Yes, yes, my old friend, you must come to see me. I am not thinking of going to Paris before the end of the winter, and it is so hard to see people in Paris. Bring me Saint-Antoine. I want to hear it, I want to live in it with you. I want to embrace you with all my soul, and Maurice does too.
Lina loves you too, and our little ones have not forgotten you. I want you to see how interesting and lovely my Aurore has become. I shall not tell you anything new about myself. I live so little in myself. This will be a good reason for you to talk about what interests me more, that is to say, about yourself. Tell me ahead so that I can spare you that horrid coach from Chateauroux to Nohant. If you could bring Tourgueneff, we should be happy, and you would have the most perfect travelling companion. Have you read Peres et Enfants? How good it is!
Now, I hope for you really this time, and I think that our air will do you good. It is so lovely here!
Your old comrade who loves you,
I embrace you six times for the New Year.
Do I seem to have forgotten you and not to want to make the journey to Nohant? Not at all! But, for the last month, every time I go out, I am seized anew with the grippe which gets worse each time. I cough abominably, and I ruin innumerable pocket-handkerchiefs! When will it be over?
I have sworn not to step beyond my doorsill till I am completely well again, and I am still awaiting the good will of the members of the commission for the Bouilhet fountain! For nearly two months, I have not been able to get together in Rouen six citizens of Rouen! That is the way friends are! Everything is difficult, the least undertaking demands great efforts.
I am reading chemistry now (which I don’t understand a bit), and the Raspail theory of medicine, not to mention the Potager moderne of Gressent and the Agriculture of Gasparin. In this connection, Maurice would be very kind, to compile his agronomical recollections, so that I may know what mistakes he made and why he made them.
What sorts of information don’t I need, for the book that I am undertaking? I have come to Paris this winter with the idea of collecting some; but if my horrible cold continues, my stay here will be useless! Am I going to become like the canon of Poitiers, of whom Montaigne speaks, who for thirty years did not leave his room “because of his melancholic infirmity,” but who, however, was very well “except for a cold which had settled on his stomach.” This is to tell you that I am seeing very few people. Moreover whom could I see? The war has opened many abysses. I have not been able to get your article on Badinguet. I am planning to read it at your house.