I am beginning to regain my equilibrium again. What is it that I have had for the past four months? What trouble was going on in the depths of my being? I don’t know. What is certain, is, that I was very ill in an indefinable way. But now I am better. Since the end of January, Madame Bovary and Salammbo have belonged to me and I can sell them. I am doing nothing about it, preferring to do without the money other than to exasperate my nerves. Such is your old troubadour.
I am reading all sorts of books and I am taking notes for my big book which will take five or six years to write, and I am thinking of two or three others. There will be dreams for a long time, which is the principal thing.
Art continues to be “in the marasmus,” as M. Prudhomme says, and there is no longer any place in this world for people with taste. One must, like the rhinoceros, retire into solitude and await one’s death.
Well, my old troubadour, we can hope for you very soon. I was worried about you. I am always worried about you. To tell the truth, I am not happy over your ill tempers, and your prejudices. They last too long, and in effect they are like an illness, you recognize it yourself. Now, forget; don’t you know how to forget? You live too much in yourself and get to consider everything in relation to yourself. If you were an egoist, and a conceited person, I would say that it was your normal condition; but with you who are so good and so generous, it is an anomaly, an evil that must be combated. Rest assured that life is badly arranged, painful, irritating for everyone, but do not neglect the immense compensations which it is ungrateful to forget.
That you get angry with this or that person, is of little importance if it is a comfort to you; but that you remain furious, indignant for weeks, months, almost years, is unjust and cruel to those who love you, and who would like to spare you all anxiety and all deception.
You see that I am scolding you; but while embracing you, I shall think only of the joy and the hope of seeing you flourishing again. We are waiting for you with impatience, and we are counting on Tourgueneff whom we adore also.
I have been suffering a good deal lately with a series of very painful hemorrhages; but they have not prevented me from amusing myself writing tales and from playing with my little children. They are so dear, and my big children are so good to me, that I shall die, I believe, smiling at them. What difference does it make whether one has a hundred thousand enemies if one is loved by two or three good souls? Don’t you love me too, and wouldn’t you reproach me for thinking that of no account? When I lost Rollinat, didn’t you write to me to love the more those who were left? Come, so that I may overwhelm you with reproaches; for you are not doing what you told me to do.