The George Sand-Gustave Flaubert Letters

CLXXXIV. To Gustave Flaubert, at Croisset. Nohant, 17 March, 1871

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.

There will be an awakening later. I shall not be here then, and you, you will be old! Go to live in the sun in a tranquil country! Where? What country is going to be tranquil in this struggle of barbarity against civilization, a struggle which is going to be universal? Is not the sun itself a myth? Either he hides himself or he burns you up, and it is thus with everything on this unhappy planet. Let us love it just the same, and accustom ourselves to suffering on it.

I have written day by day my impressions and my reflections during the crisis. The Revue des Deux Mondes is publishing this diary. If you read it, you will see that everywhere life has been torn from its very foundations, even in the country where the war has not penetrated.

You will see too, that I have not swallowed, although very greedy, party humbugs. But I don’t know if you are of my opinion, that full and entire liberty would save us from these disasters and restore us to the path of possible progress again. The abuses of liberty give me no anxiety of themselves; but those whom they frighten always incline towards the abuse of power. Just now M. Thiers seems to understand it; but can he and will he know how to preserve the principle by which he has become the arbiter of this great problem?

Whatever happens, let us love each other, and do not keep me in ignorance of what concerns you. My heart is full to bursting and the remembrance of you eases it a little from its perpetual disquiet. I am afraid lest these barbarous guests devastate Croisset; for they continue in spite of peace to make themselves odious and disgusting everywhere. Ah! how I should like to have five billions in order to chase them away! I should not ask to get them back again.

Now, do come to us, we are so quiet here; materially, we have been so always. We force ourselves to take up our work again, we resign ourselves; what is there better to do? You are beloved here, we live here in a continual state of loving one another; we are holding on to our Lamberts, whom we shall keep as long as possible. All our children have come out of the war safe and sound. You would live here in peace and be able to work; for that must be, whether one is in the mood or not! The season is going to be lovely. Paris will calm itself during that time. You are looking for a peaceful spot. It is under your nose, with hearts which love you!

I embrace you a thousand times for myself and for all my brood. The little girls are splendid. The Lamberts’ little boy is charming.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:54