Letter 157

The Chevalier Danceny to the Viscount de Valmont

Doubt neither the emotions of my heart, or my proceedings, my dear Viscount⁠—Is it possible I could resist a wish of my Cecilia’s? Ah! it is she, and she alone, I will ever love! Her openness, her tenderness, have fixed such a spell over me, that nothing can ever efface, although I have been weak enough to suffer a distraction. Imperceptibly, I may say, engaged in another adventure, the remembrance of Cecilia has disturbed me in the tenderest moments; and perhaps my heart never rendered her a more faithful homage, than at the instant I was unfaithful to her. However, my dear friend, let us spare her delicacy, and hide my fault; not to deceive, but only not to afflict her. Cecilia’s happiness is the most ardent wish of my heart; and I should never forgive myself a fault which should cost her a tear.

I feel I deserved the banter you pass upon me, relative to what you call my new system: but I beg you will be assured, I am not led by them at this time; I am resolved to prove it tomorrow⁠—I will go and accuse myself even to her who has been the cause and partner of my error⁠—I will tell her; “read my heart; there you will see the tenderest friendship; friendship united to desire so much resembles love! We have both been deceived; but although liable to error, I am incapable of deceit.” I know my friend well; she has probity, and is gentle; she will do more than pardon, she will approve my conduct; she has often reproached herself for having betrayed friendship: her delicacy has often alarmed her love: more considerate than me, she will strengthen my mind with those useful apprehensions which I rashly endeavoured to stifle in hers⁠—I shall owe my reformation to her, and my felicity to you. O, my friends! partake my gratitude: the idea of being indebted to you for my happiness, augments its value.

Adieu, my dear Viscount! the excess of my joy does not prevent me from thinking and sharing your troubles. Why can I not serve you? M. de Tourvel still remains inexorable then! It is said she is very ill⁠—May she at once recover health and condescension, and forever make you happy! They are the vows of friendship; and I dare hope will be granted by love.

I would write some time longer, but time presses, and perhaps Cecilia already expects me.