NOTE: Mrs. Girardin’s name was mentioned in the conversations that took place at the Society about the current issue, although the spirits did not mention it. This explains the intervention of a new responder in the communication below.
• You invited me, spiritists ladies and gentlemen, to the subject in your last sessions and I believe I have the right to intervene, as they say in the Palace. It was not without pleasure that I heard the profound dissertation by Lamennais and the lively response given by Mr. Buffon. There is, however, the need for a conclusion of the debate. Hence, I intervene and nominate myself the referee, in my own right. As a matter of fact, you requested a critic. I respond: ‘prenez mon ours’ * since you may remember I was famed and feared for my confrontational criticism. I am really pleased to be able to go back to that much loved terrain. Thus, once upon a time… no, no, let us leave aside the trivialities and go directly to the matter at hand. Mr. Buffon, you wielded the maxims very well. It is obvious that you had value from a great century. Nevertheless, however a good a writer you may be, a Viscount of my likes is not afraid of taking the gloves on and crossing the pen with you. Now, my good man! You were very hard on our poor Lamennais, treating him as a downgraded man! Is it his fault of this misled genius, that after masterfully writing his splendid study that you criticized, he turned to other fields and changed his beliefs? In terms of religion the pages of ‘Indifference’ would have been signed by the best scholars of the Church. However, if those pages stood while the priest fell wouldn’t you recognize the cause, you who are so strict? Ah! Look at Rome and remember its degenerate habits and you will find the key to that turnaround. Now! Rome is so far away from Paris!
The Philosophers, the scientists of thoughts, all these harsh diggers of my psychological state must never be confused with the writers of pure form; they write to entertain the public, the latter, write to push the barriers of Science. These are concerned with the truth; the others don’t care about logic, they flee from consistency. In short what they want is what you were looking for yourself, my handsome Sir, that is, fame, popularity, and success, which can be summarized as a good tottering shield. As a matter of fact, with this exception, your witty response is very true and I applaud it with all my heart. The only difference is that you point to the individual while I point to the social. Finally I had to defend my contemporary who, you know well, has never been of habit to frequent cabarets, alleyways or dressing rooms of the ladies, or even suspicious gatherings of low level. From his mansard roof all he did was to feed the noisy sparrows that came to visit him in his cell at Rue de Rivoli. His supreme happiness was to sit at his modest table with a pencil and a notebook at hand with its blank pages. Oh! The sorrow and regrets of that great soul were justifiable since he married the Catholic Church to run away from the filthiness of a materialistic century, just to find it again sitting at the steps of the altar. Is it his fault if he could not probe the depth of the abyss to which he was thrown by the hands of the clergy? Yes, he is right in his bitter cries, as you say. Isn’t he the living image of a misguided education and an imposed vocation?
Renegade Father! Do you know how many inept bourgeois threw such scorn on his face because he obeyed his conscience and convictions? Ah! Believe me happy naturalist; while you sought the beauties and the pen, praised by lovely sinners and applauded by perfumed hands, he painfully climbed his own Calvary! Like Christ, he drank his chalice to the end and hideously carried his cross! And you, lord of Buffon, don’t you offer your own face to criticism, just a little? Let us see! Your style is flashy, like you, all dressed in tacky attire! And also, what an intrepid traveler you were! Have you visited countries… no, unknown libraries? What a tireless pioneer! Have you crossed forests!… no, unreleased and unpublished manuscripts! I agree that you covered your opulent body of works with a glaring varnish, very much like your. But from all those bulky volumes what is it that is actually yours, from your own study, your own contribution? The story of the dog, the cat or perhaps the horse? Ah! Lamennais wrote less than you did but it is all his, lord of Buffon: the form and the bottom line. The other day you were accused of not recognizing the works of the good Bernardin de Saint-Pierre. You excused yourself a little bit ‘Jesuitically’ (hypocritical) but you did not say if you had denied vitality to Paul and Virginia, that is this kind of work, being that you remain still at the great Scudery, or at the great Cyrus, or the land of Tendre **, and finally in all that sentimental rubbish that sells so well today at all the bouquinistes (booksellers at rail stations), the clothing shops of literature!. Ah! Mr. Buffon, those gentlemen no longer think much of you while the utopist Bernardin kept his prestige.
Universal peace, a utopia! Paul and Virginia, a utopia! Your judgment was crushed by public opinion. Let us not talk about it anymore, well, too bad!. You put the pen in my hand, I use it and abuse it. This will teach you, dear spiritists, to be concerned with a retired soldier of the pen like myself, asking for news about me. That Mr. Scribe was stunned with his latest halfsuccesses; he wanted us to establish him at the Academy; but he still lacked the palme verte (Academy recognition award-NT) he was so happy on Earth that he still hesitates to take his new position. Bah! He will be comforted by watching the continuation of his plays and in a few weeks, it will be gone..
Not long ago you were given a charming fantasy not yet finished by Gérard de Nerval. Will that whimsical spirit finish it? Who knows! He wanted to conclude, however, that since the truth of the scholar is not in the true, the beauty of the painter is not in the beautiful and that the courage of the child is hardly rewarded, he did well by following the deviations of his dear fantasy.
Viscount Delaunay (Delphine de Girardin)
NOTE: See Fantasia by Gérard de Nerval below
* An expression from the vaudeville style comedy, L’Ours et le Pacha by Eugene SCRIBE, meaning: to press somebody to get rid of something or somebody annoying (or cumbersome.)
** From the works by Madeline de Scudery.