Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Letters to an Unknown
Author: Mérimée, Prosper, 1803-1870
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Letters to an Unknown" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



Every attempt has been made to replicate the original as printed.
Some typographical errors have been corrected; a list follows the text.
The footnotes follow the text.
(etext transcriber's note)



[Illustration: image of PROSPER MÉRIMÉE]



                                WORKS OF

                            PROSPER MÉRIMÉE

                              _EDITED BY_

                     PROF. GEORGE SAINTSBURY, M.A.

                         LETTERS TO AN UNKNOWN

                  BIGELOW, BROWN & CO., INC. NEW YORK

                   COPYRIGHT, 1905 BY FRANK S. HOLBY

                         _All Rights Reserved_

        PRINTED BY C. H. SIMONDS COMPANY BOSTON, MASS., U. S. A.



PROSPER MÉRIMÉE


I met Mérimée frequently in society. He was a tall man, erect in his
bearing, pale, and, excepting his smile, had the appearance of an
Englishman; he had, at all events, that cold, distant manner which
forbids in advance any attempt at familiarity. Merely to see him one was
impressed by his callousness, either natural or acquired, by his
self-control, by his determined self-repression. On ceremonious
occasions, especially, the immobility of his countenance was
conspicuously manifest.

Even in the society of his intimate friends, and when relating a witty
anecdote, his voice retained its habitual calmness and tranquillity,
with never an outburst, never a sign of enthusiasm. The drollest details
he described in the most precise language, in the tone of a man asking
for a cup of tea. All evidences of sensibility he had mastered until it
seemed a quality absent from his nature. Not that it was so--quite the
contrary; but race-horses there are so well trained that, once under
their master’s hand, they never so much as make a sudden start.

His training, it must be said, had begun early. When ten or eleven years
old, I imagine, having committed some impropriety, he was scolded
severely and sent from the room. Weeping and in great distress, he was
just closing the door when he heard laughter within the room, and some
one said: “Poor child! he believes we are really angry with him!”
Intolerable to him was the idea of being a dupe, and he resolved
thereupon to overcome a sensitiveness which had caused him such
humiliation. He kept his word. “Remember to mistrust,” such was his
motto.

To guard against every manifestation of pleasure, never to abandon
himself unreservedly to the expression of emotion, to be tricked neither
by others nor by himself, in his conduct and his writings to have in
view the constant presence of an unsympathetic, mocking spectator; to be
himself that spectator--these are the most distinguishing
characteristics of his nature, of which every phase of his life, of his
work, and of his talent bears the imprint.[1]

His attitude was always that of an amateur; it can hardly be otherwise
with one who is endowed with the critical temperament. From turning the
tapestry around and around, one ends by seeing nothing but the wrong
side; and thus, instead of lovely figures, gracefully posed, one sees
only the rough bits of embroidery silk. To such a one, it is irksome
with forbearance to engage in any public work; to cast in his lot even
with the party of his choice, with the school of his preference, the
science which he pursues, the art in which he excels; and if, at times,
he descends voluntarily into the contest, more frequently he regards it
from afar.

At an early age he was placed in comfortable circumstances, then in an
employment which was both congenial and interesting, that of Inspector
of Historic Monuments. He then succeeded to a seat in the Senate
Chamber, and later to a post at court.

As Inspector of Historic Monuments, he was capable, painstaking, and
valuable; in the Senate he had the good taste to be usually absent or
silent; at court, he enjoyed perfect freedom of action and of speech. To
travel, to study, to mingle with men and affairs, such was his real
occupation, and his official claims proved no restraint to the
indulgence of his tastes. We must remember, too, that a man of such
genius compels respect, even in the face of obstacles. His irony pierces
the best case-hardened armour. Let us see with what ease and grace he
handles it, even to the point of directing it against himself, thus
making a double shot.

One day, at Biarritz, he had read one of his novels to the empress. “Not
long afterward I received a visit from a policeman, who said he had been
sent by the grand-duchess. ‘In what way may I serve you?’ ‘I come in the
name of her royal highness, to beg that you will attend her this evening
with your novel.’ ‘What novel?’ ‘The one you read to her majesty the
other day.’ I replied that I had the honour to be her majesty’s jester,
and that without her permission I could not accept engagements outside
the court. I flew without delay to tell her the incident, expecting
that the result would be, at the very least, a war with Russia, and I
was no little chagrined not only to receive authority to go, but to go
that very evening to the home of the grand-duchess, to whom the
policeman had been assigned as factotum. However, to soothe my feelings
I wrote a letter to the grand-duchess giving her a piece of my mind.
This letter, ‘giving her a piece of my mind,’ must have been an
interesting composition, and I am sure the factotum did not show himself
again.”

As for formal gatherings, it would be impossible for any one to address
them with more seriousness of demeanour and with less inward deference.
Grave, sedate, of dignified carriage, when making an Academic visit, or
delivering an impromptu address in public, his manner was
irreproachable; but all the while the bird-organ behind the scenes was
playing a comic air which turned both the orator and the audience to
ridicule. “The president of the Antiquarian Society rose from his seat,
all the other guests following his example. He began to speak, saying
that inasmuch as from those aspects I was a man of notable attainments,
he wished to propose my health, as senator, as man of letters, and as a
scholar. There was only the table between us, and I was strongly tempted
to hurl a glass of Roman punch at his head.... The next morning I
listened to the minutes of the proceedings of the night before, in which
it was stated that I had delivered a most eloquent address. I made a
speech, to urge that all the adverbs be omitted from the report, but my
request was not granted.”

While a candidate for the Academy of Inscriptions, he was taken to call
upon some learned persons of formidable aspect; he wrote, on his
return: “Have you ever seen dogs entering a badger’s hole? Before they
have had some experience in this occupation, they make, on entering, a
desperate show of fierceness, and not infrequently come out much faster
than they go in, for the badger is an ugly beast to visit. I never touch
the door-bell of an Academician that I am not reminded of the badger,
and compare myself, in my mind’s eye, to the dog I have just described.
I have not yet been bitten, however, but I have had some ludicrous
encounters.”

He was elected, and had, along with others, his archæological burrow. It
is easy to guess, however, that his was not the temperament to be
restricted to this or to any place of hiding. For him there were always
several modes of exit. In him were two individualities: one which
acquitted himself conscientiously of the essential duties and
ceremonials incumbent upon him as a member of society; the other
dwelling beside or above the first, and in contempt or resignation
observing his actions.

Similarly, in his affections he had within him two distinct
personalities. The first, the natural man, was kind, even tender. In
friendship no one was more loyal, more trustworthy. Once he had extended
his hand, there was no withdrawal. We see an instance of this in his
defence of M. Libri, in opposition to the decision of the judges and to
public sentiment. It was the act of a knight, who single-handed combats
a whole army. Fined, and condemned to prison, he assumed no martyr’s
airs, and in submitting to his misfortune, brought to it all the grace
that he had brought of courage to its provocation. He has never
referred to it, save in a preface, and then only by way of apology,
stating that he had been compelled “during the preceding month of July
to spend a fortnight in a place in which he was not at all
inconvenienced by the sunshine, and where he enjoyed unlimited leisure.”
Nothing more. It is the prudent, subtle smile of a gallant man.

He was, moreover, helpful and obliging. People who approached him to ask
a favour went away discouraged because of his cold aspect, but a month
later he would call upon them with the requested favour in his pocket.
In his correspondence he gives expression to a striking phrase, to the
truth of which all his friends will bear testimony: “It seldom happens
that I sacrifice others to myself, and when this does occur I am
overcome with remorse.”

Toward the close of his life there lived in his home two elderly English
ladies, to whom he seldom spoke and to whom apparently he gave little
attention; yet a friend of mine found him in tears because one of them
was ill. He never spoke of his most profound sentiments. Here we have a
correspondence of love, which developed into friendship lasting for
thirty years; the final letter was written the last day of his life, and
yet no one knows the name of his correspondent. To one who can read
these letters understandingly they are all that is graceful, tender, and
delicate, truly affectionate, and--who would imagine it?--at times
poetic, imaginative even, like a German lyric.

The following incident is so strange, that it must be quoted almost
wholly:

“You have been such a long time writing to me that I began to be very
uneasy. Besides, I have been harassed by an absurd idea, which I have
not dared to tell you before. I was visiting the amphitheatre at Nîmes
with an architect of the department, who was explaining to me at length
the repairs which he had had made there, when I saw ten feet away a
lovely bird, a little larger than a tomtit, with a linen-gray body, and
wings of red, black and white. This bird was perched on a cornice,
gazing at me fixedly. I interrupted the architect, who is a great
sportsman, to ask him the name of the bird. He told me he had never seen
one like it. I approached, and, perching a few steps beyond, and still
watching me, the bird did not take flight until I was close enough to
touch it. Wherever I went the bird seemed to follow, for I saw it on
every tier of the amphitheatre. It had no companion, and its flight was
noiseless, like that of a bird of night.

“The next day I returned to the amphitheatre, and there was my bird
again. I had brought some bread with me, which I threw to it. The bird
looked at the food, but would not touch it. I then tempted it with a big
grasshopper, thinking from the shape of the bill that it would eat
insects, but the bird paid no attention to the grasshopper. The most
learned ornithologist in the city told me that no bird of that species
lived in the country.

“Finally, when I visited the amphitheatre for the last time, I found my
bird again, still pursuing my steps, following me even into a narrow,
dark corridor, where, bird of light that it was, it should not have
dared to venture.

“I recalled then that the duchess of Buckingham had seen her husband in
the form of a bird the day of his assassination, and the thought came to
me that you were dead, perhaps, and that you had assumed this form in
order to visit me. In spite of myself, I could not shake off this
foolish idea, and I was delighted, I assure you, to see that your letter
bore the date of the day when I had first seen my mysterious bird.”

It is thus that, even in a sceptic, affection and imagination are
stirred; ‘tis a “piece of folly,” to be sure, but it is no less true
that he was on the threshold of dreaming and in the highway of love.[2]

But along with the lover dwelt the critic, and the conflict between
these two personages in the same man was productive of strange results.
In such a case, it is better, perhaps, not to look too closely. “Do you
realise,” said La Fontaine, “that I am as blind to the faults of persons
whom I may love never so little, as if I were a mole living a hundred
feet under the ground? No sooner do I feel an atom of love, than I
hasten to moisten it with all the incense of my store-house.” This,
perhaps, is the secret of his charm.

In the letters of Mérimée harsh words fall like rain amidst the soft
ones; “I will admit that you have become much more beautiful physically,
but not morally.... You still have a sylph-like figure, and, although I
am somewhat _blasé_ concerning black eyes, I have never seen any so
large in Constantinople or in Smyrna.

“Now comes the reverse of the medal. In many respects you have remained
a child, and you have become a hypocrite into the bargain.... You
imagine that you are proud, but I regret to tell you that what you think
is pride is only the petty vanity which one would expect in a religious
temperament. It is the fashion nowadays to preach. Shall you follow it?
That would be the finishing stroke.” And a little farther on: “In all
that you say and do, you substitute invariably a conventional for a
genuine sentiment.... I respect convictions, even those that seem to me
the most absurd. You have a great many ridiculous notions (pardon the
word), of which I should hesitate to deprive you since you are so fond
of them, and have no others to take their place.”

After two months of affectionate words, of quarrels, and of meetings he
concludes thus: “It seems to me you become more egotistical every day.
When you speak of _us_, you mean only _yourself_. The more I think of
this, the more deplorable it appears.... We are so unlike that it is
hardly possible to understand each other.” It seems that he had met a
character as restive and as independent as his own, “a lioness, though
tame,” and he analyses it thus: “It is a pity we can not meet the day
after having a quarrel, for I am sure we should be in a perfectly
amiable frame of mind.... Without doubt, my most dangerous enemy to your
heart or, if you prefer, my strongest rival, is your pride. Whatever
wounds that, excites your indignation. This notion you carry out,
perhaps unconsciously, in the most trifling matters. Is it not, for
instance, your pride which is satisfied when I kiss your hand? This, you
have said to me, makes you happy, and to this sensation you abandon
yourself, because a demonstration of humility is gratifying to your
pride.”

Four months later, while he is absent from Paris, after a more serious
misunderstanding: “You are one of those chilly women of the North, who
are governed only by the mind.... Farewell, since we can be friends only
at a distance. When we have grown old, perhaps we shall meet again with
pleasure.” Then, with a word of affection, he recovers his serenity. But
the antagonism of their temperaments is bound to reappear. “Seldom do I
reproach you, except for that lack of frankness, which keeps me
constantly in a rage with you, compelled as I am always to search for
your meaning under a disguise.... Why is it, when we have become all we
are to each other, that you must reflect for several days before
replying frankly to the simplest question of mine?... Between your
reason and your heart, I never feel sure which will win; you do not know
yourself, but you give the preference always to your reason.... If you
have committed any wrong, it is assuredly that preference which you give
to your pride over all the tenderness of your nature. The first
sentiment is to the second as a colossus to a pygmy. And that pride of
yours is at bottom nothing but a kind of selfishness.”

All this ended in a warm and lasting friendship. But do you not consider
admirable his delightful manner of love-making? They met in the Louvre,
at Versailles, and in the adjoining woods; they took long walks, even
in January, several times a week; he admired “a radiant physiognomy, a
splendid bearing, a white hand, superb black hair”; a mind whose
intelligence and attainments were worthy of his own, the charms of an
unusual type of beauty, the attractions of a broad and miscellaneous
culture, the fascinations of a toilet, and a coquetry cleverly directed
and managed; he breathed the exquisite perfume of an education so well
chosen, and of a “nature so refined, that it summed up for him an entire
civilisation”; to sum it all up, he was under the charm. Then the
spectator reappears and resumes his post. He disputed the purport of a
reply, of a gesture; he dissociated himself from his feelings that he
might form an unbiassed judgment; he expressed candidly and
epigrammatically his views one day, to regret them the next.

Such was the man as we find him reflected in his books. As a dilettante
he wrote and studied, passing from one subject to another, as suggested
by the occasion or his own fancy, without devoting himself to one system
of knowledge, without dedicating himself to the worship of one idea.
This was owing to no lack of study or of natural endowment; few men, on
the contrary, have enjoyed a broader mental training. Besides French he
was master of six languages, including their literature and philology:
Italian, Greek, Latin, English, Spanish, and Russian. I believe, also,
that he read German. An occasional phrase, or a reference in his
correspondence, shows the extent to which he had directed these studies.

_Calo_ he spoke in such a manner as to astonish the Spanish gipsies. He
was familiar with the various Spanish dialects, and was able to decipher
the archaic title-deeds of Catalonia. He understood perfectly English
versification. Those only who have studied an entire literature, both in
print and in manuscript, during the several successive periods of its
development, in style and in orthography, are able to appreciate the
skill and perseverance necessary to know Spanish as the author of _Don
Pedro_ knew it, and Russian as the author of _The Cossacks_ and of _The
False Demetrius_ knew it. With a natural gift for languages, he pursued
their acquirement even after reaching maturity. During the latter part
of his life he became interested in philology, and while living in
Cannes devoted himself to the critical studies which compose the
comparative grammar.

To this acquaintance with books he had added that of monuments, his
reports proving that throughout France he was the acknowledged expert in
this branch of learning. He understood not only the purpose, but the
technique, of architecture. Each ancient church he visited in person,
conducting his examinations with the aid of the best architects the
country afforded. His memory of local affairs was excellent by nature
and by careful training.

Born in a family of artists, he was clever in the use of the brush, and
as a water-colourist was equally skilful. In short, in this, as in
everything he did, he went to the very foundations of the subject.
Evasive expression he detested, writing no word until he had reached
definite and absolute conclusions. It would be difficult to find a
historian whose head was so complete a store-house of information
relating to the past, who was himself, indeed, a whole library, a whole
museum of information.

He possessed, besides, the rarer gifts of a knowledge of life and a
clear imagination, by the exercise of which those relics of the past
were revivified and lived again. He had travelled widely, having made
one journey to the Orient and two to Greece; he had visited England,
Spain, and other countries twelve or fifteen times, and wherever he went
he had been a close observer of the manners and customs not only of the
best society, but of the peasantry also: “Many a time have I broken
bread with people whom an Englishman would not notice for fear of losing
his self-respect. I have even drunk from the same bottle with a
convict.”

He had lived on familiar terms with Spanish gipsies and toreadors. Many
an evening he had told stories for the entertainment of a group of
peasant men and women of Ardèche. One of the places where he felt most
at home was in a Spanish _venta_, with the “mule-drivers and peasant
women of Andalusia.”

He sought out types perverted, and types unsullied, “through an
inexhaustible curiosity for every variety of the human species,” and
thus formed in his memory a gallery of living pictures inestimably more
precious than any other kind; for those of books and of edifices are but
empty shells, once tenanted, but whose structure may be known only by
imagining the forms that dwelt therein, from the poems that have
survived. By a sort of divination, keen, accurate, and swift, he made
this mental reconstruction. In the _Chronicle of Charles IX_, in _The
Experiments of an Adventurer_, and in the _Theater of Clara Gazul_ it is
evident that such was his involuntary method. His writings tend
naturally to the demi-dreams of the artist, to scenic effect, and to
romance which clothes the dead past with new life. With splendid
acquirements and talents like these, he might have occupied in the field
of history and of art a position of eminent importance and distinction;
yet as a historian he has taken but a mediocre place, and as an artist,
his rank, while a high one, is of narrow limit.

The bent of his mind led Mérimée to be suspicious, and suspicion carried
to excess is harmful. To obtain from the study of any subject all that
it is able to bestow, one must, I fancy, give oneself to it without
reserve, be wedded to it, indeed, but not treat it as a mistress to whom
one is devoted for two or three years, only to discard and take a new
one. A man produces the best of which he is capable only when, after
conceiving to himself some form of art, some method of science, in short
some general idea of his subject, he becomes so enamoured that he finds
it possessing attractions above all else--himself especially--and
worships it as a goddess, whom he is happy only in serving.

Mérimée, also, was capable of cherishing this affection and adoration,
but after a time the critic within him awoke, bringing the goddess to
trial, only to discover that she was not entirely divine. All our
methods of science, all our forms of art, all our general ideas, have
some weak spot; the inadequate, the uncertain, the expedient, the
artificial, abound therein; only the illusion of love can find them
perfect, and a sceptic does not remain long in love. He put on his
magnifying glasses, and in the enchanting statue discovered a lack of
poise, a vagueness and insincerity of construction, a modernity of
attitude. Becoming disgusted, he turned away, not without reason, to be
sure, and these reasons he explains in passing. He sees in our
philosophy of history an element of speculation, in our mania for
erudition the futility, inutility; he sees extravagance in our taste for
the picturesque, and insipidity in our paintings of realism. Let
inventors and simpletons, through vanity or stupidity, accept, if they
like, such a system, such a style; but as for himself, he rejects it,
or, if he has not rejected, he regrets that he has not done so.

“About the year of grace 1827 I belonged to the Romantic school. We said
to the Classicists, ‘Without _local colour_, there is no hope of
salvation,’ meaning by local colour that which in the seventeenth
century was known as manners and customs. But we were mighty proud of
our word, and imagined that we had invented both the word and the thing
for which it stood.” When, later, he wrote some Illyrian poems which
were construed by the critics beyond the Rhine with the utmost
seriousness, he was able to boast of having, indeed, created local
colour. “But,” said he, “the process was so simple, so easy, that I came
at last to doubt the value of local colour itself, and forgave Racine
for having clothed with civilisation the savage heroes of Sophocles and
Euripides.”

Toward the end of his life, he avoided resolutely the acceptance of all
theories; they were, in his opinion, good only to work on the credulity
of philosophers and as a means of livelihood for professors. He accepted
and repeated only anecdotes and small facts of observation in
philology; for instance, the exact date when one ceases to meet in Old
French the two cases derived from the Latin declension. By dint of his
craving for certainty, knowledge came to be to him but a withered plant,
a stalk devoid of blossoms. In no other way can we explain the
lifelessness of his historical essays, _Don Pedro_, _The Cossacks_, _The
False Demetrius_, _The Social War_, _The Conspiracy of Catiline_,
studies vigorous, exhaustive, well-maintained and well-developed, but
whose characters are not alive, probably because he did not care to give
them life. For in another work, _The Experiments of an Adventurer_, he
has caused the sap to return to the plant, so that it may be seen
successively under its two aspects, dull and rigid in the historical
herbarium, fresh and green in the work of art. In placing his Spaniards
of the nineteenth century as the contemporaries of Sylla in this
herbarium, they were as clearly seen by his inner vision, no doubt, as
was his adventurer; at any rate, this would have been no more of a tax
upon his mental retina. He was reluctant, however, to permit us to see
them thus, conceding only facts which could bear the test of proof,
refusing to give his own assumptions rather than authentic occurrences,
critical to the impairment of his own work, severe to the point of
suppressing the best part of himself, and of placing his imagination
under the ban.

In his artistic works the critic still rules, but in this case his
office is usually one of service, to control and to direct his talent
like a spring which is confined within a pipe that it may gush forth in
a stream slender and compressed. Certain gifts were his by nature which
no amount of application can bestow, and which were never possessed by
his master, Stendhal--the talent for scenic effect, for dialogue, for
humorous situations. He knew the art of introducing two characters, and
by their conversation alone of bringing them in strong relief before the
vision of the reader. Like Stendhal, moreover, he understood personal
peculiarities, and was a skilful story-teller. These clever powers he
subjected to a severe training, and, by a double strain, endeavoured to
compel them to yield the best results from the smallest material.

From the very first he had delighted in the Spanish drama, which is
overflowing with vigour and action; and he borrowed a number of its
situations to compose, under a fictitious name, some short pieces of
deep purport and modern significance; and, a thing unique in the history
of literature, many of these imitations--_The Crisis_ and _Perichole_,
for example--are superior to his original stories. Nowhere else do the
characters stand out so distinctly and so energetically as in his
comedies. In _The Conspirators_, and in _The Two Heirs_, each personage,
according to Goethe, resembles one of those perfect watches of
transparent crystal, in the face of which is visible, not only the exact
time, but also the action of the entire interior mechanism. All the
minutest details are burdened with significance.

It is the attribute of great masters of painting in five or six strokes
of the crayon to sketch in a face which, once seen, can never be
forgotten. Even in his less popular comedies--for example, in _The
Spaniards in Denmark_--there are characters, like the Lieutenant
Charles Leblanc and his mother, the spy, who will remain forever in the
human memory.

If, indeed, so confirmed a sceptic had deigned to have any moral
sensibility, he would have explained, I fancy, that to a good judge of
mankind every individual is reduced to three or four essential
qualities, which manifest themselves completely in a few significant
actions; all else is but acquired, and therefore unimportant, to exhibit
which is but a waste of time. Intelligent readers will take this for
granted, and it is for intelligent readers only that one should write.
Leave idle chatter to chatterers; deal with vital points only, and these
exemplify by none but convincing actions. To condense, to curtail, to
summarise life, is the purpose of art.

Such, at any rate, was his, which he realises even better in his
romances than in his comedies, where the requirements of stage effect
and of humorous situations can not fail to exaggerate incidents, to
caricature truth, and to conceal behind a theatrical mask the living
face.[3] The novelist, less hampered by restrictions and with wider
resources at his command, may draw his characters with a more accurate
and also a freer hand. Many of these novels are masterpieces, and we may
believe that they will continue in the future to be held as classics.

For this assumption there are several reasons: In the first place, they
have lived already for thirty or forty years, and _Carmen_, _The Taking
of the Redoubt_, _Colomba_, _Matteo Falcone_, _The Abbé Aubain_, _Arsène
Guillot_, _The Venus of Ille_, _The Game of Backgammon_, _Tamango_, even
_The Etruscan Vase_, and _The Double Mistake_, are almost all little
structures that stand now as firmly as the day they were erected. This
is explained by the fact that they are built of carefully selected
stone, not of stucco and other popular materials. Here we find none of
those descriptions which pass out of fashion after half a century, and
which to-day we consider so tiresome in the romances of Walter Scott; we
see none of those reflections, disquisitions, interpretations, which we
think so tedious in the novels of Fielding; nothing but action, and
action never fails to be instructive. This is all the more striking
inasmuch as important action only is introduced, intelligible alike to
readers of another country and another century. In the works of Balzac
and of Dickens, where this precaution was not observed, many minute
details of local or technical significance will be lost, like a
plastered wall which crumbles away, or they will be serviceable only to
commentators in their commentaries.

A second reason for their endurance is the brevity of these romances,
the longest of them consuming but half a volume, while one is but six
pages. All, however, stand out clearly and are carefully developed, the
interest centred around a single action and a single purpose. Now we
must consider posterity in the light that we do a foreigner, in that it
does not exercise the forbearance of contemporary readers, and that it
does not tolerate tediousness; for how many persons to-day will submit
to the eight volumes of Clarissa Harlowe? We must remember, in short,
that human attention overtaxed ends invariably in bankruptcy; it is
prudent, therefore, when after a century its consideration is still
sought, to speak in language concise, clear, and open.

It is wise, moreover, in addressing posterity to choose interesting
subjects and to treat them in an interesting way. Interesting subjects:
that would exclude events essentially tame or commonplace, characters
essentially colourless or ordinary. To treat these in an interesting
way: which means situations and passions of sufficient vitality, after
the lapse of a century, to have them serve actual conditions. The types
chosen by Mérimée were sincere, strong, and original. We may compare
them to medallions of durable metal, in bold relief, set in an
appropriate frame and amid harmonious surroundings; an officer’s first
battle, a Corsican vendetta, a slave-trader’s last voyage, a slip from
the path of integrity, the sacrifice of a son by his father, a secret
tragedy in a modern salon. Like the novels of Bandello and the Italian
fiction-writers, almost all his tales are sanguinary, and are painful,
besides, from the cold-bloodedness of the recital, the accuracy of the
action, and the skilful convergence of details.

Far better, each one is, in its little setting, a record of human
nature, a record, complete and of far-reaching import, to which a
philosopher, a moralist, may return year after year without exhausting
its interest.

Multitudes of dissertations on primitive and savage instinct, wise
treatises, like those of Schopenhauer, on the metaphysics of love and
of death, can not be compared in value to the hundred pages of _Carmen_.

The wax taper of _Arsène Guillot_ summarises many volumes concerning the
religion of the common people and of the inmost feelings of courtesans.
I know of no more scathing sermon against the blunders of credulity or
of imagination than _The Double Mistake_, and _The Etruscan Vase_. In
the year 2000 _The Game of Backgammon_ will be read again, probably, to
learn what it costs to cheat.

Notice, finally, that at no time does the author force himself on our
notice that he may emphasise the lesson, but remains in the background,
leaving us to draw our own conclusions. He effaces himself even
deliberately so as to appear altogether absent. Future readers will show
consideration for a host so polite, so graceful, so discreet in doing
the honours of his own home. Good manners are at all times pleasing, and
a more courteous host than Mérimée it would be impossible to find.
Greeting his guests at the threshold, he introduces them and then
withdraws, leaving them at liberty to examine and to criticise
undisturbed. He is not obtrusive; he does not call attention to his
treasures; never will he be caught in the act of a display of vanity.
Instead of exposing his knowledge, he conceals it; to listen to him, it
would seem as if any one at all might have written his book. Now it is
an anecdote related to him by one of his friends, and which he has
transcribed on the spot; now it is “a selection” from Brantôme, and from
d’Aubigné. If he wrote _The Experiments of an Adventurer_, it was
because he had once, for a fortnight, had nothing better to do. For
writing _The Guzla_, the recipe is simple: to procure statistics
referring to Illyria, to get the travels of the Abbé Fortis, and to
learn five or six Slav words. This resolution not to over-estimate
himself comes to be in the end an affectation. So great is his dread of
appearing pedantic that he flies to the opposite extreme, and the result
is his tone of flippancy, his unceremonious manner of the man of
society.

The day may come when this will prove to be his vulnerable point, when
it will be asked whether this perpetual air of irony is not intentional;
whether he is justified in joking in the very midst of tragedy; whether
his apparent callousness is not due to the fear of ridicule; whether his
free-and-easy tone is not the effect of embarrassment; whether the
gentleman has not been harmful to the author; whether his art was
sufficiently dear to him. On more than one occasion, notably in _The
Venus of Ille_, he availed himself of this to mystify the reader.
Elsewhere, in Lokis,[4] a grotesque idea, with double meaning, lies at
the foundation of the tale, like a toad in a chiselled casket. He seemed
to find delight in seeing a woman’s fingers unlock the casket, and a
pretty face terrified by the sight of some object of loathing made him
laugh. It appears that he wrote almost always at random, to amuse
himself, to pass the time, without allowing himself to be swayed by an
idea, with no conception of a great unity of purpose, with no
self-subordination to his work.

In this, as in all else, he was disenchanted, and we find him finally
out of tune with life. Scepticism engenders melancholy; and in this
regard his correspondence is truly depressing. His health failed
gradually; he spent his winters regularly at Cannes, realising that life
was slipping away from him.

He took care of his health; he watched over himself; it is the sole
concern which the man continued to feel until the end. By the advice of
his physician, he practised archery, and as a distraction painted views
of the adjacent country. Every day he might be seen walking in silence
along the country roads with his two Englishwomen, one carrying his bow,
the other his box of water-colours. In this way he killed time and
cultivated patience. Out of kindliness of heart he went to a lonely
cabin half a mile away, to nurse a cat; he collected flies for a pet
lizard; these were his favorite companions. When the railway train
brought a friend to visit him, he recovered his animation and became
once more his charming self; his letters were so always, for his quaint
and exquisite humour he could not repress. But of happiness there was
none; to him the future was dark, almost as dark as it is to us to-day;
before closing his eyes it was his sorrow to witness the complete
destruction of his country’s edifice. He expired September 23, 1870.

If one should endeavour to sum up his character and his genius, he will
find, I fancy, that with a tender heart, the gift of nature, endowed
with superior intelligence, having lived the life of a gentleman and
having worked with somewhat of industry, producing a number of books of
the highest order, Mérimée did not, however, accomplish all the good
that was his to yield, did not attain to all the happiness to which it
was his right to aspire. Through his fear of being a dupe, he was
suspicious in every phase of life--in love, in science, in art;[5] and
yet he was the dupe of his own mistrust. One is sure always of being the
dupe of something, and it may be better, perhaps, to reconcile oneself
to the fact in advance.

H. TAINE.

_November, 1873._



LETTERS TO AN UNKNOWN

_Lettres à une Inconnue_



LETTERS TO AN UNKNOWN



I


PARIS, _Thursday_.

I received your letter in due time. Everything about you is paradoxical,
and the same reasons lead you to act in a manner precisely contrary to
that of other mortals. You say you are going to the country. Well and
good; that signifies that you will have nothing to do but write, for in
the country the days are long, and idleness is propitious for
letter-writing. At the same time, the watchfulness and solicitude of
your guardian being less interrupted by the customary engagements of the
city, you will have to submit to more catechising when letters come to
you. In a château, moreover, the arrival of a letter is an event. Not at
all; while you may not be able to write, you may, on the other hand,
receive no end of letters.

I am beginning to be accustomed to your ways, and am no longer surprised
at anything you do. I beg you, however, to take pity on me, and do not
put to too severe a test the unfortunate habit I have formed--I know not
how--of thinking everything that you do to be right.

I recall having been somewhat too frank, perhaps, in my last letter, on
the subject of my own disposition. A friend of mine, an old diplomat,
and a very shrewd man, has often said to me: “Never speak ill of
yourself. Your friends will always do that for you.” I begin to fear
that you will interpret literally every word of disparagement I said of
myself. You must understand that my cardinal virtue is modesty; I carry
it to excess, and tremble lest it may prejudice you against me. Some
other time, when I am more happily inspired, I will give you the exact
nomenclature of all my characteristics. It will be a long list. To-day I
am not feeling well, and dare not launch forth into this geometrical
progression.

You can not possibly guess where I was Saturday night, and what I was
doing at midnight. I was on the roof of one of the towers of Notre Dame,
drinking orangeade and eating ices, in the company of four of my friends
and of a matchless moon, all of us attended by an immense owl that
flapped his wings around us. Paris, indeed, in the moonlight and at that
hour, presents a truly beautiful picture. It resembles the cities
described in the _Thousand and One Nights_, whose inhabitants were
enchanted while they slept. Parisians, as a rule, go to bed at
midnight--the more stupid they. Our party was a curious assemblage;
there were four nations represented, each one having a different point
of view. The tiresome part of it was that some of us felt obliged, in
the presence of the moon and of the owl, to assume a sentimental tone,
and to utter commonplaces. To tell the truth, everybody began gradually
to talk nonsense.

I do not know why and by what association of ideas this semi-poetic
evening recalls to my mind another, which was not in the least poetic. I
went to a ball given by some of my young friends, to which were invited
all the ballet girls of the Opera. These women are, as a rule, dull, but
I have observed that in moral feeling they are superior to the men of
their class. The only vice which separates them from other women is
poverty. You will be singularly edified by all these rhapsodies, so I
shall hasten to a close, which I should have done long ago.

Good-bye. Do not bear me a grudge for the unflattering portrait of
myself which I have given you.



II


PARIS.

Frankness and truth are virtues seldom esteemed by women as desirable;
rather are they qualities to be avoided. For this reason you regard me
as a Sardanapalus, because I attended a ball at which the ballet girls
of the Opera were present. You reproach me for that evening as if it
were a crime, and you reproach me for commending those poor girls as if
that were a still greater crime. I repeat it, give them wealth, and
thereafter only their good qualities will be seen. But an insurmountable
barrier has been raised by the aristocracy between the different social
classes, so that neither class may discover how much alike are the
happenings on each side of the barrier. I want to tell you the story of
a ballet girl that I heard in this same shocking society. In a house in
the rue Saint Honoré lived a poor woman who never left the little attic
room which she rented at three francs a month. She had one daughter
twelve years old, who was always neatly dressed, very demure, and
extremely reserved in manner. This little girl went out three
afternoons in the week and returned alone at midnight. It was known that
she was a chorus girl at the Opera. One day she goes down to the
porter’s room and asks for a lighted candle. It is given to her. The
porter’s wife, surprised not to see her come downstairs again, climbs to
the garret, finds the woman dead on her wretched pallet, and the little
girl occupied in burning unread an enormous quantity of letters which
she was taking from a large trunk. She says: “My mother died last night,
and charged me to destroy all her letters without reading them.” This
child has never known her mother’s real name; she is now absolutely
alone in the world, without any resource but to act the vulture, the
monkey, or the devil at the Opera.

Her mother’s last word of counsel was to urge her to be prudent, and to
continue to be a ballet girl. She is, moreover, very discreet, deeply
religious, and it is with reluctance that she refers to her story. Tell
me, please, if it is not infinitely more creditable for this little girl
to lead the life she does, than for you who enjoy the singular good
fortune of an irreproachable environment, and of a temperament of such
refinement that it seems to me to sum up the qualities of an entire
civilisation. I must tell you the truth. I can endure the society of
ignoble people only at rare intervals, and then only because of an
inexhaustible curiosity which I feel for every variety of the human
species. I can never tolerate low society among men. To me there is
something too repulsive in them, especially in our own countrymen. In
Spain, however, I made friends always with the mule-drivers and the
_toreros_. Many a time have I broken bread with people whom an
Englishman would not notice for fear of losing his self-respect. I have
even drunk from the same bottle with a convict. I must admit that there
was no other bottle, and one must drink when he is thirsty. Do not from
this imagine that I have a preference for the rabble. It is simply that
I like to see other manners, other faces, and to hear another language.
The ideas are always the same, and if one eliminates all that is
conventional, I believe that good manners may be found elsewhere than in
a drawing-room of the faubourg Saint Germain. All this is Arabic to you,
and I do not know why I say it.

       *       *       *       *       *

_August 8._

I have been a long time finishing this letter. My mother has been
extremely ill, and I very anxious. She is now out of danger, and I
trust that in a few days she will be in perfect health. I can not
endure anxiety, and while her life was in danger I was quite daft.

Adieu.

P.S.--The water-colour which I intended for you is not turning out well,
and I am so dissatisfied with it that I shall probably not send it to
you. Do not let this prevent you from sending me the needle-work you
have made for me. Be sure to choose a trustworthy messenger. As a
general rule, never take a woman as a confidante; sooner or later you
will regret it. Learn also that nothing is more common than to do wrong
merely for the pleasure of doing it. Abandon your optimistic ideas, and
realise that we are in this world to struggle and contend with our
fellows. In this connection I will tell you that a learned friend of
mine, who reads hieroglyphics, says that on the Egyptian coffins were
often found these two words, _Life_, _War_; which proves that I have not
invented the maxim just quoted. In hieroglyphics it is expressed thus:
[Illustration: image of an urn and an arm weilding a sword]. The first
character signifies life, and represents, I believe, one of those vases
called _canopes_. The other is a reduced shield, with an arm holding a
lance. There’s science for you!

Again adieu.



III


PARIS.

Your reproaches please me greatly. I am, indeed, predestined by the
fairies. I ask myself often what I am to you, and what you are to me. To
the first question I can have no reply; as for the second, I fancy that
I love you as if you were a fourteen-year-old niece of whom I were the
guardian. As for your exceedingly moral relative, who has so much ill to
say of me, he reminds me of Thwackum, who is always saying, “Can any
virtue exist without religion?” Have you read _Tom Jones_?--a book as
immoral as all of mine together. If it has been forbidden you, I am
confident you have read it. What a farce of an education is that which
you are getting in England! What does it amount to? People lose their
breath preaching to a young girl, and the result is that this young girl
desires to know the identical immoral being for whom people flatter
themselves they have given her an aversion. What an admirable story is
that of the serpent! I wish Lady M---- could read this letter.
Fortunately, she would faint about the tenth line.

Turning the page, I have reread what I have just written, and it seems
to me that there is very little coherence and connection of ideas. That
is a fault of mine, but I write just as I think, and as my thoughts are
more rapid than my pen, the consequence is that I am forced to omit all
the transitions. I should, perhaps, follow your example, and erase all
the first page; but I prefer to resign it to you for reflection and
curl-papers. I must confess, too, that just at this moment I am deeply
absorbed in an affair which, I avow to my shame, dwells stubbornly in
one-half of my brain, while the other half is entirely filled with you.
The portrait which you draw of yourself I like tolerably well. It does
not flatter you any too much, and all that I know of you pleases me
prodigiously....

I am studying you with the liveliest curiosity. I have theories about
the most trifling things, about gloves, about boots, about curls, etc.,
and I attach great importance to such things, because I have discovered
that there is an actual relation between the temperament of women and
the caprice (or, to express it better, the connection of ideas and the
reasoning) which causes them to choose such and such a fabric. Thus, for
instance, it is for me to have demonstrated that a woman who wears blue
gowns is a coquette, and poses as a sentimentalist. The demonstration
is easy, but it would take too long. How should you like it if I were to
send you a wretchedly bad water-colour, larger than this sheet, and
which could be neither rolled nor folded? Wait until I can make you a
smaller one, that can be sent in a letter.

The other day I went sailing. On the river there were any number of
little sail-boats, carrying all sorts of people. There was one very
large boat in which were several women of questionable manners. All
these boats had landed, and from the largest stepped a man about forty
years old, who was amusing himself by playing on a tambourine. While I
was admiring the musical talent of this creature, a woman of perhaps
twenty-three, approached him, calling him a monster, telling him that
she had followed him from Paris, and that if he would not allow her to
join him he would repent it. All this occurred on the bank, about twenty
feet from our boat. The man with the tambourine continued playing while
the deserted woman was thus holding forth, and with the utmost
indifference replied that he did not intend to have her in his boat;
whereupon she climbed out to the boat moored farthest from the bank, and
threw herself into the river, splashing us abominably. Although she had
extinguished my cigar, indignation did not deter me, or my friends
either, from pulling her out of the water before she had been in it long
enough to swallow two glasses. The beauteous object of all this despair
had not so much as budged, and murmured between his teeth, “Why rescue
her, when she wished to drown herself?” We took the woman to an inn, and
as it was getting late, and it was almost dinner-time, we left her to
the care of the tavernkeeper’s wife.

How does it happen that the most indifferent men are the best beloved by
women? This is what I asked myself as I sailed down the Seine, what I am
still asking myself, and what I beg you to tell me, if you know.

Good-bye. Write to me often; let us be friends, and pardon the
incoherence of my letter. Some day I will explain the reason.



IV


_Mariquita de mi alma_ (it is thus that I should commence if we were in
Granada), I received your letter in one of those moments of melancholy
when one views life only through dark glasses. As your epistle is not as
amiable as it might be--pardon my frankness--it has contributed not a
little to the continuance of my sulky mood. I wished to answer your
letter Sunday, promptly and sharply; promptly, because you had censured
me in an indirect sort of way, and sharply, because I was furious with
you.

I was interrupted at the first word of my letter, and this interruption
prevented me from writing to you. Thank the good Lord for this, for the
weather is fine to-day, and my ill-humour has become mollified to such
an extent that I no longer wish to write to you save in a style of honey
and sugar. I shall not quarrel with you, therefore, about thirty or
forty passages in your last letter, which gave me a terrible shock, and
which I am quite willing to forget. I forgive you, and with so much the
more pleasure because I really believe that, in spite of my wrath, I
like you better when you are pouting than in any other mood. One passage
in your letter made me laugh all by myself for ten minutes. You tell me
short and sweet: “My love is promised” and thus you bring on the great
knock-down blow without any preliminary skirmishes.

You say you are engaged for life as you would say, “I am engaged for the
quadrille.” Very well. I have apparently employed my time to advantage
in discussing with you questions of love, marriage, and the like; you
are still on the point of believing, or at least of saying, that when
you are told to love a certain gentleman, you love him. Have you
promised by a contract signed before a notary, or on vignetted paper?

When I was a school-boy I received once from a seamstress a note
surmounted by two hearts aflame, united as follows: [Illustration: image
of two parallel hearts pierced by an arrow]; there was, besides, a
declaration of the most affectionate kind. My teacher first confiscated
my letter, and then locked me in my room. The object of this budding
passion proceeded to console herself with my cruel teacher.

Nothing is so fatal as engagements to those in whose behalf they are
made. Do you know that if your love were already promised, I should
believe confidently that it would be possible for you to love me? Why
should you not love me? for you have made me no promises, since the
first law of nature is to take a dislike to everything that has the
appearance of an obligation. And, indeed, every obligation is in its
nature irksome. In short, if I had less modesty I should come to the
conclusion that if you have pledged your love to some one, you will give
it to me, to whom you have promised nothing. Joking aside, and speaking
of promises, since you do not care to have my water-colour, I have a
strong desire to send it to you. I was dissatisfied with it, and began a
copy of an infant Marguerite of Velasquez, which I wished to give you.
Velasquez is not easy to copy, especially for daubers like myself. Twice
I have begun my Marguerite, but now I am even more discontented with it
than I was with the monk. The latter is still subject to your orders. I
will send it whenever you wish, but it will not carry conveniently. Not
only this, the spirits which sometimes amuse themselves by intercepting
our letters might possibly take care of my picture. What reassures me is
that it is so bad that no one but I could have made it, and no one but
you be blamed for it. Let me know your pleasure.

I hope you will be in Paris about the middle of October, at which time I
shall have two or three weeks’ leisure. I should not care to spend them
in France, and for a long time I have intended to see the Rubens
pictures at Antwerp, and the Art Gallery at Amsterdam. If I were sure of
seeing you, however, I should renounce Rubens and Van Dyck with the
greatest cheerfulness. You see that the sacrifice costs me nothing. I do
not know Amsterdam. However, it is for you to decide. Here your vanity
will lead you to say: “A great sacrifice, indeed, not to prefer me to
those fat Flemish women, with their white caps and baskets of fish, and
in a picture gallery besides!” Yes, it is a sacrifice, and a great one
too. I give up the certainty, that is, the very great pleasure, of
seeing the paintings of a master, to the very uncertain chance that you
will compensate me. Observe, that leaving out of consideration the
impossible supposition that you might not please me, if _I_ were to
prove a disappointment to _you_, I should have good reason to regret my
works of art and my fat Flemish women.

You seem to be devoutly superstitious even. I am reminded at this moment
of a pretty little Grenada girl, who, on mounting her mule to go through
a mountain pass at Ronda (a spot notorious for robbers), piously kissed
her thumb, and struck her breast five or six times, absolutely certain
after that that the robbers would not show themselves, provided the
_Inglés_ (meaning myself, for every traveller must be an Englishman)
would not swear too much by the Holy Virgin and the Saints. This
shocking manner of speaking becomes necessary on bad roads in order to
persuade the horses to go.

Read “Tristram Shandy.” I should enjoy immensely your opinion of the
story of that person. You are unjust and jealous--two admirable
qualities in a woman, two faults in a man. I have them both. You ask me
about the affair which preoccupies me. To tell you that, it would be
necessary to describe my life and my character, of which no one has the
least idea, because I have never yet found any one who inspired me with
sufficient confidence to tell it. After we have met often we may perhaps
become good friends, and you will understand me. To have a friend to
whom I could express all my thoughts, past and present, would be to me
the greatest blessing. I am becoming sad, and I must not end this letter
in such a mood. I am consumed with the desire to have an answer from
you. Be kind, and do not make me wait long.

Good-bye. Do not let us quarrel again, and let us be friends. With
respect I kiss the hand which you extend to me in sign of peace.



V


_September 25._

Your letter found me ill, and very dreary, busily engaged with some
extremely troublesome affairs, so that I have not had time to take care
of myself. I have, I think, inflammation of the lungs, which makes me
exceedingly irritable. In a few days, however, I propose to take myself
in hand and get well.

I have decided not to leave Paris in October, in the hope that you will
come then. You shall see me or not, at your pleasure. It will be your
fault if you do not. You mention particular reasons which prevent you
from trying to meet me. I respect secrets, and do not ask your motives;
only, I beg you to tell me, really and truly, if you have any. Are you
not moved, rather, by some childish notion? Perhaps some one has read
you a lecture on my account, and you are still under its spell. You
should have no fear of me. Your natural prudence, doubtless, counts for
much in your disinclination to see me. Be reassured, I shall not fall in
love with you. A few years ago that might have happened; now I am too
old, and I have been too unfortunate. I can never fall in love again,
because my illusions have caused me many _desengaños_.

When I went to Spain I was on the point of falling in love. It was one
of the beautiful acts of my life. The woman who was the cause of my
voyage never suspected it. Had I remained, I might have committed,
possibly, a great blunder, that of offering a woman worthy of enjoying
every happiness that one may have on earth, in exchange for the loss of
all that was dear to her, an affection which I realised was far inferior
to the sacrifice that she would probably have made. You recall my maxim,
“Love excuses all things, but one must be sure that it is love.” You may
be sure that this precept is more rigid than those of your Methodist
friends. In conclusion, I shall be charmed to see you. You, perhaps, may
gain a real friend, and I, it may be, shall find in you what I have long
sought--a woman with whom I shall not be in love, but one whom I may
have for a confidante. We shall both gain, probably, by a closer
acquaintance. Still, you must act as your lofty sense of prudence
dictates.

My monk is ready. At the first opportunity, therefore, I shall send you
the picture framed. The child Marguerite, still unfinished and too badly
begun to be ever completed, will remain just as it is, and will serve as
a blotting-pad for a sketch I shall do for you when I have time. I am
dying of curiosity to see the surprise you have in store for me, but in
vain do I rack my brain to guess it. When writing to you I omit all
transitions, with me a very necessary trick of style.

You will find this letter, I fear, terribly disconnected. The reason is,
that while writing one sentence another comes to my mind, and this
occasions a third before the second one is finished. I am suffering
greatly to-night. If you have any influence Above, try to obtain for me
a little health, or, failing in that, resignation; for I am the most
impatient invalid in the world, and treat my best friends abominably.

Stretched on my couch, I think of you, of our mysterious acquaintance,
with pleasure, and it seems to me that I should be very happy to chat
with you in the same desultory way that I write; besides, there is this
advantage, that words vanish, but writing remains. I am not tormented,
however, by the thought that some day my words, either living or
posthumous, may be published. Good-bye. Let me have your sympathy. I
would I had the courage to tell you a thousand things that make life
sad. But how can I, when you are so far away? When are you coming? Again
good-bye. If your heart prompts you, you have an abundance of time to
write to me.

P.S.--_September 26._--I am even more low-spirited than I was yesterday.
I suffer tortures, but if you have never had gastritis you can have no
conception of what it means to suffer pain that is indefinite and at the
same time intense. It has this peculiarity, that it affects the entire
nervous system. I should like to be in the country with you. I am sure
you would cure me. Good-bye. If I die this year, you will be sorry that
you did not know me better.



VI


Do you know that you are sometimes very kind? I do not say this as a
reproach veiled by a cold compliment, but I should be glad indeed to
receive frequent letters like your last one. Unfortunately, you are not
always so charitably inclined towards me. I have not replied earlier,
because your letter was only delivered to me last night, on my return
from a short trip. I spent four days in absolute solitude, without
seeing a man, much less a woman, for I do not call men and women certain
bipeds who are trained to fetch food and drink when they are ordered to
do so. During my retreat I made the most dismal reflections about myself
and my future, about my friends, and so on. If I had had the wit to wait
for your letter it would have given quite another turn to my thoughts.
“I should have carried away happiness enough to last me at least a
week.”

The way in which you came down on that worthy Mr. V. is delightful. Your
courage pleases me immensely. I should never have supposed you capable
of such _capricho_, and I admire you all the more for it. It is true
that the remembrance of your splendid black eyes counts for something in
my admiration. However, old as I am, I am almost insensible to beauty. I
say to myself that “it amounts to nothing”; but I assure you that when I
heard a man of very fastidious taste say you were very pretty, I could
not repress a feeling of sadness. This is the reason (but first let me
assure you that I am not the least bit in love with you): I am horribly
jealous, jealous of my friends, and it grieves me to think that your
beauty exposes you to the attentions of a lot of men incapable of
appreciating you, and who admire in you only those things for which I
care the least.

In fact, I am in a beastly humour when I think of that ceremony which
you are to attend. Nothing makes me more melancholy than a wedding. The
Turks, who bargain for a woman while they examine her as they would a
fat sheep, are better than we, who have glossed over this vile trade
with a varnish of hypocrisy which, alas! is only too transparent. I have
asked myself often what I should find to say to a wife on the first day
of my marriage, and I have thought of nothing possible, unless it were a
compliment on her night-cap. Happily, the devil will be extremely
clever if he ever entraps me into such an entertainment. The part which
the woman plays is much easier than that of the man. On such an occasion
she models her conduct on Racine’s Iphigenia; but if she is at all
observant, what a lot of droll things she must see! You must tell me
whether the reception was beautiful. All the men will pay you attention
and favour you with allusions to domestic happiness. When the
Andalusians are angry, they say: _Mataria el sol á puñaladas si no fuese
por miedo de dejar el mundo á oscuras!_

Since September 28, my birthday, an uninterrupted succession of petty
misfortunes have assailed me. Besides this, the pain in my chest is
worse and I suffer great distress. I shall delay my trip to England
until the middle of November. If you are unwilling to see me in London,
I must abandon the hope, but I am anxious to see the elections. I shall
overtake you soon after in Paris, where chance may bring us together,
even if your whim persists in keeping us apart. All your reasons are
pitiful, and are not worth the trouble to refute, and all the more since
you yourself know that they are worthless.

You are joking, certainly, when you say so pleasantly that you are
afraid of me. You are aware that I am ugly, and have a capricious
temper, that I am always absent-minded, and often, when in pain, very
irritating and disagreeable. What is there in all that to disturb you?
You will never fall in love with me, so rest easy. Your consoling
predictions can never be realised. You are not a witch. Now the truth is
that my chances of death have increased this year. Do not be anxious
about your letters. All letters and papers found in my room shall be
burned after my death; but to plague you, I shall bequeath you in my
will a manuscript continuation of the _Guzla_, which amused you so much.

You have the qualities of both an angel and a devil, but many more of
the latter. You call me a tempter. Dare, if you will, to say that this
title does not apply to you far more than to me. Have you not thrown a
bait to me, a poor little fish? and now that you have me caught on the
end of your hook you keep me dangling between the sky and the sea as
long as it amuses you; then, when you grow tired of the game, you will
cut the line, I shall drop with the hook in my mouth, and the fisherman
will be nowhere to be found.

I appreciate your frankness in confessing that you read the letter
which Mr. V. wrote me and entrusted to your charge. I guessed it,
indeed, for since the time of Eve all women are alike in that respect. I
wish the letter had been more interesting; but I suppose that, in spite
of his spectacles, you consider Mr. V. a man of good taste. I am out of
sorts because I am suffering.

I am reminded of your promise to give me a _schizzo_--a promise you
would never have given if I had not begged for it--and I feel in better
humour. I await the _schizzo_ with the greatest patience. Adieu, _niña
de mis ojos_; I promise never to fall in love with you. I do not want to
be in love ever again, but I should like to have a woman friend. If I
should see you often, and you are all I believe you to be, I should
become very fond of you, in a truly platonic way. Try, therefore, to
arrange it so that we may meet when you come to Paris. Shall I be
compelled to wait many long days for a reply? Good-bye again. Pity me,
for I am very downcast, and I have a thousand reasons for being so.



VII


Lady M. told me last night that you were going to be married. This being
so, burn my letters. I shall burn yours, and then good-bye. You already
know my principles on this question. They do not allow me to continue in
friendly relations with a married woman whom I knew as a young girl,
with a widow whom I knew as a married woman. I have observed that when
the civil status of a woman has changed, one’s relations with her have
changed also, and always for the worse. In brief, right or wrong, I can
not endure that my friends should marry. Therefore, if you are going to
be married, let us forget each other. I beg of you not to have recourse
to one of your usual evasions, but to answer me frankly.

I declare that since September 28 I have suffered disappointments and
vexations of every description. Your marriage was only another of the
fatalities that were to fall on me.

One night not long ago, being unable to sleep, I reviewed in my mind all
the vexations which have overwhelmed me during the last fortnight, and I
found for them all but one compensation, which was your amiable letter,
and your equally amiable promise to make me a sketch. Yet now I wish I
could stab the sun, as the Andalusians say.

_Mariquita de mi vida_, (let me call you so until your marriage), I had
a superb stone, finely cut, brilliant, sparkling, in every point
perfect. I believed it to be a diamond, which I would not have exchanged
for that of the Grand Mogul. Not so at all! It turns out to be but an
imitation. A friend of mine, who is a chemist, has just analysed it for
me. Fancy my disappointment. I have spent a great deal of time thinking
of this imitation diamond, and of my good fortune in having found it.
Now I must spend as much time, and more even, in persuading myself that
it was not a genuine stone.

All this is only a parable. I took dinner the other evening with the
false diamond, and made but a surly appearance. When I am angry I am
rather skilful with the rhetorical figure called irony, and so I
extolled the good qualities of the diamond in my most bombastic style
and with frigid composure. I do not know, I am sure, why I tell you all
this, especially since we are soon to forget each other. Meanwhile, I
love you still, and commend myself to your prayers--“nymph, in thy
orisons be all my sins remembered,” etc.

Next Friday your picture will leave by mail, and should certainly reach
London by Sunday. You might send for it Tuesday at Mr. V.’s, Pall-Mall.

Forgive the insanity of this letter; my mind is distracted with gloomy
thoughts.



VIII


MY DEAR PLATONIC FRIEND: We are becoming very affectionate. You say to
me, _Amigo de mi alma_, which from a woman’s lips is very sweet. You
give me no news of your health. In your former letter you told me that
my platonic friend was ill, and you should have known that I was
anxious. Be more definite in future. It is all very well for you to
complain of my reticence, you who are mystery incarnate! What more will
you have on the story of the diamond, unless it is the name? Details,
perhaps; but they would be tiresome to write, and some day they may
amuse you, when we shall find nothing to say to each other, seated in
our arm-chairs on opposite sides of the chimney corner.

Listen to the dream that I had two nights ago, and if you are sincere,
interpret it for me. Methought we were both in Valencia, in a beautiful
garden where there was an abundance of oranges, pomegranates, and other
fruits. You were seated upon a bench, resting against a hedge. Opposite
was a wall about six feet in height, separating this garden from another
garden on a much lower level. I was standing facing you, and it seemed
to me that we were speaking to each other in the Valencian tongue. _Nota
bene_, that I am able to understand Valencian with much difficulty. What
sort of a deuced language is it that one speaks in a dream, when one
speaks a language that he does not know? For lack of something else to
do, and from habit, I went and stood on a rock, looking over into the
garden below. There I saw a bench also with its back against the wall,
and seated on this bench was a Valencian gardener playing the guitar,
and my diamond was listening. This sight put me instantly in a bad
humour, but at first I gave no sign of this. The diamond raised her
head, and seemed astonished to see me, but she did not start, or appear
otherwise disconcerted.

After a time I stepped down from the stone, and said to you, casually
and without mentioning the diamond, that it would be a great joke to
throw a big stone over the top of the wall. This stone was very heavy.
You were eager to help me, and without asking any questions (which is
not natural to you), by dint of pushing we succeeded in placing the
stone on the top of the wall, and we were making ready to push it over,
when the wall itself gave way and crumbled, and we both fell with the
stone and the débris of the wall. I do not know what happened then, for
I awoke. That you may understand the scene better, I enclose a drawing
of it. I was unable to see the gardener’s face, which is most
exasperating.

You are very kind. I have said this to you frequently of late. It was
very kind of you to have answered the question that I asked you
recently. I need not tell you that your reply pleased me. You have even
said, unconsciously, perhaps, several things that have given me
pleasure, and especially that the husband of a woman who resembled you
would have your sincere sympathy. I can readily believe you, and will
add that no one could be more unfortunate unless it were a man who loved
you.

You must be cold and sarcastic in your perverse moods, with an
insuperable pride which forbids you to acknowledge when you are in the
wrong. Add to this your energetic temperament, which compels you to
disdain tears and complaints. When in the course of time and of events
we become friends, it shall be seen which of us knows better how to
torment the other. Only to think of it makes my hair stand on end. Have
I interpreted correctly your _but_? Rest assured that, notwithstanding
your resolutions, the threads of our lives are too closely intermingled
for us to fail to find each other some day or other. I am dying to see
and talk with you. It seems to me that I should be perfectly happy if I
knew that I should see you this evening.

By the way, you are wrong to suspect Mr. V. of undue curiosity. Even if
it were equal to yours, which is not possible, Mr. V. is a Cato, and
under no consideration would he break a seal. Therefore send him the
_schizzo_ under cover, and have no fear of any indiscretion on his part.
I should like to see you as you were writing, _Amigo de mi alma_. When
you are having your photograph taken for me, say those words to
yourself, instead of “prunes and prisms,” as ladies say when they wish
to give their mouth a pleasant expression.

Try and arrange it so that we may meet without any secrecy and as good
friends do. You will be distressed, no doubt, to learn that I am not at
all well and am horribly bored. Do come soon to Paris, dear _Mariquita_,
and make me fall in love with you. Then I shall be no longer lonely, and
in compensation I shall make you very unhappy by my whims. For some time
your writing has been very careless and your letters short. I am
convinced that you have no love for any one, and never will have any.
However, you understand well enough the theory of love.

Good-bye. You have my best wishes for your health, for your happiness,
that you may not marry, that you may come to Paris--in short, that we
may become good friends.



IX


_Mariquita de mi alma_: I am grieved to learn of your indisposition.
When this letter reaches you I hope you will have fully recovered your
health, and that you will be in a condition to write me longer letters.
Your last one was maddeningly brief and stiff, a style of writing to
which you formerly accustomed me, but which is now more annoying than
you can imagine. Write me a long letter, and tell me all kinds of
pleasant things. What is your malady? Have you some vexation to endure,
or is it a sorrow? In your last note there are several mysterious
phrases, as all your phrases are which intimated this. But between
ourselves, I do not believe you have ever known the luxury of that organ
called the heart. You have troubles of the mind, pleasures of the mind;
but the organ known as the heart is developed only about the
twenty-fifth year of age, in the 46th degree of latitude.

You will knit your beautiful black brows at this, and say, “The saucy
man doubts that I have a heart!” for this nowadays is the great
assumption. Since so many novels and poems of passion, so called, have
been written, all women affect to have a heart. Wait a little while.
When you have really discovered your heart you will tell me about it;
you will recall regretfully these good days when you were ruled only by
the mind, and you will realise that the vexations you now suffer are
mere pin-pricks compared to the dagger-thrusts that shall overwhelm you
when the days of passion shall have come.

I have been grumbling about your letter, but it really contains some
very agreeable news: that is, the definite promise, graciously given, to
send me your photograph. This gives me great pleasure, not only because
I shall then know you better, but especially because it will be a token
of your growing confidence in me. I see that I am making progress in
your esteem, and congratulate myself. When am I to receive this
portrait? Will you give it to me yourself? If so, I will come to receive
it. Or will you give it to Mr. V., who will send it to me with all due
discretion? Have no fear of either him or his wife. I should prefer to
receive it from your own white hand.

I shall start for London early next month. I am going to see the
election. I shall also eat some whitebait at Blackwall, look over the
cartoons of Hampton Court, and then return to Paris. If I were to see
you it would make me very happy, but I dare not hope for it. However
that may be, if you will send the sketch under cover to Mr. V. just as
you do your letters, I shall receive it promptly, for, if nothing
happens, I shall be in London the 8th of December.

I have censured your curiosity and indiscretion in opening Mr. V.’s
letter, but to tell you the truth you have some faults that I like, and
your curiosity is one of them. If we were to meet often, I am afraid you
would take a dislike to me, and that the opposite would happen with me.
At this moment I am thinking of the expression on your face. It is a
little severe, that of a lioness, though tame.

Adieu. I send a thousand kisses to your mysterious feet.



X


By all means, by all means, send Mr. V. what you have for so long a time
led me to expect. Enclose a letter too, a long one, for if you were to
send a letter to Paris I should probably cross it on my way. Caution Mr.
V. to take care of the letter and the package, and tell him that I shall
call for them in person the last of next week. What would be on your
part even more friendly, and what you do not suggest in your letter,
would be to tell me when and where I might see you. I am not counting on
this, however, and I know you too well to expect any such proof of your
courage. I rely on chance only, which may give me some talisman or clew.

I am writing to you lying on a couch, suffering tortures; colour that of
a sun-scorched meadow. I refer to my own colour, not that of the couch.
You must know that the sea makes me very ill, and that the glad waters
of the dark blue sea are pleasant to me only when I watch them from the
shore. The first time I went to England I was so ill that it was a
fortnight before I regained my usual colour, which is that of the pale
horse of the Apocalypse. One day when I was dining opposite to Madam V.,
she exclaimed suddenly, “Until to-day I thought you were an Indian.” Do
not be frightened, and do not take me for a ghost.

Forgive me for referring so often to the diamond. What must be the
feelings of a man who is not a connoisseur in gems, to whom the
jewellers have said, “This stone is an imitation,” and who nevertheless
sees it sparkle brilliantly; who sometimes says to himself, “Suppose the
jewellers are not good judges of diamonds! Suppose they are mistaken, or
else wish to deceive me!” I look at my diamond from time to time (as
seldom as I can), and every time I see it it seems to me genuine in
every respect. What a pity that I am unable myself to make a conclusive
chemical analysis! What do you think about it? If I could see you, I
should explain what is obscure in this matter, and you would give me
some wise advice; or, better still, you would make me forget my diamond,
genuine or false, for there is no diamond that can stand comparison with
two lovely black eyes.

Good-bye. I have a terrible pain in my left elbow, on which I am leaning
to write to you; besides, you do not deserve three closely written
pages. You send me only a few lines, carelessly written, and when you
write three lines two of them are certain to throw me in a rage.



XI


You are charming, dear _Mariquita_, too charming even. I have just
received the _schizzo_, and I now possess both your portrait and your
confidence, a double happiness. You were in an agreeable mood the day
you wrote, for your letter was long and kind, but it has one fault, that
is, it is indefinite. Shall I see you, or not? That is the question. I
know well enough how it may be solved, but you do not want to come to a
decision. You are, as you will be all your life, vacillating between
your own temperament and the habits you acquired in the convent. That is
the cause of all the trouble.

I swear to you that if you will not permit me to call and see you, I
shall go to Madam D. and ask her to give me some news of you. In this
connection, Madam D. might give you a satisfactory proof of my
discretion, for I even resisted the desire which made my fingers tingle
to open the package containing the picture. Applaud me.

Why are you unwilling that I should see you on the promenade, for
example, or, better still, at the British Museum or the Ingerstein
Gallery? I have a friend with me who is exceedingly curious about the
large package which I untied while his back was turned, and also about
the change in my spirits due to its arrival. I have not told him a word
that approaches the truth, but I think he is on the scent.

Good-bye. I wished to tell you of the safe arrival of the picture, and
of the very great pleasure it has given me. Let us write frequently in
London, even if we are not to see each other there.



XII


LONDON, _December 10_.

Tell me, in the name of God, “if you are of God,” _querida Mariquita_,
why you have not answered my letter. Your letter before the last, and
especially the picture which accompanied it, threw me into such a
flutter that the note I wrote you on the spot did not have any too much
common sense. Now that I am calmer, and have had several days in London
to refresh my mind, I shall try to reason with you.

Why do you not wish to see me? No one of your friends knows me, and my
visit would seem entirely natural. Your principal motive seems to be the
dread of doing something _improper_, as they say here. I do not take
seriously what you say concerning your fear of losing your illusions
upon closer acquaintance with me. If this were the real ground of your
hesitation, you would be the first woman, the first human being, whom
such a consideration prevented from gratifying her inclination or her
curiosity.

Let us consider the impropriety of it. Is the thing improper in itself?
No, for nothing is more open and above-board. You know in advance that I
shall not eat you. The thing, then, is improper, admitting that it is
improper, only in the eyes of society. Observe in passing that this word
_society_ makes us miserable from the day when we put on clothes that
are uncomfortable, because society so orders it, until the day of our
death....

In sending me your portrait, it seems to me that you gave me a proof of
your faith in my discretion. Why, then, believe in it no longer? A man’s
good judgment, and mine in particular, is the greater the more is
expected of him. This granted, and being fully convinced of my
discretion, you may see me, and society will be none the wiser,
consequently it can not exclaim at the impropriety. I will even add,
with my hand on my heart--that is, on my left side--that so far as I am
concerned I see not the slightest impropriety in it. I will say more: if
this correspondence is to continue without our ever meeting, it becomes
the most absurd thing in the world. All these thoughts I leave to your
reflection.

If I were vainer, I should rejoice at what you say of my diamond. But we
can never fall in love--with each other, I mean. Our acquaintance did
not begin in a manner to lead to that point: it is far too romantic for
that. As for the diamond, my travelling companion, while smoking his
cigar, spoke of it without knowing my interest in the matter, and said
some very deplorable things. He seems to have no doubt of its falseness.
Dear _Mariquita_, you say you would never wish to be a “crown diamond,”
and you are quite right. You are worth more than that. I offer you a
sincere friendship, which, I hope, may some day be of value to us both.

Good-bye.



XIII


PARIS, _February, 1842_.

An hour ago I read your letter, which has been on my table ever since
Tuesday, concealed under a pile of papers. Since you did not disdain my
gifts, I send you some conserves of roses, jessamine, and bergamot. You
might offer a jar of it to Madame de C., with my best respects. It seems
that I once offered you a pair of Turkish slippers, and you have
persisted in refusing them, so that I should like to send them to you
anyway. But since my return I have been robbed. No sign of any
slippers; I can not find them high or low. Will you accept this instead?
Perhaps this Turkish mirror will please you better; for you seem to me
to be even more coquettish than you were in the year of grace 1840. It
was in the month of December, and you wore striped silk stockings. That
is all that I remember.

It is for you to decide the protocol of which you speak. You do not
believe in my gray hair. Here is a sample in proof of it.

I give nothing without expecting a return. Before you go to Naples, you
will be good enough to take my directions and to bring me back what I
shall tell you. I might give you a letter to the director of the
Pompeiian excavations, if you are interested in such things.

You make of your precious self such a dazzling portrait that I see the
time of our next meeting postponed to the Greek Kalends. _Allah kerim!_
I am writing in the midst of such an infernal racket that I do not know
exactly what I am saying. I have a great many things to say, however,
about ourselves, which I shall defer until after I have heard from you.
Meanwhile, good-bye, and preserve that splendid bearing, that radiant
countenance, which I admired.



XIV


PARIS, _Saturday, March, 1842_.

For two hours I have been trying to decide whether I should write to
you. My pride offers many reasons why I should not do so, but although
you are perfectly sure, I hope, of the pleasure your letter gave me, I
declare I can not refrain from telling you so.

So you are rich; so much the better. I congratulate you. Rich, which is,
interpreted, free. Your friend, who had such a happy inspiration, must
have been somewhat of an Auld Robin Gray; he was evidently in love with
you. You will never confess it, because you are too fond of mystery; but
I will forgive you; we write to each other too seldom to quarrel. Why
should you not go to Rome and to Naples to enjoy the pictures and the
sunshine? You are capable of appreciating Italy, and you will return
richer in impressions and ideas.

I do not advise you to visit Greece. Your skin is not tough enough to
resist the multitude of hideous creatures that prey on people there.
Speaking of Greece, since you take such good care of what is given you,
here is a blade of grass which I plucked on the hill of Anthela at
Thermopylæ, the place where the last of the three hundred died. This
little flower has in its constituent atoms probably a few of the
molecules of the late Leonidas. I recollect, besides, that on this very
spot, as I lay stretched upon a pile of straw in front of the
guard-house (what a profanation!), I spoke of my youth to my friend
Ampère, and said that among the tender remembrances which I had
preserved there was but one in which there was no touch of bitterness. I
was thinking at the time of our beautiful youth. Pray keep my foolish
flower.

Tell me, should you like some more substantial souvenir of the Orient?
Unfortunately, I have given away all the beautiful things that I brought
back with me. I could give you quantities of sandals, but you would wear
them for others, thank you. If you wish some conserves of roses and
jessamine, I still have a little left, but let me know at once, or I
shall eat them all. We hear from each other so seldom that we have a
great many things to say concerning ourselves. Here is my history:

I visited my dear Spain again in the fall of 1840. I spent two months in
Madrid, where I witnessed a ridiculous revolution, several superb
bull-fights, and the triumphal entry of Espartero, which was the most
comical parade I ever saw. I was a guest in the home of an intimate
friend who is almost like a dear sister to me. In the morning I went
into Madrid, and returned to dine in the country with six women, the
oldest of whom was thirty-six. In consequence of the revolution I was
the only man at liberty to come and go freely, so that these six
unfortunates had no other protector. They spoiled me terribly. I did not
fall in love with any of them, as I should perhaps have done. While I
did not deceive myself as to the advantages which I owed to the
revolution, I found it very agreeable, nevertheless, to be a sultan,
even _ad honores_.

On my return to Paris I treated myself to the innocent pleasure of
printing a book for private circulation. There were only made a hundred
and fifty copies, with superb paper, illustrations, etc., which I
presented to people whom I liked. I should offer you this rare book if
you were worthy of it; but I must warn you that it is a historical and
pedantic work, so bristling with Greek and Latin, nay, even with Oscan
(do you even know what Oscan is?), that you could not so much as nibble
at it.

Last summer I happened to fall on a little money. My minister gave me
three months’ holiday, and I spent five running about from Malta to
Athens and from Ephesus to Constantinople. During these five months I
was not bored for five minutes. What would have become of you, to whom I
was once such an object of terror, if you had met me during my Asiatic
journey, with a belt of pistols, a huge sword, and--would you believe
it?--a moustache that extended beyond my ears! Without intending any
flattery, I should have struck fear into the heart of the boldest
brigand of melodrama. At Constantinople I saw the Sultan, in
patent-leather boots, and a frock-coat, and again, afterwards, covered
with diamonds in the procession of the _Baïram_. On the same occasion, a
handsome woman, on whose toe I had stepped by accident, slapped me
severely and called me a _giaour_. This constituted my only intercourse
with the Turkish beauties. At Athens, and in Asia, I saw the most
splendid monuments in the world, and the loveliest landscapes possible
to imagine.

The only drawback consisted in fleas and gnats as big as larks;
consequently I never slept. Meanwhile, I have grown old. My passport
describes me as having turtle locks, which is a pleasant Oriental
metaphor for saying all sorts of disagreeable things. Picture to
yourself your friend as quite gray. And you, _querida_, have you
changed? I am waiting impatiently until you become less pretty, so that
I may see you. In two or three years from now, when you write to me,
tell me what you are doing and when we are to see each other. Your
“respectful remembrance” made me laugh, and also that you should presume
to dispute its place in my heart with Ionic and Corinthian columns.

In the first place, I do not care for any but the Doric, and there are
no columns, not even excepting those of the Parthenon, which can be
compared to the memory of an old friendship. Good-bye; go to Italy, and
be happy. I start to-day for Evreux, on a matter of business, expecting
to return Monday night. If you wish to eat rose leaves, say so; but I
warn you there is only a spoonful left for you.



XV


PARIS, _Monday night, March, 1842_.

I have just received your letter, which has put me in a bad humour. So
it is your satanic pride which has kept you from seeing me. It is not
for me to reproach you, however, for I think I saw you the other day,
and was restrained from speaking to you by a feeling quite as paltry.
You say you are better than you were two years ago. It is very well for
you to say that. I admit that you are more beautiful, but, on the other
hand, you seem to have absorbed a good dose of selfishness and
hypocrisy. These may be very useful, but they are not qualities for one
to brag about. As for me, I have become neither better nor worse; I am
not more of a hypocrite than I was, and I may be wrong. Certain it is
that I am not loved more on this account.

Since this purse was not embroidered by your own fair hand, what do you
wish me to do with it? You ought, indeed, to give me some of your own
work; my mirror and my conserves deserve that much. You might at least
have told me whether you received them. When you go to Italy, and pass
through Paris, you will probably not find me here. Where shall I be? The
devil only knows. It is not impossible that I may meet you at the
_Studj_; but then, again, I may go to Saragossa to see that woman of
whom you say that you are worth as much as she. As for a sister, there
will be no other than herself. Tell me, therefore, and that before you
leave for Paris, when you expect to go to Naples, and whether you will
take charge of a volume for M. Buonuicci, the Director of the Pompeiian
excavations. When I go away I shall leave this volume either with
Madame de C. or elsewhere.

I recall having seen, a long time ago, a Madame de C. at a house where
there were some theatricals, in which I played the part of the fool. Ask
her if she remembers me.

Good-bye now, and for a long time, no doubt. I am sorry not to have seen
you. Write to me now and then. It will always be a great pleasure to
hear from you, even though you continue the beautiful system of
hypocrisy upon which you have entered so triumphantly. I will commend
you to Buonuicci, you and your society, as greatly interested in
archæology. You will be pleased with his cordiality.



XVI


PARIS, _Saturday, May 14, 1842_.

You will know, in the first place, that I am not burned to death. “The
railway accident on the left bank of the Seine!” It is thus that we have
begun our letters in Paris for the last four days. In the next place, I
will say that your letter has given me a great deal of pleasure. I found
it here on my return from a short trip I have just taken on business;
that is why I have been so long in replying. To be frank--and you are
aware that I have not yet overcome this fault--I will admit that you
have become much more beautiful physically, but not morally. You have an
exquisite complexion, and lovely hair, to which I paid more attention
than to your bonnet; and this was probably worthy of notice, since you
seemed irritated at my failure to appreciate it. But I have never been
able to distinguish lace from calico. You still have a sylphlike figure,
and, although I am somewhat _blasé_ concerning black eyes, I have never
seen any so large in Constantinople or in Smyrna.

Now comes the reverse of the medal. In many respects you have remained a
child, and you have become a hypocrite in the bargain. You have not
learned how to conceal your first impulses, but you think you can
reconcile them by having recourse to a variety of petty means. What do
you expect to gain thereby? Do not forget that great and beautiful maxim
of Jonathan Swift: That a lie is too good a thing to be lavished about!
Your magnanimous idea of being severe on yourself will carry you far, no
doubt, and a few years hence you will find yourself in the happy
condition of the Trappist, who, after torturing himself again and again,
should discover one day that, after all, heaven has no existence.

I do not know to what promise you refer, and there are also many other
obscure passages in your letter. We can never bear the same relations to
each other that exist between Madame de X. and myself; the first
condition in the attitude between a brother and sister being unlimited
confidence, and in this respect Madame de X. has spoiled me.

I am silly enough to grieve over that scarf-pin, but I am consoled at
the thought that you also are sorry for it. This is still another
beautiful trait in your character. How flattered your stoicism must have
been at this victory over yourself! You imagine that you are proud, but
I regret to tell you that what you think is pride is only the petty
vanity which one would expect in a religious temperament. It is the
fashion nowadays to preach. Shall you follow it? That would be the
finishing stroke. I must drop this subject, for it always puts me in a
bad humour.

I think I shall not go to Saragossa. I may go possibly to Florence; but
I have quite decided to spend two months in the south of France,
examining churches and Roman ruins. We may run across each other,
perhaps, in some temple or circus. I advise you strongly to go straight
to Naples. If you should have to wait five or six hours at Leghorn,
however, you might employ them better by going to Pisa to see the Campo
Santo. I advise you to see The Dead, by Orcagna, the _Vergonzoso_, and
an antique bust of Julius Caesar. At Civita Vecchia you need see only M.
Bucci, from whom you will want to buy some very old gems. You must give
him my compliments. Then you will go on to Naples. You will stop at The
Victoria, where you will spend several days drinking in the air, and
watching the sky and the sea. You will go now and then to visit the
studios. M. Buonuicci will take you to Pompeii. You will go to Paestum,
and there you must think of me. When you stand in the temple of Neptune,
you may say to yourself that you have seen Greece.

From Naples you will go to Rome, where you will spend a month persuading
yourself that it is useless to try to see it all, because you shall
return there in the future. Then you will go to Florence, and remain
there ten days. After that you will do what you like. When you come to
Paris, you will find the book for M. Buonuicci and my final
instructions. At that time I shall probably be at Arles or at Orange. If
you should stop there, be sure and inquire for me, and I will show you
an ancient theatre, which will not interest you especially.

You promised me something in return for my Turkish mirror. I rely
implicitly on your memory. Ah, I have great news for you! The first of
the forty Academicians to die will occasion me to make thirty-nine
calls. Of course I shall be as awkward as possible, and no doubt I shall
make thirty-nine enemies. It would take too long to explain the reasons
for this attack of ambition. Enough that the Academy is now the goal of
my aspirations.

Good-bye. I will write again before leaving. Be happy, but bear in mind
this maxim, that one should never do foolish things unless they please
you. Perhaps the precept of M. de Talleyrand is more to your taste, that
one should beware of first impulses, because they are usually honest.



XVII


PARIS, _June 22, 1842_.

Your letter has been tardy in coming, and I became impatient. I must
reply at once to the principal points. First, I received your purse. It
exhaled a most aristocratic perfume, and is very pretty. If you
embroidered it yourself, it does you credit. But I have recognised in it
your newly acquired taste for the practical: in the first place, it is a
purse to hold money; next, you valued it at a hundred francs at the
stage-coach. It would have been more poetical to declare that it was
worth one or two stars. All the same, I prize it quite as highly. I will
put my medals in it. I should have cared more for it if you had
condescended to put in it a few lines from your fair hand.

Secondly, I do not care for your pheasants. You offer them in a
disagreeable fashion, and, besides, you say unpleasant things to me
about my Turkish conserves. It is you who have the taste of a heretic,
if you are unable to appreciate what the houris eat.

I believe I have answered everything that was sensible in your letter. I
will not quarrel about the rest. I abandon you to your own conscience,
which, I am sure, is sometimes even more severe than I, whom you accuse
of harshness and indifference. The hypocrisy which you practise so well
in sport, will play you a trick some day--that is, it will become
natural to you. As for coquetry, the inseparable companion of the horrid
vice which you extol, you have always indulged in it. It became you very
well when it was softened by frankness, warm-heartedness, and
imagination, but now--now, what shall I say?

You have beautiful raven hair, a lovely blue cashmere, and you are
always charming when you wish to be. Say that I do not spoil you! As for
that essence of which you speak, it is your own kindness which you thus
designate. I like that word _essence_; yes, the real essence of roses,
which is always frozen like that of Adrianople. I will tell you this
Oriental story.

