I embrace you.
Your old friend
You were quite right to put me down and I want to contribute too. Put me down for the sum you would like and tell me so that I may have it sent to you.
I have read your preface in le Temps: the end of it is very beautiful and touching. But I see that this poor friend was, like you, one who did not get over his anger, and at your age I should like to see you less irritated, less worried with the folly of others. For me, it is lost time, like complaining about being bored with the rain and the flies. The public which is accused often of being silly, gets angry and only becomes sillier; for angry or irritated, one becomes sublime if one is intelligent, idiotic if one is silly.
After all, perhaps this chronic indignation is a need of your constitution; it would kill me. I have a great need to be calm so as to reflect and to think things over. At this moment I am doing the useful at the risk of your anathemas. I am trying to simplify a child’s approach to culture, being persuaded that the first study makes its impression on all the others and that pedagogy teaches us to look for knots in bulrushes. In short, I am working over A primer, do not eat me alive.
I have only one regret about Paris: it is not to be a third with Tourgueneff when you read your Saint-Antoine. For all the rest, Paris does not call me at all; my heart has affections there that I do not wish to hurt, by disagreement with their ideas. It is impossible not to be tired of this spirit of party or of sect which makes people no longer French, nor men, nor themselves. They have no country, they belong to a church. They do what they disapprove of, so as not to disobey the discipline of the school. I prefer to keep silent. They would find me cold or stupid; one might as well stay at home.
You don’t tell me of your mother; is she in Paris with her grandchild? I hope that your silence means that they are well. Everything has gone wonderfully here this winter; the children are excellent and give us nothing but joy. After the dismal winter of ’70 to ’71, one ought to complain of nothing.
Can one live peaceably, you say, when the human race is so absurd? I submit, while saying to myself that perhaps I am as absurd as every one else and that it is time to turn my mind to correcting myself.
I embrace you for myself and for all mine.
No! dear master! it is not true. Bouilhet never injured the bourgeois of Rouen; no one was gentler to them, I add even more cowardly, to tell the truth. As for me, I kept apart from them, that is all my crime.