Letter 66

The Viscount de Valmont to the Marchioness de Merteuil

When you have read the two enclosed letters, you will be able to judge, my charming friend, whether I have fulfilled your commission. Although they are both dated today, they were wrote yesterday, at my house, and under my inspection; that to the girl is everything we could wish. I am humbled by the depth of your wisdom, if one may judge by the success of your proceedings. Danceny is all on fire; and you may be certain, that at the first opportunity, you will have nothing to reproach him with. If his fair one will be but tractable, everything will terminate as we wish in a little time after her arrival in the country. I am provided with sufficient schemes; thanks to your care. I am now decidedly Danceny’s friend.

This same Danceny is yet very young. Would you believe it? I have never yet been able to prevail on him to promise the mother to renounce his love; as if there was any difficulty in promising, when one is determined not to keep one’s word. It would be deceitful, says he incessantly. Is not this a most edifying scruple, especially when he is about seducing the daughter? This is the true picture of mankind; all equally profligate in their projects: if any weakness happens in the execution, they call it probity.

It is now your business to hinder Madame de Volanges from being startled at what little indiscretions he may have let fall in his letter; keep us out of the convent; endeavour to make her relinquish her demand of the little one’s letters: for he will not give them up, and I am of opinion he ought not: here love and sound sense agree. I have read those letters; I could hardly bear it; however, they may hereafter be useful.

Notwithstanding all our discretion, something may blaze abroad, which might break off the marriage, and render abortive all our Gercourt schemes: but as I must be revenged of the mother, for my own satisfaction, in that case, I must reserve to myself the debauching of the daughter. In selecting those letters, and only producing a part, the little Volanges would appear to have made the first advances, and have absolutely given herself up: and some of the letters might even entangle the mother, or, at least, make her appear guilty of an unpardonable negligence. I readily conceive, that the scrupulous Danceny would at first be startled; but as he would be personally attacked, I believe he might be brought to. It is a thousand to one, that it does not happen so; but we must provide against everything.

Adieu, my lovely friend! I would be glad you could sup tomorrow at the Marechale de ⸻; I could not be off.

I think it unnecessary to recommend secrecy with Madame Volanges, about my country jaunt: she would soon take it into her head to remain in town; but when once arrived, she will not go back the next day; and if she only gives us eight days, I will answer for everything.