As for me, I embrace you tenderly and beg you to keep well.
What has become of you, dear master, of you and yours? As for me, I am disheartened, distressed by the folly of my compatriots. The hopeless barbarism of humanity fills me with a black melancholy. That enthusiasm which has no intelligent motive makes me want to die, so as not to see it any longer.
The good Frenchman wants to fight: (1) because he thinks he is provoked to it by Prussia; (2) because the natural condition of man is savagery; (3) because war in itself contains a mystic element which enraptures crowds.
Have we returned to the wars of races? I fear so. The terrible butchery which is being prepared has not even a pretext. It is the desire to fight for the sake of fighting.
I bewail the destroyed bridges, the staved-in tunnels, all this human labor lost, in short a negation so radical.
The Congress of Peace is wrong at present. Civilization seems to me far off. Hobbes was right: Homo homini lupus.
I have begun Saint-Antoine, and it would go perhaps rather well, if I did not think of the war. And you?
The bourgeois here cannot contain himself. He thinks Prussia was too insolent and wants to “avenge himself.” Did you see that a gentleman has proposed in the Chamber the pillage of the duchy of Baden! Ah! why can’t I live among the Bedouins!
I think this war is infamous; that authorized Marseillaise, a sacrilege. Men are ferocious and conceited brutes; we are in the half as much of Pascal; when will come the more than ever!
It is between 40 and 45 degrees in the shade here. They are burning the forests; another barbarous stupidity! The wolves come and walk into our court, and we chase them away at night, Maurice with a revolver and I with a lantern. The trees are losing their leaves and perhaps their lives. Water for drinking is becoming scarce; the harvests are almost nothing; but we have war, what luck!
Farming is going to nought, famine threatens, poverty is lurking about while waiting to transform itself into Jacquerie; but we shall fight with the Prussians. Malbrough s’en va-t-en guerre!
You said rightly that in order to work, a certain lightness was needed; where is it to be found in these accursed times?
Happily, we have no one ill at our house. When I see Maurice and Lina acting, Aurore and Gabrielle playing, I do not dare to complain for fear of losing all.
I love you, my dear old friend, we all love you.