There was once a dervish who seemed to a baker to be a saint. The baker
one day promised to give him white bread the rest of his life. At this
the dervish was enchanted. But after awhile the baker said to him, “We
agreed on brown bread, did we not? I have first-class brown bread. It is
my specialty, is brown bread.” The dervish replied, “I have already more
brown bread than I can eat, but----”

Right here my cat jumped on the table, and I have had all I could do to
keep her from lying down on my paper. She has made me forget the rest of
the story, which is a pity, for it was very pretty. Do you know that,
with my other air-castles, I have built this one: to meet you in
Marseilles in September, to show you the lions there, and have you eat
figs and fish soup. But I am obliged to be in Paris by August 15, to
write a report for my minister; consequently, you will eat fish soup by
yourself, and you will visit the Museum and the caves of Saint-Victor
without me. On the other hand, when you reach Paris you may, if you
like, receive from my own hand the directions I have made for your trip
to Italy.

Since your wishes always are realised, I pray you humbly to wish that I
may become an Academician. This would be a great gratification to me,
provided that you were not present at my reception. However, you have
abundant time for the realisation of your wishes. It will be necessary
for an epidemic to break out among those gentlemen before my chances are
advanced; and to improve them, I should be obliged to borrow a little of
that hypocrisy in which you are now so skilled. I am too old to reform;
if I should try, I should be still worse than I am at present.

I am curious to know what you think of me, but how shall I ever find it
out? You will never tell me, either the best or the worst that you
think. Formerly I had not much of an opinion of my precious self, but
now I have a little more self-esteem; not that I think I have improved,
but it is the world that has grown worse.

In a week I start for Arles, where I intend to drive out a lot of
beggars who live in the old theater. A fine occupation, is it not? It
would be kind of you, before I go, to send me a letter brimful of sweet
things. I am fond of being spoiled; besides, I am horribly sad and
discouraged. I must tell you that I am spending my evenings revising my
books, which are to be reprinted. I find them very immoral, and
sometimes stupid. I am trying to reduce the immorality and the stupidity
without going to too much trouble. The consequence is, a bad attack of
the blue devils. I say good-bye, and kiss your hands most humbly. Can
you guess what I found among my papers? A short blue thread, twice
knotted. I have put it away in the purse.



XVIII


CHÂLON-SUR-SAÔNE, _June 30, 1842_.

You guessed correctly the end of the story: the dervish was imposed upon
by the baker, but, all the same, the holy man did not like brown bread.

I am in a city which is particularly odious to me, alone in an inn,
listening to a frightful south-east wind. It parches everything it
touches, and the harmonies produced as it whistles down the corridors
are enough to bring the devil up to earth. The result is that I am
furious with all nature. I am writing to you in order to cheer me a
little, and I am comforted by the thought that in your approaching
journey you will have many such days as this. I saw in Saint Vincent’s
church an exceedingly pretty young girl making stations. Isn’t that what
you call the prayers, or something of the sort, that are said before a
series of pictures representing the principal scenes of the Passion? Her
mother was near, watching over her with strict attention. While taking
notes on ancient Byzantine columns, I asked myself what this young girl
could have done to merit such a penance. The case must have been one of
deep gravity.

Have you become deeply pious, following the general fashion of the day?
You must be pious for the same reason that you must wear a blue
cashmere. I should be sorry, however, if this were so. Our piety here in
France is repugnant to me. It is a sort of mediocre philosophy, which
springs not from the heart, but from the mind. When you have seen the
devotion of the common people in Italy, you will agree with me, I hope,
that theirs is the only genuine religion; only one must be born beyond
the Alps or the Pyrenees to believe this.

You can not conceive of the disgust which I feel for our society of the
present day. One would suppose that it has tried in every way possible
to add to the burden of suffering necessary to the management of
society. I shall await your return from Italy; you will have seen there
a state of society where, on the contrary, everything contributes to
render existence more agreeable and more tolerable. We shall then resume
our discussions on the subject of hypocrisy, and it is possible that we
shall come to an understanding.

I have spent almost the entire winter studying mythology from old Latin
and Greek archives. It has proved to be extremely entertaining, and if
there should ever come into your head the desire to know the record of
the thoughts of men, which is vastly more interesting than the history
of their deeds, inquire of me, and I will recommend three or four books
for your reading which will make you as wise as I--and this is saying no
little!

How are you employing your time? I sometimes ask myself this question,
without being able to give a satisfactory answer. If I had to cast your
horoscope I should predict that you would end by writing a book; it is
the inevitable result of the sort of life you lead, and which all the
women of France are leading. First, there is imagination, and sometimes
affection; then follows hypocrisy, after which one attains to the pious
stage; and finally, one becomes an author. God grant that you may never
reach that point!

I hope to see Madame de M. in Paris this year. If she comes, I should
like to have you meet her. You would then discover that brown bread is
more difficult to make than you seem to think. If you are willing,
nothing will be easier than to make the acquaintance of this baker.

Good-bye. The wind continues to blow. I am obliged to remain a month in
the country, and if you have any time to spare, and wish to give me a
great deal of pleasure, you have only to write to me at Avignon, where I
shall call for your letter.



XIX


AVIGNON, _July 20, 1842_.

Since you take that view of it, upon my word, I capitulate. Give me
brown bread; it is better than none at all. Only, allow me to say that
it is brown, and continue to write to me. You will observe how humble
and submissive I am!

Your letter reached me when I was steeped in melancholy, caused by the
sad news of the death of the duc d’Orleans, which I had just learned
upon returning from a trip into the mountains. I was sadly in need of a
letter of another character; such as it was, your letter has at any rate
proved a diversion.

I shall reply to it item by item. The figure of rhetoric of which you
think yourself the inventor, has been known for a long time. With the
aid of Greek, one might give it a new and whimsical name. In French it
is called by the less stately name of a lie. Employ it with me as little
as you can. Do not overtax it with others. It should be kept for unusual
occasions. Do not make too great an effort to find the world silly and
ridiculous. It is, alas! only too much so. You ought, on the contrary,
to endeavour to imagine it as it is not. It is better to have too many
illusions than not to have any at all. I still have a few, some of which
are not very sound, but I make strenuous efforts to retain them.

Your story is very familiar. “There was once an idol.” Read Daniel; but
he was mistaken--the head was not of gold; it was of clay, like the
feet. But the idolater held a lamp in his hand, and the reflection from
this lamp gilded the idol’s head. If I were the idol (you will observe
that I do not on this occasion assume the attractive rôle), I should
say: “Is it my fault that you have extinguished your lamp? Is that any
excuse for destroying me?” It seems to me that I am becoming somewhat of
an Oriental. So be it!

If you knew Madame de M. you would love her to distraction. She does not
give me white bread, but she gives me something that takes its place.
She is not a baker’s wife; she is a baker.

I grieve to see that you are becoming more and more affected. I am fully
informed about your piety. I thank you for your prayers, if you do not
mean them for a figure of speech. As to your blue cashmere, I am rather
sceptical of your piety, because piety in 1842 is a fashion, just as
blue cashmeres are. You will fail to understand the connection, but it
is perfectly clear notwithstanding.

I regret very much that you are reading Pope’s translation of Homer.
Read the translation of Dugas Montbel, which is the only one worth
reading. If you had the courage to brave ridicule, and time to spare,
you would get Planche’s Greek Grammar and his Dictionary. For a month
the grammar would put you to sleep, but its effect would be seen later.
After two months you would enjoy looking up the Greek words, translated
usually almost literally by M. Montbel. Two months later still you would
be able to guess fairly well, by the awkwardness of his expression,
when the translator has failed to reproduce clearly the Greek phrase. By
the end of a year you would read Homer as you read a melody with its
accompaniment: the melody being the Greek, the accompaniment the
translation. It is possible that you might then wish to study Greek
seriously, in which case you would have the pleasure of reading many
delightful books.

But I am supposing that your time is not absorbed in the selection of
toilettes, or in displaying them before your friends. Everything in
Homer is remarkable. The epithets, which in the French translation seem
so strange, are wonderfully correct. I remember that he speaks of the
sea as purple. I never understood what he meant until last summer, when
I was in a little boat on the Gulf of Lepanto, going to Delphi. It was
just at sunset. Immediately afterwards, the sea took on a magnificent
deep violet tint, which lasted for ten minutes. To see this effect
requires the atmosphere, the sea, and the sun of Greece. I hope that you
will never become enough of an artist to recognise with pleasure that
Homer was a great painter.

The final words of your letter are full of enigmas. You tell me that you
will write to me no more, which would be a great misfortune. However, I
yield to your decision, and you will hear nothing more from me except
compliments. I believe I have already addressed to you several of these.
You solicit one, I imagine, when you say you have neither feeling nor
imagination. By continually denying their existence you may bring ill
luck on yourself. One should not trifle with such things. But I have an
idea that you intended only to try the experiment of your rhetorical
figure on me. Fortunately I know how much to believe.

If you can think of anything pleasant to say to me, you might write. I
shall remain here for a fortnight still. I want to add one word about
the life I am leading, tramping the fields without meeting any other
obstacle than rocks. Farewell. I hope you find me this time sufficiently
submissive and well-behaved, _Signora Fornarina_?



XX


PARIS, _August 27, 1842_.

I find awaiting me here a letter which is not so fierce as your recent
ones have been. You might have sent it to me down there. Such a rare
treat could not be too soon received. I hasten to congratulate you on
your Greek studies, and to begin with something that interests you, I
will tell you what in Greek are called persons who, like you, have hair
of which they are justly proud. It is _euplokamos_. _Eu_ means well,
_plokamos_, a curl of hair. The two words together form an adjective.
Homer has said somewhere: νυμφη δε εὑπλοκαμοσα Καλυψὡ, _Calypso, nymph
of the luxuriant tresses_. Is it not very pretty? Ah! for the love of
Greek, etc.

I regret exceedingly that you start so late in the season for Italy. You
run the risk of seeing everything through odious rain-storms, which
deprive the most beautiful mountains in the world of half their
splendour; and you will be obliged to take my word for it when I praise
the radiant skies of Naples. Neither will you have any good fruit to
eat, but must content yourself instead with fig-eaters, birds so called
because they live on figs.

I do not at all agree with your version of the parable.

On my return I had an adventure which mortified me not a little, since
it showed me the sort of reputation I enjoy with the public. I was
packing my luggage at Avignon, preparing to start for Paris, when there
entered the room two venerable figures who introduced themselves as
members of the Municipal Council. I supposed they had come for the
purpose of talking about some church, when they announced pompously and
verbosely that their visit had as its object to commend to my honour and
to my virtue a lady who was to be my travelling companion. I replied,
very peevishly, that they need have no fears concerning my honour and my
virtue, but that I was not at all pleased to travel with a woman, for I
should then not be able to smoke on the road.

Upon the arrival of the stage-coach I found within a woman, tall and
pretty, simply and stylishly dressed, who said she was ill, and
despaired of ever reaching Paris alive. We entered into conversation. I
was as polite and agreeable as it is possible to be when I am compelled
to remain long in the same position. My companion talked intelligently
and with no Marseilles accent. She was an ardent Bonapartist, of very
enthusiastic temperament; she believed in the immortality of the soul,
not overmuch in the catechism, and was on the whole an optimist. I could
not help feeling that she had a certain fear of me.

At Saint Etienne the two seated britzska was exchanged for a double
carriage. We had the four seats to ourselves, and consequently
twenty-four hours of _tête-à-tête_ in addition to the preceding thirty.
But although we chatted (what a pretty word!) unintermittingly, I was
unable to learn anything of my opposite neighbour, except that she was
going to be married, and that she was excellent company. To come to the
point, we took on, at Moulins, two uncongenial travellers, and finally
reached Paris, where my mysterious lady precipitated herself into the
arms of a very ugly man who must have been her father. I took off my cap
to her, and was about to get into a cab, when my unknown, leaving her
father, came up to me and in a voice full of emotion, said:

“I am deeply touched, sir, by your kindness to me. I can not tell you
how grateful I am. Never shall I forget the happiness I have had in
travelling with such a _celebrated_ man.” I am quoting her words. But
this word _celebrated_ explained the Municipal Councillors and the
trepidation of the lady. They had evidently seen my name on the
post-office register, and the lady, who had read my books, expected to
be swallowed alive. This most unjust opinion of me must be shared,
doubtless, by more than one of my lady readers. What ever put it into
your head to want to know me? I was in a bad humour for two days
following this incident; then I resigned myself to it. It is a
remarkable fact, that after I became a great scamp I lived for two
years on my former good reputation; but now that I have entirely
reformed I still pass for a scapegrace.

As a fact, my wild life lasted but three years, and even then my heart
was not in it. I threw myself into dissipation not from inclination, but
partly from despondency, and partly, perhaps, out of curiosity. I am
afraid, however, that this fact will injure my chances for membership in
the Academy. I am criticised, also, for not being religious, and for not
going to church. I might act the hypocrite, but I should not know how to
go about it, and, besides, I should not have the patience.

If you are astonished that all the goddesses are fair, you will be
still more astonished at Naples when you see statues with the hair
coloured red. It seems that it was the fashion, formerly, for ladies to
use red powder, nay, even gold powder. On the other hand, you will see
in the paintings at the studios many goddesses with black hair. It is
difficult for me to decide which colour I prefer. Only, I advise you
not to powder your hair. There is a terrible Greek word which signifies
black hair. _Melanchaites_ (Μελαγχαἱτης); this χα has a diabolical
sound.

I shall remain in Paris all the fall, I fancy, hard at work on a moral
book, which will be about as amusing as the social war in which you will
engage in Naples. Good-bye. You promised me some words of affection, and
while I am still waiting for them, I am not very sanguine of receiving
them.

You used to admire my wealth of antique gems. Alas! the other day I lost
my most beautiful one, a magnificent Juno, while doing a kind act; that
is, while carrying home a drunken man who had fractured his thigh. And
that stone was an Etruscan. Juno held a scythe, and there is no other
monument where she is so represented. Do sympathise with me!



XXI


You write charmingly in Greek, and much more legibly than you write in
French. But who is your Greek teacher? You can not make me believe that
you have learned to write that running hand from a book only. Who is the
professor of rhetoric at D.?

Your letter is very gracious. I say this because I know that you enjoy
compliments, and also because it is true. As I shall never learn,
however, to correct my unfortunate habit of saying what I think to
people who are not _all the world_ to me, you may as well know that I
see you are making rapid progress in wickedness, and that I am grieved
thereby. You are becoming ironical, sarcastic, and even diabolical. All
these words are, as you know, taken from the Greek, and your professor
will explain to you what I mean by diabolical; διἁβλος, that is,
calumniator. You ridicule my best qualities, and even when you praise
me you do so with reservations and hesitations which rob the praise of
all its worth.

It is a fact that at one time in my life I frequented bad society, but I
was attracted to it through curiosity only, and I was always there as a
stranger in a strange country. As for good society, I have found it
often enough deadly tiresome. There are two places where I am at ease,
at least, where I flatter myself I am in my proper element: first, among
unpretentious people whom I have known for a long time; secondly, in a
Spanish venta, with mule-drivers and Andalusian peasants. Write this in
my funeral oration, and you will have told the truth.

If I mention my funeral oration, it is because I believe it is time for
you to compose it. I have been seriously ill for a long time, and
especially for the last two weeks. I have attacks of dizziness, spasms
of pain, and frightful headaches. Something terrible must have happened
to my brain, and I fancy that before long I may become, as Homer says, a
companion of the shadowy Proserpine. I should like to know what you
would say then. I should be charmed if you were to grieve for two weeks.
Do you think this is too much to ask?

I am spending part of the night writing, or else in tearing up what I
wrote the night before, consequently I make slow progress. What I am
writing interests me, but the question is, Will it interest the public?
I consider the ancients far more interesting than ourselves; they had no
such paltry aims, nor were they so engrossed as we are in a multitude of
silly trifles. I find that my hero, Julius Caesar, at the age of
fifty-three, committed all sorts of follies for the sake of Cleopatra,
forgetting all else for her; this is why he came so near drowning, both
literally and figuratively. What man of our century, among our
statesmen, I mean, who is not completely callous, completely heartless,
by the time he aspires to a seat in the Senate? I should like to explain
the difference between that age and our own, but how shall I do it?

Have you come to a passage in the _Odyssey_ that I consider wonderful?
It is where Ulysses is living with Alcinoüs, still unknown, and after
dinner a poet comes before him and sings of the war of Troy. The
little that I have seen of Greece gives me a clearer understanding of
Homer. Everywhere throughout the _Odyssey_ is seen that amazing love
cherished by the Greeks for their native land. There is in modern Greek
a charming word: it is ξενιτεἱα, an alien. To be in a strange land is
for a Greek the greatest of misfortunes, but to die there is the most
terrible calamity of which they can conceive.

You scoff at my epicureanism. Have you ever tried to imagine the nature
of the entrails which the Greek heroes ate with such relish? The modern
philosophers still eat them: they are called κονκονρἑτζι, and are
simply delicious. There are little wooden skewers made of the fragrant
wood of the mastic tree, with something crisp and spicy around them,
which makes one readily understand why the priests used to reserve for
themselves this dainty morsel from their victims.

Good-bye. If I were to pursue this subject, you would think me more of
a glutton than I am. I have no appetite at all, and nothing in the way
of little delicacies can any longer tempt me. This means that I am only
fit to throw to the crows. There will be deuced weather all through
October, and that will finish me!



XXII


PARIS, _October 24, 1842_.

You are exceedingly kind to leave me in ignorance of that part of the
globe which is so fortunate as to possess you. Shall I address this
letter to Naples, or to ..., or even to Paris? In your last letter you
say that you are about to start for Paris, perhaps for Italy, and since
then not a single word of news. I have a suspicion that you are here,
and that you will inform me of the fact after you have left; this will
be highly in character.

Since writing to you I went away for several days, when, upon my return,
I found your letter, dated so long ago that I thought it useless to send
an answer to.... I marvel greatly that you have learned without
assistance to write the Greek characters, as you say you have. If you
will only be a little patient, with such talent as yours you will become
a second Madame Dacier. For my own part, I no longer take any interest
either in Greek or in French; I have fallen into a fossil state, and
whether I read or write, the letters dance up and down before my eyes in
a most disagreeable way.

You ask if there are any Greek romances. Certainly there are, but in my
opinion they are very tiresome. You might procure a translation of
_Theagenia and Charicleia_, which the late Racine liked so well. Try to
swallow it, if you can. There is also _Daphnis and Chloe_, translated by
Courier. The latter is affectedly artless, and none too meritorious.
Finally, there is an admirable story, but it is very, very immoral. I
refer to _The Ass_, by Lucian, also translated by Courier. No one ever
admits that he has read it, but it is his masterpiece. About that you
must decide for yourself. I wash my hands of the responsibility.

The trouble with the Greeks is that their ideas of decency, and even of
morality, were very different from ours. There are many things in their
literature which might shock, nay, even disgust you if you understood
them. After reading Homer, you can take up confidently the tragedy
writers, who will amuse you, and whom you will enjoy because you have a
taste for the beautiful, a sentiment which the Greeks possessed in the
highest degree, and which a happy few of us inherit from them.

If you have the courage to undertake history, you will be charmed with
Herodotus, Polybdus, and Xenophon. I find Herodotus enchanting, and know
of nothing more entertaining. Begin with _The Anabasis_, or with the
_Retreat of the Ten Thousand_. Take a map of Asia, and follow the course
of these ten thousand rascals in their journey. It is a gigantic
Froissard. Then read Herodotus, and finally _Polybdus and Thucydides_.
The last two are very serious. Procure also a copy of Theocritus, and
read _The Syracusans_. I would recommend also Lucian, who is the
wittiest of all the Greek writers, according to our standards of wit,
but he is very wicked, and so I dare not.

Here are three pages of Greek. As for the pronunciation, if you wish, I
will send you a page which I prepared especially for you. It will teach
you the best method, that is, the pronunciation used by modern Greeks.
The classical is easier, but it is absurd.

We began our correspondence by telling jokes, then we did what? I
shall not remind you. And now we are becoming erudite. There is a
Latin proverb which eulogises the happy medium. When I began to write
I intended to say all sorts of severe things, and it is to Greek that
you owe the absolute sweetness of my letter. It is not that I bear you
less ill-will for your persistent insincerity, only, while writing, I
have lost some of my bad humour. If you are not in Italy, do not regret
it. The weather there is frightful, with rain, cold, etc. Nothing is
more hideous than a land which is not accustomed to these two plagues.
Good-bye. I should be very glad to know where you are. Ἑῥῥωσο (grow
strong).

This is the end of a Greek letter.

P.S.--Opening a book, I have found these two little flowers, which I
plucked at Thermopylæ, upon the hilltop where Leonidas died. It is a
relic, as you see.



XXIII


_Thursday, October, 1842._

Should you like to hear an Italian opera with me to-night? I have a box
on Thursdays with my cousin and his wife. They are now travelling, and I
have the box to myself. You should come accompanied by your brother, or
by one of your relatives who does not know me. You would please me
greatly by coming. Send me a line before six o’clock, and I will let you
know the number of the box. I think _La Cenerentola_ will be given.
Invent some pretty fiction, which you must tell me in advance, to
explain my presence; but manage it so that I may speak with you there.



XXIV


_Friday morning, October, 1842._

I thank you very much for having come yesterday. You gave me a great
deal of pleasure. I hope your brother saw nothing extraordinary in our
meeting. I have an Etruscan seal for you; I can not endure the one you
are using. I will give you the other the next time I see you. I enclose
the page of Greek which I prepared for you. When you have a relapse into
an erudite mood it may be of use.



XXV


_Tuesday night, October, 1842._

I have lost nothing, as it seems, by waiting for your letter. It is
studiously perverse; but believe me, perverseness is not becoming to
you. Abandon this style, and resume your customary coquetry, which suits
you marvellously.

It would be nothing short of cruelty on my part to wish to see you,
since this would cause you to be so ill that it would require an
enormous quantity of cakes to cure you. I can not imagine where you have
conceived the idea that I have friends in the four corners of the globe.
You know perfectly well that I have only one or two friends in Madrid.
Believe me, I am very grateful for the kindness you showed me at the
Italian opera the other night. I appreciate, as I should, your
condescension in letting me see your face for two hours; and truth
compels me to say that I admired it extremely, as I did your hair also,
which I had never seen so closely before.

As for your assertion that you have never refused me anything that I
asked, you will have to remain several million years in purgatory for
that pretty fib. I see that you are anxious to have my Etruscan stone,
and as I am more magnanimous than you, I shall not say, like Leonidas,
“Come and take it!” but I shall ask you again how you wish me to send it
to you.

I have no recollection of comparing you to Cerberus; yet both have,
indeed, several points of resemblance, not only because, like him, you
love tarts, but also because you have three heads. I mean to say three
brains; one, that of a shocking coquette; another, that of an
experienced diplomatist; the third I shall not tell you, because I am
not going to say anything amiable to you to-day. I am very ill and
miserable on account of several misfortunes that have descended on my
head. If you have any influence with Destiny, pray him to treat me
kindly for the next two or three months. I have just been to see
_Frédégonde_, which bored me to death, in spite of Mademoiselle Rachel,
who has magnificent black eyes, without any white, like the devil’s,
they say.



XXVI


PARIS, _Tuesday night_.

I do not understand you, and I am tempted to believe you to be the very
worst of coquettes. Your former letter, in which you tell me that you no
longer know me, put me in a bad humour, and I have not replied to it
promptly. You say, also, with a great deal of civility, that you do not
care to see me, for fear of becoming tired of me. Unless I am mistaken,
we have seen each other six or seven times in six years, and if we add
together the minutes, we may have passed three or four hours together,
half the time saying nothing. However, we are well enough acquainted for
you to have learned to like me a little, the proof of which you gave me
Thursday. We know each other really better than people who meet in
society, considering the length of time we have conversed in our letters
with a certain amount of freedom.

Confess, then, that it is scarcely flattering to my self-esteem that
now, after an acquaintance of six years, you should treat me thus.
Nevertheless, as I have no means of overcoming your resolutions, it
shall be as you wish in this case, but I think it is rather silly not to
see each other. I beg your pardon for using this word which is neither
polite nor friendly, but which, in my opinion at least, is unfortunately
true.

I did not in any way ridicule you the other evening; on the contrary, I
thought you extremely self-possessed. As for the antique seal, you shall
see an impression from it on this letter, and it is subject to your
orders, when you have told me where I shall give it to you--no, how you
wish it sent to you. Let us not offend the eternal fitness of things.

I ask nothing from you in exchange, for the reason that everything I
have asked you have refused me. If you consider it wrong to see me, is
it not wrong, also, to write to me? As I am not very proficient in your
catechism, there is some confusion in my mind on this point. I speak too
harshly, perhaps, but you have wounded my feelings, and when I am
unhappy I can not escape from it, as you can, by devouring cakes. In
truth, that is quite worthy of Cerberus.



XXVII


PARIS, _Saturday, November, 1842_.

_Das Lied des Claerchens gefällt mir zu gar; aber warum haben Sie nicht
das Ende geschrieben?_

The interest which you manifest in that Etruscan stone is truly
delightful to see! How many cakes do you think it is worth? You have
never even asked about the inscription it bears. It is a man turning a
ewer. I should say an amphora, which is a Greek word and more
high-sounding. In former times, perhaps, the seal belonged to a potter;
there is, indeed, a mythological allusion which I might explain to you
if I would. As for the other seal, it has a strange history. I found it
in the chimney-place, as I was poking the fire, in the rue d’Alger; it
is a very large, heavy bronze ring, and the characters on it are
mystical. It is supposed to have been used by a magician, or even by the
gnostics. You have noticed on it a small man, a sun, a moon, etc. Is it
not a curious thing to find in the ashes in the rue d’Alger? Who knows
if it is not to the mysterious power of this ring that I owe your song
of _Claire_?

I am really ill, but that is no reason why I should not go out. If, for
instance, you wished to receive the Etruscan ring from my own hand, I
would give it to you with the greatest pleasure; while it would be
conspicuous and cause gossip if I should send it in a letter by your
bearer. But I do not want to ask anything more from you, for you become
more despotic every day, and you have acquired the most odious
subtleties of coquetry. It appears that you do not appreciate eyes
without any white, and that you admire blue-white eyes. You take good
care, also, to remind me of your own eyes, which I remember quite well,
although I have seen them so seldom.

Who has taught you this peculiarity, which you dare to tell me you did
not know? Was it your Greek teacher, or your German teacher? Or am I to
believe that you learned by yourself to write German script, as you did
the Greek? Another article of faith to add to your aversion to mirrors!
You ought to cultivate a German flower called _die Aufrichtigkeit_.

I have just written the word _End_ at the close of a piece of very
learned writing, which I composed in the worst possible humour; it
remains to be seen whether this word does not signify dulness and
prolixity. However, now that it is finished, I feel relieved of a
burden and much happier, which explains my blandness and amiability
towards you; otherwise I should have told you some sharp truths about
yourself.

You should see me, if it were only to escape from the atmosphere of
flattery in which you live. We must go some day to the Museum to see the
Italian paintings. It would be a compensation for the journey you failed
to take, and to have me for a guide is an inestimable privilege. This is
not a condition on which I shall give you my Etruscan stone. Say how,
and you shall have it.



XXVIII


PARIS, _November, 1842_.

M. de Montrond says that we should beware of our first impulses,
because they are usually trustworthy. One would suppose that you had
given much consideration to this beautiful maxim, for you practise it
with rare constancy. When a good resolution occurs to you, you postpone
it indefinitely. If I were at Civita Vecchia I should seek among the
gems of my good friend Bucci for some Etruscan Minerva; it would be the
most appropriate seal for you. Meanwhile, my potter is all ready, and I
still say, like Leonidas: Μολὡν λαβἑ. I think I shall keep it for some
time still, until the eve of your departure.

I must tell you that I am feeling much better, and am less a prey to the
blue devils. I find pleasure even in my work, which I have not done for
a long time. I am forming great plans for the winter, which is a sign of
better spirits. This is why I write so cheerfully, for if I had written
immediately after receiving your German letter I should have criticised
your faults in my most severe style. You will not be deprived of this
even now, because if I see the world to-day through rose-coloured
glasses, that is all the more reason why they will soon reflect a darker
hue.

I should be glad to know what you are doing, and how you occupy your
time. When I see you so learned in Greek and in German, I conclude that
you are very lonely at ..., and that you are spending your life among
your books, with some wise professors to explain them to you. Yet I
wonder whether it is not otherwise in Paris, and I fancy the days there
passed in amusements of another kind. If I had not lived so long in the
strictest solitude, I should know all about your actions and movements,
and the reports that I should hear would give me an impression of you
very unlike the one I receive from your letters.

While you love to praise yourself, it pleases me to believe that you are
more natural with me, by which I mean less insincere, than you are in
society. There are in you so many contradictions that I am terribly
puzzled to reach an exact conclusion; that is to say, to the sum total +
so many good qualities, -- so many bad ones = _x_. It is this _x_ that I
find confusing.

When I saw you at the home of our friend Madame V., just as you were
leaving Paris, your extreme elegance and style astonished me greatly.
The cakes that you devour so hungrily, after the fatigue of the opera,
have astonished me still more. Not that I do not place love of
admiration and epicureanism among the chief of your faults, but I
supposed that these faults had a mental rather than a tangible form; I
imagined that you cared very little for dress, and that eating was to
you only a diversion; that you enjoyed making an impression by your
beautiful eyes and your clever sayings, rather than by your gowns. See
how mistaken I was!

But this time you shall not reproach me with pessimism, for while you
have been falling from grace day by day, I fancy that I have improved.
It is unreasonably late and I have abandoned a highly learned company
of Greeks and Romans to write to you.

I am just reminded that I must rise early to-morrow--that is,
to-day--which prevents me from explaining in what way I am better than I
used to be, while you have been amusing yourself teasing me about
Madame.... I will defer my own praises for another time; besides, I have
come to the end of my paper.



XXIX


PARIS, _December 2, 1842_.

There is in some old Spanish romance a very pleasing tale. A barber had
his shop at the corner of the street, and the shop had two doors.
Through one of these doors he used to pass out into the street, stab a
passer-by, then hurrying into the shop, he went out the other door and
bandaged the wounds of his victim. _Gelehrten ist gut predigen._

I bear no grudge against your blue cashmere or your cakes; all such
things are perfectly natural. I even admire coquetry and greediness, but
only when one confesses them frankly. But you, who very justly aspire to
be something more than a mere woman of the world, why should you have
its defects? Why are you never frank with me? To give you an example of
frankness, will you, or will you not, come with me to the Museum next
Tuesday? If you are not willing, or if it will inconvenience or
embarrass you to come, you shall receive your Etruscan seal in a little
box Tuesday evening, and it will be delivered to you as naturally as
possible.

Your propensity for coquetry is very amusing. You chide me for being
indifferent, but if I were not so, or if I did not make a show of
indifference, you would drive me mad. Why does one carry an umbrella?
Because it rains.

Notwithstanding your wishes, Madame de M. will certainly come to Paris.
She has to purchase the trousseau of her daughter, who is to be married
in the spring. Unless an unforeseen revolution occurs, the said
trousseau will be made in Paris, and the marriage, also, may take place
here.

I am not acquainted with the future husband, but by means of intrigue I
had a hand in dismissing a former one whom I disliked, although an
exceptional man in many respects. In the first place, he was not tall
enough; besides, he has no less than five or six grandeeships
accumulated on one small body. This action is in itself a proof of my
amelioration. Formerly, it amused me to see others held up to ridicule,
but now I should like to have almost everyone shielded from derision. I
have also become more humane, and the last time I saw the bull-fights in
Madrid I felt none of the pleasure with which I was inspired ten years
ago by a similar exhibition. In fact, I have a dread of all kinds of
suffering, and for some time I have believed in mental suffering. In a
word, I endeavour as far as possible to forget the _ego_. This, in
brief, is the list of my perfections.

It is not through _vanagloria_ that I am ambitious to become an
Academician. One of these days I shall present myself for admission, but
I am sure to be black-balled. I hope I may have patience and persistence
sufficient to accept the disappointment and to persevere in my
endeavour. If the cholera breaks out again, I may perhaps succeed in
attaining a seat. No, I have not the least bit of _vanagloria_. I take
things too literally, perhaps, but I have been disillusioned of taking a
poetical view of life. However, you may be sure that you will never know
either all the good or all the ill in me. All my life I have been
praised for virtues that I do not possess, and slandered for faults
which are not mine. I imagine you at present as spending your evenings
with your two brothers. Good-bye.



XXX


_December, Monday morning._

Now this is what I call talking. To-morrow at two o’clock, at the place
which you appoint. I hope to see you to-morrow relieved of your
headache, in spite of which you are kinder than usual. Good-bye. I shall
be delighted to see the _Joconde_ with you. I am obliged to hasten to
the four ends of Paris, and I have only time to thank you for your
almost unhoped-for graciousness.



XXXI


_Wednesday._

Is it not true that the devil is not so black as he is painted? I am
rejoiced to learn that you did not catch cold, and that you slept well.
It is more than I can say. Be so good as to consider that the Museum
will be closed January 20 for the exhibition of paintings, and that it
would be a pity not to say farewell to it. Of course, you will find a
thousand-and-one _buts_ to this suggestion. Take care that you do not
regret, on January 21, that you did not recover the courage that you
found yesterday.



XXXII


PARIS, _Sunday evening, December_.

Your letter did not surprise me in the least. I was expecting it. I know
you well enough now to be sure that when you have had a kind thought you
are sure to repent of it, and try to have it forgotten as promptly as
possible. You understand very well, too, how to sugar-coat the most
bitter pills. I owe you this in justice. As I am not as strong as you, I
can say nothing to overcome your heroic resolution not to return to the
Museum. I am confident that you will do exactly as you please; only, I
hope that in a month from now you will be more charitably inclined
towards me. Perhaps, after all, you are right. There is a Spanish
proverb which says: _Entre santa y santo, pared de cal y canto._

You compare me to the devil. I observed Tuesday evening that I did not
pay attention enough to my dull old books, and too much to your gloves
and boots. But, notwithstanding all you tell me with your diabolical
spirit of coquetry, I do not believe that you fear any repetition at the
Museum of our past folly. Frankly, this is what I think of you, and how
I explain your refusal: you like to have some indistinct target for
your coquetry, and that target is I. You do not wish to come too close
to it, because, in the first place, if you should fail to strike it your
vanity would suffer too much; and again, if you should see it too
distinctly, you would discover that it was not worth aiming at. Have I
guessed it correctly? I wished, the other day, to ask when I might see
you again, and perhaps if I had insisted you would have named a day.
Then I thought that after you had said Yes you would write me No, and
that this would have distressed and angered me.

I continue to speak to you with the most absurd frankness, but my
example makes no impression at all upon you.



XXXIII


_Sunday, December 19, 1842._

It is evident that you have had professors in Greek and in German, but
one may be permitted to doubt if you have had any in Logic. Really, was
such reasoning ever heard of!--for instance, when you say you do not
want to see me, because, whenever you see me, you fear you shall never
see me again. By such reasoning, I consider your letter as null and
void. The only thing which I can make out is that you have a
handkerchief to give me. Send it to me, or say that I may receive it
from your own hand, which would suit me much better. I hate surprises
that are announced beforehand, because I imagine them much more
beautiful than they prove to be.

Agree with me, and let us see the Museum once more together. If I bore
you, that will be the end of it, and I shall not take you there again;
if not, what prevents our meeting from time to time? Unless you give me
some intelligible reason, I shall persist in believing that which seems
to vex you so much. I should have written to you immediately, but I had
mislaid your letter, which I wished to read again. I turned my desk
topsy-turvy, and set it in order, which is no trifling matter. Finally,
after burning several reams of old papers, which had seemed destined to
collect dust on my desk, I concluded that your letter had vanished by
some sort of witchcraft. I found it awhile ago in my Xenophon, where it
had hidden itself, I don’t know how; and I have read it again with
admiration. Assuredly you feel very little of that veneration of which
you sometimes speak, else you would not say so many _sinrazones_; but I
will forgive you, if you will let me see you soon, for you are much more
agreeable when you talk to me than when you write.

I am distressingly ill, and cough hard enough to rend rocks apart, yet I
am going Monday evening to hear Mademoiselle Rachel recite from _Phèdre_
before five or six great men. She will believe that my cough is an
intrigue against her. Write to me soon. I am horribly blue, and you
would be doing an act of charity to say something kind, as you do
occasionally.



XXXIV


_December, 1842._

It is some time since I have felt like writing to you. My nights are
passed writing prose for posterity to read. This is because I have been
dissatisfied both with you and with myself, which is most extraordinary.
I find myself to-day in a more indulgent frame of mind. This evening I
heard Madame Persiani, which has reconciled me with human nature. If I
were King Saul I should put her in the place of David.

I am told that M. de Pongerville, the Academician, is going to die. This
grieves me, because I shall not take his place, and I should prefer that
he wait until my time were come. This Pongerville made a metrical
translation of a Latin poet named Lucretius, who died at the age of
forty-three from the effect of a love-potion which he took to make
himself beloved or lovable. But previous to this he had composed a long
poem on _The Nature of Things_, a poem atheistic, impious, abominable,
and so forth.

M. de Pongerville’s health troubles me more than it should, and,
besides, I shall be obliged to start out at ten o’clock day after
to-morrow for the vexatious fatigues of New Year’s Day. Why is it a
matter of course that everybody on this day should either go visiting or
else feel it necessary to raise Cain? I have still other grievances,
which would make you laugh, so I shall not tell them to you.

Do you know that if we continue to write to each other in this tone of
friendly confidence, keeping to ourselves our secret thoughts, we have
only one resource: that is, to be more careful of our style, then to
publish some day our correspondence, as has been done for Voltaire and
Balzac? You have a remarkable habit of considering as non-existent
things of which you do not wish to speak, which certainly does great
credit to your diplomacy. It seems to me that you grow more beautiful.
This I thought impossible, for the boundless sea is not increased by the
addition of a few drops of water. This proves that what you lose in one
direction you gain in another. One improves in beauty when one is in
health; one is in health when one has a wicked heart and a good
digestion. Do you still eat little cakes?

Good-bye. I wish you a happy ending of the old year, and a happy opening
of the new year. Your friends will wear away your cheeks on that day.
When I have finished the writing which I mentioned a while ago I shall
go to London for a two weeks’ holiday. This will be towards Easter.



XXXV


_December, 1842._

You must know that I have been very ill since we met. I have had all the
cats in the world in my throat, all the fires of hell in my chest, and I
have spent several days in bed, meditating on the things of this world.
I seemed to be on the slope of a mountain, whose summit I had barely
crossed, with infinite fatigue and little pleasure. This declivity was
very steep, and tiresome to descend, and it would have been convenient
to come to an opening before reaching the base. The only source of
consolation that I have been able to discover along this descent is a
little sunshine afar off, a few months spent in Italy, in Spain, or in
Greece, in oblivion of the entire world, the present, and, above all,
the future.

All this was not enlivening, but some one had brought me four volumes of
Dr. Strauss’ _Life of Jesus_. In Germany this is called an _exegesis_;
it is a Greek word which they have discovered, and it signifies
discussion or interpretation carried to an extremely fine point; but it
is highly amusing. I have noticed that a subject proves entertaining in
proportion as it is devoid of a profitable conclusion. Do you not agree
with me, _Señora caprichosa_?



XXXVI


_Tuesday night, December, 1842._

It is no longer a question of Jean-Paul; it is a question of French, and
of the French of the period of Louis XV. Fine reasoning that, founded
entirely on selfishness. There are certain people who buy a piece of
furniture the colour of which pleases them; then, because they are
afraid of spoiling it, they hide the article under a linen cover, which
is never removed until the furniture is worn out.

In all that you say and do you substitute invariably a conventional for
a genuine sentiment. This is, perhaps, etiquette. The question is to
know what it means to you, in comparison with something else with which,
in my opinion, it would be silly and ridiculous to compare it.

You know that while I have very little sympathy for false reasoning, I
respect convictions, even those that seem to me the most absurd. You
have a great many ridiculous notions (pardon the word) of which I should
hesitate to deprive you, since you are so fond of them and have no
others to take their place. But we are dreaming. Is it not the realities
of life that awaken us invariably from our dreams? Should we still try
to close the crevice through which we see fairy-land?

What is it you fear? In your letter to-day, among a lot of harsh words
and gloomy, pessimistic thoughts, you say something which is true: “I
think I never loved you so much as I did yesterday.” You might have
added, “I love you less to-day.” I am sure that if you felt to-day as
you did yesterday, you would be full of remorse, as I predicted. Yet you
seem scarcely touched by it. My remorse is of a very different quality.

I repent frequently of sticking too closely to my occupation of being a
statue. You opened your heart to me yesterday; I should like to have
given you the same confidence, but you did not wish it. The linen cover
still conceals the furniture! This is a subject upon which you compel me
to scold you sharply. Yet, never did I feel less in the mood for
scolding before receiving your letter. After all, I am like you:
pleasant memories drive out the disagreeable ones.

By the way, how affectionate you are! You are reserving a surprise for
my departure. You can guess how impatient I am. Last night, while
returning from dinner, I discovered that I knew by heart the speech of
_Tecmessa_ which you had admired; and as I was in a thoughtful mood I
translated it into verse--English verse, of course, for I detest French
verse. I intended giving it to you, but I have changed my mind. Besides,
I found a horrible fault of quantity in the word _Ajax_. It must be
_Ajax_, must it not?

When shall I see you, to tell you what you never tell me? You see that
we rule the weather. It clears for our benefit. Between two storms we
have always one halcyon day. Tell me, please, that it may be two days,
for I am tied down to work now.



XXXVII


PARIS, _January 3, 1843_.

Hurrah! this is what I call talking! You are so amiable when you wish to
be. Why is it that you are so often unpleasant? No, indeed, written
thanks are of no value; and after all my diplomacy in securing such
cordial letters of introduction for your brother, I certainly deserve a
few words of kindness from you. I will forgive you cheerfully for all
your ridicule concerning balloons and the Academy, about which I think
much less than you suppose. If I ever become an Academician, I shall be
no harder than a rock. By that time I shall be perhaps somewhat
shrivelled and mummified, but for all that I shall be a devilish good
fellow.

The only way in which I can have Persiani for my David is to go to hear
her every Thursday. As for Mademoiselle Rachel, I am not gifted with the
faculty for enjoying poetry as often as music, and this--Rachel, not
music--reminds me that I promised you a story. Shall I tell you now, or
shall I reserve it until I see you? I am going to write it, for I shall
have something else, no doubt, to tell you then.

Well, then, about two weeks ago I dined with Rachel at the home of an
Academician. It was to introduce Béranger to her. There were any number
of great men present. She arrived late, and I did not like her entrance.
The men said so many silly things to her, and the women did so many
silly things, that I remained in my corner. Besides, I had not spoken to
her for a year.

After dinner, Béranger, with the kindness and common sense habitual to
him, told her that it was a great pity to fritter away her talents in
the salon, and that there was but one audience worthy of her, that of
the Theater Français, and so on. Mademoiselle Rachel seemed to approve
cordially of the lecture, and, as a proof that she had profited thereby,
she played the first act of _Esther_. An assistant was needed to read
the other parts, and she had a copy of Racine brought to me most
ceremoniously by an Academician who was performing the functions of a
_cicisbeo_. I replied churlishly that I did not understand poetry, and
that there were people in the room who, being in that business, could
scan it much better than I. Hugo asked to be excused on account of his
eyes, some one else for another reason. The host made a sacrifice of
himself.

Imagine to yourself Rachel, dressed in black, standing between a piano
and a tea-table, with a door at her back, assuming her theatrical
expression. This visible transformation scene was highly amusing and
very pretty; it lasted about two minutes, then she began:

“Is it thou, dear Elise?” ... The confidante, in the midst of her reply,
dropped her glasses and her book; ten minutes passed before she had
recovered her place in the book, and her eyes. It is evident to the
audience that Esther is losing her temper. She continues. The door
behind her opens; a servant enters. Some one makes a sign for him to
retire. He hastens out, and can not succeed in closing the door. The
said door, unlatched, swings back and forth, accompanying Rachel with a
melodious creaking which is extremely diverting. As this noise did not
cease, Mademoiselle Rachel laid her hand upon her heart as if she were
ill, but in the manner of one accustomed to expiring in public. This
created an opportunity for several persons to come to her assistance.

During the intermission Hugo and M. Thiers began to dispute on the
subject of Racine, Hugo contending that Racine had a small mind and
Corneille a great one. “You say this,” replied Thiers, “because you
yourself have a great mind. You are the Corneille of an age in which
Casimir Delavigne is the Racine.” At this Hugo shook his head with
assumed humility. I leave you to judge if modesty was in evidence.

By this time, however, she had recovered from her swoon, and the act was
concluded, but _fiascheggiando_. Some one who is well acquainted with
Mademoiselle Rachel remarked, as we left the house, “How she must have
sworn to-night, after going home!” The words gave me food for thought.
This is my story. All I ask of you is, not to compromise me by repeating
it to any Academician.

I did not recognise you Sunday until I was quite near. My first impulse
was to join you, but seeing you with so many others, I went on my way. I
did well, I think. It seems to me that heretofore I have always seen you
with pale cheeks, from which I concluded Sunday that they appeared rosy
in comparison with the solemnity of the day.

Good-night, or rather good-morning. Monday, or rather Tuesday, for it is
three o’clock in the morning.



XXXVIII


_Thursday, January, 1843._

Let us take advantage of the fine weather to-day.

    _Onc homme n’eut les dieux tant à la main,_
    _Qu’asseuré fut de vivre au lendemain_.[6]

At the appointed place, then, “at two o’clock to-morrow, Thursday.” I
say to-day, for it is now one o’clock. The stars are shining brightly,
and as I returned a while ago from the ministerial assembly, I found the
walking as tolerable as it was the last time we were out. Wear your
seven-league boots, however--it is safer. If by chance you should be out
when this letter arrives, I shall wait for you until half past two; if
you do not come at all to-day, then Saturday. To any one else but you I
should say something else.

I wished to write you a letter to-day, but remembering my promise, I
have decided not to do so. I did wrong. You should have appointed the
day and the hour, which would have saved us the inconvenience of missing
each other. I hope, however, that this will not happen. I suppose you
are really anxious to take this walk, for your letter is colder than
usual. There is a charming equipoise in your actions. You are unwilling
that I should ever be perfectly happy, so you make your plans in advance
to put me in a rage. This will be, perhaps, more difficult than you
think, for although I have been ill for two days, the world to-day looks
rose-colour.

I dined yesterday at a house where, as I entered the room late, among a
lot of women I thought I saw you. Consequently I was struck dumb for a
quarter of an hour. I did not glance in the direction of the person I
supposed to be you, unable to decide, as is always the case when one is
embarrassed, whether to speak to you or not.

Making a desperate effort finally, I walked up to the lady, who turned
out to be a Spanish woman whom I had met several times. It only rests
with her to believe _che ha fatto colpo_. I am sending you Dickens’
_Sketches_, which amused me when I read them. You may have read them
already, but no matter! At two o’clock, then, to-day, Thursday.



XXXIX


PARIS, _Sunday, January 16, 1843_.

I thank you for having thought to reassure me, but I am anxious about
those flushed cheeks of which you speak so lightly. I regret sincerely,
I assure you, that my persuasions brought you out in that frightful
downpour. It happens seldom that I sacrifice others to myself, and when
this does occur I am overcome with remorse. Anyhow, you are not ill, and
you are not angry, which is the most important consideration.

It is a blessing that a small misfortune arises now and then to turn
aside greater ones. We must give the devil his due. It seems to me we
were both depressed, although happy enough at heart. Some joys are so
deep that they do not show on the surface. I hope you felt a little of
what I experienced. Until you tell me the contrary, I shall believe that
you did. You say twice in your letter, “Good-bye, until we meet again!”
You are sincere, are you not? But where and when shall it be? My last
suggestion proved to be so unfortunate, that I am altogether
discouraged. Henceforth I shall trust your inspirations only.

I have a wretched cold this evening, but the rain is not responsible for
it, I fancy. I spent the entire morning in a room without fire,
examining Chaldean and Persian talismans and rings, while the
antiquarian was dying for fear I should steal them. Just to tease him, I
remained in the cold room longer than my wishes inclined me.

Good-night, and may we soon meet. It is now your turn to command. Were
it only to have you assure me that the rain has not given you a cold, or
made you despondent or vexed, I should like to see you.



XL


_Sunday night, January, 1843._

As for me, I was not very tired, and yet when I followed on the map the
course of our peregrinations, I see that we should both have been worn
out. The reason is, that happiness gives me strength, while from you it
takes it away. _Wer besser liebt?_ I dined out, and later went to a
ball. I could not go to sleep for a long time, thinking of our walk.

You are right in saying that it was a dream. But is it not a great
blessing to be able to dream when one wishes? Since you are the
dictator, it is for you to say when you care to dream again. You say we
were not considerate of each other. I do not understand. Is it because I
made you walk too far? But how could we do otherwise? So far as I am
concerned, I am perfectly satisfied with the way you treated me, and I
should compliment you even more, if I did not fear that compliments
might make you less kind in the future.

As for our follies, think no more about them; that is our prerogative.
When you are inclined to find fault with anything, ask yourself if you
would really and truly prefer the contrary. I should like you to answer
this question frankly. But frankness is not one of your most conspicuous
virtues.

You once ridiculed me, and took in an uncomplimentary sense what I said
one day about sleepiness, or, rather, the lethargy that sometimes
overcomes one too happy to find words in which to express his emotion. I
noticed yesterday that you were under the influence of that drowsiness,
which is well worth waiting for. I might in my turn have reproached you
for your own reproaches; but I was too happy to disturb my happiness.

Good-bye, dear friend, but not for long, I hope.



XLI


_Wednesday night, January, 1843._

I have been waiting all day for a letter from you. I thought the
pavements dry enough, and the sky bright. But it appears that now you
must have sunshine like that of last Thursday. Besides, I am sure you
needed a long time to compose the letter which I received a while ago.
It is made up of blame and threats, all very gracefully expressed, as
you understand how to do. In the first place, I must thank you for your
frankness, to which I will reply with a frankness equal to your own.

To begin with the reproaches, I think you make a great deal out of
nothing. You have brooded over the affair until it has assumed an
importance that does not belong to it, so that you have succeeded in
making what even you yourself call _frivolities_ a star-chamber matter.

There is but one point which is worth the trouble of an explanation. You
speak to me of _precedents_, as if you believe that I am scheming with
all the patience and Machiavellianism of an old cabinet minister to
establish them. Refer a little to your memory, and you will see that
nothing is farther from the truth. If it were necessary to discuss the
question of precedents, I might mention that of the salon in the rue
Saint Honoré the first time I saw you again; then our first visit to the
Louvre, which came near costing me an eye. It all seemed a simple enough
matter at the time, but now it is another thing. You must have
discovered that sometimes I act upon impulse, but that I give it up as
soon as I realise that you are displeased; more frequently, however, my
impulses are limited to thoughts rather than to acts. Enough said
concerning reproaches and precedents.

As to your threats, be assured that I am keenly alive to them; and,
although fearing them greatly, nevertheless I can not forbear telling
you once more all that I think. Nothing would be easier than to make you
promises, but I feel that it would be impossible for me to keep them. Be
satisfied, then, to go on as we have in the past, or else let us stop
seeing each other.

I must tell you that even the obstinacy with which you set yourself in
opposition to these _frivolities_, as you call them, renders them all
the dearer to me, and makes me attach to them a new importance. This
seems to be the only proof that you are able to give me of your feelings
towards me. If I must resist the most innocent temptations in order to
see you, it is a saint’s labour which surpasses my strength. It would
be, unquestionably, a great pleasure to see you, but the condition of
transforming myself into a statue, like that king in the _Thousand and
One Nights_, is insupportable to me.

We have now come to a clear understanding with each other. You shall
decide, according to your wisdom, whether we are to postpone our next
walk several thousand years, or to the first bright day. You see I do
not accept your advice to practise hypocrisy. You knew beforehand that
this would be impossible. The only hypocrisy of which I am capable is to
conceal from the people I love all the pain they cause me. I can sustain
this effort for some time, but not forever. When you receive this
letter, it will have been a week since we met.

If you persist in your threats, write to me promptly. This will be on
your part a favour which I shall appreciate.



XLII


_January, 1843._

I am no longer surprised that you learned German so well and so quickly;
you possess the genius of that language, for you write in French
sentiments worthy of Jean-Paul; as, for example, when you say, “My
malady is a sensation of happiness which is almost pain.” In prose this
means, I hope, “I am quite well again, and was not very ill.”

You are right to scold me for lack of consideration for those who are
ill. I have reproached myself bitterly for having made you take that
walk, for having allowed you to sit so long in the shade. As for the
rest, I have no regrets, nor have you either, I hope. Contrary to my
usual habit, I have no distinct recollections of that day, but am like a
cat who licks his whiskers for a long time after drinking his milk.
Admit that the peace of which you sometimes speak with admiration, that
the _kêf_, which is superior even to the best that we know, is as
nothing in comparison to the happiness “which is almost pain.” Nothing
is more insignificant than the life of an oyster, especially of an
oyster which is never eaten.

You profess to spoil me, while the fact is that you yourself have been
so spoiled that you ill understand how to spoil others. You are
pre-eminent in your ability to provoke them; but in point of compliments
I think you owe me several in compensation for the magnanimity with
which I have allowed you to scold me. I marvel at myself. Thus, instead
of your usual sermon, in your next letter tell me something pleasant,
or rather say all those charming extravagances that come to you so
easily.

You have compelled me to take up once more my Asiatic journey better
than I could have done it for myself. A faster train than the railway
affords is waiting for us, and we have it in our minds. I took your
“hint,” and since receiving your letter I have accompanied you to Tyre
and to Ephesus; together we have crept into the beautiful grotto of
Ephesus. We sat beside the ancient tombs, and conversed of many things.
We quarrelled, and made up again; it was all as it was in the country
the other day, only there was nothing to disturb us except several big,
inoffensive, but repulsive-looking lizards. I can not, even in the
mind’s eye, picture you as sympathetic as I should like to have you; at
Ephesus even, I fancied you as a little sulky, and abusing my patience.

The other day you spoke of a surprise that you would have for me, but
how do you expect me to believe you? All that you can do is to yield
when you have reached the limit of your futile excuses. But how is it
possible for you voluntarily to contrive a gift, when you have a genius
for refusing all I ask? I am perfectly sure, for instance, that it would
never occur to you to propose a day for us to go for a walk. Do you
prefer Monday, or Tuesday? I am anxious about the weather; nevertheless,
I trust to our good demon, as the Greeks say.

By the way, I want to read you a passage from a Greek tragedy, which I
shall translate literally, and of which you shall then give me your
opinion. I believe the Spanish comedy has dropped behind, somewhere
between the place we landed and that where we re-embarked. But as I
believe you were reading the history of the count de Villa-Mediana, I
will try and find the little poem of the duke de Rivas for you.

Good-bye. Do not have any second thoughts, and give me a place in your
first. You know in which place I belong. Remind me to tell you a story
of a somnambulist, which I intended telling you the other day.



XLIII


PARIS, _January 21, 1843_.

You are very kind, and I thank you for your first letter, which has
given me more pleasure than the second, for the latter has a flavour of
second impulses. It is not bad, however. But you must write more legible
German. I am sadly in need of the commentaries which you offer
me--verbal ones, of course, for they are the best kind. At first I read
_heilige Empfindung_, then afterwards I thought it should read _selige_.
But there are two meanings. Does it mean a sensation of happiness, or
sentiment that is dead, past? If I had seen you writing, I should have
guessed, probably, from your expression what you intended to say. That
was double coquetry on your part, coquetry in writing, coquetry of
ambiguity.

Alas! you overrate my knowledge in matters of dress. I have, however,
very positive ideas on that subject. I will submit them to you, if you
like; but I do not understand most of the beautiful things that should
be admired, unless they are explained to me. If you will point them out
to me, I shall understand immediately, I assure you. But when, and
where? These two questions engage my attention quite as much as your why
and wherefore.

Do you not look back longingly to the beautiful warm days of the spring?
No danger then of wetting those wonderful little boots! If you will tell
me that you have remembered them, and that you still think of them, you
will give me renewed patience; but you must do something more than
think; you must resolve. I have no desire to recall your promises, for I
hope you will add to your good faith by fulfilling them graciously, and
not keep them waiting too long. I was so utterly overcome with dismay by
that storm, and by its consequences, that I have become entirely sugared
over with suavity and self-sacrifice. I have now sufficient confidence
in you to believe that you will not take advantage of it to become
tyrannical. You have, I regret to say, strong leanings in that
direction. That was formerly a fault of mine--tyranny, I mean--but I
flatter myself I have overcome it. Good-bye, then, dearest! Think of me
sometimes.



XLIV


_January 27, 1843._

Hear what happened to me. I was feeling very ill this morning, but was
obliged to go out on business. Returning about five o’clock in a hideous
mood, I fell asleep before the fire as I was smoking my cigar and
reading Dr. Strauss. Now it seemed to me that I was still seated in my
arm-chair, fully awake, and reading, when you entered the room, and said
to me, “Is not this the simplest way to see each other?” “Not the best
way,” I replied, for it seemed to me there were two or three other
persons in the room. However, we conversed as if that made no
difference; whereupon I awoke, and found that some one had brought a
letter from you. See how lucky it was I fell asleep!

I am not conscious of having written you anything out of the way,
consequently I have no apology to offer. It would be your place rather
to apologise, but you do so with so little penitence, and with so much
irony, that it is very evident you have lost that veneration with which
you formerly honoured me. I can not, however, harbour resentment against
you in spite of my resolutions, so I resign myself to remain your
victim, only do not take advantage of my generosity; that would be
neither handsome nor generous.

You speak of the sunshine, and remind me of it almost as if it were the
Greek calends. Probably we shall have more sunshine next June, but must
we wait until then? It is true that you are _escarmentada_ of cloudy
weather, but while using due precautions, might we not take advantage of
the first fair weather? I would not have you catch cold on my account.
Be sure to wear your overshoes. No matter in what old costume, to see
you is always pleasure enough for me.

What is this pain in the side of which you speak so lightly? Do you
know that pneumonia begins that way? You went to the ball, and probably
caught cold going out into the air. Relieve my mind at once, I beg of
you. I would rather think of you cross, than ill. If you are entirely
well and in good spirits, and if the weather is never so little fine
Saturday, why should we not take that walk? We could go somewhere, far
away from everybody, and then walk and talk.

If you can not, or will not, come Saturday, I shall not be angry, but
anyway, try to come soon. When I ask you for anything, you grant it only
after having kept me fuming for so long that you prevent me from feeling
as grateful as I should, perhaps; and you deprive yourself, moreover, of
all the merit which would have been yours had you been promptly
generous.

To converse together, and--what has sometimes happened--to think
together, is this, then, a pleasure of which you grow weary so soon?
‘Tis true that one can speak only for himself, but each one of our
excursions has been to me more delightful than the preceding one,
because of the memories which it has left with me. I make an exception
of the last one, and that one I should like to forget altogether, and
replace it by another in which you would run no risk of catching cold.
Thus peace is made, and I await your orders to ratify it Thursday
evening.



XLV


PARIS, _February 3, 1843_.

Does not this lovely weather make you think of Versailles, and
consequently does it not make you wish to laugh? If you were the least
logical you would not laugh. I am sure you are aware that Versailles is
the capital of the Department of Seine-et-Oise, where there are officers
for the protection of the weak, and that French is spoken there. In such
a place you would be as safe as in Paris. Moreover, what you wish to do
is to walk without meeting any of your gossiping acquaintances. At
Versailles, on a day when the Museum is closed, you are sure of meeting
no one. I do not remind you of the air, or of the beauty of the grounds,
which have their own value, and which influence always the nature of
one’s thoughts.

I am confident, for instance, that at Versailles you would have had no
sign of that attack of temper of the other day. That you have now
recovered from it I am sure, for the closing words of your letter bore
the inspiration of your good genius. The beginning was suggested by
your evil genius. I write in great haste, for I am overwhelmed in
business matters, which are proving very tiresome. Think of me
sometimes, and do not be angry. Don’t laugh too much when you think of
me.



XLVI


PARIS, _February 7, 1843_.

Allow me, if you please, to make a very simple calculation, and all will
be said on the subject of Versailles. Is an hour’s stroll in that lovely
garden such a difficult thing to imagine? Now, did we not spend two
hours together at the Museum that dreadfully foggy day? I have finished.

You make me laugh at your idea of the commissions to which I am ordered
to attend. Although those are not lacking, the commissions to which I
referred are assemblies where several persons together are unable to
accomplish the task that one alone could do much better.

Do not fancy that you are the only one who does errands. I have run all
over Paris buying gowns and hats, and I have an engagement next
Wednesday to select a rococo shepherdess costume. All this is for Madame
de M.’s two daughters. Give me your advice. What sort of costumes
should they have for a masquerade ball? A Scotch and a Cracovian costume
are now on the way. I have one shepherdess dress, but I need still
another disguise. Here is their description: the elder is a pale
brunette, not quite so tall as you, very pretty and vivacious; the
younger is quite tall, and fair, an unusually handsome girl, with the
sort of hair that Titian adored. I should like to have her go as a
shepherdess, with powdered hair. What would you advise for the other?

I ask myself why you seem to me to be more beautiful than ever, and am
unable to find a satisfactory answer. Is it because your expression is
less startled than it was? Yet, the last time I saw you you reminded me
of a bird that had just been caged. You have seen me under three
aspects. I know of but two of yours--when you are terrified, and again
with a sort of radiant defiance which I have seen on no face but yours.

You accuse me unfairly of being fond of society. I have been out but one
evening in a fortnight, and that was to call on my minister. I found all
the women in mourning, several of them wearing mantillas--no, not
mantillas, but black beards which made them resemble Spanish women. I
thought it was very pretty. I am strangely depressed and morose. I
should like to pick a quarrel with you, but do not know what to quarrel
about. You ought to write me a kind and sympathetic letter. I should try
to imagine how you looked as you wrote it, and that would comfort me.

Does my novel interest you? Then read the end of the second volume, Mr.
Yellowplush. It is a fairly good caricature, in my opinion. Good-bye.
Write to me soon.

I reopen my letter to beg you to observe that the weather has the
appearance of clearing.



XLVII


PARIS, _Sunday, February 11, 1843_.

I am not quite sure whether I should believe implicitly all that your
letter tells me of your indisposition, and of the affairs that detain
you. Among all the pleasant things that you say, I think it is clear
that you are not particularly anxious to see me. Am I mistaken, or is it
that I am so unaccustomed to your soft words that I can not believe them
true? Tuesday, shall you be well, shall you be unengaged, shall you be
as sweet-tempered as you were last Wednesday? The weather yesterday
afternoon was superb; perhaps we shall be as fortunate next Tuesday, if
my barometer does not deceive me.

I have something for you, which you will probably think very silly.
Since seeing you I have run around considerably, and have played a
number of Academic tricks. I am not in good practice, which is to my
disadvantage, but I believe I can soon pick it up again. To-day I have
visited five illustrious writers of poems or prose, and if night had not
overtaken me I am not sure that I could not have finished up my
thirty-six visits at a single stretch. It is ludicrous when rivals
happen to meet. Some of them look at me as if they would like to eat me
alive. I am, indeed, thoroughly worn out with all these dutycalls, and
it would be delightful to forget them all during an hour spent with you.



XLVIII


_February 11, 1843._

Does not this snow-storm take it upon itself to say No, without your
interference in the matter? This should cure you of your bad habit of
refusing. The devil is wicked enough, without your efforts to rival him.
I was very ill last night, suffering from fever and sharp, shooting
pains. I am somewhat better to-night. It seems to me that in your last
note you are trying to find an excuse to quarrel about our walk. What
was wrong about it, unless you caught cold? I made you walk so fast that
I have little anxiety on that score.

There was in your appearance an air of health and vigour that was
delightful to see. Besides that, you are losing gradually your habitual
restraint with me. These walks are an advantage to you in every way, not
to mention the variety of archæological knowledge that you acquire
without taking any trouble at all. Already you are past-mistress on the
subject of vases and statues.

Every time we meet there is a crust of ice between us to be broken, and
it is at least a quarter of an hour before we can take up our last
conversation at the point where we left it. If we saw each other
oftener, however, doubtless there would be no ice at all. Which do you
prefer, the end, or the beginning of our meetings?

You have not thanked me for not mentioning Versailles to you. I think of
it often, I assure you. I have something to show you, which I forgot; it
belongs to _auld lang syne_. Come, guess, if you can. When I see you I
forget all I intended to say. I made a note of a lecture I wanted to
deliver about your jealousy of your brother. In your rôle of sister, as
I conceive it, you ought to wish for your brother to love some good and
worthy woman. Bear in mind that you can not prevent it in any case, and
if you will not be a happy, or at least a resigned confidante, you will
certainly become estranged from him.

Good-bye. My finger is deucedly painful, but I am told this is a good
symptom. By way of diversion, I will think of your hands and feet. You
think of them seldom, I am sure.



XLIX


_February 17, 1843._

It is possible that I was unjust towards you; if so, I ask your pardon.
At the same time, you do not try to put yourself in my place, and
because you do not look at things from my standpoint you insist that I
take your point of view, which is impossible. You do not, perhaps, give
me all the credit I deserve for my efforts to be like you. I do not
understand your present attitude towards me. Not only so, but speaking
literally, I have seen for a long time that you love me better at a
distance than when I am with you.

Let us talk no more of this now. I wish only to say that I do not
censure you, and that I am not offended with you, and that if at times I
am depressed, you must not suppose that I am angry. You have made me a
promise, which you may be sure I shall not forget, and yet I do not know
if I shall remind you of it. There is nothing I dislike so much as
quarrels, but I should have to quarrel with you in order to jostle your
memory. Nothing that pains you would give me pleasure; therefore I will
agree to the programme which you have arranged.

Indeed, that was a happy inspiration of ours the other day. What a snow,
and what a rain! What a pity it would have been to put me off until
to-day! You are always afraid to follow your first impulses; do you not
know that they are the only ones which are worth anything, and which
always succeed? I have an idea that the devil is constitutionally slow,
and decides always on the longest way around. To-night I have been to
the Italian Opera, where, in spite of the constant applause given my
enemy, Madame Viardot, I enjoyed myself.

I have received from Spain the books for which I have been waiting in
order to continue my work, so that temporarily I am in high spirits. I
wish I knew that you were thinking of me, and especially that we were
thinking together. Good-bye. I am charmed that you like the pins. I was
afraid you might disdain them; but, despite the pleasure it would give
me to see you wear them, do not wear the blue shawl next time. You are
right in saying that it is too showy.



L


PARIS, _Monday night, February, 1843_.

If I were not afraid of spoiling you, I should tell you of the pleasure
I have had from your letter, with its very gracious promise, and, more
than all, your eagerness for the return of dry weather. Is it not great
folly on your part to wish to make fixed dates for our walks, as if we
could ever be sure of a day? Was I not right in saying, “Come as often
as you can”? When we have had two days of fine weather, we may take it
for granted that it will rain for two months afterwards. What matters it
if at the end of a year we find ourselves so much ahead by a few days’
promenade? Indeed, your letter is full of first impulses, that is why I
like it so well. I fear, however, that you are so generously disposed
only because we can not take advantage of your good intentions.
Nevertheless, your promises are somewhat reassuring, and if you do not
keep them you will be very, very sorry.

You made me think of all sorts of things the other evening at the opera,
with your iris-coloured gown. But you need not be coquettish with me. I
love you no better in iris-colour than in black.

Tell me the truth, were you not angry with me when you reflected? If so,
that would have been for me an unfortunate first impulse the other day,
and that would have caused me both pleasure and distress. When I see you
I shall know which.

I know the superstition attaching to knives and sharp instruments, but
not that about pins. I should have thought, on the contrary, that pins
signified attachment, and that is the reason, perhaps, which made me
select them. Do you remember that you would not allow me to pick up
yours at Madame de P.’s? I still cherish this grievance against you,
along with many others. I forgive them all to-day, but when you have
added others to them I shall be as indignant as ever.

It is a great misfortune to be unable to forget. My writing to-day
resembles a cat’s scratching. I can not yet sharpen my pen, and doubt
very much whether you can read my scrawl. It is almost as intelligible
as what you write in blank.

I suppose you are going in society a great deal this carnival season. In
arranging my desk I have discovered that I failed to go to the ball
given by the Director of the Opera. What has become of the happy time
when such things pleased me? Now they bore me to death. Do I not seem
very old to you?

There is some appearance of clearing weather, but I dare not say a word.
I have sworn to leave you perfect liberty. Theodore Hook is dead. Have
you read _Ernest Maltravers_, and _Alice_, by Bulwer? They present
charming pictures of youthful and of mature love. I have them both, when
you wish them.



LI


_Thursday night, February, 1843._

In vain have I tried to find in your last letter some excuse to be angry
with you, for even anger would be a relief. I have burned your letter,
but I remember it only too distinctly. It was very sensible, too
sensible, perhaps, but very kind also. For a week I have had such a
strong desire to see you, that I have even brought myself to the point
of regretting our quarrels. I am writing to you now, and do you know
why? Because you will not reply, and that will make me furious, and
anything is preferable to the despondency in which you have left me.
Nothing is more absurd; we were perfectly right to say farewell.

You and I understand so thoroughly the meaning of reason, that we should
act in the most reasonable way possible. But after all, happiness is
found only in folly and in dreams. It is strange, but I never believed,
until this last time, that our quarrels could be serious. But it is now
ten days since we parted in such a solemn manner that I am terrified.
Were we more angry than usual, more clear-sighted? and did we love each
other less? There was between us that day something, certainly, which I
do not remember distinctly, but which had never existed before.

It never rains but it pours. At the same time that we parted, my cousin
changed his day at the Opera, so I shall not meet you there in future on
Thursdays. I recall, also, that you predicted, prophetically, that I
should forget you for the Academy, and it was before the Academy that we
said good-bye. All this is very silly, but it haunts me, and I am dying
to see you, were it only that we might quarrel.

Shall I send you this letter? I have not quite decided. I went
yesterday, on the strength of a Greek verse, to _Saint Germain
l’Auxerrois_. Do you remember when we used to understand each other?

Good-bye. Write to me. I feel a little comforted from having written to
you.



LII


PARIS, _February, 1843_.

It has happened often during my life to do reluctantly things which I
have been afterwards very glad to have done. I hope that you may have
the same experience. Suppose the contrary had occurred, would you not
have felt some impatience for having come alone? Would you not have
suffered some distress (let me believe you would) for having caused me
sorrow?

Do you now recall with pride that strange influence which you have twice
exerted on my thoughts and on my resolutions? The only mistake made has
been to feel a little uncertainty. Are you not astonished, as I am, with
that strange coincidence (I shall not say sympathy, for fear of
offending you) of our thoughts? Do you recollect that on a former
occasion we had an experience almost as miraculous? and more recently
still, beside a stove in the Spanish Museum, you read my thoughts as
quickly as they came into my mind? For a long time I have suspected
something of the diabolical in you, but I am reassured somewhat,
remembering that I have seen both your feet, and neither one is a
_cloven foot_. It may be, however, that you have concealed beneath those
little boots a tiny hoof. I beg you to relieve my suspense.

Good-bye. Here is the book of which I spoke.



LIII


PARIS, _February 9, 1843_.

I was very uneasy when no word came from you. Not that I feared you had
changed your mind, but I thought you were ill, and chided myself for
taking you that long walk, returning through the wind and rain.
Fortunately, it was the post-office, taking its Sunday holiday, which
kept me waiting for your letter. Although the delay caused me intense
suffering, I did not for a single moment blame you. I am glad to tell
you this, so that you may know that I am overcoming my faults, as you
also are overcoming yours. Good-bye, then, for a little while. My eyes
no longer pain me. Yours, I fancy, sparkle as brightly as ever. What
mountains we make out of molehills! Would it not have been a mistake not
to see each other again?

I am very blue and miserable. One of my intimate friends, whom I
intended to visit in London, has just suffered a stroke of paralysis. I
do not know whether it will be fatal, or, what would be even worse than
death, whether he will linger on in that frightful condition of
unconsciousness to which this disease brings the most brilliant minds. I
am uncertain whether I ought not to go to see him at once.

Write to me, I pray you, and say something sympathetic, so that I will
forget my gloomy forebodings.



LIV


_Thursday morning, February, 1843._

Alas! Yes, poor Sharpe[7] has just been stricken down most suddenly and
painfully. I have had no news from him since the 5th, and if you know
some one in London who can tell you anything authentic, I beg you to
write and learn his condition, and whether there is the least hope for
his recovery. You may, perhaps, be acquainted with his sister. It was
at her house, I suppose, that you met him.

No matter what you say, second thoughts are only too evident in your
letter. A few amiable words, however, slipped from you unconsciously.
You go to a great deal of trouble to be disagreeable, and it is only by
strenuous efforts that you succeed in being so.

Have you ever reflected that it is an admirable plan to place in a
beautiful palace pictures and statuary, and to allow people to go there
to enjoy them? Unfortunately, this superb place is to be closed, in
order to hang there some hideous modern daubs. Does not this grieve you?
Agree with me, and let us go and say good-bye to all those venerable
statues. Saturday is an excellent day, for only Englishmen come then,
and they do not get in the way of those who like to examine the pictures
closely. What do you think of Saturday--that is to say, day after
to-morrow? That will be the last Saturday. This word “last” grieves me.
So, then, Saturday.

You speak of your remorse on account of my eye. What is the character of
your remorse? The accident might have been avoided in two ways: I need
not have exposed the eye to danger, and you might have taken care of it
for me. It is this last fact that causes you remorse--that ought to do
so, at any rate, before your second impulses come to you. If I do not
hear to the contrary, I shall await you Saturday, at two o’clock, in
front of the _Joconde_, unless the weather is bad. But it will be fine
weather, I hope, and if any disappointment comes it will be most
assuredly your fault.

Why do you use such small paper, and why do you write only three lines,
two of which are to quarrel with me? What matters it if one’s life is
short, provided it has been full of happiness! Is it not better to have
rich memories, rather than many years of emptiness which have nothing to
recall?



LV


PARIS, _February, 1843_.

Our letters crossed each other, and my suspense has been relieved sooner
than I had hoped. I am very grateful. Notwithstanding the ambiguity of
its style, I am deeply gratified by what your letter tells me. That verb
of which you have such dread has to me a sweet sound, even when it is
accompanied by all those adverbs which you understand so well how to
weave around it.

Ridicule, if you like, my melancholy mood, aroused by the ruins of
Carthage. Marius, sitting beside them as we were, dreamed, it may be,
that he would enter Rome once more, while in my future I see little to
hope for. You frighten me, dear friend, when you say that you dare no
longer trust yourself to write to me, and that you have more courage to
speak to me. You say the reverse of this when we are together. Will not
the result be that you will neither speak to me nor write to me? You
were vexed with me, you say. Was this just, and had I deserved it? Had I
not your promise, and, in some measure, your example also? Have you
remained blind to this? Have you retained an unpleasant memory? Are you
still angry? All this is what I am anxious to know, and what, I am sure,
you do not intend to tell me.

I am beginning to know you by heart, and this, I believe, is the cause
of my frequent low spirits. There is in you such a strange combination
of contrasts and contradictions that it is enough to provoke a saint....

I heard sad news yesterday. Poor Sharpe died last Wednesday. The news of
his death came at the moment not only when I believed him out of danger,
but about to resume his ordinary occupations. I can not accustom myself
to the thought of seeing him no more. It seems to me that if I were to
go to London I should certainly find him there....



LVI


_Thursday night, March 1, 1843._

I was very much afraid I should not be able to see you Saturday, when I
had been promising myself to give you a good scolding for your
indifference the other day. But I have succeeded in overcoming all the
obstacles. So, then, Saturday. It is a long time since we have had a
falling out. Do you not think this very pleasant, and greatly preferable
to the quarrels we used to have, the only benefit of which was our
reconciliations? You still have one fault, however, that of making
yourself so scarce. We see each other hardly once in a fortnight. Each
time there seems to be a new crust of ice to be broken. Why do I not
find you again just as you were when I left you? If we met oftener this
would not happen. To you I am like an old opera which you must needs
forget in order to hear it again with any pleasure. I, on the contrary,
would love you better, I think, were I to see you every day. Prove to me
that I am wrong, and appoint a day in the near future when I may see
you.

My fate at the Academy will be decided March 14. Reason tells me to
hope, but some vague feeling of presentiment tells me just the opposite.
In the meanwhile, I am making calls most conscientiously. People are
extremely polite, perfectly accustomed to the parts they are playing,
and taking them seriously. I am doing my very best to take mine equally
seriously, but that is difficult for me to accomplish. Do you not think
it comical that some one should say to a man, “Monsieur, I consider
myself one among the forty of the most intellectual men in France--I am
quite your equal,” and other remarks equally as facetious? Of course,
this must be said in a variety of ways, according to the person to whom
I speak. This is my occupation at present, and if it lasts much longer I
shall be perfectly exhausted. The 14th corresponds to the Ides of March,
the day when my hero, the late Caesar, died. This is ominous, is it not?



LVII


PARIS, _March 11, 1843_.

It is a perfect shame, almost a crime, indeed, not to take advantage of
this beautiful weather. What say you to a long walk to-morrow,
Thursday? You should be the one to make the suggestion, but you take
care not to do it. We must positively go out to salute the coming of the
first leaves. You can almost see them grow.

I am thinking, also, that you have told me the sunshine has a happy
influence on your mood. I should like to make the test. I love you in
all sorts of weather, but I think I am happiest when I see you in the
sunshine. Good-bye.



LVIII


PARIS, _Friday morning, March 13, 1843_.

Here is your scarf. It was found last Saturday, in the anteroom of his
Royal Highness, monseigneur le duc de Nemours. No one asked for an
explanation of its presence in my pocket. I should have returned it
sooner, if I had not hoped that the wish to recover your property would
lead you to send me some news of yourself. I perceive that, while you
were very eager concerning the first point, it has not succeeded in
triumphing over your indifference as to the second. Why are you so
afraid of the cold? I recollect that we had one experience in the snow
which did not result disastrously. Now there will be a thaw which will
keep the streets impassable for I don’t know how long. Answer me
quickly. I am grieved to see that you love to torment me.

       *       *       *       *       *



LIX


PARIS, _Saturday night, March, 1843_.

Your letter does not show the least sign of repentance. I regret the
loss of the amber pipe which you selected. There is something
particularly agreeable in carrying often in my mouth a gift from you.
But let it be as you wish. I say this very frequently, and yet there is
never any reward for my resignation.

I am completely hardened by my present occupation. The Cathedral presses
like a dead weight upon my shoulders, to say nothing of the
responsibility which I accepted in a moment of zeal, and which I now
repent from the depths of my soul. I envy women their lot, for they have
nothing to do but to make themselves beautiful, and to prepare for the
effect which they seek to produce on others. The word _others_ has an
ugly sound, but I imagine that it engages your attention more than it
does mine. I am very much vexed with you, without knowing exactly the
reason, still there must be some good reason, for I could not be in the
wrong. It seems to me you become more egotistical every day. When you
speak of _us_, you mean only _yourself_. The more I think of this the
more deplorable it appears.

If you have not written to London for that book, do not write; it is
absurd to give a woman such a commission. While I value very greatly a
rare book, I should not wish you to cause the least shadow of
embarrassment by asking for it. The editor of the book is, I am told, a
worthy Quaker, who has found some recent proofs that the Spanish
Catholics of the fifteenth century were devoid of all morality,
notwithstanding the Inquisition, and, it may be, because of it. The
original copy, and the only one in existence, cost fifteen hundred
pounds sterling. It has a hundred pages and more. I was wrong to mention
it to you, and still more wrong to realise so tardily the absurdity of
the thing. Good-bye....

I was about to send you this letter when I received yours. I have been
so engrossed in my reports and investigations that it has been
impossible to write sooner. I proposed a walk for Tuesday, on condition
that we should have an hour more together. Tell me if you are unengaged
Tuesday. Your absent-mindedness is very attractive, but have I anything
to do with it? That is the question. What have you to ask my pardon for?
Your sentiments are not at all like mine.

We are so unlike that it is hardly possible to understand each other.
All this does not prevent me from anticipating the pleasure of seeing
you. I thank you for your last letter; it is very sweet. You did not say
where you were going in the country, or when you expected to start. I
shall go to Rouen in a few days. Again, good-bye. I hope to see you
Tuesday, and that you will be in good spirits, and less downcast than I
am to-day.



LX


_Monday night, March 21, 1843._

I am terribly blue, and full of remorse for my anger to-day. The only
excuse I can offer is that the transition between our delicious stop in
that wonderful resting-place and the remainder of our walk was too
abrupt. It was like falling from heaven into hell. If I distressed you,
I am as repentant as I can be, but I hope I have not caused you to
suffer as much as I have myself. You have reproached me oftentimes for
being indifferent to everything; I suppose you meant only that I was
undemonstrative. When I am not myself, it is because I am in bodily
anguish. Admit that it is sad, after so long an acquaintance, and after
having become the friends we are, to see you always suspicious of me.
The weather to-day has been like our mood. It will clear to-night, I
think. The stars shine brighter than I have ever seen them. Let us
arrange some less stormy excursion. Good-bye. No more quarrels! I shall
try to be more reasonable. Do you try to be ruled more by your first
impulses.



