Canberra, Feb 16: A piece of history dating back to the Franco-Prussian war came to life in Australia. Bizarre as it may sound, a letter sent by a hot-air balloon has foud a place in Australia's National Archives. Belonging to the era of Prussian siege, the letter throws light on the life of a common man and his family under the turbulent political climate.
Penned in French on December 6, 1870 by a man named Charles Mesnier (or Mesmier) to his mother, care of Monsieur Grussin (or Grossin) at 8 Place de la Ville, Pont-Audemer, in Normandy.
The man assures his mother in the letter that he was in good health. He said,"We don't have meat every day and when we do get some it is not very much, but we can easily get by as things are and no one in our household is complaining."
He further added,"The desire to repulse the Prussians is right now the solitary concern of Paris. Any suffering can be borne rather than opening the gates of the capital to them." Speaking of troubled times between Nov 29 and Dec 1, he said,"We have taken their cannon and captured 1,000 prisoners -- these days of good fortune have raised the morale of the fearful.""We cannot succeed in all our attacks but I have the firm conviction, my good mother, that the ultimate success will be for our just cause."
However, his hopes were dashed when the Prussians won. Germans had completely surrounded Paris for more than 4 months in 1870 and there were no means of communication apart from sending hot-air balloons, with dozens of flights being made at night to deliver letters.