The George Sand-Gustave Flaubert Letters

CCLXVI. To George Sand January, 1874

As I have a quiet moment, I am going to profit by it by talking a little with you, dear good master! And first of all, embrace for me all your family and accept all my wishes for a Happy New Year!

This is what is happening now to your Father Cruchard.

Cruchard is very busy, but serene and very calm, which surprises everybody. Yes, that’s the way it is. No indignations, no boiling over. The rehearsals of le Candidat have begun, and the thing will be on the boards the first of February. Carvalho seems to me very satisfied with it! Nevertheless he has insisted on my combining two acts in one, which makes the first act inordinately long.

I did this work in two days, and Cruchard has been splendid! He slept seven hours in all, from Thursday morning (Christmas Day) to Saturday, and he is only the better for it.

Do you know what I am going to do to complete my ecclesiastical character? I am going to be a godfather. Madame Charpentier in her enthusiasm for Saint-Antoine came to beg me to give the name Antoine to the child that she is expecting! I refused to inflict on this young Christian the name of such an agitated man, but I had to accept the honor that was done me. Can you see my old top-knot by the baptismal font, beside the chubby-cheeked baby, the nurse and the relatives? O civilization, such are your blows! Good manners, such are your exactions!

I went on Sunday to the civic funeral of Francois-Victor Hugo. What a crowd! and not a cry, not the least bit of disorder! Days like that are bad for Catholicism. Poor father Hugo (whom I could not help embracing) was very broken, but stoical.

What do you think of le Figaro, which reproached him for wearing at his son’s funeral, “a soft hat”?

As for politics, a dead calm. The Bazaine trial is ancient history. Nothing shows better the contemporary demoralization than the pardon granted to this wretched creature! Besides, the right of pardon if one departs from theology is a denial of justice. By what right can a man prevent the accomplishment of the law?

The Bonapartists should have let this alone; but not at all: they defended him bitterly, out of hatred for the 4th of September. Why do all the parties regard themselves as having joint interests with the rascals who exploit them? It is because all parties are execrable, imbecile, unjust, blind! An example: the history of Azor (what a name!). He robbed the ecclesiastics. Never mind! the clericals consider themselves attacked.

As regards the church. I have read in full (which I never did before) Lamennais’ Essai sur l’indifference. I know now, and thoroughly, all the great buffoons who had a disastrous influence on the XIXth century. To establish common sense or the prevailing mode and custom as the criterion of certitude, that is preparing the way for universal suffrage, which is, to my way of thinking, the shame of human kind.

I have just read also, la Chretienne by the Abbe Bautain. A curious book for a novelist. It smacks of its period of modern Paris. I gulped a volume by Garcin de Tassy on Hindustani literature, to get clean. One can breathe, at least, in that.

You see that your Father Cruchard is not entirely stupefied by the theatre. However, I haven’t anything to complain of in the Vaudeville. Everyone there is polite and exact! How different from the Odeon!

Our friend Chennevieres is now our superior, since the theatres are in his division. The theatrical people are enchanted.

I see the Muscovite every Sunday. He is very well and like him better and better.

Saint-Antoine will be in galley proof at the end of January.

Adieu, dear master! When shall we meet? Nohant is very far away! and I am going to be, all this winter, very busy.

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