I am writing to you at Croisset in any case, because I doubt if you are in Paris during this Toledo-like heat; unless the shade of Fontainebleau has kept you. What a lovely forest, isn’t it? but it is especially so in winter, without leaves, with its fresh moss, which has chic. Did you see the sand of Arbonne? There is a little Sahara there which ought to be lovely now.
We are very happy here. Every day a bath in a stream that is always cold and shady; in the daytime four hours of work, in the evening, recreation, and the life of Punch and Judy. A TRAVELLING THEATRICAL COMPANY came to us; it was part of a company from the Odeon, among whom were several old friends to whom we gave supper at La Chatre, two successive nights with all their friends, after the play; — songs, laughter, with champagne frappe, till three o’clock in the morning to the great scandal of the bourgeois, who would have committed any crime to have been there. There was a very comic Norman, a real Norman, who sang real peasant songs to us, in the real language. Do you know that they have quite a Gallic wit and mischief? They contain a mine of master-pieces of genre. That made me love Normandy still more. You may know that comedian. His name is Freville. It is he who is charged in the repertory with the parts of the dull valets, and with being kicked from behind. He is detestable, impossible, but out of the theatre, he is as charming as can be. Such is fate!
We have had some delightful guests at our house, and we have had a joyous time without prejudice to the Lettres d’un Voyageur in the Revue, or to botanical excursions in some very surprising wild places. The little girls are the loveliest thing about it all. Gabrielle is a big lamb, sleeping and laughing all day; Aurore, more spiritual, with eyes of velvet and fire, talking at thirty months as others do at five years, and adorable in everything. They are keeping her back so that she shall not get ahead too fast.
You worry me when you tell me that your book will blame the patriots for everything that goes wrong. Is that really so? and then the victims! it is quite enough to be undone by one’s own fault without having one’s own foolishness thrown in one’s teeth. Have pity! There are so many fine spirits among them just the same! Christianity has been a fad and I confess that in every age it is a lure when one sees only the tender side of it; it wins the heart. One has to consider the evil it does in order to get rid of it. But I am not surprised that a generous heart like Louis Blanc dreamed of seeing it purified and restored to his ideal. I also had that illusion; but as soon as one takes a step in this past, one sees that it can not be revived, and I am sure that now Louis Blanc smiles at his dream. One should think of that also.
One must remind oneself that all those who had intelligence have progressed tremendously during the last twenty years and that it would not be generous to reproach them with what they probably reproach themselves.
As for Proudhon, I never thought him sincere. He is a rhetorician of GENIUS, as they say. But I don’t understand him. He is a specimen of perpetual antithesis, without solution. He affects one like one of the old Sophists whom Socrates made fun of.
I am trusting you for GENEROUS sentiments. One can say a word more or less without wounding, one can use the lash without hurting, if the hand is gentle in its strength. You are so kind that you cannot be cruel.
Shall I go to Croisset this autumn? I begin to fear not, and to fear that Cadio is not being rehearsed. But I shall try to escape from Paris even if only for one day.
My children send you their regards. Ah! Heavens! there was a fine quarrel about Salammbo; some one whom you do not know, went so far as not to like it, Maurice called him BOURGEOIS, and to settle the affair, little Lina, who is high tempered, declared that her husband was wrong to use such a word, for he ought to have said IMBECILE. There you are. I am well as a Turk. I love you and I embrace you.
Your old Troubadour,
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:50