I am trusting you for generous sentiments. One can say a word more or less without wounding, one can use the lash without hurting, if the hand is gentle in its strength. You are so kind that you cannot be cruel.
Shall I go to Croisset this autumn? I begin to fear not, and to fear that Cadio is not being rehearsed. But I shall try to escape from Paris even if only for one day.
My children send you their regards. Ah! Heavens! there was a fine quarrel about Salammbo; some one whom you do not know, went so far as not to like it, Maurice called him bourgeois, and to settle the affair, little Lina, who is high tempered, declared that her husband was wrong to use such a word, for he ought to have said imbecile. There you are. I am well as a Turk. I love you and I embrace you.
Your old Troubadour,
But indeed, dear master, I was in Paris during that tropical heat (trop picole, as the governor of the chateau of Versailles says), and I perspired greatly. I went twice to Fontainebleau, and the second time by your advice, saw the sands of Arboronne. It is so beautiful that it made me almost dizzy.
I went also to Saint-Gratien. Now I am at Dieppe, and Wednesday I shall be in Croisset, not to stir from there for a long time, the novel must progress.
Yesterday I saw Dumas: we talked of you, of course, and as I shall see him tomorrow we shall talk again of you.
I expressed myself badly if I said that my book “will blame the patriots for everything that goes wrong.” I do not recognize that I have the right to blame anyone. I do not even think that the novelist ought to express his own opinion on the things of this world. He can communicate it, but I do not like him to say it. (That is a part of my art of poetry.) I limit myself, then, to declaring things as they appear to me, to expressing what seems to me to be true. And the devil take the consequences; rich or poor, victors or vanquished, I admit none of all that. I want neither love, nor hate, nor pity, nor anger. As for sympathy, that is different; one never has enough of that. The reactionaries, besides, must be less spared than the others, for they seem to be more criminal.
Is it not time to make justice a part of art? The impartiality of painting would then reach the majesty of the law,—and the precision of science!
Well, as I have absolute confidence in your great mind, when my third part is finished, I shall read it to you, and if there is in my work, something that seems mean to you, I will remove it.
But I am convinced beforehand that you will object to nothing.
As for allusions to individuals, there is not a shadow of them.
Prince Napoleon, whom I saw at his sister’s Thursday, asked for news of you and praised Maurice. Princess Matilde told me that she thought you “charming,” which made me like her better than ever.