Letter 67

The Presidente de Tourvel to the Viscount de Valmont

I was determined not to answer you any more, Sir, and, perhaps, the embarrassment I now experience, is the strongest proof that I ought not. Notwithstanding, I will leave you no cause of complaint against me; and will convince you that I have done everything I ought.

I gave you leave to write to me, you say? I admit it; but when you put me in mind of this permission, do you think I forget the conditions on which it was granted? If I had adhered to them as strictly as you have disregarded them, you would not have received a single line from me; yet this is now the third, and whilst you are doing everything you possibly can to oblige me to break off this correspondence, I am employed in the means of keeping it up. There is one, and it is the only one, which, if you refuse, will be sufficient proof, say what you will, how little you esteem it:

Give over, then, a language that I neither can nor will hear; renounce a passion that terrifies and offends me; and which, perhaps, you should be the less attached to, as it is the only obstacle that separates us. Is this passion, then, the only one that you are capable of? is it so powerful as to exclude friendship? and could you possibly not wish to have her for a friend, whom you would wish to inspire with more tender sentiments? I cannot believe it: this humiliating idea would turn me against you forever!

Thus offering you my friendship, Sir, I give you everything that belongs to me; everything that is at my disposal; what can you wish for more? To this proposition, so pleasing to my mind, I shall expect your consent; as also, your word of honour, that this friendship will constitute your happiness. I shall forget everything that has been related to me, and I will depend upon your care to justify my choice.

You see how frankly I deal with you, which ought to be a proof of my confidence in you; it rests with you to increase it still more; but I must inform you, that the first expression of love will forever destroy it, and will bring back all my fears: it will be the first signal of an eternal silence from me to you.

If, as you say, you have abandoned your errors, would you not rather be the object of friendship of a virtuous woman, than that of the remorse of a guilty one? Adieu, Sir! You may conceive that having said thus much, I can say nothing more that you have not already answered.