The Material Question

‘During these months I had to be at work at eight in the morning and only finished at ten or eleven in the evening; I spent the rest of the night at Montmartre, not only for my restaurant business, but also for the treatment of an alcoholic who got drunk every night in that quarter, and who gave me a great deal of difficulty because he did not wish to be cured.

‘It is worth mentioning that my external life at this period, when I was spending every night in Montmartre, provided many of those who knew me, or had seen or heard about me, with rich material for gossip. Some envied my opportunities for gay revels, others condemned me. As for me, I would not have wished such revels even for my bitterest enemy.

‘In short, the urgent necessity of finding a stable solution for the financial problem of the Prieuré, the hope of finally freeing myself from these chronic material cares and the wish to be able to devote myself entirely to my real work, that is, to the teaching of the ideas and methods on which the Institute was based—a wish postponed in its fulfilment from year to year owing to circumstances over which I had no control—all led me to make superhuman efforts, regardless of the disastrous consequences that might ensue for me.

‘But in spite of all my reluctance to stop, as is said, half­way, I was compelled again to interrupt everything just before completing the preparation of those conditions which alone would have made it possible to accomplish the fundamental tasks of the Institute.

‘During the last months of this period the state of my health had indeed become so poor that I was compelled to reduce my hours of work. And then, when I began to be affected by certain ailments I had never had before in my life, I confess I became worried and decided to cease all active work, both mental and physical; however, I continually put off doing so up to the day when a bad chill forced me, willy-nilly, to stop everything.

‘The circumstances are worth describing:

‘One evening I finished my work in Paris earlier than usual, at about ten o’clock, and as I had to be at the Prieuré without fail the next morning, where an engineer was coming to discuss plans and estimates for a special steam-bath I intended to construct, I decided to go there at once, go to bed early and have a good sleep. So, without stopping anywhere, not even at my apartment in town, I started off for Fontaine­bleau.