cacolet at the "portrait de ma mère" which has drawn so many tears in modern melodrama.
Nowhere in Regnard is there a situation equal in comic power to that in the final act of the Réveillon a situation Molière would have been glad to treat. Especially to be commended in Tricoche et Cacolet is the satire of the hysterical sentimentality and of the forced emotions born of luxury and idleness.
It is to be remembered always that the author of L'Abbé Constantin is also the half-author of "Froufrou" and of "Tricoche et Cacolet," as well as of the librettos of "La Belle Hélène" and of "La Grande Duchesse de Gerolstein."
Among the best of the longer of these comic plays are Tricoche et Cacolet and La Boule. Both were written for the Palais Royal, and they are models of the new dramatic species which came into existence at that theatre about twenty years ago, as M. Francisquc Sarcey recently reminded us in his interesting article on the Palais Royal in The Nineteenth Century.
To me it is neither higher comedy nor more provocative of laughter than either La Boule or Tricoche et Cacolet; and the modern plays, as I have said, are based on a study of life as it is, while the figures of the older comedies are frankly conventional.
He probably lives as a poor, but perfectly honest man in one of the remote villages in the Pyrenees, and is perhaps held in high esteem by all around him. It was the case of the notorious Maurice Tricoche who escaped us for years and lived near Luchon until he was betrayed by a woman whose husband he had maltreated. Perhaps Despujol will also be betrayed. We hope so!"
In time, of course, his luck turned; he had plays performed and stories published; and at last he met M. Henri Meilhac, and entered on that collaboration of nearly twenty years' duration to which we owe "Froufrou" and "Tricoche et Cacolet," on the one hand, and on the other the books of Offenbach's most brilliant operas "Barbebleue," for example, and "La Périchole."
Better even than La Boule is Tricoche et Cacolet, which is the name of a firm of private detectives whose exploits and devices surpass those imagined by Poe in America, by Wilkie Collins in England, and by Gaboriau in France.