Letter 108

The Presidente de Tourvel to Madame de Rosemonde

My dear indulgent mother, what obligations do I not lay under to you! what comfort have I not received from your letter! I have read it over and over; I cannot lay it down; to it I owe the few moments of ease I have had since my departure. Your bounty, your virtue, your prudence can, then, compassionate my weakness. You pity my misfortunes. Ah! could you but be sensible of them⁠—they are frightful. I imagined I had experienced the pangs of love; but the most excruciating, which must be felt to have any idea of it, is to be separated from the beloved object, forever separated!⁠—The anguish that sinks me today will again return tomorrow, the next day, all my life! Great God! I am yet but young, what a length of sufferings!

To be the cause of one’s own misery; to tear one’s heart with their own hands; and during those insupportable torments, to know one can put a period to them with a word, and that word to be criminal!⁠—Alas, my dear friend!⁠—

When I took the painful resolution to banish myself from him, I was flattered with the hope that absence would increase my strength and resolution. How fatally am I deceived! They seem to have totally abandoned me. I had more to struggle with, it’s true: but in my resistance I was not deprived of all resource; I could sometimes see him; often even not daring to look on him, I was sensible his eyes were fixed on me, they seemed to cheer my heart. But now in my dismal solitude, separated from all my heart held dear, lonely with my misfortunes, every moment of my painful existence is marked with tears, nothing to soften their bitterness, no consolation to mingle with my sacrifices; and those I have already made, render those I still must make more sorrowful.

Even yesterday, how forcibly did I experience this! Among the letters brought me, there was one from him, which I distinguished from among the rest before they were delivered. I trembled⁠—I rose involuntarily⁠—scarce could conceal my emotion; and yet that state was not unpleasing. Soon after left alone, this deceitful pleasure fled, and left one more sacrifice to be made: for how could I open this letter, which I was impatient to read? Strange fatality! that the few consolations which offer are so many new privations to me; which are still made more intolerable by the idea that M. de Valmont shares them.

It is out at last; that name that incessantly possesses me, that I had so much pain to write: the kind of reproach you gave me, has been truly alarming⁠—I beseech you will be persuaded, no false shame has altered my confidence in you;⁠—then why should I be afraid to name him? Ah! I am ashamed of my sentiments, but not of him who causes them. Where is there another so worthy to inspire them? Yet I can’t account why that name does not naturally flow from my pen; and even now, I could not write it without some pause: but to return to him. You write me, he appeared amazingly affected at my departure. What did he say then? What did he do? Did he talk of returning to Paris? I beg you will put him off it, if you possibly can. If he does me justice, he ought not to be angry with me for this step: but he must be sensible it is an irreversible resolution. One of my greatest tortures is to be ignorant of his thoughts. I still have his letter there⁠—but you will certainly agree with me, I ought not to open it.

It is only through you, my most indulgent friend, I shall not be entirely separated from him. I will not abuse your goodness. I know well you must not write long letters: but you will not refuse a few words to your child, to assist her resolution, and console her. Adieu, my most respectable friend!