Proudhon wrote this letter to two of his colleagues shortly after being arrested in April of 1850.

To see the original French, click here

April 26, 1850


My dear friends, I have been here since Saturday evening, the 20th. Upon arrival, I was put into solitary confinement, guarded by an armed sentry. The windows of my room face the major's house (the guardian in chief, who one sees on the rampart. Yesterday, the 24th, I was interrogated in front of the Rogatory Letters2 , by the most educated judge in Doullens. I will therefore be removed from here, to be sent before the Court, only to be reinterrogated afterwards. I am without news of my wife or my brother, who have made a journey of one hundred leagues to see me, and who I have only gotten a glimpse of. I judge, by their silence, that one has refused them permission to see me. Could you give them a note for me, some knowledge of my situation? I will try to escape, but I am atrociously anxious. Oh! If all that human beings did was to turn upon one another, as one says of certain animals, I would still respect them; but they have invented torutre, the art of making one suffer without eating him alive; this is something to add to the list of their virtues.

It seems to me that it has been a while since I heard from Pilhes. Give me a sign of life, if it is possible

I have learned from the Monitor that you will not be deported, and that you owe this favor to I. Barrot. Is this a sign that the conservative rich, but neither the Jesuits or the legitimates, return us their best wishes? Hope to God!

For my part, maybe after everything I would prefer Noukahiva or Wa´tou to six years of prison. What do you say? Are you afraid of tropics and savages?

Goodbye for now, your very sad, very desolate


1 Translated from the French by Stephanie Silberstein

2 An equivalent of a grand jury