Eugáene Emmanuel Lemercier

The Argonne, France

The Argonne, France

 8 o’clock.

Dear Mother,—Do not hide from me anything of what happens in Paris, of your cares, or your occupations. All that you will decide is for the best. My own happiness, in the midst of all this, lies just in that security I have in thinking of your spirit.

The weather is still exquisite and very soft. To-day, without leaving the beautiful region to which we came on September 20th, we have returned to the woods. I like that less than the wide open view, but there is prettiness here too. And then the sky, now that the leaves have fallen, is so beautiful and so tender.

I have written to C——. I will write to Mme. C——. I hope for a letter from you. If you knew how much the longer is a day without news! It is true I have your old letters, but the new letter has a fragrance which I now can’t do without.

Eugáene Emmanuel Lemercier

The Argonne, France

The Argonne, France

10 o’clock.

I live only through your thoughts and in the blessings of Nature. This morning our chiefs menaced us with a march of twenty kilometres, and this threat fulfilled itself in [Pg 63]the form of a charming walk in the landscape that I love so much.

Exquisite vapours, which we see lifting hour by hour at the call of a temperate sun; and, yonder, those high plateaux which command a vast panorama, where everything is finely drawn, or rather is just felt in the mist. . . .

There are hills furnished with bare trees holding up their charming profiles. I think of the primitives, of their sensitive and conscientious landscapes. What scrupulous majesty, of which the first sight awes with its grandeur, and the detail is profoundly moving!

You see, dear mother, how God dispenses blessings that are far greater than griefs. It is not even a question of patience, since time has no longer any meaning for us, for it is not a matter of any calculable duration. But then, what richness of emotion in each present minute!

This then is our life, of which I wrote to you that not one event must make of it something unachieved, interrupted; and I hope to preserve this wisdom. But at the same time I want to ally it with another wisdom which looks to the future, even if the future is forbidden to us. Yes, let us take all from the hands of the present (and the present brings us so many treasures!), but let us also prepare for the future.

Eugáene Emmanuel Lemercier

The Argonne, France

The Argonne, France

All Souls’.

Splendid feast of sun and of joy in the glorious beauty of a Meusian landscape. Hope confines itself in the heart, not daring to insult the grief of those for whom this day is perhaps the first day of bereavement.

Dear beloved mother, twenty-eight years ago you were in a state of mourning and hope to-day, the agony is as full of hope as then. It is at a different age that these new trials occur, but a whole life of submission prepares the way to supreme wisdom.

What joy is this perpetual thrill in the heart of Nature! That same horizon of which I had watched the awakening, I saw last night bathe itself in rosy light; then the full moon went up into a tender sky, fretted by coral and saffron trees.

Dear, the frightful record of martyrdom of the best French youth cannot go on indefinitely. It is impossible that the flower of a whole race can disappear.

There must be some nobler task than war for the nation’s genius! I have a secret conviction of a better near future. May our courage and our union lead us to this better thing. Hope, hope always! I received grandmother’s dear letter and M.R.’s kind and affectionate card.

Dear, have you this beautiful sun to-day? How noble is the country and how good is Nature! To him who listens she says that nothing will ever be lost.

Eugáene Emmanuel Lemercier

The Argonne, France

The Argonne, France

All Saints’, 8 o’clock.

Last night I received your card of 24-25th. While you were looking at that moon, clouded from us, you were very wrong to feel yourself so helpless; how much reason had you to hope! At that very moment I was being protected by Providence in a way that rebukes all pride.

The next day we had the most lovely dawn over the deeply coloured autumn woods in this country where I made my sketches of three years ago; but just here the landscape becomes accentuated and enlarged and acquires a pathetic majesty. How can I tell you the grandeur of the horizon! We are remaining in this magnificent place, and this is All Saints’ Day!

At the moment, I write to you in the silvery light of a sun rising over the valley mists; we are conscious of the sleeping country for forty kilometres around, and battle hardly disturbs the religious gravity of the scene.

Do love my proposed picture! It makes a bond with my true career. If it is vouchsafed to me to return, the form of the picture may change, but its essence is contained in the sketch.

Mid-day.—Splendid All Saints’ Day profaned by violence.

Glory of the day. . . .