The George Sand-Gustave Flaubert Letters

CLXX. To George Sand Croisset, Wednesday evening . . . 1870

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!

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Last updated Friday, March 14, 2014 at 21:53