You want to see me, and you need me, and you don’t come see me! That is not nice; for I too, and all of us here, sigh for you. We parted so gaily eighteen months ago, and so many atrocious things have happened in the meantime! Seeing each other would be the consolation due us. For my part, I cannot stir, I have not a penny, and I have to work like a negro. And then I have not seen a single Prussian, and I would like to keep my eyes pure from that stain. Ah! my friend, what years we are going through! We cannot go back again, for hope departs with the rest.
What will be the reaction from the infamous Commune? Isidore or Henry V. or the kingdom of incendiaries restored by anarchy? I who have had so much patience with my species and who have so long looked on the bright side, now see nothing but darkness. I judge others by myself. I had improved my real character, I had extinguished useless and dangerous enthusiasms, I had sowed grass and flowers that grew well on my volcanoes, and I imagined that all the world could become enlightened, could correct itself, or restrain itself; that the years passed over me and over my contemporaries could not be lost to reason and experience: and now I awaken from a dream to find a generation divided between idiocy and delirium tremens! Everything is possible at present.
However, it is bad to despair. I shall make a great effort, and perhaps I shall become just and patient again; but today I cannot. I am as troubled as you, and I don’t dare to talk, nor to think, nor to write, I have such a fear of touching the wounds open in every soul.
I have indeed received your other letter, and I was waiting for courage to answer it; I would like to do only good to those I love, especially to you, who feel so keenly. I am no good at this moment. I am filled with a devouring indignation and a disgust which is killing me.
I love you, that is all I know. My children say the same. Embrace your good little mother for me.
Where are you, my dear old troubadour?
I don’t write to you, I am quite troubled in the depths of my soul. But that will pass, I hope; but I am ill with the illness of my nation and my race. I cannot isolate myself in my reason and in my own irreproachability. I feel the great bonds loosened and, as it were, broken. It seems to me that we are all going off, I don’t know where. Have you more courage than I have? Give me some of it?
I am sending you the pretty faces of our little girls. They remember you, and tell me I must send you their pictures. Alas! they are girls, we raise them with love like precious plants. What men will they meet to protect them and continue our work? It seems to me that in twenty years there will be only hypocrites and blackguards!