I received a telegram yesterday evening from Madame Cornu containing these words: “Come to me, urgent business.” I therefore hurried to her today, and here is the story.
The Empress maintains that you made some very unkind allusions to her in the last number of the Revue! “What about me, whom all the world is attacking now! I should not have believed that! and I wanted to have her nominated for the Academy! But what have I done to her? etc., etc.” In short, she is distressed, and the Emperor too! He is not indignant but prostrated (sic). [Footnote: Malgre tout, Calmann-Levy, 1870.]
Madame Cornu explained to her that she was mistaken and that you had not intended to make any allusion to her.
Hereupon a theory of the manner in which novels are written.
— Oh well, then, let her write in the papers that she did not intend to wound me.
— But she will not do that, I answered.
— Write to her to tell you so.
— I will not allow myself to take that step.
— But I would like to know the truth, however! Do you know someone who . . . then Madame Cornu mentioned me.
— Oh, don’t say that I spoke to you of it!
Such is the dialogue that Madame Cornu reported to me.
She wants you to write me a letter in which you tell me that the Empress was not used by you as a model. I shall send that letter to Madame Cornu who will have it given to the Empress.
I think that story stupid and those people are very sensitive! Much worse things than that are told to us.
Now dear master of the good God, you must do exactly what you please.
The Empress has always been very kind to me and I should not be sorry to do her a favor. I have read the famous passage. I see nothing in it to hurt her. But women’s brains are so queer!
I am very tired in mine (my brain) or rather it is very low for the moment! However hard I work, it doesn’t go! Everything irritates me and hurts me; and since I restrain myself before people, I give way from time to time to floods of tears when it seems to me as if I should burst. At last I am experiencing an entirely new sensation: the approach of old age. The shadow invades me, as Victor Hugo would say.
Madame Cornu has spoken to me enthusiastically of a letter you wrote her on a method of teaching.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:50