The George Sand-Gustave Flaubert Letters

CLXXII. To George Sand Croisset, Wednesday, 3 August, 1870

What! dear master, you too are demoralized, sad? What will become of the weak souls?

As for me, my heart is oppressed in a way that astonishes me, and I wallow in a bottomless melancholy, in spite of work, in spite of the good Saint-Antoine who ought to distract me. Is it the consequence of my repeated afflictions? Perhaps. But the war is a good deal responsible for it. I think that we are getting into the dark.

Behold then, the NATURAL MAN. Make theories now! Boast the progress, the enlightenment and the good sense of the masses, and the gentleness of the French people! I assure you that anyone here who ventured to preach peace would get himself murdered. Whatever happens, we have been set back for a long time to come.

Are the wars between races perhaps going to begin again? One will see, before a century passes, several millions of men kill one another in one engagement. All the East against all Europe, the old world against the new! Why not? Great united works like the Suez Canal are, perhaps, under another form, outlines and preparations for these monstrous conflicts of which we have no idea.

Is Prussia perhaps going to have a great drubbing which entered into the schemes of Providence for reestablishing European equilibrium? That country was tending to be hypertrophied like France under Louis XIV and Napoleon. The other organs are inconvenienced by it. Thence universal trouble. Would formidable bleedings be useful?

Ah! we intellectuals! Humanity is far from our ideal! and our immense error, our fatal error, is to think it like us and to want to treat it accordingly.

The reverence, the fetichism, that they have for universal suffrage revolts me more than the infallibility of the pope (which has just delightfully missed its point, by the way). Do you think that if France, instead of being governed on the whole by the crowd, were in the power of the mandarins, we should be where we are now? If, instead of having wished to enlighten the lower classes, we had busied ourselves with instructing the higher, we should not have seen M. de Keratry proposing the pillage of the duchy of Baden, a measure that the public finds very proper!

Are you studying Prudhomme now? He is gigantic! He admires Musset’s Rhin, and asks if Musset has done anything else. Here you have Musset accepted as the national poet and ousting Beranger! What immense buffoonery is . . . everything! But a not at all gay buffoonery.

Misery is very evident. Everyone is in want, beginning with myself! But perhaps we were too accustomed to comfort and tranquillity. We buried ourselves in material things. We must return to the great tradition, hold no longer to life, to happiness, to money nor to anything; be what our grandfathers were, light, effervescing people.

Once men passed their life in starving. The same prospect is on the horizon. What you tell me about poor Nohant is terrible. The country has suffered less here than with you.

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