Eugáene Emmanuel Lemercier

The Argonne, France

The Argonne, France

in the morning (from a billet).

I remember the satisfaction I felt in my freedom when I was exempted from my military duties. It seemed to me that if, at twenty-seven years old, I had been obliged to return to the regiment, my life and career would have been irretrievably lost. And here I am now, twenty-eight years old, back in the army, far from my work, my responsibilities, my ambitions—and yet never has life brought me such a full measure of finer feelings; never have I been able to record such freshness of sensibility, such security of conscience. So those are the blessings arising out of the thing which my reasonable human foresight envisaged as disaster. And thus continues the lesson of Providence which, upsetting all my fears, makes good arise out of every change of situation.

The two last sunrises, yesterday and to-day, were lovely. . . .

I feel inclined to make you a little sketch of the view from my window. . . .

[Sketch not present in source material]

It is done from memory; in your imagination you must add streaks of purple colour, making the most dramatic effect, and an infinite stretch of open country to right and left. This is what I have been able again and again to look upon, during this time. At this moment, the soft sky brings into harmony the orchards where we work. My little job dispenses me from digging for the time. Such are the happinesses which, from afar, had the appearance of calamities.

(2nd letter).

I have just received your letters of the 25th, 26th, and 27th, as well as a dear letter from Grandmother, so valiant, so full of spirit, and so clear-minded. It gave me great pleasure, and brings me a dear hope, of which I accept the augury with joy. Each one of your beloved letters, too, gives me the best of what life holds for me. My first letter of to-day replies to what you say about the acceptation of trials and the destruction of idols.

You will see that I think absolutely as you do, and I trust that there is in this hour no impeding idol in my heart. . . .

I think that my last prayer is in fact very simple. The spirit of the place could not have borne to be clothed in an art that was overloaded. God was everywhere, and everywhere was harmony: the road at night, of which I speak to you so often, the starry sky, the valley full of the murmuring of water, the trees, the Calvaries, the hills near and far. There would not have been any room for artifice. It is useless for me to give up being an artist, but I hope always to be sincere and to use art as it were only for the clothing of my conscience.

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