LXI


_March, 1843._

I was as tired as if I had walked four or five leagues, but the fatigue
was so agreeable that I should like to repeat it. All was so successful,
that while I am accustomed to the success of a well-arranged plan,
nevertheless I share your astonishment. To be so free, and so far away
from the world, and that, too, by making use of the benefits of
civilisation, is it not amusing?

Do you know why I took only one blossom of those pretty white hyacinths?
It was because I wished to save some for another time. What do you
think of that? Besides, after consulting my map, I discovered that we
had mistaken the distance, and were about a quarter of a league out of
the way. We ought to have gone farther on, but we need regret nothing,
and next time we shall know better. For the first time it was not bad.

You were charming. You told me nothing I did not know in saying that you
returned to me what I had given you; but to hear you say this is a joy
to me, for it proves that you did not mean the cruel things you said on
one of our ill-omened days. I have forgotten them all to-day. Will you
not, also, forget my anger and my rudeness?

You ask whether I believe in the existence of the soul. Not altogether.
Nevertheless, when I reflect upon certain things, I find an argument in
favour of that hypothesis. It is this: How can two animate substances
give and receive a sensation by a union which would be insipid but for
the sentiment attached to it? This is an extremely pedantic way of
saying that when two lovers kiss each other the sensation they receive
is altogether different from that felt in kissing the softest of satin.
But the argument has its value. We will discuss metaphysics, if you
like, next time I see you. It is a subject which I find very
interesting, because it can never be exhausted. You will write to me,
will you not, before Monday to say where we shall meet? We must be there
on the hour, not on the half hour. Be sure and remember it;
consequently, we must start on the half hour. This is clear, is it not?

It is half past four, and I must rise before ten o’clock.



LXII


_Friday, March 29, 1843._

I divine, by one of those intuitions of the mind’s eye, that we shall
have fine weather for several days, but it will be followed by a long
siege of bad weather. On the other hand, our last walk, which was almost
a failure, we should consider as not having taken place. The bears alone
are the better for it. I envy them the interest you take in their
welfare, and I am thinking of having me a costume made which will give
me some of their charms. Hitherto, we have always walked from the east
towards the south, and it might be a good idea to try the opposite
direction. First we should find our starting-point, and the muddy stream
that flows near it, and we will end our walk where we usually begin it.
It is devilish hard that just now I am uncommonly busy; however, if
Saturday, at three o’clock, would be convenient, we could go on our
voyage of discovery until half past five; if not, we shall be obliged to
postpone it until Monday, which is a long time to wait.

If you knew how sweet you were the other day, you would never again be
the tease you are sometimes. I wish you had been less reserved with me.
At the same time, while your words were more ambiguous than the
Apocalypse, I seemed to read your thoughts clearly. I wish you had the
hundredth part of the pleasure which I have in following your thoughts.
There are two persons in you, so you see you no longer resemble
Cerberus. From three, you have come to be two. One, the better one, is
all heart and soul. The other is a pretty statue, highly polished by
society, gracefully draped in silk and cashmere, a charming automaton,
the springs of which are adjusted with infinite skill. When one thinks
he is speaking to the first, he finds he is speaking to the statue. Why
must this statue be so attractive? If it were not for this, I should
hope that, like the Spanish oaks, you would lose your outer bark as you
grow older.

It is better for you to remain as you are, but let the first person
take the precedence over the automaton. I am getting all tangled up with
my metaphors.

At this moment I am reminded of a white hand. It seems to me that I
wished to scold you, but I can not remember the reason. It is I this
time who am suffering with my back. The pain attacked me after my return
the other day, but I can not, like you, find relief in a twelve-hours
sleep. The fact is, I am not as careful of my strength as you are. I
hope to have a letter from you to-morrow, but you must write another
also to tell me whether it is to be Saturday or Monday. Here is a third
combination: Saturday, until four o’clock, and again Monday, from two
until five. This, I think, would be a perfect arrangement. I must not
fail to have your reply before noon Saturday.



LXIII


_Friday night, April 8, 1843._

For two days I have had a horrible headache, and you write me all sorts
of dreadful things. The worst is that you have no remorse, and I had
some hope that it would be otherwise. I am so downcast that I have not
even the energy to abuse you.

What, then, is this miracle of which you speak? It would be a miracle to
make you less self-willed, but I shall never accomplish that. It is
beyond my power. I shall have to wait, therefore, until Monday to hear
the solution of the enigma, since you can not come to-morrow. Do you
know it will have been a week since I saw you? It has been a long time
since that has happened before. To make amends, we must take a long
walk, and try to avoid disputes. Two o’clock, if that suits you. I shall
expect you promptly to the minute. Your idea about Wilhelm Meister is
rather pretty, but, after all, it is only a sophism.

One might as well say that the memory of a pleasure is a variety of
pain. This is especially true of half-pleasures, by which I mean
pleasures unshared with another. You shall have those verses, if you
insist upon it. You shall have, also, your portrait in Turkish dress,
which I have begun. I have placed a nargile in your hand, to add to the
local colour. When I say you _shall_ have all this, I mean, of course,
if you pay for it. But if you will not pay up gracefully, I am going to
take a terrible revenge. I was asked yesterday for a drawing for an
album which is to be sold for the benefit of the earthquake sufferers,
and I shall give your portrait. What do you say to it? I ask myself
sometimes what I shall do in five or six weeks from now, when I shall
see you no longer. I can not realise yet that it is to be.



LXIV


PARIS, _April 15, 1843_.

I have suffered such intense pain in my eyes yesterday and this morning
that I could not write to you. I am a little better to-night, and the
weeping has almost stopped. Your letter is somewhat amiable, which is
most unusual. There are even a few expressions of affection, without any
“buts” or second thoughts. We look at many things from different
standpoints. You fail to understand my generosity in sacrificing myself
for you. You ought to thank me as an encouragement. But you believe that
all is due to you. Why is it that we agree so seldom in our point of
view?

You acted sensibly in not speaking of Catullus. He is not an author whom
one should read during Holy Week, and in his works are many passages
impossible to translate in French. It is easy to see what love meant in
Rome fifty years before Christ. It was a little better, however, than
love at Athens in the time of Pericles. Women had already gained a
little importance, and compelled men to do silly things. The position of
woman is due not to Christianity, as it is customary to say, but to the
influence exerted on Roman society by the barbarians of the North. The
Germans were idealists. They worshipped the soul. The Romans cared only
for the body. Women, it is true, for many ages had no souls. They have
none still in Oriental countries, which is most unfortunate. You know
how two souls can hold converse. But yours is not willing to listen to
mine.

I am glad to know you enjoyed those verses of Musset. You are right in
your comparison of him to Catullus. Catullus, I believe, used better
language. Musset made the mistake of denying the existence of the soul,
just as Catullus had done. For the latter, however, there was some
excuse, on account of the age in which he lived. It is a most
unseasonable hour. I must stop in order to bathe my eye. As I write I
weep constantly. Good-bye until Monday. Pray for sunshine. I shall bring
you a book. Wear your seven-league boots.



LXV


PARIS, _May 4, 1843_.

I am unable to sleep, and am as cross as a bear. There are several
things I should like to say about your letter, but I shall say none of
them, on account of my bad humour, or rather, I shall try to restrain it
a little. Your distinction between the two _egos_ is very pretty, and is
a proof of your profound selfishness. You love only yourself, and that
is why you feel a sort of affection for the _ego_ which resembles yours.
Several times, day before yesterday, I was shocked to see this. I was
thinking of it sadly enough, while you were completely absorbed in
admiring the trees.

You are right to enjoy travelling on the railroad. In a few days it will
be possible to go to Rouen and to Orléans in three hours. Why should we
not go to see Saint Ouen? Yet what could be more beautiful than the
woods where we were the other day? Only, I think you should have
remained there longer. When one has sufficient imagination to give a
plausible explanation for that branch of ivy, one should not be at a
loss for occupation to last some time. I wonder if you have that ivy in
your hair this evening? If you have, I am sure that it will add to your
coquettishness.

I am so vexed with you that you will think, it may be, that the _I_
which you admire is too much in evidence. In fact, I am thinking
seriously of putting into execution the threat I made you one day.

How did you enjoy the fireworks? I was at the house of an “Excellency”
who has a lovely garden, from where we had a good view of them. The
crowning piece was fine. They are really far more wonderful than a
volcano, for art is always more beautiful than nature. Good-bye. Try to
think of me occasionally.

Our walks have now become a part of my life, and I can hardly realise
how I lived without them. It seems to me you take them very
philosophically. But how will it be when we see each other no longer?
Six months ago we resumed our conversation at the very same point where
it had been interrupted. Shall we do the same again? I have an
indefinable fear that I shall find you changed. Every time we meet you
are enveloped in an armour of ice, which melts only after a quarter of
an hour. By the time I return you will have amassed a veritable iceberg.
Well, it is better not to cross the bridge until you come to it. Let us
continue our dreams.

Should you suppose a Roman capable of saying pretty things, and of
showing affection? I will show you Monday some Latin verses, which you
shall translate for yourself, and which fit our habitual disputes like a
glove. You shall see that the ancients are a great deal better than your
Wilhelm Meister.



LXVI


_Wednesday, June, 1843._

Your letter was so kind and affectionate that it has blown away the last
remaining cloud of the recent storm. But I feel that we shall not be
sure of having forgotten it until we have buried our quarrel beneath
other memories.

Why should we not take a walk Friday? If it will not inconvenience you,
it will give me the greatest pleasure. I hope we shall have fine
weather. You promised, moreover, to tell me something which must be too
important to be deferred. I shall bring along a Spanish book, and, if
you like, we will read.

You have not yet told me whether you would pay me for my lessons. The
time which we spend otherwise than in what you are pleased to call
talking nonsense, seems to me so ill-employed that I ought at least to
earn something for my pains. Why should I not give you Spanish lessons
at your house? I could call myself Don Furlano, or something else, and
bring you a letter of introduction from Madame de P. describing me as
victim of Espartero’s tyranny.

I am beginning to find our dependence on sunshine and rain somewhat
irksome. I want, also, to paint your portrait. You have promised often
to invent some plan of meeting. You pretend to govern, but, as a fact,
you discharge your duties very badly, and I can judge very unfairly,
therefore, of your possibilities and your impossibilities. If you were
to reflect upon the delicate problem of how to see each other as often
as possible, would you not be doing a worthy action? There are many
other things I wish to say to you, but it would be necessary to refer to
our quarrel, and I desire to blot it altogether from my memory. I want
to remember only our reconciliation, which you seem to regret. That
would be unkind in you. I am sorry, indeed, that I must owe so much
happiness to such an unfortunate cause.

Good-bye. Consider your statue, and animate without first harassing it.



LXVII


PARIS, _June 14, 1843_.

I am delighted to learn that you are better, and very sorry that you
should have wept. You misunderstand invariably the meaning of my words.
You interpret as anger or unkindness what is only sadness. I can no
longer recall what I said on that occasion, but I am sure that I
intended to express but one thing, which was that you had grieved me
sorely. All these quarrels prove how very unlike we are, and since,
notwithstanding this difference, there exists between us a strong
affinity--it is the _Wahlverwandschaft_ of Goethe--there results
inevitably a struggle in which I suffer keenly. When I say that I
suffer, do not understand it as a reproach against you. Things which a
moment ago seemed rose-colour to me, now look black. You know perfectly
well how to efface with two words this blackness; and as I read your
letter to-night I feel that, perhaps, after all, the sun is not hidden
forever.

But your system of government is still the same; you make me lose my
temper, after having given me moments of exquisite happiness. One more
philosophical than I would enjoy the happiness when it comes, and not
trouble himself about the unhappiness. It is my misfortune to have a
temperament that remembers all the wretchedness of the past when I am
unhappy; but, on the other hand, I recall all the joy when I am happy.
For nearly three weeks I have tried hard to forget you, but I have not
succeeded any too well. The perfume which your letters breathe has
proved a great barrier to my self-imposed task. Do you recollect how I
noticed that Indian perfume one day when we had offended each other
grievously, and were afterwards reconciled?

I am head over ears in business matters. Write to me promptly. I have
been working hard, and upon some absurd affairs. I will tell you about
them when I see you.



LXVIII


PARIS, _Saturday night, June 23, 1843_.

I was beginning to be extremely anxious about you. I have been afraid
that you had suffered from being in the dampness so long, and blamed
myself for being so tedious in telling you that silly story. Since you
did not catch cold, and are not angry with me, I can now remember with
pleasure every moment that we spent together. I agree with you that on
that day we were more perfectly--if perfection can be compared--happy
than we had ever been before. Why was it? We said nothing, or did
nothing extraordinary, unless it was that we did not quarrel. And
observe, if you please, that our quarrels always begin with you. I have
yielded to you on an infinite number of points, but for all that I have
not been sullen about it. I should be delighted if the pleasant memory
of that day would be profitable to you in the future. Why do you not
tell me at once what your letter explains only so so, and yet with a
certain frankness that pleases me?...

I am flattered to know that my story amused you. At the same time, my
author’s vanity is wounded that you are satisfied with my sketchy
outline, for I had hoped that you would ask to read it, or to have it
read to you. Since you do not care for it, however, I must be resigned.
Nevertheless, if the weather is fine Tuesday, what is to prevent our
sitting on our rustic bench while I read it to you? It will take but an
hour. Better still, let us simply walk. Are you willing? It must be
understood that there are to be no arguments. Write me your final
decision. I went to the station to meet Madame de M. and her daughters,
all three looking splendidly. There is nothing definite as to my
departure, although, judging from the indications, it will probably be
very soon. You need not expect me, however, to say good-bye next time I
see you.



LXIX


PARIS, _July 9, 1843_.

You are right to forget quarrels, if you can. As you say, very sensibly,
the closer you examine them the more important they grow. It is best to
dream as long as possible, and as we can always repeat the same dream,
it becomes almost a reality. I am feeling better since yesterday, and
slept all last night, which I had not been able to do for a long time. I
believe, too, that my spirits have been lighter ever since I let off
steam the other day.

It is a pity we can not meet the day after having a quarrel, for I am
sure we should be in a perfectly amiable frame of mind. You promised to
appoint a day, but it has not occurred to you to do so, or else, what
would be even more unkind, you thought it would be an indecorous thing
to do. It is this constant preoccupation of yours which is so often a
cause of disagreement between us. As the hour of our separation draws
near, I become more discontented with myself, and the result is I behave
as if I were discontented with you. I might have said that you hold
yourself too much in check in order to please me. I catch myself
incessantly flying into a rage against this restraint, which, even in
its most agreeable aspect, conceals an underlying basis of sadness. But
dream, therein lies wisdom. When? That is the whole question.

You ought to translate for me a German book which gets on my nerves.
Nothing is more irritating than a German professor who thinks he has
discovered an idea. The title is alluring. It is: _das
Provocations-verfahren der Römer_.



LXX


PARIS, _July, 1843_.

Your letter is very kind, almost affectionate, indeed. I would I were in
a less melancholy mood, that I might enjoy it to perfection. The best I
can do is to express my appreciation of all that it contains of
graciousness, and to repress the somewhat gloomy thoughts that fill my
mind concerning it. It is unfortunate that I can not become so
completely absorbed in my dreams as you do. But let us leave this
subject and talk of something else.

I am going away in ten days. I went to the country yesterday to make a
visit, and returned very weary and very blue; weary, because I was tired
out, and blue, because of the thought that it was a beautiful day
wasted. Do you never chide yourself for a similar reason? I hope not.
Sometimes I believe that you feel all that I feel, then come drawbacks,
and I doubt everything.

Good-bye. If I write any more I shall say something that you will
misunderstand....



LXXI


_Thursday night, July 28, 1843._

I have read your letter (the former one, I mean) at least twenty times
since receiving it, and each reading has given me a new and a sorrowful
sensation, but at no time have I felt the least anger. I have tried in
vain to find an answer to it. I have come to any number of decisions, to
no purpose, and to-night I am just as uncertain and just as downcast as
when I first read it. You have guessed my thoughts well enough, perhaps
not entirely. You could never divine them altogether. I am so
capricious, moreover, that what is true at one moment ceases to be so a
little later.

You are wrong in your self-accusations. You have, I imagine, no other
cause for self-reproach than that which I myself have. We allow
ourselves to dream on, without wishing to awake. You and I are too old,
perhaps, to let ourselves dream thus purposely. I, for my part, agree
with the sentiment of that Turk; but to be _nothing_, could anything be
worse than that? I have changed my opinion very much on this point.

I have been tempted several times not to write to you, not to see you.
This would be quite reasonable, and the reason could be very well
supported. The execution would be more difficult. By the way, you are
mistaken in accusing me of not wanting to see you. I intimated no such
thing. Is this another of my thoughts which you have misinterpreted?
You, on the other hand, tell me so most explicitly. There is still
another thing we might do: that is, not to write to each other while I
am away. We may think of each other, or of any one else, and on my
return meet again or not, just as inclination shall counsel. This is
reasonable enough, but its execution might be embarrassing. When I am
not thinking about your letter, and only of your loveliness, do you
know what I should like? I should like to see you once more.

This Hôtel de Cluny affair has retarded my departure. I ought to be now
on the way, and am very much afraid that I shall not be able to sign an
abominable report, where it is necessary for my name to appear, before
Monday. Since you wished to see me Monday, perhaps you would have no
objections to saying a final good-bye Saturday. I am wrong, it may be,
to suggest this. God only knows in what sort of mood you are! After all,
you are free to say yes or no. I promise you not to be angry.



LXXII


PARIS, _Thursday night, August 2, 1843_.

I am not as poetical as you. The χθὡν εὑρυοδεἱη, that is to say, the
broad earth, in spite of the mackintosh, was colder even than you, and
I caught cold; but I bear no malice. To do that I should have to read
all that you say, and that you consider agreeable. How many _buts_
there are always! How clever you are to deprive others of the charm
which may belong to them, and to absorb it for yourself! I say charm,
but I am wrong, doubtless, for I do not believe that marmots have any.
You were one of those pretty creatures before Brahma transmitted your
soul into a woman’s body.

To do you justice, you wake up sometimes, and, as you say yourself, it
is to fall out with me. Be kind and gracious, as you know so well how to
be. Notwithstanding my crossness, I had rather see you with your grand,
indifferent airs than not to see you at all. I told you wisely that all
that botanical collection was no good, but you will always have your own
way. I have discovered things much more curious than those found in
country rambles, and from less evident indications too. Take my advice,
throw all those faded flowers in the fire, and let us go and look for
fresh ones. Good-bye.



LXXIII


PARIS, _August 5, 1843_.

I was awaiting your letter with great impatience, and the longer it
delayed the more I expected evidences of second thoughts, with all their
unpleasant consequences. As I was prepared for all manner of injustice
from you, your letter affected me more favourably than it would have
done at another time. You tell me that you, too, have been happy, and
this assurance cancels all the others that precede and follow it. This
is the best thing you have said to me for an age, and it is almost the
only time when I have thought you had a heart not unlike others.

What a glorious walk that was! I am not at all ill, and I was happy
enough the other day to store up health and good spirits for a long time
to come. If happiness is of short duration, it can be renewed.
Unfortunately, the weather is bad, and besides you speak of going away.
Perhaps this rainy weather has destroyed your desire to travel. From me
it takes even the energy to form new plans. If, however, there should
come a good day before you leave, would it not be well for us to take
advantage of it, and to say a long farewell to our park and our woods? I
shall not see their trees again this year, at least, and the thought
saddens me. I hope that you, too, feel the same regret. When you
discover a ray of sunshine let me know, and we will visit once more our
chestnut trees and our mountain. You gave me and ourselves a passing
thought for one brief moment, but will the memory of it not remain for a
long, long time?



LXXIV


VÉZELAY, _August 8, 1843, at night_.

I thank you for having written a word to me before my departure. It is
the kind intention that has pleased me, not what your letter tells me.
You say such extraordinary things. If you mean half of what you say it
would be the wisest course for us not to meet again. The affection which
you have for me is only a sort of mental pastime. You are all intellect.
You are one of those chilly women of the North who are governed only by
the mind. There are things I could say to you, but you would not
understand. I prefer to assure you again of my sincere regret for having
caused you pain. It was entirely unintentional, and I hope you will
forgive me. Our temperaments are as unlike as our _stamina_. How can it
be helped? You may divine my thoughts sometimes, but you will never be
able to understand them.

Here I am in this horrible little town, perched on the top of a
mountain, bored to death by the townspeople, and hard at work on a
speech that I am to make to-morrow. I am in politics, and you know me
well enough to realise how odious I find the business of a political
campaign.

For consolation, I have a most congenial travelling companion, and an
admirable church to look upon. The first time I saw this church was soon
after having seen you at.... I asked myself to-day whether we were more
foolish then than we are now.

What is certain is that we had formed, probably, a very different
impression of each other from the one we have to-day. If we had known
then how often we should quarrel, do you suppose we would have cared to
meet again? It is frightfully cold, with rain and lightning at
intervals. I have a ream of official prose to spin off, and will leave
you all the more cheerfully because the things I should write to you are
not particularly affectionate. It is, however, the force of
circumstances that irritates me most.

I go to Dijon in a few days. It would please me if you would write to me
there, especially if your pen could find something less cruel to write
than it did last time. You can not form an idea of one of our evenings
at the inn. One of the most charming plans of which I have thought is to
go somewhere in Italy to spend the time that must intervene between my
political tour and the trip to Algiers. You, I fancy, are thinking of
some way to be in the country when I return to Paris. What will be the
result of all these plans?

As I was leaving Paris I met M. de Saulcy, who had just received a
letter from Metz. Your brother was spoken of in the highest terms, which
is very gratifying to those who recommended him. I should have written
this earlier but for the thousand and one annoyances incident to my
departure.

Good-bye. I believe this little talk with you has made me feel better.
If I had more paper, and not so many reports to prepare, I think I might
be capable now of saying something affectionate. As you are aware, my
attacks of temper usually end in that way.

At Dijon, General Delivery, and do not forget my titles and degrees!



LXXV


AVALLON, _August 14, 1843_.

I expected to be in Lyons the 10th, and am not within sixty leagues of
that place. I shall not have any news from you until I reach Autun. If
you want to be kind you will write to me again at Lyons.

Vézelay pleases me more and more. The view from there is superb, and
besides it is sometimes a pleasure to be alone. As a usual thing I find
myself rather dreary company, but when I am depressed, with no good
reason for being so, and when this depression has in it no vestige of
anger, it is then that I enjoy complete solitude. This was my mood
during the last few days of my stay at Vézelay. I took long walks, or
lay down on the edge of a natural terrace, which a poet might well call
a precipice, and there I philosophised on the Ego, and on Providence, on
the hypothesis that there be a Providence. I thought of you also, which
was more agreeable than thinking of myself. But even the thought of you
was not the most cheerful, because no sooner did it come to me than it
occurred to my mind how happy I should be to see you here in this
obscure corner of the world. And then--and then, it all ended with this
other disheartening thought, that you were far, far away, that it was
not easy to see you, and not even certain that you would care to see me.

My presence at Vézelay greatly mystified the population. Whenever I
sketched, especially in a well-lighted room, large groups of people
would assemble around me, and every one had some conjecture as to my
occupation. This distinction proved a great bore, and I should like to
have had a janissary beside me to keep back the curious. Here I have
become once more one of the multitude. I came to visit an old uncle whom
I scarcely knew, and with whom I am obliged to stay two days. To
entertain me, he has taken me to see several mutilated heads found in
the excavations made nearby. I am not fond of relatives. You are
compelled to be on familiar terms with people you have never seen,
simply because they happen to be descended from the same grandfather
that you have. My uncle, however, is a most worthy man, not especially
provincial, and if we had two ideas in common I might even find him
agreeable.

The women here are as homely as the women in Paris; and they have,
moreover, ankles big as stumps. At Nevers the women had extremely pretty
eyes. They wear no national costumes. Besides our moral perfections, we
have the advantage of being the most stunted and the ugliest people of
Europe.

I send you an owl’s feather which I found in a gap of the Abbot’s Church
of the Madeleine at Vézelay. The former owner of the feather and I found
ourselves for a moment face to face, each one equally startled by our
unexpected encounter. The owl was less brave than I, and flew away. She
had a formidable beak, and eyes that were terrifying, besides two
feathers shaped like horns. I am sending this feather to you that you
may admire its softness, and also because I have read somewhere in a
book of magic that when one gives a woman an owl’s feather, and she
places it under her pillow, she dreams of him. Will you tell me your
dream? Good-bye.



LXXVI


SAINT-LUPICIN, _August 15, 1843, at night_.
_Six hundred metres above the sea-level;
in the midst of an ocean of lively and
famished fleas._

Your letter is diplomatic. You practise the axiom that language has been
given to man that he may conceal his thoughts. Fortunately for you, your
postscript disarmed me. Why do you say in German what you think in
French? Is it because you think only in German, that is, that you do not
think at all? I am unwilling to credit it. At the same time, there are
things in you which irritate me to the last degree. Why are you still
shy with me? Why have you never wished before to tell me anything that
would have given me so much pleasure? Do you suppose that there are
synonyms in a foreign language?

You can not form any conception of this place. Saint Lupicin is in the
Jura mountains. It is extremely ugly, dirty, and inhabited by fleas. In
a little while I shall be obliged to go to bed, where I shall repeat my
experience of the nights spent at Ephesus. Unfortunately, however, when
I awake there will be neither laurels nor Grecian ruins to meet my eye.
What a hideous country! I think often that if the railroads were more
comfortable we might go together to some such place, and then it would
seem beautiful. There are flowers here in the greatest profusion; the
air is remarkably pure and vigorous, so that the human voice can be
heard at a distance of a league.

To prove that I am thinking of you, here is a little flower which I
plucked in my walk at sunset. It is the only kind that I can send. All
other varieties are colossal.

What are you doing? Of what are you thinking? You never tell me what you
really think, and it is folly for me to ask you. I have had but few
comfortable moments since I came away. Skies of leaden gray, all sorts
of accidents, and all sorts of discomforts; a broken wheel, a bruised
eye--but they are all patched up now in some sort of fashion. But what
I find most difficult to become accustomed to is solitude. I believe
this year it is more unendurable than ever before. I mean solitude in
the midst of life and animation. It seems to me that if I were in prison
I should be more comfortable than I am tramping over the country.
Nothing is more depressing. I long for our walks more than anything
else. It cheers me to have you say that you still love our woods.
Although my tiresome absence is to be prolonged indefinitely,
nevertheless I hope we shall visit them again.

The Department of the Jura, with its mountains and cross-cuts, delays me
more than ten days. I have one disappointment after another. It is as if
I were still crossing my first mountain. I have not the least desire to
go to Italy. It is pure imagination on your part. Your letter pleased me
at times, and at others enraged me. I read sometimes between the lines
the sweetest things in the world, and again you seem more chilly than
usual. It is only the postscript that satisfies me. I saw it only the
last thing. It is at such a great distance from the rest of the letter!
If you write immediately, send it to Besançon; if not, address it to me
in Paris. I do not know where I shall be a week from this time.



LXXVII


PARIS, _September, 1843_.

I am terribly dull without you, to use an expression that you affect. I
did not realise the other day, clearly at least, that we were saying
farewell for a long, long time. Is it true now that we shall see each
other no more? We separated without speaking, almost without looking at
each other. It was almost like a former occasion. I felt a sort of calm
happiness, which is not usual to me. It seemed to me for a few moments
that I desired nothing more. Now, if we can experience that happiness
again, why should we refuse it? It is true that we may quarrel again, as
we have done so many times. But what is the memory of a quarrel compared
to that of a reconciliation? If you feel about this half as I do you
must be anxious to go again for one of our walks. I am going away on a
short journey next week. Saturday, if you like, or even the Tuesday
following, we might meet.

I have not written sooner because I had persuaded myself that the
suggestion to revisit our woods would come from you. I was mistaken, but
I am not very much offended. You possess the secret of making me forget
many things, and of making sentiment take the place of reason. Let me
see you once more. I shall have no reproaches for you. One is fortunate
to be able thus to dream.



LXXVIII


PARIS, _September, 1843_.

Our letters crossed. You realise now, I hope, that my anger, which I now
regret deeply, was not caused by what you imagine. Your letter proves,
however, that it is impossible for us not to quarrel. We are too unlike.
You are wrong to repent of what you have done. I was wrong to wish you
to be other than what you are. I beg you to believe that I have not
changed. I regret more than all having left you as I did, but there are
moments when one can not be composed. I want to see you now that we may
repeat one of our beautiful dreams of last summer, and to bid you a long
farewell, leaving you with a sweet and tender mood.

You will, of course, consider my idea ridiculous. Yet it pursues me, and
I can not help telling it to you. You will be quite justified in
refusing. I think I now have sufficient self-control not to lose my
temper. I am not sure, however; yet whatever you decide will be right. I
can only promise that I have the very best intentions to be calm and
patient.



LXXIX


AVIGNON, _September 29_.

I have not heard from you for many days, and it has been almost as long
a time since I have written to you. But I have a good excuse. The
business in which I am engaged is extremely fatiguing. All day I must
walk or drive, and at night, no matter how tired, I must despatch a
dozen pages of prose. I speak of commonplace writing only, for, from
time to time, I have some extraordinary piece of work to do for my
minister. But, since those things are never read, I can safely indulge
in all manner of nonsense.

The country that I am exploring is charming, but the people are stupid
to the last degree. No one ever opens his mouth that he does not sound
his own praises, from the man who wears a frockcoat to the porter. There
is no sign here of the tact which distinguishes the gentleman, and
which it gave me so much pleasure to discover among the common people of
Spain.

Except for this, it is impossible to find a country more like Spain. The
general aspect of the landscape and of the town is the same. The workmen
lie down in the shade and wrap themselves in their cloaks with an air as
tragic as that of the Andalusians. Everywhere the odour of garlic and
oil is mingled with that of oranges and jessamine. The streets are
protected by canvas during the day, and the women have small, well-shod
feet. Even the patois has in it a suggestion of the Spanish accent. Late
in the season as it is, there is still a tremendous buzzing of gnats,
fleas, and bugs, which are fatal to sleep. I must endure this life for
two months still before looking on human beings again! I am thinking
constantly of my return to Paris, and in imagination I enjoy no end of
delicious moments spent with you. Perhaps the very best thing for which
I long is to see you coming in the distance, and to win from you a
little nod in token of recognition....

You ask me for a drawing of a Roman capital. I have not a single one
left. I have sent all my sketches to Paris. Besides, you would find a
capital very uninteresting. The decoration consists of either devils, or
dragons, or saints. The devils belonging to the early period of
Christianity have in them nothing attractive. As for the dragons and the
saints, I am sure you have very slight regard for them.

I have begun to draw for you a Maçonese costume. It is the only one that
I have seen which possesses any grace. Even the girdle is arranged so
oddly that the most slender waist could not be distinguished from the
stoutest. One must have a special kind of physical organism to wear such
a costume. The cheapness of cotton-stuffs, and the ease of communication
with Paris, have caused the national costumes to fall into disuse.

I gave myself a sort of sprain last night. I am writing now with one
foot stretched on a chair, in a state of impatience difficult to
describe. When will the swelling leave my foot? That is the question. If
I were obliged to spend five or six days more in this position I do not
know what would become of me. I believe I should prefer to be seriously
ill rather than to be tied down as I am by such a trifling thing. At the
same time, this causes me no little pain.

Avignon is full of churches and palaces, all surmounted by high towers,
with machicolated battlements. The great Palace of the Popes is an
example of Middle-Age fortifications. It shows the friendly security
that reigned in this land about the thirteenth or fourteenth century. In
the Palace of the Popes you ascend a hundred steps of a winding stairway
and then find yourself suddenly facing a wall. Turning your head, you
see, fifteen feet above you, the continuation of the stairway, which can
only be reached by means of a ladder. There are, also, subterranean
chambers, which were used during the Inquisition. You are shown furnaces
where the irons were heated to torture the heretics, and the remains of
a complicated instrument, also used for torture. The inhabitants of
Avignon are as proud of their Inquisition as the English are of their
Magna Charta. “We,” they say, “invented the _auto-da-fé_, the Spaniards
only imitated us!”

At Vienna a few days ago I saw an antique statue which overthrew all my
previous opinions concerning Roman statuary. I had always seen the
conventional ideal of beauty exert its influence on the imitation of
nature. In this instance it was altogether different. The statue
represents a huge, fat woman, with enormous hanging throat, and folds of
fat covering her ribs, just as Rubens painted his nymphs. It is all
portrayed with a fidelity to nature amazing to see. What would the
gentlemen of the Academy say to it?

Good-bye. It is time for the post to leave. Write to me at Montpellier,
and again at Carcassonne. I hope it will not be long before I shall go
to find your letter, which always makes me happy.

Good-bye once more.



LXXX


TOULON, _October 2_.

It has been a long time, dear friend, since I wrote to you. As soon as
my foot returned to its normal size, I felt that I must make up for lost
time by touring the county of Avignon. I have learned, also, how to
appreciate the difference between the gnats of Carpentras, Orange,
Cavaillon, Apt, and other places. Nearly all of them possess in common
the characteristic of preventing an honest man from going to sleep. I
shall not tell you about the beautiful things I have seen, or the
humbugs I have discovered.

But do you know what a _draquet_ is? It is the same thing as a
_fantasy_. I will explain the meaning of these two barbarous words. You
must know, in the first place, that the wealth of the Department of
Vaucluse consists principally in silks. In every peasant’s lodge
silk-worms are cultivated, and silk is spun, from which arises a
disagreeable odour. Very frequently, skeins of silk are found hanging on
the bushes. Towards evening, there are peasant women imprudent enough to
come and gather these skeins of silk, hiding them in their baskets. The
basket gradually becomes heavier, with constantly increasing weight,
until it puts one in a perspiration to carry it. When, after a long and
fatiguing journey, the bank of a stream is reached, the basket has
become absolutely insupportable, and is placed on the ground.
Immediately there jumps from the basket a tiny creature, with an immense
head, who moves himself by a sort of lizard’s tail. Chuckling and
giggling, he plunges into the stream, saying: “_M’as ben pourta!_” which
signifies in Provençal, or in the idiom of the _draquets_, “You have
carried me very well!” I have met more than one woman who had been
hoaxed in this way by these mischievous demons, and am extremely sorry
not to have made the acquaintance of one myself. I should have enjoyed
it enormously.

My journey lengthens as the days grow shorter. I go to-morrow to Fréjus,
and from there to the islands of Lérins, where I may find, perhaps, the
remains of the first Christian church of the West. I am more than half
inclined to believe I shall find nothing at all. But one must follow
one’s profession conscientiously, and examine everything of historical
significance.

It is impossible to find anything dirtier and prettier than Marseilles.
Dirty and pretty applies equally to the women of Marseilles. They all
have expressive faces, lovely black eyes, beautiful teeth, tiny feet,
and imperceptible ankles. On their little feet they wear cinnamon
stockings, of the colour of Marseilles mud, coarse in quality, and
darned with twenty different shades of cotton. Their gowns are badly
made, and are always shabby and soiled. Their beautiful black hair owes
its glossiness almost entirely to the use of candle tallow. Add to this
an atmosphere of garlic mixed with the fumes of rancid oil, and you have
a picture of the Marseilles beauty. What a pity it is that in this world
nothing should be perfect! Ah, well, they are charming, the Marseilles
women, in spite of it all. It is a veritable triumph.

My evenings, which are now long, begin to be horribly tiresome. ‘Tis
true that I have usually volumes of letters to write and reports to
prepare for two or three ministers, but these pleasant occupations have
not kept me from having the blues for the last three weeks. My dreams
are as dismal as they can be, and my waking thoughts are no brighter.
Not a single word from you, when I need it so sadly! If you write to me
promptly, address your letter to Carcassonne. I must hear from you to
cheer me up....

After leaving Carcassonne I shall go to Perpignan, to Toulouse, and to
Bordeaux. I hope I may find there some souvenir from you. The sketch I
am making for you is not yet finished. I shall give it to you when I
return to Paris. I wish you would tell me if there is something more you
should like me to bring you. Here is a flower from a prickly shrub which
grows near Marseilles, and which has the perfume of sweet violets.

Good-bye.



LXXXI


PARIS, _Friday morning, November 3, 1843_.

Is it possible that you mean all you write me? What, then, is this
strange diffidence which prevents you from being frank, and which makes
you try to invent the most extraordinary lies, rather than let escape
from you one word of truth, which would please me so much to hear? Among
the good sentiments of which you speak there is one, you say, that I do
not understand; and, since you do not try to make me understand it, I am
unable even to guess it. I confess I am no more clever with the two
others.

Do you believe in the devil? To my mind the whole thing hinges on that.
If you are afraid of him, take care that he does not carry you off. If,
as I imagine, the devil is out of the question in this case, it remains
only to inquire whether one harms or wrongs some one else. I am telling
you my catechism. I think it is better than yours, but I will not vouch
for it. I have never made an effort to convert any one, but neither has
any one, to the present time, been able to convert me. You reproach
yourself, moreover, much more severely than I have ever reproached you.
Sometimes, ‘tis true, I yield to sadness and impatience; but I accuse
you with nothing, except occasionally that lack of frankness which keeps
me in an attitude of almost continual suspicion, forced as I am to seek
for your meaning under a disguise. If I were convinced of the truth of
what you said the other day I should be very unhappy, for I could not
bear to make you suffer. You see, however, that from saying sometimes
one thing, sometimes another, you make me doubt everything. I no longer
know what you think, what you feel. For once, at least, write to me
openly.



LXXXII


PARIS, _November 16, 1843_.

I can see you now in imagination with the expression you wear sometimes;
the expression of your bad days, I mean. I fear that you are not only
cross with me, but also that you have taken cold. Relieve my mind at
once on these two points. You were so kind and gracious that I could
forgive you, I think, even a return of your bad humour, if you would but
tell me that our walk did you no harm. I have slept almost all day, in
that condition of semi-unconsciousness that you like. This cold weather
is most discouraging. There used to be Martinmas summer, which was some
consolation for the death of the leaves, but I fear that this has passed
away, like so many of the things of my youth.

Write to me, dear friend. Tell me that you are well, and that my
grumbling has not vexed you. You will not correct me of this fault. If I
were not accustomed to think aloud when I am with you, I should be
almost tempted to be angry always, because you are then so sweet that
one can not regret having caused you sorrow. However, I will think only
of the moments when our thoughts were in accord, and when it seemed to
me that you forgot my plaguing and your own pride.

Your letter has just been delivered to me. I thank you most heartily for
it. You are just as kind and charming, as you were day before yesterday,
and this is doubly appreciated, for the pleasant things that you say I
know are sincere, and are not dictated by any fear of my anger. If you
only realised the delight I take in one word of yours that comes from
the heart, you would be less stingy of them. I hope your present mood
may continue.

I suppose you enjoyed yourself tremendously at your ball last night. I
went to the Opera. Ranconi was either drunk or imprisoned for debt, so
it was proposed to shut the doors against us. At last, however, after
continued protests on our part, they gave us “The Elixir of Love.” I
then returned, and corrected proofs until three o’clock in the morning.

So you fancy that the Academy fills my thoughts? I find this is the
first thought I have given to it to-day. There is but scant chance of
success there. Do you know of any witchcraft that will draw my name out
of the pine coffer known as a ballot-box?



LXXXIII


PARIS, _Tuesday night, November 22, 1843_.

I have learned on good authority of your exhaustion. It is the reaction
from a moral to a physical attitude of obstinacy. It is difficult for me
to believe that your wilfulness is altogether involuntary. Even if it
were so, you would be in the wrong. What is the result? By giving
ungraciously, the sacrifice that you are making is deprived of all its
merit. You suffer from the pain of this sacrifice all the more keenly
because you have not the consolation of knowing that it is appreciated.
In your own words, you are suffering a double remorse. I have told you
this more than once. You accuse me of injustice, but I think the
reproach undeserved. You do not judge me fairly.

It is true that we have such different temperaments, especially such
different points of view, that we can never be able to agree in
judgment. I have tried not to give way to anger, with but poor success,
I fear, and I ask your forgiveness. At the same time, I have made some
improvement, you will admit. Why do you wish to dispute the subject:
“Which one loves the better?” The first thing to do would be to agree on
the meaning of the verb, and that we shall never do. We are both too
ignorant ever to be of accord, especially too ignorant one of the other.
I have thought several times that I understood you, but you have always
eluded me. I was right when I said you were like Cerberus: three
gentlemen at once.

I am never sure whether your head or your heart is in the ascendant; you
yourself do not know, but you decide always in favour of the head. It is
better to quarrel than not to see each other. This seems to be the only
thing entirely demonstrated. When shall we quarrel again? Do not forget
that Friday is my reception day. During the last four days I have
embraced about thirty of my fellow-members, principally those who,
having promised me their support, have broken their word.[8]



LXXXIV


PARIS, _December 13, 1843_.

We left each other in anger; but to-night, when I reflect upon it
calmly, I regret nothing that I said, unless it be a few hasty words,
for which I ask your pardon. Yes, we are great fools. We should have
realised it sooner. We should have seen how contrary were our sentiments
and our feelings about everything. The concessions we have made to each
other have had no other result than to make us more unhappy. More
far-seeing than you, I blame myself bitterly for this mistake. To
prolong an illusion of which I should never have dreamed, I have caused
you the keenest anguish.

Forgive me, I pray you, for I, too, have suffered. I would I could leave
with you more joyous memories of me. I hope you will attribute to
circumstances the vexation I may have caused you. Never in your presence
have I appeared as I wished to be, or rather as I had intended to appear
in your eyes. I had too much self-confidence. My heart has sought to
struggle against that which my better judgment has demonstrated.
Everything considered, perhaps you will come to see in our folly only
its lovely side, to remember none but the moments of happiness which we
have spent together. I do not upbraid you in any way. You have tried to
reconcile two incompatible beings, and you have not succeeded. Should I
not be grateful to you for having tried to accomplish for me the
impossible?



LXXXV


PARIS, _Tuesday night, 1843_.

All day I have expected a letter from you. This is not what has kept me
from writing before, but I have been frightfully busy. I believe the
fine weather to-day has had a solacing effect on my mood. I am no longer
angry, even if I was so, and I can think with less sorrow of your
lecture of yesterday. The clouds, perhaps, are greatly to blame for what
happened between us. Once before we quarrelled in stormy weather; it is
because our nerves get the better of us. I have a strong desire to see
you, and to know your state of mind. Suppose we attempt to-morrow to
take that walk in which we failed so disastrously yesterday? What do you
think of it? Your pride will, of course, not respond to this suggestion,
but I am now appealing to your heart.

It will be very kind of you to send me an answer before noon to-morrow,
whether you will or will not come. Do not come, however, if you are in a
bad humour or if you have a previous engagement, and, above all, if you
have the slightest doubt that our walk will obliterate the hideous
impressions of yesterday.



LXXXVI


PARIS, _Saturday night, January 15, 1844_.

I am grieved to know that you are ill, but you must permit me to form my
own opinion as to the manner in which you caught this cold. An accident
of this kind seldom keeps one in the house; still more seldom does it
confine one to the house as long as you remain there. All your illnesses
have occurred too conveniently not to be a little suspicious. Formerly
you were more unreserved. You wrote me simply a page of reproaches, and
admitted that you were angry. Now you follow a different system. You
write me sweet little coquettish notes, and say you have taken a sudden
cold, or that you are ill. I believe I prefer the former method.
Luckily, you get over your sulks and recover from your illnesses.

I hope to see you Tuesday in a cheerful mood, if you think it worth
while to be agreeable. Your treatment of me is like the sun, which
appears only once in a month. If I were in better spirits, I could
pursue the comparison still further; but I, too, am ill, only I am not
so fortunate as you in being petted by all who come near me, and of
being fond of tea made of dates and figs.

You ask me to make you a sketch of our woods. This would be almost
impossible without seeing them again. You can no longer remember
Bellevue, you say; you should understand, therefore, how difficult it
would be for me to draw it from memory. Besides that, I am not as close
an observer as you. When with you I see nothing else. Yes, these woods
are beyond belief, so close to Paris as they are, and yet so far away.
If you insist upon it, I will do the best I can, but you must first tell
me what you want to have, that is, what part of the woods.

Good-bye. I am not especially pleased with you. A month passed without
seeing you is a little too much. I have, to-morrow and the day after,
two unpleasant duties to perform. I will tell you about them. Good-bye.



LXXXVII


PARIS, _February 5, 1844_.

You chide me for my harshness, and, perhaps, with some reason. It seems
to me, however, that it would be more reasonable for you to call it
anger or impatience. It might also be fitting on your part to reflect
whether this anger or this harshness is justifiable or not.

Consider if it is not a most discouraging thing for me to be engaged in
an incessant struggle with your pride, and to see your pride get the
better of me. I confess that I fail to understand your meaning when you
speak of your obedience, which always puts you in the wrong, and which
gives you no credit for anything you do. The contrary, it seems to me,
is nearer the truth; but on your part it is a question of neither wrong
nor merit. Recall for a moment frankly what you are to me. You agree to
come with me on those walks which are my life; but your coldness,
perpetually renewed, which disheartens me more and more; the pleasure
designed, or, as I prefer to believe, instinctive, which you take in
making me desire that which you refuse obstinately, may be an excuse for
my harshness.

If you have done any wrong, however, it is most certainly that you let
your pride take the precedence over your affections. The first sentiment
is to the second as a colossus to a pygmy. Your pride is, in reality,
only a variety of selfishness. Will you some day abandon this grievous
fault, and be as lovable to me as you know how to be? Willingly would I
accept this condition, if you would promise to be entirely frank, and if
you had the courage to keep your promise. It would be for me, perhaps, a
sad experience; nevertheless, I should accept it joyfully, since in any
case you would be happy, you say.

Good-bye, and may it not be for long. Wear your seven-league boots, and
we shall have a lovely walk; if the weather were no worse than it has
been for several days, you would run no risk of catching cold. I am
suffering severely from headache and dizziness, but I hope you will cure
me.



LXXXVIII


PARIS, _March 12, 1844_.

That is all right. As if I had not vexations enough of every kind! A
hundred calls to make! A library which orders me to write and discuss
forty pages of prose matter! Proofs to correct! It seems to me that,
knowing all this, you might at least send me a few lines of
encouragement. I have almost reached the end of my courage, and of my
patience. Fortunately, it will all end next Thursday.[9] Thursday, at
one o’clock, I shall become once more an ordinary biped. In the
meantime, is it too much to ask you to send me a few words of affection,
such as you found to say the last time I saw you? It is three o’clock,
and I must leave you for my proofs of _Mademoiselle Arsène Guillot_.
Monday, or, rather, Tuesday.



LXXXIX


_Thursday night, March 15, 1844._

It[10] has pleased me the more keenly because I expected to be defeated.
The returns were reported to me as they were counted. It seemed
impossible for me to win. My mother, who had been suffering for several
days from an acute attack of rheumatism, was cured on the spot. Now I
have all the greater desire to see you. Come and find out if I love you
more or less, and that as soon as possible. I am now suffering for all
the visits I have made, for I must thank everybody, friends and enemies
alike, to show that I am magnanimous. I had the good fortune to be
black-balled by some men I detest, for it is a cause for thankfulness
not to be obliged to carry a burden of gratitude to people whom you
dislike. Write to me, I pray you, and tell me when you will allow me to
see you.

I have a great desire to take a long walk with you.

You are a witch, indeed, to have foreseen the result as you did. My
Homer deceived me, or, it may be, it was to M. Vatout that his
threatening prediction was directed.

Good-bye, dearest friend! Between my proof-reading, my reports to make
out, and, in a measure also, the worry that I have endured for three
days, I have scarcely found time to sleep. I am going to try now. I have
some amusing incidents to tell you of men and things.



XC


_March 17, 1844._

I thank you for your congratulations, but I want something more. I want
to see you, and take a long walk. I think you have taken the matter too
tragically. Why do you weep? The forty seats were not worth one little
tear. I am exhausted, used up, demoralised, and completely out of my
wits. Besides this, _Arsène Guillot_ made a notorious _fiasco_, and
raised against me a storm of indignation of all the so-called virtuous
people, especially of the fashionable women who dance the polka and go
to hear the sermons of P. Ravignan. At all events, it was reported that
I behave like the monkeys, who climb to the top of the trees, and then,
from the uppermost branch, make grimaces at the world beneath them. I am
sure that this scandalous story has cost me many votes; but I have won
them from another side. There are certain members who black-balled me
seven times and who now assure me that they were my warmest partisans.
Do you not think that all this is well worth the trouble of lying,
especially for the goodwill I bear these people? This world in which I
have lived almost exclusively for the last two weeks makes me wish all
the more ardently to see you. We, at least, are sure of each other, and
when you tell me fibs I can scold you for them, and you know how to win
my forgiveness. Love me, venerable as I have become during the last
three days.



XCI


PARIS, _March 26, 1844_.

I fear the address may have seemed a little long to you. I hope it was
not as cold where you were as it was on my side. I am still shivering.
We ought to have taken a short walk after the ceremony. You noticed what
a shocking cough I have. It might have been considered almost as
intentional. Before the meeting the orator insisted that I should tell
him in what part of the hall was sitting the lady to whom he had sent
the invitations. Did you like him better in his costume than in a dress
suit? You may persuade me of many things, but you will never be able to
convince me that you were not speaking seriously about cakes when you
were hungry. I uphold the use of my adjective, and you yourself even
have recognised the justice of it. That was readily proved by your
anger. You say you can only dream and amuse yourself. You know, besides
that, how to conceal your thoughts, and this is what grieves me. Why is
it, when we have become all we are to each other, that you must reflect
for several days before replying frankly to the simplest question of
mine? One would suppose that you suspected traps set for you on every
side. Good-bye. I was delighted to see you there. I had some difficulty
in finding you, hidden away behind your neighbour’s bonnet. Another
example of your childishness! Did you see what I sent you, in full view
of the Academy? But you are never willing to see anything.



XCII


_Monday night, March, 1844._

I am beginning, I imagine, to solve your enigma. Upon reflection, by a
sort of instinctive divination, I have come to the following conclusion:
without doubt, my most dangerous enemy to your heart, or, if you prefer,
my strongest rival, is your pride. Whatever wounds that, excites your
indignation. This notion you carry out, perhaps unconsciously, in the
most trifling matters. Is it not, for instance, your pride which is
satisfied when I kiss your hand? This, you have said to me, makes you
happy, and to this sensation you abandon yourself, because a
demonstration of humility is gratifying to your pride. You are willing
that I should be a statue, so that you may breathe life into my soul,
but you are not willing, in your turn, to be a statue; above all, you
are unwilling that this equality of happiness should be reciprocal,
because anything like equality is distasteful to you.

What am I to say to all this? If your pride would be content with my
obedience and humility, it ought to be satisfied; I shall yield to it
always, provided it allows your heart to follow its good impulses. So
far as I am concerned, I shall never place in the same rank my happiness
and my pride, and if you were to suggest to me any new forms for my
humility to assume, I should adopt them unhesitatingly. Yet, why should
there be any question of pride, that is to say, selfishness, between us?
Is the joy of self-forgetfulness for the other’s sake a matter of
indifference to you? That extraordinary sentiment of affection which we
both sometimes feel, which this morning, for instance, took us where we
had not the slightest reason for going--is not the influence of such an
emotion far sweeter and more intense than that exerted by your demon of
pride? You were so sweet this morning that I am both unwilling and
unable to scold you. Nevertheless, I am in a beastly humour.

I told you I was invited to a tiresome dinner. Only fancy, I made a
mistake in the day, and mortally offended the people, who were not
expecting me, and who, in my turn, tired me to death. I spent the
entire evening lamenting that I had not remained at home with my
thoughts. I am now expecting a disagreeable letter from you. I wanted to
write to you first, because I shall be furious, without doubt, day after
to-morrow. How did you endure the cold the other day? Does the cold
to-day not daunt you? I do not know whether you had better go out
to-morrow. I fear to take the responsibility of advising you, and prefer
that you should decide. More humility for you!



XCIII


STRASBURG, _April 30, 1844_.

I am still here, thanks to the procrastination of the Municipal Council.
I was obliged to spend one day making use of all my most stately
eloquence to persuade them to restore an old church. They reply that
they need tobacco more than monuments, and that they intend to make a
shop of my church. I shall leave to-morrow for Colmar, and hope the next
day, that is, Thursday, to be in Besançon. I shall remain there only
long enough to lay a few flowers on Nodier’s tomb, and then I shall try
to return quickly to our woods. The season here seems more advanced than
in Paris. The country is exquisite, of a green that no painter could
reproduce.

I am glad to find you so merry; I can not say as much for myself. I
believe I have fever every night, and I am in a horrible mood. The
cathedral, which I used to admire so extravagantly, now appears ugly,
and even the wise and foolish Sabine virgins of Steinbach have barely
found favour in my eyes.

You are right to love Paris. It is, after all, the only city in which
one really lives. Where else should we find such promenades, such
museums, where we have quarrelled so many times, and said so many tender
words also? I should like to believe your promise, that we shall
continue our interrupted conversation as if we had never parted. I am
sure of what awaits me. A thick crust of ice will envelop you, and you
will not even recognise me. Yet, even though there be another scene,
that is better than not to see you at all.

Good-bye.



XCIV


PARIS, _Saturday, August 3, 1844_.

I suppose you went to the country, taking French leave, in spite of your
promises. That is very kind of you. I have been silly enough to expect
every day some sign from you. It is difficult for one to change his
habits. In case you should be in Paris, which is scarcely probable, or
in case, which is still more improbable, that you should care to attend
a meeting of the Academy, I have two cards of admission for you. It will
be very tiresome. Meanwhile, I have done my best in my difficult task,
which is almost finished. I shall then go away for a month or two. If
this caused you any regret, or, what I should like better, the wish to
see me, you could make me soon forget my moroseness.



XCV


PARIS, _August 19, 1844_.

It is settled definitely that I am to leave for Algiers from the 8th to
the 10th of next month. I shall remain there, or, rather, I shall travel
here and there until driven away by the fever or the rainy season. In
any case, I shall not see you before January. You ought to have thought
of that before going away. When I say that you shall not see me until
next year, I mean that it will depend on you. While you have been
learning Greek, I have been studying Arabic, but it seems to me a
diabolical language, and I shall never succeed in knowing two words of
it. Apropos of Syra, that chain which you like has been in Greece, and
in many other places besides. I selected it because it is of very
antique workmanship, and I fancied it would please you. Does it recall
our long walks and our interminable conversations?

I dined Sunday with General Narvaez, who was entertaining in honour of
his wife’s birthday. There were scarcely any but Spanish women present.
I saw one who is trying to starve herself for love, and is gradually and
quietly passing away. This mode of death must seem to you the height of
cruelty. There was another, Mademoiselle ... whom General Serrano
stationed there for his Catholic Majesty; but she is far from dead, and
even appears to be in excellent health. There was also Madame Gonzalez
Bravo, a sister of the actor Romea, and sister-in-law of the same
Majesty, who has, it is said, an immense number of sisters-in-law. This
one is extremely pretty and clever.

Good-bye....



XCVI


PARIS, _Monday, September, 1844_.

We parted the other day equally vexed the one with the other. We were
both wrong, for it was simply the force of circumstances that was to
blame. It would have been better not to meet for a long time. It is
evident that we can not see each other without disagreeing. We both want
the impossible: you, that I should be a statue; I, that you should not
be one. Each new proof of the impossibility of that which in our hearts
we have never doubted causes bitterness to us both. I regret all the
distress I may have caused you. I am too ready to yield to my absurd
quick temper. As well get into a passion because ice is cold.

I hope you will forgive me now. I am no longer angry, only very
sorrowful. I should not feel so bad if we had not parted as we did.
Farewell, since we can be friends only at a distance. When we have grown
old, perhaps we shall meet again with pleasure. Meanwhile, in happiness
or in distress, do not forget me. I asked you this, I don’t know how
many years ago. We hardly ever thought then of quarrelling.

Again, good-bye, while I have the courage to say it.



XCVII


PARIS, _Thursday, September 6, 1844_.

It seems to me like a dream that I have seen you. We were together such
a little time that I told you nothing of what I wished to say. You
yourself appeared to be uncertain whether I was a reality. When shall we
meet again? I am at present engaged in a most servile and tiresome
business, that of canvassing for membership in the Academy of
Inscriptions. Some of my experiences are ridiculous, and I am often
tempted strongly to laugh at myself, a temptation which I repress,
however, for fear of shocking the gravity of the Academicians. I have
embarked upon this business--or, rather, others have pushed me into
it--somewhat blindly. My chances are not bad, but the solicitation of
votes is most repugnant to me, and the worst feature of the whole thing
is that I must wait such an age for the result, certainly until the last
of October, and perhaps longer.

I am uncertain whether I shall be able to go to Algiers this year. My
one consoling thought is that I shall then remain in Paris, and shall,
therefore, see you. Will that give you any pleasure? Tell me that it
will, and humour me. I have become so callous from all these tiresome
visits that I need all the tender indulgence you can grant me to put a
little new courage and energy into me.

You have no cause to be jealous of the Academy. It is, of course, a
matter of selfinterest for me to win, just as I should wish to win a
game of chess with a skilful adversary, and yet, I fancy, neither losing
nor winning will affect me a quarter as much as one of our quarrels. But
what an obnoxious business is that of canvassing for votes! Have you
ever seen dogs entering a badger’s hole? After they have had some
experience in this occupation, they make, on entering, a desperate show
of fierceness, and not infrequently come out much faster than they go
in, for the badger is an ugly beast to visit. I never touch the doorbell
of an Academician’s that I am not reminded of the badger, and compare
myself, in my mind’s eye, to the dog I have just described. I have not
yet been bitten, however, but I have had some ludicrous encounters.

Good-bye.



XCVIII


PARIS, _September 14, 1844_.

All our preparations were made to start to-day, when there came a
commotion which scattered our plans to the winds. There was a collision
between the Department of War and the Department of the Interior. War
will not have us. We shall remain, therefore, or, to be more accurate, I
am not going to Africa. I shall be out of town on business for a
fortnight, and shall then return to Paris. Aside from the vexation one
feels when a plan miscarries, and the keen regret for having wasted two
months in acquiring a lot of useless information, I am taking my
disappointment with the greatest imperturbability. Perhaps you can guess
why.

In your last letter there are several disagreeable sentences, about
which I might well pick a quarrel with you, were it not that I find it
profitless--as you say you do--and, what is even worse, dangerous and
depressing to dispute with each other at a distance.

I can not imagine how you spend the twenty-four hours of the day. I am
able to guess how you employ fourteen of them, but I should like to be
informed in detail as to the other ten. Do you still read Herodotus?
What a pity that you do not attempt a little of the original, with the
translation of Larcher, which you have, I think. You would encounter no
difficulties, except the excessive use of the Ionian η. If
you can get a copy of Zenophon’s _Anabasis_, you might enjoy it,
especially if you have a map of Asia beside you as you read. I no longer
remember _The Dialogues of the Sea-gods_ (of Lucian). Read, rather,
_Jupiter Convicted_ or _Jupiter the Tragedian_, or even _The Festival_
or _The Lapethæ_, unless you are keeping them for me as a surprise.

I am sure you are looking smart with your dazzling gowns and your
flowers, and yet I am taking it on myself to advise Greek readings for
you! Good-bye. Write to me soon, and do not ridicule me. I am going away
Monday to gracious knows where, but it will not be far, according to all
indications.



XCIX


POITIERS, _September 15, 1844_.

If I have delayed a reply to your letter of last month, which I found on
my arrival here, it is not, as your guilty conscience will whisper, in
retaliation for your remissness in sending me any word of yourself. You
let ten days pass without even so much as thinking of writing me a line,
which was very bad of you.

You speak in your letter of your reflections while at D. I suppose you
enjoyed yourself there very much, and I am compelled to believe that you
enjoy yourself only when you have an opportunity to play the coquette.
Since leaving Paris I have had the most tedious sort of time. Like
Ulysses, I have seen many customs, men, and cities, and I have found
them all hideeously ugly. Then, I have had fever several times, which
has surprised and also annoyed me, for it means that I am losing health.
The country about here is the most level and the most uninteresting in
France; yet there are a great many woods, with magnificent trees, and
solitudes where I should love to have met you.

Your memory is now associated in my mind with a host of places, but I
like to think of you especially in the woods and the museums. If it is
any pleasure to you to know that you occupy a place--a large place,
too--in my thoughts, you may be gratified to know that you are not
forgotten in the midst of the busy life I am leading. Each tree recalls
such and such a conversation. I spend my time meditating on our rambles.

I applaud Scribe most heartily for having made a virtuous and
non-Catholic audience laugh at the expense of virtue. I am equally
astonished at what you tell me of his delivery. Formerly he read like a
cabby. One must believe that it is the Academic uniform which imparts
this self-possession, and this thought consoles me not a little.

Since leaving Paris I have not unrolled my dissertation twice. If this
continues, I do not believe, really, that I shall be able to change a
line of it, and I have no doubt that at the last moment I shall be
terror-stricken because of the quantity of nonsense I have allowed to
remain. Until I have really set my sails in the direction of Paris I
shall not know with any certainty the date of my departure. If the
government does not compel me to go farther than Saintes, I fancy we
shall reach Paris about the same time. What happiness if I could see you
the next day! Good-bye. Write to me at Saintes; I expect to reach there
soon, and to remain several days.



C


PARTHENAY, _September 19, 1844_.

Your letter, which I received while at Saintes, proved a slight
diversion to the tribulations which I endured there. I was forcibly
prevented from plunging into despair four thousand of my fellow-citizens
who sent delegations to me with extravagant appeals.

Between my sense of duty and my natural tenderness of heart, I was
miserably unhappy. Finally, I took the wisest course, and acted the
proconsul, but I shall not dare to show my face in Saintes next year. I
observe with delight that you still remember Paris. I feared you had
forgotten our woods and our grassy sward. As for me, every day makes me
more eager to see them again, especially now that I have started towards
Paris. From the indications, I shall reach there in advance of you. I
shall be there in ten days at the latest, barring accidents impossible
to foresee.

And you? This is the all-important thing. To be in Paris without you
will seem infinitely harder than tramping over the country, as I am
doing at present. I am thirsting to see you, with a craving which to you
is incomprehensible. Can you, will you come once more to say farewell to
your domains on the left bank? I try not to think about it, but I can
not succeed. In order to prepare myself for disappointments, like
_Scapin_ returning from his travels, I try to imagine your ladyship as a
statue, armed against me as she has sometimes appeared. ‘Tis of no use;
I can picture you only as you were the last time we were together,
seated so comfortably on a mass of rock. To tell the truth, I think of
this because, in the first place, you gave me your promise, and again, I
can never persuade myself that we have changed, united in thought as we
have been in our separation. If you have any thought of returning, write
to me at Blois, where I shall soon be.

After the twenty-fifth, write to me in Paris, and tell me when I shall
see you, and make it as soon as possible. I am writing to you from a
wretched town, infested with owls, and with but one abominable inn,
where they keep up an infernal noise. I find so many hairs in my food
that I can hardly eat. I saw to-day at Saint-Maixent women who dressed
their hair in the style of the fourteenth century, and with bodices
belonging to almost the same period, which were made so as to show the
shirt, which was of coarse linen, buttoned below the neck and split open
like that worn by men. In spite of the ginger-bread on the lower edge,
it seemed to me very pretty. I almost sprained my hand to-day, and it is
not strong enough to write longer.

Good-bye.



CI


PERPIGNAN, _November 14_.

You have been such a long time writing to me that I began to be very
uneasy. Besides, I have been harassed by an absurd idea which I have not
dared to tell you before. I was visiting the amphitheatre at Nîmes with
an architect of the department, who was explaining to me at length the
repairs which he had made there, when I saw, ten feet away, a lovely
bird, a little larger than a tomtit, with a linen-gray body and wings
of red, black, and white. This bird was perched on a cornice, gazing at
me fixedly. I interrupted the architect, who is a great sportsman, to
ask him the name of the bird. He told me he had never seen one like it.
I approached, and, until I was close enough to touch it, the bird did
not take flight, perching a few steps beyond, and still watching me.
Wherever I went, the bird seemed to follow, for I saw it on every tier
of the amphitheatre. It had no companion, and its flight was noiseless,
like that of a bird of night.

The next day I returned to the amphitheatre, and there was my bird
again. I had brought some bread with me, which I threw to it. The bird
looked at the food, but would not touch it. I then tempted it with a big
grasshopper, thinking from the shape of the bill that it would eat
insects, but the bird paid no attention to the grasshopper. The most
learned ornithologist in the city told me that no birds of that species
lived in the country.

Finally, when I visited the amphitheatre for the last time, I found my
bird again, still pursuing my steps, following me even into a narrow,
dark corridor, where, bird of light that it was, it should not have
dared to venture.

I recalled then that the Duchess of Buckingham had seen her husband in
the form of a bird the day of his assassination, and the thought came to
me that you were dead, perhaps, and that you had assumed this form in
order to visit me. In spite of myself I could not shake off this foolish
idea, and I was delighted, I assure you, to see that your letter bore
the date of the day when I had first seen my inexplicable bird.

I arrived here during atrocious weather. A rain, the like of which is
never seen in the north, has deluged the entire country, cutting up the
roads and transforming the rivulets into great rivers. It is impossible
for me to leave the city to go to Serrabonne, where I have business. I
do not know how long this condition of things will continue.

There is a fair in progress at Perpignan. Besides, most of the Spaniards
fleeing from the epidemic come to this town, so that I have not been
able to find lodgings at any of the inns. Had I not succeeded in
exciting the sympathy of a hat manufacturer I should have been compelled
to sleep in the street. The little room in which I am writing is very
cold, and I am sitting before a smoky chimney-place, execrating the rain
which beats against my window-panes. The servant who attends me speaks
only Catalonian, and understands me only when I speak in Spanish. I have
no books, and do not know a soul in the place. Finally, and worse than
all, if a north wind does not rise I shall be obliged to stay here I
don’t know how long. I am unable even to return to Norbonne, for the
bridge which might assure my retreat is unsafe, and should the water
rise it will be carried away. An admirable situation this for reflection
and for writing one’s thoughts. But as for thoughts, I have none left. I
can only fume and fret, and have hardly sufficient energy even to write
to you. You do not mention having received a letter which I wrote you at
Arles. Perhaps it crossed with yours.

I went to the fountain of Vaucluse, where I was tempted to inscribe your
name; but there were so many wretched verses there, so many Sophies and
Carolines, etc., that I did not wish to desecrate your name by putting
it in such bad company. It is the wildest spot imaginable, with nothing
there but water and rocks. The only vegetation is a fig-tree which has
pushed its way, somehow or other, up through the rocks, and a few lovely
capillary plants, of which I enclose a specimen. When you have taken
capillary syrup for a cold, you have not known, perhaps, that this
plant had such a charming form.

I shall be in Paris about the 15th of next month. I do not know which
route I shall take. It is possible that I may return by way of Bordeaux,
but if the weather does not improve I shall go by way of Toulouse. In
that event I shall reach Paris a fortnight earlier. I shall hope to find
a letter from you at Toulouse. If it does not come I shall be mortally
offended with you.

Good-bye.



CII


PARIS, _December 5, 1844_.

I had sworn not to write to you, but I am not sure that I could have
kept my promise much longer. I did not know, however, that you were
suffering. Our walk was so charming that I did not think it possible you
could have retained an unpleasant memory of it. Apparently, what annoys
you is that I am more stubborn than you. That is a fine reason, is it
not, and one of which you should be proud? Should you not rather be
ashamed of yourself for having made me so? And then you say that I was
harsh, and ask me if I did not realise it? Indeed, no. Why did you not
mention it then? If I was so, I beg your pardon. It seems to me that
when we parted you gave not the slightest evidence of resentment against
me. I supposed that you felt as confidential, as friendly towards me as
I did to you. Shall I tell you that this was the sweetest memory I have
preserved of our meeting? When I see you so, it makes me very happy. If
you were angry at the time, it does credit to your power of
dissimulation. But I prefer to believe in your second impulses, rather
than that you were insincere. Tell me if I am mistaken.

This evening I began the drawing that you ordered. It is difficult to
do, and I should like to have your instructions. Do you really insist on
that field of thistles? You say you consider it one of the most
beautiful places in the world. I shall bring you the sketch I have made,
and also your portrait. I have given your eyes their wicked expression,
but do not believe that this is how they look usually. I know a better
expression, which I love all the more because I see it so seldom. You
shall see it all, however, and I shall hear what you have to say about
it. When you come to pay me, you will be good enough to remember that I
am not an ordinary painter, and that it is not the work for which you
are to pay, it is the trouble and the time. Besides this, it is well
always to show generosity towards artists.

While you were recovering from your indignation I have been almost vexed
with you. I fancied you would write sooner. It is in part from having
expected your letter, and in part owing to a foolish sentiment of pride
that I did not anticipate you with a letter. You observe that I accuse
myself also for my faults. Pardon me for my injustice; it was not
anything in the past, at least, that made me unfair towards you.

Since I saw you I have been ill almost continuously. I think it was due
to the Spanish lesson on the “broad earth,” as Homer says. Your letter
cured me. I think now it was your manner of leaving me that was
responsible for my illness. You did not deign to turn your head to say
good-bye. We shall have many pardons to ask of each other, when we meet,
for all our uncharitable thoughts!

It is horribly late, my fire has gone out, and I am shivering with cold.
Once more good-bye, and I thank you from my heart for having written. I
waited a week for your letter. Are you not also stubborn?



CIII


PARIS, _Thursday, February 7, 1845_.
[11] Everything passed better than I expected. I found that I was
unusually self-possessed. I do not know if the audience was as satisfied
with me as I was with it.



CIV


_Friday, February 8, 1845._

Since you did not think me ridiculous, all is well. I should not have
been happy to know you were there, looking at my coat of tarragon
colour, and my face ditto. Why not to-morrow? Otherwise we should have
to wait until next Wednesday, and I have not the courage for that. We
have a great many things to tell each other. If I had seen you there I
should have lost all my serenity.



CV


TOULOUSE, _August 18, 1845_.

I have just found your letter at this place, which is very fortunate,
indeed, for I was furious not to have any news from you at Poitiers, as
I had expected. You will say, in reply, that I had no business to expect
you to think of me sooner than you have done. How could I help it? I can
not become accustomed to your ways. You are never so near forgetting me
as when you have tried to persuade me that you were thinking of me.
Happily for me, between these periods of forgetfulness there are oases
of recollections, and it is of these that I think without ceasing.

I see none of those beautiful grottoes of which you tell me, and have no
need of them in order that my mind should be filled with thoughts both
sad and gay. When it comes to scenery, I am not hard to please, as you
know very well. When out walking with you I pay no attention to the
scenery.

I should like to flatter you as you ask me to do, but I am in too bad a
humour. For two weeks I have been in a continuous rage, first with the
weather, then with the architects, and finally with you and myself. The
weather, which has been abominable all this time, cleared unexpectedly
yesterday, but the heat is now overpowering, accompanied by a sirocco,
which is most exhausting to the vitality. I spent twenty-four hours at
the home of a representative, and if I had ever had the ambition to be
a politician, that visit would have caused me to change my mind. What an
occupation! What kinds of people one must visit, and be on good terms
with, and flatter! I will say with Hotspur: “I had rather be a kitten
and cry mew.” If one must be a slave, I prefer the court of a despot:
most despots, at least, wash their hands.

I regret to learn that you were starting so late for D., which means, I
fear, that it will be an age before you return. What enables me to
endure my present occupation with patience is the thought that upon my
return I shall see you again standing beside the lions of the Institute,
and that after you have plagued me to death for a quarter of an hour you
will make me forget all my troubles. How long shall you remain at D.?
This is what I am now anxious to know.

You will go, very likely, to England, and Lady M. will once more expound
all her beautiful theories about the baseness of falling in love. I
should like to be sure that yours would be the first friendly face to
greet me on my return. Unfortunately, this can not be, and you will wait
until every leaf has fallen before returning to Paris. God only knows if
you will not come back three-quarters an Englishwoman. Give me your
promise that this will not be, that you will try not to stay away too
long, and that you will not be any worse on your return than you are
now. You are well enough as you are.

Write to me at Montpellier, from which place I am going to bring you a
hand-bag. Write again to Avignon. I am planning my time so that I shall
return September 20. This will be difficult to accomplish, but I hope to
succeed in it.

Good-bye. Your letter ends very nicely, but why do you never speak to me
in the way you sometimes write?



CVI


AVIGNON, _September 5, 1845_.

I am grateful to those people who fell ill and detained you in Paris;
and even more grateful to yourself, that is, if you think less about
their rheumatism than you do of the pleasure you will give me by
remaining. In all probability I shall return in a fortnight, or, rather,
I shall stop over for a little while at home between my journey from the
South and that North. The next one, I hope, will be but a brief one, not
even long enough for you to miss me.

I am rejoiced to know that you are in such robust health. I can not say
as much for myself, for I have been ill ever since I came away. I had
counted on the lovely weather and warm sunshine of Languedoc to work a
cure for me, but I have been disappointed. I returned yesterday in an
exhausted condition from a long business errand, in which I caused more
vexation than I do ordinarily, except where you are concerned. I am
suffering from dizziness, and almost everything appears to my vision in
double.

While you are enjoying ripe, luscious peaches, I am eating very acid
yellow ones, of a singular flavour, but which are not specially
unpleasant to the taste. I should like to have you try them. I am eating
figs of all varieties, but have no appetite for any of these things.

The evenings are terribly lonely, and I am beginning to long for the
society of bipeds of my own class. The provincials I do not consider as
anybody at all. They are tiresome creatures to look at, and altogether
foreign to the circle of my ideas. These Southerners are strange people:
I think sometimes that they are witty, and again that they are only
vivacious. They seem to me this time more unattractive than usual. As I
travel this pretty country, the only thing which I should really enjoy
would be to dream at my leisure, and for this I have no time. You can
guess, can you not, of what I should love to dream, and with whom?

I should like to tell you several good stories, which are well worth
sending two hundred leagues, but, unfortunately, none that I have heard
will bear repeating.

I saw, the other day, the ravages wrought by a flood, in which a hundred
and twenty sheep were drowned, and many houses swept away. You can beat
that in Paris, but what you will never see there is a view comparable to
that which is unfolded at every step one takes as he travels through the
region of Avignon. Come and see it, or, rather, wait for me in Paris,
and we will stroll in our woods, which will then be lovely. Write to me
at Vézelay (Yonne).



CVII


BARCELONA, _November 10, 1845_.

Here I am, having reached the end of my long journey without
encountering either brigands or impassable rivers, which is still more
unusual. I was cordially received by the registrar, who had my
work-table and my record books already arranged for me, and where I
shall certainly lose the little eyesight that still remains to me. To
reach his _despacho_, one has to pass through a Gothic room, built in
the fourteenth century, and a marble court-yard, where there are orange
trees as high as our roofs, all laden with ripe fruit. It is most
poetic, as is also my apartment, which, in point of luxuries and
comforts, reminds me of the caravansaries of Asia.

One is, however, more comfortable here than in Andalusia, but the
natives are in all respects inferior to the Andalusians. They have,
moreover, one crowning fault in my eyes, or, rather, in my ears; that
is, that I can not understand one word of their jargon. While at
Perpignan I saw two superb gipsies shearing some mules. I spoke to them
in _caló_, to the great horror of the Colonel of Artillery who was with
me; but he discovered that I was more familiar with it than they, and
that they bore striking testimony to my knowledge, of which I was not a
little proud.

To sum up the results gained from my journey, I feel that they were not
worth the trouble of travelling so far to get, and that I might just as
well have finished my story without coming to disturb the venerable dust
on the archives of Aragon. This is an admission of honesty on my part,
of which my biographer, I hope, will take account. On my journey, when I
was not sleeping, that is to say, for nearly the whole route, I built
thousands of air castles, which lack only your approval. Reply
immediately, and write the address in very large and legible characters.



CVIII


MADRID, _November 18, 1845_.

I have been here a week or more. It is extremely cold, with occasional
rains, a climate quite like that of Paris. The only difference is that I
look out daily on mountains whose summits are hidden in snow, and that I
am living on familiar terms with several very beautiful Velasquez
paintings. Thanks to the unspeakable slowness of the people of this
country, I began only to-day to poke my nose into the manuscripts which
I came to consult. An academic deliberation was necessary to grant me
permission to examine them, and I can not say how much stratagem in
order to obtain information of their existence. After all, it seems a
very small matter, and not worth the trouble of such a long journey. I
think I shall have concluded my researches in good time, which is to
say, before the end of the month.

I find everything here wonderfully changed since my last visit. People
who were friends when I left have become mortal enemies. Many of my
former acquaintances are now great lords, and are excessively
overbearing. In short, I care less for Madrid in 1845 than in 1840.
People think aloud, and no one inconveniences himself for another. Their
frankness is most astonishing to us Frenchmen, and to me especially,
whom you have accustomed to something so different. You should make a
journey to the other side of the Pyrenees in order to learn a lesson in
veracity.

It would be impossible for you to imagine the expression of their faces
when the object of their affections fails to put in a prompt appearance
at the place of rendezvous, or the clamorous noise of their sighs, which
they have no hesitation in uttering aloud; one is so accustomed to such
scenes that there is no gossip or scandal about them. Every one knows
that he will do the same on Sunday. Is it right, or is it wrong? I ask
myself this question every day, without coming to a decision. I see
happy lovers abusing the intimacy and the confidence of their relations.
One tells what he has eaten for dinner, another describes his cold,
giving every disgusting detail. The most romantic lover of them all has
not the slightest conception of what we mean by gallantry. Lovers here
are, properly speaking, only husbands unsanctioned by the Church. They
are the drudge, the scapegoat of the legal husbands; they attend to all
of madame’s errands, and take care of her when she is ill.

It is so cold that I shall abandon my intention to go to Toledo. For the
same reason there are no bull-fights in progress. On the other hand,
there are no end of balls, which I dislike heartily. I am going, day
after to-morrow, to visit Narvaez, where I shall probably see his
Catholic Majesty. If you answer by return post, you may write to me
here; if not, to Bayonne, _poste restante_. When I am weary and bored,
that is, every day, I think that you will come, perhaps, to meet me on
my arrival, and this thought gives me new life. Notwithstanding your
fiendish coquetry and your aversion to the truth, I like you better than
all these outspoken persons here. Do not take advantage of this
confession.

Good-bye.



CIX


PARIS, _Monday, January 19, 1846_.

I regret to know that you are not braver. One should never wait until he
has tooth-ache, and it is because one has a dread of the dentist that
he prepares the way for such odious suffering. Go, by all means, to see
Brewster, or some one else, as soon as possible. I will go with you, if
you like, and if necessary will hold you in the chair. Be assured, also,
that he is the most skilful man of his profession, and, besides, he is
systematically conservative.

You are extremely kind to reproach yourself for the pathetic story you
told me. On the contrary, you should have rejoiced that you did a good
action. There is nothing for which I have a greater contempt, even
detestation, than for humanity in general; but I should like to be rich
enough to remove from my knowledge all the pain with which individuals
are afflicted.

You do not say a word about that in which I am most interested, that is,
when I may see you. This proves that you do not care to see me. Will you
take a walk Wednesday? If you have the tooth-ache, do not come. If you
have any other ailment, I shall admit of no excuse, for I shall not
believe in it.



CX


PARIS, _June 10, 1846_.

When I opened the package of books I was silly enough to think I should
find a note from you, and that you would have been inspired by the
glorious sunshine. Not a line! So I had to read once more your letter
received this morning, which seemed a little stale at the second
reading. To-day is not the first time I have observed in your
correspondence, and in general in your whole attitude towards me, a sort
of impartial equilibrium. You are never nearer committing some act of
perversity than when you have just shown me a sign of your affection and
amiability. You promised to give me a day soon, but if I were to wait
for you to keep your promises the patience with which heaven has endowed
me would be exhausted.

The other day you said good-bye to me with as much indifference as that
with which you had greeted me. It was not so the previous time. It is a
curious phenomenon that water which has boiled freezes more readily than
cold water. You are an illustration of this fact in physics. When you
left me you were in your sulking mood, so I shall expect you to be
charming Wednesday. We must visit our pretty avenues again, after they
have been newly gravelled for your benefit. You will give me much
pleasure by coming. But this is not the way to appeal to you. If you
have any curiosity, I will reward it by showing you a monument of _auld
lang syne_. I will give you something besides; at least, I intended to
give you something, but you have treated me so cruelly--first in writing
the kind of letter I received this morning, and then in writing nothing
at all when you sent the books--that I am not sure whether I shall offer
you this present. Still, if you ask for it, I shall probably yield.

