I don’t know if I shall find you in Paris when I go there for my play. I have not arranged with the Odeon for the date of its performance. I am waiting for Duquesnel for the final reading.—And then I expect Pauline Viardot about the 20th of September, and I hope Tourgueneff too, won’t you come also? it would be so nice and so complete!
In this hope which I will not give up, I love you and I embrace you with all my soul, and my children join me in loving you and summoning you.
Your letters fall on me like a rain that refreshes, and develops at once all that is germinating in the soil; they make me want to answer your reasons, because your reasons are powerful and inspire a reply.
I do not assume that my replies will be strong too; they are sincere, they issue from the roots of my being, like the plants aforesaid. That is why I have just written a paper on the subject that you raise, addressing myself this time to A woman friend, who has written me also in your vein, but less well than you, of course, and a little from an aristocratically intellectual point of view, to which she has not all the rights she desires.
My roots, one can’t extirpate them, and I am astonished that you ask me to make tulips come from them when they can answer you by producing only potatoes. Since the beginning of my intellectual blooming, when, studying quite alone at the bedside of my paralyzed grandmother, or in the fields at the times when I entrusted her to Deschartres, I asked myself the most elementary questions about society; I was no more advanced at seventeen than a child of six, not as much! thanks to Deschartres, my father’s teacher, who was a contradiction from his head to his feet, much learning and little sense; thanks to the convent, into which they stuck me, God knows why, as they believed in nothing; thanks also to a purely Restoration surrounding in which my grandmother, a philosopher, but dying, breathed her last without resisting further the monarchical current.
Then I read Chateaubriand, and Rousseau; I passed from the Gospels to the Contrat social. I read the history of the Revolution written by the pious, the history of France, written by philosophers; and, one fine day, I made all that agree like light proceeding from two lamps, and I had principles. Don’t laugh, very candid, childish principles which have remained with me through all, through Lelia and the romantic epoch, through love and doubt, enthusiasm and disenchantments. To love, to make sacrifices, only to reconsider when the sacrifice is harmful to those who are the object of it, and to sacrifice oneself again in the hope of serving a real cause, love.