During the cholera epidemic of 1835, Eugene was away from Marseilles, because he had been ordered to as a result of the ongoing hostility with the government
In this letter Eugene confides his sense of impotence, and his anxiety for the people he cared for, to his friend and confidante, Father Tempier, and gives the only response possible for him.
My dear Friend, normal life is impossible at this unhappy juncture. My heart and mind are in an emotional state that breeds anxiety that makes it impossible to rest in peace. Prayer is the only course open to me, any other activity is impossible. Apart from that, my imagination plagues me with unhappy and gloomy thoughts; as a result I sometimes even have nervous spasms. I mean I start involuntarily at the thought of the evil that I fear may befall the people who are dear to me, or of their death. For two days I had no letters from you. It was all that was needed to torture me with the idea that perhaps you were dead.
At the time of the first epidemic, when I was there on the spot, sharing the same dangers, I experienced hardly any anxiety for others any more than myself. It seemed as if we were all invulnerable; now that for my sins I am in a place of safety, the most acute suffering is never absent from me..
Letter to Henri Tempier, 7 August 1835, EO VIII n 531