The George Sand-Gustave Flaubert Letters

CCXVII. To Gustave Flaubert, at Croissset Nohant, from the 28 to the 29 February 1872. Night of Wednesday to Thursday, three o’clock in the morning.

Ah! my dear old friend, what a dreadful twelve days I have spent! Maurice has been very ill. Continually these terrible sore throats, which in the beginning seem nothing, but which are complicated with abscesses and tend to become membranous. He has not been in danger, but always IN DANGER OF DANGER, and he has had cruel suffering, loss of voice, he could not swallow; every anguish attached to the violent sore throat that you know well, since you have just had one. With him, this trouble continually tends to get worse, and his mucous membrane has been so often the seat of the same illness that it lacks energy to react. With that, little or no fever, almost always on his feet, and the moral depression of a man used to continual exercise of body and mind, whom the mind and body forbids to exercise. We have looked after him so well that he is now, I think, out of the woods, although, this morning, I was afraid again and sent for Doctor Favre, our USUAL savior.

Throughout the day I have been talking to him, to distract him, about your researches on monsters; he had his papers brought so as to hunt among them for what might be useful you; but he has found only the pure fantasies of his own invention. I found them so original and so funny that I have encouraged him to send them to you. They will be of no use to you except to make you burst out laughing in your hours recreation.

I hope that we are going to come to life again without new relapses. He is the soul and the life of the house. When he is depressed we are dead; mother, wife, and children. Aurore says that she would like to be very ill in her father’s place We love each other passionately, we five, and the SACROSANCT LITERATURE as you call it, is only secondary in my life. I have always loved some one more than it and my family more than that some one.

Pray why is your poor little mother so irritable and desperate, in the very midst of an old age that when I last saw her was still so green and so gracious? Is her deafness sudden? Did she entirely lack philosophy and patience before these infirmities? I suffer with you because I understand what you are suffering.

Another old age which is worse, since it is becoming malicious, is that of Madame Colet. I used to think that all her hatred was directed against me, and that seemed to me a bit of madness; for I had never done or said anything against her, even after that vile book in which she poured out all her fury WITHOUT cause. What has she against you now that passion has become ancient history? Strange! strange! And, a propos of Bouilhet, she hated him then, him too this poor poet? She is mad.

You may well think that I was not able to write an iota for these twelve days. I am going, I hope, to start at work as soon as I have finished my novel which has remained with one foot in the air at the last pages. It is on the point of being published but has not yet been finished. I am up every night till dawn; but I have not had a sufficiently tranquil mind to be distracted from my patient.

Good night, dear good friend of my heart.

Heavens! don’t work nor sit up too much, as you also have sore throats. They are terrible and treacherous illnesses. We all love you, and we embrace you. Aurore is charming; she learns all that we want her to, we don’t know how, without seeming to notice it.

What kind of a woman do you want as a companion for your mother? Perhaps I know of such a one. Must she converse and read aloud? It seems to me that the deafness is a barrier to that. Isn’t it a question of material care and continual diligence? What are the stipulations and what is the compensation?

Tell me how and why father Hugo did not have one single visit after Ruy Blas? Did Gautier, Saint-Victor, his faithful ones, neglect him? Have they quarreled about politics?

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Last updated Friday, March 14, 2014 at 21:53