The Princess of Cleves
Madame de Lafayette

Part 3 out of 3

to tell you have obliged you to make a confidant to assist you in
the discovery? Nothing but that curiosity could have made you
guilty of so cruel an indiscretion; the consequences of it are as
bad as they possibly can be. This adventure is known, and I have
been told it by those who are not aware that I am principally
concerned in it." "What do you say, Madam?" answered he;
"you accuse me of having told what passed between you and me,
and you inform me that the thing is known; I don't go about to
clear myself from this charge, you can't think me guilty of it;
without doubt you have applied to yourself what was told you of
some other." "Ah! Sir," replied she, "the world has not an
adventure like mine, there is not another woman capable of such a
thing. The story I have heard could not have been invented by
chance; nobody could imagine any like it; an action of this
nature never entered any thoughts but mine. The Queen-Dauphin
has just told me the story; she had it from the Viscount de
Chartres, and the Viscount from the Duke de Nemours." "The
Duke de Nemours!" cried Monsieur de Cleves, like a man
transported and desperate: "How! does the Duke de Nemours know
that you are in love with him, and that I am acquainted with
it?" "You are always for singling out the Duke de Nemours
rather than any other," replied she; "I have told you I will
never answer you concerning your suspicions: I am ignorant
whether the Duke de Nemours knows the part I have in this
adventure, and that which you have ascribed to him; but he told
it to the Viscount de Chartres, and said he had it from one of
his friends, who did not name the lady: this friend of the Duke
de Nemours must needs be one of yours, whom you entrusted the
secret to, in order to clear up your suspicions." "Can one
have a friend in the world, in whom one would repose such a
confidence," replied Monsieur de Cleves, "and would a man clear
his suspicions at the price of informing another with what one
would wish to conceal from oneself? Think rather, Madam, to whom
you have spoken; it is more probable this secret should have
escaped from you than from me; you was not able alone to support
the trouble you found yourself in, and you endeavoured to comfort
yourself by complaining to some confidant who has betrayed you."

"Do not wholly destroy me," cried she, "and be not so
hard-hearted as to accuse me of a fault you have committed
yourself: can you suspect me of it? and do you think, because I
was capable of informing you of this matter, I was therefore
capable of informing another?"

The confession which Madam de Cleves had made to her husband was
so great a mark of her sincerity, and she so strongly denied that
she had entrusted it to any other, that Monsieur de Cleves did
not know what to think. On the other hand he was sure he had
never said anything of it; it was a thing that could not have
been guessed, and yet it was known; it must therefore come from
one of them two; but what grieved him most was to know that this
secret was in the hands of somebody else, and that in all
probability it would be soon divulged.

Madam de Cleves thought much after the same manner; she found it
equally impossible that her husband should, or should not have
spoken of it. What the Duke de Nemours had said to her, that
curiosity might make a husband do indiscreet things, seemed so
justly applicable to Monsieur de Cleves's condition, that she
could not think he said it by chance, and the probability of this
made her conclude that Monsieur de Cleves had abused the
confidence she had placed in him. They were so taken up, the one
and the other, with their respective thoughts, that they
continued silent a great while; and when they broke from this
silence, they only repeated the same things they had already said
very often; their hearts and affections grew more and more
estranged from each other.

It is easy to imagine how they passed the night; Monsieur de
Cleves could no longer sustain the misfortune of seeing a woman
whom he adored in love with another; he grew quite heartless, and
thought he had reason to be so in an affair where his honour and
reputation were so deeply wounded: he knew not what to think of
his wife, and was at a loss what conduct he should prescribe to
her, or what he should follow himself; he saw nothing on all
sides but precipices and rocks; at last, after having been long
tossed to and fro in suspense, he considered he was soon to set
out for Spain, and resolved to do nothing which might increase
the suspicion or knowledge of his unfortunate condition. He went
to his wife, and told her that what they had to do was not to
debate between themselves who had discovered the secret; but to
make it appear that the story which was got abroad was a business
in which she had no concern; that it depended upon her to
convince the Duke de Nemours and others of it; that she had
nothing to do but to behave herself to him with that coldness and
reserve which she ought to have for a man who professed love to
her; that by this proceeding she would easily remove the opinion
he entertained of her being in love with him; and therefore she
needed not to trouble herself as to what he might hitherto have
thought, since if for the future she discovered no weakness, his
former thoughts would vanish of themselves; and that especially
she ought to frequent the Louvre and the assemblies as usual.