As you know, I have become an accomplished weather prophet. The wind is
due north-east, and this means several fine days ahead. I wish you would
pay as much attention as I do to the sun and the rain.



CXI


DIJON, _July 29, 1846_.

I hoped to find a letter from you here, but suppose you are enjoying
yourself too much to think of writing to me. There was nothing for me at
Bar either, which surprised and incensed me. Is it the fault of the
mail, or is it yours? I had always believed the mails to be infallible.
What are you doing, and where are you at this moment? I do not know,
indeed, where to address this letter, so I am taking my chances in
sending it to Paris. Write to me next in Paris, and then to
Clermont-Ferrand.

I have seen many customs, many men, and many cities since I left you two
weeks ago, and, like Ulysses, in my peregrinations I have encountered
all sorts of annoyances. Each year I find provincial life more stupid
and more unendurable. This time I have the blues, and see everything
from a pessimistic stand-point, perhaps because you have neglected me so
unmercifully. The only pleasant experience that I have had was in
travelling through the dense forests in the Ardennes, and these reminded
me of some other forests with pleasanter associations. I fear you seldom
think of them.

As a finishing stroke, I have learned what frightful folly has been
accomplished here by means of our money. Those who have been guilty of
this are silly and virtuous heads of families, against whom I am obliged
to hurl my thunderbolts of denunciation as a warning that they will
probably die of starvation. This fierce vocation is most obnoxious to
me. I need a letter from you to sweeten my temper.

Again I return to my subject. Why have you not written to me? I shall
now be, I don’t know how long, without any word from you, for my
itinerary is too unsettled to designate any stopping-places. To sum it
all up, I see no reason why I should not be furious. In all probability
you are perfectly contented where you are, and I have no expectation of
seeing you before winter, when the Opera will draw you back to Paris.

Good-bye. When you desire to think of me, you shall see that I know how
to be magnanimous. Do not send a letter to Privas, but to
Clermont-Ferrand. I have just learned that I shall not be obliged to go
to Privas. After leaving Clermont I shall go probably to Lyons, but you
shall hear from me beforehand.



CXII


_August 10, 1846._
_On board a steamship, whose name I
do not know._

I went to the mountains of Ardèche in search of a remote spot where
there were neither electors nor candidates, but I found instead such
swarms of fleas and of flies that I am in doubt whether elections are
not preferable. Before leaving Lyons I received a letter from you which
made me very happy, for I was really somewhat uneasy. Although I ought
by now to be accustomed to your neglect of me, I can not help thinking,
when I do not hear from you, that something extraordinary has happened
to you. What would be truly extraordinary would be that you would
condescend to think of me as often as I think of you.

I regret to learn that you left for D. much later than you had expected,
and that, in consequence, your return will be delayed. I do not doubt
that you will enjoy yourself very much at D.; but if some thought of our
walks should come to you while the pleasures that you love so well are
at their height, you would be doing a meritorious act by hastening your
return. I made a tremendous hit last night with my rustic companions by
telling them ghost stories so gruesome that their hair stood on end. The
moon shone magnificently, lighting up the regular features and sparkling
black eyes of the young girls, without showing off their dirty stockings
and the grease on their hands. I fell asleep feeling very proud of my
success with an audience perfectly new to me. The next day, when I saw
my Ardèchoises in the sunlight, with their villainous hands and feet, I
almost regretted my eloquence of the preceding night.

This infernal boat causes my pen to skip up and down in the most
ridiculous fashion. One would have need of a special system of education
to learn to write on a dancing table. I am too sleepy and tired to
write another word, so I will say good-night. Write to me the day you
arrive in Paris, and the following day we must see our woods again. I
shall be in Paris the 18th at the latest; more probably I shall return
the 15th.

Again good-night.



CXIII


PARIS, _August 18, 1846_.

I arrived to-day in a middling condition of preservation, but my head is
still dizzy from travelling four hundred kilomètres without a stop. I
need your bodily presence to restore me. But when do you intend to
return? That is the question. I suppose you find the sea and the marine
monsters far too captivating to think of coming so soon. I need you very
much, however, I do assure you. I can not tell you the number of
annoyances and disappointments that have accumulated on me during this
short journey. I recall Gloster’s dream: “I would not sleep another such
night though I were to live a world of happy days.” Returning here I
feel more isolated than usual, and more depressed than in any of the
cities I have just left. I feel somewhat as an emigrant who returns to
his native land and finds there a new generation.

You will think I have aged shockingly during this journey. ‘Tis true,
and I should not be surprised if something like the fate of Epimenides
were to happen to me. All this means that I am horribly blue and cross,
and that I have a great desire to see you. Alas! You will not hasten the
time of your return by one hour. I should be wiser to wait in patience.
When your gowns shall have faded in the sea air, or when you receive new
and fresh ones from Paris, you will, perhaps, think of me, but I shall
be then at Cologne, or may be at Barcelona. I expect to go to Cologne
the first of September, and to Barcelona in October, for I am told that
marvellous manuscripts are to be found there.

They say that a woman enjoys nothing so much as to display her fine
gowns. I have nothing to offer you equivalent to such joys, but I can
not endure to think that such things as these constitute your happiness.
God is all-wise! Whatever may be the news you have to tell me, write to
me promptly. Shall we see each other before all the leaves have fallen?
Do you mean to have me eat peaches from Montreuil this year? You know
how I love them! If you have any affectionate memory of me, I hope it
will inspire you to form a generous resolution. I have fever, and my
hand trembles abominably as I write.



CXIV


PARIS, _August 22, 1846_.

Our letters crossed. I hoped that yours would bring me better news, I
mean to say, the announcement of your speedy return. Before your
departure you seemed to be in a much greater hurry to see me again. I
have complained for a long time of the too great variance between your
_saying_ and your _doing_. Apparently you are spending your time so
happily, so agreeably, that you do not bestow even a thought to the time
of your return to Paris. You ask me if this will give me much pleasure,
which is making game of me most wickedly.

I am horribly desolate here, even more so than when travelling, and yet
I am too busy to have time to notice the absence of people from Paris;
but that makes no difference to me. It is you, it is our walks for which
I long. If you liked them half as much as you say, you would not keep me
waiting for them so long. I thought of them during all the time of my
journey, and now I think of them more than ever. But you, you have
forgotten them.

Paris is absolutely minus intelligent inhabitants. Hosiers and
representatives are the only people left in the city, which amounts to
the same thing. I expect to leave early in September for Cologne. Shall
I see you again before then? I fear very much that you will reply that
it is not worth coming for so little. Thus half of our year will have
passed and you away or ill. I am tempted to go to ---- to see you, and I
should yield probably if you gave me any encouragement. However, we
shall see.

Good-bye. I am in too bad a humour to write more. I end as I began, by
repeating that nothing would give me more pleasure than to see you,
especially if the pleasure were shared by you. Otherwise, stay where you
are as long as you will.



CXV


PARIS, _September 3, 1846_.

I had imagined, in my guilelessness, that you would prefer one or two
walks with me to a week more of whitebait, but since you are not of the
same opinion, let it be as you will! I am lacking even the courage to
refrain from writing to you, as I pledged myself to do, and it is what I
should do if I were not so silly. My journey to Cologne has been for
two days a little unsettled. One of my travelling companions has decided
not to go, and another perhaps can not, so I am running the risk of
finding myself without a companion on the blue Rhine. That I shall
consider a slight calamity, but I am uncertain if I shall come this way
as I return. Thus we are in great danger, at least I am in great danger
of not meeting you until November. The responsibility rests with you. I
am sure it will weigh on you easily.

I shall not start before the 12th of September. I hope you will let me
hear from you before then, and also that you will send me word of any
commissions you wish me to do for you. It is possible that I shall be in
Paris again about the beginning of October; but if I have the least
courage I shall go to Strasburg, to Lyons, and from there to Marseilles.
I fear this courage will be lacking, especially if you think of
returning. During your absence I have made from memory two full-length
portraits of you. They are both like you, but need to be retouched. We
shall see if you will like them. I am bored to death, and should like to
see it rain in torrents, but the weather is perfectly dry. Nothing falls
but the leaves. There will remain not the sign of one in October.

You will be pleased to learn that you are to hear the same husky singers
as last season at the Italian Opera, besides having another Brambilla.
There are but five new voices, and a Mademoiselle Albini, who had no
voice at all in 1839, but who has found one somewhere, it seems, since
then.

Good-bye. I do not say it without malice. What exasperates me more than
anything else is that you have received my proposition to visit you
at ---- with the most disdainful silence; but I shall give it no further
thought.



CXVI


METZ, _September 12, 1846_.

It is extremely fortunate that you decided to write to me before my
departure, else I should have gone to Germany without any news of you.
Your letter came just as I was about to start. Upon the promises you
give me, and whose accomplishment I expect with over-confidence,
perhaps, I shall return early in October, probably the first. I hope a
few leaves will still remain. We shall see if you are as good as your
word.

To-morrow I go to Trèves, and from there either to Mayence or to
Cologne, according as the weather is inviting or not. In any case it
would be well for you to write to me at once at Aix-la-Chapelle, and
then immediately afterwards at Brussels. I need not tell you to write
something pleasant which will tempt me to return. When I have started,
once on the way, I have the greatest difficulty in stopping, and it will
require promises of the most alluring kind to keep me from pushing on as
far as Laponia.

I believe I mentioned making two portraits of you. I have now at least
three, and with each unsuccessful attempt I begin again, without
destroying the former effort. Well, you shall see whether my memory has
played me false or true. You ask me which gown? To tell the truth, I
gave little consideration to that, but the resemblance lies elsewhere
than in the gown. I despair of being able ever to catch the indefinable
expression on your face.

I have just arrived here after a sleepless night in a stage-coach, and
my head is excessively giddy. My candles seem to be dancing around on
the table. A yachting trip is arranged for to-morrow. We shall be
stranded frequently, for the Moselle is extremely shallow, but this is
not cause sufficient to prevent me from sleeping.

I shall write to you probably from some German inn, and most certainly
from Lille, where I shall stop. I may be able by that time to announce
the day of my arrival. I learn with great satisfaction that you are
tired of ----; I predicted that you would be so. Any one who lives in
Paris can not possibly be contented in the country. One says and does
such a lot of extravagances that would not be noticed in Paris, but
which at ---- are as big as a house. Knowing you as I do, I fancy that
you have already had this experience.

I shall forgive everything if you will tell me of your return the first
or second of October.



CXVII


BONN, _September 18, 1846_.

I have been for six days in this beautiful land--not of Bonn, I mean,
but of Rhenish Prussia--where civilisation is very advanced, except in
the matter of beds, which are always four feet long, while the sheets
are only three. I am leading a German life, that is, I rise at five
o’clock and go to bed at nine, after having eaten four meals. So far,
this sort of life agrees with me very well, and it is not a bad thing to
do nothing but open my mouth and bat my eyes. The German women have
become horribly ugly since my last visit.

Here is a sketch of the prettiest hat I have seen; it was while on a
steamboat going between Trèves and Coblenz; the surroundings are not
shown in the illustration, which I give on the next page. It is a
capote, around which is draped a piece of plaid stuff, falling over the
edge, and one corner of which is looped up on the left side of the hat
by means of a small green, white, and red rosette. The capote is black,
the German lady very fair, with feet like those in the drawing.

N. B.--The drawing is made to the scale of a centimètre for a mètre. I
wish you would introduce these hats. You would make them fashionable.

Speaking of monuments, I have seen none that I cared for; the German
architects seem to me worse than ours. The Münster at Bonn has been
looted, and the Abbey of Laahr painted a colour calculated to make one
gnash his teeth. The scenery on the Moselle is much overdrawn. In
reality it is not remarkable. Since passing the Tmolus I have seen
nothing to stir my sense of the beautiful. My admiration extends no
farther than its shade trees, and the way in which cookery is
understood; in this land the all-important business is _zu speisen_.
After having dined at one o’clock, all good people have tea and cake at
four, then at six they take a roll with sliced tongue, out in the
garden; this enables them to exist until eight o’clock, when they go to
the hôtel for supper. What becomes of the women during this time I can
not imagine; what is certain is that from eight until ten o’clock not a
man is at home. Every one goes to his favourite hôtel to drink, eat, and
smoke. The explanation is found, I fancy, in the feet of the women and
the excellence of the Rhine wine.

I suppose you will be in Paris in a few days. When I see the woods along
the Rhine and the Moselle still green, I picture to myself those of our
climate as bare as broomsticks. This, unfortunately, is only too
probable. It is as you wished it. Good-bye. I regret that I did not ask
you to write to me at Cologne, but it is now too late.



CXVIII


SOISSONS, _October 10, 1846_.

It appears that you were very cross last Saturday; but, save a few
little clouds still floating in your letter, you had recovered your
serenity by Sunday. To continue the metaphor, I should like to see you
some day under settled conditions of weather, without previous storms.
Unfortunately, it is a habit that you have formed. We part almost always
better friends than when we met. Let us try to have, one of these days,
the unbroken amiability of which I have sometimes dreamed. I think we
should both find it to our advantage.

You make me threats for the sole pleasure of depriving me of the
consolations of expectation, and you are so conscious of this fault that
you say you are excusable concerning a certain promise you have already
made me once, and which you are now unwilling to keep. Is it not the
result of mere chance that you are enabled to say you had kept your
word? You were unwilling to see me longer than a quarter of an hour,
which shows intentional treason on your part. I know your opinion of
these subterfuges, and am willing to abide by your own judgment. You
have it in your power to make me very happy or very unhappy; it is for
you to decide which.

The frightful weather which has continued since Saturday is the same,
doubtless, that you have in Paris. It causes me no vexation, except in
thinking of our woods, with the leaves scattered by the wind, and the
ground soaked by the rain, and of the remoteness of our next walk. While
tramping over the fields yesterday, in a veritable deluge of rain, I
could think of nothing else. And do you regret the rain for the same
reason, or only because it prevents you from going shopping?

What day were you at the Italian Opera? Was it by any chance Thursday,
and might we have been near each other without suspecting it? I should
like to have caught a glimpse of you surrounded by your court, in order
to see if you act when in society as I should wish.

I hope to be in Paris Thursday evening, or Friday at the latest. If it
is fine weather Saturday, will you go for a long walk? In the opposite
case, we might take a short one, or else go to the Museum. The memory of
these walks is both a delight and an affliction. It is an impression
that needs constant renewal, else it would become a torment.

Dear friend, good-bye; I am very grateful for all the tenderness shown
in your letter; what there is of unkindness and coldness I shall
endeavour to forget. I believe you indulge this proclivity as a sort of
ornament of fancy, behind which you screen your true self. I love to
know that beneath it you are all heart and all soul: this is evident,
notwithstanding all your efforts to conceal it.



CXIX


PARIS, _September 22, 1847_.

The _Revue_ is bothering me to death about _Don Pèdre_. I should like to
know your opinion concerning it. I am torn between avarice and modesty,
and shall be obliged, also, to ask you to read a part of it. The work
seems to me to have the disadvantage of everything that has taken long
and painstaking efforts to accomplish. I have given myself a great deal
of trouble to achieve an accuracy for which nobody will thank me.

You will readily see that since your departure I have had frequent
visits from the blue devils....

The opinion you express of _Don Pèdre_ pleases me very well, because it
harmonizes with my own wishes and with what I consider to my advantage.
There is one point, however, on which my heart fails me, and which has
prevented me from concluding the whole business before I leave. I should
be glad to have your advice, verbally, and I shall then point out a few
little things from which you will be better able to judge.

I have never been more sadly impressed than on my last visit by the
stupidity of the people of the North, as well as by their inferiority to
those of the South. The average Picardian seems to me to be more
unintelligent than the very lowest of the Provençals. In addition, I
should freeze to death in any one of the inns where I am driven by my
sorrowful fate.



CXX


_Saturday, February 26, 1848._[12]

I believe you are now a little better. I don’t know why you could be so
uneasy about your brother. No wonder you have no news. Bad ones come
very soon. I begin to get accustomed to the strangeness of the thing,
and to be reconciled to the strange figures of the conquerors who,
what’s stranger still, behave themselves as gentlemen. There is now a
strong tendency to order. If it continues I shall turn a staunch
republican. The only fault I find with the new order of things is that I
do not very clearly see how I shall be able to live, and that I can not
see you.

I hope, though, it will not be long before the coaches can go on.



CXXI


PARIS, _March, 1848_.

I am distressed to know of the failure of the ---- house, in which, I
fear, you have investments. Reassure me on this point, I pray you, and
if any disaster comes to you, let us endeavour to comfort each other.
For a long time to come, each day will bring us new calamities. We must
sustain each other and share with each other the grain of courage that
is still left in us. Will you see me to-morrow, or later? It seems a
century since we met. Good-bye; you were very kind the other day, and I
regret that you were not kind for a longer time.



CXXII


PARIS, _March, 1848_.

I think you are too easily alarmed. Affairs are no worse than they were
yesterday, which does not mean that they are right, and that there is no
danger. As to your proposition to go away, it is exceedingly difficult
to advise you, or to see distinctly through this dense fog veiling our
future. There are people who think that, everything considered, Paris is
a safer place than the provinces. I myself share this opinion.

I do not believe there will be any fighting in the city, because, in the
first place, there is not yet a sufficient motive, and, again, because
courage and intrepidity are on one side, while on the other I see only
bombast and poltroonery. If civil war were to break out, it is in the
provinces, I think, that it would be first declared. There exists
already a deep-seated objection to the dictatorship of the capital, and
it may be that manœuvres which can not now be foreseen will lead to
this result in the west or elsewhere. As to riots and their
consequences, remember what they accomplished in Paris during the first
revolution, and what they amounted to more recently in the provinces.

The Department of Indre, where you wish to go, passed through one two
years ago at Buzançais, more deplorable in its results than any of ‘93.

Understand that I am not advising you, and that I am reasoning only
theoretically. I do not believe there is any immediate danger, and,
moreover, even in the event that conditions should become more serious,
Paris would still be the safest refuge. Anyway, between Indre and
Boulogne, I should choose the latter place, which has the advantage of
proximity to the sea. I should be deeply distressed, however, to have
you leave without seeing me. Could you not delay your departure a few
days? You see that everything passed quietly yesterday. We shall have
such parades for a long time to come before any shots are fired, even if
this timid country ever comes to such a point. Good-bye.



CXXIII


_Saturday, March 11, 1848._

The weather is taking a hand in thwarting our wishes. I hope it will be
more favourable towards us Monday. This continued rain and cold makes me
anxious about your sore throat. Take good care of yourself, and try to
turn your thoughts from all that is taking place. I am aching and stiff
after a night at the guard-house; but, after all, fatigue is an
advantage in such weather as this.

I should like to see something more than your shadow. I am sorry that
you retired so early. The happiness of seeing you is as great under the
Republic as under the Monarchy; it will not do to be too sparing of it.
In what a strange world are we living! The most important thing I have
to say to you is that I love you more and more every day, I believe, and
also that I wish you would gain courage enough to tell me the same.



CXXIV


PARIS, _May 13, 1848_.

I hoped you would not go away so soon, and without saying good-bye. I
even wrote to you yesterday, expecting to see you to-day. I do not know
why I can not become reconciled to this journey. You do not say,
however, how long you intend to remain away, drinking milk, and that is
the essential consideration. I should be glad to have you attend the
reception in a new bonnet at the Academy, Thursday, for new bonnets will
be seen there seldom hereafter, I fear. I make this request to you
purely in the interest of the Academy. In my own, I count on a beautiful
walk with you for next Saturday. If you should decide to go to the
Academy Thursday, send to my house before noon for the tickets.



CXXV


PARIS, _Wednesday, May 15, 1848_.

Everything went as well as possible, because they are so stupid that,
notwithstanding all the faults of the Chamber, the latter was stronger
than they. There are no killed or wounded, and perfect quiet reigns. The
National Guard and the people are in perfect sympathy. All the leaders
of the mob have been arrested, and the city is so full of armed troops
that for some time to come there will be nothing to fear. I shall hope
to see you Saturday. In fact, everything has happened for the best. I
have been present at some extremely dramatic scenes, which interested me
intensely, and which I will describe to you.



CXXVI


_June 27, 1848._

I returned home this morning after a short campaign of four days, in
which I was exposed to no danger, but wherein I have been enabled to
appreciate all the horrors of the time and of this land of ours. In the
midst of my grief and sorrow I am impressed above all else with the
stupidity of this nation. It is without parallel. I do not know whether
it will ever be possible for her to turn her back upon the savage
barbarism in which she is so prone to wallow.

I hope all is well with your brother. I do not think his regiment has
had any serious engagement. At the same time, we are overcome with
fatigue, having had no sleep for four nights.

Have but little confidence in the newspaper reports of the dead,
wounded, etc. Day before yesterday I passed along the rue Saint Antoine,
where I saw many windows shattered by cannon and fronts of shops
injured; but, except for this, the destruction is not as great as I had
supposed or as has been reported. These are the most extraordinary
things I saw, which I shall describe briefly, in order to go to bed: 1.
The prison has been defended for several hours by the National Guard,
and surrounded by insurgents. They said to the National Guard: “Do not
fire on us, and we will not fire on you. Take care of the prisoners.” 2.
I entered a house on the corner of the _Place de la Bastille_: it had
just been captured from the insurgents. I asked the residents there:
“Did they take much from you?” “Nothing was stolen,” was the reply. Add
to this that I took to prison a woman who was cutting off the heads of
the militiamen with her kitchen-knife, and a man whose arms were red
with blood from having bathed them in the gore of a wounded man, whose
body he had ripped open, and you will have some conception, will you
not, of this glorious nation? One thing is certain, and that is that we
are going to the dogs!

When do you mean to return? The fighting will be over in six weeks at
the most.



CXXVII


PARIS, _July 2, 1848_.

I need very much to see you to cheer me up a little after the painful
experiences of last week, and it is with the keenest pleasure that I
learn of your intended return, sooner than I had dared to hope. Paris is
quiet, and will continue so for some time to come. I do not think the
civil war, or rather the socialist war, is over, but another battle as
horrible as the last seems to me impossible. It was brought on by an
incalculable number of circumstances, which can not occur again.

You will find, when you return, few of the hideous traces of the battle
which your imagination probably pictures to you. The larger part of
them have been effaced by the glazier and the house-painter. Still I can
readily imagine that you will find us all with long faces, and much
sadder than when you left. Well, how can we help it? It is the fashion
of the day, and we must accustom ourselves to it. We shall gradually
reach the point when we shall cease to look forward to the morrow, and
consider ourselves fortunate when we wake in the morning and find
ourselves alive.

What I really miss more than anything else in Paris is yourself, and if
you were here, I believe all the other conditions would be more
supportable. It has rained for the last three days. At present I watch
it as it falls with the utmost indifference; but I should not care to
have it continue too long.

You speak so indefinitely of your return that I have no ground on which
to build, and you are aware that I am anxious to know how long I shall
have to remain in purgatory. You mentioned six weeks when you said
good-bye, and you now say that you will return sooner than that. How
much sooner? That is what I should like to know. Let me hear, also, the
result of the disagreeable affairs which kept you from being present at
my birthday fête, celebrated by the firing of cannon and guns.

Good-bye; in order to be patient I need to hear from you very often.
Write to me at once, and send some remembrance. I am thinking of you
constantly. I thought of you even while looking at those deserted houses
in the rue Saint Antoine, and during the fight at the Bastille.



CXXVIII


PARIS, _July 9, 1848_.

You are like Antæus, who regained strength as soon as he touched the
earth. No sooner do you reach your native land than you fall again into
your old faults. You reply very prettily to my letter. I begged you to
tell me how much longer you intended to stay away eating _amiles_; a
date was not much trouble to write, yet you preferred three pages of
circumlocutions, of which I can understand nothing, except that you
would have come if you had not remained. I see, also, that you are
spending your time most agreeably. I had no idea that Madame ----’s
scarf was bought to use as a memento. You might have told me, at least,
on whom you had thought proper to bestow it. In short, I am not at all
pleased with your letter.

The days here are very long and tolerably warm, but as peaceful as could
be wished, or rather hoped, under the Republic. All indications point
to a long truce. The disarmament is carried on vigorously, and is
producing good results. One curious symptom is observed. In the
insurgent neighbourhoods are numerous informants willing to point out
the hiding-places and even the leaders of the barricades. It is an
encouraging sign, you know, when wolves begin to fight among themselves.

I went yesterday to Saint-Germain to order the dinner for the
Bibliophilist Society, and came across a cook who was not only very
capable, but, moreover, eloquent. He told me he considered it a pity
that so many people object to artichokes served _à la barigoule_, and he
understood instantly the most fantastic dishes that I proposed. This
great man resides in the wing of the _Château Neuf_ where Henry IV was
born. From this spot one enjoys the most entrancing view imaginable.

Two steps away you find yourself in a forest of magnificent trees and of
beautiful undergrowth, and not a living soul to enjoy it all! ‘Tis true,
it takes fifty-five minutes to reach this charming place, but would it
be impossible to go there some day for dinner or luncheon with
Madame ----? Good-bye. Write to me soon.



CXXIX


PARIS, _Monday, July 19, 1848_.

You divine things perfectly when you are willing to take the trouble,
and you have sent me, besides, what I asked for. What matters it if it
be a repetition! Am I not like the poor ex-king? “I receive always with
renewed pleasure,” etc. What I can not express is my delight in
receiving this familiar perfume, which is all the more delicious because
it is familiar, and is associated in my mind with so many memories. At
last you have decided to speak the important word. ‘Tis true that it is
a month since you went away, and that in leaving you said you should
return in six weeks; from which it follows that I ought to see you in
two weeks. But you begin at once to reckon the six weeks in your own
fashion, that is, from the day you write to me. This resembles somewhat
the devil’s method of calculation, for, as you know, he has a very
different arrangement of figures from that used by good Christians.
Appoint a day, then, and let it be the most distant that I can grant
you, say the 15th of August.

The 14th of July passed very quietly, notwithstanding the sinister
predictions made to us. The truth is, if one can succeed in discerning
the truth in the government under which we have the good fortune to
live, that the crisis is over and our chances of tranquillity are
distinctly improved. It required several years for organisation and four
months for arming the insurgents for the riots of the last week of June.
A second exhibition of that bloody tragedy seems to me impossible, so
long, at least, as present conditions are not materially changed. At the
same time, an occasional conspiracy, an assassination now and then, even
a few riots are likely still to occur. We may need a half century,
perhaps, to perfect ourselves, the one side in constructing defences,
and the other in the art of destroying them. Paris at this moment is
being stored with shells and mortars, ammunition which is very portable
and efficacious. This is a modern and a valuable argument, it is said.
But let us stop war talk. You can form no idea of the pleasure you will
give me by accepting my invitation to breakfast with Lady ----.



CXXX


PARIS, _Saturday, August 5, 1848_.

There is renewed talk of fighting, but I pay no attention to it. This
evening, however, my friend, M. Mignet, was strolling with Mademoiselle
Dosne in the little garden which is in front of the home of M. Thiers. A
shot, fired silently from some point above them, struck the house close
by Madame Thiers’ window; and as every shot carries its message, this
had one for a corpulent person who was sitting just outside the garden
railing, holding on her lap a little twelve-year-old girl. The shot was
extracted skilfully, and, except a slight scar, she will suffer no ill
effects from the wound. But for whom was it designed? For Mignet? That
seems impossible. For Mademoiselle Dosne? Even more so. Madame Thiers
was not at home, nor M. Thiers either. The report was heard by no one;
at the same time, the shot was of the sort used in war, and air-guns are
of much weaker calibre. For my own part, I believe it was a Republican
attempt at intimidation, about as imbecile as everything else done
nowadays. To my mind, these are the only shot to fear.

General Cavaignac said: “They will kill me, and Lamoricière will succeed
me, then will follow the duc d’Isly, who will sweep away all before
him.” Do you not find in these words something prophetic? Very little
confidence is expressed in Italian interference. The Republic will prove
to be even more craven than the Monarchy. It may be, however, that some
pretence will be made of an attempt at intervention, in the hope of
obtaining thereby delays, a conference, treaties. A friend of mine who
has just come from Italy was seized by Roman Volunteers, who find
travellers of better fighting quality than Croatians. He insists that it
is impossible to induce the Italians to fight, with the exception of the
Piedmontese, who can not be everywhere at once.

I am telling you all this political news in the hope that it will cause
no change in your plans. The Navy Bureau is making great preparations
for the transportation of six hundred of the gentlemen taken prisoners
in June; this will be the first convoy. I should not be unwilling to
believe that on the day when the transport sails several thousand
tearful widows will be on hand at the door of the Assembly; but of
brand-new insurgents, do not believe it.

Have done with Romaic, in admiring which you are making a great
mistake, for it will play you the same trick it did me. I found it
impossible to learn, and now I have also forgotten classical Greek. I
am astonished that you can understand anything at all of the jargon.
Besides, it will fall into disuse before long. Already Greek is spoken
in Athens, and if this custom continues, Romaic will soon be spoken
only by the rabble. Since 1841 not a single Turkish word, heard so
frequently in the τραγἡδιον of M. Fauriel, has been pronounced by the
aristocracy of Greece.

Have I ever translated for you a very pretty ballad of a Greek who
returns to his home after a long absence, and is not recognised by his
wife? Like Penelope, she questions him for information about his family;
he answers correctly, but she is not convinced. She examines him for
other proofs, is convinced, and then recognises him. I leave all this
for your divination.

Good-bye. I am waiting to hear from you.



CXXXI


PARIS, _August 12, 1848_.

The warm weather will soon be over, and in a few days the cold season,
which I dislike so heartily, will be upon us. I can not tell you how
angry I am with you. Besides this, apricots and plums are almost gone,
when I had anticipated the pleasure of eating some with you. I am
perfectly sure that if you had really wished to come you would be
already in Paris. I am horribly lonely, and have a great mind to go away
without waiting to see you. The best I can do is to give you until the
25th, at three o’clock, not an hour more.

We are very peaceful. There is still some talk, it is true, that M.
Ledru will stir up an insurrection as a means of protest against the
investigation, but this is not to be taken seriously. The first
condition of a fight is that both sides shall be armed with guns and
ammunition. At present it is all in the possession of one side. Day
before yesterday, at the Annual Prize Competition, a youngster named
Leroy took a prize. The other youngsters all shouted: “Vive le roi!”
General Cavaignac, who was present at the ceremony, I do not know why,
laughed and took it with good grace. But when the same little rascal won
another prize, the cries became so boisterous that the General lost his
equanimity, and twisted his beard as if he would have enjoyed tearing it
out.

Good-bye. I am terribly cross with you! Write to me immediately.



CXXXII


PARIS, _August 20, 1848_.

I begin to doubt if I shall see you this year. There is talk of a
renewal of hostilities, and coming of the cholera will cause a
complication of affairs. It is said to be already in London, and it is
certainly in Berlin. For several days a fray has been expected. It is
said that the discussions at the investigation will be settled by means
of gun-shots. I am so obstinate in my opinions that I can not yet
believe it, but I am alone in my judgment. The condition of affairs is
extremely confused. It resembles the situation in Rome during the
conspiracy of Catiline as closely as one drop of water resembles
another. Only, here we have no Cicero.

As to the result of an insurrection, I have no doubt of the triumph of
the cause of right. No one doubts this, and yet, where fools are
concerned, it is useless to count on any rational move. I am wrong, it
may be, to believe that the hopelessness of the cause will prevent the
uprising from taking place. We shall see, however, next week. The
investigation is to begin Wednesday. It seems to me to prove one thing
at least, and that is the wide division existing among the Republicans.
No two of them seem to be of the same mind. What is even more to be
regretted is that Citizen Proudhon has an immense number of followers,
and that his little sheets are sold in the slums by the thousand. All
this is very sad; but, whatever may happen, the present state of
affairs will continue for many days, and we must make the best of it.

Of paramount importance to me is to know if you will return the 25th. If
there is to be a battle, it will be either lost or won on that day.
Therefore, form no plans yet, or rather decide to come home and witness
our victory, or our burial, on the 25th.

One other thing vexes me, which is that summer is passing, the warm days
are going, and when you return there will be no more peaches. Already
the leaves are beginning to wither and to fall. I foresee all the
dreariness of the cold and the rain, and this seems to me a matter much
more serious and certain than the uprising. For several days I have been
ill, and this, perhaps, is why I have the blues. I need not tell you
that I should be terribly disappointed to die before our breakfast at
Saint Germain. I am hoping still that it may take place.

Good-bye; write to me soon. You ought not to tease people so far away.



CXXXIII


PARIS, _August 23, 1848_.

It was hardly kind of you to delay your reply so long. I suppose I wrote
you too gloomy a letter the last time. If life to-day does not appear
in rosy tints, it looks at least a pale gray, the gayest colour
consistent with the Republic. In spite of myself, they made me believe
there would be more fighting; now, however, I no longer think so, or, if
it is to be, it will not occur at present.

I imagine you are perishing with cold at the seashore. I am still ill,
and neither eat nor sleep; but the very worst of my troubles is the
frightful loneliness to which I am a prey. Nevertheless, I am compelled
to work, so that it is not from inactivity that I am yawning; yet, no
matter in what situation the phenomenon manifests itself, it is
exceedingly disagreeable.

I can not comprehend what you find to do at D., and I see no other
explanation for your sojourn among the barbarians than that you have
made some conquest there of which you are very proud. I am reserving a
fine quarrel against your return. Is it to be Friday or Monday? I do not
believe it would be prudent for you to wait much longer.

Good-bye. I am leaving you in order to go to hear your favourite, M.
Mignet, who is to make an address at the Academy. You may be assured
that the investigation will be concluded without any shots; and as for
the scandal, as times go now, it has been lost sight of.



CXXXIV


PARIS, _Saturday, November 5, 1848_.

I have been excessively irritated with you, for I needed very much to
see you. I have been, and am still, terribly ill, and, what is worse,
frightfully despondent. An hour with you would have helped me
wonderfully. You did not take the trouble even, as you did formerly, to
say something kind to me when you had some mischief in your head.
However justly deserved are the reproaches that I make you, I must
always forgive you in the end; but I should be glad if you would do
something to merit it. Will you make me some _fineza_, to compensate me
for all the loneliness I have endured for the last fortnight? I leave it
to you to decide on the form of adequate indemnity.

Did you hear the shooting, and were you afraid? At the first three shots
I thought they intended to demolish the Republic. At the fourth, I
understood what was the matter.

You still have one of my Greek books. I fear you will injure your
Hellenism with this Romaic jargon. At the same time, I think there are
some very pretty things in this volume. I am now at work on a new book,
of equal historical interest.



CXXXV


LONDON, _June 1, 1850_.

I have not written before for the reason that, having travelled thirty
miles a day, I could not sit down at my desk without falling asleep on
the spot. I shall not tell you many of my impressions of the journey,
except that most decidedly the English individually are dull, but
collectively are an admirable people. All that can be accomplished with
money, common sense, and patience, they do; but they have no more
conception of the arts than my cat. You would fall in love with the
Indian princes. They wear low turbans, bordered all around with immense
emerald pendants, and their robes are a mass of satin, cashmere, pearls,
and gold! Their complexion is a dark cream colour. They are stunning
looking fellows, and are said to be intelligent.

I was interrupted yesterday by a visitor at this point of my letter, and
to-day, June 2d, I have not been able to recover the thread of my
thoughts. We are going to Hampton Court to avoid the temptations to
suicide which the Lord’s Day will not fail to suggest to us. I dined
yesterday with a Bishop and a Dean, who made me almost become a
Socialist. The Bishop belongs to the school which the Germans call
Rationalistic, which means that he does not believe what he teaches,
but, in consideration of his ecclesiastical apron of Neapolitan black,
lives like a lord on his income of five or six thousand pounds, and
spends his time reading Greek.

I have caught cold too, so that I am almost exhausted. Because it is
June I am compelled to endure constant exposure to deadly draughts of
air.

The women all seem to be made of wax. They wear such enormous bustles
that there is room for only one woman to pass on the sidewalk of Regent
Street. I spent yesterday morning in the new House of Commons, which is
a frightful monstrosity. We had no idea before what could be done with
an utter absence of taste and two million pounds sterling. Eating such
inordinately good dinners from gold and silver plate, and meeting people
who can win fourteen thousand pounds sterling at the Epsom races, I fear
will make an out and out Socialist of me. There is, however, no
probability of a revolution here. The servility of the lower classes
seems strange to our democratic ideas. Every day we see some new
evidence of their obsequiousness. The important question is whether they
are not happier thus.

Write to me at Lincoln, general delivery. Lincoln is, I think, in
Lincolnshire, but I would not swear to it.



CXXXVI


SALISBURY, _Saturday, June 15, 1850_.

I am beginning to have enough of this country. I am exceedingly tired of
their perpendicular style of architecture, and of the equally
perpendicular manners of the natives. I spent two days at Cambridge and
at Oxford with some reverends, and, taking everything into
consideration, I prefer the Capucines. I am particularly incensed
against Oxford, where a _fellow_ had the insolence to invite me to
dinner. There was a fish four inches long in a large silver platter, and
a cutlet in another. All this, with potatoes in a carved wooden dish,
was served in magnificent style. Meanwhile I was nearly starved. This is
an indication of the hypocrisy of those people. They like to make a show
to strangers of their temperance, and if they have luncheon they do not
dine.

It is deuced windy and wretchedly cold. If it were not still bright
daylight at eight o’clock at night one could readily believe it was
December. This does not prevent all the women from carrying their
parasols raised. I have just committed a blunder. I gave a half-crown to
a person in black who showed me the Cathedral, and when I asked him for
the address of a gentleman to whom the Dean had given me a letter of
introduction, it turned out that it was to himself that the letter was
addressed. He looked confused, and so did I, but he kept the money.

I expect to revisit Stonehenge to-morrow, and if the fog lifts I shall
dine at night in London. Monday or Tuesday I am going to Canterbury, and
hope to reach Paris Friday. I wish you were here in Salisbury.
Stonehenge would astonish you greatly. Good-bye. I am going to return to
the Cathedral. My letter will start, God knows when! I have just been
told that on the Lord’s Day the post-office is closed. I have an
abominable cold and cough, and can get nothing but port wine to drink.

The women here wear hoops under their gowns. It is impossible to find
anything more ridiculous than an Englishwoman in a hoop-skirt. Who is
Miss Jewsberry, who has carroty hair and writes novels? I met her the
other evening, and she told me that all her life she had dreamed of a
pleasure which she never expected to realise, and this was to see me (I
quote). She has written a novel entitled _Zoë_. You, who read so much,
must tell me all about this person, to whom I am a book. In the
Zoological Garden there is a baby hippopotamus, which is fed on rice and
milk. In _Punch_, of the 15th, there is a portrait of him, which is a
speaking likeness.

Good-bye. Will you try to give me a good walk to make up for my three
weeks’ journey?



CXXXVII


BÂLE, _October 10, 1850_.

I have wanted for a long time to write to you, and do not know how it
happens that I have been so tardy. In the first place, I have been in
places so wild and solitary that the post probably never penetrates
them. In the next place, I have had so much gymnastics to do in order to
visit the Gothic castles of the Vosges that when evening came I did not
have the strength to hold a pen. The weather, which was horrible when I
left, became fine for my Alsatian trip, and I have enjoyed thoroughly
the mountains, the forests, and an atmosphere which has never been
vitiated by coal-smoke, nor vibrated to the tones of the chorus of the
_Girondins_. I experienced the most intense pleasure during my visit to
these desolate spots, and wondered how one could be content to live
elsewhere. The woods are still green, and are redolent of the delicious
odours that recall our walks.

I am at last here in a model Republican country, where there are neither
customs officers nor policemen, and where the beds are long enough to
lie on, a comfort unknown in Alsace. I am resting here for a day.
To-morrow I shall visit the Cathedral of Freibourg, and I shall then go
immediately to determine whether the statues there are as beautiful as
those of Irwin de Steinbach at Strasburg. I shall leave Strasburg the
12th, and shall be in Paris on the 14th. I hope you will be there. ‘Tis
needless to tell you how pleased I shall be to see you; but that will
not deter you from going away if you feel inclined.

Good-bye. Indolent as you are, you must be pleased that I am writing to
you so late, since you will not be put to the necessity of replying.



CXXXVIII


PARIS, _Monday, June 15, 1851_.

My mother is better, and will, I think, be entirely well again in a few
days. I was very anxious, and feared pneumonia. I appreciate the
interest you have shown in her health.

I went out yesterday for the first time in a week to see the Spanish
dancers, who are on exhibition at the Princess Mathilde’s. They
impressed me as mediocre. The dance at the Jardin Mabille has ruined the
popularity of the bolero. Moreover, those ladies wore such a quantity of
crinoline behind and such a lot of cotton in front that it is easy to
see civilisation is invading everything. I was amused especially in
watching a little girl of about twelve years, accompanied by an aged
duenna. They could not overcome their surprise to find themselves
outside of holy ground, and were both as ill at ease and boorish as
could be wished.

I have just received your cushion. You are, indeed, a skilled
needle-woman, an accomplishment of which I should never have suspected
you. Both the selection of colours and the embroidery are remarkably
beautiful. My mother admires it extremely. As for the design, the hint
which you were good enough to give me was sufficient to make me
understand its meaning. I do not know how to thank you.

Saint Evremont joins me here. I lost him, and have had to exert my
memory to its utmost ability in order to find him again. You must tell
me what you think of Père Canaye. I find that after him it is impossible
to read anything more of the nineteenth century.

Good-bye.



CXXXIX


LONDON, _Saturday, July 22, 1851_.

I am disconsolate to hear that you have gone; I hoped on my return to
find you in Paris, and can not realise that you will not be there. I
have not even the consolation of scolding you. Try to return early in
August. I shall not censure you, because you will do your very best, I
am sure, to bid me farewell. Think how hard it is for me to spend
several months away from you. In short, you know how eagerly I
anticipate seeing you, and, if possible, you will give me that pleasure.

The Crystal Palace is a huge Noah’s Ark, marvellous for the singularity
of the objects one sees there, but exceedingly commonplace from an
artistic standpoint. To sum it up, one can spend a very entertaining day
there.

I am so vexed with your letter that I have not the courage to write.
Good-bye.



CXL


PARIS, _Thursday evening, December 2, 1851_.

It seems to me that the final battle is being waged, but who shall win?
If the President should lose, it looks as if the brave Deputies will
have to yield their place to Ledru-Rollin. I have returned horribly
fatigued, having met no one, apparently, but a lot of fools. The
appearance of Paris reminds me of February 24, only now the soldiers
strike terror into the hearts of the citizens. The military say they are
confident of success, but you know how much their predictions are worth.
This means a postponement of our walk.

Good-bye. Write to me, and tell me if any of your family are engaged in
the struggle.



CXLI


PARIS, _December 3, 1851_.

What shall I say? I know no more about it than you do. It is certain
that the soldiers have a grim, stern air, and this time frighten the
citizens. However it may be, we have just passed a reef, and are sailing
towards the unknown. Do not be uneasy, and tell me when I may see you.



CXLII


_March 24, 1852._

... I have all sorts of annoyances, besides a great deal of work on
hand. In short, I have undertaken, impulsively, a piece of chivalrous
work, and you know that one should guard against yielding to impulses. I
sometimes turn over a new leaf. The substance of the matter is that
after reading the articles written for the defence of Libri, his
innocence has been completely demonstrated to me, and I am now writing
for the _Revue_ a long dissertation concerning his trial, including all
the infamous details connected with it. Pity me; one gains nothing from
such work but vituperation; but there are times when one is so shocked
by injustice that he makes a fool of himself.

When are we to visit the Museum? I am grieved to learn of the death of
some one whom you loved; but this is one more reason for us to meet
often, and to prove whether a friendship like ours is a balm for sorrow.
I agree with you in thinking that life is a foolish thing, but we must
not make it worse than it is. After all, it contains some moments of
happiness, and the satisfaction we enjoy in the remembrance of these
exceeds the dejection we feel in the recollection of our moments of
unhappiness. I experience more pleasure in recalling our friendly talks
than I have of sorrow in thinking of our quarrels. We should make ample
provision for happy recollections.



CXLIII


PARIS, _April 22, at night, 1852_.

Your letter has done me much good. At this moment I am indulging in the
nervousness which is sure to follow an impulsive action: impulses, as
you know, are usually sincere. It is in such moments as this that base
and sordid sentiments hold sway.

I am threatened with a suit for contempt of court and attack against the
verdict. The case against me is strong, but everything is possible. _Y
siempre lo peor es cierto._ Meanwhile, the _École des Chartes_ is
sharpening its claws to tear me to pieces. I shall be obliged, perhaps,
to undergo an examination, and to offer an energetic defence. I hope I
shall regain my energy when the moment of battle comes. At present I am
bewildered and dejected. I thank you for what you tell me. I appreciate
it sincerely. Try to keep well, so that, if the case should go against
me, you can come to see me in prison.



CXLIV


_Friday evening, May 1, 1852._

My dear mother is dead. I hope her sufferings were not great. Her
features were calm, and she wore her usual sweet and gentle expression.
I thank you for all the interest you have shown in her.

Good-bye. Think of me, and write to me soon.



CXLV


PARIS, _May 19, 1852_.

Has this lovely weather nothing to say to you? It gives me new life,
seemingly. I waited for you almost all of yesterday. Why, I do not know;
but it seemed to me that you must have known that I was expecting you.
Come, then, as quickly as you can, for I have a great many things to say
to you. I do not know whether they wish to hang me or not. I am told
sometimes one thing, sometimes another. What makes me fidgety is the
thought of a public ceremony[13] in the presence of the flower of the
rabble, and three black-robed imbeciles, stiff as posts, and imagining
that they are somebody. The worst of it is that one does not dare to
express the utter contempt he feels for their robes, for themselves, and
for their intelligence.

Good-bye; write me a word.



CXLVI


PARIS, _May 22, 1852_.

Did our walk fatigue you? Tell me at once that it did not. I expected a
word from you to-day. I am in the hands of my lawyer,[14] who pleases me
very much. He seems to be a man of intelligence, not too talkative, and
he understands the affair as clearly as I. This raises my hopes.



CXLVII


_May, 1852, Wednesday, 5_ P.M.

Two weeks of imprisonment and a fine of one thousand francs! My lawyer
spoke finely for me; the judges were very polite; I was not in the least
nervous. In short, I am less dissatisfied than I might be. I shall not
appeal.



CXLVIII


_May 27, 1852, at night._

Upon my word, you are very sharp!

I went the other day to see the judges, and was imprudent enough to have
in my pocket a thousand-franc note. I have not seen it since, yet it is
incredible that, among persons of such high position, pickpockets should
find their way. Therefore the note must have vanished of itself; so let
us give the matter no more thought.

The same day I had the misfortune to touch a man supposed to have the
plague, and it has been thought prudent to quarantine me for two weeks:
a great calamity, truly! My friend, M. Bocher, is to go to prison the
last of June, and we shall be there together. Meantime, I need very much
to see you!

My revenge has begun already. My friend Saulcy was yesterday at a house
where they were discussing the judgment against me, whereupon, without
seeing how the land lay, my champion rushes heedlessly into the fray,
using such severe words as imbecility, fatuity, stupidity, conceit of
jackanapes, and the like, and appealing to a gentleman in evening dress,
whom he knew by sight, but of whose profession he was ignorant. It
happened to be M. ----, one of my judges, who would have preferred, at
that moment, to be elsewhere. I imagine the state of mind of the
hostess, the guests, and of Saulcy himself, who, informed too late, fell
on a sofa, splitting his sides with laughter, and saying: “Indeed, I’ll
not retract a word!”



CXLIX


_Monday evening, June 1, 1852._

... I spend all my time reading the letters of Beyle. This makes me feel
at least twenty years younger. It is as if I were making an autopsy of
the thoughts of a man whom I knew intimately, and whose ideas of things
and of men have had a singular influence on mine. This makes me
alternately sad and cheerful twenty times an hour, and I regret having
destroyed the letters that Beyle wrote to me....



CL


MARSEILLES, _September 12, 1852_.

... I went to Touraine, where I visited Chambord in a beating rain, and
Saint Aignan in showers of rain. I returned to Paris in the rain the
7th, left the same day in a storm, and came down the Rhône through a fog
which was thick enough to cut. Not until I reached Canebière did I see
the sun once more, and for the last two days it has shone in all its
glory. I found there (in Marseilles, not in the sun) my cousin and his
wife. I went yesterday to see them off on the _Leonidas_ upon a sea of
heavenly blue, and in weather neither cold nor warm. You, who live in
the dreary climate of the North, have no conception of such a
temperature as this. These are my only living relatives, and are the
owners of that salon which you condescended to honour with your
approval.

When I saw the last curl of smoke from the _Leonidas_ vanish behind the
islands which the descriptions in _Monte Cristo_ have made familiar to
you, I was seized with a feeling of desolation and dejection, and felt
as if I were an old fogy. I needed your presence, and thought how you
would delight in this country which seems to me so dull. I would have
you eat twenty different varieties of fruit that you have never tasted:
for instance, yellow peaches, white and red melons, medlars, and ripe
pistachio nuts. Moreover, you could spent an entire day in the Turkish
bazaars and other curiosity shops, where there are many useless articles
most fascinating to see and most disheartening to pay for.

I have asked myself often why you have never come to the south of
France, and I can find no good reason. I am going to make a three days’
excursion through the mountains, with no companion, and without meeting
with a French-speaking biped. I am not sure if, after all, this is not
preferable to intercourse with the provincial townspeople, who seem
every year to become more intolerable.

Here the mayor and the prefects have lost their heads over the proposed
visit of the President. The prefectures are all being scraped and
scrubbed, and eagles are set up in every spot where they can perch.
There is no absurdity of which they do not think. What amusing people
they are! In the midst of all this, I fear the proofs of _Démétrius_
will be lost: I ought to correct them while I am away, and they have not
yet arrived....



CLI


MOULINS, _September 27, 1852_.

... I have been very ill, and am still suffering from languor, which is
intensified from the fact that the remedy which brought me around, that
is to say, the north wind, has given me a cold. It is excessively
enervating, and with my sleepless nights and constant running about, it
is not likely to mend. For forty-five hours I have had such a tendency
to congestion of the brain that I thought I was soon to see the land of
the shades. I was entirely alone, and treated myself, or rather I did
not treat myself at all, being in a condition of physical and moral
prostration which rendered extremely painful the least exertion. I
felt, of course, some disquietude at the thought of going to an unknown
world, but to make any resistance seemed to be still more disquieting.
It is, I think, through such stolid resignation that one makes his exit
from this world, not because illness gains the victory, but because one
has become indifferent to everything, and makes no defence.

I am waiting here until a _monsignore_ with whom I have business comes
out of retreat. It is highly probable that I shall have to run around
for two or three days to find him, after which I shall return to Paris.
To-morrow will be my birthday, and I should like to spend it with you.
It happens always that I am alone and horribly depressed on this day....



CLII


CARABANCHEL, _September 11, 1853_.

... Upon my arrival here I found every one occupied in preparations to
celebrate the anniversary of the hostess. They were to play a comedy and
to recite a _Loa_[15] in honour of herself and of her daughter. I was
called upon to manufacture skies, mend decorations, design costumes,
and so on, not to mention the rehearsals I conducted for five
mythological divinities, only one of whom had ever taken part in private
theatricals. My goddesses were very pretty yesterday, the eventful day,
but they were dying with stage-fright; however, everything passed well.
There was loud applause, although no one understood the absurd rigmarole
of verses strung together by the poetic author of the _Loa_.

The comedy, which was a translation of _Bonsoir, Monsieur Pantalon_, was
even better. I admire, indeed, the facility with which young society
girls are transformed into fairly good actresses. At the close of the
play there was a ball, followed by supper, during which a young ward of
the countess improvised some graceful verses, which caused the heroine
of the feast to shed tears, and all the guests to drink assiduously.
This morning I have a sorry head, and the sun is deuced warm.

I am going to Madrid to see the bull-fights, and must leave my goddesses
for two or three days in order to make my visits and work in the
library. As there are nine ladies in the house, without a man, they call
me in Madrid “Apollo.” Of the nine muses, there are, unfortunately,
five who are the mothers or the aunts of the other four; but these four
are Andalusians, with severe little airs, which become them charmingly,
especially when they wear their Olympian costume, with peplums, which
they, from love of euphony, insist on calling _peplo_.

You have, doubtless, less beautiful weather than we are having here....



CLIII


L’ESCURIAL, _October 5, 1853_.

I send you a little flower which I found on the mountain behind the ugly
convent of the Escurial. I have not seen it since I was in Corsica; they
call it there _mucchiallo_; here, no one knows its name. At night, when
the wind passes over it, it has an odour which is to me delicious.

I found the Escurial as gloomy as when I left it twenty years ago, but
it has been invaded by civilisation. There are now iron beds, and mutton
chops, and all the bugs and monks have vanished. The latter I miss very
much, and their absence seems to render all the more ridiculous the
heavy style of Herrara’s architecture. I am going to dine in Madrid
to-night, for I can not endure another day in this place.

I shall, in all probability, remain in Madrid until the 15th of this
month, when I shall go to Valladolid, Toro, Zamora, and Léon, providing
the weather, which until now has been superb, does not become cold and
rainy. This, however, is improbable. I have been to Toledo and to
Madrid. I am going to Ségovia in order to escape the balls, which bore
me to death. I went the other night to see the opening of the Grand
Opera. Except for the very attractive and comfortable building, and the
pretty women who were there in large numbers, it was a pitiable
spectacle. The actors are oppressively commonplace.

Were you here, you would see the finest collection of fruits imaginable.
There is a fair in Madrid, to which are sent fruits from distant points.
Most of them you have probably never seen. It is a pity that they can
not be sent to you. If there is anything here that you would like to
have, you have but to mention it.



CLIV


MADRID, _October 25, 1853_.

... Our colony has broken up, the duchess having given birth to a
daughter. Her mother has constituted herself the nurse, and the rest of
us have come in a body to Madrid. I have caught an odious cold, and to
make it worse there is a cursed sirocco blowing.

Notwithstanding this beastly weather, and my sneezing, I went yesterday
to see Cucharis, the best matador since Montès. The bulls were so bad
that they had to give one to the dogs and excite half of the others with
streamers of fire. Two men were tossed into the air, and for a moment we
thought they had been killed, which lent a momentary excitement to the
fight. Otherwise it was abominable. The animals no longer have any
spirit, and the men are little better.

As soon as the weather becomes settled, I wish to set out on my
archæological journey. People keep predicting a Martinmas summer, which
never comes. If you will send me your instructions, I shall receive your
letter probably in time to fulfil them. Unfortunately, I do not know
what is worth buying in this country. At all events, I have bought you
some handkerchiefs of a very ugly design; but it seems to me that you
enjoyed carrying off one of those handkerchiefs which came to me
somehow, I do not know how.

One no longer sees any other than French costumes here. At the
bull-fight yesterday the women wore hats. Would you like garters and
studs? If they are still worn, tell me what kind you wish, but do not
delay your reply.

I am reading, or rather I am re-reading, _Wilhelm Meister_. It is a
strange book, in which the most beautiful things and the most ridiculous
puerilities alternate. In all that Goethe has written, there is
remarkable mingling of genius and German simplicity. Was he making game
of himself or of others? Remind me when I return to give you the
_Elective Affinities_. Of all his writings, I consider this the most
whimsical and anti-French.

I have had a letter from Paris, speaking in high terms of a book of
Alexandre Dumas _fils_ called _Un Cas de Rupture_, or something of the
sort. In Madrid, no one reads. I have wondered how the ladies spend
their time when they are not occupied in love-making, but I find no
reasonable answer. All of them dream of being an empress. A young lady
of Grenada was at the theatre, when some one in her box announced that
the countess Teba was to marry the emperor. She rose impetuously,
exclaiming: “In this country there is no future!”

Among my diversions, I forgot to mention an Academy of History, of which
I am a member. It is almost as amusing as ours.

Good-bye.



CLV


MADRID, _November 22, 1853_.

When I think of the snow still covering the Guadarrama, my courage fails
me. Nevertheless, the sun shines magnificently, but it shines in vain:
it gives out no warmth. The nights are abominably cold, and the soldiers
on sentry duty at the palace are required to stay out only a quarter of
an hour each. Before leaving, I wish to attend several meetings of the
Cortès, which opened day before yesterday very modestly, and without the
formality of a royal speech, His Majesty now being so near his end that
he is shielded from all excitement. I keep in touch with the political
situation here, and know a good many of the adherents of all the
parties, so that now, when we are deprived of seeing bull-fights, I find
the Cortès interesting.

Since you do not care for buttons, I will bring you some garters. It was
not without difficulty that I have found them. Civilisation is making
such rapid strides that on almost all legs elastic has replaced the
classic _ligas_ of the past. When I asked the chambermaids here to tell
me where the shops could be found, they crossed themselves in
indignation, saying that they did not wear such old-fashioned things,
and that they were fit only for the common people. French fashions are
making frightful progress. Mantillas are seldom seen. Hats, and such
hats! replace them. You would be highly amused to see the masterpieces
of the dressmakers in this capital.

Several years ago I spent a part of the day at Aranjuez, at the house of
my friend, M. Salamanca, a stock-broker. He is a bachelor, and the
wittiest and jolliest fellow I have met. He makes heaps of money,
apparently, and spends it nobly. He finds time to engage both in
business and politics, for he has been a minister, and will be again, if
he wishes it. This man is a typical Andalusian: he is grace itself.

We had, on the 15th, at the French Embassy, a ball in honor of the
fête-day of Saint Eugénie. Madame ----, the wife of the United States
Minister, appeared in a costume which made every one choke with
laughter--black velvet, edged with lace and tinsel, and a theatrical
coronet. Her son, who has the appearance of a knave, made inquiries
concerning the worth of the persons present, and after having obtained
the desired information, sent a challenge to a duke who was very noble,
very rich, exceedingly dull, and anxious to live a long time. The
negotiations are still going on, but nobody will be killed. Good-bye.



CLVI


MADRID, _November 28, 1853_.

Your letter crossed with mine, which you must have received at the same
time that yours reached me. In it I explained why I have remained here
for several days longer than I intended. My friends are insisting that I
shall wait until Christmas; but I shall be in France, and probably in
Paris the 12th or 15th, if the weather is not too stormy. I shall write
to you from Bayonne or from Tours, where I am compelled to stop....

There are a great many balls here, notwithstanding the court mourning.
Out of respect, every one wears black gloves. The opening events at the
Senate are causing considerable anxiety. People are wondering whether
the Ministry will hold on, or whether there will be another _coup
d’État_. The opposition is bitterly incensed, and proposes to give the
comte de San-Luis a good cudgelling. The house where I am stopping is
neutral ground, where the ministers and leaders of the opposition meet,
which is very interesting for those who like to hear the news.

It is a fact, that what is known here as society is composed of such a
small number of persons that if they were divided up, they would have no
means of gaining a livelihood. Whatever one does in Madrid, provided one
goes to a public place, he is sure of meeting the same three hundred
persons. The result is a very amusing society, infinitely less
hypocritical than elsewhere.

I must tell you a good story. It is the custom here to offer anything
that is praised. At dinner, the other day, I was seated next to the
Prime Minister’s sweetheart: she is as stupid as a cabbage, and very
big. Her beautiful shoulders were bare, and around them hung a garland
with tassels of metal or glass. Not knowing what to say to her, I
praised both shoulders and garland, to which she replied: “Both are at
your service.”

Good-bye. Write me longer letters. I might, in an extreme case, hear
from you again here; but I shall hope certainly to find a letter from
you at Bayonne. Why is it that I am so anxious to see you again? At the
same time, it is excessively irritating to submit to your protocols,
which, for contempt of logic and reason, are worthy of those of M. de
Nesselrode.



CLVII


PARIS, _July 29, 1854_.

I arrived here day before yesterday, and have not written before because
I have been too sad. One of my boyhood friends has taken the cholera.
To-day he is considered out of danger. In crossing the Channel, there
was an icy wind, which gave me a cold, or something like rheumatism. My
chest feels as if it were clasped in an iron band, and every movement is
accompanied by severe pain. I am obliged, however, to leave to-night for
Normandy, where I am to make a speech to the idlers of Cayenne. This
troublesome business finished, I shall hasten home as quickly as
possible, and I expect to reach Paris on the evening of August 2d. After
that, I have no settled plans. At one time I had formed some idea of
spending a month in Venice, but the quarantine regulations, and other
annoyances rendered necessary by the cholera, make a journey in that
direction almost impossible.

My minister has offered to send me to Munich, as Commissioner of I know
not what, in regard to a Bavarian exposition. I have given no definite
answer, and shall wait until after my return to Paris to decide. You
will probably spend several days in London, and a visit to the Crystal
Palace is worth the voyage. With respect to artistic ideals, it is
perfectly ridiculous, but in the design of the building and its
execution there is something so great, and at the same time so simple,
that to form any conception of it, one must go to England and see it for
himself. ‘Tis a plaything costing twenty-five millions, a cage in which
several large churches could waltz comfortably.

My last days in London were amusing and interesting. I met and
associated with all the politicians. I was present at the debate on the
subsidies in the House of Lords, and in the Commons, where all the
famous orators spoke--very spitefully, it seemed to me. Finally, I had
an excellent dinner. They serve such at the Crystal Palace, and I
recommend them to you, who are an epicure.

I have brought back from London a pair of garters, which were made, so I
am assured, at Borrin’s. I do not know what English women wear around
their stockings, nor how they procure this indispensable article; but it
must be, I fancy, a very difficult thing to get, and one that is
singularly trying to their virtue. The clerk who sold me those garters
blushed to his ears.

You write me words of tenderness, which would rejoice my heart if
experience had not made me incredulous. I dare not hope for that which I
desire most ardently. You are perfectly aware that you have but to move
a finger to bring me to you. I wish that in this period of great
uncertainty, you would act as if we were in danger of meeting no more.
Good-bye. I love you dearly, whatever you may do. Write to me at
Cayenne, care of M. Mark, the captain of the steamer. I shall be
overjoyed to hear from you.



CLVIII


PARIS, _August 2, at night, 1854_.

I arrived here this morning, stiff, tired, ill, and blue. I am still
suffering from this pain in the side and chest, which makes it
impossible for me to sleep in a comfortable position. I reached Cayenne
day before yesterday, the very day of the ceremony. I saw the Secretary
at once, and contrived to escape all the official visits. At three
o’clock I entered the hall of the Law School, and found eighteen or
twenty women seated in the gallery, and about two hundred men, to all
appearances exactly like those of any other city. There was absolute
silence. I delivered my harangue without the slightest disturbance, and
at the close was politely applauded. The meeting continued an hour and a
half after I sat down, and ended with the reading of some verses by a
hunchback, two and a half feet high. The poetry was not bad.

I was then conducted by the directors to the Hôtel de Ville, where a
banquet, lasting two hours, was given in my honor. There was excellent
fish, and the oysters were delicious. I was about to leave, when the
President of the Antiquarian Society rose from his seat, all the other
guests following his example. He began to speak, saying, that inasmuch
as from three aspects I was a man of notable attainments, he wished to
propose my health, as Senator, as man of letters, and as a scholar.
There was only the table between us, and I was strongly tempted to hurl
a plate of Roman punch at his head.

While he was speaking, I racked my brains for a suitable response, but
it was impossible to think of a word. When he had ceased, I knew that it
was absolutely necessary for me to say something, so I began, without an
idea of what I should say next. I rambled on in this way for several
minutes, with plenty of assurance but without giving any thought to what
I was talking about. I was congratulated for my eloquent response, but
this was not to be the end.

Captured by the Mayor, I was conducted to a concert given by the ladies
and gentlemen of the Philharmonic Society for the benefit of the poor.
They put me in a conspicuous seat, facing a large gathering of
well-dressed people, the ladies very pretty and very fair. Their gowns
were Parisian in mode, except that there was visible less expanse of
shoulders, and that with their ball-dresses they wore russet boots. Airs
from some of the comic operas were sung abominably, and then an
overdressed society woman took up the collection in a cut-glass dish. I
gave her twenty francs, which won me a most gracious spreading curtsey.
At midnight I was escorted to my rooms, where I slept very badly, or
rather I did not sleep at all.

Next morning, at eight o’clock, they came to request me to preside at a
business meeting, where I listened to the minutes of the proceedings of
the night before, in which it was stated that I had delivered a most
eloquent address. I made a speech, to urge that all the adverbs be
omitted from the report, but my request was not granted. Finally, I got
into the mail-coach, and here I am. Everything would be tiptop if I
could spend a whole day with you; it would refresh me more than anything
else.

I do not believe in your impossibilities. I reserve my doubts and my
chagrin. My minister wishes me to go to the Exposition at Munich. It is
a matter of indifference to me; but where shall I go this summer, if not
to Germany? Good-bye. No matter what you do, I still love you, and I
think you should be a little more touched by this than you are. You may
continue to write to this address.



CLIX


INNSPRUCK, _August 31, 1854_.

I am very weary, and still feel inclined to write to you. My brain is
tired, bewildered with the magnificent landscapes and panoramas on which
I have gazed for four days. I went from Bâle to Schaffhausen, where we
take the steamer for the Rhine journey. On both sides of the river rise
mountains that are enchanting, of far greater beauty than those, so
called, bordering the lower Rhine, between Mayence and Cologne, and so
much admired by the English. From the Rhine we entered Lake Constance
and landed at the town of the same name, where we ate some excellent
trout, and heard the zither played by Tyroleans. We then crossed the
Lake to Lindau, where a railway train awaited us, and from which we
enjoyed a magnificent view of the loveliest forests, lakes, and
mountains which the country can show. The railway carried us to Kempton,
and by that time we were spent with fatigue, as if we had been for hours
in a beautiful gallery of pictures. Instead of resting, however, we left
Kempton the same night, and reached Innspruck yesterday, a few minutes
before midnight. The country through which we travelled was even more
enchanting--no, not that, but more sublime--than that which we had just
visited. Our only annoyance was in settling our accounts and in changing
horses at every post-house. There were a dozen of these, at least,
between Kempton and Innspruck.

As an aid to recover my strength, I am eating delicious woodcock and
soups of extraordinary concoction, which one learns to enjoy with the
appetite that comes to him so many feet above the level of the sea. The
drawback to this journey is my ignorance of the manners and thoughts of
the people, and these things would interest me far more than all the
scenery. The women of the Tyrol, it seems to me, are treated as they
deserve. They are harnessed to carts, and succeed in drawing very heavy
loads. I considered them very homely, with enormous feet. The fine
ladies whom I met on the railway trains or steamboats are not much
better. They wear hats that are a desecration, and sky-blue half-shoes
with apple-green gloves. It is such characteristics as these that make
up what the natives call their _gemüth_, of which they are so vain.

After seeing the works of art which are the product of this country, it
seems to me that the quality thereof is fundamentally destitute in
imagination. At the same time, they pride themselves upon this very
quality, and in their attempt to prove their claim, fall into the most
pedantic extravagances. I have just been sight-seeing in the city.
Everything there is new, except the tomb of Maximilian. The site of this
is admirable. No Parisian costumes here! Everybody I meet is homely, and
ordinary in appearance.

One can turn in no direction without seeing a mountain, and what a
mountain! To-morrow we are to climb a glacier. The weather is superb,
and promises to continue so. In short, I am glad I came. I should like
to have you here with me, for I fancy you would find more to entertain
you in this place than you do among your sea-lions.

When shall you return to Paris? Write to me at Vienna, and do not lose
any time about it. Write a long, affectionate letter.

Wait; here is a flower from the Brenner.



CLX


PRAGUE, _September 11, 1854_.

My companions left me this morning in order to return to France. I am
ill and out of spirits, and the gloomiest thoughts come to my mind. If I
feel better to-morrow morning, I shall leave for Vienna, where I shall
arrive at night. I am beginning to be horribly tired. This city is quite
picturesque, and the music is excellent. I visited yesterday two or
three public gardens and concerts, where I saw the national dances and
waltzes, all of which were executed with the utmost propriety and
composure. There can be no music, however, more captivating than that
produced by a Bohemian orchestra.

The faces here are entirely unlike those I saw in Germany; very big
heads, broad shoulders, small hips, and no legs at all, is my
description of a Bohemian beauty.

We brought into play, to no purpose, yesterday, our knowledge of
anatomy, to try to understand how these women walk. Aside from this,
they have unusually beautiful eyes, and black hair that is often very
long and silky, but hands and feet of a length, width, and coarseness
that are a source of wonder to travellers best accustomed to the most
extraordinary sights. Crinoline is unknown to them. In the evening, at
the public gardens, they drink a jug of beer, and afterwards take a cup
of coffee, which gives them an appetite to dispose of three veal cutlets
with ham, so that there is room enough left only for several light
pastries, somewhat like our tipsy cakes. Such are my observations on
manners and customs.

My bed is made up with a spread of the most beautiful colors, about
forty inches in length, and to this is buttoned a napkin, which serves
as a sheet. When I have adjusted this over me, my servant spreads over
the whole an eiderdown, which I spend my entire night in tumbling up and
replacing in position. On the other hand, I eat all sorts of remarkable
things; among others preserved mushrooms, which are delicious, and wild
fowls, delicious also. All this does not prevent my longing for your
presence.

Apparently, you are getting on amazingly at D., with no thought of the
miserable people who are roaming in Bohemia. Your sublime indifference,
whether sincere or assumed (I have never been able to discover which),
is extremely irritating. With you, it is out of sight out of mind. I am
in great uncertainty as to my future course. If I were absolutely sure
of provoking you by remaining a long time in Vienna, I should settle
down here for goodness knows how many months; but you would not miss a
single meal on my account, and besides, I fear I should become mortally
bored with their _gemüth_. It is probable, therefore, that I shall
remain in Vienna only long enough to enjoy its novelty; that is, until
towards the end of the month. I may be in Berlin about the first of
October, and by the 10th or 12th in Paris.

I suppose you have already sent me a letter here in Vienna, to tell me
what you are doing and what you expect to do: all this will have its
influence on my plans. I have just seen some autographs of Ziska and
John Huss. Considering that they were heretics, they wrote very well
indeed.



CLXI


VIENNA, _October 2, 1854_.

Really and truly, this good city of Vienna is an agreeable
stopping-place, and now that I have friends here, and have learned the
joy of being an idler, it requires an unyielding strength of mind to
tear myself away from it. Besides this, I have the advantage of hearing
the news from the Crimea several minutes before you. Since day before
yesterday we have suffered every stage of excitement.

Has Sebastopol fallen? When this letter reaches you, all doubt will be
at an end. Here, it is believed, but in my opinion with a certain
incredulity. Excepting a few of the old families, whose sympathies are
with Russia, the Austrians are offering congratulations. I was
congratulated day before yesterday by a cabman as I was leaving the
Opera House. God grant that this is not some of the news that the
electric telegraph sends out when it has nothing else to do. However
that may be, I consider it admirable that our soldiers, six days after
landing, should have given the Russians a vigorous drubbing.

Stopping in our house is Lady Westmoreland, sister of Lord Raglan and
mother of his aide-de-camp. She has been in a terrible state. She
received yesterday a line from her son, written after the battle. We are
amused at the countenances of the Russians in Vienna. Prince Gortchakof
remarked that the battle was a mere incident, but that it did not alter
the principle involved in the war. The Belgian Minister, a man of fine
wit, retorted that Gortchakof was right to retrench himself behind his
principles, since they could not be captured at the point of a bayonet.
Speaking of wit, I am designated here as a _lion_, whether I will or
not. You must pronounce this _laïonne_ in English so that you may have
no misconception of the rôle I am made to play.

A few days ago I visited Baden. It is charmingly situated in a valley,
only a stone’s throw from Vienna, but one would fancy himself a hundred
miles from a large city.

My keeper has presented me to a number of beautiful ladies. Society here
being so _gemüthlich_, everything that a Frenchman says is accepted as
clever. They consider me uncommonly amiable. I have written sublime
thoughts in their albums. I have made them drawings; in a word, I have
made myself perfectly ridiculous, and it is on account of a sense of
humiliation for having been up to such a trade that I am leaving to-day
for Dresden. I shall stop there but one day, and then go on to Berlin.
After visiting the Museum I shall start for Cologne, where there will be
a letter from you.

Did I tell you that I went to Hungary? I was in Pesth for three days,
and imagined I was in Spain, or rather in Turkey. While there my modesty
was excessively shocked, for I was taken to a public bath, where I saw
the Hungarian men and women helter-skelter in a court-bouillon of hot
mineral water. I noticed there a lovely Hungarian woman who concealed
her face in her hands, not having, like Turkish women, a covering with
which to veil her face. This spectacle cost me six _kreutzer_, namely,
four half-pennies.

I went to the Hungarian theatre to see _La Dame de Saint-Tropez_, not
having wit enough to recognise a French melodrama under the title
_Saint-Tropez à Unôz_. I heard some Bohemian musicians play Hungarian
melodies, which were strange beyond measure. This music sets the natives
mad. It begins with something intensely mournful, and ends in an
_allegro con spirito_, which completely captivates the audience, who
stamp on the floor, break their glasses, and dance on the tables.
Foreigners, however, are not so affected by this marvellous music.
Finally, and I have reserved the best for the last, I have seen a
collection of very old Magyar jewels of exquisite workmanship. If I
could have brought you one of these you would have come to meet me at
Cologne in order to have it the sooner.

During my entire journey I have been unusually well. The weather is
delightful, but cold at night. I have no dread of the cold during my
travels, for I have bought an enormous pelisse that cost me seventy-five
florins. You could find here magnificent furs for nothing. They are, I
think, the only things in this country that are cheap. I have gone
bankrupt on cabs and dinners down town. The custom is here to pay the
servants for one’s dinner: upon leaving you pay the porter; indeed, you
pay at every step, but only a trifle at a time.

Good-bye. I am not any too well pleased with your last letter, except
when you tell me of your approaching return to Paris. Although I am
bringing you no Magyar chains, I hope you will give me a welcome. I am
beginning to long for my own hearthstone, and the evenings seem to me a
little tedious. I expect to reach Cologne in less than a week, and to be
in Paris from the 10th to the 15th.



CLXII


PARIS, _Sunday, November 27, 1854_.

It is very sad to lose one’s friends, but it is a calamity which may be
avoided only by a greater calamity, which is to love no one. Moreover,
one must not forget the living for the dead. You should have come to see
me instead of writing. The weather is magnificent. We could have
conversed philosophically on the vanities of the world. I have remained
all day by my fireside, in a despondent and misanthropic mood, and,
still worse, in great bodily suffering. I feel somewhat better to-night,
but I shall be worse again if I do not see you to-morrow.



CLXIII


LONDON, _July 20, 1856_.

I received your letter last evening, and it was very welcome. If I were
not afraid that I was dreaming, I might say something affectionate at
this time. I shall go in a few days to Edinburgh, where I am to consult
a Scotch wizard. My friends wish to take me to see a real chieftain, who
wears no breeches, and has never worn them. He has no stairway in his
house, and he has his bard and his wizard. Is all this not worth the
trouble of making the journey?

I have found people here so cordial, so friendly, so engrossingly
interested in me that it is evident they are extremely tired of one
another.

Yesterday I met again two of my old sweethearts: one has become a victim
of asthma, and the other is a Methodist. I have also made the
acquaintance of eight or ten poets, who impressed me as even more
ridiculous than our own. It was a pleasure to visit once more the
Sydenham Palace, although it has been entirely spoiled by a number of
huge monuments erected in memory of the heroes of the Crimea. The heroes
in question are to be seen on the street drunk every day.

London is still full of people, but everybody is preparing for flight. I
am to go Monday for a visit to the Duke of Hamilton, where I shall stay
until Wednesday, on which day I make my entry into Edinburgh. In two
weeks probably I shall return to London, where I shall see you again.
Try to be here by that time; you can not give me a greater proof of
affection, and you know the happiness that I shall experience in seeing
you.

Good-bye. You may write to me at the Douglas Hotel, Edinburgh, where I
shall remain several days before venturing into the North.



CLXIV


EDINBURGH, DOUGLAS HOTEL, _July 26, 1856_.

I hoped to have a letter from you either here or in Edinburgh, but none
has come. To make it worse, I am to be buried in the North, and I know
not where to tell you to address your letters. I am going with a
Scotchman to see his castle far beyond the lakes, but am unable to tell
you where we shall stop on the way. He promises to show me no end of
castles, ruins, fine views, and so forth. As soon as I have made a halt
I shall write again.

I spent three days with the Duke of Hamilton in an immense castle,
situated in a very beautiful country. Near the castle, less than an
hour’s journey, in fact, there is a herd of wild bulls, the last that
exists in Europe. They seemed to me as tame as the deer of Paris. In
every part of this castle there are paintings by the great masters,
Grecian and Chinese vases that are magnificent, and books with bindings
by the most noted amateurs of the last century. No taste is shown in the
arrangement of all these things, and it is evident that the owner
derives but little enjoyment from them.

I understand now why a Frenchman is a welcome guest in foreign lands. It
is because he takes the trouble to entertain himself, and in so doing he
entertains others. I felt quite sure of being the most entertaining of
any of the numerous guests of the house, and realised at the same time
that it was an honour which I scarcely deserved.

I have found Edinburgh entirely to my taste, with the exception of the
execrable architecture of the public monuments, which pretend to be
Grecian, justifying their pretence just as an Englishwoman does her
claim to appear Parisian, that is, by having her gowns made by Madame
Vignon. The accent of the natives is odious. I ran away from the
antiquaries after seeing their exposition, which is really beautiful.

The women are, as a rule, very homely. Short dresses are worn here, and
the women conform to the fashion and to the exigencies of the climate by
lifting their gowns with both hands a foot higher than their skirts,
leaving visible their muscular legs, clad in half-boots made of
rhinoceros leather, with feet _idem_. I am amazed at the proportion of
red-headed persons I meet.

The scenery is charming, and for two days we have enjoyed warm, clear
weather. In short, I am tolerably well off, except that I should like to
have you here. When I am bored, and the blue devils get the better of
me, I think of our days of friendly and intimate merriment, and can
think of nothing to compare to them. Upon reflection, write to me at the
Douglas Hotel, Edinburgh. I shall have my letters forwarded, if I do not
return soon.



CLXVI


_Sunday, August 3, 1856._

            _From a country-house near Glasgow._

I am weary for you, as you used to say so gracefully. Nevertheless, I am
leading a pleasant life, going from one castle to another, and welcomed
everywhere with a hospitality which I can find no words to describe, and
which would be impossible anywhere else than in this aristocratic land.
I am getting into bad habits. Arriving at the home of these poor people,
who have an income of hardly more than thirty thousand pounds, I
scarcely recognised myself at dinner when I found there was no wind band
and no bagpiper in Highland costume.

I spent three days at the Marquis of Breadalbane’s, driving in a
barouche all over his park. There are nearly two thousand deer, besides
eight to ten thousand more which he keeps in his forest at some distance
from the castle of Taymouth. There is also, as something unusual, a
thing to which every one here aspires, a herd of American bison. They
are perfectly wild, and are kept on a peninsula, where they are seen
through the gaps in the enclosure. Everybody there, Marquis and bison,
looked as if they were bored. Their only pleasure, I fancy, consists in
making people envy them, and I doubt if that is a compensation for the
drudgery of entertaining all the world and his wife.

From time to time, in the midst of all this luxury, I see evidences of
petty stinginess which are extremely amusing. Yet, after all, I have met
none but excellent people, who get along with me, with all my difference
in temperament, without the least misunderstanding.

I have just heard a story which amused me, and which I wish to share
with you. An Englishman is walking in front of a poultry-house in a
castle in Scotland one Saturday night. He hears a great commotion inside
and outcries among the cocks and hens. Thinking that a fox has found his
way there, he gives warning, but is told that it is nothing, that they
are only separating the cocks from the hens so they will not profane
the Lord’s Day.

Before my return you might write to me at 18 Arlington Street, care of
the Honourable E. Ellice. Your letters will be forwarded from there, or
else will be held until my arrival in London.

Good-bye. It is needless to tell you to write to me as often as
possible.



CLXVII


KINLOCH-LINCHARD, _August 16, 1856_.

I was not too well pleased with your letter, which I received just as I
was leaving Glenquoich. You are aware that you have an impetuous way of
looking at things, which makes you regard the simplest actions as
impossibilities. Now, reconsider what I have said, and after mature
reflection tell me yes or no. Send your reply to London, care of the
Right Honourable E. Ellice, 18 Arlington Street....

