Letter 89

The Viscount de Valmont to the Chevalier Danceny

If your affairs do not go on quite so rapidly as you wish, my dear friend, it is not altogether my fault. I have many obstacles to encounter here. Madame de Volanges’ vigilance and severity are not the only ones; your young friend also throws some in my way. Whether it proceeds from coldness, or timidity, she will not always do what I advise her; and yet I think I should know better than she what is proper to be done.

I had proposed an easy, commodious, and safe way of delivering your letters to her, and even to smooth the way of the interviews you wish for so much; but I have not been able to determine her to make use of it. This gives me the more concern, as I can’t think of any other means of bringing you together; and I am even incessantly terrified at the danger we all three are exposed to on account of your correspondence; you may then very well imagine, I do not choose to risk myself, nor expose you both to it.

Still it would give me the greatest uneasiness, that your little friend’s want of confidence in me should deprive me of the pleasure of being useful to you; I think you would do well to write to her on the subject. Act as you think proper; you are to determine; for it is not enough that we serve our friends: we must serve them in the manner the most pleasing to themselves. It might be also one other means of ascertaining the degree of her affection for you; for the woman who retains a will of her own, does not love to that degree she ought. Not that I have any suspicion of her constancy: but she is very young; she is in great awe of her mother, who you already know to be your enemy; therefore it might be dangerous to suffer her to wain her mind from you: however, I would not have you make yourself in the least uneasy, as it is the solicitude of friendship only, and not any diffidence whatever, that makes me so explicit.

I must break off, as I have some important matters of my own to attend. I am not so far advanced as you are: but my passion is as ardent; that is my consolation. And was I to be unsuccessful in my own, it would be a pleasure to think, my time has been well employed if I can be useful in yours. Adieu, my dear friend!