Having said this, Monsieur de Cleves left his wife without
waiting her answer; she thought what he said very reasonable, and
the resentment she had against the Duke de Nemours made her
believe she should be able to comply with it with a great deal of
ease; but it seemed a hard task to her to appear at the marriage
with that freedom and tranquillity of spirit as the occasion
required. Nevertheless as she was to carry the Queen-Dauphin's
train, and had been distinguished with that honour in preference
to a great many other Princesses, it was impossible to excuse
herself from it without making a great deal of noise and putting
people upon enquiring into the reasons of it. She resolved
therefore to do her utmost, and employed the rest of the day in
preparing herself for it, and in endeavouring to forget the
thoughts that gave her so much uneasiness; and to this purpose
she locked herself up in her closet. Of all her griefs the most
violent was that she had reason to complain of the Duke de
Nemours, and could find no excuse to urge in his favour; she
could not doubt but he had related this adventure to the Viscount
de Chartres; he had owned it himself, nor could she any more
doubt from his manner of speaking of it, but that he knew the
adventure related to her; how could she excuse so great an
imprudence? and what was become of that extreme discretion which
she had so much admired in this Prince? "He was discreet,"
said she, "while he was unhappy; but the thought of being happy,
though on uncertain grounds, has put an end to his discretion; he
could not consider that he was beloved, without desiring to have
it known; he said everything he could say; I never acknowledged
it was he I was in love with; he suspected it, and has declared
his suspicions; if he had been sure of it, he might have acted as
he has; I was to blame for thinking him a man capable of
concealing what flattered his vanity; and yet it is for this man,
whom I thought so different from other men, that I am become like
other women, who was so unlike them before. I have lost the
heart and esteem of a husband who ought to have been my
happiness; I shall soon be looked upon by all the world as a
person led away by an idle and violent passion; he for whom I
entertain this passion is no longer ignorant of it; and it was to
avoid these misfortunes that I hazarded my quiet, and even my
life." These sad reflections were followed by a torrent of
tears; but however great her grief was, she plainly perceived she
should be able to support it, were she but satisfied in the Duke
de Nemours.

The Duke was no less uneasy than she; the indiscretion he had
been guilty of in telling what he did to the Viscount de
Chartres, and the mischievous consequences of it, vexed him to
the heart; he could not represent to himself the affliction and
sorrow he had seen Madam de Cleves in without being pierced with
anguish; he was inconsolable for having said things to her about
this adventure, which, though gallant enough in themselves,
seemed on this occasion too gross and impolite, since they gave
Madam de Cleves to understand he was not ignorant that she was
the woman who had that violent passion, and that he was the
object of it. It was before the utmost of his wishes to have a
conversation with her, but now he found he ought rather to fear
than desire it. "What should I say to her!" says he; "should
I go to discover further to her what I have made her too sensible
of already! Shall I tell how I know she loves me; I, who have
never dared to say I loved her? Shall I begin with speaking
openly of my passion, that she may see my hopes have inspired me
with boldness? Can I even think of approaching her, and of
giving her the trouble to endure my sight? Which way could I
justify myself? I have no excuse, I am unworthy of the least
regard from Madam de Cleves, and I even despair of her ever
looking upon me: I have given her by my own fault better means of
defending herself against me than any she was searching for, and
perhaps searching for to no purpose. I lose by my imprudence the
glory and happiness of being loved by the most beautiful and
deserving lady in the world; but if I had lost this happiness,
without involving her in the most extreme grief and sufferings at
the same time, I should have had some comfort; for at this moment
I am more sensible of the harm I have done her, than of that I
have done myself in forfeiting her favour."

The Duke de Nemours continued turning the same thoughts over and
over, and tormenting himself a great while; the desire he had to
speak to Madam de Cleves came constantly into his mind; he
thought of the means to do it; he thought of writing to her; but
at last he found, considering the fault he had committed and the
temper she was in, his best way was to show her a profound
respect by his affliction and his silence, to let her see he
durst not present himself before her, and to wait for what time,
chance, and the inclination she had for him might produce to his
advantage. He resolved also not to reproach the Viscount de
Chartres for his unfaithfulness, for fear of confirming his

The preparations for the espousals and marriage of Madame on the
next day so entirely took up the thoughts of the Court, that
Madam de Cleves and the Duke de Nemours easily concealed from the
public their grief and uneasiness. The Queen-Dauphin spoke but
slightly to Madam de Cleves of the conversation they had had with
the Duke de Nemours; and Monsieur de Cleves industriously shunned
speaking to his wife of what was past; so that she did not find
herself under so much embarrassment as she had imagined.

