Letter 120

Viscount de Valmont to Father Anselmus,

(Of the Feuillant Convent, St. Honoré Street.)

Not having the honour of being known to you, Sir, but thoroughly acquainted with the well-placed confidence Madame the Presidente de Tourvel reposes in you, I think I may address myself to you without being guilty of indiscretion, to obtain an essential piece of service, truly worthy your holy ministry, wherein Madame de Tourvel’s advantage is equally concerned with mine.

Having in my possession some papers of consequence that concern her nearly, and should not be entrusted to any person, which I neither ought or will deliver but into her own hands. Being deprived of the means of informing her of this resolution, for reasons which you may probably have learned from her, but which I do not think myself at liberty to acquaint you with, she determined to refuse corresponding with me; a determination which I do not now in the least blame, as she could not foresee events, so unexpected, and which required the supernatural power, that one is forced to acknowledge for their completion. Therefore I request, Sir, you will be so good to inform her of my new resolves, and ask, in my name, a particular interview, where I may in some measure repair the injuries I have been guilty of by my apologies; and, as the last sacrifice, annihilate, in her presence, the only remaining impressions of an error or crime, which made me culpable towards her.

It cannot be until after this preliminary expiation, I shall dare, at your knees, make the humiliating, avowal of my long bad conduct, and implore your mediation, for a still more important, and, unhappily, a much more difficult reconciliation. May I hope, Sir, you will not refuse me your assistance in a business so necessary and so important; and that you will vouchsafe to aid my weakness, and guide my steps in this new path, which I ardently wish to follow, and to which, with shame, I own myself an utter stranger.

I wait your answer with the impatience of repentance that wishes to reform; and beg you will believe me to be, with as much gratitude as veneration,