I am not like M. de Vigny, I do not like the “sound of the horn in the depth of the woods.” For the last two hours now an imbecile stationed on the island in front of me has been murdering me with his instrument. That wretched creature spoils my sunlight and deprives me of the pleasure of enjoying the summer. For it is lovely weather, but I am bursting with anger. I should like, however, to talk a bit with you, dear master.
In the first place, congratulations on your seventieth year, which seems more robust to me than the twentieth of a good many others! What a Herculean constitution you have! Bathing in an icy stream is a proof of strength that bewilders me, and is a mark of a “reserve force” that is reassuring to your friends. May you live long. Take care of yourself for your dear grandchildren, for the good Maurice, for me too, for all the world, and I should add: for literature, if I were not afraid of your superb disdain.
Ha! good! again the hunting horn! The man is mad. I want to go and find the rural guard.
As for me, I do not share your disdain, and I am absolutely ignorant of, as you say, “the pleasure of doing nothing.” As soon as I no longer hold a book, or am not dreaming of writing one, A lamentable boredom seizes upon me. Life, in short seems tolerable to me only by legerdemain. Or else one must give oneself up to disordered pleasure ... and even then!
Well, I have finished with le Sexe faible, which will be played, at least so Carvalho promises, in January, if Sardou’s l’Oncle Sam is permitted by the censorship; if otherwise, it will be in November.
As I have been accustomed during the last six weeks to seeing things from a theatrical point of view, to thinking in dialogue, here I am starting to build the plot of another play! It will be called le Candidat. My written plot is twenty pages long. But I haven’t anyone to show it to. Alas! I shall therefore leave it in a drawer and start at my old book. I am reading l’Histoire de la Medecine by Daremberg, which amuses me a great deal, and I have finished l’Essai sur les facultes de l’entendement by Gamier, which I think very silly. There you have my occupations. Things seem to be getting quieter. I breathe again.
I don’t know whether they talk as much of the Shah in Nohant as they do around here. The enthusiasm has been immense. A little more and they would have proclaimed him Emperor. His sojourn in Paris has had, on the commercial shop-keeping and artisan class, a monarchical effect which you would not have suspected, and the clerical gentlemen are doing very well, very well indeed!
On the other side of the horizon, what horrors they are committing in Spain! So that the generality of humanity continues to be charming.