The Black Cat: A Public Domain Play in Three Acts
"The Black Cat" was produced at the Opera Comique on December 8th, 1893, at one of the Independent Theatre Society's performances. It had a certain success before a special audience, for whom, however, it was not written; and it has not been performed since.
The critics were wonderfully kind. They actually praised the play; some reluctantly, some with a reckless enthusiasm which quite astonished me. I had expected a much less pleasant reception.
The main objection they made to the thing was that it had a tragic ending, which they kindly suggested I had tacked on to my comedy, to appeal to the morbid taste of an "Independent" audience. Unfortunately I had done nothing of the kind. The play was conceived before the Independent Theatre had come into existence. The end was foreseen from the beginning; the tragedy being implicit in the subject. The tragic motive lay deeper than the death of the heroine, who might have been allowed to live, if that last symbolic pageantry had not had its dramatic fitness. Given the characters and the circumstances, the end is the absolutely right one.
Of course the circumstances might have been altered, and a sort of reconciliation patched up between husband and wife. But this would be a somewhat flat piece of cynicism, only justifiable on the ground taken by the Telegraph, that modern actors cannot play, and ought not to be expected to play, modern tragedy.
-- from the author's preface