The espousals were solemnised at the Louvre; and after the feast
and ball all the Royal family went to lie at the Bishop's Palace,
according to custom. In the morning, the Duke of Alva, who
always had appeared very plainly dressed, put on a habit of cloth
of gold, mixed with flame-colour, yellow and black, all covered
over with jewels, and wore a close crown on his head. The Prince
of Orange very richly dressed also, with his liveries, and all
the Spaniards with theirs, came to attend the Duke of Alva from
the Hotel de Villeroy where he lodged, and set out, marching four
by four, till they came to the Bishop's Palace. As soon as he
was arrived, they went in order to the Church; the King led
Madame, who wore also a close crown, her train being borne by
Mademoiselles de Montpensier and Longueville; the Queen came
next, but without a crown; after her followed the Queen-Dauphin,
Madame the King's sister, the Duchess of Loraine, and the Queen
of Navarre, their trains being home by the Princesses; the Queens
and the Princesses were all of them attended with their maids of
honour, who were richly dressed in the same colour which they
wore themselves; so that it was known by the colour of their
habits whose maids they were: they mounted the place that was
prepared in the Church, and there the marriage ceremonies were
performed; they returned afterwards to dine at the Bishop's
Palace, and went from thence about five o'clock to the Palace
where the feast was, and where the Parliament, the Sovereign
Courts, and the Corporation of the City were desired to assist.
The King, the Queens, the Princes and Princesses sat at the
marble table in the great hall of the Palace; the Duke of Alva
sat near the new Queen of Spain, below the steps of the marble
table, and at the King's right hand was a table for the
ambassadors, the archbishops, and the Knights of the Order, and
on the other side one for the Parliament.

The Duke of Guise, dressed in a robe of cloth of gold frieze,
served the King as Great Chamberlain; the Prince of Conde as
Steward of the Household, and the Duke de Nemours as Cup-bearer.
After the tables were removed the ball began, and was interrupted
by interludes and a great deal of extraordinary machinery; then
the ball was resumed, and after midnight the King and the whole
Court returned to the Louvre. However full of grief Madam de
Cleves was, she appeared in the eyes of all beholders, and
particularly in those of the Duke de Nemours, incomparably
beautiful. He durst not speak to her, though the hurry of the
ceremony gave him frequent opportunities; but he expressed so
much sorrow and so respectful a fear of approaching her, that she
no longer thought him to blame, though he had said nothing in his
justification; his conduct was the same the following days, and
wrought the same effect on the heart of Madam de Cleves.

At last the day of the tournament came; the Queens were placed in
the galleries that were prepared for them; the four champions
appeared at the end of the lists with a number of horses and
liveries, the most magnificent sight that ever was seen in

The King's colours were white and black, which he always wore in
honour of the Duchess of Valentinois, who was a widow. The Duke
of Ferrara and his retinue had yellow and red. Monsieur de
Guise's carnation and white. It was not known at first for what
reason he wore those colours, but it was soon remembered that
they were the colours of a beautiful young lady whom he had been
in love with, while she was a maid, and whom he yet loved though
he durst not show it. The Duke de Nemours had yellow and black;
why he had them could not be found out: Madam de Cleves only knew
the reason of it; she remembered to have said before him she
loved yellow, and that she was sorry her complexion did not suit
that colour. As for the Duke, he thought he might take that
colour without any indiscretion, since not being worn by Madam de
Cleves it could not be suspected to be hers.

The four champions showed the greatest address that can be
imagined; though the King was the best horseman in his kingdom,
it was hard to say which of them most excelled. The Duke de
Nemours had a grace in all his actions which might have inclined
to his favour persons less interested than Madam de Cleves. She
no sooner saw him appear at the end of the lists, but her heart
felt uncommon emotions, and every course he made she could scarce
hide her joy when he had successfully finished his career.

In the evening, when all was almost over, and the company ready
to break up, so it was for the misfortune of the State, that the
King would needs break another lance; he sent orders to the Count
de Montgomery, who was a very dextrous combatant, to appear in
the lists. The Count begged the King to excuse him, and alleged
all the reasons for it he could think of; but the King, almost
angry, sent him word he absolutely commanded him to do it. The
Queen conjured the King not to run any more, told him he had
performed so well that he ought to be satisfied, and desired him
to go with her to her apartments; he made answer, it was for her
sake that he would run again; and entered the barrier; she sent
the Duke of Savoy to him to entreat him a second time to return,
but to no purpose; he ran; the lances were broke, and a splinter
of the Count de Montgomery's lance hit the King's eye, and stuck
there. The King fell; his gentlemen and Monsieur de Montmorency,
who was one of the Mareschals of the field, ran to him; they were
astonished to see him wounded, but the King was not at all
disheartened; he said, that it was but a slight hurt, and that he
forgave the Count de Montgomery. One may imagine what sorrow and
affliction so fatal an accident occasioned on a day set apart to
mirth and joy. The King was carried to bed, and the surgeons
having examined his wound found it very considerable. The
Constable immediately called to mind the prediction which had
been told the King, that he should be killed in single fight; and
he made no doubt but the prediction would be now accomplished.
The King of Spain, who was then at Brussels, being advertised of
this accident, sent his physician, who was a man of great
reputation, but that physician judged the King past hope.

