Of course every one blames me for letting my play be given in such a joint. But since the others do not want that play and since I insist that it shall be presented to make a few sous for the Bouilhet heirs, I am forced to pass that over. I am keeping two or three pretty anecdotes about this to tell you when we meet. Why is the theatre such a general cause of delirium? Once one is on that ground, ordinary conditions are changed. If one has had the misfortune (slight) not to succeed, friends turn from one. They are very inconsiderate of one. They never salute one! I swear to you on my word of honor that that happened to me on account of le Candida. I do not believe in Holbachic conspiracies, but all that they have done to me since March amazes me. But, I decidedly don’t bat an optic, and the fate of le Sexe faible disturbs me less than the least of the phrases of my novel.
Public intelligence seems to me to get lower and lower! To what depth of imbecility shall we descend? Belot’s last book sold eight thousand copies in two weeks. Zola’s Conquete de Plassans, seventeen hundred in six months, and there was an article about it. All the Monday-morning idiots have just been swooning away about M. Scribe’s Une Chaine. France is ill, very ill, whatever they say; and my thoughts are more and more the color of ebony.
However, there are some pretty comic elements: (1) the Bazaine escape with the episode of the sentinel; (2) l’Histoire d’un Diamant by Paul de Musset (see the Revue des Deux Mondes for September); (3) the vestibule of the former establishment of Nadar near Old England [sic], where one can contemplate a life-size photograph of Alexander Dumas.
I am sure that you are finding me grouchy and that you are going to answer me: “What difference does all that make?” But everything makes a difference, and we are dying of humbug, of ignorance, of self-confidence, of scorn of grandeur, of love of banality, and imbecile babble.
“Europe which hates us, looks at us and laughs,” said Ruy Blas. My Heavens, she has a right to laugh.
What, my Cruchard, you have been ill? That is what I feared, I who live in the woes of indigestion and yet hardly work at all, I am disquieted at your kind of life, the excess of intellectual expenditure and the seclusion. In spite of the charm that I have proved and appreciated at Croisset, I fear for you that solitude where you have no longer anyone to remind you that you must eat, drink and sleep, and above all walk. Your rainy climate makes you keep to the house. Here, where it does not rain enough, we are at least hustled out of doors by the beautiful warm sun and that Phoebus invigorates us, while our Phoebus-Apollo murders us.
But I am always talking to you as to a Cruchard philosophic and detached from his personality, to a Cruchard fanatical about literature and drunk with production. When, then, shall you be able to say to yourself: Lo! this is the time for rest, let us taste the innocent pleasure of living for life’s sake, of watching with amazement the agitations of others and of not giving to them anything except the excess of our overflow. It does one good to ruminate over what one has assimilated in life, sometimes without attention and without discrimination.