I won’t have it, you are not getting old. Not in the crabbed and misanthropic sense. On the contrary, when one is good, one becomes better, and, as you are already better than most others, you ought to become exquisite.
You are boasting, moreover, when you undertake to be angry against everyone and everything. You could not. You are weak before sorrow, like all affectionate people. The strong are those who do not love. You will never be strong, and that is so much the better. You must not live alone any more; when strength returns you must really live and not shut it up for yourself alone.
For my part, I am hoping that you will be reborn with the springtime. Today we have rain which relaxes, tomorrow we shall have the animating sun. We are all just getting over illnesses, our children had very bad colds, Maurice quite upset by lameness with a cold, I taken again by chills and anemia: I am very patient and I prevent the others as much as I can from being impatient, there is everything in that; impatience with evil always doubles the evil. When shall we be wise as the ancients understood it? That, in substance, meant being patient, nothing else. Come, dear troubadour, you must be a little patient, to begin with, and then you can get accustomed to it; if we do not work on ourselves, how can we hope to be always in shape to work on others?
Well, in the midst of all that, don’t forget that we love you and that the hurt you give yourself hurts us too.
I shall go to see you and to shake you as soon as I have regained my feet and my will, which are both backward; I am waiting, I know that they will return.
Affectionate greetings from all our invalids. Punch has lost only his fiddle and he is still smiling and well gilded. Lolo’s baby has had misfortunes, but its clothes dress other dolls. As for me, I can flap only one wing, but I kiss you and I love you.
I know, my friend, that you are very devoted to her. I know that she [Footnote: Letter written about the rumour current, that George Sand had meant to depict the Empress in one of the chief characters of her novel, Malgre tout; the letter was sent by Flaubert to Madame Cornu, god-child of Queen Hortense, and foster-sister of Napoleon III.] is very kind to unfortunates who have been recommended to her; that is all that I know of her private life. I have never had any revelation nor document about her, not A word, not A deed, which would authorize me to depict her. So I have drawn only a figure of fancy, I swear it, and those who pretended to recognize her in a satire would be, in any case, bad servants and bad friends.