The George Sand-Gustave Flaubert Letters

CLXXXVII. To Gustave Flaubert, at Croisset. Nohant, 28 April, 1871

No, certainly I do not forget you! I am sad, sad, that is to say, that I am stunned, that I watch the spring, that I am busy, that I talk as if there were nothing; but I have not been able to be alone an instant since that horrible occurrence without falling into a bitter despair. I make great efforts to prevent it; I do not want to be discouraged; I do not want to deny the past and dread the future; but it is my will, it is my reason that struggles against a profound impression unsurmountable up to the present moment.

That is why I did not want to write to you before feeling better, not that I am ashamed to have crises of depression, but because I did not want to increase your sadness already so profound, by adding the weight of mine to it. For me, the ignoble experiment that Paris is attempting or is undergoing, proves nothing against the laws of the eternal progression of men and things, and, if I have gained any principles in my mind, good or bad, they are neither shattered nor changed by it. For a long time I have accepted patience as one accepts the sort of weather there is, the length of winter, old age, lack of success in all its forms. But I think that partisans (sincere) ought to change their formulas or find out perhaps the emptiness of every a priori formula.

It is not that which makes me sad. When a tree is dead, one should plant two others. My unhappiness comes from pure weakness of heart that I don’t know how to overcome. I cannot sleep over the suffering and even over the ignominy of others. I pity those who do the evil! while I recognize that they are not at all interesting, their moral state distresses me. One pities a little bird that has fallen from its nest; why not pity a heap of consciences fallen in the mud? One suffered less during the Prussian siege. One loved Paris unhappy in spite of itself, one pities it so much the more now that one can no longer love it. Those who never loved get satisfaction by mortally hating it. What shall we answer? Perhaps we should not answer at all. The scorn of France is perhaps the necessary punishment of the remarkable cowardice with which the Parisians have submitted to the riot and its adventurers. It is a consequence of the acceptance of the adventurers of the Empire; other felons but the same cowardice.

But I did not want to talk to you of that, you ROAR about it enough as it is! one ought to be distracted; for if one thinks too much about it, one becomes separated from one’s own limbs and lets oneself undergo amputation with too much stoicism.

You don’t tell me in what state you found your charming nest at Croisset. The Prussians occupied it; did they ruin it, dirty it, rob it? Your books, your bibelots, did you find them all? Did they respect your name, your workshop? If you can work again there, peace will come to your spirit. As for me, I am waiting till mine gets well, and I know that I shall have to help myself to my own cure by a certain faith often shaken, but of which I make a duty.

Tell me whether the tulip tree froze this winter, and if the poppies are pretty.

I often take the journey in spirit; I see again your garden and its surroundings. How far away that is! How many things have happened since! One hardly knows whether one is a hundred years old or not!

My little girls bring me back to the notion of time; they are growing, they are amusing and affectionate; it is through them and the two beings who gave them to me that I feel myself still of the world; it is through you too, dear friend, whose kind and loving heart I always feel to be good and alive. How I should like to see you! But I have no longer a way of going and coming.

We embrace you, all of us, and we love you.

G. Sand

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