When shall we meet? Paris does not seem amusing to me. Ah! into what sort of a world are we going to enter! Paganism, Christianity, idiotism, there are the three great evolutions of humanity! It is sad to find ourselves at the beginning of the third.
I shall not tell you all I have suffered since September. Why didn’t I die from it? That is what surprises me! No one was more desperate than I was. Why? I have had bad moments in my life, I have gone through great losses. I have wept a great deal. I have undergone much anguish. Well! all these pangs accumulated together, are nothing in comparison to that. And I cannot get over them! I am not consoled! I have no hope!
Yet I did not see myself as a progressivist and a humanitarian. That doesn’t matter. I had some illusions! What barbarity! What a slump! I am wrathful at my contemporaries for having given me the feelings of a brute of the twelfth century! I’m stifling in gall! These officers who break mirrors with white gloves on, who know Sanskrit and who fling themselves on the champagne, who steal your watch and then send you their visiting card, this war for money, these civilized savages give me more horror than cannibals. And all the world is going to imitate them, is going to be a soldier! Russia has now four millions of them. All Europe will wear a uniform. If we take our revenge, it will be ultra-ferocious, and observe that one is going to think only of that, of avenging oneself on Germany! The government, whatever it is, can support itself only by speculating on that passion. Wholesale murder is going to be the end of all our efforts, the ideal of France!
I cherish the following dream: of going to live in the sun in a tranquil country!
Let us look for new hypocrisies: declamations on virtue, diatribes on corruption, austerity of habits, etc. Last degree of pedantry!
I have now at Croisset twelve Prussians. As soon as my poor dwelling (of which I have a horror now) is emptied and cleaned, I shall return there; then I shall go doubtless to Paris, despite its unhealthfulness! But I don’t care a hang for that.
I received your letter of the 11th yesterday.
We have all suffered in spirit more than at any other time of our lives, and we shall always suffer from that wound. It is evident that the savage instinct tends to take the upper hand; but I fear something worse; it is the egoistic and cowardly instinct; it is the ignoble corruption of false patriots, of ultra-republicans who cry out for vengeance, and who hide themselves; a good pretext for the bourgeois who want a strong reaction. I fear lest we shall not even be vindictive,—all that bragging, coupled with poltroonery, will so disgust us and so impel us to live from day to day as under the Restoration, submitting to everything and only asking to be let alone.