I am beginning to be heartily sick of grouse and venison. The truly
majestic scenery which meets my eyes daily still has the power to charm,
but I am tired of wonders. What I can never cease to admire is the
seclusiveness of these people. They might be sent to penal servitude
together, and they would continue to retain their unsociable habits. As
Beyle says, this comes from their dread of being caught saying or doing
something stupid, or else it is due to their temperament, which makes
them prefer selfish pleasures. Solve it who can.

We reached here in company with two middle-aged men and a woman, all of
high life and familiar with the world. At dinner the ice had to be
broken. After dinner the husband buried himself in a newspaper, the wife
in a book, and the other man began to write letters, while I played
alone against the host and hostess. Observe, if you please, that the
people who isolated themselves thus had not seen their hostess for even
a longer time than I, and they had, necessarily, many more things than I
to tell her. I am told, and from the little I have seen am inclined to
believe it, that the Celtic race know how to talk. ‘Tis a fact that on a
market day one hears an uninterrupted sound of animated voices, of
laughing and shouting. The Gaelic tongue is very soft and smooth to the
ear. In England and the Lowlands there is absolute silence.

It is not kind of you to have written to me but once. I have sent you
two letters, at least, to one of yours. Still I have no desire to scold
you from so far away. These are my plans: I shall leave here to-morrow
to go to Inverness, where I shall remain one day; from there to
Edinburgh, then to York, Durham, and possibly Derby. I expect to reach
Paris the 23d.



CLXVIII


CARABANCHEL, _Thursday, December, 1856_.
(_I have forgotten the date._)

It is pouring rain. Yesterday was the loveliest day imaginable, and
another like it is predicted to-morrow. I took advantage of this
beautiful weather to sprain my wrist, and I am able to write to you only
because I have been taught the American method, in which the fingers are
not moved. The accident happened through the fault of a horse, who
insisted on choosing an inconvenient moment to speak to Lord A.’s mare,
and then, indignant at my objections to his guilty passion,
treacherously flung me over his head as I was lighting my cigar. This
occurred in a pathway beside the sea, which was only a hundred feet
below. Fortunately, I chose the path on which to fall. I was not hurt at
all, except my hand, which to-day is very much inflamed.

I hope to go next week to Cannes, where you will kindly write to me,
general delivery. To bring to a close the chapter on my health, I think
I shall soon feel much better. Nevertheless, I have had another of those
attacks of dizziness, which upset me a good deal, but not so much as in
Paris. A physician here tells me that they are nervous convulsions, and
that I must take much exercise. This I am doing, but am sleeping no
better than I did in Paris, although I go to bed at eleven o’clock. I
should have only to say the word to be a lion (in the English sense);
every one here is bored. I have been besieged with English cards and
Russian cards, and some one wished to present me to the grand duchess
Hélène, an honour which I promptly declined.

To furnish us gossip, we have a countess Apraxine, who smokes, wears
round hats, and keeps a goat in her drawing-room, which she has had
covered with grass and weeds. But the most amusing person here is Lady
Shelley, who commits some new absurdity every day. Yesterday she wrote
to the French consul: “Lady S. informs Mr. P. that she will give to-day
a charming English dinner, and that she will be delighted to see him
afterwards, at five minutes after nine.” She wrote to Madame Vigier,
formerly Mademoiselle Cruvelli: “Lady Shelley would be charmed to see
Madame Vigier, if she would kindly bring her music along.” To which the
ex-Cruvelli replied: “Madame Vigier would be charmed to see Lady Shelley
if she would kindly come to her house, and conduct herself there like a
well-bred woman.”

And now, you--how are you spending your time? I am quite sure you seldom
think of Versailles, because you have no souvenirs to recall it to you.
I hope we shall go there in March to see the first primroses. Was it all
real, that wonderful evening and morning at Versailles?

Good-bye. Write to me soon at Cannes.



CLXIX


LAUSANNE, _August 24, 1857_.

I found your letter at Berne on the evening of the 22d, because my
excursions in the Oberland have been prolonged far beyond the limit I
had set. I am uncertain where to address this. You must ere this have
left Geneva. I am going to send it to Venice, where you will probably
stop longest.

You might, I think, have varied your enthusiastic effusions on the
delights of travelling by one or two words of flattering commendation,
by way of consolation for those who are not privileged to accompany you.
I forgive you, however, on account of your inexperience in travelling.
You anticipate being on your way three weeks only; this seems to me to
be almost impossible, and I will give you a month. I beg you, however,
to consider that September 28th is an inauspicious anniversary for me,
because it dates from so far in the past. It was the 28th of September
that I came into the world. It would be signally agreeable to me to
spend that day in your company. A word to the wise is sufficient.

I have enjoyed my little excursion very much indeed. It has rained but
one day. I did not escape a drop of it, to be sure, during the two hours
I was making the descent of the Wengern Alp on a jade that slid over the
rocks, and did not advance a step. I drank some champagne which we had
brought over the Mer de Glace, and which I iced on the very glacier. My
guide assured me that I was the first one to have that brilliant idea. I
am at this moment in the presence of the Gemmi and the Valois range,
which are lacking in the superb outlines of the Jungfrau and her
associates. We might have met at Geneva, I believe, and have made some
excursion together. It is sad to think of this. I shall expect to find
a letter from you in Paris, where I shall be the 28th.

Good-bye. Enjoy yourself, and do not over-fatigue yourself. Think
sometimes of me. If you will give me your exact itinerary, I will write
to you from Paris. It is deuced hard to write here. The pens of this
country are what you see.

I send you a little leaf which grew six thousand feet above the level of
the sea.



WORKS OF

PROSPER MÉRIMÉE

_EDITED BY_

PROF. GEORGE SAINTSBURY, M.A.



LETTERS TO AN UNKNOWN

BIGELOW, BROWN & CO., INC. NEW YORK

COPYRIGHT, 1905
BY FRANK S. HOLBY

_All Rights Reserved_


PRINTED BY C. H. SIMONDS COMPANY
BOSTON, MASS., U. S. A.



LETTERS TO AN UNKNOWN



CLXX


PARIS, _September 8, 1857._

While you are devoting yourself to the cultivation of enthusiasm, I
continue to cough, and am very ill with a frightful cold. I hope you
will be touched by this. I do not understand why you should remain three
days in Lucerne, unless you spend your time on the lake. But it is
useless to give you advice which will reach you too late. My only word
of admonition, and one, I trust, by which you will profit, is not to
forget your friends in France, in the beautiful country you are now
visiting.

There is positively not a soul in Paris, but I am not averse to the
solitude. I am spending my evenings comfortably enough, doing nothing.
If I were not feeling really miserable, I should find this quiet
extremely pleasant, and I should like it to continue the whole year.
The surprises which you encounter in your travels must be amusing, and
it is a source of regret to me that I am unable to witness them. If you
had exercised a little strategy in arranging your plans, we might have
met somewhere in the course of your journey and made an excursion or two
together, and caught a glimpse of some chamois or, at any rate, some
black squirrels.

Were I not so ill that it is impossible to form two consecutive ideas, I
should take advantage of your absence in order to work. I have a promise
to fulfil with the _Revue des Deux Mondes_, and a _Life of Brantôme_ to
write, in which I have quantities of rash things to say. It amuses me to
arrange and rearrange the sentences in my mind, but when it comes to the
point of leaving my easy-chair and of going to my desk to put them on
paper, my courage fails me. I am sorry you did not take with you a
volume of Beyle on Italy, for it would have entertained you on the way,
and it would have given you, besides, some knowledge of social
conditions there. Beyle was especially fond of Milan, because it was
there he fell in love. I have never been there, but I have never cared
for the Milanese whom I have met, for they have always reminded me of
French provincials.

In Venice, if you should come across any old Latin book from the
printing-house of Aldus, with a wide margin, if it does not cost too
much, buy it for me. You will recognise it by the letters in italics,
and by the trade-mark, which is a unicorn wrestling with a dolphin.
Travelling with such a large party as you are, I fancy you will write to
me very seldom. You might, however, grant me the delight of an
occasional letter, and give me renewed patience, for, as you are aware,
I do not possess your virtue.

Good-bye. Enjoy yourself, and see as many beautiful things as you can,
but do not conceive the idea of seeing everything. You must say to
yourself, “I shall return.” Your memory will always be stored with
reminiscences enough to keep you from being dull. I should like to ride
in a gondola with you. Once more good-bye. Above all things, take care
of yourself, and do not overtire.



CLXXI


AIX, _January 6, 1858_.

And so you imagine that tree-trunks grow like those in bracelets, and
that the silversmiths will understand your comparisons! I purchased
something that resembles a collection of mushrooms, but the price was
somewhat disconcerting. Did you shop in Genoa? I doubt it, otherwise you
would have bought something. But no matter. You did not know, perhaps,
that there is a duty on filigree work of eleven francs a hectogram, for
which reason it costs in France twice as much as in Genoa.
Notwithstanding, I have resolved to pay nothing to the customs, and to
leave to you the pleasure of sending on the duty money, which will be
inserted in the _Moniteur_ as a restitution to the Government.

It is freezing, snowing, and atrociously cold. I do not know whether it
will be possible to go to Burgundy; at all events, I shall start for
Paris to-morrow night. I hope that you will come in person to wish me a
happy New Year.

Good-bye. I am tired out from the journey, and depressed from the
weather. I met at Nice all sorts of smart people, among others the
Duchesse de Sagan, who is perennially young, and as audacious as ever.



CLXXII


PARIS, _Monday evening, January 20, 1858_.

It is a century since I saw you. ‘Tis true that many things have
happened in the interval. I am consumed with the wish to know what you
think of it all. My cold and influenza are somewhat improved, and the
credit of my cure I attribute to our last walk. It is not unlike the
lance of Achilles.

Have you read _Doctor Antonio_? It is an English novel which has
achieved no little success among English fashionable society, and which
I read while at Cannes. It is the work of M. Orsini. There will be, no
doubt, a new edition in London, and you must read it. To tell the truth,
it is not very clever.

Write to me soon, I pray you, for I need to see you to make me forget
all the miseries of this world.



CLXXIII

LONDON, _British Museum, Tuesday night, April 28, 1858_.


Time flies so rapidly in this country, and the distances are so
enormous, that one does not accomplish the half of what he wishes. I
have just been through the Museum with the duc de Malakoff, and there
are but a few minutes left to write to you. I must tell you in the first
place, that for two days I was really very ill, an effect always
produced on me by breathing coal smoke. Since then, however, I have
felt entirely made over. I eat ravenously, and walk a great deal, but I
do not sleep as much as I should like. I am in society constantly, which
I do not enjoy any too well. Crinoline is not worn here as universally
as it is with us; but so quickly do one’s eyes become accustomed to
fashions, that I am scandalised, and the women all look as if they were
dressed up in chemises.

You can have no conception of the beauty of the British Museum on
Sunday, when there is absolutely no one there but M. Panizzi and me.
There is about it a marvellous atmosphere of devotion; only one fears
that the statues may all descend from their pedestals and begin to dance
the polka.

I discover here not the slightest feeling of animosity against us. The
general sentiment is that Bernard[16] was sentenced by small tradesmen,
and that it is not extraordinary that a tradesman should embrace every
occasion to harass a prince. The _Maréchal_[17] was cheered tremendously
when he arrived.

Good-bye, dear friend.



CLXXIV


LONDON, _British Museum, May 3, 1858_.

I shall be in Paris, I think, on Wednesday morning.

I fell, last Wednesday, into a pretty kettle of fish. I was invited to a
dinner of the Literary Fund, presided over by Lord Palmerston, and just
as I was starting, received notice that, inasmuch as my name had been
placed opposite a toast on the literature of Continental Europe, I must
be prepared to make a speech. I yielded, with the pleasure that you may
imagine, and for a long quarter of an hour talked nonsense in bad
English, to an assembly of three hundred men of letters, or so-called
such, and more than a hundred women, admitted to the honor of observing
us eat tough chicken and leathery tongue. I was never so surfeited with
silliness, as M. de Pourceaugnac said.

I received a visit yesterday from a lady and her husband, who brought me
some autograph letters from the emperor Napoleon to Josephine, which
they wished to sell. They are very singular, for their entire subject is
love. They are perfectly authentic, being written on stamped paper and
bearing the post-marks. What I fail to understand is why Josephine did
not burn them as soon as she had read them....



CLXXV


PARIS, _May 19, 1858_.

We are compelled to lead a tiresome existence at the Luxembourg. I am
worn out with it, and I am dismayed, also, at the weather; I am told
that it is good for the pease. I congratulate you, therefore, but it
seems to me that the rain should fall only on the farms. I have been
accusing you strongly of having taken one of my books--they are my sole
possession--for which I have searched as if it were a needle. I
discovered it finally, this morning, in a corner where I had hid it
myself for safe-keeping; but it caused me more irritation than the book
was worth.

I have been ill ever since my return--that is to say, I can neither eat
nor sleep. Before you leave for so long a time, I must positively make a
second portrait of you. For that, it is a question only of a half hour
of patience, if patience is needed when one realises that one is giving
people pleasure. I am to be in the party to go to Fontainebleau, and
shall not return before the 29th. I wish we might have a long talk
before I go. It seems a century since that has happened with us.



CLXXVI


FONTAINEBLEAU PALACE, _May 20, 1858_.

... I am dreadfully cross, and half-poisoned from having taken an
over-dose of laudanum. I have, besides, composed some verses for his
Netherland Majesty, played charades, and made a fool of myself. This is
why I am absolutely stupefied.

What shall I tell you of the life which we lead here? We went on a deer
hunt yesterday, and ate our dinner on the grass. The other day we were
drenched by the rain, and I took cold. Every day we eat too much, and I
am half dead. Destiny did not intend me for a courtier.

I should love to walk with you in this beautiful forest and talk of
fairy scenes. I have such a headache that I can not see a thing. I am
going to take a nap before the fatal hour when I must get into my
armour--that is to say, into skin-tight trousers....



CLXXVII


PARIS, _June 14, 1858--At Night_.

I have just found your letter here on my return from the country, where
I visited my cousin in order to tell him good-bye. I am more desolate
to know that you are so far away than I was to leave you. The sight of
the trees and the fields have recalled our walks. I felt sure, moreover,
and had a presentiment that you would not go so soon, and that I should
see you once more, so that the post-mark on your letter vexed me
extremely.

I am irritated even more by your prudish ridicule, and by all you say
concerning that book. It has the misfortune to be badly written--that
is, in an emphatic style which Sainte-Beuve praises by calling poetic.
So diverse are tastes! It contains sensible statements, and it is not
flippant. When one has as much good taste as you, you should not exclaim
that it is frightful, that it is immoral; you should realise that what
is good in the book is very good. Never judge of things with your
prejudices. Every day you become more prudish and more conformed to
conventionality. I can forgive you for wearing crinoline, but I can not
forgive you for prudishness. You must learn how to recognise the good
where it exists.

Another cause of chagrin against you is that I do not possess your last
portrait. It is your fault, for I have frequently asked you for it. You
pretend that it does not resemble you, while I insist that it has that
expression of countenance which I have seen on no woman but you, and
which I have often recalled in my mind’s eye. The day of my departure is
not certain, but I shall endeavour to be in Lucerne about the 20th, in
which event I shall leave the 19th. ‘Tis needless to say that I shall
expect to hear from you before that date. It is frightfully warm here,
on account of which I am unable to eat or to sleep.

Good-bye. Before leaving, I shall inform you where you must write to me.
I am in no mood to say pleasant things. I am very displeased with you,
but, as usual, I must forgive you in the end. Try to keep well and do
not catch cold in the cool of the evening.

Good-bye again, dear friend; it is a word which always saddens me.



CLXXVIII


INTERLAKEN, _July 3, 1858_.

I have come out of the eternal snows, and upon my arrival here find your
letter. You do not give your address at G...., and yet it seems to me
that it is at that place I should write to you. I hope you will have the
wit to go to the post-office, or that the post-office will have the wit
to carry the letter to you. To the present time our travels have been
favoured by the weather. We had rain nowhere but at the Grimsel, which
compelled us to spend two nights in that magnificent funnel. The journey
had its difficulties. There was a great deal of snow, and it continued
to fall. I had a tumble into a hole with my horse; but we pulled
ourselves out without other inconvenience than rather too much coolness
for an hour or two. A Yankee lady whom we met made at the same spot a
picturesque somersault. I am sun-blistered, and my skin is peeling from
my forehead to my neck.

I have visited the glacier of the Rhone, which I do not advise you to
do; nevertheless, it is the most beautiful place I have seen up to the
present time. I have made a fairly accurate sketch of it, which I will
show you. I shall hope to meet you in Vienna in October. It is an
attractive city, containing some Roman ruins which I shall have the
pleasure of explaining to you and of revisiting in your society.

Give me your commissions for Venice. I have not determined by which
route I shall go to Innsbruck, whether by Lake Constance, or through
Lindau, or perhaps Munich; but I shall certainly pass through Innsbruck,
for I am to go to Venice by way of Trent, and not by vulgar Splugen.
Write to me, therefore, at Innspruck without dilly-dallying too long
about it....



CLXXIX


INNSPRUCK, _July 25, 1858_.

I arrived here last night, where I found your letter of ancient date....

My itinerary has changed altogether. After having travelled entirely
through the Oberland, I went to Zurich. There I was seized with the
desire to see Salzburg, and I crossed over Lake Constance to Lindau, and
thence to Munich, where I lingered several days visiting the museum.

Salzburg seems to me to deserve its reputation, by which I mean its
German reputation. Happily, to most tourists it is an unknown country.
Near by there is a mountain called the Gagsberg, standing in almost the
same position as the Righi, from which one sees spread before him the
same panorama of lakes and mountains. The lakes are poor affairs, to be
sure, but the mountains are infinitely more splendid than those
surrounding the Righi. Add to this the fact that there are no English
tourists to bore you with their faces, and that you are in the midst of
the most absolute solitude, knowing to a certainty--which is an
important consideration--that at the end of a three hours’ walk you will
enjoy a good dinner at Salzburg.

I went yesterday into the Zitterthal, which is a charming valley, one
end of which is inclosed by a great glacier. The mountains to the right
and the left rise sharply before you, which is the same inconvenience
that one suffers in Switzerland: there is no foreground, no means of
determining the real height of surrounding objects.

In the Zitterthal, it is said, are the most beautiful women of the
Tyrol. I saw, indeed, many very pretty ones there, but they were too
well fed. Their legs, which they show to the garter (it is not as high
as you might imagine), are of startling bigness. While I was dining at
Fügen, our host entered the room, with his daughter, formed like a cask
of Burgundy, his son, a guitar, and two stable-boys. All these people
yodeled in a marvellous fashion. The cask, who was but twenty-two years
old, has a contralto voice worth fifty thousand francs. For all that,
the concert was free. Singing, with these people, is a pleasure, which
they do not include in the bill.

To-morrow I start for Verona by a round-about way in order to see
Stelvio. I shall have to travel in a coach seven or eight thousand feet
above sea level. If I do not fall into some hole, I shall be in Venice
by the 5th or 6th of August, perhaps before then. I shall attend to your
commission, which seems to me intricate. I shall choose for you the
prettiest hair-net possible to find. I thank you for your information
concerning Aldus. I should have preferred, however, that you should give
me some about your travels. Good-bye.



CLXXX


VENICE, _August 18, 1858_.

You have been roving over the mountains, making unseemly comparisons of
Mont Blanc with a loaf of sugar, while I was working myself to death
searching for gimcracks for you. I have never seen anything uglier than
the things I am bringing you. It is probable that they will be seized by
the custom-houses which I must encounter, or else that they will be
smashed on the journey. I rejoice at this possibility, for never was
such a commission given to a man of taste.

Venice had a most depressing effect on me, from which feeling I have
been unable to rally for nearly two weeks. The architecture is
convincing, but lacking in taste and imagination. It has made me
indignant to recall the commonplaces written about some of the palaces.
The canals bear a striking resemblance to the Bièvre River, and the
gondolas to an incommodious hearse. The pictures of the Academy pleased
me, although none were above the rank of second-rate works. There is not
a Paul Veronese to be compared to _The Marriage at Cana_, not a Titian
comparable to _Caesar’s Coin_, in Dresden, or even _The Crown of Thorns_
in Paris. I searched for a Giorgione, but there was not one in Venice.

On the other hand, I found the faces of the people attractive. The
streets swarm with charming young girls, barefooted and bareheaded, who,
if they were bathed and scrubbed, would be Venuses Anadyomenes. What I
dislike above all else is the odor in the streets. On certain days the
air was full of the smell of fritters frying, and it was insupportable.

I attended a _funzione_ in honor of the Archduke, and found it very
entertaining. He was given a serenade from the Piazzetta to the iron
bridge. Six hundred gondolas followed the colossal boat containing the
music. Every one carried lanterns, and many burned red or blue Bengal
lights, which threw on the palaces of the Grand Canal tints of
fairy-like hue. The passage of the Rialto was extremely amusing. No one
could turn around or withdraw from his place, and the result was that
for an hour and a quarter the entire space between the Loredan palace
and the Rialto was an immovable bridge. The instant a crevice as wide as
one’s hand appeared between two sterns a prow slipped into it like a
coin. Every instant was heard the cracking of planks, and now and then
the cracking of an oar. It is most extraordinary that in all this
throng, which, in France would be the occasion of a free-for-all
scrimmage, not an oath was heard, not even a word of ill-humour. These
people are a compound of milk and maize. I saw yesterday, in
Saint-Mark’s Place, a monk fall on his knees before an Austrian corporal
who obstructed his way. I have never seen anything so distressing, and
in full view of the Lion of Saint-Mark, too!

I am waiting here for Panizzi. I go in society sometimes. I visit the
libraries and spend my time in a tolerably agreeable way. I saw
yesterday the Armenians, and very handsome chaps they are, whom the mere
sight of a senator transformed into Armenians from Constantinople. They
presented me with an epic poem by one of their Fathers.

Good-bye. I shall reach Genoa, probably, the 1st of September, and Paris
certainly in October. I shall go to Vienna as soon as I have heard from
you. For the last few days I have been fairly well, but for more than a
fortnight I was miserably ill. Good-bye again.



CLXXXI


GENOA, _September 10, 1858_.

On my arrival here I found your letter of the 1st, which I acknowledge
gratefully. You make no mention of one which I wrote you from Brescia
about the first of this month. In it I said that I had left Venice with
regret, and that I was thinking of you constantly.

Lake Como was charming. I stopped at Bellagio. In a little villa by the
lake shore I found Madame Pasta, whom I had not seen since the days of
her triumphs in the Italian Opera. She has increased singularly in
width. She is now cultivating her cabbages, and says she is as happy as
when we used to throw crowns and sonnets to her. We talked of music, the
drama, and she said something that struck me as very true, which was
that since Rossini no one had written an opera of any unity, of which
all the parts held together. All that Verdi and his associates have done
resembles a harlequin’s costume.

The weather is magnificent, and this evening the boat leaves for
Leghorn. I am tempted strongly to go to Florence for a week, returning
by way of Genoa, and probably by the Corniche. If, however, I should
receive any letters of importance, I might take the Turin route, and
reach Paris in thirty hours. In any case, I shall expect to see you
there October 1st. Be kind enough not to forget, or you will put me to
the necessity of going to search for you along your sea-shore.

You say nothing about Grenoble spinach, or the fifty-three ways of
serving it, customary in Dauphiny. Is any one left who used to know
Beyle? I received some time ago a very witty letter, full of anecdotes
about him, from a man whose name I have forgotten, but who, I believe,
is registrar of the Imperial Court. Formerly, there was still some sense
of humour in the provinces, as in the period of the president _de
Brosses_; now, however, not even an idea is to be found there. The
railroads are hastening the process of mental paralysis, and I am
confident that, in twenty years from now, reading will be a lost art....



CLXXXII


CANNES, _October 8, 1858_.

Your gimcracks have arrived here without accident. I shall be in Paris
next Wednesday or Thursday. When you want your trinkets, you can come
and get them. I returned from Florence by land, and am glad to have
decided on that route. After leaving Spezzia the scenery is magnificent,
as fine, if not finer, than that found from Genoa to Nice. I am bringing
with me a lovely souvenir of Florence. It is a beautiful city. Venice is
only pretty. As for works of art, there is no comparison possible. In
Florence there are two unexcelled museums.

When you visit Pisa, I would advise you to stop at the Hôtel de la Grand
Bretagne. It is the perfection of comfort. I committed the egregious
folly, on the recommendation of a Nice newspaper, of going to see a cave
of stalactites, which was discovered by a rabbit. It is in the suburbs
of a town named Colle, in France, but only a step from the frontier. I
was obliged to crawl over the ground for an hour, in order to see a few
crystallisations more or less ridiculous, in the form of carrots or
turnips, hanging from the roof.

I found here a complete desert; all the hotels are empty, not an
Englishman in the street. It is just the time, however, to spend a few
days here. The weather is superb, just warm enough to be comfortable in
the shade, but the sun is no longer dangerous. In two months everything
will be crowded, and there will be a north-wind of the most
disagreeable kind. Travellers are stupid sheep.

Did I tell you of the quail served with rice, which I ate at Milan? It
was the most remarkable thing I discovered in that city, and is worth
the journey. I return to this country with delight, after having visited
so many others which are considered grander. The mountains of the
Estérel impressed me as smaller than the Alps, but their outlines are as
graceful as any that one can see. Enough said on the subject of my
travels.

What are your intentions for this autumn? Do you intend to bury yourself
in your Dauphiny mountains? Where you are concerned, one never knows
what to expect. You look one way and row another. Good-bye....



CLXXXIII


PARIS, _October 21, 1858_.

Here I am back in this city of Paris, where I am furious not to find
you. It begins to be cold and dismal, and still no one has returned. I
left Cannes in admirable weather, which became greyer and greyer with
every step I took towards the North.

Pity me! While in Venice I bought a chandelier, which arrived yesterday
broken in three places. The Jew who sold it to me promised to make good
any damage, but what power have I to compel him to do so?

I have not yet become accustomed to sleeping in my own bed. I feel like
a stranger here, and do not know what to do with my time. It would be
altogether different if you were in Paris.

I bought in Cannes that strange animal, the _prigadiou_, whose portrait
I have made for you. It is still alive, but I fear that you will find it
no longer in this world. It lives on flies, and flies are beginning to
be scarce. I have still a dozen which I am fattening. My friends think I
am thinner. It seems to me that my health is a trifle better than before
I went away....



CLXXXIV


PARIS, _Sunday night_, _November 15, 1858_.

... I go to-morrow morning to Compiègne, until the 19th. Write to me
until the 18th at the château. I am far from well, and the life I am to
lead for the next week will not improve my health. Certain corridors
must be crossed with neck and shoulders uncovered, which insure to those
who frequent them a fine cold. I can not say what will be the fate of
those who have a cold already developed. Pardon this hideous hiatus.

This morning I met Sandeau, in the excited condition of a man who has
just made his first appearance in knee-breeches. He put to me a hundred
questions of such simplicity that I was alarmed for him. There will be
also a number of great men from Outre-Manche, who will, doubtless,
contribute much to the animation and hilarity of the occasion. Good-bye.



CLXXXV


CHÂTEAU DE COMPIÈGNE, _Sunday, November 21, 1858_.

Your letter drives me to despair....

We are to remain at Compiègne one day longer. Instead of Thursday, we
shall return Friday, on account of a comedy of Octave Feuillet, which is
to be played Thursday night. I hope this will be the last delay.
Besides, I am thoroughly ill. It is impossible to sleep in this place.
One is either freezing or roasting, and this has given me an irritation
of the chest, which is extremely painful. It is, however, impossible to
fancy a host more amiable and a hostess more gracious.

Most of the invited guests left yesterday, and the rest of us make a
select little party; that is to say, there are but thirty or forty to
sit at table. We took a long walk in the woods, which recalled our
rambles of former times. Were it not for the cold, the forest would be
as beautiful as in the beginning of the autumn. The leaves still hang on
the trees, but of the most lovely yellow and orange tints you can
imagine. Deer crossed our path at every step.

To-day a fresh cargo of illustrious guests is to arrive. All the
ministers, in the first place, then Russians and other foreigners. The
heat in the salons will be intensified, of course. Good-bye.

When I think that I might have seen you in Paris to-day! I am tempted to
run away and give them the slip....



CLXXXVI


CHÂTEAU DE COMPIÈGNE, _Wednesday, November 24, 1858_.

Decidedly, the devil is taking a hand in affairs. I am to be here until
the 2d or 3d of December. I feel like hanging myself when I see you in
such a state of resignation. ‘Tis a virtue which I do not possess, and I
am in a rage. In spite of obstacles, I had made up my mind to spend a
few hours in Paris. Nothing is easier than not to appear at luncheon or
a promenade. It is dinner which is the serious point, and when I spoke
to the old courtiers of going to dine with Lady ---- in the city, they
made such a face, that I saw it was not to be thought of.

Our life here is most trying on the nerves and brain. We leave rooms
heated to forty degrees, to ride through the woods in an uncovered
wagonette. It freezes here at seven degrees. We then return to dress,
and find ourselves again in a tropical climate. I do not understand how
the women can stand it. I neither sleep nor eat, and spend my nights
thinking of Saint-Cloud or of Versailles....



CLXXXVII


MARSEILLES, _December 29, 1858_.

I spent my last day in Paris with a crowd of people who did not leave me
time to do up my packages and write to you. On my way to the station I
left at your house your two volumes unwrapped, sufficient proof of my
unusual haste. I hope your concierge will have confined himself to
looking at the pictures, and that he delivered them to you promptly.

I was terribly cold on the journey. At Dijon I met the snow, of which I
saw the last only at Lyons. Here a slight mistral is blowing, but the
sun shines gloriously. They write me from Cannes that the weather is
magnificent, although cold for that climate--that is to say, a May
temperature. I was shockingly ill in the train from Paris to Marseilles,
and all night I thought I should suffocate. This morning I am greatly
relieved. It is a pleasure to see the sun once more, and to feel its
genuine warmth.

You have found nothing for me to give Sainte Eulalie, and I fancy that I
may have forgotten to remind you of that important matter. No more
handkerchiefs, no more boxes. I have been giving such things for twenty
years. In an extreme case, I might return again to brooches; but if it
were possible to select something newer, it would be desirable. I
continue to rely on you to choose the books for the Misses Lagrénée.
Think of all the responsibility you have taken on your shoulders! I have
always found you worthy of my confidence. Your selection of books for
young girls has always been exquisite.

When I pass through Marseilles again, I will attend to your commissions,
if you have any, as to the purchase of cloaks or eastern stuffs. There
is a Jew here, very dishonest, but with an excellent stock of goods,
whom I honour with my patronage. I have just seen a recent arrival from
Cannes who tells me the roads are atrocious. I feel my flesh beginning
to creep from to-night, and think of twenty-four hours, at least, on the
road! If you go to Florence next year you must tell me in time. It is my
dream to return there with you. I will be your guide in seeing the city.

Good-bye. Let me hear from you soon, and tell me what people are saying
in Paris.



CLXXXVIII


CANNES, _January 7, 1859_.

I am settled here in some sort of fashion. The weather is cold but
magnificent. From ten o’clock until four the sun is warm; but hardly has
it touched the summit of the mountains of the Estérel, when there arises
a keen wind from the Alps which cuts you in two. Nevertheless, I feel
much better than when I was in Paris. I have had no paroxysms of pain,
and the cough I brought away with me is entirely cured from being in the
open air; only I eat nothing at all, and sleep but so-so.

On account of my nervous temperament, I became the other day terribly
irritated and was obliged to dismiss my servant, to turn him out on the
spot. Persons of that class imagine themselves necessary to you and
abuse your patience. I have found a fellow here to take care of my
clothes, who is like a cat walking on ice with nut-shells on his feet. I
should like to discover a treasure such as I have sometimes seen--some
one who would understand my wishes without putting me to the necessity
of speaking.

Englishmen are here in great numbers. I dined day before yesterday at
Lord Brougham’s, with I don’t know how many misses, freshly arrived from
Scotland, to whom the sight of the sun seemed to cause immense surprise.
If I had the talent to describe costumes, I should amuse you with the
description of theirs. You have never seen anything to equal them since
the invention of crinoline.

I am reading the _Memoirs of Catherine II_. As a representation of
manners and customs it is remarkable. This and the _Memoirs of the
Margrave of Bayruth_ give a singular idea of the people of the
eighteenth century, and especially of the court-life of the period. When
Catherine II married the grand duke, who became afterwards Peter III,
she had a wealth of diamonds and beautiful brocade gowns, and yet her
living apartment consisted of a single room, which served as a
passageway to her women, who, twenty-six in number, all slept in one
room beside that of the queen. There is not a tradesman’s wife to-day
who does not live more comfortably than did empresses a hundred years
ago.

The memoirs of Catherine stop, unfortunately, at the most interesting
moment, before the death of Elisabeth. She says enough, however, to give
the strongest reasons for believing that Paul I was the son of a Prince
Soltykof. It is a singular thing that the manuscript in which all these
choice incidents are related she dedicated to her son, this same Paul I.

I have learned that you executed conscientiously my commission for the
purchase of books. I have even received Olga’s acknowledgments. She
seems enchanted with her portion. One book especially, something about
_Gems of Poetry_ (_?_), has produced a tremendous effect. I inclose her
eulogies. I hope your fertile imagination will not rest with this
success, and that it will find me something for my cousin, Sainte
Eulalie.

Good-bye, dear friend. I should like to send you a little of my
sunshine. Take care of yourself, and think of me. The _prigadiou_ is
remarkably well. After his fast of six weeks he has begun to eat again.
He devoured three flies the day of his arrival in Cannes. At present, he
has become so fastidious that he will eat nothing but the heads.
Good-bye again....



CLXXXIX


CANNES, _January 22, 1859_, _at night_.

Marvellous moonlight, not a cloud, the sea as smooth as a mirror, and no
breath of wind. From ten o’clock until five it was as warm as a June
day. The longer I stay the more I am convinced that it is the light that
does me good, more than the warmth and exercise. We had one rainy day,
followed by one of gloom and threatening skies. I had horrible spasms of
coughing, but as soon as the sun reappeared, Richard was himself again.

How are you, dear friend? Have the dinners of the _Kings_ and of the
_Carnival_ fattened you much? As for me, I eat nothing at all. At the
same time, a friend who came down from Paris expressly to see me
considers my food excellent. We have nothing but some queer-looking
fish, mutton, and woodcock. You may believe that Cannes is becoming too
civilised, entirely too much so. They are now engaged in destroying one
of my favourite walks, the rocks near Napoule, to build the railroad in
that direction. When it is completed we can take advantage of it, as we
did that of Bellevue; but Cannes will then become infested with the
Marseillais, and all its picturesqueness will be lost.

Do you know a creature called the hermit-crab? It is a small lobster,
the size of a locust, and has a tail without any scales. He finds a
shell which fits his tail, crawls into it, and thus moves himself along
the sea-shore. Yesterday I found one, and very carefully broke the shell
without injuring the crab, which I then placed in a dish of sea-water.
He made there the most piteous appearance. I then put an empty shell on
the dish. The little creature approached it, moved around it, then
raised one claw in the air, evidently to measure the height of the
shell. After meditating a half minute, he thrust one of his claws into
the shell to assure himself that it was really empty. Then, seizing it
with his foreclaws, he took a somersault in such a way that his tail
entered the shell. At once he began to walk about the dish, with the
satisfied air of a man coming out of a furnishing shop with a new coat.
I have seldom seen such evidences of reasoning in animals as this.

You will observe that I have given myself up entirely to the study of
nature. Besides my researches on animals (I have also the story of a
goat to tell you), I have painted some landscapes, of which the last one
is always more beautiful than the others. Unfortunately, a friend of
mine here has filched my two best works. My friend, who is far more of
an artist than I, is in a perpetual state of admiration of this country.
We spend our days sketching, returning at night utterly exhausted, when
I have no courage for writing. Nevertheless, I have written an article
on the _Dictionary of Personal Property_, by Viollet-le-Duc, which I
shall send with this letter. I should like you to read it. While it is
short, it contains, I fancy, an idea or two.

Did I tell you that my friend Augier wishes to have a melodrama on _The
False Demetrius_, and that I must work also on this? Finally, I have
promised the _Revue des Deux Mondes_ an article on Prescott’s _Philip
II_. Good-bye.



CXC


CANNES, _February 5, 1859_.

... For two days we have had bad weather, which has made me desperately
ill. I have formed for my own case a medical theory which is as good as
any other; it is, that sunlight is a necessity to me. When the sky is
overcast, I suffer; when it rains, I am perfectly good-for-nothing;
when the sun reappears at last, I am on my feet again.

It was during the bad weather that the new imperial highness[18] crossed
the sea. With us it (the sea) was devilish boisterous, and as wild as
the ocean. I thought of the sufferings of that poor princess, married
but the night before, her first experience on the sea, and with the
expectation of an harangue by the mayor as soon as she should land. Do
you not think it preferable in Paris to belong to the bourgeois? I
should like to do so in Cannes.

My house is situated in front of the _Hôtel de la Poste_. My windows
face the sea, and from my bed I can see the islands. It is a delicious
view. I have about thirty sketches, more or less poor, but which I have
enjoyed making. You shall have several, if you make a wise choice; if
not, I shall select them for you. The almond-trees are in bloom in every
direction, but the winter has been so severe and the summer so dry that
the jessamines are almost entirely blighted. If you wish to have any
acacias, you have but to mention it.

Yesterday I corrected the proofs of the article of which I spoke to you.
As for _Demetrius_, I have abandoned all thought of it; and it needed
your letter to remind me that I had ever thought of it.

A colleague is a useful person to have near one, in that he knows, in
the first place, all the tricks of the trade, and, besides, that he can
meet all the actors and other unsavory people whom my mightiness does
not wish to see. I received a letter this morning from a M. Beyle, of
Grasse, who is an admirer of mine, who is twenty-two years old, and who
asks permission to read to me several works of his own composition. Can
you comprehend such a sudden disaster, when one thinks himself safe from
everything literary?

I have had another misfortune. My _prigadiou_ died suddenly during the
stormy weather. I am thinking of raising a monument to his memory on the
rock where I found him. I continue my investigations of the habits of
hermit-crabs. The study of instinct in dumb creatures is extremely
interesting, I assure you. I have also a dog, who belongs ostensibly to
my servant, but who has attached himself to me. He understands
everything that is said to him, even in French, and since he has seen
his master serving me he holds him in contempt.

I should be glad if you would read Caesar, by Ampère, which has just
appeared. It is possible that I may be obliged to write a critique
concerning it, and since it is written in Alexandrine metre, the
possibility terrifies me. I should like to take your opinion of it cut
and dried, for I never could criticise verse.

I am beginning to count the days. The month will not come to an end, I
hope, without seeing you. I suspect that in Paris you feel no longing
for mountain air or legs of mutton. I myself am living in the open air.
I sleep no better than ever, but I have good legs, and I can climb
without losing my breath.

Good-bye. Write once more and tell me the news and the novelties of
Paris. I am so rusty that I have taken to reading Mormon leaflets; to
reach this point one must come to Cannes.



CXCI


PARIS, _March 24, 1859_.

Were you free to-day? To my distress, I supposed I was engaged for the
whole day, which prevented me from writing and asking to see you. At the
last moment I found myself perfectly free, with all the chagrin that you
may imagine.

I am glad if my article on Prescott’s work has pleased you. I am not too
well satisfied with it myself, because I have not said half of what I
wished to say, in accordance with the aphorism of Philip II, that one
should speak only well of the dead. The work is really mediocre, and not
even interesting. It seems to me that if the author had been less of a
Yankee he might have done something better....



CXCII


PARIS, _April 23, 1859_.

The news has made me ill, although I was not at all surprised.
Everything now is given over to chance. I suppose your brother is ready
to be off. I wish him all the good luck possible. The war,[19] I fancy,
will be violent enough at first, but it will not last long. The
financial condition of every one concerned will not allow its
continuance. While strolling yesterday in the woods, where there were
multitudes of birds, it seemed extraordinary that in such weather as
this people should be amusing themselves fighting.

I hope you find the _Memoirs of Catherine_ entertaining. There is a
flavour of local colour which I find delightful. What a ridiculous
creature was a great lady of that period, and how clear as day does it
appear from this story that nothing but strangling could have had any
effect on a beast like Peter III!

Some one gave me to read a novel by Lady Georgina Fullerton, written in
French, with a request that I should note the passages that are
imperfect. There is nothing in the book but Béarnese peasants who eat
bread and butter and poached eggs, and who sell peaches at thirty francs
a basket. I might as well try to write a Chinese novel. You ought to
take this book and correct it for me for the trouble I have taken to
lend you so many books which you have never returned. I went to the
Exposition yesterday, and it seemed to me shockingly commonplace. The
tendency of art is to a low level which amounts to positive flatness.



CXCIII


PARIS, _Thursday, April 28, 1859_.

I received your letter last night. You will stop at ----, I imagine. It
would be folly on your part to attempt to go farther. I shall not repeat
what you already know of the sympathy I feel for your anxieties. When
one is the sister of a soldier, one must become accustomed to the sound
of cannon. Since last night, moreover, the signs of peace are brighter
than they were several days ago. It appears, even, that there is a
probability of the acceptance by Austria of the proffered arbitration by
England, and also by France. Nevertheless, many troops are departing,
and two regiments have already landed at Genoa, beneath a deluge of
flowers. I believe there will be war, but it will not continue long, and
I hope that after the first conflict all Europe will interpose between
the belligerent parties.

Austria, moreover, for lack of means, would be unable to maintain a long
struggle, and it is thought by many persons that the principal object of
her rash act is to offer a pretext for pleading bankruptcy. It seems to
me that the feeling here is better than it was. The people are bellicose
and over-confident, the soldiers in high spirits and full of assurance.
The Zouaves departed, after being away from their barracks and sleeping
under the stars for a week, saying that in time of war there was no such
thing as home comforts. On the day of their departure not a man was
missing.

There is in our army a gaiety and ardour absolutely lacking among the
Austrians. Although scarcely optimistic, I have firm confidence in our
success. Our former reputation is so well and widely established, that
those who fight against us do so with faint hearts. Do not use your
imagination in creating tragic possibilities; remember that very few
bullets strike, and that the war in which we are to engage will prove
tremendously interesting to your brother. Do not intimate to your
sister-in-law that the fascinating Italian ladies will throw themselves
at the heads of our soldiers. You may rest assured that they will be
petted, and will be fed on _macaroni stupendi_, while the Austrian
soldiers are likely to find verdigris sometimes in their soup. If I were
your brother’s age, a campaign in Italy would give me the agreeable
opportunity of observing one of the most splendid spectacles, the
awakening of an oppressed people.

Good-bye, dear friend. Let me hear from you promptly, and keep me
informed of your plans.



CXCIV


PARIS, _May 7, 1859_.

I have not replied to your letter immediately, because I have been
waiting to hear of your new address. I can not believe that you are
still at ----; yet I am in hopes that this letter will overtake you
somewhere, even in Turin, if you decided to go so far. Now that war is
declared, remember that all bullets do not hit their mark, and that
there is a great deal of space above and around a man. If you have read
_Tristram Shandy_, you will have learned that every ball carries its
message, most of which, luckily, are intended to fall on the ground.

Your brother will return with his epaulets, and will have taken part in
the noblest campaign since the Revolution and General Bonaparte. I wish
the latter could have been in the field in person; it would give us
absolute certainty of success. In considering the pros and the cons,
however, the appearances weigh rather in our favour. If, as I imagine,
we are victorious in the beginning, after the custom of the _furia
francese_, it is probable that strenuous efforts will be made by all the
European powers to arrest hostilities. Austria, who is already at the
limit of her resources and ready to declare bankruptcy, will not need
much persuasion, and on our side also, there will probably be
moderation. If the war is prolonged, it will become a war of revolution,
which will circle the globe, but this seems much more improbable than
the other supposition.

If you care to know the news, every one is surprised at the announcement
of the names of the new ministers; one tries to discover some reason for
them, but without success. The English are becoming tranquil; the
Germans quite the contrary. I fear the former far more than the latter.
There is still talk of a Russian alliance, but I do not believe it will
come to anything. The Russians have nothing to lose in the quarrel, and,
no matter what the result, they will always contrive to work to their
own advantage. Meanwhile they amuse themselves making Panslavic
intrigues among the Austrian subjects, who regard the Emperor Alexander
as their Pope.

General Klapka left Paris three weeks ago, to found a bank in
Constantinople. Many other Hungarian officers have followed the same
road, which seems to me a bad sign. A Hungarian revolution is not an
impossibility, but it would, I think, do us more harm than good.

Nothing new from the seat of war. The Austrians appear to be somewhat
shamefaced and bashful. It is expected that before the end of the month
there will be an encounter. Our soldiers are in high spirits and
splendidly enthusiastic. Here, the common people and small tradesmen are
belligerent. The great mass of people take a keen interest in the
crisis, and are praying for our success. The salons, particularly those
of the Orleanists, are absolutely anti-French, and, moreover, stark-mad.
They fancy that they will return on the tide, and that their burgraves
will resume the thread of their discourses, interrupted in 1848. Poor
creatures! they do not realise that following this, there is nothing but
the Republic, anarchy, and division of property.

I should like to know your plans. It seems to me that in Paris you would
be at the centre of news, and in a time like this that is essential. For
this reason I think I shall not go to Spain; I shall bite my nails to
the quick, probably, waiting for despatches.

If you went as far as ----, which I think scarcely probable, I do not
doubt that you will soon return. In the midst of all your tribulations,
are you thinking of a retreat for several days in some oasis?

You and I, it seems to me, need very much to rest peacefully for a few
days, as a preparation for the warlike emotions which we shall be
obliged to suffer. Nothing at this time would be easier for you, if you
wished to do a kind act. If you will warn me a little in advance, I
shall be ready to bring you here, or somewhere else, wherever you will;
I can easily manage to get away for a week. Be good enough to give the
matter your careful consideration, and let me know your decision; I
shall await it with the utmost impatience.

Good-bye, dear friend. Be of good courage. Do not create spectres, and
have faith. I kiss you tenderly, as I love you.



CXCV


PARIS, _May 19, 1859_.

It seems to me that in your place I should be in Paris, for it is here
that all the news comes first. I run after it all day long. The loan has
been negotiated, not for 500,000,000, but for 2,000,000,000 francs,
besides several cities whose value I do not know. During the last three
weeks, 54,000 volunteers have been enrolled. These figures are
authentic. The Austrians are retiring, and the stakes are open on the
question of whether they will give battle before abandoning Milan, or
whether they will proceed at once to form an unbroken triangle bounded
by Mantua, Verona, and Peschiera. Our officers speak in the highest
praise of the reception accorded them. The Germans are howling at us,
just as they did in 1813. Some think it is due to their inveterate
hatred of us; others, that beneath it all is a definite amount of
red-hot liberalism, which to-day takes the Teutonic form.

The Russians are arming vigorously, which causes general food for
thought. A certain grand duchess Catherine has just made a visit to the
Empress; the significance of this is either auspicious or otherwise.
Russia is a powerful ally, who could swallow Germany alive, but who
would also procure for us the enmity, and, perhaps, the hostility of
England. We have lived for so long a life of sybaritism that we have
forgotten the sentiments of our fathers. We must return to their
philosophy of life. We danced in Paris while we fought in Germany, and
this continued for more than twenty years! In the present age wars can
not drag on so long, because revolutions interfere, and because they are
too costly. This is why, if I were young, I should be a soldier.

But let us have done with this hideous subject. The misfortune which is
to come can not be avoided and the wisest plan is to think of it as
little as possible; and it is for this reason that I wish so ardently to
take a walk with you, far, far from the scene of war, where we shall
think only of the leaves and the blooming flowers, and of other things
no less agreeable. Whatever may happen, is not this course the most
sensible? If you have read Boccaccio, you will have learned that after
all crushing misfortunes one comes to that point. Is it not wiser to
begin thus? Great truths and reasonable facts do not find ready access
to your brain. I shall never forget your astonishment when I told you
there were woods in the suburbs of Paris.

I took dinner at the home of a Chinese, who offered me an opium pipe. I
was suffering from suffocation; at the third puff I was cured. A Russian
who tried the pipe after me was completely transformed in less than ten
minutes; from a very homely man, he became a truly handsome one. This
continued fully a quarter of an hour. Is it not singular, the effect
produced by a few drops of poppy juice?

Good-bye. Answer me quickly.



CXCVI


PARIS, _May 28, 1859_.

You have a way of announcing bad news that is maddening to me. You take
a great deal of pains in order, perhaps, to smooth them over; better to
tell me all that you would have done, _if_ ... It is like Roland’s
horse, who had every good quality, but who was dead. If he had not been
dead, he would have run faster than the wind. I do not care at all for
that kind of pleasantry, because, in the first place, you are suspicious
of me; and, again, because it is exasperating enough to have you so far
away, without being obliged to regret the hours I might have spent with
you. The time of your return, probably, is not far distant. Meanwhile,
keep me informed of your actions and your projects, for I can not
imagine that you will not be up to all sorts of mad tricks.

Not a word of news. We are told not to expect any before twelve days or
thereabouts. Germany is still in a tremendous state of fermentation, but
the indications tend to show that there will be more beer drunk than
blood shed. Prussia will resist to the utmost the pressure of the
_Franzosen-fresser_. They say now that they must recover not only
Alsace, but also the German provinces of Russia. This last bit of
facetiousness seems to indicate that the Teutonic sentiment of
enthusiasm is both inconsiderate and wanting in seriousness.

M. Ivan Tourguenieff, who has just arrived in Paris, direct from Moscow,
says that we have the sympathy of all Russia, and that the army would be
charmed to settle with Austria. The popes are preaching that God intends
to punish them for the persecutions which they inflict on the Orthodox
Greeks of Slavic race, and a subscription has been opened to send tracts
and Slavonic Bibles to the Croatians, to save them from papist heresy.
All this is somewhat like a political propaganda of Panslavism.

At this moment a serious attack against the Derby ministry is being
organised. Lord Palmerston and Lord John would become reconciled (a
condition most improbable), or, what would seem even more so, would
agree on the resignation of the present cabinet. The Radicals promise to
lend their support to the movement. The Whigs claim to have 350 votes
against 280. Whatever be the outcome of the affair, I think we have very
little to gain by a change. Lord Palmerston, although the original
promoter of the Italian agitation, will not support it any more than
Lord Derby. At the same time, he will be scarcely likely to temporise
with Austria, and he will not seek an opportunity to create embarrassing
situations for us.

I have received a letter from Leghorn. We made our entry there beneath a
flood of flowers and _gold powder_, which the ladies threw from the
windows.

Good-bye. Write to me soon, sensibly, without any diplomacy. I am
particularly anxious to know what you intend to do, for this will
influence my own plans.



CXCVII


PARIS, _June 11, 1859_.

I do not expect to stir from the city. If your brother is still at the
head of a besieging battery, I fancy he will not leave Grenoble until
the Austrians are driven back into their famous triangle or rectangle,
whichever it is. According to the opinion of the soldiers, this will not
occur until after another battle near Lodi, for it appears that there
are certain places which have the privilege of attracting the armies.
But no one seems yet to understand the meaning of war with the aid of
railroads, telegraph lines, and rifled guns. I have lost faith in
everything and am consumed with anxiety.

The great politicians, burgraves, and others, people as imbecile as the
old military men, announce that all Europe is preparing to interfere,
with entreaties and threats, between the _Adda_ and the _Mincio_. This,
indeed, is highly probable; yet I do not see very well how it is going
to mend matters. After the famous phrase, _Sin all’ Adriatico_, how is
it possible to abandon Italy half delivered? How can one expect that an
emperor of twenty-four, obstinate and under Jesuit influence, beaten,
moreover, will confess that he has acted like a fool, and plead for
forgiveness? Is it not to be expected that the Italians also, who up to
the present have acted with discretion, pending the negotiations, will
commit every folly imaginable?

If we have all Europe at our heels, how shall we get out of it without
having recourse to our last trump, which is a general revolution,
supposing even that such a proposition would meet with approval? It
appears that Austria intends to send her last soldier to Italy.
Everything looks very gloomy, with little to reassure us, but it is one
reason more why we should gather strength and courage for the
misfortunes which may befall us....

I am thinking of this warm weather and of the green leaves. This time
last year I was in Switzerland, far from imagining all that has happened
and all that is still to happen.

Good-bye. You know that I am waiting impatiently for your letters. Do
not fail to be precise and clear in explaining your intentions.



CXCVIII


PARIS, _July 3, 1859_.

Why are you such an age sending me any news of yourself? Since it
appears evident that you have no intention of leaving ----, I am
extremely anxious to go there to see you. We might arrange with Lady ----
for an excursion into the mountains of Dauphiny. Think over this
proposition. You can not conceive of all the visions I have seen since
the return of warm weather--visions sometimes of Abbeville, sometimes of
Versailles....

I am considered a prophet here, for having announced three days ago that
peace would be made between the two emperors only at the expense of the
neutrals. I confess that the last part of the prophecy seems to me
somewhat difficult to realise. It is not, however, impossible, and it
would be entirely reasonable for Solon said that the man who does not
take part in civil war should be declared a public enemy.

My poor devil of a servant was shot in the leg and received a fracture,
at the battle of Solferino. As he wrote me nine days after the battle,
and the leg had not been amputated, I hope he will come out of it
safely. Everybody at my house is in tears, and I do not know how I am to
get anything to eat. I am, besides, far from well. I can not sleep, and
have frequent spasms of choking. I am longing for you, to take care of
me in your own way. Good-bye.



CXCIX


PARIS, _Tuesday night_, _July 20, 1859_.

You alone give me resignation to accept peace. It may have been
necessary; but we ought not to have commenced so bravely, only to end by
getting things into a worse muddle than they were in the beginning.
After all, why should we concern ourselves in the liberty of a pack of
bricklayers and musicians?

To-night we listened to that which you will read in the _Moniteur_.[20]
It was finely delivered, and its tenor was one of nobility, frankness,
and sincerity. The address was full of good sense and truth. The
returning officers say that the Italians are a set of brawlers and
cowards, and that the Piedmontese alone can fight, but pretend that we
interfere with them and that without us they would have been more
successful.

The empress asked me, in Spanish, how I liked the address; from which I
infer that she did not like it. I replied, in order to reconcile
court-flattery and truth, “_Muy necessario._” To tell the truth, it
pleased me, for it takes a brave man to say, “Do you believe that it has
not cost me?” etc.

When I make you a proposition I am always perfectly serious about it.
All depends on you. I am invited to visit in Scotland and England. If
you return to Paris, I shall not budge a step. I shall be under an
extraordinary obligation to you, and if you had any idea of the pleasure
you would give me, I can not believe that you would hesitate. I shall
await your decision.

I had a horrible fright this morning. There came to see me a man,
dressed in black, with an abundance of white linen and an attractive
manner. He had an unusually handsome and noble face. He said he was a
lawyer. After taking a seat, he told me that he was inspired by God,
whose unworthy instrument he was, and whom he obeyed in all things. He
had been accused of attempting to kill his porter with a dagger, but he
had only shown him a crucifix. This devil of a man rolled his eyes in
the most terrible way, and held me truly spellbound. While speaking, he
kept his hand constantly in the pocket of his coat, and I expected to
see him draw out a dagger. Unluckily, he had only to select one on my
table. I had no weapon but a Turkish pipe, and I was calculating the
moment when prudence would indicate that I should break it over his
head. At last he drew from his terrible pocket a rosary, and fell at my
knees. I preserved a glacial composure, but I was afraid, for how can
one protect himself against a madman?

He then left, making many apologies, and thanking me for the interest I
had manifested in him. Notwithstanding my terror, inspired by the sight
of the animal’s brilliant eyes--frightful, I assure you, and
penetrating--I made a curious observation. I asked him if he was quite
certain that he was inspired, and if he had made any experiments which
would give him assurance on this point. I reminded him that Gideon, when
called of God, had taken the precaution to require a few trifling
miracles as a test.

“Do you understand Russian?” I asked him.

“No.”

“Very well. I am going to write two Russian sentences on these slips of
paper. One of these sentences contains an impious thought. From what you
have told me, one of these papers will horrify you. Will you make the
test?”

He accepted. I wrote the sentences. He kneeled down and prayed; then
suddenly he exclaimed:

“My God is unwilling to accept a frivolous experiment. It would have to
be something of serious importance.”

Do you not admire the prudence of this poor lunatic, who feared that,
unknowingly, the experiment would not turn out favourably?

Good-bye. I await a prompt reply.



CC


PARIS, _July 21, 1859_.

My letter of yesterday crossed with yours. That is to say, it was no
letter that you sent me, but a most exasperating curl-paper. I can
readily fancy the frivolous life you are leading, now that you are
reassured as to your brother’s safety.

I am really ill, from the effects of the intense heat, and from the
absolute lack of sleep and appetite. I doubt not that in both respects
you have nothing of which to complain. It seems to me at times that I am
making rapid strides towards the tomb. This thought is sometimes most
persistent, and I should like to be diverted from it. This is one reason
why I wish so eagerly to see you. You will receive both of my letters at
the same time. I hope you will answer explicitly and literally.

I am reading the _Letters of Madame du Deffand_, which will amuse you
tremendously. It gives a picture of a society which is agreeable, and
not altogether frivolous, much less so, indeed, than is generally
supposed. That which impresses me as entirely unlike the present time,
is, in the first place, the universal desire to be agreeable, and the
trouble that each one thinks himself obliged to take; in the second
place, it is the sincerity and fidelity of the affections. These people
were much kinder than me, and than you, whom I love no longer.

Good-bye. I am in too bad a humour to write more. For several days I
have been again troubled by palpitation, and I am horribly weak and
nervous.



CCI


PARIS, _Saturday, July 30, 1859_.

I shall remain in Paris until the 15th of August, after which I shall
go, probably, to the Highlands for a few days. But it must be
understood, of course, that you shall have the preference over
everything else, and any day that you indicate you may expect me without
fail. You will notice that I am definite; see if, in your letters, you
can not be a little so yourself. It seems that you can no longer exist
away from mountains and venerable forests. I imagine that you are
browned by the sun and have gained in flesh. No matter how you look, I
shall certainly be charmed to see you, and you may be sure of being
treated with the most tender affection.

I see from your letters that you are spending your time merrily in
promenades and amusements of all kinds. I try to imagine what may be the
relative merit of an inhabitant of Pas-de-Calais compared to one from
Grenoble. Everything considered, I have leanings toward the former, for
the reasons that he is less noisy, and has never had any parliament to
persuade him that he has a mind, and that he has a political importance.
I knew, however, two intelligent men from Grenoble, but they had spent
their life in Paris. I can not conceive of what the women can be like.
It is not very long since I abandoned imaginary pictures of the human
heart, so that I might cease to interest myself in the mental status of
the present age....

I am still ill, and suspect sometimes that I am travelling on the grand
railway which leads beyond the tomb. At times the idea is painful to me,
at others I find in it the consolation which one feels in a railway
train: the absence of responsibility before a superior and irresistible
power....



CCII


PARIS, _August 12, 1859_.

I shall visit you before the end of the month. It is very probable that
before going to Spain I shall make a short journey to Germany. I am not
even sure that I shall go to Spain at all, for I hear the cholera has
broken out there, and that will drive away the friends whom I wish to
see. Tell me, therefore, when I may go to see you. When you wish to
delay negotiations you are more clever than the Austrian diplomats in
finding dilatory excuses. Send me a prompt answer. It is understood, of
course, that I shall always accept good reasons, sensible objections,
but they must be explained definitely and frankly. You are well aware
that whenever it is a question of deciding between the greatest
happiness for me and the least inconvenience for you, I shall never
hesitate.

I told you--did I not?--that I was reading the _Letters of Madame du
Deffand_,[21] that is, the last ones. They are most interesting, and
give one a good idea of the social life of that period. There is,
however, a great deal of tiresome repetition. You shall read them, if
you wish.



CCIII


PARIS, _Saturday, September 3, 1859_.

I fear very much that we shall meet no more this year on this side of
the Acheron, and I am unwilling to leave without bidding you farewell,
and telling you something of my peregrinations. I shall start
Monday--that is, day after to-morrow--for Tarbes, where I shall remain,
probably, until the 12th, when I shall return to Paris for several days,
and leave again soon afterwards for Spain. If I believed in
presentiments, I should not cross the Pyrenees; but it is too late to
change my mind, and I must make my visit, which will probably be the
last, to Madrid. I am too old and too ill to undertake another such
journey. If I did not feel in duty bound to go bidding good-bye to some
of my best friends, I should not budge from my hole.

While I am not ill, I am so nervous that it is worse than illness. I
neither eat nor sleep, and have, besides, the blue devils. My only
consolation is the knowledge that you are enjoying yourself, and are
rapidly gaining in flesh among your mountains and country-folk.

I have just received from London the _Memoirs of the Princess
Doschkoff_, and am not yet entirely reconciled to the thirty francs
which it cost me. I am promised on my return from Tarbes a novel
written in Little-Russian dialect, and translated into Russian by M.
Tourguenieff. It is said to be a masterpiece, superior to _Uncle Tom_.
There are, besides, the _Letters of the Princess of Ursins_, which are
highly spoken of; but I have a horror of that woman, and do not care for
the book. As for interesting books, I know of nothing new; I have dipped
into several, in order to beguile the lonely evenings, and I have found
none worth the trouble of cutting the leaves.

I met M. About the other day. He is always delightful. He has promised
me something. He lives in Saverne, and spends his time in the woods. A
month ago he came across an extraordinary-looking animal walking on
all-fours. He wore a black coat and patent leathers, but was minus
socks. It was the professor of rhetoric at Angoulême, who, having had
conjugal differences, went to Baden, where he promptly lost all he had,
and returning to France through the woods, had got lost, and for a week
had had nothing to eat. About carried, or rather dragged, him to a
village, where he was provided with clothing and food, but he died,
nevertheless, at the end of a week. It appears that after the animal-man
has lived for a certain time in complete solitude, and has reached a
certain condition of physical wretchedness, it seems, I repeat, that
this noble creature walks on all-fours. About assures me that he makes a
hideous-looking animal.

Write to me in care of the Minister of State at Tarbes.

Good-bye. I hope the autumn opens more benignly for you than it has for
me. It is cold and rainy, with much electricity in the air. Take care of
yourself, eat and sleep, since you are able to do it.



CCIV


PARIS, _September 15, 1859_.

I should have written to you from Tarbes immediately after receiving
your letter, but I was out all the time and in a constant state of
excitement. First came a letter from Saint Sauveur, where I was obliged
to go to spend a day; and the following day my visit was returned at the
home of M. Fould.[22] Consequently, there was a tremendous commotion,
and Madame Fould had to contrive a dinner and breakfast, which, in a
town like that I have just left, is no small undertaking. Besides, as
lodgings had to be provided for eight persons, I, as well as M. Fould’s
son, was obliged to give up my room and go to the inn. In the midst of
all this august upheaval, it would have been impossible to find paper
and pens in the house.

I left the 13th, to spend the night at Bordeaux, and arrived here last
night, without any other mishap than losing my keys, and among minor
misfortunes this is one of the most serious. I am still hoping to come
across them again, or else I must call in the locksmith. As for my visit
to Spain, I am depending on a friend who is to go with me. He is a
member of the Cortes, and his establishment is to open October 1st. We
shall go, probably, the 25th; I do not know his final decision. We shall
take the Marseilles route, in order to go by sea to Alicante....

This short trip to the Pyrenees has done me good. At Bagnères I took a
bath, which had a wonderfully soothing effect on my nerves, quieting
them for two days as I have not known for twenty years. The doctor there
is an old friend of mine, who urged me strongly to spend a season at the
baths next year. He guarantees that I shall come away a perfectly well
man. I am somewhat sceptical, but it is worth trying.

Their majesties were in good health and excellent spirits at Saint
Sauveur. I admired the behaviour of the natives, who had the good taste
not to follow them about, and wherever they went to leave them the most
complete liberty. While there the emperor bought a dog of the ancient
Pyrenean race. It is a little larger than a donkey, and is a beautiful
animal, which climbs over the rocks like a chamois.

It had been a long time since I had associated with the provincials. At
Tarbes they are an endurable class, and are exceedingly obliging.
Nevertheless, it passes comprehension how any one can remain with them
for a month. I had plenty of ortolans and quail _pâtés_ to eat, which
is, perhaps, a matter of more importance. You never mention your health.
I suppose it is excellent.

Good-bye.

... I shall write again before leaving.



CCV


PARIS, _September 20, 1859_.

There is certainly an evil genius who interferes in our affairs. I fear
that I shall have to go without seeing you. I had planned to leave Paris
the 30th, in order to be in Bayonne the 1st. It turns out that in the
Madrid diligences and mail-coaches, every place is engaged until
October 16th. There is nothing to do, therefore, but to go by sea--that
is, to go by steam-boat from Marseilles to Alicante. If some new
difficulty does not arise, I shall reach Marseilles the evening of the
28th (my birthday, parenthetically), and the 29th I shall be on the way.

Although you have kept me in a shocking rage this summer with your _ifs_
and your _noes_, it makes me very miserable, I assure you, to go without
bidding you good-bye. After living such an age without seeing you, to
enter again on another term of absence almost as long! Who knows if you
will be in Paris when I return? I am starting with all sorts of dismal
thoughts; I hope yours are more rose-coloured.

My little visit to Tarbes did me good, and I imagine the air of the
suburbs of Madrid will complete my cure. As always happens when I am
about to go on a journey, I have an inclination for work, which I should
never feel, doubtless, if I had remained at home. I am taking paper with
me in order to write in Madrid. Think of me the 29th of this month. I
shall in all probability be ill, while you will be in consultation with
your dressmaker on the subject of your fall gowns. The Gulf of Lyons is
always abominable, and it will probably be worse than ever at this
equinoctial season, which was created for my express annoyance.

To turn to the bright side of the prospect, I shall find, on my arrival
in Alicante, a railroad which will take me to Madrid in one day, instead
of being obliged to spend three days being jolted in the worst of
coaches, over the roughest ruts that one can imagine. During my absence
I shall probably have some commissions to give you. However, we have
plenty of time to speak of them, for I do not like to form plans long in
advance, especially with you, who, as you know, sometimes forget them.

You will find Paris entirely empty. I know of a good many persons who
are leaving, but, except yourself, I know of none who are returning. The
trees are parched, the peaches are all gone, and the grapes are good for
nothing. If you have been eating ortolans in Dauphiny, you will not
think much of the game which you will find in Paris. I am not guilty of
the sin of gluttony and am never hungry any more, and pay no attention
to what I have to eat.

I regret Paris; I should have seen you there. That is its only
attraction for me. Good-bye. You might write me once more here, until
the 27th. I fancy--think of the absurdity of it!--that you may surprise
me by arriving the 26th.



CCVI


MADRID, _October 21, 1859_.

I received with great pleasure your little letter, and especially your
amiable souvenir. I reached here exceedingly weary, not from the sea,
which was perfectly calm, but on account of the multitude of small
worries and annoyances which pile upon one just about to start on a
journey. Through an excess of zeal on the part of my friends, your
letter preceded me to Madrid. It was lost for several days, and it was
only with difficulty that it was at last recovered, safe and sound.

I find all here greatly changed. The ladies, whom I left slender as
spindles, have become elephantine, for the climate of Madrid is
uncommonly fattening. You may expect to see me expanded by a third.
Meanwhile, I eat hardly anything, and do not feel at all well. It is
very cold, raining intermittently, and the sun seldom appears. I spend
nearly every day at Carabanchel. At night we go to the Opera, which is
all that is deplorable.

I came this morning to Madrid to attend an academic meeting, and return
to-morrow to the country. Customs seem to have changed notably, and
politics and parliamentary procedure are singularly lacking in their
former picturesqueness. At this moment there is talk of nothing but war.
It is a question of avenging the national honour, and there is a general
atmosphere of enthusiasm that reminds one of the crusades. It is thought
that England regards the African expedition with disapproval, even that
she wishes to prevent it. This but adds fuel to their warlike ardour.
The army wishes to lay siege to Gibraltar, after having first taken
Tangiers. This state of affairs is no impediment to the speculation
carried on on the Bourse. The mania for gain has made immense strides
since my last visit--another French importation most disastrous for this
country.

I went to a bull-fight Monday, and was not at all interested. I had the
misfortune to learn too early the perfect type of beauty, and now,
having seen Montès, I can no longer endure his degenerate successors.
Beasts, as well as men, have degenerated. The bulls have become oxen,
and the spectacle is a little too suggestive of the slaughter-house. I
took my servant along. He has suffered all the emotions of a novice, and
for two days has been unable to eat meat.

What I have seen again with all the pleasure of former years is the
Museum. As I looked at each familiar picture, it seemed to me that I
was meeting an old friend! These, at least, do not change. Next week I
expect to go to La Manche, to visit a venerable château belonging to the
empress. From there I shall go to Toledo, in search of some old book
advertised in a sale to be held there, and I shall then return to Madrid
for the end of the month. I am trying to arrange my plans so that I may
be in Paris about the 15th of November.

Good-bye.



CCVII


CANNES, _January 3, 1860_.

I wish you a prosperous and happy New Year. I should be glad if you had
the weather that I am enjoying. As I write, all my windows are open, and
yet a north wind is blowing, strong enough to make funny little waves on
the sea. I thank you for getting the books. Evidently they gave
satisfaction, for I received a complimentary letter from Olga. I
suppose, in accordance with my wishes, you took special pains in your
selection for her. The choice for next year will certainly be
embarrassing, for you must have exhausted the catalogue of moral
literature.

I am writing to you in a most inconvenient position. Three days ago,
while sketching on the sea-shore, I was attacked by lumbago, which came
on me like a flash, without so much as saying “By your leave.” Since
that moment I have been all askew, although I rub with every sort of
herb known to Saint John. The sun proving my best remedy, I roast myself
in it all day.

We have stopping here baron Bunsen and his two daughters, both tired of
waiting for some one to come along, and with shanks resembling Hercules’
club, but one of whom sings very well. The baron is an intelligent man,
and knows all that is going on, of which you keep me slightly informed.
He told me of the discomfiture of the congress, which scarcely
astonishes me.

I have read the brochure of the abbé. It impresses me as more unskilful
than violent. He shows his hand so plainly, that he must certainly be
considered an awful plague in Rome, where common-sense and shrewdness
are not disregarded. The priests there are clever intriguers. Ours have
the blustering instincts of the nation, and do all sorts of irrevelant
things. The way he shelters himself behind his catacombs made me laugh,
and also the martyr airs he assumes concerning the money which was
offered him. You will see that he will ask for it in the end.

Here is a pretty story of this country. A farmer in the suburbs of
Grasse was found dead in a ravine into which he had fallen, or had been
thrown, in the night. Another farmer went to see one of his friends, and
accused him of killing the man.

“How and why did you do it?”

“Because he cast a spell over my sheep. When he did this I went to my
shepherd, and he gave me three needles, which I put to boil in a little
pot, and repeated over the pot some words he taught me. The same night
that I put the pot on the fire, the man died.”

Do not be astonished that my books were burned at Grasse, on the square
in front of the church.

I am going next Tuesday to this place for several days, in spite of its
manners. I am promised monuments of all sorts, and some beautiful
mountains. I shall bring you some acacia flowers, since you always enjoy
their perfume.

Good-bye, dear friend. I am tired to death from having written you three
pages, for I can lean on but one elbow, and my back suffers with every
movement of the body. Good-bye again. I thank you once more for the
books....



CCVIII


CANNES, _January 22, 1860_.

I found your letter awaiting me on my return from the country, or
rather, the village, where I have spent a week almost under the eternal
snows. Although situated on an elevated plateau, I did not suffer from
the cold. I have seen rocks, cascades, and precipices of wonderful
beauty; a great cavern containing a subterranean lake, the extent of
which is not known, and which one may easily suppose to be the
dwelling-place of all the gnomes and imps of the Alps; another huge
cavern, three kilometres in length, from the interior of which there was
a display of fireworks for my benefit. In fine, I have spent my week in
admiration of pure nature.

I returned from my trip with horrible pains, and for two days I have
been laid up, without being able to eat or sleep. I see decidedly that
the machine is out of order, and is no longer worth anything at all. I
hope it is quite otherwise with you, and that you have suffered no
return of the fever. As you did not mention it, I fancy you are entirely
cured of this distress. I am trying to be patient under my sufferings,
and succeed well enough during the day; but at night my patience deserts
me, and I rage.

You have not told me what you paid for those moral books you bought for
the Demoiselles de Lagrénée. It pleases me to believe that you remained
within the limit of prudence which you observe in all your transactions.
I shall have probably another debt to contract with you soon.

Some one lent me a pamphlet written by my confrère Villemain, which
seems to be extraordinarily full of platitudes. When one has undertaken
to write a book against the Jesuits, and has boasted of being the
champion of liberty of the conscience against the omnipotence of the
Church, it is amusing to see how he recants, and what poor arguments he
employs. I believe everybody, except the emperor, has gone mad. He
resembles the shepherds of the middle ages, who, by the power of their
magic flute, compelled the wolves to dance. I have received a letter
from Paris, with the news that the _Academy Française_, which, a few
years ago, was Voltairian, wishes to elect the abbé Lacordaire, as a
protest against the indignities to which the Pope is subjected. However,
‘tis all the same to me. So long as I am not compelled to listen to
their sermons, they may elect every member of the Sacred College to the
Academy.

Good-bye.



CCIX


CANNES, _February 4, 1860_.

You cause me great perplexity of mind concerning Sainte Eulalie, whom I
had forgotten entirely. I am sure it is either the 11th or 12th. I
accept with much gratitude your kind offer, but I know very little about
those Byzantine affairs, and fear that what you suggest is far too
modern a trinket for my cousin. We must remember that she seldom goes
anywhere, and dresses in harmony with her age and in an eminently
respectable fashion. Perhaps you are thinking of some buckles, or
oxidized silver clasps, such as come from the Caucasus and elsewhere.

Anyway, you have full liberty, bearing in mind the following
instructions: 1st, That your selection must not be too conspicuous, too
modern, or too frivolous; 2d, that it does not cost much more than a
hundred francs, and that it has the appearance of being worth much more;
3d, and, finally, that it does not give too much trouble. I am sure you
will attend to this commission with your usual promptness and good
judgment, and I thank you most heartily in advance.

This reminds me of something else, and that is, that I have never sent
you my good wishes on your fête-day. When does it come? and, in the
first place, what sort of a name have you? It seems to me it is a
Lutheran or an heretical name. Is your patron saint the Evangelist, or
the Baptist? And when is his fête-day? You may imagine that I wish to
give you a surprise--a difficult thing to do.

I am at this moment lying on my couch in great distress. When I sit up
it seems as if my chest were being scorched with hot iron. Doctor Maure
advises me to apply some soothing lotion; but it does not in the least
ease the pain.

I am expecting two of my friends who are coming to spend a week with me,
and I am anxious lest the weather should be bad. Just now the sun shines
magnificently, but this is an exceptional year, and one can not count on
anything. The wind yesterday blew with such an icy blast that it seemed
to come from Siberia.

Like you, I find politics very entertaining. To see certain people rage
makes my heart rejoice. Good-bye. Next month I shall see you again.
Meanwhile, I am ill, melancholy, and bored. My eyesight is failing, and
I could no longer sketch, even if my health would permit it. How sad it
is to grow old! Good-bye.



CCX


CANNES, _February 21, 1860_.

Two of my friends have been visiting me, and my duties of guide, which
have dragged me into several long excursions, have left me no leisure to
reply to you promptly. Besides, it was only day before yesterday that I
heard from my cousin about the Byzantine clasps. I send you her literal
opinion. She thinks they are charming, too charming for her, and much
too young. Nevertheless, for fear that her criticism has been too
severe, she adds that she has just ordered a new gown expressly to wear
with the clasps. If you are not satisfied with your success, you are
difficult to please.

I am still about the same--that is, very far from well. On the one hand,
a cold; on the other, a pain in the heart, of rheumatic variety, which
is extremely uncomfortable and strange, for it does not prevent me from
walking, and causes me suffering only when I sit down. This is what I
endure when I draw after sunset on the sea-shore.

The weather just now is not fine. The sun shines, but the air is
chilly, and the mornings and evenings are sometimes most unpleasant, on
account of the wind blowing from the Alps. Never before have I seen them
so covered with snow, from base to summit. Snow fell this morning on the
Estérel mountain, and a few flakes even on the square in front of my
windows. This is something unheard of in Cannes, which even the oldest
inhabitants can not remember having seen before. My only consolation is
the thought that you in the north are much worse off. The newspapers
make my teeth chatter with their accounts of ten degrees below zero,
three feet of snow in Lyons, in Valence, and so forth. Nevertheless, I
must leave my oasis and go to shiver in Paris.

I am thinking of starting next week, and as I am obliged to stop on the
way to examine some monuments, I shall not reach Paris in time for the
Imperial Assembly, which no doubt will lose much of its interest on
account of my absence. So far as I can now tell, I shall arrive the 3d
or 4th of March, and shall hope to find you in good health. I shall
welcome you once more with great joy, so you may expect it.

Write to me at Marseilles, to be called for. It is probable that I shall
go to Nice for a day or two, to form an opinion of an annexation, and
then return to pack my trunks. You have not sent me your account, which
I fear is a formidable one. Whatever the material of the clasps,
apparently they are not cheap. I hope, however, to bring back money
enough to pay the bill without the necessity of selling my books.

By the way, have you not my copy of the _Voyage en Asie_, by M. de
Gobineau? I looked for it here in vain the other day. If you have it,
keep it for me.

I took my friends, day before yesterday, to the _pont de Gardonne_. It
is a natural bridge uniting some of the rocks on a point of the Estérel.
Through a small doorway you enter a grotto, from which you emerge by
another door which opens directly on the sea. On this day the sea was
wild and angry, and the grotto seemed to be a boiling caldron. The
sailors had not dared to venture within, and we had to content ourselves
with going around the abyss. It was wonderfully beautiful with its color
and movement.

Good-bye. Keep well, and do not go out too much at night.



CCXI


PARIS, _Sunday night_, _March 12, 1860_.

... I find your Paris atmosphere extremely heavy, and I have a continual
headache. I have as yet seen no one, and dare not go out at night. It
seems to me extraordinary to make calls at ten o’clock at night.

No word about the book of my friend, M. de Gobineau; certainly it must
hang heavy on your conscience. Suggest a novel for me to read; I am in
deep need of one. While in Cannes I read a novel by Bulwer, _What will
He do with It?_ which seemed to me senile to the last degree. At the
same time, it contains several pretty situations and an excellent
sermon. As for the hero and heroine, they surpass in silliness all that
is permissible by custom.

A book which has amused me uncommonly is the work of M. de Bunsen on the
origin of Christianity, and about everything else in the universe, to
speak more exactly. It is called, however, _Christianity and Mankind_,
and is only seven volumes of from seven to eight hundred pages each. M.
de Bunsen calls himself an orthodox Christian; but at the same time he
treats the Old and New Testaments with contempt....

I learned yesterday, that at one of the most recent masked balls a woman
had the courage to appear in a costume of 1806 without any crinoline,
and produced a tremendous sensation.



CCXII


PARIS, _March 4, 1860_.

We had yesterday the first suggestion of the return of spring. It did me
a great deal of good, and I felt entirely made over. It seemed as if I
were breathing the air of Cannes. To-day it is gray and gloomy. I need
you very much, to take life patiently. Day by day it becomes more
burdensome. People are so terribly stupid. The most inexplicable thing
is the general ignorance one finds in this century of enlightenment, as
it calls itself modestly. No one any longer knows a word of history.

You will have read Dupin’s address, which amused me hugely....

I have never succeeded in finding Gobineau, and I know very well why;
you also. I made myself a few presents two days ago, at Poitiers’. I
bought several beautiful old books, and some others, modern ones, in
excellent bindings. Have you read the _Memoirs of Holland_ attributed to
Madame de la Fayette? They were very entertaining. I will lend them to
you, on good security, when you return. The binding is done by
Bauzonnet.

I have had made a black Venetian domino, with a lace biretta, or
something of the kind, after the sketch I had drawn in Venice, and which
I showed you. Since my return, in this untoward season, I am taking an
unusual interest in the weather....



CCXIII


_Saturday, April 14, 1860._

... Since Easter I have been leading a very dissipated life. I have been
to two balls, and have dined out every night. The ball where I was to
appear for the first time in my domino with a Venetian biretta is
postponed until the 24th, because the accomplices of Ortega, among whom
are two relatives of the empress, are now on trial in Spain. If they are
shot, which is quite in accord with the custom of the country, I believe
the ball will be entirely abandoned, and I shall be out for my domino. I
have met Ortega frequently, and he is, by the way, a charming fellow,
and the darling of the fine ladies of Madrid. I have grave fears that he
will not be acquitted. However, they say that where a handsome young
fellow is concerned there is always some means of release....



