Why publish then? Is it to be understood, applauded? But yourself, you, great George Sand, you confess your solitude. Is there at this time, I don’t say, admiration or sympathy, but the appearance of a little attention to works of art? Who is the critic who reads the book that he has to criticise? In ten years they won’t know, perhaps, how to make a pair of shoes, they are becoming so frightfully stupid! All that is to tell you that, until better times (in which I do not believe), I shall keep Saint-Antoine in the bottom of a closet.
If I publish it, I would rather that it should be at the same time as another entirely different book. I am working now on one which will go with it. Conclusion: the wisest thing is to keep calm.
Why does not Duquesnel go to find General Ladmirault, Jules Simon, Thiers? I think that the proceeding concerns him. What a fine thing the censorship is! Let us be reassured, it will always exist, for it always has! Our friend Alexandre Dumas fils, to make an agreeable paradox, has boasted of its advantages in the preface to the Dame aux Camelias, hasn’t he?
And you want me not to be sad! I think that we shall soon see abominable things, thanks to the inept stubbornness of the Right. The good Normans, who are the most conservative people in the world, incline towards the Left very strongly.
If they consulted the bourgeoisie now, it would make father Thiers king of France. If Thiers were taken away, it would throw itself in the arms of Gambetta, and I am afraid it will do that soon! I console myself by thinking that Thursday next I shall be fifty-one years old.
If you are not to come to Paris in February, I shall go to see you at the end of January, before going back to the Pan Monceau; I promise.
The princess has written me to ask if you were at Nohant. She wants to write to you.
My niece Caroline, to whom I have just given Nanon to read, is enchanted with it. What struck her was the “youth” of the book. The criticism seems true to me. It is a real book while Francia, although more simple, is perhaps more finished; more irreproachable as a work.
I read last week the Illustre Docteur Matheus, by Erckmann-Chatrian. How very boorish! There are two nuts, who have very plebeian souls.
Adieu, dear good master. Your old troubadour embraces you,
I am always thinking of Theo. I am not consoled for his loss.
Oh! well, then, if you are in the realm of the ideal about this, if you have a future book in your mind, if you are accomplishing a task of confidence and conviction, no more anger and no more sadness, let us be logical.
I myself arrived at a philosophical state of very satisfactory serenity, and I did not overstate the matter when I said to you that all the ill any one can do me, or all the indifference that any one can show me, does not affect me really any more and does not prevent me, not only from being happy outside of literature, but also from being literary with pleasure, and from working with joy.