Wednesday, 12 June 2019 04:15

Émilie to the Duc de Richelieu, towards the end of 1735

What did Émilie confide to her friend and former lover, Richelieu, while he was staying with her and Voltaire at Cirey? She claims to be able to feel two deep emotions 'without the slightest self-reproach'. Nonetheless, I'm guessing the secret she shared with Richelieu is a somewhat guilty one.

'The conversation I’ve just had with you proves to me that man is not free. I should never have told you what I just confessed, but I had to have the relief of letting you know that I’ve always judged you fairly, and always recognised your value. Friendship in a heart like yours seems to me the best gift that heaven could bestow, and I could never console myself if I weren’t quite sure that, despite all your resolutions, you’re impelled to feel the same about me …

'I’ve given up everything to live with the only person who has ever filled my heart and my mind, but I would give up everything in the universe—except him—to share all the sweetness of friendship with you. These two emotions are not at all incompatible, since my heart is able to feel both at once, without the slightest self-reproach. The only true passion I’ve ever experienced is for what I have now, and it forms the charm and torment of my life, the good and the evil; but I’ve only ever felt true friendship for Madame de Richelieu and you …

'I’m happy to have seen you once more, even if I never see you again. I’m even happy about my indiscretion, because it revealed my heart to you—but I would be very unhappy if you don’t cherish my friendship and continue to give me proof of it …

'Farewell. There will be no perfect happiness for me in this world unless I can unite the pleasure of living in it with you, and that of loving the man to whom I have consecrated my life.'

Image: reflections in the Blaise at Cirey.

Last modified on Wednesday, 12 June 2019 04:22