One of the incidental attractions of joining the Comédie-Française had always been that the Society could be relied on to look after the well-being of its veteran members even after they had left the stage, provided that they had given it a full twenty years' service counting from the date of their promotion to the rank of societaire. The policy of paying retirement pensions to superannuated actors at the royal theatre antedates even the coming into being of the Comédie-Française. In his Théâtre françois of 1674, Chappuzeau mentions the custom which had already grown up at that time for a new entrant to pay the older one whom he was replacing ‘une pension honnête’ out of his own earnings, so as to provide the retired actor with an income permitting him to live out his remaining days without falling into destitution. On 17 May 1728 the system was regularized by a proclamation to the effect that ‘les acteurs et actrices qui se retireraient jouiraient à l'avenir d'une pension viagère de mille livies, soit qu'ils eussent eu part entière, demi-part ou même un quart de part’; and although these arrangements fell into abeyance during the Revolution, causing acute distress to several former sociétaires who had only their personal savings to fall back on, they were reinstated by the Act of Association which all members of the Society were required to sign in 1804: clause 12 laid it down that ‘le sociétaire qui se retirera après vingt ans de service aura droit à une pension viagère de 2000 francs de la part du Gouvernement et à une pension égale de la part de la Société’. Even if they had no other resources, 4000 francs a year would relieve an ex-actor of serious financial anxieties; and since they might still be in their early forties when they took retirement, there was nothing to prevent them starting a business if they wished or cultivating a small farm in the country.