You are a troubadour all the same, and if I had to write to you publicly the character would be what it ought to be. But our real discussions ought to remain between ourselves, like caresses between lovers, and even sweeter, since friendship also has its mysteries without the storms of personality.
That letter that you wrote me in haste, is full of well expressed truths against which I do not protest. But the connection and agreement between your truths of reason and my truths of sentiment must be found. France, alas! is neither on your side nor my side; she is on the side of blindness, ignorance and folly. Oh! that I do not deny, it is exactly that over which I despair.
Is this a time to put on Aisse? You told me it was a thing of distinction, delicate like all that he did, and I hear that the public of the theatres is more thickheaded than ever. You would do well to see two or three plays, no matter which, in order to appreciate the literary condition of the Parisian. The provinces will contribute less than in the past. The little fortunes are too much cut down to permit frequent trips to Paris.
If Paris offered, as in my youth, an intelligent and influential nucleus, a good play would perhaps not have a hundred performances, but a bad play would not have three hundred. But this nucleus has become imperceptible and its influence is swamped. Who then will fill the theatres? The shopkeepers of Paris, without a guide, and without good criticism? Well, you are not the master in the matter of Aisse. There is an heir who is impatient, probably.—They write me that Chilly is very; seriously ill, and that Pierre Berton is reengaged.
You must be very busy; I will not write a long letter to you.
I embrace you affectionately, my children love you and ask to be remembered to you.
Never, dear good master, have you given such a proof of your inconceivable candor! Now, seriously, you think that you have offended me! The first page is almost like excuses! It made me laugh heartily! Besides, you can always say everything to me, to me! everything! Your blows will be caresses to me.
Now let us talk again! I continually repeat my insistence on justice! Do you see how they are denying it everywhere? Has not modern criticism abandoned art for history? The intrinsic value of a book is nothing in the school of Sainte-Beuve and Taine. They take everything into consideration there except talent. Thence, in the petty journals, the abuse of personality, the biographies, the diatribes. Conclusion: lack of respect on the part of the public.