Come, you, your health first? And this sadness, this discontent that Paris has left with you, is it forgotten? Are there no longer any painful external circumstances? You have been too much shaken also. Two of your dearest friends gone one after the other. There are periods in life when destiny is ferocious to us. You are too young to concentrate on the idea of regaining your affections in a better world, or in this world made better. So you must, at your age (and at mine I still try to), become more attached to what remains. You wrote that to me when I lost Rollinat, my double in this life, the veritable friend whose feeling for the differences between the sexes had never hurt our pure affection, even when we were young. He was my Bouilhet and more than that; for to my heart’s intimacy was joined a religious reverence for a real type of moral courage, which had undergone all trials with a sublime sweetness. I have owed him everything that is good in me, I am trying to keep it for love of him. Is there not a heritage that our beloved dead leave us?
The despair that would make us abandon ourselves would be a treason to them and an ingratitude. Tell me that you are calm and soothed, that you are not working too much and that you are working well. I am not without some anxiety because I have not had a letter from you for a long time. I did not want to ask for one till I could tell you that Maurice was quite well again; he embraces you, and the children do not forget you. As for me, I love you.
No, dear master! I am not ill, but I have been busy with moving from Paris and with getting settled in Croisset. Then my mother has been very much indisposed. She is well now; then I have had to set in order the rest of my poor Bouilhet’s papers, on whom I have begun the article. I wrote this week nearly six pages, which was very good for me; this work is very painful in every way. The difficulty is in knowing what not to say. I shall console myself a little in blurting out two or three dogmatic opinions on the art of writing. It will be an opportunity to express what I think; a sweet thing and one I am always deprived of.
You say very lovely and also good things to me to restore my courage. I have hardly any, but I am acting as if I had, which perhaps comes to the same thing.
I feel no longer the need of writing, for I used to write especially for one person alone, who is no more. That is the truth! And yet I shall continue to write. But I have no more liking for it; the fascination is gone. There are so few people who like what I like, who are anxious about what I am interested in! Do you know in this Paris, which is so large, one single house where they talk about literature? And when it happens to be touched on incidentally, it is always on its subordinate and external sides, such as the question of success, of morality, of utility, of its timeliness, etc. It seems to me that I am becoming a fossil, a being unrelated to the surrounding world.