The George Sand-Gustave Flaubert Letters

CCLXXII. To George Sand Thursday, one o’clock, 12 March, 1874

Speaking of FROSTS, this is one! People who want to flatter me insist that the play will do better before the real public, but I don’t think so! I know the defects of my play better than anyone. If Carvalho had not, for a month, bored me to death with corrections that I have cut out, I would have made re-touches or perhaps changes which would perhaps have modified the final issue. But I was so disgusted with it that I would not have changed a line for a million francs. In a word, I am dished.

It must be said too that the hall was detestable, all fops and students who did not understand the material sense of the words. They made jokes of the poetical things. A poet says: “I am of 1830, I learned to read in Hernani, and I wanted to be Lara.” Thereupon a burst of ironical laughter, etc.

And moreover I have fooled the public in regard to the title. They expected another Rabagas! The conservatives have been vexed because I did not attack the republicans. Similarly the communists would have liked some insults against the legitimists.

My actors played superbly, Saint-Germain among others; Delannoy who carries all the play, is distressed, and I don’t know what to do to soften his grief. As for Cruchard, he is calm, very calm! He had dined very well before the performance, and after it he supped even better. Menu: two dozen oysters from Ostend, a bottle of champagne frappe, three slices of roast beef, a truffle salad, coffee and a chaser. Religion and the stomach sustain Cruchard.

I confess that I should have liked to make some money, but as my fall involves neither art nor sentiment I am profoundly unconcerned.

I tell myself: “well, it’s over!” and I experience a feeling of freedom. The worst of it all is the scandal about the tickets. Observe that I had twelve orchestra seats and a box! (Le Figaro had eighteen orchestra seats and three boxes.) I did not even see the chief of the claque. One would say that the management of the Vaudeville had arranged for me to fail. Its dream is fulfilled.

I did not give away a quarter of the seats that I needed and I bought a great many for people who slandered me eloquently in the lobbies. The “bravos” of a devoted few were drowned at once by the “hushes.” When they mentioned my name at the end, there was applause (for the man but not for the work) accompanied by two beautiful cat-calls from the gallery gods. That is the truth.

La Petite Presse of this morning is polite. I can ask no more of it. Farewell, dear good master, do not pity me, for I don’t feel pitiable.

P. S. — A nice bit from my servant when he handed me your letter this morning. Knowing your handwriting, he said sighing: “Ah! the best one was not there last evening!” That is just what I think.

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