Letter 163

M. Bertrand to Madame de Rosemonde


It is with the greatest grief I find myself obliged to fulfil my duty, by giving you an intelligence that will cause you so much affliction. Permit me first to recommend the exertion of that pious resignation which everyone has so often admired in you, and which alone can support us among the evils of this miserable life.

M. your nephew⁠—Good God! must I afflict so respectable a lady! M. your nephew, had the misfortune to fall this morning in a duel he fought with M. the Chevalier Danceny. I am entirely unacquainted with the cause of the quarrel: but it appears, by the note which I found in M. the Viscount’s pocket, and which I have the honour to send you; it appears, I say, he was not the aggressor: and yet heaven permitted him to fall!

I was at M. the Viscount’s, waiting for him, at the very time he was brought back to his hotel. You cannot conceive the shock I received, seeing M. your nephew brought in by two of his servants, bathed in blood. He had two thrusts of a sword in his body, and was very weak. M. Danceny was also there, and even wept. Ah! certainly he ought to weep⁠—it is a pretty time to cry when one has been the cause of an irreparable misfortune!

For my part, I could not contain myself; and notwithstanding my insignificancy, I could not help telling him my thoughts. But it was then M. the Viscount showed himself truly great: he commanded me to hold my tongue; and he even took his murderer by the hand, called him his friend, embraced him before us three, and said to us, “I command you to have for this gentleman all the respect that is due to a brave and gallant man.” Moreover, he ordered to be given him, in my presence, some very voluminous papers, that I know nothing of, but which I know he set a value on. Then he desired they should be left together for a little while; however, I sent immediately for assistance, as well spiritual as temporal: but, alas! the evil was without remedy. In less than half an hour after, M. the Viscount was insensible. He could only receive the extreme unction; and the ceremony was scarcely over, before he breathed his last.

Great God! when I received in my arms at his birth this precious prop of so illustrious a family, could I ever have thought he would expire in my arms, and that I should deplore his death! A death so sudden, and so unfortunate⁠—my tears flow in spite of me. I ask pardon, Madam, for taking the liberty of mingling my sorrows with yours: but in every station, tenderness and sensibility will operate; and I should be very ungrateful if I did not lament, during my life, a nobleman who was so kind, and placed such a confidence in me.

Tomorrow, when the body will be removed, I will order everything to be sealed, and you may depend on my care entirely in everything. I need not inform you, Madam, this unhappy event puts an end to the entail, and leaves you entirely at liberty. If I can be of any service, I beg, Madam, you will give me your orders, which will be executed with the greatest zeal and utmost punctuality.

I am, with the most profound respect, Madam, your most humble Bertrand.