simone_remy (simone_remy) wrote in melkam,

Camille to Jean-Nicolas Matton p 42

Another longish letter to J-N, it's the one where Camille asks for 'six louis or a bed' and says that unlike his brothers he 'has wings' My Dear Father
I have just spent two delightful weeks with Mirabeau; but seeing that I was no more than a drifter [jack of all trades] to him I bade him goodbye and I have come back to Paris. We parted as good friends intending to meet up again; he has invited me to spend eight days with him whenever it should please me. While I was staying at Versailles, he asked me to write a dissertation for the Town of Belesme against their sub delegate and the steward of Alençon. I have done it.

I have sent you two journals, among others, where I am highly praised. These eulogies have been a long while coming. Everyone, or almost everyone flatters me, but I am none the richer for that. The other day M de Montmorency, Castellane, M. de Castellane, M. l’abbé Seyes and Target, said the most agreeable things to me about my Lanterne.  This fame adds even more to my natural shame at exposing my neediness. I don’t even dare reveal it to M. de Mirabeau. In truth you are most unfair to me; you see that despite my enemies and my detractors, I have been able to take my place among the writers, patriots and men of character.

Thank heavens I am pleased with my small reputation, I do not aim for more. There are very few people around me whom I envy, but this doesn’t alter the fact that I have only made twelve louis from my Lanterne, which has made forty or fifty for the bookseller and I made no more than thirty louis from my France Libre which made a thousand écus for the bookseller. The uproar which these works have created has drawn all my creditors to me and has left me with nothing because I didn’t want their complaints to disturb the new joys of my fleeting fame. So here I am then, practically free of creditors, but also without money. Since the price of wheat has held up and since now is the time when your income is available I beg you to send me six louis.

The King and the National Assembly are in residence here, I want to reside in Paris too. I am abandoning my ungrateful and unfair region. I want to profit from this moment of fame to acquire furnishings, to register in a district; could you be so cruel as to refuse me a bed, or a pair of curtains? Am I without assets, without family? Is it true that I have neither father nor mother? But, you say, to obtain these furnishings will take thirty or forty louis. I reply to you: it is necessary to live; it is necessary to pay the debts you have forced me to take on over the last six years; because I have been without the bare essentials for the last six years. Tell the truth, have you ever bought me any furnishings? Have you ever put me in the position of not having to pay out the exorbitant rents for furnished accommodation? Your miserable policy of sending me two louis here, two louis there has never allowed me to acquire furnishings or a place of my own. And when I think that my chances depend on my residence; with a residence I could be president, district commander, a representative in the Paris commune; instead of which I am no more than an admired writer: living proof that with talent, virtue, character, a love of hard work and having given great services, one can still come to nothing.

What an amazing thing! Here are ten years in which I have complained in this way and it is easier for me to create a revolution, and overturn all France than to obtain from my father, once and for all the fifty odd louis that will enable me to set up my own establishment. What a man you are! With all your intellect and all your virtues you have never known how to understand me. You have continually slandered me; you have always called me extravagant, a wastrel, I was nothing more than that. All my life I only yearned for a home, an establishment and after I left the paternal home in Guise you never wanted me to have any lodging in Paris except an inn, and here I am, thirty years old. You are always telling me that I have other brothers! Yes, but here is the difference; nature has given me wings and my brothers do not feel the chains of poverty which tether me to earth in the same way as I do.

You are undoubtedly aware of the great revolution which has taken place. The king, the queen and the dauphin are in Paris. Fifty thousand men and ten thousand women went to seek them out with twenty two pieces of cannon. Seven bodyguards were killed, six national guards, one woman and six bourgeois. As the royal family arrived I believe I saw six families like Perses behind the cart of Paul Emile. The king and queen were in floods of tears. They didn’t arrive till night time. People were shouting out we are fetching the baker, his wife and the baker’s boy’ Yesterday the queen showed herself at the window of the Tuileries; she chatted with the fishwives and invited them to dinner; these conversations between the women of the court and the market were held in the casement. The queen asked pardon for the comte d’Artois and the prince de Condé. The women granted the pardon, a completely ridiculous scene. Today they have gone to find the national assembly which is also coming to Paris. Goodbye, I have a thousand things to do.
Help me out in these circumstances, if you can’t buy me a bed here, send me one. Can you refuse me a bed? I have told you that I don’t want to hear any talk of Guise. Your lack of recognition in the region, and mine even more so has detached me from it. So do something for me, your eldest son.
I’ve missed the post; I reopened my letter to reinforce my needs. Everything I learn about Guise from the letters of Cousin Deviefville confirms me in my intention of abandoning the region, it is the antipodes of philosophy, patriotism and equality. In Paris I have a reputation, I am consulted on important matters; I am invited to dinner; there is no pamphleteer whose pamphlets sell better than mine: The only thing missing is a residence; help me I beg you, send me six louis or a bed.
Tags: camille desmoulins, jean-nicolas desmoulins, mirabeau
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