Dear friend of my heart, I wanted to reread your book [Footnote: l’Education sentimentale.]; my daughter-in-law has read it too, and some of my young people, all readers in earnest and of the first rank and not stupid at all. We are all of the same opinion, that it is a beautiful book, equal in strength to the best ones of Balzac and truer, that is to say more faithful to the truth from one end to the other.
One needs the great art, the exquisite form and the severity of your work to do without flowers of fancy. However, you throw poetry with a full hand on your picture, whether your characters understand it or not. Rosanette at Fontainebleau does not know on what grass she walks and nevertheless she is poetic.
All that issues from a master’s hand, and your place is well won for always. Live then as calmly as possible in order to last a long time and to produce a great deal.
I have seen two short articles which did not seem to me to rebel against your success; but I hardly know what is going on, politics seems to me to absorb everything.
Keep me posted. If they did not do justice to you I should be angry and should say what I think. It is my right.
I don’t know exactly when, but during the month, I shall go without doubt to embrace you and to get you, if I can pry you loose from Paris. My children still count on it, and all of us send you our praises and our affectionate greetings.
Yours, your old troubadour
CXXXV. TO GEORGE SAND
Dear good master,
Your old troubadour is vehemently slandered by the papers. Read the Constitutionnel of last Monday, the Gaulois of this morning, it is blunt and plain. They call me idiotic and common. Barbey d’Aurevilly’s article (Constitutionnel) is a model of this character, and the good Sarcey’s, although less violent, is in no way behind it. These gentlemen object in the name of morality and the Ideal! I have also been annihilated in le Figaro and in Paris, by Cesana and Duranty. I most profoundly don’t care a fig! but that does not make me any the less astonished by so much hatred and bad faith.
La Tribune, le Pays and l’Opinion nationale on the other hand have highly praised me...As for the friends, the persons who received a copy adorned by my hand, they have been afraid of compromising themselves and have talked to me of other things. The brave are few. The book is selling very well nevertheless, in spite of politics, and Levy appears satisfied.
I know that the bourgeois of Rouen are furious with me “because of pere Roque and the cancan at the Tuileries.” They think that one ought to prevent the publication of books like that (textual), that I lend a hand to the Reds, that I am capable of inflaming revolutionary passions, etc., etc. In short, I have received very few laurels, up to now, and no rose leaf hurts me.