And you beg me not to notice human folly, and to deprive myself of the pleasure of depicting it! But the comic is the only consolation of virtue. There is, moreover, a manner of taking it which is elevated; that is what I am aiming at with two good people. Don’t fear that they are too realistic! I am afraid, on the contrary, that it may seem beyond the bounds of possibility, for I shall push the idea to the limit. This little work that I shall start in six weeks will keep me busy for four or five years!
As it would have necessitated a struggle, and as Cruchard has lawsuits in horror, I have withdrawn my play on the payment of five thousand francs, so much the worse! I will not have my actors hissed! The night of the second performance when I saw Delannoy come back into the wings with his eyes wet, I felt myself a criminal and said to myself: “Enough.” (Three persons affect me: Delannoy, Tourgueneff and my servant!) In short, it is over. I am printing my play, you will get it towards the end of the week.
I am jumped on on all sides! le Figaro and le Rappel; it is complete! Those people to whom I lent money or for whom I did favors call me an idiot. I have never had less nerves. My stoicism (or pride) surprises myself even, and when I look for the causes, I ask myself, dear master, if you are not one of them.
I recall the first night of Villemer, which was a triumph, and the first night of Don Juan de Village, which was a failure. You do not know how much I admired you on those two occasions! The dignity of your character (a thing rarer still than genius) edified me! and I formulated within myself this prayer: “Oh! how I wish I could be like her, on a similar occasion.” Who knows, perhaps your example has sustained me? Forgive the comparison! Well, I don’t bat an eye-lid. That is the truth.
But I confess to regretting the thousands of francs which I should have made. My little milk-jug is broken. I should have liked to renew the furniture at Croisset, fooled again!
My dress rehearsal was deadly! Every reporter in Paris! They made fun of it all. I shall underline in your copy, all the passages that they seized on. Yesterday and the day before they did not seize on them any more. Oh! well, so much the worse! It is too late. Perhaps the pride of Cruchard has killed it.
And they have written articles on my dwellings, my slippers, my dog. The chroniclers have described my apartment where they saw “on the walls, pictures and bronzes.” But there is nothing at all on the walls! I know that one critic was enraged because I did not go to see him; and a third person came to tell me so this morning, adding: “What do you want me to tell him?...But Messieurs Dumas, Sardou and even Victor Hugo are not like you.—Oh! I know it!—Then you are not surprised, etc.”