CCXIV


_Tuesday night, May 1, 1860._

... The ball at Alba’s was magnificent. The costumes were unusually
beautiful, many of the women uncommonly pretty, and the audacity of the
age conspicuously evident. First, the ladies were uncovered in a most
outrageous fashion, both above and below. I saw in the waltz a great
number of charming feet and not a few garters. Second, crinoline is on
the decline. You may take my word that in two years gowns will be worn
short, and those blessed with natural advantages may be distinguished
from those who must resort to artificial charms. There were an
incredible number of English present. The daughter of Lord ----, a
charming girl, came as a dryad, nymph, or something mythological, in a
gown which would have revealed her entire bosom if it had not been
covered by tights. Her dress seemed to me almost as low as that of her
mother, whose entire chest was perfectly visible. The ballet of the
_Elements_ was composed of sixteen women, all extremely pretty, wearing
short skirts, and covered with diamonds.

The naiads were powdered with silver, which fell over their shoulders
like drops of water. The Salamanders were sprinkled with gold powder.
There was a Mademoiselle Errazu, who was marvellously beautiful. The
Princess Mathilde came as a Nubian woman, painted a dark brown color,
and with a costume altogether too realistic.

At the height of the ball a domino kissed Madame de S----, who shrieked
aloud. The dining-room, with its gallery, the servants dressed as
sixteenth century pages, and the brilliant lights, all combined to
remind one of Belshazzar’s feast, in Martin’s painting.

The emperor changed his domino, but any one could have recognised him a
league away. The empress wore a white burnoose and a black mask which
did not in the least disguise her.

There were many dominoes, which were for the most part immensely ugly.
The duke de S---- strutted about like a tree, and the imitation was
really excellent. Considering the story told of his wife, the disguise
was a little too conspicuous. If you have not heard the story, here it
is, in a word. His wife, who was a demoiselle (whose mother, by the way,
was to have been my godmother, so I have heard), went to Bapst and
bought a tiara costing sixty thousand francs, saying that she would
return it the following day if she decided not to take it. She returned
nothing, neither money nor tiara. Bapst demanded his diamonds, and was
told that they had departed for Portugal, and, to make the story short,
they were found finally at the _Mont-de-Piété_, where the _duchesse
de_ ---- reclaimed them for fifteen thousand francs. This is highly
commendatory of the times and of women!

Another scandal. At M. d’Aligre’s ball a woman was pinched black and
blue by a husband who was not less muddled in his head than M. de ----,
but who was more violent. The woman screamed and fainted. A general
scene followed! They did not throw the jealous man out of the window,
which would have been the only sensible thing to do. Good-bye.



CCXV


_Saturday, May 12, 1860._

... I congratulate you on having beautiful weather and sunshine. Here it
rains incessantly, and when it is not raining, the heat is full of
humidity. There is a storm in the air, and nervous people like myself
are as comfortable as violin cords near the fire. To complete my
miseries, I am obliged to stay here until the end of the season, which
seems to be far from its close. Now you know all about my plans, and I
should like to have some information about yours, of which I have not
even a suspicion.

An amusing thing happened not long ago. M. Boitelle, prefect of police,
supposed to be the best-informed man in Paris, learned through the
report of his trusty agents that the Minister of State, M. Fould, had
spent the night in the house which he had built in the faubourg Saint
Honoré. Very early next morning he called to see the minister, shook
hands with him warmly, and expressed his interest in what had just
happened. M. Fould explained that the matter concerned one of his sons,
who was carrying on foolishly in England. The blunder continued for some
time, until the prefect of police inquired the name of his successor;
when M. Fould explained that he had given a house-warming in his new
house, and had not cared to take the trouble to return to the
ministerial residence for the night.

The Carlists here are in despair at Montemolin’s dulness. There is no
doubt that he expected Ortega, before his execution, to be overcome by
fear, and to renounce his claims. It would have been nobler on his part
to have hastened his work, so that no one should be shot. There is a
brother living in England who has not abdicated, and who has children.
He is called ----, and married a daughter of the duke de ----. He stole
his wife’s diamonds, and with the proceeds supports a chambermaid of the
aforesaid. This proves him a man of refined taste.

It seems that Lamoricière is already a little tired of all the worries
to which he is subjected in papal territory. Cardinal Antonelli said not
long ago to a foreign minister that he had never met a more
distinguished man than Lamoricière. “I spoke to him of the present
situation, and he suggested at once five or six remedies for the
difficulty; he is so eloquent that, in an hour’s conversation, he
expressed four different opinions on the same question, all of which
were so reasonable that I should have found it embarrassing to make a
choice.”

Every one here is deeply interested in Garibaldi’s expedition, and
apprehension is felt that it will result in a general complication. M.
de Cavour would not, I fancy, be greatly grieved if he should “kick the
bucket” in Sicily; but in case he succeeds, he will become ten times
more dangerous than at present.

You will be astonished, probably, to learn that I am working and writing
as in my good days. When I see you, I shall tell you through what
singular circumstance I have shaken off my traditional idleness. It is
too long a story to write, but it has nothing to do with works for your
perusal. You must read Granier de Cassagnac’s book on the Girondins. It
contains the most curious passages and the most horrible descriptions of
revolutionary massacres and atrocities, all written with intense passion
and fervour.

I received a call a few days ago from M. Feydeau, a very handsome
fellow, but whose vanity seems to me to be too outspoken. He is going to
Spain to complete the work roughly sketched out by Cervantes and Lesage.
He has in view still about thirty novels, the scenes of which are laid
in thirty different countries; this is why he travels.

Good-bye. I think of you constantly in spite of all your faults....



CCXVI


CHÂTEAU DE FONTAINEBLEAU, _June 12, 1860_.

Why have you not written to me? For many reasons you should have done
so. I have been held here all this week. I shall hope certainly to find
you in Paris on my return, for, if the weather has used you as ill as it
has us, you will have postponed, doubtless, your visit to the country.
Nevertheless, between the showers we have made several pleasant
excursions to the woods; everything is of a uniform spinach-green
colour, and when the sun does not shine, it is not bad. There are rocks
and heaths which would have some attraction for me if you and I were to
walk there together chatting of many things, as we know how to do. But
we travel in a long line of waggonettes, in which people are not always
paired off for mutual amusement.

On the other hand, in no republic on earth could one enjoy more freedom,
nor could host and hostess be more kind to their guests. At the same
time, the days have twenty-four hours, four of which at least must be
spent in tight pantaloons, which seems a little hard in such muddy,
disagreeable weather.

I had a horrible cold when I first came, but, since “God tempers the
wind to the shorn lamb,” my other pains ceased as soon as I began to
cough.

I shall not admit for an instant that you will not wait for me. It would
be absurd to go to the sea-shore before the weather becomes settled,
and, above all, warm. Advise your friends to be patient. I have to do
the same thing, and, among others, I say this a hundred times to a
person who will listen to nothing.... Good-bye....



CCXVII


PARIS, _Sunday night_, _July 2, 1860_.

I received your letter this morning. The rough sea of which you speak
diminishes somewhat my regret for remaining in Paris. It is incredible,
however, that this deuced weather should last forever, notwithstanding
the sunspots mentioned in the newspapers.

Our session drags out indefinitely, which makes me furious. I have tried
to find an excuse to escape, but owing to my supreme importance, which
holds me tied here, it is extremely difficult to accomplish. This does
not mean that I am not ready at any moment to travel a hundred leagues
to dine with you, if I should receive such an invitation, and if some
one cared to wait for me. This is a humble suggestion which I take the
liberty to make you.

By leaving town so early you will lose a wonderful spectacle, that of
observing me pass _in fiocchi_, and black gloves, down the rue de
Rivoli, in the midst of the admiring populace.[23] I do not know how
many vacancies this ceremonial will cause in our ranks, but I have grave
fears that it will prove advantageous to the undertakers. Thirty
thousand persons came yesterday to sprinkle themselves with holy water,
and more came to-day; a good demonstration of the simplicity of this
magnanimous nation! It is more stupid, even, than is supposed, which is
saying a great deal.

The Orleanists pretend that M. Brénier was murdered by an angry husband,
which, considering the amplitude of his abdomen, seems to me scarcely
probable. It is more reasonable to suppose that the _lazzaroni_ took
this means of avenging their ill-used king. The Liberals, in
retaliation, have assassinated the police commissioners, which, of
course, has been of great advantage to M. Brénier.

The Italians of the north have none of the emotionalism of the
Neapolitans. They have common-sense and theological minds, as Stendhal
said, while the Neapolitans are only ill-trained, twelve-year-old
children. We shall see, probably, some fine examples of this in the
fall, for it looks as if I should go there, instead of to Africa.

I am waiting to hear that your salon is full of country curiosities, and
that you yourself are wearing a flowered morning-gown and Turkish
slippers. You will think longingly of the muddy streets of Paris.
However, I do not care to refer again to your expedition. Many things
may occur to cause you to change your plans. You are acquainted with
mine. I shall remain at the British Museum until the end of July, after
which I shall spend a few days at Bath, and then go to Scotland, where I
shall stay the month of September awaiting an invitation from you.
Good-bye.



CCXVIII


PARIS, _Thursday, July 12, 1860_.

Fine weather has at last come to stay. From all indications, I shall
leave the beginning of next week. If you have any idea of visiting
Lady ---- at the sea-shore early in August, I hope that you will let me
know of it. Rural England must be very lovely, I fancy, just at this
time, and you would enjoy spending a few days with your friend, doing
nothing at all, watching the sea and drinking tea beside the open
windows. I am still feeling ill. Yesterday especially, I was very
uncomfortable. I have my new friend, however, to entertain me. It is an
owl I am raising, and which has taken a fancy to me. After dinner I open
his cage door and he flies about in my room. For want of small birds, he
has learned to catch flies very skilfully. His physiognomy is extremely
comical, and reminds me of self-important people, with his
ultra-serious manner and expression.

The funeral was a terrible ordeal. It took us an hour and three-quarters
to go from the Palais-Royal to the Invalides. Then there was mass,
followed by an oration by the Abbé Cœur, who lauded the principles of
‘89, saying at the same time that our soldiers were ready to sacrifice
their lives in the defence of the pope. He went so far as to say that
the first Napoleon did not love war, and was always forced into it for
self-defence. The most imposing part of the ceremony was a _De
Profundis_, sung in the vaults that you know, and which came to us
through a drapery of black crêpe separating us from the tomb. It seems
to me that if I were a musician I should profit by the admirable effect
produced on tone quality by the use of crêpe, for a grand spectacular
opera.

No one is left in Paris. We go at night to the Champs-Élysées to hear
Musard’s music, and to see the fine ladies and the lorettes, all there
together and difficult to distinguish. We go also to the circus to see
the trained dogs roll a ball on an inclined plane, jumping up after it.
This age is losing all sort of taste for intellectual amusements.

Have you read the book I lent you, and was it interesting? The _History
of Madame de la Guette_ pleased me more than _The Holland Jewess_, in
which there were things that would have shocked you.

I have been asked to suggest an English novel for a sick man who can
read nothing else. Perhaps you may be able to tell me of one. I have
just completed a lengthy report on the Library of Paris. It is this, I
imagine, that has made me so ill. I waste my time bothering with things
in which I am not interested, and business which belongs to others is
piled on my shoulders. I have at times wished to write a novel before my
death, but sometimes my courage fails me, and again, when I am in the
mood, some stupid administrative affairs are given me to attend to. I
shall write to you before leaving.... Good-bye....



CCXIX


LONDON, _British Museum_, _July 20, 1860_.

It is certainly very kind of you not to have given me an intimation of
life, or a word of farewell before my departure. I shall not forgive you
until the next time we meet. I was delayed by all sorts of hindrances,
and not until yesterday morning was I able to leave, and in diabolical
weather. However, I behaved with heroism during the passage, and was
almost the only passenger who did not deliver up his soul to the angry
waves.

I found the weather here eclipses that of Paris. It always takes me some
time to become accustomed to the singular light in London. It has the
appearance of passing through a brown gauze. This light, and the absence
of curtains at the windows, will annoy me for several days. On the other
hand, I am feasted with every sort of good thing, and dined and
breakfasted like an ogre, which has not happened in a long, long time.
My sole regret is that my little owl is not with me, for it plays about
the floor at night like the cat you used to know. ‘Tis a pretty
creature, I assure you, and has an intelligence out of all proportion to
her size, for she is no longer than my hand.

It is distinctly important for me to know definitely, before the end of
July, what time you intend to come to Paris, how long you expect to
remain, and when you propose to go to Algiers. I must know your plans
before forming my own. I need not tell you that you will be the
determining motive for me, whether to leave the Highlands earlier, or
even whether to go there at all. Do not imagine, and do not even pretend
to imagine, that this would be a sacrifice. I should return to-morrow,
if you were to send me word that you were in Paris. You may write to me
here until the 30th.

Good-bye. I am very cross, indeed, with you.



CCXX


BATH, _Wednesday night_, _August 9, 1860_.

I bought you a blue veil before leaving London. I intended to write to
you, but had so many commissions to do for my minister, that it would
have been on your part an act of charity to come to help me attend to
them. I have selected gowns, hats, and ribbons, all of the most
fantastic styles I could find. I fear the dogs on the streets of Paris
will run after the unfortunate creatures who wear these beautiful
objects of my choice.

I am sorry to see you so opposed to a trip to England while I am here.
The idea does not strike you. You may be sure that there are no heaths
and mountains I should not abandon with delight to see you before your
departure. Let us have at least one happy memory ere we leave each other
for so long.

The life I have led for a week would make a thorough-bred horse
short-winded, running around all day, shopping and visiting; dining out
at night with the nabobs, where I always found the same dishes and
almost the same faces. I scarcely knew the names of my hosts, and when
they are in white cravats and evening clothes, all Englishmen resemble
one another.

We are cordially detested here, and feared even more. Nothing is more
amusing than their mistrust of us, which they do not take the trouble to
conceal. The volunteers are more stupid even than our National Guard in
1830, because everything in this country is taken with a seriousness
found nowhere else. I know a gallant man seventy-five who exercises
every day in Zouave costume.

The Ministry is weak and does not know what it wants, and the opposition
is no better off; but all, great and small, agree in their belief that
we desire to take all we can get. At the same time, every one believes
that war will be impossible so long as there is no question of annexing
the three kingdoms. I was not specially pleased with the letter of the
emperor to M. de Persigny. It would have been better, it seems to me, to
say nothing at all, or else to have said merely what I repeat every day,
that they are fools.

I advise you to write to me immediately, for I am full of melancholy,
and in need of consolation. I shall return to London next Monday. Write
to me: 18 Arlington Street, care of Mr. Ellice. I shall remain but a
short time, and shall go with him probably to Glenquoich.

This city is very pretty; there is little smoke, and one sees in every
direction hills covered with grass and trees. It is not too cold. The
friends with whom I am stopping are people of intelligence, and the
baths are doing me good. Good-bye....



CCXXI


LONDON, _August 8, 1860_.

I received your letter just as I was leaving for Glenquoich. It is
unnecessary to tell you that it gave me no pleasure; but I shall not
reproach you. At this moment I am preoccupied with something else, and
that is, to find some means of bidding you farewell. You also must try
to manage it so as to gain a little time; and I have no doubt that if we
both set our wits to work we shall succeed in meeting and spending a few
hours together.

The more I reflect on your expedition to Algeria the more foolish it
seems to me. It is evident that with affairs in the Orient complicated
as they are, and becoming every moment still more complicated, your
brother may be obliged to leave at a moment’s notice, and you would
find it embarrassing to remain alone among your Arabs. It seems to me
highly probable that the landing of the French troops in Syria will be
followed by a general outbreak of robberies and massacres throughout the
Orient. It is equally reasonable to suppose that the Turkish provinces
of Greece--that is, Thessaly, Macedonia, and Christian Albania--will
make some movement in retaliation. Everything in the Orient will be on
fire this winter. To go to Algiers at such a time, I repeat, seems to me
the height of folly. Still, you might find during this journey some
special attraction! Yet you seem now to hesitate about going....

The weather is atrocious. The sun shone yesterday for the first time
since I arrived in England, but this morning, on awakening, I heard the
beating of the rain upon my window. The barometer indicates a heavy
rain, and I can not see a hundred feet away. With all this wind and rain
and cold, I do not understand what will become of the wheat. The _Times_
says four feet of snow has fallen at Inverness, where I am to spend next
Monday night. Do you suppose there will be coal enough and tartans heavy
enough to remedy all these miseries?

In spite of the gloomy, cold weather in Bath and its suburbs, I liked
the country immensely. I saw hills standing out in clear outlines
against the sky, magnificent trees, and a richness of verdure unequalled
elsewhere, unless it is in the valleys of Switzerland. But all this is
not to be compared with Saint-Cloud or Versailles in fine weather.

Good-bye, dear friend. I am very sad, and I should like to be angry, but
I have no energy, so I shall not accuse you....

I send my Glenquoich address, but I shall not be there for several days:
In care of the Right Honourable E. Ellice, Glenquoich, Fort Augustus.



CCXXII


GLENQUOICH, _August 22, 1860_.

I am without any news of you....

It is no easy matter to leave this place. Besides the people who detain
you, there are certain other difficulties, such as special days for the
steam-boats, which carry you over the lakes to the railroad stations.
The weather here is almost always abominable, but it does not keep
people indoors. They are so accustomed to rain, that if it is not
pouring cats and dogs they think they must take a walk. The paths are
sometimes torrents; you can not see the mountains a hundred feet away,
but you always return, saying, “_Beautiful walk!_”

The worst thing in this country is a small fly called a midge, which is
extremely poisonous. They are very partial to my blood, and devour my
face and hands. Stopping here also are two young girls, one a blonde and
the other auburn-haired, both with skins like satin, and yet the
horrible midges prefer to attack me! Our principal amusement is fishing,
which has this advantage, that the midges fear the water and do not
venture upon the lake.

There are fourteen persons here. During the day each one goes his own
way, and at night, after dinner, we each take a book or write letters.
To talk, and to try to entertain one another, are things unknown to the
English.

I should be glad to know something of your plans. Write to me in London
as soon as you receive this letter. Tell me when you expect to leave,
and whether I shall be able to bid you good-bye. I take it for granted
that you will do your best that we may spend a few hours together before
your long journey.

The Highland air is doing me good. It seems to me that my breathing is
better than it was before I came. I can not reconcile myself to eating,
which is the principal amusement in this rainy, foggy weather. Our
hunters kill mountain deer, and sometimes grouse, for us, and every day
we have choice birds. I am pining for a thin soup, or to dine at home
alone, or at Saint Chéron with you; the last wish will not be realised,
I fear.

I forget whether I told you that I have a blue veil for you. I have had
the courage not to wear it, in order to bring it to you fresh; and if
you knew what mountains the midges raise on my face, you would
appreciate the strength of mind of which I have given signal proof.
Good-bye.



CCXXIII


PARIS, _September 14, 1860_.

I received your letter, dear friend, and confess that I think you might
have remained one day less at Lestaque and spent it in Paris....

For nearly two weeks Panizzi has been here with me. I am acting as his
guide, and showing him everything worth seeing, from the cedar unto the
hyssop. There is not a living creature in Paris, which pleases me
mightily; however, the evenings begin to lengthen.

I should like to tell you something of the huge muddle that has just
begun, but I know and understand nothing about it. My guest believes
the pope and the Austrians will be driven out. So far as the first is
concerned, the chances look very gloomy; as for the Austrians, if
Garibaldi interferes with them I fear he will repent of it. Some one in
Naples wrote me of a philosophical remark of the king, who was receiving
every five minutes the resignation of a general or an admiral: “To-day
there are too many Italians to fight against Garibaldi; in a month there
will be too many Royalists to fight against the Austrians.”

It is impossible to picture the rage of the Carlists and the Orleanists.
A very sensible Italian tells me that M. de Cavour entered the Papal
States with the Sardinian army because Mazzini was preparing to organise
a revolution there. To my mind, this has a semblance of probability.

You have seen, perhaps, the fête at Marseilles. It was, I am told,
unusually beautiful, and the enthusiasm was both circumspect and
tumultuous. I hear also that, notwithstanding an immense multitude of
people excited to the highest degree, and of hot Southern temperament,
perfect order prevailed. To find something to eat seemed to be the
greatest problem, and somewhere to sleep almost as difficult. The
spectacle of the Marseillais in their ordinary condition always amuses
me; to see them in a state of enthusiasm must be still more
entertaining. On this account, and for another reason which you may
guess, I regret not having been in Marseilles or in the neighbourhood.

Panizzi, who is an ardent traveller, is thinking of going to Turin for a
week, and urges me to accompany him. It is a great temptation, but I
dare not yield. It seems to me a delicate matter to make a visit to M.
de Cavour, and, perhaps, Garibaldi, and in the uncertainty I shall
decide wisely to decline.

I shall give you a great many commissions to do for me at Algiers, when
you have settled down there. You know the sort of things that suit me,
and whenever you come across any such things do not lose the chance of a
bargain. I suggest, especially, that you find me a characteristic
dressing-gown. I should like, also, for you to make the acquaintance of
the women of the country, and tell me frankly all you have seen and
heard.

My owlet is still very friendly, but, to my sorrow, most untidy. When
put in her cage, she becomes despondent, but she abuses her liberty. I
do not know what to do about it. She does not wish to escape and fly
away.

I am going with Panizzi to-morrow to Disdér’s to have my photograph
taken. I will send you one of my pictures. They tried it at Glenquoich,
but there is so little light in that land that the result was nothing
but a shadowy something surmounted by a well-outlined cap. I am not
specially pleased with your photograph.

Good-bye, dear friend. For a week we have had lovely weather, but
chilly. From noon, however, until four o’clock the sun shows his face,
which is such a rare spectacle this year that we consider ourselves
fortunate.

Good-bye. Keep well, take care of yourself, and think sometimes of me.



CCXXIV


_September 17, 1860._

I write at once to tell you that I have just received your letter of the
13th of this month. I notice that you complain of not receiving any
letters from me, and this I do not understand at all. There is something
mysterious in the matter, which I am unable to explain.

I congratulate you on having had a successful voyage. Mine was not so
good, because it was shorter, I suppose, but this applies only to the
letters from Marseilles. Everybody lost his head, I fancy, during the
emperor’s visit, and service of all kind was suspended. A Marseilles
merchant, to whom I wrote for a very pressing order, replied yesterday,
that on account of the fêtes he had not had time to attend to my
consignment. No one, apparently, went to his business house.

For several days the weather has been delightful. I should have taken
advantage of it, probably, to say farewell to the country, but for the
fact that my friend Panizzi has been with me. I packed him off yesterday
to Turin, where he will remain only a few days. He will return by the
end of the week.

Since my visit to Scotland I have been in better health, only I sleep
badly. I envy you the spectacle you will see--the Arabian excursion
which will have a certain element of strangeness. You must give me a
minute description of it.

Good-bye, dear friend. Will you kindly write to me as soon as you have
received my letter? Tell me what you think of those lost or retarded
letters, and give me your orders in regard to the small package I have
to send you. I have refrained from trying to find a way of sending it,
because I felt confident that you would suggest one. Good-bye. Take good
care of yourself....



CCXXV


PARIS, _October 7, 1860_.

DEAR FRIEND: Your letters have arrived finally, and reassure me
concerning the fate of mine. You are right to accuse the Marseillais of
losing their heads during the emperor’s visit. They lost also two small
casks of Spanish wine which had been sent to me, and which have remained
in the warehouse, goodness knows how long! The Marseillais wine-merchant
who was to receive them wrote me naïvely that he had been too busily
engaged with the celebration to think of my wine, and that he could not
attend to it until he had taken a little rest.

I understand perfectly the fascination and interest with which you are
inspired by a first view of oriental life. You say very truly that at
every step you discover some things that are comical and others that are
admirable. There is, indeed, something comical always in the Orientals,
as there is in certain strange and pompous animals in the Jardin des
Plantes. Descamps has seized exactly this grotesqueness of the oriental,
but he has failed to catch the noble and beautiful side of their
character.

I thank you very much for your descriptions, only they are rather
incomplete. You have enjoyed the rare privilege of seeing Mussulman
women, and you do not tell me that which I should like to know. Do they
make in Algeria, as in Turkey, a generous exhibition of their charms? I
remember to have seen the bust of the present Sultan’s mother as plainly
as I have seen your face. I should like to know, also, the character of
the dances which you saw, if they were modest, and, if not, explain why
not.

If you will suggest a way of sending the package I have for you, I will
despatch it at once; if you have not received it by the time you return
to Marseilles I will send it off by the first steam-boat to leave. I
should be glad if you would buy something for my use. You know what I
like, and I leave the choice, therefore, to your powers of divination.

I have been to Saintonge for a few days, and returned only yesterday.
The weather was uninterruptedly abominable, and I brought back an
extinguished voice and a frightful cold. I found the people there
profoundly distressed, and weeping their eyes out over the misfortunes
of the Holy Father and General Lamoricière. General Changarnier has
given a description of his colleague’s campaign, in which, I am told,
after praising him to the skies, he shows him to have been guilty of
huge blunders. In my opinion the only one of the martyr heroes who is
not ridiculous is Pimodan, who died like a brave soldier. Those who pose
as martyrs because they were taken prisoner are rascals on whom I waste
no pity. The present times, moreover, are perfectly absurd, and it does
me good to read my newspaper every morning to learn of some new
catastrophe, to read the remarks of Cavour or the encyclicals. I see
that Walker was shot in America, which caused me some surprise, for his
case is similar to that of Garibaldi, whom we all admire.

Did you think my photograph a good resemblance? I enclose a better one,
or, at least, one with a less lugubrious expression. I should be glad to
give you some news of Paris, but no one is here. I envy you for being in
the sunshine.

If you have any commissions for me, I shall be in Paris still a month or
more. You do not mention the cooking of the country. Do you have
anything good to eat? If so, get the recipe.

Good-bye, dear friend.



CCXXVI


PARIS, _October 16, 1860_.

DEAR FRIEND: I received yours of the 5th by slow transportation. I
imagine there was one of those wind-storms of which the newspaper tells
every morning. The Mediterranean is playing tricks, it seems, this year.
I envy you the sunshine and warmth which you enjoy. Here there is
constant rain or fog; sometimes it is warm and humid, more frequently
cold and humid, but always as disagreeable as possible.

Paris is still completely empty of people. I spend my evenings reading,
and sometimes sleeping. Night before last, wishing to hear some music, I
went to the Italian opera. They gave _The Barber of Seville_. This
music, which is the gayest ever written, was sung by people who acted as
if they were returning from a funeral. Mademoiselle Alboni, who was
_Rosine_, sang admirably, with the notes of a bird. Gardoni sang like a
gentleman who was afraid of being mistaken for an actor. If I had been
Rossini, it seems to me I should have shaken them all. The _Basile_ was
the only one (I can not remember his name) who sang as if he had any
appreciation of the words.

You have promised to give me a minute and circumstantial description of
quantities of interesting things which I am unable to see. Thanks to the
privileges of your sex, you have access to the harems and may converse
with the women. I should like to know how they are dressed, what they
do, what they say, what they think of you. You have mentioned, also, the
dances. I fancy they are immensely more interesting than those one sees
in Paris ball-rooms, but you will be obliged to describe them with the
utmost exactness. Do you understand the significance of what you see?
You are aware that everything which bears on the history of mankind is
full of interest to me. Why will you not put on paper all you see and
hear?

I do not know whether we are to go to Compiègne this year. They tell me
the empress, whom I have not seen, is still in the depths of woe. She
sent me a charming photograph of the duchess of Alba, taken more than
twenty-four hours after her death. She appears to be sleeping
tranquilly. Her death was very peaceful. She laughed at the Valencian
dialect of her waiting-women five minutes before she died. I have heard
no direct news from Madame de Montijo since her departure, but I have
grave fears that the poor woman will not recover from this blow.

I am deep in a great academic intrigue. It has nothing to do with the
French Academy, but with the Academy of Fine Arts. A friend of mine is a
preferred candidate, but his Majesty has compelled him to decline, to
give place to M. Haussmann, the prefect. The Academy is indignant, and
wishes to nominate my friend, notwithstanding his withdrawal. I am
giving it all the encouragement in my power, and should like to be able
to tell the emperor the harm he is doing in meddling in affairs that do
not concern him. I hope I shall succeed in the end, and that the big
colossus will be black-balled in good fashion.

Italian affairs are most amusing, and what is said among the few honest
folk in Paris is still more diverting. We are beginning to see the
arrival of a few of the martyrs of Castilfidardo. As a general thing
they do not speak too enthusiastically of Lamoricière, who could not
have been as great a hero as he was advertised.

I saw, a few days ago, the aunt of a young eighteen-year-old martyr who
had been made prisoner. She told me that the Piedmontese had treated her
nephew abominably. I waited to hear her relate something horrible.

“Only fancy, monsieur, five minutes after being made a prisoner the poor
boy had his watch taken from him--a gold hunting-case watch, too, that
I had given him!”

Good-bye, dear friend. Write to me often. Tell me what you are doing,
and many details.



CCXXVII


PARIS, _October 24, 1860_.

DEAR FRIEND: I received your letter of the 15th. I have delayed a reply
because I have been in the country, at my cousin’s, where I walked
during the day and played backgammon at night. In fact, I have been very
lazy. I thank you for the descriptions you gave me, but they need a
running commentary and illustrations, especially what you say concerning
the native dances; from what you tell me, they must resemble somewhat
the dances of the gitanas of Grenada. The idea is probably the same as
that represented by the Moors. I have no doubt that if an Arab of the
Sahara should see a waltz in Paris, he would conclude, very reasonably,
that the French also use pantomime. When one goes to the bottom of
things one discovers always the same original ideas. You have observed
this when you studied mythology with me.

I do not at all acknowledge the timidity of your explanations. You have
at your disposal euphemisms enough to tell me everything, and you act
as you do only that I may plead and insist. Come, be more communicative
in your next letter.

I am becoming worse and worse every day. I begin to be resigned to my
fate, but it is a lamentable thing to see one’s self growing old and
dying by inches.

You ask me to explain the present disorders. Are you not sick of it?
Unfortunately, no one understands anything of it. Read the
_Constitutionnel_ of to-day. There is an interesting and inspired
article by Guéronnière. He says, in substance: “I can not approve the
attack made on innocent people; yet, on the other hand, I have no
interest in those who are being skinned, and do not desire to see them
aided in any way save in advice.”

I went yesterday to Saint Cloud, where I had lunch most informally with
the emperor, the empress, and “_Monsieur fils_,” as they say in Lyons.
Everybody was in good health and high spirits. I had a long conversation
with the emperor, particularly on ancient history and Cæsar. The
facility with which he grasps the meaning of erudite subjects, for which
he has found a taste only recently, is most astonishing.

The empress related several curious incidents connected with her trip
to Corsica. The bishop had told her of a bandit named Bosio, whose
history might have been copied from _Colomba_. He is a worthy fellow,
who has been persuaded by the advice of a woman to commit two or three
trifling crimes. For several months they have been trying to capture
him, but in vain; women and children suspected of furnishing him food
have been imprisoned, but it is impossible to lay hands on him. No one
knows where he is. Her Majesty, who has read the novel that you know,
had become interested in this man, and said she would be delighted if
some one should give him the wherewithal to leave the island and go to
Africa or elsewhere, where he might become a good soldier and an honest
man. “Ah! Madame,” said the bishop, “will you permit me to send this
message to him?”

“Then, monseigneur, you know where he is?” As a general rule, the very
worst scamps in Corsica are always connected in some way with the most
respectable men. They were greatly surprised to find that, while they
were besought to grant a prodigious number of favours, no one asked for
a sou. The empress has returned full of enthusiasm.

The meeting at Warsaw is a fiasco. The Austrian emperor went uninvited,
and discovered an example of the kind of courtesy shown presumptuous
persons. He pretended to demonstrate that if Austria was in danger from
Hungary, Russia also had an enemy in Poland; to which Gortchakoff
replied: “You have eleven millions of Hungarians, and you are three
million Germans. We are forty million Russians, and need no help to
bring to reason six millions of Poles. Consequently there is no mutual
confidence.”

It seems to me that, so far as Germany is concerned, things look
peaceable, and it is possible, nay, even probable, that she might make
us overtures to pursue the same course in respect to Italy. If this
should occur, war, I think, would be impossible, unless, however,
Garibaldi should make an attack upon Venice; yet the Italians are more
prudent than is supposed.

I hear from Naples that the turmoil there is at its climax, and that the
Piedmontese are expected with the same impatience that we experienced in
1848, when we were looking for the arrival of the regular troops in
Paris. It is for order that they sigh, and which they will not realise
except under Victor Emmanuel. Garibaldi and Alexander Dumas have
prepared the way for it, just as a journey in the cold and rain prepares
one to enjoy a warm dinner.

Good-bye, dear friend. I am thinking of starting soon to Cannes. Upon
reaching Marseilles, about the middle of November, I shall intrust your
package to the office of the steamship company. Give me details of the
customs, and have no fear of shocking me. Take good care of yourself,
and do not forget me.



CCXXVIII


_November 1, 1860_, _at night_.

I have received yours, No. 7, dear friend, and it is evident that the
country and the climate still please you. I dread the time when the
sight of a man in a burnoose will seem to you such a matter of course
that you will pay no attention to it. The French colony, of which you
make mention, must be as interesting as that one which went out from
France during the first Under-Prefecture. Do they wear much crinoline at
the Government Palace? or is it going out of fashion, as in Paris? It
seems to me that I can foretell your reply.

You have given me only sketches of Algerian customs, when I desire the
most exact details. I can not conceive why you will not enter into all
the explanations for which I ask. There is nothing you need hesitate to
tell me, and, besides, you are justly celebrated for your use of
euphemism. Your style is truly academic. I shall understand your
allusions, only I should like to have details; otherwise I shall be no
wiser than the rest of the world. I wish to know all that you have
acquired, for this, I am sure, is well worth the trouble of telling. If
you really learn Arabic, I congratulate you on your courage; it requires
a vast amount of it. I stuck my nose once in M. de Sacy’s Grammar, and
withdrew in dismay. There were, I recollect, lunar letters and solar
letters, and verbs of I know not how many conjugations. Besides, it is a
dull language, which one can pronounce just as well gagged. My cousin,
who is one of the most learned of Arabists, and who has spent
twenty-five years in Egypt, told me that he never opened a book without
learning a new word, and that there were, for instance, five hundred
words signifying _lion_.

A week ago I sent you a lengthy dissertation on the political situation.
It seems that no change in conditions has occurred. To date, the facts
in the case are: First, that the conference at Warsaw was a complete
fiasco; second, that Austria feels herself in no condition to assume the
offensive, in spite of the fact that her enemy is making fine sport of
her.

Everything is complicated by the situation in the East. It is so bad
that our ambassador at Constantinople believes the old machine may crack
any day at all from top to bottom. The Sultan is selling his valuables;
he does not know whether he shall be able to buy his dinner next month.
Have you heard what were the first words of emperor Francis Joseph to
the emperor Alexander? “I bring you my sinful head!” This is the formula
used by the Russian serf who approaches his master expecting and
dreading a beating. He said the words in good Russian, for he speaks all
the European languages. His humility was not eminently successful; he
received from Alexander only the most unpromising coldness, and,
following the latter’s example, the Prince Regent of Prussia also
carried his head high. After the departure of the emperor Alexander, the
Austrian emperor remained in Warsaw alone for four hours, and not a
single great Russian or Polish lord came to pay their respects to him.
The conservative Russians are immensely pleased at all this, for they
detest the Austrians even more than they do the English or ourselves.

You will hear of our victory over those poor Chinese. How ridiculous it
seems to go so far away to kill people who have done nothing to us!
‘Tis true, however, that the Chinese, being a variety of the
orang-outang, there is none but the Grammont law which may be invoked in
their favour.

I am preparing for our conquests in China by reading a new novel, which
has just been translated by Stanislas Julien, the Chinese patentee of
our government. It is the story of two young ladies, _Mademoiselle Cân_
and _Mademoiselle Ting_, who are very clever, for they make verses and
rhymes about everything. They meet two students who write with the same
facility, and there follows an endless combat of quatrains. In all these
quatrains there is nothing but white swallows and blue lotus flowers. It
is impossible to find anything more whimsical and more destitute of
passion. Evidently people who enjoy that style of literature are
abominable pedants, who deserve to be thoroughly conquered and whipped
by us, who take precedence over the beautiful Greek literature.

We had several summer days--Saint Martin’s summer, I think they call
it--then cold weather set in. I am beginning to dream of Provence,
where, according to the local astrologers, we are promised a beautiful
winter. I shall soon inform you of my change of residence. For three
days I have been unable to breathe.

You have told me nothing of the cooking of the country. How do you like
_couscousson_? Do you find in the bazaars any unusual curiosities, and
are the prices reasonable? I dined yesterday at Prince Napoleon’s.
Princess Clotilde admired my cuff-buttons, and asked the jeweller’s
address. I told her “rue d’Alger, No. 10.” Is that right? Good-bye, dear
friend.



CCXXIX


MARSEILLES, _November 17, 1860_.

DEAR FRIEND: I have just arrived at Marseilles, and find that a boat for
Algiers leaves in an hour. I shall confide to it the little package for
you. I have only time to say good-morning. My cold is giving me horrible
distress. In a few days I shall be in Cannes, and shall make a visit in
the suburbs. Write to me at Cannes when you have received the little
package.

I am too hurried to tell you any news. The visit of the empress[24] is
giving rise to a great deal of gossip, and no one understands its
significance. The outlook is for peace, which is highly probable, until
we find out which is the stronger, Garibaldi or Cavour.


MARSEILLES, _November 18, 1860_.

Unfortunately, it was too late! The boats are advertised to leave at
four o’clock, and they leave at noon. My small package will leave
without fail next Tuesday, and my letter will leave, probably, by the
same steamer.

And now that this important business is terminated, I resume my
questions. Have you been to see the Moorish baths? What kind of women
did you see there? I imagine their habit of sitting with crossed legs
must give them horrible knees. If you do not approve of their fashions
in dress, I suppose that you will adopt their _kohl_ for the eyes.
Besides being very pretty, its use is also said to be an excellent
preventive of ophthalmia, a disease which is frequent and dangerous for
European eyes in warm climates. I give you, therefore, my authority to
use this article.

I am sorry to hear of the death of poor Lady M----, who was a good woman
notwithstanding her opinions on people and things. Is it a fact that she
has written a book, a volume of travels, or a novel? I do not know
which, but I heard it well spoken of in England.

My Glenquoich friend, Mr. Ellice, is to be my neighbour this winter. He
has just bought for one hundred and twenty thousand pounds sterling, an
estate in Scotland adjoining his own, or, rather, it consists of leagues
of lakes, rocks, and heaths. I can not imagine what he expects to gain
by the purchase, except grouse and deer in the hunting season. It seems
to me, if I had three millions to put in land, I should prefer to spend
them in the south rather than the north.

I am bringing with me a new edition of Pushkin’s works, of which I
have promised to write a review. I have begun to read his lyric poems,
and find in them many superb things, quite after my own heart--that
is to say, in their sincerity and simplicity they are modelled after
the Greek. Several of them are deeply passionate, and I should like
to translate them, for in these, as in many others, in precision
and clearness, the work seems to me of a very high order. Something
in the style of Sappho’s ode, Δἑδυχε μἑυ ἁ σελἁνα, reminds me that
I am writing at night, in an inn chamber, and my mind is full of
reminiscences of the good old days. Of all the petty miseries of
the present, the worst for me is insomnia. All my thoughts grow
pessimistic, and I become absolutely disgusted with myself.

Good-bye, dear friend. Try to keep well and to sleep. You have much
finer weather than we, and much more cheerful companions. Do you eat
any bananas in Algiers? To my mind, it is the best fruit in the world,
but I should like to eat it with you. With this thought, dear friend, I
bid you good-night. I shall reach Cannes about the 25th of this month.



CCXXX


CANNES, _December 13, 1860_.

You write with a conciseness quite Lacedemonian, and you use, moreover,
a paper manufactured, doubtless, expressly for you. At the same time,
there are many interesting things, for you to tell me. You are living
among barbarians, where there is always something worth observing; and
you have the best kind of a chance to see them, because of the woman’s
skirts you wear, which are a valuable passport. In spite of this, you
have told me but one thing in detail, and that I had already suspected,
but you have not said what you thought of it and whether you considered
it worthy of imitation. You must have seen in the bazaars a tremendous
number of trinkets, and you might have examined them and have given me
some idea of what you thought would suit me. In fact, you are not
acquitting yourself at all well in your rôle of traveller.

I am living in my hole, and have nothing to tell you except that we had,
in the beginning of the month, the most diabolical weather. The Siagne,
a small stream flowing between the Estérel Mountain and Cannes,
overflowed its banks and covered the adjacent fields, which gave them
the most curious and picturesque aspect. The sea, too, driven by the
south wind, beat against my balcony, and my house during the night was
transformed into an island. All these disasters were effaced by one day
of sunshine. I am warm, and am tolerably well, but I sleep badly, and
have lost entirely the habit of eating. All the same, I take more
exercise than I did in Paris.

The political disturbance early in the month gave me some apprehension,
notwithstanding my indifference to the questions involved. You are aware
of my intimacy with the principal victim. I know nothing positively as
yet concerning the reasons for his disgrace. It is evident, however,
that a fair lady figures in the case, and that she persisted in
remaining in his apartment, which she had occupied for a long time. He
took the thing less philosophically than I believed he would, and than I
should have done in his place. I fancy, though, that he was cut up by
some of the proceedings.

As for the measures of the Liberals, I have not made up my mind what to
think; we must wait, and see the result. I do not believe they were
necessary; but, on principle, it is better to grant a favour unsolicited
than to give only what is asked, and after delaying so long that
everybody concerned grows impatient. It may be, on the other hand, that
the emperor[25] is seeking support in the Chambers in order that we may
abandon our false position with Italy, defending a pope who
excommunicates us _in petto_, and on the point of becoming embroiled
with our friends, that we may flatter the vanity of a youngster who has
never wished us any good. It is clear that, if the Chambers recommend
the doctrine of non-intervention, it would be ground sufficient to
recall General de Goyon from Rome, and to leave the Piedmontese to fight
their own battles as they like and as they are able to do.

Here, meaning throughout France, people who dress well and consider
themselves somebody are loyal to the pope and the king of Naples, as if
they had not been at the bottom of the Revolution in France. At the same
time, their love of the papacy and of legitimacy does not reach to the
extent of contributing an _écu_ in their behalf. If a positive
explanation were demanded, I do not doubt that the doctrine of
intervention would be extolled in enthusiastic terms. But what will be
the effect of the recrudescence of eloquence which the recent
concessions will bring on us? I can not guess the result; but the old
parliamentarians are beginning to prick their ears. M. Thiers, I am
told, will stand for election to a seat in the Senate from Valenciennes,
and his example, I think, will be followed by many others. I can not
conceive what will become of the deposed ministers, who were appointed
by the oratorical party in the legislative body of the Senate, but it
will be amusing to see orators like M. Magne and M. Billault on the side
of the Jules Favre and _tutti quanti_.

Good-bye, dear friend. Let me hear from you often, and send me longer
letters. Do not forget the details of Algerian customs, about which I am
exceedingly curious. Tell me what sort of weather you have, and how you
are.



CCXXXI


CANNES, _December 28, 1860_.

DEAR FRIEND: I wish you a happy ending of the old and a happier
beginning of the new year. I thank you for the pretty purse which you
sent me. Did I say purse? I do not know exactly what it is, or what it
is to be used for; but it is very pretty, and the gold embroidery, in
different colours, is in exquisite taste. It takes the barbarians to
make such things. Our artificers have too much acquired skill and too
little sentiment to make anything equal to them.

I thank you for the offer of the dates and bananas. If I were in Paris,
I should not refuse, but you can not conceive of the carelessness of our
transportation. I waited a whole week for a pair of trousers, begging
your pardon, which went from Marseilles to Nice, and from there God
knows where, before they finally reached me. Things to eat would be
still more uncertain. When you return you may bring them with you, and
we shall eat them together, which will be much nicer.

You have not told me if you saw M. Feydeau in Algiers. I met him in the
railway train coming from Africa, where he had gone, he told me, to
write a novel. Although I have said no more about it, you promised me to
collect data for me, and to gather a multitude of facts for my use in
the future.

You have confined yourself to giving me the most superficial
information, without telling me even your own opinion of things. Have
you seen in Algiers a sort of pouch which comes from Constantine, I
think, something like the _sabretache_ worn by our hussars, and
embroidered in a marvellous fashion? About how much do they cost? I
mean the most beautiful ones.

Cannes is filled with English and Russians, all of whom are exceedingly
ordinary specimens. My friend Mr. Ellice is in Nice, and comes to see me
from time to time. He complains of having no intellectual associates.

I see that you have had a visit from Mr. Cobden. He is an intelligent
man and very interesting, not like an Englishman, in that he is never
heard talking commonplaces and has not many prejudices. It seems that
Paris is entirely absorbed in M. Poinsot. They say that he himself is
responsible for his misfortune.

I should be glad to give you some political news, but my correspondents
tell me nothing, except that affairs are quiet. It is the characteristic
of our age to set in motion a turmoil, and to amuse one’s self while it
is in progress.

Good-bye. Keep in good health, and enjoy your sunshine.



CCXXXII


NICE, _January 20, 1861_.

I am here on a visit to my friend Mr. Ellice, who is a cruel sufferer
from gout, and whom I have come to cheer. I experienced a feeling of
involuntary satisfaction when I crossed the _Pont du Var_, and found
neither customs officer nor gendarme, nor a demand for passports. This
annexation is a fine thing, and makes one feel several millimetres
taller.

You confuse me terribly with the beautiful things which you describe. It
is evident that I must fall back on you and on your judgment to decide
on the purchases; but I beg you to consider that as these things are for
my personal use, and not for gifts, I shall be much more difficult to
please than usual. I urge you, therefore, to proceed with great
circumspection. _Primo_, you are authorised to purchase a _gebira_ at
any price you care to pay, provided that it has gold not on the outside,
but on the inside, like some of those I have seen.

If you find some pretty silk stuff which may be washed, and does not
look like a woman’s gown, make me a dressing-gown, as long as possible,
and buttoned on the left side in the oriental fashion. Bring these with
you when you return. I have no desire to wear silk gowns while the ice
in the Seine is two feet thick. What they write me from Paris makes my
hair stand on end--ten degrees of cold during the day, and twelve or
fourteen degrees at night. Nevertheless, I am summoned there day after
to-morrow. Do not be frightened if you read in the papers that I am
ill. It would be, however, only the truth, for I have been not at all
well for some time.

If I were to return to Paris at this season I am sure I should be done
for in a few days. I am thinking, however, of going about the middle of
February. Besides my usual alacrity in attending the functions of the
Luxembourg, I have a speech to deliver. A petition is presented for the
revision of M. Libri’s trial, and you may be sure that I can not refrain
from speaking my mind upon this subject which lies so near my heart.

I have had at Cannes--I might say I am still having--a visit from M.
Fould, for I shall find him still there on my return day after
to-morrow. He told me many curious things of the men and women who were
interested in his affair. I found him much more philosophical than I
expected. I doubt, however, if he has the courage to sulk much longer;
it is contrary to his habit. It seems that when one has for a long time
carried a red portfolio under his arm, one finds himself, on losing it,
in exactly the same condition as an Englishman with no umbrella.

Good-bye. I shall leave Cannes, probably, February 8th. Let me hear from
you, and tell me something of your plans for returning, if you have made
any. We are having fine weather, but it might be warmer. You seem to
have weather both clear and warm, for which I congratulate you.
Good-bye, dear friend....



CCXXXIII


CANNES, _February 16, 1861_.

DEAR FRIEND: I am writing you in the blues, and in the midst of my
preparations for departure. I am to start to-morrow morning, and, if I
succeed in reaching Toulon in time for the train, expect to be in Paris
the following night. I had hoped to prolong my stay here until the
conclusion of the inquiry; but, on the one hand, I have had conferred on
me an honour which I could very well have done without, and which
compels me to be punctual. Besides this, I am told that the Senate is
papist and legitimist, and that my voice will not be out of place when
the vote is taken. This sort of thing is repugnant to me, and if it can
be done, I shall keep out of it as long as possible.

These last days I have had quantities of visitors, which has prevented
me from writing to you. I have had friends from Paris, and Mr. Ellice,
who came to spend several days with me, so that it became necessary to
play the cicerone, to take them everywhere in the suburbs, and to hold
a plenary court. Contrary to my custom, therefore, I am bringing back
with me very few drawings.

Your absence from Paris has been the cause of two misfortunes. The first
is, that I forgot entirely the gift of books for Madame de Lagréné’s
daughters. In the next place, I forgot also Sainte-Eulalie. There is
nothing in this country which could have been sent to Paris, except
flowers, and God only knows in what condition they would have reached
there. Do advise me what to do. I am as embarrassed as usual, and this
time I have not the resource of throwing my trouble on your shoulders.

I am grateful to you for all the trouble you are taking about the
_gebira_. I should like it a little large, because I expect to wear it
in my journeys as a night-robe.

The poor duchesse de Malakof is an excellent woman, but not over-clever,
especially in French. She seems to be altogether dominated by her
frightful beast of a husband, who is boorish from habit, and, perhaps,
from choice. They say, however, that she adapts herself to him
remarkably well. If you see her, mention me, and our dramatic
entertainments in Spain. I was told that her brother, who is a very
pleasant fellow, good-looking, and a poet in the bargain, was to spend
some time with her in Algiers. Good-bye, dear friend. Keep well, and
take care of yourself.



CCXXXIV


PARIS, _March 21_.

DEAR FRIEND: I thank you for your letter. Since my return to Paris, I
have been completely besotted. There was, in the first place, our
exhibition in the Senate, where like M. Jourdain, I may say that never
have I been so satiated with silliness. Everybody had in reserve a
discourse to which he had to give utterance. So strong is the contagion
of example, that I delivered my speech in a free-and-easy way, without
the slightest preparation, like M. Robert Houdin. I was terribly
frightened, but succeeded in overcoming it by saying to myself that I
was in the presence of two hundred imbeciles, and that there was no
occasion to be nervous. The joke was that M. Walewski, to whom I wished
to give a fine budget, took offence because I praised his predecessor,
and declared openly that he had voted against my proposition.

M. Troplong, beside whom I was seated in my position as secretary,
whispered to me his condolences; to which I replied that a minister who
is not thirsty can not be compelled to drink. This was repeated
immediately to M. Walewski, who took it for an epigram, and who since
then has scowled on me, which has not prevented me from going my own
gait.

The second vexation of the present time is to dine out, officially or
otherwise, on the same fish, the same filet, the same lobster, and so
on, and even the same persons, all as tiresome as they were the last
time.

But the climax of vexations is Catholicism. You can not conceive of the
degree of exasperation which the Catholics have reached. For nothing at
all they jump on you--for instance, if you do not, at the mention of the
holy martyr, show all the whites of your eyes, and if you ask quite
_innocently_, as I did, who had suffered martyrdom.

I brought on myself another unfortunate affair in expressing surprise
that the queen of Naples had had her photograph taken in boots. It is an
exaggeration and an absurdity which surpasses anything which you may
imagine.

A lady asked me the other evening if I had ever seen the empress of
Austria. I said I considered her very pretty. “Ah, she is an ideal
beauty!” “No; she has irregular features, which are more pleasing,
perhaps, than if they mere more regular.” “Ah, monsieur, she is beauty
personified. Tears of admiration come to your eyes!” This is the society
of the present day. I flee from it, therefore, as I should the plague.
What has become of the French society of the past!

A final vexation, but a colossal one, was _Tannhäuser_. Some say the
performance was one of the secret conditions of the Treaty of
Villafranca; others, that Wagner was sent to us in order to force us to
admire Berlioz. The fact is that it is monstrous. It seems to me I might
compose something just as good to-morrow, inspired by my cat walking
over the piano board.

The performance was very strange. The Princess Metternich got herself
terribly worked up to make the impression that she understood it, and to
create applause, which came not. Everybody yawned, but at the same time,
everybody wished to appear to understand this unanswerable enigma. The
people who sat beneath Madame de Metternich’s _loge_ said that the
Austrians were taking their revenge for Solferino. It was said also that
people were tired of the _récitatifs_, and that _on se tanne aux
airs_.[26] Try to understand the joke. I fancy your Arabic music is an
excellent preparation for this infernal noise. It is an immense fiasco!
Auber says that it is Berlioz without melody.

The weather here is frightful--wind, rain, snow, and hail, varied by
flashes of sunshine which do not last ten minutes. The sea is still
raging, it seems, and I am glad you are not returning immediately.

Did I tell you that I had made the acquaintance of M. Blanchard, who is
going to move into the rue de Grenelle? He showed me some charming
water-colours, Russian and Asiatic scenes, which seemed to show a great
deal of temperament, and which were done with talent and fire.

I should like to send you some news, but know of nothing worth sending
across the sea. I am persuaded that the pope will leave before the end
of two months, or else that we shall settle him where he can come to
terms with the Piedmontese; but affairs can not endure as they are. The
devout are making a horrible outcry; but the French people and the
bourgeois are anti-papists. I hope and believe that Isidore shares my
sentiments on this point.

I shall make a short journey, probably, in the south, in the company of
my ex-minister, to spend the dreary Easter season. You tell me nothing
about your health, about your complexion. Your health, I trust, is good;
as to the other, I fear you have not sunburned at all.

Good-bye, dear friend. I thank you for the _gebira_. Return well and
strong; stout or slender, I promise to recognise you. I embrace you most
tenderly.



CCXXXV


PARIS, _April 2, 1861_.

DEAR FRIEND: I have just returned from my holy-week excursion, tired
out, after a sleepless and bitter cold night. I find your letter here,
and am delighted to learn that you are on this side of the sea....

I have been in better health for two weeks. Some one recommended a very
agreeable remedy for my pains in the stomach. It is called pearls of
ether. They are small capsules made of I don’t know what, which are
transparent, and contain the liquid ether. You swallow them, and an
instant after reaching the stomach they break, and let the ether escape.
The effect is a queer, agreeable sensation. If you should ever need a
sedative, I recommend them to you.

You must have been sadly struck with the wintry aspect of southern
France, coming as you did from Africa. Whenever I return from Cannes I
am always shocked at the appearance of the bare trees and the moist,
dead earth. I am awaiting your _gebira_ with the keenest interest. If
the embroidery is as marvellous as that on the tobacco pouch which you
sent me, it must be admirable indeed. I hope you have brought back some
gowns for yourself, and quantities of pretty things which you will show
me.

I do not know whether there are as many good Catholics at ---- as there
are in Paris. The fact is, our drawing-rooms are no longer inhabitable.
Not only have those who were always devout become bitter as verjuice,
but all the ex-Voltairians of the political opposition have turned
papists. I find consolation in the thought that some of them feel
obliged to attend mass, which must be somewhat of a bore to them. My
former professor, M. Cousin, who used never to speak of the pope other
than as the bishop of Rome, has been converted and does not miss a mass.
It is said, even, that M. Thiers is becoming pious, but it is difficult
for me to believe this, because I have always been partial to him.

I can understand that you may not be able now to tell me, even
indefinitely, when you intend to return to Paris, but let me hear as
soon as you know anything to tell. I shall be tied here as long as the
session continues....

Tell me, dear friend, how you are after so many fatigues and
tribulations on land and sea. Good-bye. Take good care of yourself, and
write to me promptly and often....



CCXXXVI

PARIS, _Wednesday, April 24, 1861_.

I am writing the history of a bandit Cossack of the seventeenth century,
named Stenka Razine, who was killed in Moscow with horrible tortures,
after he had hanged and drowned a great number of boyards, and had
maltreated their women in true Cossack fashion. I will let you read it
when it is finished, if I ever reach the end of it. Good-bye, dear
friend. Give me news of yourself....

I am leading a most disquieting and uncomfortable life, thanks to the
Institute affairs and the petition of Madame Libri....



CCXXXVII


PARIS, _May 15, 1861_ (_The Senate_).

DEAR FRIEND: For several days I have been so busy that I have delayed
writing to you. I wished to ask you to return my visit. I am a prey at
the present moment of the herrings which the seals of Boulogne have
stirred up to torment us, and I am expecting the Maronites to finish us.
This means that we, in this establishment,[27] are in the midst of a
bitter discussion about herrings, and that we are threatened with daily
sessions. However, it can not last much longer, I hope.

I am working every night, and am happy to have reached the tortures
which my hero was made to suffer, so you see I am near the end. It is a
long work, not very interesting, and most horrible. I will let you read
it when it is published. What do you think of Macaulay? Is he as
interesting as in the beginning?

Is it true that all the herring fishermen of Boulogne are thieves, who
buy herrings caught by the English and pretend to have caught them
themselves? Is it true, also, that the herrings have been seduced by the
English, and that they no longer pass near our coasts?



CCXXXVIII


CHÂTEAU DE FONTAINEBLEAU, _Thursday, June 13, 1861_.

DEAR FRIEND: For two days I have been here, recuperating, with great
enjoyment, among the trees, after my tribulations of the last week.[28]
I suppose you read of the affair in the _Moniteur_. I have never in my
life seen people so wild, so senseless as magistrates. For my
consolation, I say to myself that twenty years from now, when some
antiquarian shall poke his nose into the _Moniteur_ of this week, he
will say that he has discovered in 1861, in an assembly of _young_
fools, a philosopher full of moderation and calmness. This philosopher
is myself, and I say it without vanity.

In this country, where magistrates are recruited from the ranks of men
too stupid to earn their living as lawyers, they are ill-paid, and to
get on with them they are privileged to be insolent and quarrelsome.
Happily, it is all ended at last. I have done what I ought to do, and if
it were possible, I should reopen the case for the petition of Madame
Libri.

I was cordially received here, and have not been laughed at on account
of my defeat. I expressed my opinion of the affair very plainly, and
have had no intimation of any disapproval of my judgment. After all the
excitement of these last days, I feel as if an enormous weight had
rolled off my back. The weather is superb, and the air of the woods
delicious. There are few people here. My hosts are, as usual, extremely
kind and friendly.

We have with us the Princess Metternich, who is very vivacious, after
the German fashion--that is to say, she has created for herself a kind
of originality composed of two parts of rapid woman and one of great
lady. I fancy she has not wit enough to sustain the rôle she has
adopted. To-day we are going hunting. The evenings are a little tedious,
but they do not last forever. I expect to be here a week longer; my
official duties hold me here, however, only until Sunday. If I remain
beyond that time I shall let you know.

Good-bye, dear friend. Some one has come for me.



CCXXXIX


CHÂTEAU DE FONTAINEBLEAU, _Monday, June 24, 1861_.

DEAR FRIEND: I have not budged from here, and shall remain until the end
of the month, thanks, no doubt, to Cæsar. I told you that I had a
sunstroke, and for twenty-four hours was in a very dangerous condition.
I have entirely recovered now, but am suffering from lumbago, which I
caught rowing on the lake....

I am waiting impatiently for news from you, but fear that I am somewhat
to blame. I promised to write to you if I left Fontainebleau, but what
can I do? One does nothing here, and yet one is never free. Sometimes we
are called on to walk in the woods, sometimes to make a translation.
Most of the time is spent in waiting. The great accomplishment of the
country is to know how to wait--a part of my education which I find it
difficult to acquire.

At this moment our chief expectation is centred in the Siamese
ambassadors, who will arrive Thursday. Some say that they will present
themselves on all-fours, after the custom of their country, crawling on
their knees and elbows; others add that they will lick the floor,
sprinkled with candy in view of this performance. Our ladies imagine
that they are to receive wonderful gifts. I believe they will bring
nothing at all, and that they will expect to carry away many beautiful
things.

I went last Wednesday to Alise with the emperor, who has become an
accomplished archæologist. He spent three and a half hours on the
mountain, under the most terrific sun in the world, examining the
remains of the siege of Cæsar, and reading the _Commentaries_. We lost
all the skin from our ears, and came back looking like chimney-sweeps.
We spend our evenings upon the lake, or under the trees, looking at the
moon and wishing for rain. I suppose you have the same weather at N----.
Good-bye, dear friend. Take care of yourself; do not expose yourself to
the sun, and let me hear from you.



CCXL


CHÂTEAU DE FONTAINEBLEAU, _June 29, 1861_.

DEAR FRIEND: I received the cigar-case, which is charming even to my
eyes, which have just seen the gifts of the Siamese ambassadors. Our
letters crossed. I am so busy here doing nothing that I have had no time
to write. At last we are all leaving to-night, and I shall be in Paris
when you receive this letter.

We had, on Tuesday, a passably good ceremony, quite like that in the
_Bourgeois Gentilhomme_. It is impossible to conceive of a more singular
spectacle than that of a score of black men, with a strong resemblance
to monkeys, dressed in gold brocade, and wearing white stockings and
patent-leather shoes, with sword at their sides, all flat on their
stomachs, crawling on knees and elbows along the Henri II gallery,
carrying their noses as high as the backs of those who preceded. If you
have ever seen the advertisement on the _Pont Neuf_, “The Dog’s
Good-morning,” you may form some idea of the scene.

The first ambassador had the hardest time. He wore a felt hat
embroidered in gold, which danced on his head at every movement, and,
besides, carried in his hands a bowl of gold filigree, containing two
boxes, in each of which was a letter from their Siamese majesties. The
letters were in silk and gold purses, and the whole thing extremely
rich.

After having delivered the letters, when they tried to turn around,
confusion reigned in the embassy. There were kicks from behind into
faces, swords thrust into the eyes of those on the second row, who in
turn were putting out the eyes of the third row. The spectacle resembled
a troop of cockchafers on a carpet.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs had invented this charming ceremony, and
had required the ambassadors to crawl. The Asiatics are supposed to be
more guileless than they are, and I am confident that they would have
found no fault had they been permitted to walk. The whole effect of the
crawling was lost, however, because the emperor became impatient at
last, rose, made the cockchafers rise, and conversed in English with one
of them. The empress kissed a little monkey which they had brought with
them, and which is said to be the son of one of the ambassadors; he ran
on all-fours like a little rat, and had an intelligent expression.

The temporal king of Siam sent his portrait to the emperor, and that of
his wife, who is hideously ugly. But you would have delighted in the
variety and beauty of the stuffs which they brought. They are of gold
and silver, woven so delicately that they are perfectly transparent, and
resemble the light clouds of a beautiful sunset. They presented the
emperor with trousers, the legs of which are embroidered with small
designs in enamel, gold, and green; and a waistcoat of gold brocade as
soft as a silk handkerchief, the patterns of which, gold worked on gold,
are marvellous. The buttons are of gold filigree, with small diamonds
and emeralds. They have a red gold and a white gold, which when used
together produce an admirable effect.

In short, I have never seen anything more stylish, and at the same time
more elegant. What strikes one as singular in the taste of these savages
is that, while they use only dazzling silks, gold and silver thread,
there is nothing conspicuous in their stuffs. The materials are combined
in marvellous taste, producing a quiet, harmonious effect.

Good-bye, dear friend. I expect to make a visit to London, where I have
business connected with the Exposition. This will be about July 8th or
10th.



CCXLI


LONDON, _British Museum_, _July 16, 1861_.

I see by your last letter, dear friend, that you are as busy as a
commander-in-chief on the eve of a battle. I have read in _Tristram
Shandy_ that in a house where a woman is in child-birth, all the women
assume the privilege of ill-treating the men; this is the reason I have
not written to you sooner. I was afraid you would treat me in a manner
befitting your lofty grandeur. I hope, however, that your sister is
safely delivered, and that you are relieved of all anxiety. Still, I
should be glad to have your official opinion, but this does not mean
that you are to send me a bulletin of printed information.

People here are talking of nothing but the affair of M. de Vidil. I have
known him slightly in London and in France, and considered him a great
bore. Here, where they are just as gullible as in Paris, there has been
a furious outburst of resentment against him. He is known to have killed
his wife, and probably many other persons. Now that he has been
acquitted, sentiment has changed completely, and if he has a good lawyer
he will clear himself, and we shall weave crowns for him.

You may or may not know that there is a new chancellor, lord B----, who
is old, but whose morals are not. A lawyer named Stevens sends his clerk
with a card to the chancellor. The clerk inquires for him; he is
informed that my lord has no house in London, but that he comes often
from the country to a house in Oxford Terrace, where he has a lodging.
The clerk goes to the house, and asks for my lord. “He is not here.” “Do
you think he will return for dinner?” “No, but to sleep, certainly; he
comes here every Monday night to sleep.” The clerk leaves the letter,
and Mr. Stevens is now greatly astonished because the chancellor glowers
at him. The truth of the matter is, that my lord has there a clandestine
establishment.

I have been in London since Thursday, and have not yet had a moment of
rest. I am running about from morning until night. Every day I am
invited out to dinner, and in the evening there are concerts and balls.
I went to a concert yesterday at the marquis of Lansdowne’s. There was
not a pretty woman present, which is unusual here, but, on the other
hand, they were dressed, all of them, as if the chief dispenser of
styles at Brioude had made their gowns. I never saw anything to equal
their head-dress. One old woman had a crown of diamonds composed of
small stars, with a huge sun in front, precisely like the wax figures at
a fair! I think of remaining here until early in August. Good-bye, dear
friend....



CCXLII


LONDON, _British Museum_, _July 25, 1861_.

... I pass my time here monotonously enough, although I dine out every
day at a different house, and see people and things I have not seen
before. I dined yesterday at Greenwich with some great personages, who
tried to make themselves lively, not, like the Germans, by throwing
themselves out of the window, but by making a vast amount of noise. The
dinner was abominably long, but the whitebait was excellent.

We have unpacked here twenty-two cases of antiquities from Cyrenaica.
There are two statues and several busts which are truly remarkable,
belonging to a good period and thoroughly Greek; one Bacchus especially,
although a little delicate, is fascinating. The head is in an
extraordinary state of preservation.

M. de Vidil is properly and duly committed, and will be tried at the
next assizes. He will not be allowed to give bail. It seems, however,
that the worst that may happen to him is to be sentenced to two years’
imprisonment, for the English law recognises murder only in the event of
the victim’s death; and, as Lord Lyndhurst said to me, a man must be a
great bungler in England to allow himself to be hanged.

I went, the other evening, to the House of Commons and heard the debate
on Sardinia. It is impossible to be more verbose, more flat, and more
insignificant that most of the orators, notably lord John Russell, now
simply lord Russell. Mr. Gladstone pleased me. I hope to return to Paris
the 8th or 10th of August, and to find you quietly resting in some sort
of solitude. I think my health is better than in Paris; nevertheless,
the weather is atrocious.

I was interrupted in my letter to visit the Bank of England. I held in
my hand four small packages which contained four million pounds
sterling, but I was not permitted to carry them away. That would have
occasioned the writing of two volumes. I was shown a pretty machine,
which counts and weighs daily three million sovereigns. The machine
hesitates an instant, and after a brief deliberation throws the genuine
sovereigns to the right and the counterfeit to the left. There is one
that looks like a little ape. A bank-bill is presented to him, he bends
his head and kisses it twice, leaving on the bill certain marks which
the counterfeiters have not yet succeeded in imitating.

Finally, I was taken into the vaults, where I fancied myself in one of
those grottoes described in the _Thousand and One Nights_. They were
lined with bags of gold and bullion, which sparkled in the gas-light.
Good-bye, dear friend....



CCXLIII


PARIS, _August 24, 1861_.

DEAR FRIEND: I have arrived at last, in not too good a state of
preservation. I do not know whether it is from eating too heartily of
turtle-soup, or from running about too much in the sun, but I have had a
return of those pains in the stomach, which for some time had left me in
peace. I am taken in the morning about five o’clock, and they continue
an hour and a half. I suppose one suffers in somewhat the same way when
one is hanged. This does not inspire in me any desire to be suspended!

I found awaiting my return more work than I like. Our imperial
commission for the Universal Exposition is in travail; we are
exhausting all our eloquence in persuading those who have pictures to
lend them to us to send to London. Besides the obvious indiscretion of
the proposition, it happens that most owners of private collections are
Carlists or Orleanists, who think they are doing a pious act in refusing
us. I fear we shall cut a poor figure in London next year, and all the
more since we shall exhibit only works done during the last ten years,
while the English will exhibit the products of their school since 1762.

How did you find the heat of the tropics? It is a consolation to read,
in the papers which I receive, that in Madrid it was forty-four degrees,
which is the temperature of the hot season in Senegal. There is no one
in Paris, which suits me perfectly. I spent six weeks dining out, and it
is a relief now not to be obliged to put on a white cravat for dinner. I
visited the duke of Suffolk for a week, however, in a charming castle in
almost absolute solitude. The country is level, but is covered with
immense trees; and there is an abundance of water, so that the sailing
is excellent. The place is quite near some fens, and is the region from
which Cromwell sprang. There is an enormous quantity of game, and one
can not take a step without running the risk of treading on pheasants or
partridges.

I have no plans for the autumn, except that, if Madame de Montijo should
go to Biarritz, I shall visit her there and spend a few days. She is
still in sorrow, and I find her more desolate than she was last year at
the time of her daughter’s death.

It seems to me you have acquired a great fondness for that host of
children. I can not understand this. I suppose you allow yourself to
assume all the care of them, according to your habit of submitting to
oppression, so long as it does not come from me. Good-bye, dear
friend....



CCXLIV


PARIS, _August 31, 1861_.

DEAR FRIEND: I have received your letter, which seems to indicate that
you are happier than you have been in a long time. I am rejoiced at it.
There is in me little disposition to be fond of children; still, I can
understand how one should be attached to a little girl as to a young
cat, an animal with which your sex has many points of resemblance.

I am still ill and suffering, and am awakened every morning in a state
of suffocation, which soon passes. The solitude here is still complete.
I happened in at the Imperial Club yesterday and found there but three
persons, and they were asleep. The weather is insupportably warm and
sultry; as a change, they write me from Scotland that for forty days it
has rained in torrents, in consequence of which the potatoes are ruined
and the grain killed.

I am taking advantage of my solitude to work on something which I
promised my master, and which I should like to take to him at Biarritz,
but I am making slow progress. I have the greatest difficulty in doing
anything at all, as the least excitement causes me intense suffering. I
hope, however, to finish before the end of next week....

I have for you a copy of _Stenka Razine_. Remind me to give it to you
when I see you, and also to show you the portrait of a gorilla which I
drew in London, and with whom I was on terms of intimacy; ‘tis true, he
was stuffed.

I am reading little but Roman history; nevertheless, I have read with
great pleasure the nineteenth volume of M. Thiers. It seems to me to be
more carelessly written than the preceding volumes, but it is full of
curious things. In spite of his desire to say ill of his hero, he is
continually carried away by his involuntary affection for him. He tells
me that he will finish the twentieth volume in December, and that he
will then make a trip around the world, or else go to Italy.

There are stories of Montrond which interested me immensely; only I
regretted that he could not have heard them told while he was in this
world. It seems to me that M. Thiers describes him fairly enough, as an
adventurer in love with his trade, and honest in his dealings with his
principals so long as he was in their employ--quite like Dalgetty in the
_Legend of Montrose_.

Judging by what I can see, our artists accept kindly the little rule
which we have outlined for the Exposition in London; but when they shall
see the position given them, I am not sure but they will throw baked
apples at us. I have succeeded in extracting from M. Duchâtel the
promise to lend us _The Spring_ of M. Ingres. Good-bye, dear friend.



CCXLV


BIARRITZ, _September 20, 1861_.

DEAR FRIEND: I am still here, like the bird on the branch. It is not the
custom to form plans in advance; on the contrary, never until the last
moment does one make a resolution. Nothing has been said as to the time
of our departure, yet the days are growing shorter. The most tedious
time of the day is the evening; it is cold after dinner, and with the
arrangement of doors and windows invented here it is impossible to keep
warm. All this makes me think that we shall not stay here much longer.

I am thinking of making a visit to M. Fould, at Tarbes, so that I may
profit by these last beautiful days; after that I shall return to Paris,
where I shall hope to find you settled. The sea air is doing me good. My
breathing is better, but I sleep badly. ‘Tis true, I am immediately on
the sea-shore, where the slightest wind makes a terrible uproar.

As in all imperial residences, the time is spent here in doing nothing,
while waiting for something to happen. I work a little; I sketch from my
window, and walk a great deal. There are few people stopping at the
Eugénie Villa, and they are people whom I like well enough. While the
days here have twenty-four hours, as they have in Paris, I find that the
time passes without much difficulty....

We took a charming walk yesterday along the Pyrenees, near enough to see
the mountains in all their glory, yet not near enough to suffer from the
incessant inconvenience of climbing and descending them. We lost our
way, and met no one who understood our beautiful French language. This
always happens as soon as one passes beyond the outskirts of Bayonne.

The Prince Imperial yesterday gave a dinner to a flock of children. The
emperor himself made champagne for them out of seltzer-water, which had
the same effect as if they had drunk real wine. In a quarter of an hour
they were all tipsy, and my ears still ache from the racket they made.

Good-bye, dear friend. I have had the temerity to promise to translate
for his Majesty a Spanish memoir on the site of Munda, and I have just
made the discovery that it is terribly difficult to translate.

You may write here until the 23d or 24th. Send your letters after that
to M. Fould, at Tarbes. Good-bye.



CCXLVI


PARIS, _November 2, 1861_.

My eyes are so bad that I did not recognise you at once the other day.
Why do you come into my quarters without forewarning me? The person who
was with me asked who the lady was with such beautiful eyes.

I spend all my time working like a negro slave for my master, whom I
shall go to see in a week. The prospect of eight days in knee-breeches
is somewhat terrifying. I should prefer to spend them out in the
sunshine, and I begin to long for that time. On the other hand, the
session with which we are threatened is maddening to me. I can not
understand why Government business is not transacted in summer....

I have for you a book which is not altogether stupid. My memory is
failing, and I have had a volume bound, when I already had a copy. You
see what you will gain by it.

I have recovered almost entirely from my stiff neck, but for several
nights I have been up so late that I am extremely nervous and exhausted.
When we meet we will converse on metaphysics. ‘Tis a subject for which I
cherish a great fondness because it is inexhaustible. Good-bye, dear
friend.



CCXLVII


COMPIÉGNE, _November 17, 1861_.

DEAR FRIEND: We are to remain here until the 24th. It is the fault of
his Majesty, the king of Portugal, that the fêtes, for which we have
been making ready, were not given. They were postponed, and we have
been kept here in consequence. We are comfortable enough, inasmuch as we
are all well acquainted, and as independent of one another as it is
possible to be in such a place.

For lions we have four Highlanders in kilts, the duke of Athol, lord
James Murray, and the son and nephew of the duke. It is most amusing to
see these eight bare-knees in a salon where all the rest of the men are
in knee-breeches or tight trousers. Yesterday, his grace’s piper was
brought in, and all four danced in such a way as to cause general alarm
when they turned around. But there are ladies whose crinoline is still
more alarming when they enter a carriage. As ladies invited as guests
are not permitted to wear mourning, one sees legs of all colours. Red
stockings I think very stylish.

Notwithstanding walks in damp, icy woods, and drawing-rooms heated
red-hot, to the present time I have not caught cold; but I suffer from
suffocation, and do not sleep. I was present at the great ministerial
comedy, where one or two victims more were expected. The faces were
interesting to observe, the addresses still more so; so that M.
Walewski, the Excellency on trial, directed his grievances without any
discrimination against friends and foes alike. There is nothing like an
intense preoccupation to make people say stupid things, especially when
they are accustomed to saying them. Oh, the dulness of mankind!

The woman, on the contrary, was perfectly calm and self-possessed, and
the lawyers’ speeches and other proceedings excellent. The battle, it
seems to me, is only postponed, and at the slightest provocation is
inevitable.

What is said of the emperor’s letter? I approve of it thoroughly. He has
a way of his own of saying things, and when he speaks as a sovereign, he
has the art of showing that he is not made of the same common dough as
others. I think this is exactly what is needed by this noble nation,
which does not like the commonplace.

Yesterday the princess of ----, who was drinking tea, ordered the footman
to bring her _ti sel bour le bain_.[29] After half an hour the footman
returned, with twelve kilogrammes of coarse salt, supposing that she
wished to take a salt bath.

Some one presented to the empress a picture by Müller representing queen
Marie Antoinette in prison. The Prince Imperial inquired who this lady
was, and why she was not in a palace. It was explained to him that she
was a queen of France, and what a prison was. Then he ran to the
emperor and asked him please to pardon the queen whom he was keeping in
prison.

He is a strange, sometimes a terrible, child. He says that he bows to
the people always, because they deposed Louis Philippe, whom he did not
like. He is a charming child. Good-bye, dear friend.



CCXLVIII


CANNES, _January 6, 1862_.
(I no longer remember dates.)

DEAR FRIEND: I shall not tell you of the sunshine of Cannes, for fear of
causing you too great distress amidst the snows in which you must be at
this moment. What is written to me from Paris makes me cold just to
read. I suppose you must be still at R----, or on the journey therefrom;
so that I shall take my chances in addressing this to your official
residence, as the surest place for you to be found.

I have here, as companion and neighbour, M. Cousin, who came to be cured
of laryngitis, and who talks like a one-eyed magpie, eats like an ogre,
and is astonished not to recover under this beautiful sky, which he now
sees for the first time. He is, moreover, very interesting, for he
possesses the gift of being witty to everybody. When alone with his
servant, I fancy that he talks to him as he would to the most coquettish
Orleanist or Legitimist duchess. The native Cannais are fascinated by
him, and you may imagine how they will stare when they are informed that
this man, who talks well on any subject, has translated Plato, and is
the lover of Madame de Longueville. The only inconvenience is that he
does not know when to stop talking. For a philosopher of the Eclectic
school, it is a pity not to have adopted the good features of the
Peripatetics.

I am not doing much of anything here. I am studying botany in a book and
with the plants which fall under my hand, but every instant I bewail my
bad sight. It is a study which I should have begun twenty years ago,
when I had my eyes. It is, however, very amusing, although supremely
immoral, since for one lady there are always at least six or eight
gentlemen, all eager to offer her what she accepts with much
indifference from the right and the left. I regret exceedingly not to
have brought my microscope; still, with my spectacles I have seen
stamens making love to a pistil without showing any embarrassment at my
presence.

I am sketching also, and am reading in a Russian book the history of
another Cossack, a much better soldier than Stenka Razine, named,
unfortunately, Bogdan Chmielnicki. With a name so difficult to
pronounce, it is not astonishing that he has remained unknown to us
Occidentals, who remember only names of Latin or Greek derivation.

How has the winter treated you? and how do you manage the little
children who absorb so much of your time? Apparently you find the
bringing up of children an amusing occupation. I have had experience
only in raising cats, who have given me scant satisfaction, excepting
the last one who had the honour to know you. The intolerable thing about
children, it seems to me, is that you must wait so long to know what
they have in their brains, and to hear them reason. It is a great pity
that the trouble taken in cultivating the youngsters’ intelligence can
not be undertaken by the chits themselves, and that new ideas come to
them almost unconsciously. The principal question is, to know whether
they should be taught silly things, as we were, or whether we should
talk to them reasonably. There is something to be said for and against
both systems.

Some day, when you pass Stassin’s, kindly look in his catalogue for a
book by Max Müller, a professor in Oxford, on linguistics;
unfortunately I do not recollect the title of the book. You must tell me
if it costs very much, and if I shall be obliged to forego my fancy to
possess it. I am told it is an admirable analysis of language.

I have made the acquaintance of a poor cat who lives in a hut back in
the woods. I take him bread and meat, and as soon as he spies me coming
he runs a quarter of a mile to meet me. I regret that I can not take him
away with me, for he has marvellous powers of instinct.

Good-bye, dear friend. I hope this letter will find you in as good
health and as flourishing condition as last year. I wish you a
prosperous and happy New Year....



CCXLIX


CANNES, _March 1, 1862_.

... You are very good to think of my book in the midst of all your
cares. If you can have it for me by the time I return I shall esteem it
a great favour, but do not give yourself much trouble about it.

My cousin’s fête-day went completely out of my head, and I recalled it
the other day only when it was too late. When I return we will talk the
matter over, if you please. Every year it becomes more embarrassing, and
I have exhausted the possibility of rings, pins, handkerchiefs, and
buttons. It is deuced hard to invent something new!

As for novels, the difficulty is equally great. In this class of books I
have just read a few rhapsodies that deserve nothing less than corporal
punishment. I am going to spend three days in the mountains, at Saint
Césaire, beyond Cannes, at the home of my doctor, who is a man of the
kindest impulses. Upon my return I shall begin to think seriously of
starting for Paris.

