Letter 116

Chevalier Danceny to Cecilia Volanges

Madame de Merteuil set out this morning for the country; thus am I deprived, my charming Cecilia; of my only remaining consolation in your absence, of conversing of you with our mutual friend: she has given me leave for some time past to distinguish her by that title; I accepted it the more eagerly, as it has something the appearance of drawing me nearer to you; she is a most amiable woman, and knows how to add the most attractive charms to friendship:⁠—It would seem as if this pleasing sensation was embellished and strengthened in her the more, for what she refuses to love. You cannot imagine how much she loves you; how pleased she is to hear me speak of you: it is this certainly that attaches me so much to her. What happiness, to exist only for you both! to make such sudden transitions from the ecstasy of love, to the charms of friendship; to devote my life to it; to be in some measure the point of reunion to your reciprocal attachment; to be convinced the happiness of the one is also that of the other.

You cannot, my charming Cecilia, love this adorable woman too much: add to my attachment for her, by sharing it with me. Now I experience the charms of friendship, I wish you also to taste them; I think no enjoyment complete you do not partake of: Yes, my dear Cecilia, I wish to inspire you with all the tender sentiments; that every idea should convey happiness to you; and would still think I returned you only a portion of the felicity I have received from you.

Alas! those enchanting dreams are only the pleasing fancies of imagination, and reality only offers me mortifying privations. I now plainly see I must give up the flattering hope of seeing you in the country: my sole consolation is endeavouring to be persuaded you cannot accomplish it, and you do not choose to afflict me more by informing me of it; twice already have I lamented this disappointment, and received no reply:⁠—Ah! Cecilia, I really believe you love me with your whole soul, but your heart is not so ardent as mine. If the obstacles were left to me to be removed, or my own interests to be managed instead of yours, I would soon convince you nothing was impossible to love. You do not inform me even when this cruel absence is to be at an end: here surely I can see you; your enchanting looks would revive my sorrowful heart which is almost totally depressed: forgive, my dear Cecilia, my fears, they are not suspicious; I place implicit faith in your love, in your constancy; I should be too miserable, had I any doubts; but so many obstacles still renewed⁠—I am, my dear, very much dejected:⁠—Madame de Merteuil’s departure has renewed all my sorrows.

Adieu, my dear Cecilia, adieu!⁠—Remember your lover is in affliction, and you only can make him happy.