Letter 171

Madame de Rosemonde to the Chevalier Danceny

The information you have given me, Sir, leaves me no room for anything but sorrow and silence. One regrets to live, when they hear such horrible actions; one must be ashamed of their sex, when they see a woman capable of such abominations.

I will willingly assist all in my power, Sir, as far as I am concerned, to bury in silence and forgetfulness everything that could leave any trace or consequence to those melancholy events. I even wish they may never give you any other uneasiness than those inseparable from the unhappy advantage you gained over my nephew. Notwithstanding his faults, which I am forced to confess, I feel I shall never be consoled for his loss: but my everlasting affliction will be the only revenge I shall ever take on you; I leave it to your own heart to value its extent.

Will you permit my age to make a reflection which seldom occurs to yours? which is, if rightly understood what is solid happiness, we should never seek it beyond the bounds prescribed by religion and the laws.

You may be very certain I will faithfully and willingly keep the deposit you have confided to me: but I must require of you to authorise me not to deliver it to anyone, not even to yourself, Sir, unless it should be necessary for your justification. I dare believe you will not refuse me this request, and that it is now unnecessary to make you sensible we often sigh for having given way to the most just revenge.

I have not yet done with my requisitions, persuaded as I am of your generosity and delicacy: it would be an act worthy both, to give me up also Mademoiselle de Volanges’ letters, which you probably may have preserved, and which, no doubt, are no longer interesting. I know this young creature has used you badly; but I do not think you mean to punish her; and was it only out of respect to yourself, you will not debase an object you loved so much. I have, therefore, no occasion to add, the respect the girl is unworthy of, is well due to the mother, to that respectable woman, who may lay some claim to a reparation from you; for, indeed, whatever colour one may seek to put on a pretended sentimental delicacy, he who first attempts to seduce a virtuous and innocent heart, by that measure becomes the first abettor of its corruption, and should be forever accountable for the excesses and disorders that are the consequence.

Do not be surprised, Sir, at so much severity from me; it is the strongest proof I can give you of my perfect esteem. You will still acquire an additional right to it, if you acquiesce, as I wish, to the concealing a secret, the publication of which would prejudice yourself, and give a mortal stab to a maternal heart you have already wounded. In a word, Sir, I wish to render this service to my friend; and if I had the least apprehension you would refuse me this consolation, I would desire you to think first, it is the only one you had left me.