Letter 126

Madame de Rosemonde to the Presidente de Tourvel

I would have answered your letter sooner, my dear child, if the fatigue of my last had not brought on a return of my disorder, which has deprived me ever since of the use of my arm. I was very anxious to thank you for the good news you gave me of my nephew, and not less to congratulate you sincerely on your own account. Here the interposition of Providence is visible, that touching the heart of the one has also saved the other. Yes, my lovely dear! the Almighty, who sent you this trial, has assisted you in the moment your strength was exhausted; and notwithstanding your little murmurings, I think you have great reason to return him your unfeigned thanks: not but I believe you would have been very glad to have been the first in this resolution, and that Valmont’s should have been the consequence of it; I even think, humanly speaking, the dignity of our sex would have been better preserved, and we are not fond of giving up any of our rights. But what are these considerations to those more important objects! We seldom hear a person saved from shipwreck complain, the means were not in his option.

You will soon experience, my dear child, the afflictions you dreaded so much will grow lighter of themselves, and even were they to last forever in their full force, you will be sensible they are easier to bear than the remorse of guilt or self-contempt. It would have been useless to talk to you before with this apparent severity: love is an independent passion, that prudence may make us avoid, but cannot conquer, which when once it has taken root, must die its own natural death, or of absolute despair. This last being your case, gives me the resolution and the right to tell you freely my sentiments. It is cruel to frighten a sick person that is despaired of, to whom palliatives only and consolations should be administered: but it is the part of wisdom to remind those on the recovery, of the dangers they escaped, to assist them with necessary prudence and submission to the advice they stand in need of. As you have chose me for your physician, in that character I address you, and tell you, the little inconveniencies you feel at present, which may require, perhaps, some remedies, are nothing in comparison of the dreadful disorder whose cure is now certain. Then, as your friend, as the friend of a virtuous and reasonable woman, give me leave to add, this passion you have subdued, so unhappy in itself, became infinitely more so in its object. If I am to believe what I am told, my nephew, who I must own I love even to a degree of weakness, unites many laudable qualities to a great many attractions, is very dangerous to the women, blameable in his behaviour towards them, and piques himself as much on exposing as seducing them. I really believe you would have converted him. Sure never was anyone so worthy; however, so many others flattered themselves in the same manner, whose hopes were frustrated, that I am overjoyed to find you are not reduced to that resource.

Reflect now, my dear woman, that instead of so many dangers as you would have had to go through, you will have, besides the testimony of a good conscience and your own peace, the satisfaction of being the cause of Valmont’s reformation. I own, I think it in a great measure owing to your resolute defence, and that a moment’s weakness on your part would have left my nephew in lasting disorders. I love to indulge this way of thinking, and wish you to do the same; you will find it consoling; it will be an additional reason for me to love you the more.

I shall expect you in a few days, my dear child, as you promised. You will once more find serenity and happiness where you lost them. Come and rejoice with your tender mother, that you have so happily kept your word to do nothing unworthy yourself or her.