We all embrace you fondly.
The first performance of le Candidat is set for next Friday, unless it is Saturday, or perhaps Monday the 9th? It has been postponed by Delannoy’s illness and by l’Oncle Sam, for we had to wait until the said Sam had come down to under fifteen hundred francs.
I think that my play will be very well given, that is all. For I have no idea about the rest of it, and I am very calm about the result, a state of indifference that surprises me greatly. If I were not harassed by people who ask me for seats, I should forget absolutely that I am soon to appear on the boards, and to expose myself, in spite of my great age, to the derision of the populace. Is it stoicism or fatigue?
I have been having and still have the grippe, the result of it for your Cruchard, is a general lassitude accompanied by a violent (or rather a profound) melancholy. While spitting and coughing beside my fire, I muse over my youth. I dream of all my dead friends, I wallow in blackness! Is it the result of a too great activity for the past eight months, or the radical absence of the feminine element in my life? But I have never felt more abandoned, more empty, more bruised. What you said to me (in your last letter) about your dear little girls moved me to the depths of my soul! Why haven’t I that? I was born with all the affections, however! But one does not make one’s destiny, one submits to it. I was cowardly in my youth, I had a fear of life! One pays for everything.
Let us speak of other things, it will be gayer.
H. M. the Emperor of all the Russias does not like the Muses. The censorship of the “autocrat of the north” had formally forbidden the transportation of Saint-Antoine, and the proofs were returned me from Saint Petersburg, last Sunday; the French edition even will be prohibited. That is quite a serious money loss to me. It would have taken very little for the French censorship to forbid my play. Our friend Chennevieres gave me a good boost. Except for him I should not be played. Cruchard does not please the temporal powers. Isn’t it funny, this simple hatred of authority, of all government whatever, for art!
I am reading now books on hygiene. Oh! but they are comic! What assurance physicians have! what effrontery! what asses for the most part! I have just finished the Gaule poetique of Marchangy (the enemy of Beranger). This book gave me hysterics.
So as to retemper myself in something stronger, I reread the great, the most holy, the incomparable Aristophanes. There is a man, that fellow! What a world in which such work were produced!
Our two little girls cruelly ill with the grippe have taken up all my time, but I am following, in the papers, the course of your play. I would go to applaud it, my cherished Cruchard, if I could leave these dear little invalids. So it is on Wednesday that they are going to judge it. The jury may be good or stupid, one never knows!