My only excitement consists in going to dine on Sundays at Rouen with my mother. I leave at six o’clock, and I am home at ten. Such is my life.
Did I tell you that I had a visit from Tourgueneff? How you would love him!
Sainte-Beuve gets along. Anyway, I shall see him next week when I am in Paris for two days, to get necessary information What is the information about? The national guard!!!
Listen to this: le Figaro not knowing with what to fill its columns, has had the idea of saying that my novel tells the life of Chancellor Pasquier. Thereupon, fear of the aforesaid family, which wrote to another part of the same family living in Rouen, which latter has been to find a lawyer from whom my brother received a visit, so that ... in short, I was very stupid not to “get some benefit from the opportunity.” Isn’t it a fine piece of idiocy, eh?
Certainly, I am cross with you and angry with you, not from unreasonableness nor from selfishness, but on the contrary, because we were joyous and hilarious and you would not distract yourself and amuse yourself with us. If it was to amuse yourself elsewhere, you would be pardoned in advance; but it was to shut yourself up, to get all heated up, and besides for a work which you curse, and which— wishing to do and being obliged to do anyhow,—you ought to be able to do at your ease and without becoming too absorbed in it.
You tell me that you are like that. There is nothing more to say; but one may well be distressed at having an adored friend, a captive in chains far away, whom one may not free. It is perhaps a little coquettish on your part, so as to make yourself pitied and loved the more. I, who have not buried myself alive in literature, have laughed and lived a great deal during these holidays, but always thinking of you and talking of you with our friend of the Palais Royal, [Footnote: Jerome Napoleon.] who would have been happy to see you and who loves you and appreciates you a great deal. Tourgueneff has been more fortunate than we, since he was able to snatch you from your ink-well. I know him personally very little, but I know his work by heart. What talent! and how original and polished! I think that the foreigners do better than we do. They do not pose, while we either put on airs or grovel: the Frenchman has no longer a social milieu, he has no longer an intellectual milieu.
I except you, you who live a life of exception, and I except myself, because of the foundation of careless unconventionally which was bestowed upon me; but I, I do not know how to be “careful” and to polish, and I love life too much, and I am amused too much by the mustard and all that is not the real “dinner,” to ever be a litterateur. I have had flashes of it, but they have not lasted. Existence where one ignores completely one’s “moi” is so good, and life where one does not play a role is such a pretty performance to watch and to listen to! When I have to give of myself, I live with courage and resolution, but I am no longer amused.