I do not regret in the least having been absent from all the hubbub that
has gone on in the Luxembourg, and which was worthy of fourth-form
schoolboys. Even less do I regret that I took no share in the elections
or, rather, the preliminary elections, which were held at the Academy
the other day.

We are at this time in subjection to the clericals, and soon, in order
to be recognised as a candidate, it will be necessary to produce a
certificate of confession. M. de Montalembert gave such a certificate of
Catholicism to a friend of mine, who, to be sure, is from Marseilles,
but who had the good sense to offer no objection. Up to the present
these gentlemen are not troublesome, but with time and success they are
in danger of becoming so.

You can imagine nothing prettier than our country in fine weather. This
is not the case to-day, however, for something extraordinary, it has
been raining since morning. All the fields are covered with violets and
anemones, and with quantities of other flowers whose names I do not
know.

Good-bye, dear friend. Soon I shall see you, I hope. I wish to find you
again in the same excellent condition in which I left you two months
ago. Do not grow thin or stout, do not worry too much, and think of me
now and then. Good-bye.



CCL


LONDON, _British Museum_, _May 12, 1862_.

... So far as the Exposition is concerned, frankly, it cannot compare to
the first: to the present time it is much of a _fiasco_. It is true that
all the goods are not yet unpacked, but the building is horrible.
Although of vast size, it does not appear so. One must walk about and
lose himself in it before he realises its extent. Every one says there
are many beautiful things to be seen. As yet I have examined only Class
30, to which I belong and of which I am the reporter.

I find that the English have made great progress in taste and in the art
of decoration. We make much better furniture and wall-paper than they,
but we are in a deplorable position, and if it continues we shall soon
be outdistanced. Our jury is presided over by a German who thinks he can
speak English, and whom it is well-nigh impossible to understand.

Nothing is more absurd than our meetings; no one has an idea of the
subject under discussion; nevertheless, we vote. The worst is, that in
our department we have several English manufacturers, and we shall be
compelled to give these gentlemen medals which they do not deserve.

I am besieged by invitations to addresses and receptions. I dined day
before yesterday with Lord Granville. There were three small tables in a
long gallery, which arrangement was intended to make the conversation
general; but as the guests were scarcely acquainted with one another,
there was very little talking.

At night I went to Lord Palmerston’s, where were present the Japanese
embassy, who got caught on all the women with the immense sabres which
they wore at their belts. I saw some very beautiful women, and some very
abominable ones; all of them made a complete exhibition of their
shoulders and bosoms, some admirable, others extremely hideous, but
both shown with the same impudence. I think the English are no judges of
such things. Good-bye, dear friend....



CCLI


LONDON, _British Museum_, _June 6, 1862_.

DEAR FRIEND: I begin to catch a glimpse of the end of my troubles. My
report to the International Jury, written in the purest Anglo-Saxon,
without a single word derived from the French, was read by me yesterday,
and the matter is concluded in that quarter. There remains another
report for me to make to my own Government. I think I shall be free in a
few days, and I may be able, probably, to leave for Paris from the 15th
to the 20th of this month. It will be well for you to write to me before
the 15th, where you will be then and what your plans are.

I think, decidedly, that the Exhibition is a _fiasco_. In vain do the
Commissioners advertise extensively and sound the trumpet; they cannot
succeed in attracting a crowd. To pay expenses, they need fifty thousand
visitors a day, and they are far from realising their expectations.
Fashionable people do not attend since the admission has been reduced to
a shilling, and common people do not seem to feel any interest in it.
The restaurant is detestable. The American restaurant is the only one
that is interesting. There you may order drinks more or less diabolical,
which are taken with straws: mint julep, or “corpse reviver.” All these
drinks are made of gin, more or less disguised.

I have invitations to dinner for every day until the 14th. After that I
shall make a visit to Oxford, in order to see Mr. Max Müller, and to
examine some old manuscripts in the Bodleian Library. I shall then
leave. I am tired to death with British hospitality and with its
dinners, all of which seem to have been prepared by the same
inexperienced cook. You cannot imagine how eagerly I long to eat my own
plain soup. By the way, I do not remember if I told you that my old cook
was to leave me, to go to live on her property. She has been with me for
thirty-five years. This is exasperating to the last degree, for nothing
is so disagreeable to me as new faces.

I do not know which of two important events of the last few days has
produced the greater effect: one, the defeat of two favourites at the
Derby by an unknown horse; the other, the over-throw of the Tories in
the House of Commons. These have overspread London with gloomy
countenances, all extremely unpleasant to behold. A young lady in a box
swooned away on learning that Marquis was beaten a head’s length by a
rustic horse minus a pedigree. M. Disraeli puts on a better countenance,
for he shows himself at all the balls. Good-bye, dear friend.



CCLII


PARIS, _July 17, 1862_.

I shall not try to express _all_ the regrets I feel. I wish that you
might have shared them. If you had had half as much as I, you would have
found a means of making others wait for me.

Since your departure I have endured some painful experiences. My poor
old Caroline died at my home, after great suffering; so now I am without
a cook, and do not know exactly what I shall do. After her death her
nieces came to dispute her estate. One of them, however, took her cat,
which I intended to keep. She left, it seems, an income of twelve or
fifteen hundred francs. It has been demonstrated to me that she could
not have saved that amount from the wages which she earned with me, and
yet I do not believe she ever robbed me. If she did, I would agree
willingly to be robbed in that way always. I have had a strong desire to
have a cat like the late Matifas, who approved of you so heartily, but
I am going soon on a journey to the Pyrenees, and I shall have no time
to train him.

They tell me the waters of Bagnères-de-Bigorre will do me the most good.
I have no faith in their curative powers, but the surrounding mountains
are beautiful, and I have friends in the vicinity. M. Panizzi will come
for me the 5th of August, and we shall return together by way of Nîmes,
Avignon, and Lyons. I shall hope to reach Paris the same time that you
do.

Madame de Montijo arrived last week: she is greatly changed, and
distressing to see. Nothing consoles her for the death of her daughter,
and she seems to me less resigned than when the shock came. I dined last
Thursday at Saint Cloud, with a few intimate friends, and enjoyed it not
a little. They are less popish, I fancy, than is generally supposed.
They allowed me to be as critical as I pleased, without calling me to
order. The little prince is charming. He has grown two inches, and is
the prettiest child I have ever seen.

To-morrow our work on the Campana Museum will be finished. The
sympathisers of the purchasers are enraged, and hurl abuse at us in the
papers. We should have a long story to tell if we wished to bring to
light all the absurdities they have committed and the rubbish which has
been palmed off on them for genuine antiques.

It is horribly warm here, but I do not find it uncomfortable. They say
it is good for the grain. Good-bye, dear friend....



CCLIII


BAGNÈRES-DE-BIGORRE, _Villa Laquens_,
_Hautes-Pyrénées_, _Saturday_,
_August 16, 1862_.

DEAR FRIEND: I have been here for three days with M. Panizzi, after a
most fatiguing journey under a frightful sun. He left us (it is the sun
of which I speak) day before yesterday, and we are now having weather
worthy of London, with fog, and an imperceptible, drizzling rain, which
soaks through to your very bones.

I have met here one of my friends, who is the resident physician. He has
made a thorough examination of me, punched me in the back and chest, and
discovered that I have two mortal diseases, of which he has undertaken
to cure me, provided that I drink every day two glasses of warm water,
the taste of which is not bad, and which does not give me palpitation of
the heart, as ordinary water does. I am to bathe, moreover, in a
certain spring of which the water is hot, but which is very agreeable to
the skin. It seems to me that the treatment is doing me much good. I
have rather disagreeable palpitation in the morning, and I sleep badly,
but have a good appetite. According to your manner of reasoning, you
will conclude that I am going to have a marvellous cure.

There are few people here, and almost no one of my acquaintance, which
pleases me to excess. The crops of Englishmen and prunes have been this
year a complete failure.

As for beauties, we have Mademoiselle A. D----, who made at one time a
tremendous impression on Prince ----, and on the swells. I do not know
what disease she has, I have seen only her back, and she has the most
immense crinoline in all the place.

There are two balls given every week, to which I have no intention of
going, and amateur concerts, of which I have heard and shall hear but
one. Yesterday, I had to undergo high mass, which I attended accompanied
by a body-guard; but I declined the invitation of the under-prefect at
night, so as not to suffer too great an accumulation of catastrophes in
one day.

The country is very lovely, but I have as yet had only a glimpse of it.
I shall paint as soon as there is a ray of sunshine. What has become of
you? Write to me. I should love to show you the incomparable verdure of
this country, and especially the beauty of the waters, with which
crystal would not be a worthy comparison. It would be pleasant to talk
with you in the shade of the great beech-trees. Are you still under the
charm of the sea and the sea-monsters? Good-bye, dear friend.



CCLIV


BAGNÈRES-DE-BIGORRE, _September 1, 1862_.

DEAR FRIEND: I thank you for your letter. I shall send this to N----,
since you do not intend to stop in Paris, and I fancy that you have
already arrived there.

Speaking of the quarrels of the fisher folk, you have experienced that
which happens inevitably to a resident of Paris. The little disputes and
the little interests of the provinces seem so petty and so pitiable,
that one deplores the condition of people who live there. It is certain,
however, that after a few months in the country one does as the natives
do: one becomes interested in local affairs, and finally completely
provincial. This is sad for human intelligence, but it accepts the
nourishment offered, and makes the best of it.

Last week I made an excursion into the mountains to visit a farm
belonging to M. Fould. Situated on the border of a small lake, before it
lies the most superb panorama imaginable, and immediately surrounding it
is a forest of noble trees, something rarely seen in France. One can
live there in admirable comfort. M. Fould owns a great many superb
horses and cattle, all cared for in the English fashion. I was shown,
besides, a jack used for the breeding of mules. He is an enormous beast,
as tall as a gigantic stallion, black, and wicked-looking, as if he were
enraged. It seems that it is with the greatest difficulty that he can be
prevailed upon to show any attention to the mares. A jenny is brought
near him, and when his imagination has become fired, the mare is then
produced. What do you think of human ingenuity, which has invented all
these fine industries? You will be furious with my stories, and I can
see your expression from here.

Society becomes every day more stupid. In this connection, have you read
_Les Misérables_, and heard what is said of it? This is another instance
in which I find the human race inferior to that of the gorilla.

The waters are doing me good. I sleep better and have some appetite,
although I do not take much exercise, because my companion is not very
active. I expect to remain here almost a week still; I may then go to
Biarritz, or else into Provence. We have abandoned the plan of making a
visit to Lake Majeur, since the house where we were going cannot
entertain us at this time. I shall be in Paris, at the very latest, by
October 1st.

Good-bye, dear friend; good-bye, and write to me.



CCLV


BIARRITZ, _Villa Eugénie_, _September 27, 1862_.

DEAR FRIEND: I am writing to you still at ----, although I know nothing
at all of your movements, but it seems to me that you were not to return
so soon to Paris. If, as I hope, you have such weather as ours, you
should take advantage of it, and not be in too great a hurry to return
to the odours of the asphalt streets of Paris.

I am here beside the sea, and breathing more freely than I have in a
long while. The waters of Bagnères were beginning to make me very ill. I
was told that this was all the better, as it proved them to be taking
effect. The fact is that as soon as I had left Bagnères I felt made
over. The sea air, and perhaps also the royal food which I eat here,
have finished my cure. It must be admitted that the cooking in the Hotel
de ---- at Bagnères is the most abominable I have ever seen, and I believe
verily that Panizzi and I were undergoing slow poisoning.

There are few people at the villa, and those only agreeable people whom
I have known for a long time. In the city there is no crowd, very few
French especially; the Spanish and the Americans predominate. On
Thursday, when we receive, it is necessary to put the Americans from the
North on one side and the Americans from the South on the other, for
fear that they will devour each other.

On this day we dress. The rest of the time we make no attempt at a
toilette; the ladies come to dinner in high-necked gowns, and we of the
ugly sex in frock-coats. There is not a château in France or England
where there is such freedom and absence of etiquette, nor a hostess so
gracious and so kind to her guests.

We take charming walks in the valleys that skirt the Pyrenees, and
return from them with prodigious appetites. The sea, which ordinarily is
extremely rough here, has been for a week surprisingly calm; but it is
nothing compared to the Mediterranean, and especially to the sea at
Cannes. The bathers appear in the strangest of costumes. There is a
Madame ----, who is the colour of a turnip, and she dresses in blue and
powders her hair. It is pretended that she puts ashes on her head
because of the misfortunes of her country.

In spite of the walks and the food, I manage to work a little. I have
written, while at Biarritz and in the Pyrenees, more than half a volume.
It is the history of a Cossack hero, which is destined for the _Journal
des Savants_. Speaking of literature, have you read Victor Hugo’s speech
at a dinner of Belgian booksellers and other swindlers in Brussels? What
a pity that this fellow, who has at his command such beautiful fancies,
has not the shadow of good judgment, nor the decency to restrain himself
from uttering platitudes unworthy of an honest man! In his comparison of
a tunnel with a railway, there is more poetry than I have seen in any
book I have read in five or six years; but, for all that, it is all
merely fancy. There is no depth, no solidity, no common-sense; he is a
man who becomes intoxicated with his own words, and who no longer takes
the trouble to think.

The twentieth volume of Thiers pleases me, as it does you. There was, to
my mind, a tremendous difficulty to be met in extracting anything
tangible from the immense medley of conversations of Sainte Helena
reported by Las Casas, and in this Thiers has succeeded marvellously. I
like, also, his views of Napoleon and his comparison of him with other
great men. He is a little severe on Alexander and on Caesar; yet there
is much truth in what he says of the absence of virtue on the part of
Caesar. Here, everybody is intensely interested in the book, and I fear
there is far too much affection for the hero; for instance, they are
unwilling to admit the truth of the anecdote of Nicomedes; nor you
either, I fancy.

Good-bye, dear friend. Take good care of yourself, and do not sacrifice
yourself too much for others, because it will become a habit with you,
and that which you do to-day with pleasure you may be obliged some day
to do with pain. Good-bye again.



CCLVI


PARIS, _October 23, 1862_.

DEAR FRIEND: I have had an exciting time since the beginning of the
month; this is the reason for my delay in answering your letter. I
returned from Biarritz with the sovereigns. We were all in a doleful
state, having been poisoned, I think, with verdigris. The cooks swear
that they scoured their utensils, but I do not believe in their
protestations. The fact is that fourteen persons at the villa were
seized with vomiting and cramps. I have been poisoned before with
verdigris, so that I know the symptoms of it, and persist in my opinion.

I remained in Paris a few days, running about and attending to business
matters, and then went to Marseilles, to the christening of the China
steam-packets. You understand that this ceremony required my presence.
These boats are so beautiful, and have such comfortable little
state-rooms, that they give you the desire to go to China. I resisted,
however, and contented myself by taking a sun-bath at Marseilles.

You have divined, perhaps, the meaning of my reference to the turmoil in
which I was engaged on my return from Biarritz--political affairs, if
you please. I was divided between my wish to see M. Fould remain in the
ministry, in the interest of the Master, and my wish to see him resign,
in the interest of his dignity, and in his own interest. The result has
been concessions which have benefited no one, and which seem to me to
have been degrading to everybody concerned.

The most absurd part of the business has been that Persigny, whom none
of the ministers, with the exception of the papists, can endure, has
become their standard-bearer, and his retention has been made a
condition of holding their portfolios. Thus, Thouvenel, an excellent and
intelligent fellow, has been dismissed, and Persigny, who is a fool and
who has no understanding of affairs, retained. Now we are in the
clutches of the clericals for no one knows how long, and you know how
they treat their friends.

You seem to me to be too much affected by Victor Hugo’s speech. It is
words without ideas; somewhat in prose like _Les Orientales_. To attune
yourself to good prose, I commend you to read one of Madame de Sévigné’s
letters, and, if you still have a taste for common-sense and ideas, read
the twentieth volume of Thiers, which is the best of all. I have read it
twice, the second time with more pleasure than the first, and I do not
say that I shall not read it once more.

I should like to know something of your plans. I will tell you my own. I
expect to go to Compiègne towards the 8th of next month, and remain
there until after the Empress’s fête--that is, until the 18th or 20th.
Before or after that time, may I not see you? It seems to me that the
country must be very cold and damp at this season, and that you should
think of returning....

Good-bye, dear friend. I hope you are still in good appetite and health.



CCLVII


PARIS, _November 5, 1862_.

DEAR FRIEND: I am invited to Compiègne until the 18th. I shall be in
Paris the 10th, until three o’clock, and hope to see you. Write to me
and tell me a great deal about yourself. I disapprove strongly of your
new literary taste. I am now reading a book which might, however,
interest you; it is the history of the revolt of the Netherlands, by
Motley. I will send it to you, if you wish. There are no less than five
thick volumes; and while not specially well written, it reads easily,
and interests me no little. He has much anticatholic and antimonarchical
partiality; but his researches have been extensive, and although an
American, he is a man of talent.

I have taken cold, and have pain in my lungs. You will hear some day
that I have ceased to breathe for lack of this organ. This should make
you treat me with great kindness, before the arrival of such a
misfortune. Good-bye, dear friend....



CCLVIII

CANNES, _December 5, 1862_.

DEAR FRIEND: I arrived here between two deluges, and for four days I
thought there was no longer any sun even at Cannes. When it once begins
to rain in this land, it is no joke. The fields between Cannes and the
Estérel were transformed into a lake, and it was impossible to stick
one’s head out of doors. Still, in the midst of this down-pour the air
was mild and agreeable to breathe. Since I became asthmatic, I have been
as sensitive in the matter of air as the Romans are respecting water.

That condition of affairs, fortunately, did not last long. The sun
reappeared radiant three days ago, and since then, I have kept my
windows open all the time, and am almost too warm. It is only the flies
which remind me of the vexations of life.

Before leaving Paris, I consulted a celebrated doctor, for since my
return from Compiègne I believed myself to be in a very serious state,
and I wanted to know how soon I should have to arrange for my funeral. I
am pleased enough with having consulted him, in the first place,
because he assured me that this ceremony would not take place as soon as
I had feared; in the second place, because he explained to me,
anatomically, and with perfect clearness, the cause of my illness. I
supposed my heart was affected; not so at all; it is my lung. It is true
that I shall never be cured, but there are means by which I may be
spared suffering; which is a great deal, if not the principal
consideration.

You can form no idea of the beauty of the country after all these rains.
May roses are in bloom everywhere; jasmines are beginning to bloom, as
also quantities of wild flowers, each more beautiful than the others. I
should like to take a course in botany with you in the neighbouring
woods; you would see whether they are not equal to those at Bellevue.

I have received, I know not from whom, the last book of M. Gustave
Flaubert, the author of _Madame Bovary_, which you have read, I fancy,
although you will not admit that you have. I suppose he had talent,
which he was squandering under the pretext of realism. He has just
perpetrated a new novel, called _Salammbô_. In any other place than
Cannes, particularly, where there was nothing to read but _La Cuisinière
Bourgeoise_, I should not have opened this volume. It is a story of
Carthage several years before the Second Punic War. By reading Bouillet
and some other works of the same class, the author has acquired a sort
of false erudition, and he accompanies this with a lyricism imitated
from the very worst of Victor Hugo’s. There are passages which will
please you, doubtless, since, like all persons of your sex, you like
magniloquence. As for me, I detest it, and it has made me furious.

Since I have been here, and especially since the rain, I have continued
my Cossack article. It will take long, I fear, to finish. I shall send
soon to Paris a second instalment, and there will be more to follow. I
discover that I forgot to bring with me a map of Poland, and I am
embarrassed in writing Polish names, of which I have only the Russian
translation. If you have within your reach some means of ascertaining
it, will you endeavour to find out if a city which in Russian is called
Lwow, is not perhaps the same as Lemberg in Galicia? You will be doing
me a great service.

Good-bye, dear friend, I hope winter is not using you too severely, and
that you are taking care to avoid colds. Is your little niece still
amiable? Do not spoil her, so that she will store up future unhappiness
for herself.

I wish you would go to see the comedy of my friend M. Augier, and that
you would give me your candid opinion of it. Good-bye once more.



CCLIX


CANNES, _January 3, 1863_.

DEAR FRIEND: I began the year badly enough, in my bed, with a very
painful attack of lumbago, which did not allow me even the privilege of
turning over. This is what you get in these beautiful climates, where,
so long as the sun is above the horizon, you imagine that it is summer,
but where immediately after sunset comes a quarter of an hour of damp
chilliness that penetrates to the very marrow of your bones. It is
precisely as in Rome, with the difference that here it is rheumatism,
and there fever, against which one must guard. To-day my back has
regained some of its elasticity, and I have begun to walk.

I have had a visit from my old friend M. Ellice, who spent twenty-four
hours with me and renewed my stock of news, and my ideas, which had
become strikingly shrivelled by my sojourn in Provence. Everything
considered, this is the only inconvenience of living away from Paris.
One soon comes to be a log when one does not share the tastes of my
friend, M. de Laprade, who would like to be an oak. This transformation
has in it nothing agreeable.

If I continue to improve I think of returning to Paris on the 18th or
20th, to hear the discussion of the address, which they tell me will be
warm and interesting. After having paid my respects, I shall come back
to the sunshine; for if I had to endure the sleets and winds and mud of
Paris in February, I should assuredly kick the bucket....

You are wrong not to read _Salammbô_. It is perfectly mad, it is true,
and it contains even more of anguish and more of abominations than the
_Vie de Chmielnicki_; but, after all, it has talent, and one gains an
amusing idea of the author, and one even more droll of his admirers, the
bourgeois, who wish to discuss affairs with honest folk. It is these
same bourgeois whom my friend, M. Augier, has ridiculed so well. I am
assured that no one with any self-respect will confess that he has been
to see _Le Fils de Giboyer_. For all that, the cash-box of the theatre,
and the purse of the author are filled to overflowing.

I recommend you to read in the _Revue des Deux Mondes_ of the 15th, a
novel by M. de Tourguenieff, the proofs of which I am expecting here,
and which I have read in Russian. It is called _Fathers and Sons_, and
its theme is the contrast of the past generation with that of the
present. The hero of the story is the representative of the rising
generation, a socialist, materialist, and realist, but a man,
nevertheless, who is intelligent and interesting. He is a singular
character, and would please you, I hope. This novel has produced a
tremendous sensation in Russia, and there has been a strong outcry
against the author, who has been accused of impiety and immorality. When
a work excites thus the furious invective of the public, it is, in my
opinion, a sufficient proof of its success.

I think I shall have to make you read again the second part of
_Chmielnicki_, the proofs of which I corrected while I was ill on my
back. You will see in the book an enormous quantity of Cossacks impaled,
and Jews burned alive.

I shall be in Paris, not to hear the address of the crown, but only the
discussion of the address--that is, I suppose, about the 20th or the
21st; still, if it were more convenient for your personal plans, I might
hasten my arrival.

Good-bye, dear friend. I wish you health and happiness, and no lumbago.
Good-bye. Do not forget me.



CCLX


CANNES, _January 28, 1863_.

DEAR FRIEND: I was preparing to start for Paris, and expected to be
there the 20th, when I was seized with another attack of my spasms of
the stomach. I had a terrible cold, with most distressing choking, and
kept my bed for a week. The physician told me that if I were to return
to Paris before being entirely cured I should certainly have a relapse,
which would be more serious than my present illness, so I shall remain
where I am for another fortnight. I understand, besides, that the
discussion of the address will be uninteresting, and that everything
will pass quietly and quickly.

At present I am pretty well, a little weakly still, but I am beginning
to go out again and to lead my usual life. The weather is admirable:
this climate, however, is somewhat treacherous, and less than any one
else I should allow myself to be deceived by it. So long as the sun is
above the horizon one would suppose it was June; five minutes after
sunset, however, arises a penetrating dampness. It is from admiring the
beautiful sunsets too long that I have been ill.

They tell me that you have had no severe cold, but fog and rain. Around
about us an incredible amount of snow has fallen, and nothing is
lovelier at this time than the sight of the mountains all white with
snow, surrounding our little green oasis.

How have you spent your time? Have you escaped catching cold and what
sort of a life are you leading? I devote my evenings to writing for the
_Journal des Savants_. That beast of a _Chmielnicki_ is not yet dead,
and will cost me, I fear, two more articles still before I can write his
funeral oration. I have already written two as long as the one you read,
and as abundant in impalements, flayings, and other pleasantries of the
kind. I am apprehensive lest it is too much like _Salammbô_. You must
tell me your candid opinion, if you come across this rare _Journal des
Savants_, which the ignorant persist in neglecting to read in spite of
its worth.

We have had a tragedy in our neighbourhood. A pretty English girl was
burned fatally at a ball. Her mother, in trying to rescue her, was
burned also. Both died in three or four days. The husband, who was
burned also, is still ill. This is the eighteenth woman of my
acquaintance to whom this has happened. Why do you wear crinoline? You
should set an example. It is only necessary to turn around before the
chimney-place, or to look at one’s self in the mirror (there is one
always above the fireplace), to be roasted alive. It is true that one
dies but once, and that it is a great source of satisfaction to exhibit
a monstrous bustle, as if any one could be deceived by a balloon full of
air! Why do you not have a metallic curtain before your chimney-place?

It seems that they are becoming more religious in Paris. I receive
sermons from people from whom I should have expected something quite
different. I am told that M. de Persigny came out as an ultra-papist in
the committee of the Address to the Senate. Well and good, I do not
believe there has ever been a period in the history of the world when it
was more stupid than it is in this age. All this will last while it may,
but the end is a little terrifying. Good-bye, dear friend.



CCLXI


PARIS, _April 26, 1863_.

DEAR FRIEND: As I was not counting on your travelling tortoise fashion,
I did not write to you at Genoa. I am addressing this letter to
Florence, where I hope that you will stop for a time. Of all the cities
of Italy that I know, it has best retained its characteristics of the
Middle Ages. Only be careful not to catch cold, if you stay on the Lung’
Arno, as all respectable people do.

As for Rome, it has been so long since I was there that I am unable to
advise you about it. I shall offer you suggestions only on the two
following points: first, do not be out in the air at twilight, because
you might easily catch the fever. A quarter of an hour before the
Angelus you should go to Saint Peter’s, and wait there until the
peculiar dampness which arises just at that time should have passed.
There is nothing, moreover, more beautiful as a place of reverie than
this great church at the fall of day. In the dimness, when all is seen
indistinctly, it is truly sublime. Think of me there.

My second suggestion is, if you should have a rainy day, employ it by
visiting the Catacombs. While you are there, go into one of the small
corridors opening on the subterranean streets, extinguish your candle,
and remain alone there three or four minutes. You must tell me the
sensations which you felt. It would be a pleasure to me to make the
experiment with you, but then you would not feel, perhaps, the same
emotions.

It has never happened to me to see in Rome what I had intended to see,
because one is attracted on every street-corner by something unexpected,
and it is a great pleasure to yield one’s self to that sensation. I
advise you, also, not to devote too much time to visiting palaces, which
are for the most part overestimated.

Pay special attention to the frescos, regarding them from an artistic
standpoint, and to views of nature blended with art. I commend to you
the view of Rome and of its surroundings seen from Saint Peter’s in
Montorio. You will see there, also, a very beautiful fresco of the
Vatican. Be sure to see at the Capitol the Wolf of the Republic, which
bears the trace of the lightning which struck it in the time of Cicero.
It is not a thing of yesterday.

Make up your mind that you will not be able to see the hundredth part of
what you wish to see, in the short time that you can devote to your
journey, but you need have few regrets on that score. There will remain
with you a memory of the whole, which is far better than a lot of petty
memories of details.

I am feeling infinitely better, and regret your departure. I will say to
you, however, and to your sister, that you have done well to take
advantage of the opportunity to see Rome. There remains only the
question of damages due me, which I pray you to keep in mind; I hope
you will sometimes think of this.

There is not a beautiful place which I have seen, where I have not
regretted my inability to associate you with it in my memory.

Good-bye, dear friend. Let me hear from you often, a few lines only;
enjoy yourself, and come back in good condition. When I know that you
are in Rome I shall give you some commissions. Good-bye again.



CCLXII


PARIS, _May 20, 1863_.

DEAR FRIEND: I am writing to you with an abominable grippe. For two
weeks I have coughed instead of sleeping, and I have frequent attacks of
choking. The only remedy is to take laudanum, and this gives me headache
and stomach-ache, which are as distressing as the cough and the choking.
In short, I feel weak and _avvilito_, and I am going to the dogs, my
health and myself.

I hope it is not the same with you. I believe I have cautioned you to
guard against the dampness accompanying the sunset in the country where
you are now. Take care never to get cold, even if you should be too
warm. I envy you for being in that beautiful land, where one feels a
melancholy that is sweet and agreeable, which he recalls afterwards with
an emotion of pleasure: but to make the comparison better, I wish you
would go to Naples for a week. Of all transitions, it is the most abrupt
and the most amusing that I know. It has, moreover, the advantage of
comedy after tragedy; one falls asleep with his head full of comical
thoughts.

I do not know whether the science of cooking has made any advancement in
the states of the Holy Father. In my time it was the abomination of
desolation, while in Naples one managed to subsist. It is possible that
the political revolutions have laid equally low the cookery of both Rome
and Naples, and that, epicure as you are, you will find them both bad.

We are thriving here on the experiences which have happened, or have
been ascribed to Madame de ----. What is certain is that she is crazy
enough to be bound. She beats her servants, she slaps and strikes
people, and makes love to several fast fellows at the same time. She
pushes her Anglomania to the point of drinking brandy and water--that is
to say, a great deal more of the former than the latter.

The other evening she introduced her foppish lover to President
Troplong, by saying, “Monsieur le President, I present to you my
darling.” M. Troplong replied that he was happy to make the acquaintance
of M. Darling. If what I hear of the reigning society women of this year
is true, it is to be feared that the end of the world is at hand. I dare
not tell you all that is done in Paris among the young representatives
of the rising generation!

I hoped that you would relate some incidents of your journey, or at
least that you would share your impressions with me. It is always a
pleasure for me to know how things appear to you. Do not forget to look
at the statue of Pompey, which is probably the one at the base of which
Caesar was assassinated; and if you discover the shop of a man named
Cades, who sells imitation antiques and pottery, buy me an intaglio of
some beautiful stone. If you should go through Civita Vecchia, go to a
curio merchant named Bucci, give him my regards, and thank him for the
plaster cast of Beyle which he sent me. You can purchase from him for a
song black Etruscan vases, engraved gems, and other things of the kind.
You can decorate your mantel charmingly with those black vases.

Good-bye, dear friend. Keep well, and think sometimes of me.



CCLXIII


PARIS, _Friday, June 12, 1863_.

DEAR FRIEND: I learn with great pleasure of your return to France, and
with even greater pleasure of your intention to be in Paris soon. It
seems to me that the trouble you took to be coquettish in order to work
that unfortunate Bucci was truly extraordinary. If I had given you a
letter of introduction to him, according to my intention, you might have
carried away his whole shop, without the necessity of resorting to the
process of wheedling so habitual to you. Indeed, he is a fine man to
have retained an affection for Beyle, whose only resource he was during
his exile at Civita Vecchia. It would have been better to have induced
him to speak of the pontifical government. If he had been as sincere as
he was gallant, he would have given you more information on that subject
than all the ambassadors in Rome. The long and the short of that
information would be, to tell you what you already know, I hope....

I leave the 21st for Fontainebleau, which will prevent me, it may be,
from going to Germany, as I had planned, the end of this month. I shall
be there until July 5th--that is to say, until the end of the sojourn.
I think you will have returned next week, and that I shall see you
before my departure. I hope this will decide you to come a little
earlier, if need be.

You do not refer to your health. I suppose that, in spite of the
wretched papal cooking, you are returning in good condition. I have had
influenza constantly, more or less, and have been wheezy as usual, in
the bargain. The stay at Fontainebleau will certainly finish me up,
according to all the indications. I will tell you why I did not
endeavour to escape this honour.

I am thinking of taking a short trip to Germany this summer, in order to
see the propylons of my friend, M. Klenze, in Munich, and also to take
the waters which have been advised for me, but in which I have no great
faith. As I am unaccustomed to being ill, I persevere tenaciously in
trying to get well, and if I do not succeed, I do not wish it to be from
any fault of mine.

You have not dared, probably, to read _Mademoiselle de la Quintinie_,
while you were on holy ground. It is mediocre. The book has but one
pretty scene. In novels I know of nothing new that is worthy of your
wrath. _Chmielnicki_ is in its fifth article, which I am now correcting,
and it is not the final one. I will give you the proofs, if you like,
if you can read them not corrected.

Good-bye, dear friend. I should be glad if you would decide to hasten
your return.



CCLXIV


PALACE OF FONTAINEBLEAU, _Thursday, July 2, 1863_.

DEAR FRIEND: I should have liked to reply sooner to your letter, which
gave me much pleasure; but here one has no time for anything, and the
days pass with an astonishing rapidity without knowing how. The
important and principal occupations are eating, drinking, and sleeping.
I am successful in respect to the first two, but not as to the last. It
is a very poor preparation for sleep to spend three or four hours in
tight trousers, rowing on the lake, and catching a terrible cold. There
are a number of people here, well selected, it seems to me, and much
less official than usual; which contributes to the cordial relations
between the guests. Now and then we take walks in the woods, after
dining on the grass like the milliners of the rue Saint Denis.

Several immense chests were brought here day before yesterday from his
Majesty Tu-Duc, the Emperor of Cochin-China. They were opened in one of
the court-yards. Within the large chest were smaller ones painted red
and gold, and covered with roaches. The first which was opened contained
two very yellow elephant tusks, and two rhinoceros horns, plus a package
of mouldy cinnamon. From all this there arose inconceivable odours,
something between rancid butter and spoiled fish. In the other chest
were quantities of rolls of very narrow stuffs resembling gauze, in all
sorts of hideous colours, all more or less soiled, and, moreover,
mouldy. They had promised to send some gold medallions, but they did not
come, and have remained, probably, in China. The inference is that this
great Emperor of Cochin-China is a fraud.

We went yesterday to see the manœuvres of two regiments of cavalry,
and were horribly roasted. All the ladies are sun-burned. To-day we are
going to have a Spanish dinner in the forest, and I am charged with the
_gaspacho_--that is, to make the ladies eat raw onions. The mere mention
of this vegetable would cause them to faint. I have given orders that
they are not to be warned, and after they have eaten the onions I
reserve to myself the privilege of making a confession, in the manner of
that of Atræus.

I am delighted that my Cossack[30] has not bored you to death. For my
own part I am beginning to be very tired of him. It is absolutely
necessary to bury him the first of next month, and I do not know how to
bring it about. Although I brought my notes and books with me, I can not
succeed in accomplishing any work here.

Good-bye, dear friend. I expect to be here until Monday, or Tuesday at
the latest. At the same time, they pretend that on account of our
extreme amiability, they wish to hold us here several days still. I hope
to find you in Paris when I come. Again good-bye.



CCLXV


LONDON, _August 12, 1863_.

DEAR FRIEND: I thank you for your letter, which I was expecting
impatiently. I thought I should find London empty, and, indeed, that was
the first impression which I received. But after two days I perceived
that the great ant-hill was still inhabited, and especially, alas! that
they ate as much and as long as they did last year. Is not the slowness
with which people dine in this country inhuman? It even takes away my
appetite. One is never less than two hours and a half at table, and if
we add the half hour in which the men leave the women to speak ill of
them, it is always eleven o’clock when we return to the drawing-room. It
would be only half bad if we were eating all the time; but with the
exception of roast mutton, I find nothing to my taste.

The great men seem to me to have aged a little since my last visit. Lord
Palmerston has renounced his false teeth, which make an immense change
in his appearance. He has retained his whiskers, and looks like a
gorilla that is slightly tipsy. Lord Russell has a less good-humoured
expression than formerly. The great beauties of the season have
departed, but they were not praised as anything extraordinary. The
toilets seem to me, as usual, very common and shabby; but nothing can
resist the air of this country. My throat is an evidence of it. I am as
hoarse as a wolf, and breathe very badly.

I fancy that you must be having cooler weather than we, and that the
sea-baths will give you an appetite. I am beginning to be bored with
London and the English, and shall be in Paris before the 25th. And you?
I have read a rather amusing book, _The History of George III_, by a
Mr. Phillimore, who makes out this prince to be a rascal and a fool. It
is very witty, and convincing enough. I paid twenty francs for the last
work of Borrow, _The Wild Wales_. If you want to pay fifteen francs for
it, I shall be charmed to turn it over to you. But you will not want it
at any price. The fellow has altogether deteriorated. Good-bye, dear
friend.



CCLXVI


PARIS, _August 30, 1863_.

I go to-morrow to Biarritz with Panizzi, who joined me here yesterday.
We are invited by our gracious sovereign, who will entertain us at the
sea-shore for I know not how long. I shall settle in Cannes during
October, returning to Paris for the discussion of the address, and
remaining here, probably, all the month of November. In spite of
presidents and sea-monsters, I hope to see you at that time.

I have an extremely curious book, which I will lend you if you are good
and kind to me. It is an account of a trial of the Seventeenth Century,
related by an imbecile. A nun belonging to his Majesty’s family was in
love with a Milanese gentleman, and as there were other nuns to whom
this was displeasing, they killed her, aided by her lover. It is highly
edifying, and, as an exponent of the morals of the time, very
interesting.

Read _Une Saison à Paris_, by Madame de ----. She is a person abounding
in candour, who felt a keen desire to make herself agreeable to his
majesty, and said so to him at a ball in terms so categoric and so
definite, that nobody in the world, except yourself, would have failed
to understand her. He was so astounded that he found nothing to say in
reply, and it was only after three days, so they say, that he repulsed
her. I can imagine you making the sign of the cross and that horrified
face with which I am so familiar.

Have you read Renan’s _Life of Jesus_? Probably not. It is a small book,
but full of import. ‘Tis like a great blow of an axe on the edifice of
Catholicism. The author is so terrified by his own audacity in denying
the divinity of Christ, that he loses himself in hymns of praise and
adoration, until he has no longer the philosophic understanding which
enables him to decide on questions of doctrine. It is interesting,
however, and if you have not already done so, you will read it with
pleasure.

I have my packing to do, and so I must leave you. My address until the
new order is established will be Villa Eugénie, Biarritz
(Basses-Pyrénées). Write to me quickly. Good-bye.



CCLXVII


CANNES, _October 19, 1863_.

DEAR FRIEND: I have been here a week, resting in the desert from the
fatigues of the court. The weather is magnificent. I see in the paper
that your Loire is overflowing its banks; from which I conclude that you
are having frightful storms, and I pity you from the bottom of my heart.

I shall enjoy Provence but a fortnight longer, as I must return for the
opening of the session. I am not sanguine over it. The death of M.
Billault makes it an unpropitious beginning. For some time past I have
talked assiduously, preached and persuaded M. Thiers to preach likewise,
but I do not know what will be the result. It seems to me that we are
drawing nearer and nearer our former parliamentary course, and that we
are about to repeat once more the cycle of the same mistakes, and
perhaps the same catastrophes. See, in addition, the strenuous efforts
on the part of the clericals to make themselves detested, and to stretch
the cord until it snaps. All this is enough to make one pessimistic
concerning the future.

You have heard that on our journey here we were derailed near Saint
Chamas. I was not at all affected, not even by fear, for I did not
realise the danger until it was past. The only persons injured were the
mail-clerks, who were thrown in a heap among their tables and chests.
They came out of it with severe bruises, but no broken limbs.

Have you read the charge of the Bishop of Tulle, who orders all the
pious ones of his diocese to recite _Aves_ in honour of M. Renan, or,
rather, to prevent the devil from carrying off everybody, because of
this same M. Renan’s book?

Since you are reading the letters of Cicero, you must see that in his
age people had more wit than in ours. I am overwhelmed with shame every
time I think of our nineteenth century, which I find in every respect so
inferior to its predecessors.

I believe I made you read the _Lettres de la Duchesse de Choiseul_. I
wish some one to-day would try to publish those of our most beautiful
society woman. I leave you to go fishing, or, rather, to see other
people fish, for I have never succeeded in landing a fish. The best part
of it is that on the sea-shore they make an excellent soup for those
who like oil and garlic. I suppose you are among this class.

Shall I find you in Paris early in November? I am expecting to be able
to remain there all the month, except a few days, perhaps, at Compiègne,
if my sovereign invites me there for his fête-day. Good-bye, dear
friend.



CCLXVIII


CHÂTEAU DE COMPIÈGNE, _November 16, 1863_. _At night._

DEAR FRIEND: Since my arrival here I have led the exciting life of an
impresario. I have been author, actor, and stage director. We have
played, with success, a piece which is somewhat immoral, the theme of
which I will tell you on my return. We have had beautiful fireworks,
although a woman who wished to see them too closely was killed outright.
We take long walks, and until the present I have succeeded in escaping
from all these diversions without catching cold.

I shall be held here for another week. I shall remain in Paris,
probably, until early in December, and shall then return to Cannes,
which I left with nature abloom. It is impossible to imagine anything
more beautiful than those fields of jasmines and tuberoses. I am not
feeling very well, and the last few days especially I have been good for
nothing and despondent.

You write to me so laconically, that you never reply to my questions.
You have a way of acting in accordance with your caprices which
perplexes me always; you jest, you make promises; when I read your
letters I fancy I hear your voice speaking. I am disarmed, but in
reality furious.

You tell me nothing about that charming child in whom you are so
interested. Bring her up, I pray you, so that she will not become as
silly as most of the women of our time. Never, I think, has anything
like it been seen. You will tell me what they are in the provinces. If
they are worse than in Paris, I can not imagine in what desert one may
escape them.

We have stopping here Mademoiselle ----, who is a lovely slip of a girl
five feet four inches in height, with all the gracefulness of a
grisette, and a blending of easy manners with sincere timidity which is
sometimes most amusing. Some one expressed apprehension that the second
part of a charade would not equal the introduction (of which I was the
author).

“That is all right,” she said; “we will show our legs in the ballet,
and that will compensate them for everything else.”

N. B.--Her legs are like two pipe-stems, and her feet not exactly
aristocratic.

Good-bye, dear friend....



CCLXIX


PARIS, _Friday, December 12, 1863_.

DEAR FRIEND: I was about to write to you when I received your letter.
You complain of having a cold, but you do not know what it means to have
one. At this moment, but one person in Paris has a cold, and that person
is myself. I spend my time coughing and choking, and if it continues,
you will soon have to deliver my funeral oration. I am longing anxiously
for Cannes, for it is only under its sun that I shall get well. Before
going, however, I must vote on that tedious and involved discourse which
our president, so worthy of his name,[31] has composed for our
edification.

Do you know Aristophanes? Last night, being troubled with insomnia, I
took up a volume and read it through. It was highly amusing. I have made
a translation of it, none too good a one, but it is subject to your
orders. There are things which will be shocking to your prudery, but
they will interest you, especially now that you have learned from Cicero
something of the morals of the ancients. Good-bye....



CCLXX


CANNES, _January 12, 1864_.

DEAR FRIEND: I was seriously ill on my arrival here. I brought from
Paris an abominable cold, and it is only during the last two days that I
have begun to feel like myself. I do not know what would have become of
me if I had remained in Paris, for I see by the papers that you are
having snow. The weather here is admirable, with seldom a cloud, and a
temperature which is usually at least 14 degrees. Occasionally, the east
wind brings us a touch of snow caught from the Alps, but we are in a
favoured oasis. They tell us that all the surrounding country is under
snow. At Marseilles, at Toulon, and even at Hyères, it is said the
ground is covered. I imagine a citizen of Marseilles in the snow as
something like a cat walking on ice with nut-shells on his paws. It is a
long time, even at Cannes, since such a lovely, mild winter has been
known.

I am charmed that Aristophanes had the honour of pleasing you. You ask
me if the Athenian ladies were present at the theatrical
representations? There are men of learning who say Yes, and others who
say No. If you had gone to see Karagueuz when you visited the Orient,
you would have found, no doubt, many women there. In Eastern countries
to-day, and formerly in antiquity, there is not and there never has been
any of the false modesty which you have. One saw at every glance men in
bathing costumes, and on every public square were statues of gods which
gave ladies an exaggerated idea of the human form.

What is the name of that comedy in which Euripides is dressed as a
woman? Do you understand the stage setting, and the part of the Scythian
gendarme? What is more extraordinary than anything else is the
unceremonious fashion in which Aristophanes speaks of the gods, even on
their festival days, for it was at the Dionysia that the play of _The
Frogs_ was given, wherein Bacchus takes a singular rôle.

The same thing occurred during the early period of Christianity. Comedy
was played in the churches. There was a Mass of the Fools and a Mass of
the Ass, the text of which is still extant in a very curious manuscript.
The wicked have spoiled everything by doubting. When faith was
universal, all was permissible.

Besides the absurdities which Aristophanes throws, like lumps of salt,
into his plays, there are choruses of the most exquisite poetry. My
revered teacher, M. Boissonade, used to say that no other Greek writer
had written better poetry. If you have not read it already, I recommend
to you _The Clouds_. It is, to my mind, the best of his plays that have
been preserved. In it there occurs a dialogue between the Just and the
Unjust, which is in the most elevated style. I think there is some truth
in the reproaches which he addresses to Socrates. Even after having
heard him in _Plato_, one is tempted to forgive him the hemlock. A man
who proves to every one, as Socrates did, that he is a fool, is a
plague.

I have just read that the conspiracies are beginning again. I have no
doubt that those Italian devils, and those no less Polish devils, would
like to set the world on fire; and the world, unhappily, is so stupid
that it will allow it to be done. I have had letters from Italy which
cause me to fear that Garibaldi and his volunteers will in the spring
undertake some movement against Venice. It needs but some calamity of
that sort to finish us up entirely.

Good-bye, dear friend. I try to think as little as possible of the
future. Keep well, and think of me now and then. Have you any
suggestion for the 14th of February, Sainte-Eulalie’s fête-day? Again
good-bye.



CCLXXI


CANNES, _February 17, 1864_.

DEAR FRIEND: Since you have been willing to take the trouble to read
Aristophanes, I will forgive your affectations and your prudishness in
reading him. Admit, however, that he is very witty, and that it would be
a great pleasure to see one of his comedies played. I do not know what
the opinion of erudites of our day is on the presence of women at the
theatre. It is probable that there were in the same country periods of
tolerance and of intolerance, but women never appeared on the stage.
Their parts were played by men, which was all the easier, since the
actors invariably wore masks....

I am desperately ill, dear friend, and realise that I am on the way to a
better world, through a path which is not the most agreeable. From time
to time, the intervals of which are much more frequent than formerly, I
have convulsions, and attacks of severe pain. I scarcely ever sleep; I
have no appetite, and suffer from weakness, which is most exasperating.
The least exercise exhausts me.

What will become of me when, instead of a magnificent sky, I shall have
the leaden skies of Paris, and constant rain and fog! I am thinking,
nevertheless, of returning by the end of this month, if I have the
strength, for I am somewhat ashamed of doing none of my official duties.
It is necessary to sacrifice one’s self, and I reconcile myself to it,
whatever may befall.

Since I have already waited so long, I will wait longer for
Sainte-Eulalie’s gift. So far as pins and rings are concerned, I fancy
the embarrassment is the same as of old. Her bureau-drawers have been
overcrowded with them ever since I first began to remember my cousin’s
fête-day. I have exhausted every variety of trinkets possible to
imagine. If you have discovered anything out of the ordinary, which is
not ruinous, you will have solved a tremendous problem.

There is another and still more interesting one on which I shall be
obliged to consult you. It is how I shall manage, in a legitimate way or
otherwise, to have some clothes sent me from London. Among your
sea-dogs, it is not impossible that there is some one by whom Mr. Poole
might send my clothes. Think about this, and you will render me a great
service.

Good-bye, dear friend. I have had a wretched night, and coughed enough
to split my cranium. I hope you have escaped all the forms of cold
which are so prevalent. In Paris it seems that every one is afflicted,
and that some people even are stupid enough to die of it. Good-bye
again.



CCLXXII


_Friday, March 18, 1864._

I am writing to you in the Luxembourg, while the Archbishop of Rouen is
thundering away at impiety. I have been very ill; I never have two good
days successively, but frequently several bad ones. I am not yet sure
that I shall be in any condition to go to Germany, as I had planned. It
will depend on the weather and on my lungs.

I am still tied in the Luxembourg, but we shall finish the engagement, I
hope, next week, and I shall then be freer. If you have not yet seen in
the Louvre the new hall where the collection of vases and terra-cottas
are placed, you would do well to go there. I offer you the light of my
knowledge to accompany you there. You will see some things which are
very beautiful, and others which will interest you, although they may
shock your prudery. Appoint your day and hour.



CCLXXIII


_Wednesday, April 13, 1864._

DEAR FRIEND: I regretted keenly your departure. You ought to have bidden
me one more farewell. You would have found me decidedly blue. In spite
of arsenic and the rest, I suffer constantly from exhaustion. After the
cold abated, I was beginning to feel better, but I have taken a cold
which casts me down lower than ever.

I seldom go out; still I was anxious to see my sovereigns, whom I found
in excellent health. This visit gave me an opportunity of seeing the new
fashions, which I do not altogether admire, especially the basques worn
by the women. This is a sign that I am growing old. I can not endure the
hair-dressing. There is not a single woman who dresses her hair to suit
her face; they all follow the style of wigged heads. I met one of my
friends who presented me to his wife. She is a young and pretty woman,
but she had a foot of rouge, pencilled eyelashes, and was powdered. She
disgusted me.

Have you read About’s book? I have it, and it is at your service. I do
not know whether it is a success; nevertheless it is very witty. The
clericals, perhaps, had good sense enough not to anathematise it, which
is the most positive way of insuring the popularity of a book. It is in
this way that the success of Renan, pecuniarily speaking, was achieved.
I am told that he made a hundred and seventy thousand francs by his
idyl.

I have still, subject to your orders, three immense volumes of Taine on
the history of English literature. It is both witty and sensible. The
style is somewhat affected, but it is delightful reading. I have also
two volumes of Mézières on an analogous subject, the contemporaries and
successors of Shakespeare. It is Taine warmed over, or, rather, cooled
down. As for novels, I no longer read them.

We nominate to-morrow in the Academy either the Marseillais Autran or
Jules Janin. Apparently, it will be the former. My candidate will be
defeated. I have promised myself to go to the Academy no more, except to
collect my allowance, eighty-three francs, twenty-three centimes, every
month. During the next two years the mortality among the members will be
frightful. I examined yesterday the faces of my colleagues; not to
mention my own, one would suppose them to be people awaiting the coming
of the grave-digger. I can not imagine who will be elected to replace
them.

When shall you return? You spoke of remaining a fortnight only at ----;
but I suppose that you will, as usual, string out that fortnight into a
long month. I desire earnestly to see you soon and take a walk, as we
used to do, admiring radiant nature. It would be for me a rare occasion
to enjoy a little poetry.

Farewell, dear friend. Write to me. If you have at your disposal none
but the town library, you would do well to read _Lucian_, in the
translation of Pierrot d’Ablancourt, or some one else; it would amuse
you, and indulge your Hellenic tastes.

I am deep in a history of Peter the Great, which I mean to share with
the public. He was an abominable man, surrounded by abominable scamps.
His history amuses me no little.

Write to me as soon as you have received my letter.



CCLXXIV


LONDON, _British Museum_, _July 21, 1864_.

DEAR FRIEND: You have guessed my retreat. I have been here since the
last time we met, or, to speak more exactly, since the following day. I
spend my time, from eight at night until midnight, in dining out, and
the morning in examining books and statues, or else in writing my long
article on the son of Peter the Great, to which I am tempted to give the
title: _On the Danger of Being Stupid_, for the moral to be drawn from
my work is the necessity of being clever.

I think you will find, here and there, in a score of pages, some things
which would interest you, notably how Peter the Great was deceived by
his wife. I have translated with great care and pains the letters of his
wife to her lover, who was impaled for his trouble. They are really
better than one would expect of the time and country in which she wrote,
but love works miracles. It was a misfortune that she did not know how
to spell, which makes it extremely difficult for grammarians like myself
to guess what she means.

These are my plans: I am to go, Monday, to Chevenings, to visit Lord
Stanhope, where I shall stay three days. Thursday I shall dine here with
a large company, leaving immediately afterwards for Paris.

They talk of nothing here but the marriage of Lady Florence Paget, the
London beauty of two seasons ago. It is impossible to see a prettier
face or a more graceful figure, but too small and delicate to suit my
own taste. She was notorious for her flirtations. M. Ellice’s nephew,
Chaplin, of whom you have often heard me speak, a tall fellow of
twenty-five, with an income of twenty-five thousands pounds sterling,
fell in love with her. She trifled with him a long time, then engaged
herself, and it is said, accepted jewels and six thousand pounds to pay
her debts with the dressmaker. The day for the marriage was appointed.
Last Friday, they went together to the park and to the opera. Saturday
morning she went out alone, proceeded to the Church of Saint George, and
there was married to Lord Hastings, a young man of her own age, very
homely, and with two petty vices, gambling and drink. After the
religious ceremony they went to the country to consummate other
ceremonies.

At the first stop she wrote to her father as follows:

     “DEAR PA: As I knew you would never consent to my marriage with
     Lord Hastings, I was wedded to him to-day. I remain yours, etc.”

She wrote also to Chaplin:

     “DEAR HARRY: When you receive this, I shall be the wife of Lord
     Hastings. Forget yours, very truly,

FLORENCE.”

This poor Chaplin, who is six feet tall, and has yellow hair, is in
despair.

Good-bye, dear friend. Write to me quickly.



CCLXXV


PARIS, _October 1, 1864_.

DEAR FRIEND: I am still here, but like a bird on the limb. I have been
delayed by my proofs, and you may well understand that they need the
most careful correction.

I shall start without fail on the 8th, stopping to spend the night at
Bayonne, and reaching Madrid the 11th. I do not yet know how long I
shall be there. From Madrid I shall go to Cannes, perhaps without
passing through Paris. Winter is already making itself felt disagreeably
for my lungs, in the mornings and evenings. The days are magnificent,
but the evenings devilish chilly. Take care not to catch cold in the
damp country in which you are staying. I enjoy myself well enough at
this season in Paris, where there are no social duties, and where one
may live like a hermit. From time to time I go out to get the news, but
I obtain very little.

The Pope has forbidden the painting of signs in French in Rome. They
must all be in Italian. On the Corso there is a Madame Bernard, who
sells gloves and garters. They have forced her to call herself
henceforth Signora Bernardi. If I were the Government I should never
have permitted this, even if it were necessary to hang some sign-painter
in front of the first shop which they wished to change. When our army
shall have departed, you will see then what those people will do....

Here the sharks--that is to say, the money-lenders--are scowling on the
nomination of M. ---- to the Bank; but it is not known that when one is
supposed to be good for nothing, it is then that they select him. It is
the custom. M. ---- went to the Bank, his night-cap in his pocket,
expecting to sleep there the night succeeding his nomination. He was
told that every preparation had been made to receive him, except the
accomplishment of one small formality, which was, to purchase a hundred
shares of stock of the said Bank. M. ---- was completely ignorant of this
little article in the charter of the establishment of which he is to be
a director. A great nuisance it is, inasmuch as a hundred shares are
not to be easily found, and, besides the money it will require several
weeks at least to procure them. You see how much he understands about
business.

There is still another big scandal here, which amuses perverse people,
but I shall not tell you about it for fear of making you angry.
Good-bye, dear friend.



CCLXXVI


MADRID, _October 24, 1864_.

DEAR FRIEND: I came here by chance, for I am stopping in the country,
and shall remain there until Saturday. It is abominably cold and damp,
and in consequence Madame de M.’s niece has taken erysipelas. Half of
the household are ill, and I have a severe cold. You are aware that
colds are serious matters to me, who find it difficult enough to breathe
even when I am well. The bad weather has continued a week, with shocking
violence, in harmony with the fashion of this country, where
transitions, of whatever sort are unknown.

Can you imagine the misery of people living on an elevated plateau,
exposed to every wind that blows, and having no means of keeping warm
excepting _braseros_, a primitive article of furniture which gives one
the choice of freezing or suffocating? I find that civilisation here has
made great progress, which, in my eyes, is no improvement. The women
have adopted your absurd hats, and wear them in the most grotesque
fashion. The bulls, also, have lost much of their merit, and the men who
kill them are nowadays ignorant, cowardly fellows.

This is the delightful story which now absorbs the minds of the
respectable public. Lady C., the wife of the minister of ----, she young
and pretty, he old and ugly, sued for divorce, on the grounds that her
husband was unjust towards her. The trial took place in London, and it
was decreed gallantly that he was a good-for-nothing. There are,
however, women in Madrid who assume to know that it was a calumny.
However that may be, the woman obtained her divorce, and almost
immediately afterwards married the duke of ----, who had for some time
paid court to her in Madrid. It seems that she has not the same grounds
of complaint towards her new husband as she had to the former, but here
is the devil of an affair. The duke of ---- has sued his half-sister, the
duchess of ----, on account of certain deeds, estates, etc. She has just
discovered that her brother, who was born in France, in order to succeed
to his inheritance, had presented a certificate of baptism signed by a
_curé_, an act which in France is illegal. It is found, moreover, that
this certificate is a counterfeit, and is contradicted by the
certificate of birth at the office of the Registry of State, which
proves that the present duke was born in Paris several years previously,
of an unknown mother. This mother is the third wife of the duke of ----,
married at that time to a fourth, for in that family the marriages are
always out of the ordinary.

This is going to make a pretty lawsuit, as you will see, and it is quite
possible that ex-lady C. will find herself some fine morning with no
peerage and no fortune. Meanwhile, she will soon arrive in Madrid with
her husband, and sir J. C. has requested a change of residence.

I have taken steps to find the _Nipi_ handkerchiefs, but I have not yet
succeeded in discovering any. Apparently they are no longer fashionable.
However, I am promised some the first of next month. I hope they will
keep their word.

Everything, it seems, is quiet enough, politically speaking. Besides, at
this moment it is too cold to fear a _pronunciamiento_. I think of
remaining here until the 10th or 12th of November, if I do not die of my
cold before then.

Where are you? What are you doing? Write to me soon.



CCLXXVII


CANNES, _December 4, 1864_.

DEAR FRIEND: I have arrived here, and find no letter from you, which
grieves me very much....

I pass on to another source of grievance against you. You have given me
no end of trouble with your handkerchiefs. After many fruitless
journeys, I discovered finally a half dozen _Nipi_ handkerchiefs,
hideously ugly. I took them, although everybody said they had been out
of fashion for a long time; but I was following my orders. I hope you
have received those six handkerchiefs, or that you will receive them in
a few days. I sent them by one of my friends, whom I charged to have
them delivered at your house. You asked to have them embroidered. There
were none in Madrid except the six that were sent you. The plain ones
seemed to me even uglier; they had red stripes, like the handkerchiefs
carried by college students.

I left Madrid in deuced cold weather, and shivered the whole of the
journey. I did nothing else during the entire time of my stay there. On
this side of the Bidassoa the temperature is enchantingly mild, and I
find the atmosphere usually so in this country. We are having superb
weather, and no wind.

I think I wrote you from Madrid everything worth telling about my
acquaintances, notably the adventures of the duchess of ----, which must
have shocked you. Did I mention also the young Andalusian girl in love
with a young man who is discovered to be the grandson of the hangman of
Havana? There are threats of suicide on the part of the mother, the
daughter, and the future husband, by which I mean that all three
threaten to kill themselves unless they are allowed to have their way.
When I left Madrid, no deaths had occurred, and the respectable public
was strongly in sympathy with the lovers.

Good-bye, dear friend. Send me some word of yourself, and tell me your
plans for this winter.



CCLXXVIII


CANNES, _December 30, 1864_.

DEAR FRIEND: I wish you a happy New Year. I have written to Madrid about
the unlucky handkerchiefs, and, as I have received no response, I take
it for granted that my commissioner is in Paris, and that you have the
handkerchiefs, or will have them soon. I sent them by a Spaniard who was
to leave Madrid the same time as I, in consequence of which you would
receive them more promptly. One should never have too high expectations.
What I now desire is that you should be satisfied with those
handkerchiefs, which are awfully ugly.

What think you of the Pope’s Encyclical? We have a bishop here, a man of
intelligence and good sense, who hides his face. Indeed, it is
humiliating to belong to an army whose general exposes you to defeat.

I have no news from my editor. When I left he was printing my _Cossacks
of the Past_, which I think must have appeared. As you know the story I
hope you will wait until I return to procure a volume.

Do you know that from all sides have arrived congratulations on my
successorship to M. Mocquard? I thought nothing of the matter; but after
seeing my name in the _Belgian Independence_, in the _London Times_, and
in the _Augsburg Gazette_, I had come to be a little uneasy. Knowing my
temperament as you do, you may imagine how the place suited me, and how
I suited the place. I have breathed more easily, however, for several
days.

Are there any new novels for Christmas? English novels, I mean, for this
is the period for them to bloom! I have almost no books here, and I am
anxious to send for some. When at night I have an attack of coughing,
and can not sleep, I am as wretched as it is possible to be. Only fancy,
I have read Lamartine’s _Meditations_. I have come across a Life of
Aristotle, in which it is said that the retreat of the Ten Thousand took
place after the death of Alexander. Really, would it not be preferable
to peddle steel pens at the door of the Tuileries than to say such
enormities?

Good-bye, dear friend. I have thirty-five letters to write, and I wanted
to begin with you. I wish you all the prosperity in the world.



CCLXXIX


CANNES, _January 20, 1865_.

DEAR FRIEND: Have you at last received your execrable _Nipi_
handkerchiefs? I have learned that the person to whom I intrusted them,
having been elected a member of the Cortes, remained in Madrid, and gave
the handkerchiefs to Madame de Montijo, who did not understand what they
were, for a Spaniard is not conspicuously clear in making an
explanation. I have written to the countess Montijo, begging her to
give the package to our ambassador, who will send it to you by the
French mail. I hope you will have the thing before receiving my letter;
but I do not wish ever again to assume the responsibility of your
purchases, which force me to take more trouble and to write more prose
than they are worth. The best thing for you to do is to throw the
handkerchiefs into the fire.

I have suffered severely the last week from exhaustion. We are having a
detestable winter, not cold, but rainy and windy. I have never
experienced anything like it. For a week nearly, in spite of M. Mathieu
(of the Drôme), we have had delightful, warm days, which are the
greatest benefit to me, for my lungs are better, or worse, according to
the height of the barometer.

I find amusement in reading the letters of the bishops. There are few
lawyers more subtle than these gentlemen; but the best of them is M.
D----, who interprets the Pope’s Encyclical as exactly the reverse of
what he really said, and it is not impossible that he may be
excommunicated at Rome. Is it possible that they are hoping for a
miracle to return to them Marche, the Legations, and the county of
Avignon? The worst of it is, that society in this age is so stupid,
that, in order to escape the Jesuits, it will probably throw itself into
the arms of the Bousingots.[32]

I know nothing of my works, and, if you have learned anything about
them, I should be obliged if you would tell me. I corrected my proofs
for the _Journal des Savants_, and for Michel Levy, and I have had no
word from either of them.

The number of English here becomes daily more frightful. A new hatch has
been built on the sea-shore, which is almost as large as the Louvre, and
it is always full. You can not take a walk without meeting young misses
in Garibaldi jackets, with impossible feather-trimmed hats, making a
pretence at sketching. They have croquet and archery parties, to which
come a hundred and twenty persons. I regret keenly the good old times
when not a soul came here.

I have made the acquaintance of a tame seagull, which I feed with fish.
He catches them in the air, always head first, and swallows some which
are larger than my neck. Do you recollect an ostrich at the Jardin des
Plantes, which you came near strangling with rye bread in the time when
you used to adorn the place with your presence?

Good-bye, dear friend. I expect to return soon to Paris, and to have the
great happiness of seeing you there. Again good-bye....



CCLXXX


CANNES, _April 14, 1865_.

DEAR FRIEND: I have delayed writing to you until I should be well, or,
at least less ill; but notwithstanding the lovely weather,
notwithstanding every possible attention, I am still the same--that is
to say, very bad. I can not accustom myself to this life of suffering,
and I have neither courage nor resignation to endure it. I am waiting
until the weather becomes a little warmer before returning to Paris, and
it will probably be the first of May before I arrive. Here, for the last
fortnight, we have had the most glorious skies, and a sea to correspond,
but it does not keep me from coughing as if it were still freezing
weather.

What has become of you this spring? Shall I find you in Paris, or are
you going to ----, to watch the budding of the first leaves?

So your friend Paradol becomes an Academician by the will of the
burgraves, who, in fact, have compelled the poor duc de Broglie to
return to Paris, in spite of his gout and his eighty years. It will be a
curious session. Ampère has written a wretchedly poor history of Caesar,
and in verse, in the bargain. You may imagine all the allusions which M.
Paradol will find occasion to make to this work, forgotten to-day by
everybody except the burgraves. Jules Janin remained without, and also
my friend Autran, who being from Marseilles, for no other reason than to
be elected to the Academy, became a clerical, and was after all deserted
by his religious friends.

You knew, perhaps, that Mr. William Brougham, brother of lord Brougham,
and next in line to the peerage, has just been caught in the act of a
very ugly piece of cheating. It is creating a tremendous scandal here
among the English colony. Lord Brougham shows a bold front; he is,
besides, perfectly innocent in all this villainy.

I am reading, to keep me patient and to put me to sleep, a book by a M.
Charles Lambert, which demolishes the holy king David and the Bible. It
seems to me quite ingenious, and tolerably amusing. The clericals have
succeeded in having read and bringing into popularity serious and
pedantic books, which fifteen years ago would have attracted the
attention of no one. Renan has gone to Palestine to make new researches
into the scenery. Peyrat and this Charles Lambert are at work on books
more erudite and more serious, which sell like hot cakes, so my
bookseller tells me. Good-bye, dear friend.



CCLXXXI


PARIS, _July 5, 1865_.

I was beginning to fear that you had been struck by lightning, like
Madame Arbuthnot, or that that you had been devoured by some bear. I
thought you certainly in the heart of the Tyrol, when your letter
arrived from ----. In my opinion it is preferable to travel in the long
days rather than in autumn; but let nothing prevent you from seeing
Munich in September. You must be careful only to provide yourself with
warm clothing, because the weather changes very suddenly in that broad,
ugly, high plain of Munich.

Nothing is easier than to make this journey. You may go to Munich by way
of Strasburg, or, if you prefer, by Basel. I think that there is now a
railway as far as Constance. You can, in any case, reach there by
steamboat. At Constance you take the lake boat for Lindau, which is a
pretty little town; and from there to Kempten you will see a succession
of admirable views. You may go to Munich direct by train, or you may
stop on the route between Lindau and Kempten. From Kempten to Munich
there is nothing but flat, unattractive scenery.

You must go to the Hotel Bavaria, and not to Maullich’s, where I was
robbed of my boots. A valet or an official guide will show you
everything worthy of attention. The paintings at the palace, taken from
scenes of the Nibelungen, are rather interesting, but you will need to
obtain special permission to see them. All the rest is open to the
public. Examine carefully, that you may tell me about them, the new
propylons of my late friend Klenze. In the Museum of Antiquities you
will see the pediments of the temple of Egina, and the marble group of
which I have told you. The Grecian vases are extremely curious, and the
paintings of _Pinacothèque_ equally so. The frescoes of Cornelius and
other imitations of originals will cause you to shrug your shoulders.

Go and drink some beer in the public gardens, where, for a few sous, you
may enjoy excellent music. If you have the time, it will be worth your
while to make a few trips into the Bavarian Tyrol, to Tegernsee, and
elsewhere. When you go to Salzburg (on which I congratulate you) you
may go to see, if you like, the salt-mine of Hallein. At Innsbruck there
is nothing to see but the landscape and the bronze statues of the
cathedral. In all this country you may stop at any of the smallest
villages, sure of finding a bed and a tolerable dinner. I should be glad
to share the pleasures of the journey with you.

Here there are stories afloat of the most scandalous nature possible to
imagine....

This is all highly edifying, and gives rise to fear that the end of the
world is at hand. Buy yourself some green stockings at Salzburg or at
Innsbruck, if you find any that fit you. Bavarian legs are as big as my
body.

Good-bye, dear friend. Take good care of yourself and enjoy yourself. Do
not forget to let me hear from you.



CCLXXXII


LONDON, _British Museum_, _August 23, 1865_.

DEAR FRIEND: After awaiting your letter a long time, in Paris, it
finally arrived, written while you were in the heart of the Tyrol. I
have been here for about six weeks. I was here during the concluding
days of the season. I went to some terrible dinners, and two or three
of the last balls.

It seems to me that lord Palmerston has aged perceptibly,
notwithstanding his success at the elections, and I feel that it is more
than doubtful whether he will be in any condition to engage in the next
campaign. At his retirement, there will be, doubtless, a fine crisis.

I have just spent three days at the home of his probable successor, Mr.
Gladstone, who did not amuse me, but who interested me, for it is always
a pleasure for me to observe the varieties of human nature. Here they
are so unlike ours, that it is inexplicable how, in a ten hours’
journey, one finds the featherless bipeds to be so utterly different
from those in Paris.

Mr. Gladstone seemed to me to be in some respects a man of genius, in
others a child. In him are the elements of the child, the statesman, and
the lunatic. Staying at his house were five or six curates or deans, and
every morning the guests of the castle were entertained with a short
prayer in common. I was not present on a Sunday, which must be something
extraordinary.

What seemed to me preferable to all the rest was a sort of badly baked
roll which is removed from the oven at breakfast-time, and which one
finds it difficult to digest during the rest of the day. Besides this
there is the hard _civrn_, that is the ale of Wales, which is
celebrated.

You know, of course, that red hair is the only kind fashionable at the
moment. It appears that nothing is easier to have in this country, and I
doubt whether it is dyed.

For a month no one has been in town. There is not a single horse in
Rotten Row, but I am contented enough to be in a great city in this
state of lethargy. I have taken advantage of it to see the lions.
Yesterday I went to the Crystal Palace, and spent an hour looking at a
chimpanzee almost as tall as a ten-year-old child, and in his actions so
like a child that I felt humiliated by his unquestionable relationship.
Among other peculiarities, I observed the calculation of the animal in
setting in motion a heavy swing, and in waiting to leap upon it until it
had attained its greatest speed. I doubt whether all children would have
exhibited as much talent for observation.

While here I have written a long article on the _History of Caesar_,
which does not entirely displease me; in it there is mental pabulum, as
they say in academic style, and next week I shall return to Paris to
read it to the _Journal des Savants_. It is not quite impossible that I
may find you there. I am beginning to have enough of London.

At one time I had an idea of going to Scotland, but there I should have
fallen among the hunters, a race which I abhor.

A newspaper had in its telegraphic items the news that Ponsard was
dying. Since then I have seen no mention of him, and my letters, even
academic ones, make no reference to him. I am quite interested in the
matter; it may be, however, only a false report.

Good-bye, dear friend. Write to me in Paris, where I shall be soon, and
keep me informed of your movements. Come back from the Tyrol, I pray
you, with green stockings, but I defy you to bring back legs the size of
those of the mountaineers.



CCLXXXIII


PARIS, _September 12, 1865_, _at night_.

DEAR FRIEND: I have been here for several days. I came by way of
Boulogne, and while our boat was being moored at the quay there was such
a crowd that I asked myself what could be so interesting in the arrival
of a steam-boat. The English ladies will have to be warned that in
walking at low tide along the edge of the wharf they make a great
exhibition of legs, and even more. My modesty received a shock.

Paris this year is more empty than ever, but I enjoy it in that state. I
rise and go to bed late. I read a great deal, and scarcely ever get out
of my dressing-gown. I have a Japanese one, with flowers on a
jonquil-yellow background, more brilliant than the electric light.

My stay in England was not, after all, very tiresome. Besides a number
of pleasant excursions which I made, I wrote for the _Journal des
Savants_ that article on the _Life of Julius Caesar_, of which I have
already made mention to you. As it was the editors in person who imposed
this task on me, I was obliged to acquiesce. You know how much I value
the author and his book; but you may understand the difficulties of my
position, not wishing to be considered as a flatterer, nor to say
unbecoming things. I think I managed to get out of the difficulty fairly
well.

I took for a text the fact that the Republic had reached its limit, and
that the Roman people were going to the devil, if Caesar had not
delivered them. As the thesis is true and easily supported, I wrote
variations on this air. I will save one of the proofs for you.

Manners are still progressing. A son of prince de C. has just died in
Rome. He left a brother and sisters in straitened circumstances. He was
an ecclesiastic, a monseigneur, and had an income of two hundred
thousand pounds, and every penny of it he has left to a little abbé of a
secretary that he had. It is precisely as if Nicomedes had bequeathed
his kingdom to Caesar. I wager that you do not see the point at all.

I, too, was anxious to go to Germany, and might have surprised you,
perhaps, in Munich, but my plan came to naught. I was going to see my
friend, Kaullo, that excellent Jew whom I have mentioned to you more
than once. But he himself is coming to France, therefore I have given up
my idea of Germany. One of my friends returning from Switzerland is not
enthusiastic over the weather there; which softens my disappointment.

It seems to me that Boulogne is becoming more beautiful in its buildings
no less than in its citizens. I saw fish-women stylishly dressed, and
very pretty modern dwellings; but what English women there were, and
what pork-pie hats!

Yesterday I called to see the princess Murat, who has almost recovered
from her terrible fall. The only signs still remaining are a bruised eye
and a cheek slightly discoloured. She gave a vivid account of the
accident. She has lost entire consciousness of her fall, and of the
following three or four hours. She remembers seeing her coachman, who
was a Swiss colonel, thrown up in the air, high above her head; then,
four hours later, she found herself in her own bed, with her head big as
a gourd. In the interval she walked and talked, but has no recollection
of anything. I hope, and think it probable, that during the last moments
before death comes, there is also a loss of consciousness.

I found the countess de Montijo entirely recovered from her two
operations. She is enthusiastic in praise of her oculist, Liebreich, who
seems to be a wonderful man. Try never to require his services.

Good-bye, dear friend. I am going early next week, for three days, to
Trouville. I shall then remain here until winter drives me away. Keep me
informed of all you do, and of your intentions.



CCLXXXIV


PARIS, _October 13, 1865_.

DEAR FRIEND: I found your letter yesterday, on my return from Biarritz,
whence their Majesties brought me back in a fair state of preservation.
The first welcome which my native land accorded me, however, was
anything but cordial. Last night I suffered one of the most prolonged
attacks of choking that I had experienced for weeks. It is the result, I
suppose, of the change of temperature, or it may be the effect of
thirteen or fourteen hours of jolting over a very rough railroad. It
seemed as if I was in a winnowing-basket. This morning I am feeling
better.

I have not as yet seen a soul, and think no one has returned to Paris,
but I have received some lugubrious letters from persons who speak of
nothing but cholera, and who beg me to fly from Paris. Here no one pays
any attention to it, so I am told, and the fact is, I believe that, with
the exception of several old topers, there have been no serious cases.
If the cholera had made its first appearance in Paris, probably we
should have thought no more about it. It took the cowardice of the
Marseillais to give us the warning. I have informed you of my theory on
the subject of cholera; no one dies of it unless he really wishes to
die, and it is a visitor so polite, that it never makes a call upon you
without sending its visiting-card in advance, as the Chinese do.

I spent my time most agreeably at Biarritz. We had a visit from the
king and queen of Portugal. The king is a very shrinking German student.
The queen is charming. She bears a strong resemblance to the princess
Clotilde, but she is more beautiful. She is a revised edition. Her
complexion is that of a lily and of a rose, rare even in England. Her
hair is red, to be sure, but it is the dark red so fashionable just now.
She is extremely engaging and polite. They brought along with them a
certain number of male and female caricatures, who seemed to have been
gathered up from some curiosity-shop. My friend, the Portuguese
minister, took the queen aside and gave her a little tirade about me,
which her Majesty immediately repeated to me with much graciousness. The
emperor presented me to the king, who shook hands with me, and looked at
me with two big, round, startled eyes, that made me almost fail in my
duties.

Another person, M. de Bismarck, pleased me more. He is a large German,
very polite, and not at all unsophisticated. His manner is absolutely
lacking in _gemüth_, but is full of intelligence. He conquered me
completely. He brought with him a wife, who has the biggest feet beyond
the Rhine, and a daughter who walks in her mother’s footsteps.

I have said nothing of don Enrique or of the duke of Mecklenburg, I know
not why. The Legitimist party is in a terrible state since the death of
General Lamoricière. I met yesterday an Orleanist of the old school, who
was also disconsolate. How cheaply, nowadays, one becomes a great man!

Please tell me what I may read of the good things written since I ceased
to live among the cleverest people of the universe. I should like,
indeed, to see you.

Good-bye. I am going to take care of my health until the fêtes at
Compiègne make me ill again.



CCLXXXV


PARIS, _November 8, 1865_.

DEAR FRIEND: I have delayed writing to you, because I have been like a
bird upon a bough, yet attached by the claw. After bidding adieu to my
hostess at Biarritz, I had intended going to my usual wintering-place,
and thus to avoid the first effects of the cold; but I was urged to
remain for the opening of the season at Compiègne, and the request was
asked so graciously, that I could not very well decline. Then followed
the questions relating to cholera: to go or not to go to Compiègne.
Yesterday only the matter was decided. I am to go, and shall leave here
the 14th, to return the 20th. Tell me now if between the 14th and after
the 20th, there will be any chance of seeing you.

I returned from Biarritz in an excellent state of preservation, but
after three days I experienced all the rigours incident to a change of
climate. The fact is, I have been almost constantly desperately ill, not
from cholera, but from my usual trouble, inability to breathe, from
which may God preserve you! For several days, I have been better. I
think that Compiègne will make me much worse, but I shall hasten to take
my flight to the South and count on the sunshine to live through the
winter, which the successors of M. Mathieu (_de la Drôme_) predict will
be a severe one. You, I suppose, expect to be in a mild climate on the
borders of the Loire. I hope, at any rate, that you have neither cold
nor rheumatism. Would that I were able to say as much!

You can not imagine the scandalous gossip concerning the princess Anna’s
marriage, nor the ridiculous anger and rage of the faubourg Saint
Germain. There is not a family with a daughter who did not count on the
duc de Mouchy. The burning question at present is, “If they make calls,
shall we leave cards for them?”

On the other hand, there is in the marriage market at this moment a
young girl with several millions in her pocket, and about fifty others
to come to her. She is a pretty girl, somewhat mysterious, the daughter
of M. Heine, who died this year; an adopted daughter, of course, whose
origin no one knows. But in consideration of the millions, the greatest
names of France, Italy, and Germany are ready to overlook all the
dulness and stupidity. Adopted children of this sort are very pleasing
to the goddess Fortune. The Greeks of to-day call them children of the
soul; is it not a pretty name?

Have you read the _Chansons des Rues et des Bois_, of Victor Hugo? They
will read them, I fancy, at ----. Will you tell me if you find a marked
difference between his former poetry and that of to-day? Has he become
suddenly mad, or has he always been so? For my part, I incline to the
latter.

There is living at present only one man of genius: that is M. Ponson du
Terrail. Have you read any of his _feuilletons_? No one equals him in
dealing with crime and assassination. I revel in it.

If you were here, I should endeavour to shake your orthodoxy by making
you read a curious book on Moses, David, and Saint Paul. It is not an
idyl such as Renan writes, but a dissertation, a little too larded with
Greek, and even Hebrew. Still, the book is worth the trouble of reading;
and, turning to the text, the story of that Yankee who, wishing to write
a novel, has written a religious book, and a successful one, is but a
rehash. Nothing is more common than to catch a carp when one thinks he
is fishing for gudgeon. But you do not enjoy conversation like this, and
you are right; there are other things to talk of.

Good-bye, dear friend. I am anxious to see you once more in the flesh.



CCLXXXVI


CANNES, _January 2, 1866_.

DEAR FRIEND: I did not know where to write to you, and this is why I
have not written before. You lead such a wandering life, that no one
knows where to catch you. I regretted exceedingly that I did not
overtake you between Paris and ----, your two customary lairs. You have
fallen into the habit of subordinating yourself, in the phraseology of
the Saint Simonians of my youth. Now you are the victim of the
fisher-folk at ----; again, and more often, you are the victim of that
child whom you adore, so that there is no longer any opportunity to see
you as in the good old days, when it made me so happy to walk with you.
Do you remember them?