A Court so divided, and filled with so many opposite interests,
could not but be in great agitation on the breaking out of so
grand an event; nevertheless all things were kept quiet, and
nothing was seen but a general anxiety for the King's health.
The Queens, the Princes and Princesses hardly ever went out of
his anti-chamber.

Madam de Cleves, knowing that she was obliged to be there, that
she should see there the Duke de Nemours, and that she could not
conceal from her husband the disorder she should be in upon
seeing him, and being sensible also that the mere presence of
that Prince would justify him in her eyes and destroy all her
resolutions, thought proper to feign herself ill. The Court was
too busy to give attention to her conduct, or to enquire whether
her illness was real or counterfeit; her husband alone was able
to come at the truth of the matter, but she was not at all averse
to his knowing it. Thus she continued at home, altogether
heedless of the great change that was soon expected, and full of
her own thoughts, which she was at full liberty to give herself
up to. Everyone went to Court to enquire after the King's
health, and Monsieur de Cleves came home at certain times to give
her an account of it; he behaved himself to her in the same
manner he used to do, except when they were alone, and then there
appeared something of coldness and reserve: he had not spoke to
her again concerning what had passed, nor had she power, nor did
she think it convenient to resume the discourse of it.

The Duke de Nemours, who had waited for an opportunity of
speaking to Madam de Cleves, was surprised and afflicted not to
have had so much as the pleasure to see her. The King's illness
increased so much, that the seventh day he was given over by the
physicians; he received the news of the certainty of his death
with an uncommon firmness of mind; which was the more to be
admired, considering that he lost his life by so unfortunate an
accident, that he died in the flower of his age, happy, adored by
his people, and beloved by a mistress he was desperately in love
with. The evening before his death he caused Madame his sister
to be married to the Duke of Savoy without ceremony. One may
judge what condition the Duchess of Valentinois was in; the Queen
would not permit her to see the King, but sent to demand of her
the King's signets, and the jewels of the crown which she had in
her custody. The Duchess enquired if the King was dead, and
being answered, "No"; "I have then as yet no other matter,"
said she, "and nobody can oblige me to restore what he has
trusted in my hands." As soon as the King expired at Chateau de
Toumelles, the Duke of Ferrara, the Duke of Guise, and the Duke
de Nemours conducted the Queen-Mother, the New King and the
Queen-Consort to the Louvre. The Duke de Nemours led the
Queen-Mother. As they began to march, she stepped back a little,
and told the Queen her daughter-in-law, it was her place to go
first; but it was easy to see, that there was more of spleen than
decorum in this compliment.


The Queen-mother was now wholly governed by the Cardinal of
Loraine; the Viscount de Chartres had no interest with her, and
the passion he had for Madam de Martigues and for liberty
hindered him from feeling this loss as it deserved to be felt.
The Cardinal, during the ten days' illness of the King, was at
leisure to form his designs, and lead the Queen into resolutions
agreeable to what he had projected; so that the King was no
sooner dead but the Queen ordered the Constable to stay at
Tournelles with the corpse of the deceased King in order to
perform the usual ceremonies. This commission kept him at a
distance and out of the scene of action; for this reason the
Constable dispatched a courier to the King of Navarre, to hasten
him to Court that they might join their interest to oppose the
great rise of the House of Guise. The command of the Army was
given to the Duke of Guise and the care of the finances to the
Cardinal of Loraine. The Duchess of Valentinois was driven from
Court; the Cardinal de Tournon, the Constable's declared enemy,
and the Chancellor Olivier, the declared enemy of the Duchess of
Valentinois, were both recalled. In a word, the complexion of
the Court was entirely changed; the Duke of Guise took the same
rank as the Princes of the blood, in carrying the King's mantle
at the funeral ceremonies: He and his brothers carried all before
them at Court, not only by reason of the Cardinal's power with
the Queen-Mother, but because she thought it in her power to
remove them should they give her umbrage; whereas she could not
so easily remove the Constable, who was supported by the Princes
of the blood.

