Letter 101

The Viscount de Valmont to Azolan, His Huntsman

(Enclosed in the foregoing.)

You must be a stupid fellow, indeed, to set out this morning, and not have known that Madame de Tourvel was going away also; or, if you knew it, not to have given me notice. To what purpose is it, then, you spend my money, if you only get drunk with the men, and loiter your time in courting the waiting maids, if you do not give me better information of what is going forward?⁠—This is entirely owing to your negligence; therefore, I now give you notice, if such another happens in this business, it shall be the last you will be guilty of in my service.

You must inform me of everything that happens at Madame de Tourvel’s, relative to her health; whether she sleeps well; whether she is melancholy or cheerful; if she goes abroad often, and where; if she sees much company, and who goes there; how she passes her time; whether she is out of temper with her women, particularly the one that was with her here; how she employs her time when alone; if, when she reads, she is composed, or stops to muse; and the same when she writes. Remember, also, to make a friend of whoever carries the letters to the post office: often do that business for him; and, when he accepts it, send away only those you think of no consequence, and send me the rest, especially those for Madame de Volanges, if there should be any.

Settle your matters so as to be still the favourite of Julia. If she has another, as you thought, bring her to consent to share her favours; and do not be so ridiculous as to give yourself airs of jealousy: you will be only circumstanced as your superiors; but, if your rival should be troublesome, or if you perceive he takes up too much of Julia’s time in the day, so that she should not be so often with her mistress, to observe her, you must, by some means or other, drive him away, or pick a quarrel with him; do not be afraid of the consequences⁠—I will support you: above all, leave the house as little as possible; for it is by assiduity only you can make your observations with certainty. If, by chance, any of the servants should be discharged, offer yourself in their room, as if no longer in my service: in such case, you must say you left me to get into a more quiet and regular service. Endeavour, as much as possible, to be hired; I shall, notwithstanding, keep you still in mine during the time; and you will be as you was before at the Duchess of ⸻, and Madame de Tourvel will also reward you in the end.

If you was zealous and skilful, those instructions should be sufficient: but, to assist one and the other, I send you some money: the enclosed bill on my steward entitles you to call on him for twenty-five louis, for I suppose you have no money. You will make use of as much as is necessary, to prevail on Julia to settle a correspondence with me; the remainder to treat the servants: let it be as often as you can in the porter’s lodge, that he may like to see you. However, do not forget, it is your services I mean to pay, and not your pleasures.

Accustom Julia, betimes, to observe and report everything, even what she may think the most trifling; it is better she should write ten useless lines, than omit a material one; and what often appears a matter of indifference, is quite otherwise. As I must be instantly informed, if anything should happen you think of consequence after you receive this letter, send off Philip directly on the message horse, to fix himself at ⸻, and remain there until farther orders; it will be a stage in case of necessity; but, for common correspondence, the post will be sufficient.

Take great care not to lose this letter; read it over every day; not only not to forget anything, but also to be certain you have it. Do, in a few words everything you ought, now I honour you with my confidence. You very well know, if I am satisfied with your conduct, you shall be satisfied with me.