I arrived here ill enough in health, after a week at Compiègne spent in
tight-fitting trousers, with all the patience possible. They tried to
hold me with M. de Massa’s piece, but I resisted strenuously and fled to
this place, where the sun has produced its usual effect. Of three days,
I have had two good ones; the third even has not been very bad; a slight
attack of suffocation not to be compared to the sensation of strangling
which a Paris winter brings on.

Why is it that, fond of travelling as you are, and having, moreover,
souls in your charge, you do not spend your winters in Pisa or in any
place where the great arbiter of the health of humanity, my lord, the
Sun, is to be seen? I believe that but for him I should have lain for a
long time under several feet of earth.

All my friends are hastening to precede me there. Last year was rough on
my little circle of comrades. Several years ago we used to dine together
once a month; I think I am now the sole survivor. This is the solemn
reproach which I address to the Great Engineer: Why do not men fall
like leaves, all in one season? Your Father Hyacinthe will not fail to
say absurd things to me on this subject: “O man, what are ten years?
What is a century?” and so on. The question for me is, What is eternity?
To me the all-important thing is the small number of days. Why must mine
be so bitter?

At Cannes this year are only a quarter of the foreigners who come
usually. There was a story of a Parisian who ate three lobsters, and
died of cholera. The country was at once placed under suspicion, and the
mayors of Nice and of Cannes conceived the mistaken idea of denying in
the newspapers the appearance of cholera, consequently everybody
believed that it had come. A few of my friends have been as heroic as I,
and we form a little colony which is quite able to dispense with the
crowd.

I fear I shall be obliged to return to Paris a little after the opening
of the Senate, to thunder forth all my eloquence on the bird-organ law,
of which I am the advocate. I have written to M. Rouher to offer him
peace, and to give him the opportunity to escape my eloquence. Will he
accept it? If he is reckless enough to desire war, will you wait until
the end of January to see me, and will you grant me a kind reception on
New Year’s day? In the event that the affair turns towards peace, I
shall ask you this in February. Good-bye, dear friend. In the meantime,
I send you my best and tenderest wishes.



CCLXXXVII


CANNES, _February 20, 1866_.

DEAR FRIEND: You charge me with indolence, you, who are its
personification! You, who live in Paris and discuss affairs with
civilised folk, should keep me informed of what is done and said in the
great city. You never tell me enough.

Is it true that crinoline is no longer in fashion, and that between the
gown and the skin nothing is worn but the chemise? If this is so, shall
I recognise you when I arrive in Paris? I recollect an old man who said
to me when I was young, that on entering a drawing-room where there were
some women without hoop-skirts and without powder, he supposed they were
chamber-maids assembled in the absence of their mistresses. I am not
sure that one can be a woman without crinoline.

I have allowed the address to go to vote without my presence, and it was
not lost; but I shall be compelled to return soon on account of my
bird-organs.[33] The question is not yet concluded, and it will be
necessary a second time to display my eloquence, which exasperates me
excessively.

Notwithstanding the loveliest weather in the world, I have by some means
succeeded in catching cold, and when I have a cold I am always
dangerously ill. Breathing with difficulty ordinarily, now I do not
breathe at all. Except for this I am better than I was last year. To be
sure, I do absolutely nothing, which is a prime factor in being well. I
brought a lot of work with me, but have not even unpacked it.

You have not mentioned Ponsard’s play.[34] He has retained the tradition
of the Corneille versification, somewhat emphatic, but broad, generous,
and sincere. I fancy that fashionable society will go into ecstasies
over this, as they go into ecstasies over the knowledge of M. Babinet
and the sermons of the abbé Lacordaire, buying a cat in a bag, just as
soon as they are persuaded that it is the proper thing. I fear that
persons in skin-tight trousers, with dog-ears, and reciting verse, do
not excite me to raptures of admiration.

I have just read a little book by my friend, M. de Gobineau, on the
religions of Asia. You shall judge of it on my return, if you do not
prefer to read it before then. It is a very strange and curious book. In
Persia it seems that there are scarcely any Mussulmans left, new
religions are being made, and, as elsewhere, they are mere imitations of
ancient superstitions which were believed to be a thousand times dead,
and which suddenly reappear. You will be interested in a sort of
prophetess, very pretty and eloquent, who was burned several years ago.

My lord, the bishop of Orleans, passed through Cannes the other day, and
called to see M. Cousin, whose interest he asked in behalf of M. de
Champagny. I supposed that my president, Troplong, would try to succeed
M. Dupin, but he stands in awe, apparently, of our burgraves, who,
indeed, would be delighted to play him a mean trick. I hear mention of
Henri Martin and Amédée Thierry, both of whom are as capable of
extolling M. Dupin as I of playing the double-bass. If I am in Paris, I
will vote as you advise me. I expect to be in Paris early next month.
What is now said and done seems to me daily to be more stupid. We are
more ridiculous than they were in the middle ages. Good-bye, dear
friend.



CCLXXXVIII


PARIS, _April 9, 1866_.

DEAR FRIEND: Is it not a fatality that you should be leaving just as I
arrive! Fortunately, you will return soon. I have been here since
Saturday night, painfully ill. When I left I could scarcely breathe, and
the journey made me still more wheezy. We had a terrible storm last
night, which I hope will do me a little good. I shiver at your
description of that damp town of ----, and at the thought of those chilly
corridors of which you give such a dismal picture. Try to wrap yourself
in all your furs, and to leave the chimney-corner as seldom as possible,
and then only on sunny days. I have become so sensitive to the cold, or,
rather, the cold does me so much harm, that I can fancy hell in no other
aspect than as the compartment of the Bolge in Dante.

Happily, I am told crinoline is no longer fashionable, which allows your
legs and the rest of your body to have a little protection. I went out
yesterday for an hour, and saw a woman without any crinoline, but with
such extraordinary skirts that I was horrified. It seemed to me that she
wore a flounced pasteboard skirt under a gown which she held up. It
made a great deal of noise on the asphalt.

It is consistent with your habits to act the reverse of common mortals,
and as the country will soon be charming, I presume you will return to
Paris. Be kind enough, therefore, to advise me of your movements.

I am pondering and asking myself if I shall go to the Academy Thursday
to be an aid or a hindrance, after the fashion of an Immortal. Between
M. Henri Martin, M. Cuvillier-Fleury, and M. de Champagny, one does not
know exactly what to do. The latter, however, is a little too clerical
for me, and I bear him a grudge, moreover, for having written on Roman
history in journalistic style. M. Guizot, apparently, is the reigning
star. He wishes to make us swallow the entire _Journal des Savants_: M.
Paradol, then M. de Sacy and M. Saint-Marc. At any rate, they have
humour, and a great deal of intelligence. Have you read anything of
Cuvillier-Fleury? If so, tell me your opinion of him. If you will give
me a genuine reward besides, I will vote for whomsoever you may
designate.

English novels, meaning modern ones, are beginning to bore me to death.
They were our great resource at Cannes, where M. Murray, the well-known
bookseller, sends boxes of books twice a week. Do you know of anything
which will while away the time for a poor devil who dares not show his
face out of doors after sunset?

Good-bye, dear friend. Think of me sometimes, and send me some news of
yourself.



CCLXXXIX


PARIS, _June 24, 1866_.

What has become of you? The cholera, it seems, is very bad at Amiens. I
do not know what is in store for us at the Luxembourg, and it may be
that the Senate-Council, with which we are threatened, will oblige me to
return here until the middle of the month.

To console myself, I have bought the twenty-seven volumes of the
_Mémoires du XVIIIe Siècle_, which I shall have bound. Is there in
them anything which you would like? Your Klincksieck has nothing that
one asks for; I shall inquire of Vieweg, who may have, perhaps, what I
want. Unfortunately, the edition of the _Mémoires de F. Auguste_, which
was published in Leipzig, is in the hands of M. de Bismarck.

I was surprised to receive the book you returned to me. I was afraid
that you had added it to those which you have already taken from me.
When will you come and choose another? In spite of the heat, I am far
from well.

You asked me, the other day, where I formed my acquaintance with the
dialects of the Bohemians. I had so many things to say to you that I
forgot to answer. I obtained it from M. Borrow; his book is one of the
most curious that I have ever read. What he retails of the Bohemians is
perfectly true, and his personal observations agree entirely with mine,
except on one point. In his quality as a clergyman he might well have
been mistaken, where, in my quality as a Frenchman and a layman I could
make conclusive experiments. What is most singular is that this man, who
has a gift for languages to the degree that he speaks the Cali dialects,
has so little perspicacity that he is unable to see at the outset that
in this dialect have remained many words foreign to the Spanish. He
pretends that the roots only of Sanskrit words have been retained....

I like the odour of that perfume, but I like it less since I have known
that the friend who gave it to you sees you so often.



CCXC


PALACE OF SAINT-CLOUD, _August 20, 1866_.

DEAR FRIEND: I received your letter last night. I thank you for your
congratulations.[35] The thing astonished me as much as you. I say to
myself, like the _Cocu_ imaginaire: Does one’s leg become more crooked,
after all, or one’s shape less beautiful?

I beg your pardon for quoting lines from a play which you have not read
because of its title.

You take a singular route to go to your friends in the land of the
sea-monsters, but if you can have a little sunshine you will experience
much pleasure in seeing the banks of the Loire. There is nothing in all
France more typically French, and what is seen there, besides, can be
found nowhere else. I recommend to you especially the Château of Blois,
which has been well restored in the last few years. See, for my sake,
the new church of Tours, restored. It is on the Rue Royale, on the right
side coming from the station; I have forgotten the name of it. See
also, in Tours, a house which is called, improperly, the House of the
Executioner, and which is attributed to Tristan the Hermit, because of a
sculptured girdle, the emblem of a widow, and which the ignorant take
for a hangman’s rope. It is on the street of the Three Virgins, another
distressing name.

We are having deplorable weather. Yesterday I took a long drive, and we
were surprised by a terrific storm, which soaked me to the bones and
gave me new cold. The water accumulated on the cushions, so that it was
like being in a bath-tub. I think I shall be in Paris the last few days
of this month, and set out again for Biarritz the beginning of
September. Will you not come there when you leave the banks of the
Loire?...

The emperor has entirely recovered and has resumed his usual
occupations. We spend the days comfortably enough, considering the
horrible weather, and without any formality. We dine in frock-coats, and
every one does pretty much as he pleases.

I have received from Russia an enormous history of Peter the Great,
compiled from a quantity of official documents, hitherto unpublished. I
read and I paint whenever we are not walking or eating.

It seems to me that everything tends in the direction of peace. It is
very evident that M. de Bismarck is a great man, and he is too well
prepared for any one to quarrel with him. We shall have, perhaps, many
bitter pills to swallow, and these we shall digest until we have
needle-guns. It remains to be seen what the German parliament will do,
and, if the follies which they commit will not cause them to lose their
advantage. As for Italy, it is never even mentioned. Good-bye dear
friend.



CCXCI


BIARRITZ, _September 24_.

I hope you may be enjoying better weather than we. Four days of the week
we have rain; the others are stifling hot, accompanied by a horrible
sirocco. Still, the sea is far more beautiful here than at Boulogne, and
the figs and ortolans make it possible to sustain the burden of life.

I made, the other day, an interesting excursion into the mountains, and
saw one of the most remarkable grottoes in existence. You pass beneath a
great natural bridge, made of a single arch, as long as the Pont Royal;
on one side you see a wall of rocks, and on the other a tunnel, natural
also, and very long. For nature, less clever than the engineers,
contrived to make her bridge lengthwise, and the tunnel is the extension
of this. Under the tunnel, and perpendicular to the bridge, flows a
limpid stream. The proportions of all this are gigantic. The air within
is very cool, and one feels as if he were a thousand leagues from
humanity. I will show you a sketch of it, made on horseback. This
enchanting place, which is called simply Sagarramedo, is in Spain, and
if it were in the suburbs of Paris some one would make a show place of
it, charge fifty centimes admission and make his fortune.

In another cavern, a league’s distance from the first, but in France, we
found about twenty smugglers, who sang some Basque airs in chorus, to
the accompaniment of the galoubet. This is a small, shrill flageolet,
which has in its tones something exceedingly wild and agreeable. The
music is full of character, but mournful enough to drive the devil into
the ground, like all the mountaineers’ music. As for the words, I
understood only _viva emperatrica!_ of the last couplet.

We were guided to the place by a singular man, who has made a large
fortune smuggling. He is the king of these mountains, and everybody is
subject to his commands. Nothing could have been finer than to see the
way he galloped among the rocks beside our column, which had great
difficulty in following the beaten paths. He dashed over every obstacle,
calling to his men in Basque, in French, and in Spanish, and never once
making a false step. The empress had charged him to watch over the
prince imperial, whom he made pass, him and his pony, over the most
impossible routes that you may imagine, and watching over him as
carefully as if he had been a bale of contraband goods. We rested for an
hour in his home at San, where we were received by his daughters, who
are well-bred persons, stylishly dressed, not in the least provincial,
and differing from Parisians only in their pronunciation of the _r_,
which for the Basques is always _r-r-r-h_.

We are expecting the armoured fleet; but the sea is so rough, that if it
came we could not communicate with it. There are not many people at
Biarritz, some startling costumes, and few pretty faces. Nothing could
be uglier than the bathers with their black costumes and caps of
oil-cloth.

I have been presented to the duc de Leuchtenberg, who is quite friendly.
I discovered that he read Schopenhauer, believed in positive philosophy,
and had a leaning towards socialism.

I expect to be in Paris early in October. Shall you not be there? I
should be glad to see you before I go into winter quarters. I am growing
scandalously stout, and my breathing is much better than in Paris.

Good-bye, dear friend. I have written a droll little thing, which may
amuse you, if you should condescend to listen.



CCXCII


PARIS, _October 5, 1866_.

We are to be, then, like Castor and Pollux, who can never appear upon
the same horizon! I returned several days ago. I have made a trip to the
post-office, and return to pack my trunk for departure. I am obliged to
go, for the first touch of frost is very disagreeable to feel, and I
have begun to cough and strangle.

Besides the pleasure which would have been mine in seeing you, I had
been promising myself that of reading you something which I had
translated from the Russian. At Biarritz they were discussing, one day,
the difficult situations in which one might find one’s self, as, for
example Rodrigue between his papa and Chimène, Mademoiselle Camille
between her brother and her Curiace. That night, having drunk tea which
was too strong, I wrote about fifteen pages on a situation of this sort.
The thing is very moral in reality, yet there are some details of which
Monseigneur Dupanloup might disapprove. There is, also, a begging the
question necessary for the development of the plot: two persons of
different sex go to an inn; this has never been known, but it was
necessary for my story, and while there they have a remarkable
experience. Although written in great haste, it is not, I think, the
worst thing I have ever done. I read it to the lady of the house.

At the same time there was also at Biarritz the grand duchess Marie,
daughter of Nicolas, to whom I had been presented several years ago. We
renewed our acquaintance. Shortly after my reading I received a visit
from a policeman, saying he had been sent by the grand duchess. “What
may I do for you?” “I have come from her imperial highness, to beg you
to come to her house to-night with your novel.” “What novel?” “The one
you read, the other day, to her Majesty.” I replied that I had the
honour to be her Majesty’s jester, and that I could not work for any one
else without her permission. I hastened at once to relate the thing to
her. I expected the result would be, at the very least, a war with
Russia, and I was no little mortified not only to receive permission to
go, but even to go that evening to the grand duchess, to whom had been
given the policeman as factotum. Nevertheless, to console myself, I
wrote the grand duchess a pretty energetic letter, and announced my
visit. I was on the way to carry my letter to her house; there was a
high wind, and in a secluded by-street I met a woman who was in danger
of being blown into the sea by her skirts, into which the wind had
entered. She was in the greatest bewilderment, blinded and dazed by the
noise made by her crinoline, and all the other tumult. I rushed to her
assistance. It was with the greatest difficulty that I succeeded in
giving her any effective aid, and then only recognized the grand
duchess. The windstorm saved her from a number of little epigrams. She
was, moreover, quite friendly with me, and gave me some excellent tea
and cigarettes; for she smokes, as nearly all Russian ladies do. Her
son, the duke of Leuchtenberg, is a handsome fellow, with the manner of
a German student. He seemed to me, as I mentioned before, a good-natured
chap, affable, with a tendency slightly Republican and Socialistic, and
a Nihilist in the bargain, like the _Bazarof_ of Tourguenieff; for in
these days princes do not consider the Republic a form of government
progressive enough for their tastes.

Good-bye, dear friend. Write to me here, but do so immediately. I do not
release you from sending me news of yourself. What say you to the
spectacle of a flood? You have had the experience, with all its
variations. One of my friends scarcely touched food for two days, in the
anxiety of seeing his house dissolve beneath him, like a lump of sugar.
Again good-bye.



CCXCIII


CANNES, _January 3, 1867_.

I received your letter with great remorse. For a long time I have wanted
to write to you, but, in the first place, an uncertainty as to your
abode is a great vexation. You are always on the wing, and no one knows
where to catch you. In the second place, you have never replied to a
long letter, written with great care, which I sent to you. Moreover, you
can not imagine how the time passes in a place like this, where it never
rains, and where the principal thing to do is to warm one’s self in the
sun, or to paint trees and rocks.

I brought with me books for work, but as yet I have done nothing but
read and take notes from a history of Peter the Great, about which I
should like some day to write an article for the _Journal des Savants_.
The great man was a downright savage, who used to get horribly tipsy,
and committed an error against good taste, concerning which I found you
very severe when you used to study Greek literature. For all that, he
was without question a man in advance of his age. I should like to say
all this some day to persons as full of prejudice as yourself.

As for the story about which I told you, I have said that I would read
it to you when I have the pleasure of seeing you once more. I am not
thinking of having it published. As there is in this work nothing
favourable to the temporal power of the Pope, I suspect that it might
not meet with a cordial reception. Are you not touched and humiliated by
the profound stupidity of the present time? Everything that is said both
for and against the temporal power is so silly and absurd, that I blush
for my century....

Another thing that enrages me is the manner in which the proposition for
the reorganization of the army has been received. All well-born young
persons are dying of terror at the thought of being called upon at a
moment’s notice to fight for their country, and say that these vulgar
occupations should be left to the Prussians. Try to imagine what will
remain of the French nation if she should come to lose her military
courage!

I am reading the novel of my friend Madame de Boigne.[36] It is pitiful.
She is a woman of much intelligence, who lays bare her own defects, and
criticises them with excessive bitterness, but who still persists in
them. She passed more than thirty years without saying a word to me of
this novel, and in her will she ordered its publication. It was as great
a surprise to me as if I had learned that you had just published a
treatise on geometry.

Although the subject is not an agreeable one, I must tell you something
of my health. I am becoming more and more short-breathed. Sometimes I
feel as robust as a Turk. I take long walks, and it seems to me that I
am as well as when we used to tramp through our woods together. The sun
goes down, my chest becomes inflated, I suffocate and the slightest
exertion is very painful. The singular thing is, that I am no worse. I
am even better in a horizontal position than when standing or sitting.

Good-bye, dear friend. I wish you health and prosperity.



CCXCIV


PARIS, _Thursday, April 4, 1867_.

DEAR FRIEND: Here I am, at last, in Paris, but more dead than alive. I
have not written, because I was too melancholy, and had only doleful
things to tell you of myself and of this sublunary world. You will find
me very miserable, but happy to see you again.

Friday morning, if the weather be fine, we might walk together to the
Museum of the Louvre. I dare hardly go out, I have such a dread of the
cold, but I am ordered to take exercise.

I send you the eighth volume of Guizot, which will entertain you. The
dull weather depresses me, and makes me _much_ worse. I hope you are
still in great prosperity.

My house is undergoing improvements, and I am reduced to living in my
salon, which is as gloomy as a prison. Come and cheer me up. You shall
carry away all the books you like, and I shall not require you to leave
me anything as security.

Good-bye, I shall see you soon, I hope.



CCXCV


PARIS, _Friday, April 30, 1867_.

DEAR FRIEND: I am very sorry to know that you are surrounded by sick
persons. This makes me fear that you have no thought of me, who am worse
than ever in this bad weather. Will you not come and take care of me one
of these days?

I went, nevertheless, to the Exposition, and was not at all carried away
with it. It is true that it was pouring rain, and impossible to see the
amusements, which I am told are in the garden. I saw some exquisite
Chinese articles, too dear for my purse; and some Russian rugs, all
sold.

You will have to take me there one of these fine mornings, and guide me
in my acquisitions. You seem to be enchanted with this bazaar; perhaps
your enthusiasm will kindle mine.

The dull, rainy weather is very injurious to me. I dare not go out, and
I live like a bear. I am dying to go to see you some evening, but I am
convinced that I should be compelled to spend the night on the first
step of your stairway.

Do you know of any amusing book to read at night? While waiting for
something better, I am writing for the _Journal des Savants_ an article
on the princess Sophie, sister of Peter the Great. I do not know if it
would interest you. I will read it to you next time I see you.



CCXCVI


_Wednesday, June 26, 1867._

DEAR FRIEND: Would it not have been better to bring me your flowers
yourself? You have pained me greatly in sending them. I am still very
ill; but how can I get well in such weather?

Read Sainte-Beuve’s speech;[37] it will amuse you. It is impossible for
one to be more witty. But if he really wishes what he asked for, he has
taken the best means of being refused. I do not know what will be the
result of his interchange of epigrams with M. Lacaze, but I fear it will
end in a duel. It is impossible to conceive of the expression of hatred
and profound scorn on his face as he read, for he read his speech, which
was somewhat detrimental to its effect.

I have sent you my condolences on the loss of your purse at the
Exposition. Return the compliment, for I have left mine in a carriage.
I am inquiring everywhere for tickets for the ceremony of July 1st. I am
unwilling to take any but the best places for you, and I can find none.



CCXCVII


PARIS, _Sunday, June 30, 1867_.

DEAR FRIEND: Here are two tickets for to-morrow’s ceremony.[38] They
deserve a rare tip, for I had a great deal of trouble in procuring them.
I send them to you in haste. Try not to be ill. It will be terribly hot!



CCXCVIII


_Friday, July 5, 1867._

DEAR FRIEND: I am delighted that you enjoyed yourself. I was afraid of
the heat, and of the weight of my harness. You looked for me in vain. I
did not go. Come soon, and tell me the beautiful things you saw, and
give me your opinion of the sultan and the princes, who had the
privilege of gazing on you for three hours.

I think that this fusillade[39] will injure our affairs, which were
progressing well. It is a great pity.



CCXCIX


PARIS, _July 27, 1867_.

DEAR FRIEND: Thanks for your letter. I continue so ill, that I did not
write to you at once, hoping to give you more hopeful news of myself;
but no matter what I do and what I swallow, I still have this horrible
cold. I shall not give you the details of my ills, but you may be sure
that I am overcome by them. I hope you will sympathise with me. I
neither sleep nor eat. I envy you these two faculties, which you possess
with many others.

I congratulate you on having met the sultan for so long a time. Did he
exhibit more amiability towards your sex than he did in Paris? They tell
me that he gave great dissatisfaction at the opera. The pasha of Egypt
was much more gracious. He made two visits to Mademoiselle ----, which I
dare not describe to you, although they were curious. He has become
reconciled (I am speaking of the pasha) with his cousin Mustapha, but it
has been impossible to have them drink coffee together, each one being
persuaded that it would be too dangerous on account of the rapid
progress of the science of chemistry.

If you had been in Paris you would have seen something very beautiful
which was presented to me. It is a brooch in the form of a fleur-de-lis
shield, containing a miniature portrait of Marie Antoinette, painted in
Vienna, probably, before her marriage, and given by her to the princess
de Lamballe. There was once in the back of the brooch a lock of hair,
but it has been removed. After a fine show of resistance to the
temptation, I yielded, and sent it promptly to her Majesty, who is
making a collection of objects which belonged to Marie Antoinette. This
will be, assuredly, one of her prettiest souvenirs; besides which, it is
said to be absolutely authentic, and was worn for a long time by Madame
de Lamballe. These sad antiquities fill me with horror, but it is vain
to dispute about tastes.

Madame ---- is still making a great scandal, and openly. I am sorry that
I am not at liberty to write you all that she says and does. It is
asserted that in Italy are two other wives of ministers more
extravagantly wild than she....

I think you might have been a little more polite, and borrowed my proofs
from me. Nothing is more painful to an author than neglect of this sort.
August 1st, a second article appeared, and you will be compelled to
fortify yourself against three or four others. If you could invent some
euphemism to explain to the reader the secret of Mentchikof’s influence
with Peter the Great, it would be an immense favour to me.

Read also, in the _Revue des Deux Mondes_, M. Collin’s article on trades
unions (it is by M. Libri), and a letter of M. d’Haussonville to prince
Napoleon, which is highly calculated to spoil his taste for newspaper
polemical articles.

Sainte-Beuve continues quite ill. He is surrounded by numbers of women,
like the sultan Saladin. You shall not persuade me that you are having
at ---- any better weather than here--that is to say, continuous gusts of
rain and wind.

When are you coming back? I need you very much, to tell me what is going
on, and to help me bear my misfortunes in patience--something very
difficult to do. The other night, when it was almost impossible for me
to breathe, I read Luther’s Table-Talk. This big man pleases me, with
all his prejudices and his hatred of the devil. Good-bye, dear friend.



CCC


PARIS, _September 6, 1867_.

DEAR FRIEND: I received your letter, which gave me much pleasure. The
dampness of the climate where you are must be greatly ameliorated, I
fancy, by this excessive heat. As for me, I find myself much better for
it, and I am breathing, not with full lung-power, but more easily than I
have done in a long time. However, I had the courage to refuse the
gracious invitation which the empress renewed as she was leaving.[40] I
do not feel sure enough of myself to stand any exposure to the danger of
illness, and although I was assured of the best of care, I thought it
prudent and discreet to take no risks. Perhaps, if the warm weather
continues, I may experiment with my strength by spending a few days in
the country at my cousin’s. It may be that the change of air will be
good for me, and there is every indication that the crowds of foreigners
who are thronging Paris are injuring our atmosphere.

I visited the Exposition the other day, and saw the Japanese women, who
pleased me uncommonly. They have a complexion of cream-colour, of an
agreeable shade. So far as I could judge by the drapery of their gowns,
they have legs as slender as the sticks of a chair, which is too bad. As
I observed them, along with the crowd of loungers surrounding them, I
thought to myself that European women would not make so good an
impression before a Japanese audience. Imagine yourself on exhibition
thus at Yeddo, and a grocer of prince Satsuma saying: “I should like to
know whether that hump on the back of this lady’s gown is really growing
there.” Speaking of humps, they are no longer worn at all, which proves
that they did not grow there; for all women found themselves at the same
instant in the fashion.

I am reading an abominable book by Madame ---- aimed against M. S., whom
she calls M. T.; it is the very limit of all that is indecent. For all
that, it shows evidence of ability of a certain sort....

I have written for the _Moniteur_ an article remarkable for the amenity
of its style, on the subject of an amusing Spanish chronicle. I will
lend it to you one of these days, provided that you will return it. You
will see therein how people lived in Spain and France in the fifteenth
century.

Good-bye. Keep well; do not take cold, and write me some word of
yourself.



CCCI


PARIS, _September 27, 1867_.

DEAR FRIEND: What has become of you? It is an age since I heard from
you. I have just done something reckless: I spent three days at my
cousin’s home in the country, near Arpajon, and I feel very little the
worse for it, although the country seemed to me cold and damp. I do not
believe, however, that it is warm anywhere, nowadays. I suppose that
at ---- you are enveloped in constant fogs.

I spend my time as well as I can, in absolute solitude. I am seized
sometimes with the desire to travel, but the impulse does not last long
enough to amount to anything. Moreover, I am terribly depressed. I
believe something serious is the matter with my eyes. I wish, and at the
same time I dread, going to consult Liebreich; yet, if I should lose my
sight, what would become of me?

In society there is a certain prince Augustine Galitzin, who has become
a convert to Catholicism, and who is not very proficient in Russian. He
has translated a novel by Tourguenieff, the title of which is _Smoke_.
It is now coming out in _Le Correspondent_, a clerical newspaper, some
of the capital of which is furnished by the prince. Tourguenieff has
asked me to review the proofs. Now, in this novel are some rather lively
situations, which are the despair of prince Galitzin; for instance,
something unheard-of: A Russian princess is in love, which is made worse
by adultery. He skips the passages which shock him too deeply, and I
reinstate them in the text. He is sometimes over-sensitive, as you shall
see. The great lady condescends to visit her lover in a hotel, at Baden.
She enters the room, and the chapter concludes. The story is resumed in
the Russian original as follows: “Two hours later, Litvinof was alone on
his divan.” The neo-Catholic has translated it thus: “An hour later,
Litvinof was in his _room_.” You see it is much more moral, because to
suppress an hour is to diminish the sin by half. Then, _room_, instead
of _divan_, is much more virtuous, a divan being associated with
criminal acts. I, inflexible in carrying out my orders, have reinstated
the two hours and the divan, but the chapters in which they occur have
not been published in _Le Correspondent_ of this month. I suppose the
respectable people who edit it have exercised a strict censorship. I am
greatly amused by it. As the story continues, there is a delightful
scene, in which the heroine tears up some point lace, which is a much
more serious matter than the divan. I am waiting to see what they will
do with this.

Good-bye, dear friend. Let me hear from you. I am terrified by the
rapidity with which winter is approaching.



CCCII


PARIS, _Monday night_, _October 28, 1867_.

You speak of vegetating. Indeed, that is the sort of life one would wish
to lead nowadays, but the age is one of movement. Human vegetables are
as unfortunate as those which live at the foot of Etna. From time to
time upon them falls a deluge of fire, which usually annihilates them by
its sulphurous vapours.

Do you not consider it calamitous that Pius IX and Garibaldi, both
fanatics, should, by their obstinacy, turn everything into confusion? As
an evidence of the morals of the age is the reply of those who
disapprove the sending of our troops to Rome, when they are reminded of
the treaty of September 15th: “What matters a treaty? M. de Bismarck
does not observe them.” I should like to steal a watch from one of
them, and then say that there have been precedents of watches being
stolen. The most deplorable feature of the whole matter is, that we are
pledging ourselves anew, for I know not how long a time, to protect the
Pope, who shows not the slightest gratitude towards us....

_Le Correspondent_ has yielded, and is publishing the continuation of
Tourguenieff’s novel, without, however, permitting the interview between
Litvinof and Irène to last more than one hour. I think I told you about
it. Are you reading it? _Le Correspondent_ certainly goes to ----, where
you are. Anyway, I will give you the novel on your return.

I am still ill, breathing painfully, and at night not breathing at all.
This sudden death of M. Fould has grieved me very much. It was, however,
as easy as one could wish; but why so sudden? He wrote eighteen letters
the same morning of his death, and two hours before retiring seemed
perfectly well. He had not made the least movement after lying down, and
his features bore no evidences of contraction. His death was precisely
the same as that of Mr. Ellice; “a visitation of God” is what the
English call it.

I am expecting to start early in November. I am urged to go, in order to
escape colds, which are so difficult to avoid in Paris. I am finishing
an article for the _Moniteur_, on a Greek manuscript, and shall depart
just as soon as it is completed.

Good-bye, dear friend. I hope you will come back before I go. Abandon
those hideous fogs, and take care of your health. Again, good-bye....



CCCIII


PARIS, _November 8, 1867_.

DEAR FRIEND: I send you a word in haste, written in the midst of the
errand which I am compelled to do. I leave to-morrow for Cannes,
seriously ill; but there I hope to live in sunlight and warmth. Here we
have it cold and almost frosty. I no longer go out at night, and never
put my nose out of doors except when the temperature becomes a little
milder.

I do not know how long I shall be able to stay away; it depends somewhat
on the Pope, on Garibaldi, and on M. de Bismarck. Like every one else, I
am more or less in the hands of these gentlemen. I know nothing more
shameful than this affair of Garibaldi. If ever a man was under
obligation to commit suicide, it is he, assuredly. What is even more
lamentable is the fact that the Pope is quite convinced that he is
under no obligation to us, and that it was Heaven which managed
everything for his sake. Good-bye, dear friend....



CCCIV


CANNES, _December 16, 1867_.

DEAR FRIEND: I was very anxious about you, when I was relieved by the
arrival of your letter. You have guessed that these many changes of
weather through which we have passed, have done me no good. In the last
twenty-four hours we have even had snow, to the enormous astonishment of
the urchins and curs of the place. Such a thing is unprecedented in
twenty years. Nothing could be more amusing than the amazement depicted
on the faces which had never seen this phenomenon from a nearer range
than the Alps. Everybody expected to see the flowers, orange-trees, and
even the olive-trees, destroyed; but they all stood it remarkably well,
and only the flies have been killed.

For several days we have had a return of fine weather, and my breathing
begins to be somewhat less difficult. I am always at the mercy of every
change of temperature, and there is no barometer to which I am not
superior in the accuracy of my predictions.

I am greatly alarmed by the political situation; in the general tone of
the journals and of the orators, I find something suggestive of 1848.
There are strange freaks of anger, without any apparent causes. All
nerves are tense. After spending his whole life amid political
struggles, M. Thiers is seized with nervous excitement because a lawyer
of Marseilles repeats platitudes deserving of nothing more than a smile.
The most unfortunate feature has been the attitude of M. Rouher, who
wishes to out-Herod Herod, and who has given utterance to sentiments
obnoxious to politics--a thing from which all ministers ought to
abstain.

I am discontented with everybody, beginning with Garibaldi, who does not
understand his trade. To go to Caprera, after having murdered several
hundred simpletons, seems to me the very limit of mortification for the
advocates of revolution, and the English noblemen who took this creature
for something more than a mountebank.

What shall I say to you of the politics of M. Ollivier and _tutti
quanti_? It is useless for them to express themselves in elegantly
turned phraseology, and to assert that they are profoundly convinced;
they impress me as second-rate actors who imitate the rôles of their
betters, in such a fashion as to deceive no one. We become smaller day
by day. It is only M. de Bismarck who is a really great man.

By the way, could it be true that he has spent his private fortune? I
consider the purchase of the journals as highly probable. But, as M. de
Bismarck will not send his receipts to M. de Kerveguen, I fancy these
gentlemen will come out of the affair honourably.

I see nothing worth reading but the _Histoire de Pierre le Grand_, by M.
Oustisalef. I have just sent to the _Journal des Savants_ a long
article, full of tormenting details, etc. It is on the destruction of
the Muscovite guards. Good-bye....



CCCV


CANNES, _January 5, 1868_.

DEAR FRIEND: Pardon my delay in replying to your letter. I have been,
and am still, extremely ill. The cold, which has penetrated even so far
as this, is very harmful to me. It is said that in Paris it is much more
severe, and that you have no cause to envy Siberia. I am sometimes, the
greater part of the day, unable to breathe. There is no sharp pain in
this, but a discomfort of the most wearisome kind, which reacts severely
on the nerves. You know me well enough to understand how well I endure
all this.

Moreover, I am suffering great anxiety on account of my poor friend
Panizzi, who is dangerously ill in London. The latest news was somewhat
comforting, but there is still little ground for reassurance: He is
discouraged about himself, which is always a bad symptom in sick people.

Amidst all my sorrows, I am killing time as I may. I send to-day to the
_Journal des Savants_ the end of the first part of _Pierre le
Grand_--for there are first and second parts in this, as in the novels
of Ponson de Terrail--and to the _Moniteur_, a long critique on
Poushkin. All this you will see in its proper time and place.

I am now reading a book which is too long, and badly written, but the
author of which seems to be honest, and describes what he has seen and
heard. One must pass over his reflections, for in these he is a little
silly. The book is Dixon’s _New America_. He has seen the Mormons, and,
what is still more curious, the Republic of Mount Lebanon. This and
Fenianism give one an idea of America. Decidedly Talleyrand’s epigram
defines it exactly.

Good-bye, dear friend, I wish you health and happiness.



CCCVI


CANNES, _February 10, 1868_.

DEAR FRIEND: I am distressed to learn of the death of M. D. I saw him
at ----, I do not know how many years ago. He was devotedly fond of you,
and while the death of friends of eighty years should be expected at any
moment, still it always comes as a thunder-clap. One of the greatest
sorrows of those who live to be aged is to lose our friends day by day,
and to realise that we are more and more alone in the world....

For my own part, my thoughts are melancholy, and my mood gloomy. I have
not yet succeeded in accustoming myself to suffering, and it irritates
me, which gives me two ills instead of one. I think I shall stay here at
least until the end of this month, in which case I have some hope of
finding you in Paris. I am delighted that my essay on Poushkin did not
bore you. The best thing about it is that I wrote it without having the
works of Poushkin by me. The quotations I gave are verses that I
committed to memory in the time of my fervour for all things Russian.

There are many Russians here, and I had charged one of my friends to
borrow a volume of miscellaneous poems, if there was one in the
Muscovite colony. He inquired of an uncommonly pretty woman, who,
instead of poems, sent me a big piece of fish from the Volga, and two
birds from the same country, all cooked a few metres from the north
pole. It was rather good. Judging from the slice sent to me, the fish
must have been a jolly fellow from five to six feet in length. This
lady, who is called Madame Voronine, has a charming head. Her husband
has the appearance of a veritable Calmuc. At first he refused the hand
of the lady. He shot himself, the ball missed, and for his trouble he
was made to marry her.

As for English, men and women, never have there been such a lot of them,
with impossible hair and toilettes, with red hair and overcoats lined
with grebe skins, and with parasols. During the last two weeks the
parasols have been more serviceable than the furs, for the weather is
magnificent, and the sun hot as in June. Among other extraordinary
Englishmen is the duke of Buccleugh, who has a horn in the middle of his
forehead. His son shows a disposition to follow his example. Do not
imagine that I am speaking metaphorically; it is a real horn growing on
the cranium, and it will end, I fear, by playing them a bad trick.

I told you that I had _Smoke_, bound in a volume expressly for you. I
might send it to you if you wished it; but I believe that I recall your
having taken home the numbers of the _Correspondent_ in which it is
found. It is one of the best things that M. Tourguenieff has ever done.

The discussion on the press is disgusting to me. Every one tells too
many lies, and not an idea is heard that has not been already expressed
twenty times in better terms. It seems to me that the level of
intelligence is rapidly sinking lower, like that of honesty. It is
indeed sad.

Yesterday I met one of my friends returning from Mentana. He told me
that the Garibaldians were thoroughly whipped; that they were a singular
mixture of abominable riff-raff and of the flower of the aristocracy.

Good-bye, dear friend. Take good care of yourself, and do not forget me.



CCCVII


MONTPELLIER, _April 20, 1868_.

DEAR FRIEND: Before coming here I was so ill that I lost all courage; it
was impossible for me to think, and yet I was under the strongest
necessity to write. I learned by chance that in Montpellier there was a
physician who treated asthma by a new method, and I resolved to try it.
During the five days since I began the treatment it seems to me that my
condition has improved, and the physician encourages me to be hopeful.

Every morning I am placed in an iron cylinder, which, I must confess,
looks like one of those monuments of M. de Rambuteau. Within is a
comfortable easy-chair, and apertures with windows, which admit light
enough to read. An iron door is closed, and the air in the cylinder is
them compressed by means of a steam-engine. After a few seconds you feel
as if needles were sticking in your ears, but, gradually, you become
accustomed to the sensation. What is more important is that you begin to
breathe with marvellous ease. At the end of a half hour I fall asleep,
notwithstanding the fact that I have brought with me the _Revue des Deux
Mondes_. I have already taken four of these compressed-air baths, and
feel that I am perceptibly better. The physician who treats me, and who
has none of the characteristics of a charlatan, assures me that my case
is not hopeless, and promises to cure me with about fifteen baths or so.

I hope I may see you soon in Paris. I regret my absence from the
discussion which will take place on the subject of the medical theses.
Have you read the letter of abbé Dupanloup? The soul of Torquemada has
taken refuge in his body, and if we do not look out, he will burn us all
at the stake. I fear that the Senate on this occasion will say and do
everything possible to make itself ridiculous and odious. You can have
no idea of how afraid of the devil, nowadays, are those old warriors who
have been through such a multitude of dangers. I do not know if
Sainte-Beuve will be in a condition to speak, as the papers announce; I
doubt it, and, besides, I am uncertain whether he will attack the
question from the proper position;--I mean, in such a way as to avert
the bombshell. His business is to speak out his mind, without regard to
consequences, as he has already done on the occasion of Renan’s book.
All these things irritate and torment me.

We are having admirable weather, but the natives are bewailing it
bitterly, for they have had no rain for a year. The dry weather,
however, does not hinder the leaves from growing, and the country is
magnificent.

Unfortunately, I am detained indoors all the morning, and seldom have a
chance to walk. There is a fair in progress under my windows. Opposite
me they are exhibiting a giantess, in a satin gown which she raises to
show her legs. Their diameter is almost that of your waist.

I will bring you the translation of _Smoke_. I have begun an essay on
Tourguenieff, but do not know if I shall have the strength to finish it
here. Nothing is more difficult than to work on a hotel diet. Good-bye,
dear friend.



CCCVIII


PARIS, _June 16, 1868_.

... I suppose you are having about the same weather that we are
enjoying--that is to say, perfectly lovely, and that you are no longer
suffering from excessive dampness, which is the unfortunate feature of
P. Here, the early summer is ravishing. I went, day before yesterday, to
the Bois de Boulogne, where I saw the most stunning costumes. I met one
very beautiful woman, dressed in an extraordinary fashion, and whose
hair was a lovely gold-colour. I could have sworn that she was a young
woman from the rue de Breda, but I came to recognise her as the wife of
a general. Her hair formerly was a dark chestnut. Customs are making
singular progress.

A well-known society man was living in marital relations with the wife
of another man. Returning to his apartment one day, he found her there
with a third man. Upon this, he went to the husband, and said to him: “I
know that you wish to have proofs of criminal intercourse, in order that
you may obtain a divorce from your wife. I bring you these proofs.” He
left with him a package of letters, and they separated, with expressions
of mutual esteem. It does not appear that he has been expelled from his
club, or excluded from any salon to which he has had access.

M. Tourguenieff has just sent me a very short, but very pretty novel,
entitled _The Brigadier_. It is now being translated, and if the proofs
are sent to me, I will share them with you. English novels are getting
to be so horribly dull that I can not take to them. Here, it seems that
there is no one but M. Penson de Terrail, but his stories are too short.

I expect to go to London by the end of the month. I hope to see you in
Hastings and in Paris, towards the end of July. Good-bye, dear friend.



CCCIX


CHÂTEAU DE FONTAINEBLEAU, _August 4, 1868_.

DEAR FRIEND: I have been here about a fortnight, feeling tolerably well,
and finding absolute idleness good for body and mind. Our last walk left
me a sweet memory. Is it so with you? Here, I walk a little, read less,
and breathe fairly well. It is a pleasure to look at the sky and the
trees.

There is no one at the château, or, rather, not more than thirty
persons, of whom the only outsiders, besides myself, are several cousins
of the empress, both ladies and gentlemen, and very agreeable people,
whom I met in Madrid.

I kept for you a copy of the second edition of _Smoke_. On my return to
Paris, in a week, I think, I will leave it at your house, or, if you
prefer, I will send it.

I brought with me my materials for work; but as one is never certain of
having an hour to himself, I have accomplished nothing at all. I made a
copy of a portrait of _Diana of Poitiers_, by Primatice. She is
represented as Diana holding a quiver, and it is evident that she has
posed, for from head to foot everything shows the portrait. If I dare
say so, there results even from an examination of the legs, that she
wore her garters above the knee, after the fashion of the time. It is no
longer the fashion now (so I have been told). I will show it to you, for
this portrait has an historical value.

Good-bye. It is now the hour for dining. I envy you the little fish that
you are eating, perhaps, at this very moment. Be so good as to tell me
what is that high rock at Boulogne, near the quay. It seemed to me a
monstrosity.



CCCX


PARIS, _September 2, 1868_.

While I was at Fontainebleau a strange incident happened to me. I had
the idea of writing a novel for my hostess, whose hospitality I wished
to repay in blarney. I did not have time to finish it; but on my return
here I placed the word _End_ on it, and I fear it will be considered too
long deferred. The strange part of it, however, is, that no sooner had I
finished, than I began another novel. The recrudescence of this malady
of my youth alarms me, because it so resembles a second childhood.
Nothing of all this, be it understood, is for the public.

While I was in the château we read some marvellous modern novels, the
authors of which were utterly unknown to me. It is in imitation of these
gentlemen that this last novel is written. The scene occurs in
Lithuania, a country perfectly familiar to you. Pure Sanskrit is spoken
there. A great lady of the land, having gone to hunt, had the misfortune
to be captured and carried away by a bear destitute of feeling. She
became insane, but gave birth to a well-formed boy, who grows up and
becomes charming, only he is subject to gloomy moods and inexplicable
whimsicalities. He is married, and on his wedding-night eats his wife
alive. You, who know all the tricks, since I disclose them to you, will
guess immediately why. Yes, this gentleman is the illegitimate son of
that unlicked cub. _Che invenzione prelibata._[41] Please tell me, I
pray you, what you think of it.

I am not doing any too well, and am urged to renew the compressed-air
baths at Montpellier. If you do not return to Paris before the 1st of
October, you will probably not find me there. I will leave you the novel
_Smoke_, which I have had waiting for you for ages. I do not know what
has become of the author. He was in Moscow recently, with gout, and a
historical novel in the bargain.

I regret greatly not having visited the aquarium of which you tell me,
when I passed through Boulogne. Nothing diverts me more than fish and
sea flora.

I dined yesterday with Sainte-Beuve, who was very interesting. Although
a great sufferer, he has a charming wit, and is, without doubt, one of
the most agreeable conversationalists that I have ever heard. He is
deeply alarmed at the progress made by the clericals, and takes the
thing to heart. I think the danger does not come from that direction....

Good-bye, dear friend. Write to me, but do not write so loosely as to
put but three words on a line. Tell me candidly your opinion on my
invention of the bear.



CCCXI


PARIS, _Tuesday, September 29, 1868_.

DEAR FRIEND: The important thing is that the reading did not tire you.
Is it possible that you did not guess at once how ill-bred that bear
was? As I read, I saw plainly on your face that you did not admit my
conception of the plot. I must then submit to yours. Do you believe the
reader, who is less timorous than you, will accept this good-woman
version, that it was a _glancé_? So, it was a mere glance of the bear
which made this poor woman insane, and imparted to her son his
sanguinary instincts? It shall be done as you wish. I have always been
the better for your advice; but this time you have abused your
privilege.

I shall leave for Montpellier next Saturday. I hope to say good-bye to
you two or three times before then.



CCCXII


CANNES, _November 16, 1868_.

DEAR FRIEND: I have been, and am still, very ill. The compressed-air
baths, which were so beneficial to me last spring, were powerless to
cure a bronchial trouble which has succeeded my asthma, and is as
harassing as the latter. For six weeks I have been coughing and choking;
while the numerous drugs, which I take with much docility and
resignation, do not produce sufficient effect to permit me to resume my
ordinary course of life. I go out only on very warm days. I sleep badly,
and spend my time entertaining the blue devils.... It is at night
especially that I suffer and fret the most. If I am so poorly before
the winter, what will become of me when the weather is really cold? This
thought preoccupies me unpleasantly. For three or four days, however, I
have felt a little less miserable.

During my nights of insomnia I made a careful copy of the _Trouveur de
Miel_,[42] with the changes which you suggested, and which seem to me to
improve the story. That the bear pushed his attacks to the point of
marring an illustrious genealogy, remains doubtful. At the same time,
intelligent persons like yourself will understand that a very serious
accident must have occurred. I sent this new edition to M. Tourguenieff,
that he might revise the local colour, concerning which I am in some
perplexity, but the deuce of the thing is that neither he nor I have
been able to find a single Lithuanian who knows his own language and
country. I had some intention of sending this tale as a fête-day gift to
the empress, but I have resisted the temptation, and have done wisely.
God only knows what that bear would have become amidst the society at
Compiègne.

The weather is only so-so--neither cold nor windy, but with very few
really beautiful days. I have been here a fortnight. The rest of the
time I have been at Montpellier, where I was horribly bored....

So poor Rossini is dead. They pretended that he had done a great deal of
work, although he wished to publish nothing. Pecuniary considerations,
which always had great weight with him, would have been reason enough
for him to publish his work, if he had really composed anything. He was
one of the wittiest men I have ever seen, and nothing more marvellous
has ever been heard than the air from the _Barber of Seville_, as sung
by him. No actor could compare with him.

The last year appears to have been a fatal one for great men. They say
that Lamartine and Berryer are both seriously ill.

Good-bye, dear friend. Write to me, and lose no time in leaving the damp
country where you are at present. There is no such thing as a warm house
in the country.

If you know some amusing book, tell me what it is, I pray you.



CCCXIII


CANNES, _January 2, 1869_.

DEAR FRIEND: You have not, then, received a letter I sent to you last
month at P. I fear that it has gone astray. I do not pretend, however,
to justify myself altogether. If you only realised what a wretched and
monotonous life I am leading, you would understand that it is hard
enough to endure it without giving an account of it. The fact is, I am
doing very badly. Not the least improvement! On the contrary, they have
not even succeeded in giving me relief from the painful attacks which
occur from time to time. The sky and sea are magnificent, and their
influence, which formerly restored me to health, no longer has any
effect. What must I do? I have no idea, but often I feel a great desire
that it would end.

Your journey seems to me delightful, but I do not approve of your return
through the Tyrol in the season you describe. You will meet with much
snow; you will lose the skin from your cheeks, and you will see nothing
remarkably beautiful. You had better take some other route, no matter
which. Innspruck, or, rather, Innsbruck, is an exceedingly picturesque
little town; but for one who has been to Switzerland, it is not worth
the trouble of going out of one’s way; neither are the bronze statues in
the cathedral. Trent alone, of all the places on your route, seems to me
worthy of your interest.

Why should you not go to Sicily to see Etna, which is said to be at his
pranks again? You are never sea-sick, and it is probable that boats
leave Naples especially to view the spectacle. In about a week’s journey
you will have been able to see Etna, Palermo, and Syracuse.

I have again revised _The Bear_, whom you know, and I have polished him
up with some care. Many things in the story are changed for the better,
I think. The title and the names are changed also. For persons with as
little intelligence as you, the manners of that bear will always seem to
be mysterious. But no matter how perspicacious one may be, one will
never be able to decide anything to his disadvantage. An infinity of
things remain unexplained in the story. Physicians tell me that
plantigrades, more than any other beasts, are capable of intercourse
with human beings; but such examples are rare, naturally, bears being
not exactly attractive....

Where is the point of that discourse of M. de Nieuwerkerke mentioned in
all the papers, and contradicted later? How stupid we are getting to be!
Our progress in this is rapid. Did you have the curiosity to go to hear
the discussion in the Hall of the Pré-aux-Clercs on marriage and
heredity? They say that part of it was most amusing, and, on reflection,
terrifying, when one considers the number of imbeciles and mad dogs
running the streets. I am told that there are women who make speeches,
and who are neither the least mad, or the least stupid. Such symptoms as
these make me shudder. The people of this land are voluntarily blind.

Good-bye, dear friend. I wish you a happy New Year.



CCCXIV


CANNES, _February 23, 1869_.

Do not be offended with me, dear friend, if I do not write to you. I
have no encouraging news to give you of myself, and what is the
advantage of sending you bad reports? The fact is, I am still
dangerously ill, and I now realise that my malady is incurable. I have
tried I know not how many infallible remedies; I have been in the hands
of three or four physicians of great skill, not one of whom has given me
the slightest relief. I am mistaken. Some time ago, in Nice, I came
across an unusually intelligent man, somewhat of a charlatan, perhaps,
who gave me, without pay, some capsules, which relieved me from a very
painful feeling of suffocation which caused me great distress every
night. Now, I suffer from it in the morning, but with less violence,
and the attacks do not last so long. As for the bronchitis, which is the
obstinate feature of my disease, it is well established.

Suffering and sad as I am, I have not the strength to read, and I have,
besides, hardly any books. These past days I have read with interest the
_Mémoires d’un Paysan Écossais_, who by dint of intelligence and
application became a man of letters, a professor of geology, and a
celebrated man. Unfortunately, he cut his throat not long ago, hard work
having, without doubt, affected his mind. Hugh Miller is his name.

I think you will find my _Bear_ more presentable under his new form.
Whenever I am able to paint I make illustrations for the story, so that
when I return to Paris I may present it to the empress. Do not imagine
that I am representing all the scenes--that one, for example, in which
the bear forgets himself.

Good-bye, dear friend. I regret for your sake that you will not return
to Rome this year. Everything, it seems to me, is going wrong. There is
no longer any Spain; soon there will be no Holy See. The loss will be
more or less serious according to one’s point of view. But it is
something which should be seen once (like many other things), in order
that one may suffer no temptations nor regrets. Good-bye....



CCCXV


CANNES, _March 19, 1869_.

DEAR FRIEND: I have been very ill. I am now convalescent, very weak
still, but out of all danger, so they tell me. It was an acute attack of
bronchitis which aggravated my chronic bronchitis. For four or five days
my life was in danger, but now I am up. I walk about in my room, and
will be allowed soon to walk in the sunshine.

Good-bye, dear friend. Health and prosperity.



CCCXVI


CANNES, _April 23, 1869_.

DEAR FRIEND: I shall leave here day after to-morrow. I am in pretty poor
plight, but I am obliged to leave this place. My cousin, in whose home I
live, is dead, and his poor widow has no one with her. I am still very
weak, but think I am able to endure the trip. I shall notify you as soon
as I arrive, and hope to find you in good health. Good-bye, dear
friend.



CCCXVII


PARIS, _Sunday, May 2, 1869_.

DEAR FRIEND: I have been in Paris several days, but I was so exhausted
from the journey, and so ill, that I had not the courage to write to
you. Come to see me, and console me. Good-bye.



CCCXVIII


PARIS, _May 4, 1869_.

I am distressed that you did not wait two minutes. You did not allow
them to tell me, and contented yourself by returning my book, and this
you call a visit to a sick man! Your charity was easily satisfied. But
it does not count; besides, I am a little better, and need you to go to
the Exposition with me, where I have no desire to see daubs and
nudities.

You shall be my guide. Do you remember the time when I was yours? Tell
me what day will suit you. Good-bye, dear friend.



CCCXIX


PARIS, _Saturday, June 12, 1869_.

DEAR FRIEND: This dull weather, with its alternations of heat and cold,
worries me and does me great harm; besides, I am in a beastly humour.
The uproar that takes place every night on the boulevards, which reminds
me of the fine times of 1848, contributes no little to my melancholy,
and makes me feel, with Hamlet, that “man delights me not, nor woman
neither.”

What afflicts me the most in all this sad business, is its profound
stupidity. This people, which calls itself, and believes that it is, the
most intellectual on earth, expresses its desire to enjoy a Republican
form of government by demolishing the stands where poor people sell
newspapers. They shriek, _Vive la Lanterne!_ and break the street-lamps.
It is enough to make one hide his face. The danger is that there is for
stupidity a sort of emulation, as for everything else, and between the
Chambers and the Government, God only knows what the result will be.

I spend my time deciphering letters of the duke of Alba and of Philip
II, which the empress gave me. Both of them wrote like cats. I am
beginning to read Philip II, easily enough; but his captain-general is
still very troublesome. I have just read one of his letters to his
august master, written a few days after the death of count Egmont, in
which he pities the fate of the countess, who has not a loaf of bread
left, after having had a dowry of ten thousand florins. Philip II has
an intricate and tedious way of saying the simplest things. It is very
difficult to divine his meaning, and it seems to me that his constant
intention is to confuse his reader and leave him to his own powers of
initiation. The two make the most detestable pair of men that ever
existed, and neither of them, unfortunately, was hanged, which is
nothing to the credit of Providence.

I have also received from England a curious book, in which it is claimed
that _Jeanne la Folle_ was not mad, but heretical, and that, on this
account, papa, mamma, her husband, and her son all concerted to keep her
in prison, and from time to time, to have her suffer a taste of torture.
You shall read it, if you like; the book is at your service.

I have nothing encouraging to tell you of my health, which is not
flourishing; a little better, it may be, than before I came.
Nevertheless, I cough constantly, and can neither eat nor sleep.

Good-bye, dear friend. Write to me soon.



CCCXX


PARIS, _June 29, 1869_.

Thanks for your letter, dear friend. I am furious with poets and their
pretended temperate climates. There is no spring, there is not even any
summer. To-day, I ventured out of doors, and came back shivering. When I
think that there are people who go to the woods, and even talk of love
in this bitter weather, I am tempted to exclaim at the miracle. I say to
myself that it is done every day. I am mistaken; it is impossible; it
has never been done, even in the past.

I have finished the history of Princess Tarakanof, who was a saucy
baggage, but she had a lover whose letters will amuse you. He suffered
the fate of many mortals. I hope the _Journal des Savants_ penetrates as
far as ----; if not, I will try to send it to you.

I am going, Thursday, to Saint Cloud, where I shall remain, probably,
about a fortnight. I am not sure how I shall endure the life there,
although I am, they tell me, almost the only guest invited. Besides, if
I become ill I can in an hour be reinstated at my own fireside. I have
told you something of the tribulations that I suffer here in my home,
so that I will confess to you, it is not without joy that I am going
away. Since your departure I have had two or three most tiresome scenes.

I am reading, with the greatest difficulty, Renan’s Saint Paul.
Decidedly, he is a monomaniac as to scenery. Instead of sticking to his
subject, he describes the woods and the meadows. If I were an abbé I
should delight in writing an article for him to review. Have you read
the harangue of our holy father, the Pope?...

I am confident that both in word and in deed we are about to be guilty
of enormities for which there will not be enough baked apples in the
world. Alas! this may end in harder projectiles! What a misfortune that
the modern mind is so dull! Do you think it has ever been so before?
There have been ages, doubtless, in which there were more ignorance,
more barbarism, more absurdity, but now and then some brilliant genius
appeared to make compensation; while to-day, it seems to me that all
intellectuality is on a plane which is miserably low.

As I scarcely ever go out, I read a great deal. I have had sent me the
works of Baudelaire, which have made me furious. Baudelaire was crazy!
He died in a hospital, after having written some verses which attracted
the good opinion of Victor Hugo, and which possessed no other merit than
that of being immoral. Now they are making him out to be a man of
genius, who was misunderstood!

I saw yesterday an exquisite drawing of a marvellous fresco discovered
in Pompeii. It appears to be a procession in honour of Cybele, to whom
Hercules is making a visit. Standing before Cybele is a gentleman
divested of modesty; some others are bearing a serpent with much pomp--a
serpent coiled around a tree. I understand nothing of the subject. You
saw in Pompeii the little temple of Isis; it was near this that the
fresco in question was found.

Good-bye, dear friend. Write to me, in order that I may see you in
passing. From now on for several days, you may address me at the Palace
of Saint Cloud.



CCCXXI


PARIS, _Wednesday night_, _August 5, 1869_.

... I spent a month at Saint Cloud, in a passable condition of health. I
was never perfectly well mornings and nights, but the days were not bad.
The open-air life did me good, I think, and gave me a little strength.
On my return, Sunday, I had a most distressing attack of exhaustion,
which continued two days. Then my physician at Cannes arrived, with a
new remedy of his own invention, which cured me. They are eucalyptus
tablets, and the eucalyptus is a tree native to Australia, which has
been naturalized in Cannes. I am doing well, provided it lasts, as the
man said while he was falling from a fourth-story window.

At Saint Cloud I read _The Bear_ before a very select audience, among
whom were several young ladies who understood nothing, it seemed to me;
and, since it caused no offence, I have a desire to present the story to
the _Revue_. Tell me your way of thinking thereon, and try to point out
very clearly the pros and cons. You must not overlook the progress in
hypocrisy which the age has made in late years. What will your friends
say about it? Besides, one may as well write his stories for himself,
for those that are written by others are not exactly interesting.... Are
you not grieved for your holy mother, the Church, by the accident at
Cracow? If one were to observe attentively, I am sure one would find
that such things are occurring elsewhere. You must read the account of
the affair in the _Times_....

I dined, a few days ago, with the guileless Isabelle. I found her
better than I had expected. The husband, who is quite small, is a very
polite gentleman, who made me many compliments, nor were they badly
turned either. The prince of the Asturias is most affable, and has an
intelligent expression.... He resembles ----, and also the children of
Velasquez’ time.

I am dreadfully bored. It is excessively hot at the Luxembourg, and all
this matter of the Senate Council is anything but agreeable. They are
going to open the establishment to the public, of which I disapprove
strongly.[43]

Good-bye, dear friend. Write me something cheerful, for I am full of
sadness. I have great need of your mirthsomeness and of your real
presence.



CCCXXII


PARIS, _September 7, 1869_.

DEAR FRIEND: Do you expect to remain much longer at ----? Shall you not
return here soon? While I have not as yet felt any sign of the approach
of winter, I am beginning to look towards the South, for I have promised
myself not to allow myself to be surprised by the cold. For several days
I have been a little better, or, to speak more exactly, less ill. I
have taken compressed-air baths, which have done me a little good, and I
follow a new treatment which is tolerably successful. I am still
solitary. I never go out at night, and see almost no one. By the help of
all these precautions I am alive, or nearly so. Bülow succeeded in
enticing me off.

At Saint Cloud the empress had me read _The Bear_ (it is called _Lokis_
now, which is bear in _Jmoude_) before some young girls, who, as I think
I told you, understood nothing at all. This encourages me, and on the
15th of this month the thing will appear in the _Revue_. I have made
several changes besides the names, and I wished to make still others,
but my courage failed me. You will tell me what you think of it.

Yesterday we concluded our little matter.[44] I am uncertain as to the
result. The respectable public is so hopelessly stupid, that what it
formerly desired, now inspires it with fear. I have a suspicion that the
bourgeois, who voted for M. Ferry a few months ago, now think that
before some days in June, more or less remote, he will find himself
disarmed. His distinguishing characteristic is never to be satisfied,
with his own achievements especially.

The emperor’s illness is not serious, but it may be tedious, and there
may be a return of it. It is said, and I am inclined to believe it, that
the great journey to the Orient will be countermanded; possibly the
strained relations existing between the sultan and the viceroy are
considered of sufficient importance to wreck the plans for the proposed
excursion.

Have you read, in the _Journal des Savants_, the history of the princess
Tarakanof? This is not new, however, and I believe I have shown you the
proofs.

I have in mind to write, this winter, a _Life of Cervantes_, to serve as
a preface to a new edition of _Don Quixote_. Has it been a long time
since you have read _Don Quixote_? Does it still amuse you? Have you
ever tried to explain why? I find it amusing, and yet I can give no
valid reason; on the contrary, I can think of many things about the book
which should prove that it is worthless; nevertheless, it is excellent.
I should like to know your ideas on the subject. Do me the kindness to
read over several chapters, and ask yourself these questions. I depend
on you to do me this favour.

Good-bye. I hope the month will not pass without seeing you.



CCCXXIII


CANNES, _November 11, 1869_.

DEAR FRIEND: I am here in the most glorious weather imaginable, and the
most persistently such; to the despair of the gardeners, who can not
make their cabbages grow. I regret to see that I am hardly better than
if the weather were bad. Mornings and evenings I have always very
painful attacks of exhaustion. I can not walk without becoming tired and
losing my breath; in fact, I am still good for nothing and miserable.

Besides, I have had some serious worries. P., whom I brought with me,
became suddenly so sullen and impertinent, that I was compelled to
discharge her. You may imagine that to lose a servant who has been with
you for forty years is not an agreeable thing. Fortunately, she soon
repented, and begged my pardon with such persistence that I had a
sufficiently good excuse to yield, and keep her. It is so difficult
nowadays to find a reliable servant, and P. has many excellent
qualities, which it would have been impossible for me to replace. I hope
the anger and firmness which I showed, and of which, between ourselves,
I scarcely thought myself capable, will have a salutary effect in the
future, and prevent any return of such episodes.

I dined yesterday in Nice with M. Thiers, who is much changed physically
since the death of Madame Dosne, but not at all mentally, it seemed to
me. His mother-in-law was the soul of his home. She it was who made a
salon for him, attracted to it desirable people, and understood how to
be agreeable both to political and other guests. In short, she reigned
in a court composed of heterogeneous elements, and had the skill to turn
them all to the profit of M. Thiers. A life of solitude has now begun
for him; his wife will take part in nothing.

Politically, I found Thiers even more changed. Seeing the unbounded
folly that has taken possession of this land, he has once more become
reasonable, and is preparing to combat it, as he did in 1849. I fear
that he overestimates his strength. It is much easier to burst the
goat-skin bottles of Æolus than to mend them again and make them
air-tight. It seems to me probable that we shall have a struggle; the
chassepot rifle is invincible, and will give the populace of Paris a
historic lesson, as general Changarnier said. Still, is there any
assurance that it will serve its purpose? and, if it should serve its
purpose, what will happen? The officials of the government have become
impossible; and the parliamentary government, insincere, dishonest, and
devoid of capable men, seems to me no less impossible. In fact, to me
the future, and I might say the present, is as gloomy as it is possible
to be.

Good-bye, dear friend. Take good care of yourself, and write to me.



CCCXXIV


CANNES, _January 6, 1870_.

DEAR FRIEND: I thank you for your letter, and for your good wishes. I
did not reply at once, because I did not have the physical strength. The
cold weather, which has come upon us suddenly, is very severe, and has
done me a great deal of harm. I feel a little better to-day, and take
advantage of it to write to you. I am deeply discouraged; nothing does
me any good. I try all the remedies, and find myself again back at the
point from which I started; after a few days of relief, the disease
manifests itself again as forcibly as ever. I sleep wretchedly, and with
the greatest difficulty.

Not only do I not eat, but all kinds of nourishment inspire in me a
feeling of disgust. Nearly all day I suffer frightfully, sometimes
accompanied with spasms of pain. I read with great difficulty, and
frequently do not understand the words under my eyes. I have an idea of
something which I should like to put into a work, but how is it possible
to write in the midst of these troubles! So you see, dear friend, the
situation in which I find myself. I have the certainty that a slow and
painful death is to be my fate. I must become reconciled to it.

The political situation, of which I understand nothing at all, is not
calculated to offer me an agreeable distraction. It seems to me that we
are marching on to a revolution, which will be more disastrous than the
one through which we passed so blithesomely twenty years ago. I should
like the performance to be delayed a little while, so that I may not
attend it.

It froze here at six degrees, a phenomenon which has not occurred since
1821, so say the oldest inhabitants; all the gardens have been ruined.
The cold snap came just when one might have supposed it to be midsummer;
the season was advanced, and everything in bloom. It was lamentable to
see great, beautiful plants, full of blossoms, from seven to eight feet
tall in the evening, in one night reduced to the consistency of spinach.

Good-bye, dear friend. Keep well, and let me sometimes hear from you. I
wish you a happy New Year....



CCCXXV


CANNES, _February 10, 1870_.

DEAR FRIEND: If I have not written to you for a long time, it is because
I have had nothing but sad things to tell you of myself. I am more and
more ailing, and the life I lead is truly miserable. I sleep hardly at
all, and suffer nearly all the time I am awake. Besides, the winter has
been a frightful one. All the lovely flowers which made the glory of the
country have been destroyed, many of the orange-trees have been frozen,
and not enough flowers are left to make you any pomade. Imagine the
effect produced on a being nervous as I, by rain, hail, and cold. One
suffers here ten times more from all these than he would in Paris.

So, then, you have had an insurrection, which was as silly as the
hero[45] who was its instigator. We present a melancholy spectacle of
ourselves, by the fashion in which we make use of our liberty and of
parliamentary government. It is impossible not to be struck by the
really laughable audacity with which propositions of the most monstrous
kind are presented and maintained in the Chambers, which no one would
dare to utter in a salon. This representative government is a comedy
which one can hardly call amusing. Everybody in it lies with effrontery,
and nevertheless, every one lets himself be taken in by the most skilful
liar. There are persons who consider Crémieux eloquent, and think that
Rochefort is a worthy citizen. We were certainly stupid enough in 1848,
but we are even more so to-day.

I am making the experiment of using a paper of English manufacture, and
do not know whether you will be able to read what I write. I have just
translated for the _Revue_ a novel by Tourguenieff, which will appear
next month. I am writing for myself, and perhaps for you, a little story
in which the situation is largely one of love.

Good-bye. I wish you health and prosperity.



CCCXXVI


CANNES, _April 7, 1870_.

I have not written before, because I had only bad news to give you. I
have been constantly, if not ill, at any rate in pain. I am still so. I
am distressingly weak, and I am unable to walk a hundred steps from my
home without sitting down several times to rest. Frequently, especially
in the night, I have attacks of excruciating pain, which last a long
time. “Nerves!” they tell me. Now, medicine, as you know, is almost
ineffectual when it is a question of nerves.

Last Monday, wishing to make an experiment and find out if I could stand
the journey to Paris, I went to Nice, and made a few calls. I thought at
one time that I should be guilty of the indiscretion of dying in the
home of a person whom I did not know intimately enough to take that
liberty with. I returned here in a bad condition, and spent twenty-four
hours in a state of suffocation.

Yesterday I was a little better. I went out and walked along the
sea-shore, followed by a folding-chair on which I sat down every ten
steps. Such is my life. I hope by the end of the month to be able to
start for Paris. Will it be possible? I often wonder if I shall be
strong enough to climb my stairway. You, who know so many things, do you
know of some apartment in which I might put away my books and myself,
without climbing many steps? I should not care to be too far away from
the Institute.

I received a letter, very well turned, from M. Émile Ollivier,
soliciting my vote.[46] I replied to him that I was no longer of this
world. I think he will be elected without opposition.

How right you are in your judgment that we have gone mad! The clumsy
assertion that to consult the people concerning the constitution is to
create a despotism, is proof sufficient of what false metal it is cast!
But the saddest of all is that no one is revolted by such absurdity. In
reality, we are living in a period when there is no longer such a thing
as ridicule or absurdity. Anything is said and anything is printed
without shame.

I do not know when the review of Cervantes will appear; it will precede
a splendid and beautiful edition of _Don Quixote_, which I will make you
read one of these days. As for the story which I mentioned to you I
shall reserve it to come out with my posthumous works. Still, if you
wish to read it in manuscript, you may have this pleasure, which will
take a quarter of an hour.

Good-bye, dear friend. Take good care of yourself. Health is the best of
possessions. I shall not stir from here before the end of April. I
expect to find you in Paris. Again good-bye.



CCCXXVII


CANNES, _May 15, 1870_.

DEAR FRIEND: I have been very ill, and am still. I have been allowed
only the last few days to venture out of doors. I am horribly weak, yet
am encouraged to hope that by the end of next week I may start on my
journey. I shall return, probably, by easy stages, for I could not
endure twenty-four hours of steady railroad travel.

My health is irrevocably ruined. I can not yet accustom myself to this
life of privation and suffering, but whether I am resigned or not, I am
condemned to it. I wish I might at least find distraction in occupation;
but, in order to work, I need to have an amount of strength which is
lacking. I envy greatly some of my friends who have been enabled to
depart this life suddenly, with no suffering, and with none of the
vexatious warnings that come to me day by day.

The political turmoil of which you speak has penetrated also to this
little corner of the earth. I have seen here plainly instances of the
ignorance and stupidity of men. I am convinced that very few voters have
any conception of what they are doing. The Reds, who are in the
majority here, have persuaded the imbeciles, who are even more numerous,
that the matter at stake is the establishment of new taxes. Anyway, the
result was fortunate.[47] “It is well cut out; now it is a question of
sewing,” as Catherine de Medici said to Henry III. Unfortunately, I can
see in this land of ours, just now, scarcely any one who is skilful in
the use of the needle.

What do you think of my friend M. Thiers, who, after the experience of
the banquets of 1848, has resumed the same tactics? It is said that
magpies are never caught, twice running, with the same snare; but men,
and men of intelligence, are more easily snared.

I am thinking of giving up my lodging, and I should like to find one
nearer the ground, and in your quarter. Can you give me any information
and any suggestions on this subject?...

Nothing could be more beautiful than the country about here at this
season. Flowers abound everywhere in such profusion, and of such beauty,
that verdure in the landscape is exceptional. Good-bye.



CCCXXVIII


PARIS, _June 26, 1870_.

DEAR FRIEND: I have been ill for a month. It is impossible for me to do
anything, even read. I am a great sufferer, and have little hope. This
may endure, perhaps, a long time.

I have put one of the shelves of my library in order, and am keeping for
you the _Lettres de Madame de Sévigné_, in twelve volumes, and a small
Shakespeare. When you return to Paris I will send them to you. I thank
you for thinking of me.



CCCXXIX


PARIS, _July 18, 1870_.

DEAR FRIEND: I have been, and am still, very ill. For six weeks I have
been unable to leave my room, and almost my bed. This is the third or
fourth attack of bronchitis I have had since the beginning of the year.
This promises nothing good for the approaching winter. When the heat of
summer offers me no protection against colds, how will it be when winter
comes?

I think that one must needs be admirably well, and have nerves of
singular vigour, not to be too deeply affected by the events of to-day.
I need not tell you how I feel. I am among those who believe that the
thing could not be avoided.[48] The explosion might have been retarded,
perhaps, but it was impossible to avert it altogether. Here, war is more
popular than it has ever been, even among the bourgeois. There is a
great deal of mouthing, which is assuredly unfortunate; but men are
volunteering, and money is being subscribed, which is the essential
point. Military men are full of confidence, but when one considers that
the whole future hangs on the chance of a bullet or a ball, it is
difficult to share that confidence.

Good-bye for the present, dear friend. I am already fatigued from
writing you these two little pages. I am ailing to the last degree;
still my physicians say that I am better, but I can not perceive it. I
have not sent the books to your house, fearing there might be no one
there to receive them.

Good-bye once more. I kiss you from my heart.



CCCXXX


PARIS, _Tuesday, August 9, 1870_.

DEAR FRIEND: I think it would be well for you not to come to Paris just
now. I fear that in a little while there will be some lamentable scenes
here. The streets are full of downcast, discouraged people, and drunken
men singing the “Marseillaise.” Great disorder prevails. The army has
been, and is, admirable, but is seems that we have no generals. All may
still be repaired; but, for that, a miracle would be necessary.

I am no worse, only overwhelmed by the situation. I am writing to you
from the Luxembourg, where we do nothing but exchange hopes and fears.
Give me some news of yourself. Good-bye.



CCCXXXI


PARIS, _August 29, 1870_.

DEAR FRIEND: I thank you for your letter. I am still very ill and
nervous. One would be so with less cause. The situation looks black to
me. For a few days, however, it has mended slightly. The military men
manifest confidence. The soldiers and the militia are fighting perfectly
together; it appears that the army of Maréchal Bazaine has accomplished
prodigies of valour, although it has always fought one against three.
Now, to-morrow, perhaps to-day, another great battle is looked for.
These last engagements have been frightful. The Prussians conduct war by
hand-to-hand fighting. Until the present, this method has been
successful for them, but it seems that near Metz the carnage was such as
to give them cause for reflection. It is said that the young ladies of
Berlin have lost all their partners in the dance. If we could escort the
rest back to the frontier,--or bury them here, which would be better--we
should not have reached the limit of our troubles. This terrible
butchery, we must not deceive ourselves, is but the prologue to a
tragedy of which the devil alone knows the catastrophe. A nation is not
shaken like ours has been without suffering for it. It is inconceivable
that from our victory, as from our defeat, a revolution will not come.
All the blood which has been shed, or which will be shed, is to the
profit of the Republic--that is, of organised disorder.

Good-bye, dear friend. Remain at P.; there you are safe. We are still
very calm here, awaiting with great composure the arrival of the
Prussians; but the devil will not be the loser thereby. Again
good-bye....



CCCXXXII


CANNES, _September 23, 1870_.[49]

DEAR FRIEND: I am very ill--so ill, that it is a difficult matter to
write. There is a slight improvement. I will write to you soon, I hope,
more in detail. Send to my house in Paris, for the _Lettres de Madame de
Sévigné_, and a Shakespeare. I should have had them taken to you, but I
went away. Good-bye. I embrace you.


FOOTNOTES:

[1] One would suppose that in Saint Clair, a character in _The Etruscan
Vase_, he has drawn himself: “He was naturally tender-hearted and
affectionate, but at an age when lasting impressions are too easily
formed, his over-transparent sensitiveness subjected him to the
derision of his companions.... From that time he made it his business
to conceal all appearances of what he regarded as a contemptible
weakness.... In society he gained the unfortunate reputation of being
unfeeling and indifferent.... He had travelled widely, and read much,
yet he spoke of his travels and reading only when it was absolutely
necessary.” Darcy, in _The Double Mistake_, is another character
resembling his own.

[2] The following is one of his generous and delicate actions;
Béranger, in a similar experience, did the same: “When I went to Spain,
I was on the point of falling in love. It was one of the beautiful
acts of my life. The woman who was the cause of my voyage never
suspected it. Had I remained, I might have committed, possibly, a great
blunder--that of offering a woman worthy of enjoying every happiness
that one may have on earth, in exchange for the loss of all that was
dear to her, an affection which I realized was far inferior to the
sacrifice that she would probably have made.”

[3] The Résident in _The Spaniards in Denmark_, the Count and other
gentlemen in _The Conspirators_, Kermouton and the Butter Merchant in
_The Two Heirs_. But on the other hand, what true analyses are the
characters of Clémence, of Sévin, and of Miss Jackson!

[4] _Letters to an Unknown_, Vol. II, p. 294.

[5] _Letters to an Unknown_, I, p. 7. “Abandon your optimistic ideas
and realise that we are in this world to struggle and contend with our
fellows.... Learn, also, that nothing is more common than to do wrong
merely for the pleasure of doing it.”

[6]

    No man knows the gods so well,
    That he may be sure of living until to-morrow.



[7] Mr. Sutton Sharpe, a highly distinguished English advocate.

[8] Upon the occasion of his nomination to membership in the Academy of
Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres.

[9] His election to the French Academy occurred the 14th, two days
after this letter was written.

[10] His election to membership in the French Academy.

[11] The occasion of his reception at the French Academy.

[12] This letter was written originally in English. It is given
unchanged.--TRANSLATOR.

[13] The trial of the suit relating to Libri.

[14] M. Nogent Saint-Laurens.

[15] _Loa_, a sort of conversational dithyramb, in honour of the person
for whom the celebration is given.

[16] Implicated in the Orsini affair. The French Government requested
his extradition, which England refused to grant.

[17] Marshal Pélissier, the duc de Malakoff.

[18] The Princess Clotilde had just married Prince Napoleon.

[19] The war in Italy.

[20] The address of the emperor, on his return from Italy.

[21] The last _Letters of Madame du Deffand_, which had just been
published.

[22] The visit of the emperor and empress.

[23] On the occasion of the burial of Prince Jerome.

[24] To Scotland.

[25] The emperor of Austria.

[26] They were bored with the melodies. It is impossible to translate
the pun into English.--TRANSLATOR.

[27] The Senate.

[28] The Libri matter, and the sessions of the Senate.

[29] _Le sel pour le pain_: Salt for the bread.

[30] _Bogdan Chmielnicki_, published in the volume entitled _The
Cossacks of the Past_.

[31] _Troplong_--Too long.--TRANSLATOR.

[32] _Bousingots._ Slang expression: wineshop, “lush-crib.” Also, a
Republican or Literary Bohemian of the first years of Louis Philippe’s
reign.--TRANSLATOR.

[33] Report on musical copyright, which he was appointed to present to
the Senate.

[34] _Le Lion Amoureux._

[35] On his nomination as Grand Officer in the Legion of Honour.

[36] _Une Passion dans le Grand Monde._

[37] On popular libraries, at the session of the Senate, June 25, 1867.

[38] Distribution of prizes to the exhibitors.

[39] The death of Maximilian.

[40] For Biarritz.

[41] This is the novel which was afterwards published under the title
of Lokis.

[42] Lokis.

[43] The sessions of the Senate were going to be public.

[44] Adoption of the plan of the Senate Council, session of September
6, 1869.

[45] Victor Noir.

[46] For the French Academy.

[47] The vote of the plebiscite.

[48] The war with Prussia.

[49] Last letter, written two hours before his death.

       *       *       *       *       *

Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:

vol. I

kiss your hands must humbly=> kiss your hands most humbly {pg 55}

a heard of American bison=> a herd of American bison {pg 313}

vol. II

beautiful Greeek literature=> beautiful Greek literature {pg 117}

I can not concieve=> I can not conceive {pg 124}

Bagnéres-de-Bigorre=> Bagnères-de-Bigorre {pg 172}

his views of Napoleon and and his comparison=> his views of Napoleon and
his comparison {pg 177}

I have even seen=> I have ever seen {pg 169}

Saturady=> Saturday {pg 170}

Antionette=> Antoinette {pg 272}

I am begining=> I am beginning {pg 305}





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Letters to an Unknown" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home