Poor Paris! I think it is heroic. But if we do find it again, it will not be our Paris any more! All the friends that I had there are dead or have disappeared. I have no longer any center. Literature seems to me to be a vain and useless thing! Shall I ever be in a condition to write again?
Oh! if I could flee into a country where one does not see uniforms, where one does not hear the drum, where one does not talk of massacres, where one is not obliged to be a citizen! But the earth is no longer habitable for the poor mandarins.
I am sad no longer. I took up my Saint-Antoine yesterday. So much the worse, one has to get accustomed to it! One must accustom oneself to what is the natural condition of man, that is to say, to evil.
The Greeks at the time of Pericles made art without knowing if they should have anything to eat the next day. Let us be Greeks. I shall confess to you, however, dear master, that I feel rather a savage. The blood of my ancesters, the Natchez or the Hurons, boils in my educated veins, and I seriously, like a beast, like an animal, want to fight!
Explain that to me! The idea of making peace now exasperates me, and I would rather that Paris were burned (like Moscow), than see the Prussians enter it. But we have not gotten to that; I think the wind is turning.
I have read some soldiers’ letters, which are models. One can’t swallow up a country where people write like that. France is a resourceful jade, and will be up again.
Whatever happens, another world is going to begin, and I feel that I am very old to adapt myself to new customs.
Oh! how I miss you, how I want to see you!
We have decided here to all march on Paris if the compatriots of Hegel lay siege to it. Try to get your Berrichons to buck up. Call to them: “Come to help me prevent the enemy from drinking and eating in a country which is foreign to them!”
The war (I hope) will make a home thrust at the “authorities.”
The individual, disowned, overwhelmed by the modern world, will he regain his importance? Let us hope so!
Are you still living? Where are you, Maurice, and the others?
I don’t know how it is that I am not dead, I have suffered so atrociously for six weeks.
My mother has fled to Rouen. My niece is in London. My brother is busy with town affairs, and, as for me, I am alone here, eaten up with impatience and chagrin! I assure you that I have wanted to do right; what misery! I have had at my door today two hundred and seventy-one poor people, and they were all given something. What will this winter be?
The Prussians are now twelve hours from Rouen, and we have no commands, no orders, no discipline, nothing, nothing! They hold out false hopes to us continually with the army of the Loire. Where is it? Do you know anything about it? What are they doing in the middle of France? Paris will end by being starved, and no one is taking her any aid!