Letter 80

Chevalier Danceny to Cecilia Volanges

Cecilia, my dear Cecilia! when shall we see each other again? How shall I live without you? Where shall I find strength or resolution? No, never, never, shall I be able to bear this cruel absence. Each day adds to my misery, without the least prospect of its having an end. Valmont, who had promised me assistance and consolation; Valmont neglects, and, perhaps, forgets me. He is with his love, and no longer acquainted with the sufferings of absence. He has not wrote to me, although he forwarded me the last letter; and yet it is on him I depend to know when and by what means I shall have the happiness to see you. He, then, can say nothing. You even do not mention a syllable about it. Surely it cannot be, that you no longer wish for it. Ah, my Cecilia! I am very unhappy. I love you more than ever: but this passion, which was the delight of my life, is now become my torment.

No, I will no longer live thus. I must see you, if it was but for a moment. When I rise, I say to myself I shall see her no more. Going to bed, I say, I have not seen her: and notwithstanding the length of the days, not a moment of happiness for me. All is grief, all is despair; and all those miseries arrive from whence I expected all my joys. You will have an idea of my situation, if you add to all this, my uneasiness on your account. I am incessantly thinking of you; and ever with grief. If I see you unhappy and afflicted, I bear a part in your misfortunes; if I see you in tranquillity and consoled, my griefs are redoubled. Everywhere and in every circumstance am I miserable.

Ah! it was not thus when you were here; everything was then delight: the certainty of seeing you made absence supportable. You knew how I employed my time. If I fulfilled any duties, they rendered me more worthy of you; if I cultivated any science, it was in hopes to be more pleasing to you, whenever the distractions of the world drew me from you. At the opera, I sought to discover what would please you. A concert recalled to my mind your talents, and our pleasing occupations in company. In my walks, I eagerly sought the most slight resemblance of you. I compared you to all wherever you had the advantage. Every moment of the day was distinguished by a new homage, and each evening laid the tribute at your feet.

What is now left me? Melancholy grief, and the slight hope which Valmont’s silence diminishes, and yours converts into uneasiness. Ten leagues only separate us: and yet this short space becomes an insurmountable obstacle to me; and when I implore the assistance of my friend and of my love, both are cold and silent; far from assisting, they will not even answer me.

What, then, is become of the active friendship of Valmont? But what is become of the tender sentiments which inspired you with that readiness of finding out means of daily seeing each other? I remember, sometimes I found myself obliged to sacrifice them to considerations and to duties. What did you then not say to me? By how many pretexts did you not combat my reasons? I beg you will remember, my Cecilia, that my reasons always gave way to your wishes. I do not pretend to make any merit of it. What you wished to obtain, I was impatient to grant; but I, in turn, now make a request; and what is that request? Only to see you a moment; to renew, to receive the assurance of eternal love. Is it not, then, any longer your happiness as well as mine? I reject this desponding idea, which is the summit of misery. You love me; yes, you will always love me. I believe it; I am sure of it; and I shall never doubt it: but my situation is dreadful, and I can no longer support it. Adieu, Cecilia!