When the ceremonial of the mourning was over, the Constable came
to the Louvre, and was very coldly received by the King; he
desired to speak with him in private, but the King called for
Messieurs de Guise, and told him before them, that he advised him
to live at ease; that the finances and the command of the Army
were disposed of, and that when he had occasion for his advice,
he would send for him to Court. The Queen received him in a yet
colder manner than the King, and she even reproached him for
having told the late King, that his children by her did not
resemble him. The King of Navarre arrived, and was no better
received; the Prince of Conde, more impatient than his brother,
complained aloud, but to no purpose: he was removed from Court,
under pretence of being sent to Flanders to sign the ratification
of the peace. They showed the King of Navarre a forged letter
from the King of Spain, which charged him with a design of
seizing that King's fortresses; they put him in fear for his
dominions, and made him take a resolution to go to Bearn; the
Queen furnished him with an opportunity, by appointing him to
conduct Madam Elizabeth, and obliged him to set out before her,
so that there remained nobody at Court that could balance the
power of the House of Guise.

Though it was a mortifying circumstance for Monsieur de Cleves
not to conduct Madam Elizabeth, yet he could not complain of it,
by reason of the greatness of the person preferred before him; he
regretted the loss of this employment not so much on account of
the honour he should have received from it, as because it would
have given him an opportunity of removing his wife from Court
without the appearance of design in it.

A few days after the King's death, it was resolved the new King
should go to Rheims to be crowned. As soon as this journey was
talked of, Madam de Cleves, who had stayed at home all this while
under pretence of illness, entreated her husband to dispense with
her following the Court, and to give her leave to go to take the
air at Colomiers for her health: he answered, that whether her
health was the reason or not of her desire, however he consented
to it: nor was it very difficult for him to consent to a thing he
had resolved upon before: as good an opinion as he had of his
wife's virtue, he thought it imprudent to expose her any longer
to the sight of a man she was in love with.

The Duke de Nemours was soon informed that Madam de Cleves was
not to go along with the Court; he could not find in his heart to
set out without seeing her, and therefore the night before his
journey he went to her house as late as decency would allow him,
in order to find her alone. Fortune favoured his intention; and
Madam de Nevers and Madam de Martigues, whom he met in the Court
as they were coming out, informed him they had left her alone.
He went up in a concern and ferment of mind to be paralleled only
by that which Madam de Cleves was under, when she was told the
Duke de Nemours was come to see her; the fear lest he should
speak to her of his passion, and lest she should answer him too
favourably, the uneasiness this visit might give her husband, the
difficulty of giving him an account of it, or of concealing it
from him, all these things presented themselves to her
imagination at once, and threw her into so great an
embarrassment, that she resolved to avoid the thing of the world
which perhaps she wished for the most. She sent one of her women
to the Duke de Nemours, who was in her anti-chamber, to tell him
that she had lately been very ill, and that she was sorry she
could not receive the honour which he designed her. What an
affliction was it to the Duke, not to see Madam de Cleves, and
therefore not to see her, because she had no mind he should! He
was to go away the next morning, and had nothing further to hope
from fortune. He had said nothing to her since that conversation
at the Queen-Dauphin's apartments, and he had reason to believe
that his imprudence in telling the Viscount his adventure had
destroyed all his expectations; in a word, he went away with
everything that could exasperate his grief.

No sooner was Madam de Cleves recovered from the confusion which
the thought of receiving a visit from the Duke had given her, but
all the reasons which had made her refuse it vanished; she was
even satisfied she had been to blame; and had she dared, or had
it not been too late, she would have had him called back.

