The George Sand-Gustave Flaubert Letters

CXCV. To George Sand Croisset, 8 September, 1871

Ah! how sweet they are! What darlings! What fine little heads so serious and sweet! My mother was quite touched by it, and so was I. That is what I call a delicate attention, dear master, and I thank you very much for it. I envy Maurice, his existence is not arid as mine is. Our two letters crossed again. That proves beyond a doubt that we feel the same things at the same time in the same degree.

Why are you so said? Humanity offers nothing new. Its irremediable misery has filled me with sadness ever since my youth. And in addition I now have no disillusions. I believe that the crowd, the common herd will always be hateful. The only important thing is a little group of minds — always the same — which passed the torch from one to another.

As long as we do not bow to mandarins, as long as the Academy of Sciences does not replace the pope, politics as a whole and society, down to its very roots, will be nothing but collection of disheartening humbugs. We are floundering in the after-birth of the Revolution, which was an abortion, a failure, a misfire, “whatever they say.” And the reason is that it proceeded from the Middle Ages and Christianity. The idea of equality (which is all the modern democracy) is an essentially Christian idea and opposed to that of justice. Observe how mercy predominates now. Sentiment is everything, justice is nothing. People are now not even indignant against murderers, and the people who set fire to Paris are less punished than the calumniator of M. Favre.

In order for France to rise again, she must pass from inspiration to science, she must abandon all metaphysics, she must enter into criticism, that is to say into the examination of things.

I am persuaded that we shall seem extremely imbecile to posterity. The words republic and monarchy will make them laugh, as we on our part, laughed, at realism and nominalism. For I defy anyone to show me an essential difference between those two terms. A modern republic and a constitutional monarchy are identical. Never mind! They are squabbling about that, they are shouting, they are fighting!

As for the good people, “free and compulsory” education will do it. When every one is able to read le Petit Journal and le Figaro, they won’t read anything else, because the bourgeois and the rich man read only these. The press is a school of demoralization, because it dispenses with thinking. Say that, you will be brave, and if you prevail, you will have rendered a fine service.

The first remedy will be to finish up with universal suffrage, the shame of the human mind. As it is constituted, one single element prevails to the detriment of all the others: numbers dominate over mind, education, race and even money, which is worth more than numbers.

But society (which always needs a good God, a Saviour), isn’t it perhaps capable of taking care of itself? The conservative party has not even the instinct of the brute (for the brute at least knows how to fight for its lair and its living). It will be divided by the Internationals, the Jesuits of the future. But those of the past, who had neither country nor justice, have not succeeded and the International will founder because it is in the wrong. No ideas, nothing but greed!

Ah! dear, good master, if you only could hate! That is what you lack, hate. In spite of your great Sphinx eyes, you have seen the world through a golden color. That comes from the sun in your heart; but so many shadows have arisen that now you are not recognizing things any more. Come now! Cry out! Thunder! Take your great lyre and touch the brazen string: the monsters will flee. Bedew us with the drops of the blood of wounded Themis.

Why do you feel “the great bonds broken?” What is broken? Your bonds are indestructible, your sympathy can attach itself only to the Eternal.

Our ignorance of history makes us slander our own times. Man has always been like that. Several years of quiet deceived us. That is all. I too, I used to believe in the amelioration of manners. One must wipe out that mistake and think of oneself no more highly than they did in the time of Pericles or of Shakespeare, atrocious epochs in which fine things were done. Tell me that you are lifting your head and that you are thinking of your old troubadour, who cherishes you.

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