Correspondance de P.-J. Proudhon; (1875)Tome Deuxiéme Librairie Internationale; Paris. pgs.359-362.

To Mr. Maurice1

Paris, February 15, 1849

My dear Maurice, your letter has finally arrived with great remorse, and for the last two weeks since I received it, it has weighed heavily on my conscience. I promise you that I have thought many times, for six months now, not only to write you, but also just about you. I no longer respond to anyone, and I am hardly reading my mail. If, instead of 25 francs per day, the salary of a Representative was 50, I would have two secretaries specifically for reading the letters pamphlets and newspapers which rain down on me; to classify them, acknowledge acceptance, and respond. Overworked as I am, I neither work nor do anything. I even neglect my friends; and this same history of not writing to you is repeated with Micaud, Grenier, the Gauthier brothers, Dr. Briot, etc.

I have a newspaper I must look over, perform administrative functions for, and edit. This is already a considerable task which, alone, requires all the energy of one man. We distribute twenty-five thousand on a regular basis.

I have my new bank which has just started its operations in receiving subscriptions and memberships. It is three compatriots that are running it: Guillemin, Mathey, and Prevel. This company alone would take four heads stronger than my own.

My political proceedings are pending, about five or six of them.

Finally, I have my Representative work, which takes about six hours per day.

Only a meticulous organization of all these undertakings and of my time can keep me from disaster.

To cap it all off, yesterday, after hearing my explications, the National Assembly granted permission to prosecute me. I will therefore appear in court in two or three weeks.

I would assign myself in advance six months of prison; if it goes to two years, I prefer to leave the country. My newspaper and my bank would not even suffer for it. You will see my improvised words in the Monitor. Only read them there.

My financial position, besides all that, has hardly improved. When I was made Representative in June, I found myself in behind in several payments and in debt. I paid them all. My expenses have now increased. My brother, who's sicknesses strike often and make him unable to work, has cost me a good deal of money. I also reimbursed D., the producer of my work on the Creation of Order, which cost approximately 1,700 franks.

The public misery and financial difficulties of my friends also cost me a good deal of money. There will be very few Representatives, judging from myself and the Montagnards, who are able to save even a penny from their earnings. Finally, I have 3,000 franks coming from the sale of my works, and placed in the safety of the People, that will come out only to go into my Bank's cash register.

In all appearances, the return from my newspaper and of my publications will bring me enough to live honestly in the future. As far as the Bank is concerned, I must not count on that for quite some time. If the jury acquits me and I am reelected in Paris, no one at that time will be luckier than me, my situation will become very tolerable, and I will be able to act with a success on an even grander scale to propagate my ideas.

In the future I am therefore expecting to be able to, in waiting to be in a position to reimburse you, as I have done for D, to pay you annually the interest on what I owe you. So please send me an account of what I owe you.

You are thus forcing me, and I say this seriously, to make a will for all my present and future goods. You are second in line after father Renaud. In this revolutionary period of struggle and trial, I can never be too cautious about the interests of my creditors, which after all are my interests as well. So do me a favor and do that which I say as soon as possible; once again, I am much obliged.

I have enclosed the bill that you asked for.

Your letter, my dear Maurice, sometimes shows apprehension, perhaps all too legitimate given my past negligence, that I will forget you. You seem to fear that from this side there is not a reciprocity of friendship and devotion. I beg of you, for my peace of mind and the happiness of my soul, conquer this suspicion. To whom to I divulge deeper secrets than to you? To whom am I forced to run for help, in the most delicate situations, if not you? I have said it to you before: Think, after realizing what is in your heart, about what must be in mine, and rest assured that it is thus.

However, you see very well that my life is a struggle, a ferocious struggle. Today with the fourierists, yesterday with the montagnards; another time with the communists, the socialist women, etc. Always with the economists, the royalists, and the Catholics. I have already several times been taken out of public favor and put back in, following the event that justifies my actions and tactics. I have one hundred letters threatening to shoot me with a pistol, to gorge me, to poison me, to hang me: and I am still going. The movement in my favor seems already to be sweeping over the little bourgeois of Paris, and this scares the Constitutional. My newspaper is read by 200,000 readers, and since my reconciliation with the Montagne, I am supported by all Republican journals of the province, which gives me, through the realm of ideas, more than a million citizens. My career is only just beginning; and, believe it, will require that I be, just like so many others, even in socialism, a used up and finished man. In the middle of all of that, I often think of my friends; but they must understand my not writing them. I would like very much to take a vacation, to take a trip to Granville and take in the fresh air on the Moineaux islands, and afterwards eat your soup. But who knows? Perhaps the jury will throw me in jail!

So long, my dear friend; doubt me no more, that hurts me; and I have enough tribulations that make me enemies.

Take care.


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1. Translated from the French by Rory Van Loo