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kill love

The mistress. Piety and duty are not always the cloister fruits of retirement; even in deserts, when the cannot dew of heaven falls not on us, we love what we ought no longer to love. The passions, stirred up by solitude, fill these regions of death and silence; it is very seldom that what ought to be is truly followed here and that God only is loved and served. Had I known this before I had instructed you better. You call me your master; it is true you were entrusted to my care. I saw you, I was earnest to teach you vain sciences; it cost you your innocence and me my liberty. Your Uncle, who was fond of you, became my enemy and revenged himself on me. If now having lost the power of satisfying my passion I had also lost that of loving you, I should have some consolation. My enemies would have given me that tranquillity which Origen purchased with a crime. How miserable am I! I find myself much more guilty in my thoughts of you, even amidst my tears, than in possessing you when I was in full liberty. I continually think of you; I continually call to mind your tenderness. In this condition, O Lord! if I run to prostrate myself before your altar, if I beseech you to pity me, why does not the pure flame of the Spirit consume the sacrifice that is offered? Cannot this habit of penitence which I wear interest Heaven to treat me more favourably? But Heaven is still inexorable because my passion still lives in me; the fire is only covered over with deceitful ashes, and cannot be extinguished but by extraordinary grace. We deceive men, but nothing is hid from God.

You tell me that it is for me you live under

fore him

that veil which covers you; why do you profane Her your vocation with such words? Why provoke image a jealous God with a blasphemy? I hoped after ever beour separation you would have changed your sentiments; I hoped too that God would have delivered me from the tumult of my senses. We commonly die to the affections of those we see no more, and they to ours; absence is the tomb of love. But to me absence is an unquiet remembrance of what I once loved which continually torments me. I flattered myself that when I should see you no more you would rest in my memory without troubling my mind; that Brittany and the sea would suggest other thoughts; that my fasts and studies would by degrees delete you from my heart. But in spite of severe fasts and redoubled studies, in spite of the distance of three hundred miles which separates us, your image, as you describe yourself in your veil, appears to me and confounds all my resolutions.

What means have I not used! I have armed my hands against myself; I have exhausted my strength in constant exercises; I comment upon St. Paul; I contend with Aristotle: in short, I do all I used to do before I loved you, but all in vain; nothing can be successful that opposes you. Oh! do not add to my miseries by your constancy; forget, if you can, your favours and that right which they claim over me; allow me to be indifferent. I envy their happiness who have never loved; how quiet and easy are they! But the tide of pleasure has always a reflux of bitterness; I am but too much convinced now of this but though I am no longer deceived by

He love, I am not cured. While my reason construggles demns it my heart declares for it. I am deplorfor for- able that I have not the ability to free myself getfulness from a passion which so many circumstances, this place, my person and my disgraces tend to destroy. I yield without considering that a resistance would wipe out my past offences, and procure me in their stead both merit and repose. Why use your eloquence to reproach me for my flight and for my silence? Spare the recital of our assignations and your constant exactness to them; without calling up such disturbing thoughts I have enough to suffer. What great advantages would philosophy give us over other men, if by studying it we could learn to govern our passions? What efforts, what relapses, what agitations do we undergo ! And how long are we lost in this confusion, unable to exert our reason, to possess our souls, or to rule our affections?


What a troublesome employment is love! And how valuable is virtue even upon consideration of our own ease! Recollect your extravagancies of passion, guess at my distractions; number up our cares, our griefs; throw these things out of the account and let love have all the remaining tenderness and pleasure. How little is that! yet for such shadows of enjoyments which at first appeared to us are we so weak our whole lives that we cannot now help writing to each other, covered as we are with sackcloth and ashes. How much happier should we be if by our humiliation and tears we could make our repentance The love of pleasure is not eradicated out of the soul save by extraordinary efforts; it has


so powerful an advocate in our breasts that we And asks find it difficult to condemn it ourselves. What her help abhorrence can I be said to have of my sins if the objects of them are always amiable to me? How can I separate from the person I love the passion I should detest? Will the tears I shed be sufficient to render it odious to me? I know not how it happens, there is always a pleasure in weeping for a beloved object. It is difficult in our sorrow to distinguish penitence from love. The memory of the crime and the memory of the object which has charmed us are too nearly related to be immediately separated. And the love of God in its beginning does not wholly annihilate the love of the creature.

But what excuses could I not find in you if the crime were excusable? Unprofitable honour, troublesome riches, could never tempt me: but those charms, that beauty, that air, which I yet behold at this instant, have occasioned my fall. Your looks were the beginning of my guilt; your eyes, your discourse, pierced my heart; and in spite of that ambition and glory which tried to make a defence, love was soon the master. God, in order to punish me, forsook me. You are no longer of the world; you have renounced it: I am a religious devoted to solitude; shall we not take advantage of our condition? Would you destroy my piety in its infant state ? Would you have me forsake the abbey into which I am but newly entered? Must I renounce my vows? have made them in the presence of God; whither shall I fly from His wrath should I violate them? Suffer me to seek ease in my duty: though diffi



He is cult it is to procure it. I pass whole days and ashamed nights alone in this cloister without closing my

eyes. My love burns fiercer amidst the happy indifference of those who surround me, and my heart is alike pierced with your sorrows and my own. Oh, what a loss have I sustained when I consider your constancy! What pleasures have I missed enjoying! I ought not to confess this weakness to you; I am sensible I commit a fault. If I could show more firmness of mind I might provoke your resentment against me and your anger might work that effect in you which your virtue could not. If in the world I published my weakness in love-songs and verses, ought not the dark cells of this house at least to conceal that same weakness under an appearance of piety? Alas! I am still the same! Or if I avoid the evil, I cannot do the good. Duty, reason and decency, which upon other occasions have some power over me, are here useless. The Gospel is a language I do not understand when it opposes my passion. Those vows I have taken before the altar are feeble when opposed to thoughts of you. Amidst so many voices which bid me do my duty, I hear and obey nothing but the secret cry of a desperate passion. Void of all relish for virtue, without concern for my condition or any application to my studies, I am continually present by my imagination where I ought not to be, and I find I have no power to correct myself. I feel a perpetual strife between inclination and duty. I find myself a distracted lover, unquiet in the midst of silence, and restless in the midst of peace. How shameful is such a condition!

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