Letter 37

The Presidente de Tourvel to Madame de Volanges

I submit, Madam, to the sympathetic voice of friendship. Long accustomed to have a deference to your advice, I am led to believe it always founded in reason. I will even acknowledge that Mr. de Valmont must be exceedingly dangerous indeed, if he can assume the character he puts on here, and be the man you represent him. However, since you require it, I will do all in my power to remove him hence if possible; for it often happens that things, very simple in themselves, become extremely embarrassing through forms.

It appears, however, totally impracticable to make this requisition to his aunt; it would be equally revolting to both. I would not, without great reluctance, even determine to quit this place; for besides the reasons I already wrote you relative to Mr. de Tourvel, if my departure should be contrary to Mr. de Valmont’s wishes, as is not impossible, could he not readily follow me to Paris? And his return, of which I should be, or, at least, appear to be, the object, would it not seem much more extraordinary than an accidental meeting in the country, at a lady’s who is known to be his relation, and my particular friend?

I have, then, no other resource left but to prevail on him to leave this place. I am aware of the difficulties I have to encounter in such a proposal; yet as he seems to make it a point to convince me, that he is not the unprincipled character he has been represented to me, I hope to succeed. I shall even be glad of an opportunity to be satisfied whether (to use his own words) the truly virtuous females ever had, or ever will have occasion to complain of his conduct. If he goes, as I hope he will, it will certainly be in deference to my request; for I have no manner of doubt of his intention to spend a great part of the autumn here; but if, on the contrary, he should obstinately refuse me, it will be time enough for me to depart, which I promise you I will do.

This I believe, Madam, is all your friendship requires of me: I shall eagerly gratify it, and convince you, that notwithstanding the warmth with which I have defended Mr. de Valmont, I am nevertheless disposed not only to hear, but also to follow the advice of my friends.