What a long time it is since I have written to you, dear master. I have so many things to say to you that I don’t know where to begin. Oh! how horrid it is to live so separated when we love each other.
Have you given Paris an eternal adieu? Am I never to see you again there? Are you coming to Croisset this summer to hear Saint-Antoine?
As for me, I can not go to Nohant, because my time, considering my straitened purse, is all counted; but I have still I a full month of readings and researches in Paris. After that I am going away with my mother: we are in search of a companion for her. It is not easy to find one. Then, towards Easter I shall be back at Croisset, and shall start to work again at the manuscript. I am beginning to want to write.
Just now, I am reading in the evening, Kant’s Critique de la raison pure, translated by Barni, and I am freshening up my Spinoza. During the day I amuse myself by looking over bestiaries of the middle ages; looking up in the “authorities” all the most baroque animals. I am in the midst of fantastic monsters.
When I have almost exhausted the material I shall go to the Museum to muse before real monsters, and then the researches for the good Saint-Antoine will be finished.
In your letter before the last one you showed anxiety about my health; reassure yourself! I have never been more convinced that it was robust. The life that I have led this winter was enough to kill three rhinoceroses, but nevertheless I am well. The scabbard must be solid, for the blade is well sharpened; but everything is converted into sadness! Any action whatever disgusts me with life! I have followed your counsels, I have sought distractions! But that amuses me very little. Decidedly nothing but sacrosanct literature interests me.
My preface to the Dernieres Chansons has aroused in Madame Colet a pindaric fury. I have received an anonymous letter from her, in verse, in which she represents me as a charlatan who beats the drum on the tomb of his friend, a vulgar wretch who debases himself before criticism, after having “flattered Caesar”! “Sad example of the passions,” as Prudhomme would say.
A propos of Caesar, I can not believe, no matter what they say, in his near return. In spite of my pessimism, we have not come to that! However, if one consulted the God called Universal Suffrage, who knows? . . . Ah! we are very low, very low!
I saw Ruy Blas badly played except for Sarah. Melingue is a sleep-walking drain-man, and the others are as tiresome. As Victor Hugo had complained in a friendly way that I had not paid him a call, I thought I ought to do so and I found him . . . charming! I repeat the word, not at all “the great man,” not at all a pontiff! This discovery greatly surprised me and did me worlds of good. For I have the bump of veneration and I like to love what I admire. That is a personal allusion to you, dear, kind master.
I have met Madame Viardot whom I found a very curious temperament. It was Tourgueneff who took me to her house.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:54