Madam de Nevers and Madam de Martigues went from the Princess of
Cleves to the Queen-Dauphin's, where they found Monsieur de
Cleves: the Queen-Dauphin asked them from whence they came; they
said they came from Madam de Cleves, where they had spent part of
the afternoon with a great deal of company, and that they had
left nobody there but the Duke de Nemours. These words, which
they thought so indifferent, were not such with Monsieur de
Cleves: though he might well imagine the Duke de Nemours had
frequent opportunities of speaking to his wife, yet the thought
that he was now with her, that he was there alone, and that he
might speak to her of his life, appeared to him at this time a
thing so new and insupportable, that jealousy kindled in his
heart with greater violence than ever. It was impossible for him
to stay at the Queen's; he returned from thence, without knowing
why he returned, or if he designed to go and interrupt the Duke
de Nemours: he was no sooner come home, but he looked about him
to see if there was anything by which he could judge if the Duke
was still there; it was some comfort to him to find he was gone,
and it was a pleasure to reflect that he could not have been long
there: he fancied, that, perhaps, it was not the Duke de Nemours
of whom he had reason to be jealous; and though he did not doubt
of it, yet he endeavoured to doubt of it; but he was convinced of
it by so many circumstances, that he continued not long in that
pleasing uncertainty. He immediately went into his wife's room,
and after having talked to her for some time about indifferent
matters, he could not forbear asking her what she had done, and
who she had seen, and accordingly she gave him an account: when
he found she did not name the Duke de Nemours he asked her
trembling, if those were all she had seen, in order to give her
an occasion to name the Duke, and that he might not have the
grief to see she made use of any evasion. As she had not seen
him, she did not name him; when Monsieur de Cleves with accents
of sorrow, said, "And have you not seen the Duke de Nemours, or
have you forgot him?" "I have not seen him indeed," answered
she; "I was ill, and I sent one of my women to make my
excuses." "You was ill then only for him," replied Monsieur
de Cleves, "since you admitted the visits of others: why this
distinction with respect to the Duke de Nemours? Why is not he
to you as another man? Why should you be afraid of seeing him?
Why do you let him perceive that you are so? Why do you show him
that you make use of the power which his passion gives you over
him? Would you dare refuse to see him, but that you knew he
distinguishes your rigour from incivility? But why should you
exercise that rigour towards him? From a person like you, all
things are favours, except indifference." "I did not think,"
replied Madam de Cleves, "whatever suspicions you have of the
Duke de Nemours, that you could reproach me for not admitting a
visit from him." "But I do reproach you, Madam," replied he,
"and I have good ground for so doing; why should you not see
him, if he has said nothing to you? but Madam, he has spoke to
you; if his passion had been expressed only by silence, it would
not have made so great an impression upon you; you have not
thought fit to tell me the whole truth; you have concealed the
greatest part from me; you have repented even of the little you
have acknowledged, and you have not the resolution to go on; I am
more unhappy than I imagined, more unhappy than any other man in
the world: you are my wife, I love you as my mistress, and I see
you at the same time in love with another, with the most amiable
man of the Court, and he sees you every day, and knows you are in
love with him: Alas! I believed that you would conquer your
passion for him, but sure I had lost my reason when I believed it
was possible." "I don't know," replied Madam de Cleves very
sorrowfully, "whether you was to blame in judging favourably of
so extraordinary a proceeding as mine; nor do I know if I was not
mistaken when I thought you would do me justice." "Doubt it
not, Madam," replied Monsieur de Cleves, "you was mistaken; you
expected from me things as impossible as those I expected from
you: how could you hope I should continue master of my reason?
Had you forgot that I was desperately in love with you, and that
I was your husband? Either of these two circumstances is enough
to hurry a man into extremities; what may they not do both
together? Alas! What do they not do? My thoughts are violent
and uncertain, and I am not able to control them; I no longer
think myself worthy of you, nor do I think you are worthy of me;
I adore you, I hate you, I offend you, I ask your pardon, I
admire you, I blush for my admiration: in a word, I have nothing
of tranquillity or reason left about me: I wonder how I have been
able to live since you spoke to me at Colomiers, and since you
learned, from what the Queen-Dauphin told you, that your
adventure was known; I can't discover how it came to be known,
nor what passed between the Duke de Nemours and you upon the
subject; you will never explain it to me, nor do I desire you to
do it; I only desire you to remember that you have made me the
most unfortunate, the most wretched of men."

Having spoke these words, Monsieur de Cleves left his wife, and
set out the next day without seeing her; but he wrote her a
letter full of sorrow, and at the same time very kind and
obliging: she gave an answer to it so moving and so full of
assurances both as to her past and future conduct, that as those
assurances were grounded in truth, and were the real effect of
her sentiments, the letter made great impressions on Monsieur de
Cleves, and gave him some tranquillity; add to this that the Duke
de Nemours going to the King as well as himself, he had the
satisfaction to know that he would not be in the same place with
Madam de Cleves. Everytime that lady spoke to her husband, the
passion he expressed for her, the handsomeness of his behaviour,
the friendship she had for him, and the thought of what she owed
him, made impressions in her heart that weakened the idea of the
Duke de Nemours; but it did not continue long, that idea soon
returned more lively than before.

For a few days after the Duke was gone, she was hardly sensible
of his absence; afterwards it tortured her; ever since she had
been in love with him, there did not pass a day, but she either
feared or wished to meet him, and it was a wounding thought to
her to consider that it was no more in the power of fortune to
contrive their meeting.

She went to Colomiers, and ordered to be carried thither the
large pictures she had caused to be copied from the originals
which the Duchess of Valentinois had procured to be drawn for her
fine house of Annett. All the remarkable actions that had passed
in the late King's reign were represented in these pieces, and
among the rest was the Siege of Mets, and all those who had
distinguished themselves at that Siege were painted much to the
life. The Duke de Nemours was of this number, and it was that
perhaps which had made Madam de Cleves desirous of having the

Madam de Martigues not being able to go along with the Court,
promised her to come and pass some days at Colomiers. Though
they divided the Queen's favour, they lived together without envy
or coldness; they were friends, but not confidants; Madam de
Cleves knew that Madam de Martigues was in love with the
Viscount, but Madam de Martigues did not know that Madam de
Cleves was in love with the Duke de Nemours, nor that she was
beloved by him. The relation Madam de Cleves had to the Viscount
made her more dear to Madam de Martigues, and Madam de Cleves was
also fond of her as a person who was in love as well as herself,
and with an intimate friend of her own lover.

