My Aurore keeps me very busy. She understands too quickly and we have to take her at a hard gallop. To understand fascinates her, to know repels her. She is as lazy as monsieur, her father, was. He has gotten over it so well that I am not impatient. She promises me to write you a letter soon. You see that she does not forget you. Titite’s Punch has lost his head, literally, because he has been so embraced and caressed. He is loved as much without his head; what an example of fidelity in misfortune! His stomach has become a receptacle where playthings are put.
Maurice is deep in his archeological studies, Lina is always adorable, and all goes well except that the maids are not clean. What a road the creatures have still to travel who do not keep themselves clean!
I embrace you. Tell me how you are getting on with Aisse, the Odeon and all that stuff you are busy about. I love you; that is the end of all my discourses.
CCXXXVII. TO GEORGE SAND
In your last letter, among the nice things that you say to me, you praise me for not being “haughty”; one is not haughty with what is high. Therefore, in this aspect, you cannot know me. I object.
Although I consider myself a good man, I am not always an agreeable gentleman, witness what happened to me Thursday last. After having lunched with a lady whom I had called “imbecile,” I went to call on another whom I had said was “ninny”; such is my ancient French gallantry. The first one had bored me to death with her spiritualistic discourses and her pretensions to ideality; the second outraged me by telling me that Renan was a rascal. Observe that she confessed to me that she had not read his books. There are some subjects about which I lose patience, and, when a friend is slandered before my very face, the savage in my blood returns, I see red. Nothing more foolish! for it serves no purpose and hurts me frightfully.
This vice, by the way, betraying one’s friends in public, seems to me to be taking gigantic proportions!
Here is another chagrin for you; a sorrow foreseen, but none the less distressing. Poor Theo! I pity him deeply, not because he is dead, but because he has not been really living for twenty years; and if he had consented to live, to exist, to act, to forget a bit his intellectual personality so as to conserve his material personality, he could have lived a long time yet, and have renewed his resources which he was too much inclined to make a sterile treasure. They say that he suffered greatly from hardship during the siege. I understand it, but afterward? why and how?