Wednesday, 27 March 2019 05:34

From Émilie to the Duc de Richelieu, April 1735

Louis-Armand du Plessis, Duc de Richelieu Louis-Armand du Plessis, Duc de Richelieu

I prefer romantic gossip to intellectual and so, since you give me free rein, I imagine my letters will end up in-folio. Yours came at just the right moment; I was going to write to you, to get in first, and let you know exactly what you’re like: you’re nice to people for a week, you flirt with the idea of being friends—but on my side, since I take friendship the most seriously of all things in my life, I worried about your silence and it hurt. I said to myself, one is supposed to love one’s friends with all their faults. Monsieur de Richelieu is flighty and fickle—I’ll have to love him as he is. At heart I was conscious that I was by no means satisfied with this bargain … I still grieved over renouncing the beautiful chimera of having you as a friend. You, whom everyone else thinks made for flirtation, you, whom I would never have taken it into my head to love—but whose friendship I can no longer do without …

I leave [for Cirey] in four days, so I’m writing to you from the muddle of my departure. My thoughts are heavy but my heart is awash with joy. I hope this decision will persuade Voltaire that I love him, which puts everything else out of my mind. All I can see before me is the supreme happiness of wiping away his fears and spending my life with him. You’re mistaken … there’s a great difference between jealousy and the fear of not being loved enough. You can defend yourself against the first as long as there’s no foundation for it, but you can’t help being pricked and wounded by the second. The first is a troublesome feeling, while the second is an insidious anxiety, and there are fewer weapons and remedies to counter it—except mine, which is to go and be happy at Cirey. Behold, in all earnestness, the metaphysics of love: now you see where excess of passion leads me.

Last modified on Wednesday, 27 March 2019 05:45