Madam de Martigues came to Colomiers according to her promise,
and found Madam de Cleves living in a very solitary manner: that
Princess affected a perfect solitude, and passed the evenings in
her garden without being accompanied even by her domestics; she
frequently came into the pavilion where the Duke de Nemours had
overheard her conversation with her husband; she delighted to be
in the bower that was open to the garden, while her women and
attendants waited in the other bower under the pavilion, and
never came to her but when she called them. Madam de Martigues
having never seen Colomiers was surprised at the extraordinary
beauty of it, and particularly with the pleasantness of the
pavilion. Madam de Cleves and she usually passed the evenings
there. The liberty of being alone in the night in so agreeable a
place would not permit the conversation to end soon between two
young ladies, whose hearts were enflamed with violent passions,
and they took great pleasure in conversing together, though they
were not confidants.

Madam de Martigues would have left Colomiers with great
reluctance had she not quitted it to go to a place where the
Viscount was; she set out for Chambort, the Court being there.

The King had been anointed at Rheims by the Cardinal of Loraine,
and the design was to pass the rest of the summer at the castle
of Chambort, which was newly built; the Queen expressed a great
deal of joy upon seeing Madam de Martigues again at Court, and
after having given her several proofs of it, she asked her how
Madam de Cleves did, and in what manner she passed her time in
the country. The Duke de Nemours and the Prince of Cleves were
with the Queen at that time. Madam de Martigues, who had been
charmed with Colomiers, related all the beauties of it, and
enlarged extremely on the description of the pavilion in the
forest, and on the pleasure Madam de Cleves took in walking there
alone part of the night. The Duke de Nemours, who knew the place
well enough to understand what Madam de Martigues said of it,
thought it was not impossible to see Madam de Cleves there,
without being seen by anybody but her. He asked Madam de
Martigues some questions to get further lights; and the Prince of
Cleves, who had eyed him very strictly while Madam de Martigues
was speaking, thought he knew what his design was. The questions
the Duke asked still more confirmed him in that thought, so that
he made no doubt but his intention was to go and see his wife; he
was not mistaken in his suspicions: this design entered so deeply
into the Duke de Nemours's mind, that after having spent the
night in considering the proper methods to execute it, he went
betimes the next morning to ask the King's leave to go to Paris,
on some pretended occasion.

Monsieur de Cleves was in no doubt concerning the occasion of his
journey; and he resolved to inform himself as to his wife's
conduct, and to continue no longer in so cruel an uncertainty; he
had a desire to set out the same time as the Duke de Nemours did,
and to hide himself where he might discover the success of the
journey; but fearing his departure might appear extraordinary,
and lest the Duke, being advertised of it, might take other
measures, he resolved to trust this business to a gentleman of
his, whose fidelity and wit he was assured of; he related to him
the embarrassment he was under, and what the virtue of his wife
had been till that time, and ordered him to follow the Duke de
Nemours, to watch him narrowly, to see if he did not go to
Colomiers, and if he did not enter the garden in the night.

The gentleman, who was very capable of this commission, acquitted
himself of it with all the exactness imaginable. He followed the
Duke to a village within half a league of Colomiers, where the
Duke stopped and the gentleman easily guessed his meaning was to
stay there till night. He did not think it convenient to wait
there, but passed on, and placed himself in that part of the
forest where he thought the Duke would pass: he took his measures
very right; for it was no sooner night but he heard somebody
coming that way, and though it was dark, he easily knew the Duke
de Nemours; he saw him walk round the garden, as with a design to
listen if he could hear anybody, and to choose the most
convenient place to enter: the palisades were very high and
double, in order to prevent people from coming in, so that it was
very difficult for the Duke to get over, however he made a shift
to do it. He was no sooner in the garden but he discovered where
Madam de Cleves was; he saw a great light in the bower, all the
windows of it were open; upon this, slipping along by the side of
the palisades, he came up close to it, and one may easily judge
what were the emotions of his heart at that instant: he took his
station behind one of the windows, which served him conveniently
to see what Madam de Cleves was doing. He saw she was alone; he
saw her so inimitably beautiful, that he could scarce govern the
transports which that sight gave him: the weather was hot, her
head and neck were uncovered, and her hair hung carelessly about
her. She lay on a couch with a table before her, on which were
several baskets full of ribbons, out of which she chose some, and
he observed she chose those colours which he wore at the
tournament; he saw her make them up into knots for an Indian
cane, which had been his, and which he had given to his sister;
Madam de Cleves took it from her, without seeming to know it had
belonged to the Duke. After she had finished her work with the
sweetest grace imaginable, the sentiments of her heart showing
themselves in her countenance, she took a wax candle and came to
a great table over against the picture of the Siege of Mets, in
which was the portrait of the Duke de Nemours; she sat down and
set herself to look upon that portrait, with an attention and
thoughtfulness which love only can give.

