I would not ask anything better than to cast myself on some new affection. But how? Almost all my old friends are married officials, thinking of their little business the entire year, of the hunt during vacation and of whist after dinner. I don’t know one of them who would be capable of passing an afternoon with me reading a poet. They have their business; I, I have none. Observe that I am in the same social position that I was at eighteen. My niece whom I love as my daughter, does not live with me, and my poor good simple mother has become so old that all conversation with her (except about her health) is impossible. All that makes an existence which is not diverting.
As for the ladies, “my little locality” furnishes none of them, and then,—even so! I have nevver been able to put Venus an Apollo in the same coop. It is one or the other, being a man of excess, a gentleman entirely given over to what he does.
I repeat to myself the phrase of Goethe: “Go forward beyond the tombs,” and I hope to get used to the emptiness, but nothing more.
The more I know you, yourself, the more I admire you; how strong you are!
Aside from a little Spinoza and Plutarch, I have read nothing since my return, as I am quite occupied by my present work. It is a task that will take me up to the end of July. I am in a hurry to be through with it, so as to abandon myself to the extravagances of the good Saint-Antoine, but I am afraid of not being sufficiently in the mood.
That is a charming story, Mademoiselle Hauterive, isn’t it? This suicide of lovers to escape misery ought to inspire fine moral phrases from Prudhomme. As for me, I understand it. What they did is not American, but how Latin and antique it is! They were not strong, but perhaps very sensitive.
You forget your troubadour who has just buried another friend! From the seven that we used to be at the beginning of the dinners at Magny’s, we are only three now! I am gorged with coffins like an old cemetery! I am having enough of them, frankly.
And in the midst of all that I keep on working! I finished yesterday, such as it is, the article on my poor Bouilhet. I am going to see if there is not some way of reviving one of his comedies in prose. After that I shall set to work on Saint-Antoine.
And you, dear master, what is happening to you and all your family? My niece is in the Pyrenees, and I am living alone with my mother, who is becoming deafer and deafer, so that my existence lacks diversion absolutely. I should like to go to sleep on a warm beach. But for that I lack time and money. So I must push on my scratches and grub as hard as possible.
I shall go to Paris at the beginning of August. Then I shall spend all the month of October there for the rehearsals of Aisse. My vacation will be confined to a week spent in Dieppe towards the end of August. There are my plans.