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This is a letter that Proudhon wrote to the state prosectutor, asking to be restored to his old room and to be allowed visitors while in prison

To view the original French, click here

To the State Prosecutor 1

Conciergerie, June 23 1849

  Mr. Prosecutor, permit me to address myself to you in order to obtain my reinstatement into the room which was designated for me by the benevolence of Mr. Rebillot, chief of police, and from which the arrival of the arresting officers on June 13 forced my extraction for the past eight days.

  The secret which primarily weighs upon defendants is nearly out; they communicate with one another in the morning and in the evening; they receive the Monitor; and it is to be presumed that soon they will be permitted to receive their parents and friends. I therefore have to pass no messages from one to the other; I wouldn't be at any disadvantage if they learned nothing, about neither the National Assembly, nor the tirbunals, nor the acts of our government, nor either the domestic news or that which is happening abroad. The democratic and social press is suppressed; the danger is still nil on this side. As to the people who come to visit me, I declare in all sincerity that they are all intimates, who only come see me in order to relate their affairs, and who surely are not responsible for any messages which could comprise their peace or mine. For more reassurance, finally, I agree that I shall not accept new permission to have visitors until the day when my new companions in captivity are given back their freedom to communicate.

  I await, sir, your decision to send my books, papers, and other objects that I need to return to work, the only means of not dying of boredom and of consumption in prison. You know too well, sir, the price of study, the hygenic and moralistic power, to want to prolong the suffering of a man whose habit his whole life has been to need to work, and to whom the forced retreat from work has created more suffering than is ever necessary.

  In the hopes of a favorable response, I present you, Mr. Prosecutor, with my most respectable greetings.


1. Translated from the French by Stephanie Silberstein

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