Letter 161

The Presidente de Tourvel

(Dictated by her, and wrote by her waiting maid.)

Cruel and mischievous being! will thou never be tired persecuting me? Is it not enough to have tormented, degraded, abased? Will thou then rob me of the peaceful tomb? In the gloom of this abode, where shame has drove me to bury myself, are my sufferings to have no respite; is hope to be forever banished? I do not require a favour I am undeserving of: I shall suffer without complaint, if my sufferings do not exceed my strength: but do not make my torments insupportable⁠—Leave me my sorrows, and take away the cruel remembrance of the advantages I have lost. Although thou hast ravished them from me, do not again draw the afflicting picture of them⁠—I was happy and innocent⁠—I gazed on thee and lost my peace⁠—I listened to thee and was guilty⁠—Thou cause of all my crimes, who gave thee authority to punish them?

Where are now the friends to whom I was dear? My misfortunes have frightened them⁠—No one dares come near me⁠—I am oppressed and left without relief⁠—I die and no one weeps over me⁠—I am debarred of every consolation⁠—Pity stops on the brink of the abyss where the criminal plunges⁠—remorse tears my heart, and its cries are not heard.

And thou who I have injured; thou, whose esteem adds to my torment⁠—thou who only hast a right to revenge; why art thou far from me? Come, punish a faithless woman⁠—Let me suffer the tortures I deserve⁠—I should have already bowed to thy vengeance, but wanted courage to inform thee of thy shame; it was not dissimulation, it was respect. Let this letter at least acquaint thee with my repentance. Heaven has taken thy cause in hand, to punish an injury to which thou wast a stranger⁠—It was heaven tied my tongue⁠—It was heaven prevented my design, lest you should pardon a crime it was resolved to punish⁠—It snatched me from thy commiseration, which would have opposed its judgment.

But unmerciful in its vengeance, it delivered me up to him who ruined me; at once to make me suffer for him and by him. In vain I strive to fly from him; still he follows me⁠—he is there; incessantly he besets me⁠—How different from himself! His eyes show nothing but hatred and contempt⁠—His lips utter insult and reproach⁠—His arms surround me only to destroy me⁠—Is there no one will save me from his savage rage?

How! It is he! I am not deceived; it is he I see again⁠—Oh, my lovely friend! receive me in thy tender arms; hide me in thy bosom! It is thee; yes, it is thyself⁠—What fatal illusion deceived me? Ah, how have I suffered during thy absence⁠—Let us part no more: let us never part. Let me breathe⁠—Feel my heart, how it beats! Ah! it is no longer with fear, it is the soft emotion of love; why refuse my tender caresses? Turn thy languishing eyes towards me⁠—What are those bands you want to break? Why those solemn preparations for death? What can thus alter thy countenance? Leave me! I shudder! O, God! This monster again! My dear friends, do not abandon me⁠—You that wanted me to avoid him; help me to resist him⁠—And you more lenient, who promised to soften my sorrows, why do not you come to me? Where are you both? If I must no longer see you, at least answer this letter, let me hear you still love me.

Leave me, then, cruel man! What new transport inspires thee? Art thou afraid a soft sentiment should invade me? thou redoublest my torments⁠—You will force me to hate you⁠—O, how painful is hatred! how it corrodes the heart from whence it is distilled! Why will you persecute me? What can you have more to say to me? Have you not made it impossible for me either to hear or answer you. Farewell.