Things are progressing, dear master, insults are accumulating! It is a concerto, a symphony in which each one is intent on his own instrument. I have been cut up beginning le Figaro up to la Revue des Deux Mondes, including la Gazette de France and le Constitutionnel. And they have not finished yet! Barbey d’Aurevilly has insulted me personally, and the good Saint-Rene Taillandier, who declares me “unreadable,” attributes ridiculous words to me. So much for printing. As for speech, it is in accord. Saint-Victor (is it servility towards Michel Levy) rends me at the Brabant dinner, as does that excellent Charles Edmond, etc. On the other hand I am admired by the professors of the Faculty of Theology at Strasbourg, by Renan, and by the cashier at my butcher’s! not to mention some others. There is the truth.
What surprises me, is that under several of these criticisms there is a hatred against me, against me personally, a deliberate slandering, the cause of which I am seeking. I do not feel hurt, but this avalanche of foolishness saddens me. One prefers inspiring good feelings to bad ones. As for the rest, I am not thinking any more about Saint-Antoine. That is over with!
I shall start, this summer, another book of about the same calibre; after that I shall return to the novel pure and simple. I have in my head two or three to write before I die. Just now I am spending my days at the Library, where I am accumulating notes. In a fortnight, I shall return to my house in the fields. In July I shall go to get rid of my congestion on the top of a Swiss mountain, obeying the advice of Doctor Hardy, the man who called me “a hysterical woman,” a saying that I consider profound.
The good Tourgueneff is leaving next week for Russia, his trip will forcibly interrupt his frenzy for pictures, for our friend never leaves the auction rooms now! He is a man with a passion, so much the better for him!
I missed you very much at Madame Viardot’s a fortnight ago. She sang Iphigenie en Aulide. I can not tell you how beautiful it was, how transporting, in short how sublime. What an artist that woman is! What an artist! Such emotions console one for life.
Well! and you, dear good master, that play that they talk about, is it finished? You are going to fall back into the theatre! I pity you! After having put dogs on the boards at the Odeon, perhaps they are going to ask you to put on horses! That is where we are now!
And all the household, from Maurice to Fadet, how is it?
Kiss the dear little girls for me and let them return it to you from me.
Your old friend.
Let them say what they like, Saint-Antoine is a masterpiece, a magnificent book. Ridicule the critics, they are blockheads. The present century does not like lyricism. Let us wait for the reaction, it will come for you, and a splendid one. Rejoice in your insults, they are great promises for the future.