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The fear words so full of kindness? Beware, Heloise, of of hell refusing a Husband who demands you, and who
is more to be feared than any earthly lover.
Oh, Heloise, prevent these terrible words, and avoid, by a holy life, the punishment prepared for sinners. I dare not give you a description of those dreadful torments which are the consequences of a career of guilt. I am filled with horror when they offer themselves to my imagination. And yet, Heloise, I can conceive nothing which can reach the tortures of the damned; the fire which we see upon this earth is but the shadow of that which burns them; and without enumerating their endless pains, the loss of God which they feel increases all their torments. Can anyone sin who is persuaded of this? My God! can we dare to offend Thee? Though the riches of Thy mercy could not engage us to love Thee, the dread of being thrown into such an abyss of misery should restrain us from doing anything which might displease Thee.
I question not, Heloise, but you will hereafter The hope apply yourself in good earnest to the business of of heaven your salvation; this ought to be your whole concern. Banish me, therefore, for ever from your heart-it is the best advice I can give you, for the remembrance of a person we have loved guiltily cannot but be hurtful, whatever advances we may have made in the way of virtue. When you have extirpated your unhappy inclination towards me, the practice of every virtue will become easy; and when at last your life is conformable to that of Christ, death will be desirable Your soul will joyfully leave this body, and direct its flight to heaven. Then you will appear with confidence before your Saviour; you will not read your reprobation written in the judgment book, but you will hear your Saviour say, Come, partake of My glory, and enjoy the eternal reward I have appointed for those virtues you have practised.
Farewell, Heloise, this is the last advice of your dear Abelard; for the last time let me persuade you to follow the rules of the Gospel. Heaven grant that your heart, once so sensible of my love, may now yield to be directed by my zeal. May the idea of your loving Abelard, always present to your mind, be now changed into the image of Abelard truly penitent; and may you shed as many tears for your salvation as you have done for our misfortunes.
[This Epistle' was published by Alexander Pope in 1717, and is given here because through it alone has the tragedy of the unfortunate lovers been so far known to the mass of the English public. The Epistle' is marvellously exact in its rendering of many of the phrases of Heloise, and is an apt example of how rhyming couplets can turn into trite commonplaces the most marvellous expressions of human passion that literature contains.]
POPE'S 'ELOÏSA TO ABELARD'
In these deep solitudes and awful cells,
What means this tumult in a Vestal's veins?
Dear fatal name! rest ever unrevealed,
Repentant sighs, and voluntary pains;
Ye rugged rock! which holy knees have worn; Ye grots and caverns shagg'd with horrid thorn! Shrines! where their vigils pale-ey'd virgins keep,
And pitying saints, whose statues learn to weep!
Tho' cold like you, unmov'd and silent grown,
Now warm in love, now with'ring in my bloom,
There stern Religion quench'd th' unwilling flame,
There died the best of passions, Love and Fame.
Then share thy pain, allow that sad relief;