It is impossible to express what Monsieur de Nemours felt at this
moment; to see, at midnight, in the finest place in the world, a
lady he adored, to see her without her knowing that he saw her,
and to find her wholly taken up with things that related to him,
and to the passion which she concealed from him; this is what was
never tasted nor imagined by any other lover.

The Duke was so transported and beside himself, that he continued
motionless, with his eyes fixed on Madam de Cleves, without
thinking how precious his time was; when he was a little
recovered, he thought it best not to speak to her till she came
into the garden, and he imagined he might do it there with more
safety, because she would be at a greater distance from her
women; but finding she stayed in the bower, he resolved to go in
: when he was upon the point of doing it, what was his confusion;
how fearful was he of displeasing her, and of changing that
countenance, where so much sweetness dwelt, into looks of anger
and resentment!

To come to see Madam de Cleves without being seen by her had no
impudence in it, but to think of showing himself appeared very
unwise; a thousand things now came into his mind which he had not
thought of before; it carried in it somewhat extremely bold and
extravagant, to surprise in the middle of the night a person to
whom he had never yet spoke of his passion. He thought he had no
reason to expect she would hear him, but that she would justly
resent the danger to which he exposed her, by accidents which
might rise from this attempt; all his courage left him, and he
was several times upon the point of resolving to go back again
without showing himself; yet urged by the desire of speaking to
her, and heartened by the hopes which everything he had seen gave
him, he advanced some steps, but in such disorder, that a scarf
he had on entangled in the window, and made a noise. Madam de
Cleves turned about, and whether her fancy was full of him, or
that she stood in a place so directly to the light that she might
know him, she thought it was he, and without the least hesitation
or turning towards the place where he was, she entered the bower
where her women were. On her entering she was in such disorder,
that to conceal it she was forced to say she was ill; she said it
too in order to employ her people about her, and to give the Duke
time to retire. When she had made some reflection, she thought
she had been deceived, and that her fancying she saw Monsieur de
Nemours was only the effect of imagination. She knew he was at
Chambort; she saw no probability of his engaging in so hazardous
an enterprise; she had a desire several times to re-enter the
bower, and to see if there was anybody in the garden. She wished
perhaps as much as she feared to find the Duke de Nemours there;
but at last reason and prudence prevailed over her other
thoughts, and she found it better to continue in the doubt she
was in, than to run the hazard of satisfying herself about it;
she was a long time ere she could resolve to leave a place to
which she thought the Duke was so near, and it was almost
daybreak when she returned to the castle.

The Duke de Nemours stayed in the garden, as long as there was
any light; he was not without hopes of seeing Madam de Cleves
again, though he was convinced that she knew him, and that she
went away only to avoid him; but when he found the doors were
shut, he knew he had nothing more to hope; he went to take horse
near the place where Monsieur de Cleves's gentleman was watching
him; this gentleman followed him to the same village, where he
had left him in the evening. The Duke resolved to stay there all
the day, in order to return at night to Colomiers, to see if
Madam de Cleves would yet have the cruelty to shun him or not
expose herself to view: though he was very much pleased to find
himself so much in her thoughts, yet was he extremely grieved at
the same time to see her so naturally bent to avoid him.

Never was passion so tender and so violent as that of Monsieur de
Nemours; he walked under the willows, along a little brook which
ran behind the house, where he lay concealed; he kept himself as
much out of the way as possible, that he might not be seen by
anybody; he abandoned himself to the transports of his love, and
his heart was so full of tenderness, that he was forced to let
fall some tears, but those tears were such as grief alone could
not shed; they had a mixture of sweetness and pleasure in them
which is to be found only in love.

He set himself to recall to mind all the actions of Madam de
Cleves ever since he had been in love with her; her cruelty and
rigour, and that modesty and decency of behaviour she had always
observed towards him, though she loved him; "For, after all, she
loves me," said he, "she loves me, I cannot doubt of it, the
deepest engagements and the greatest favours are not more certain
proofs than those I have had. In the meantime, I am treated with
the same rigour as if I were hated; I hoped something from time,
but I have no reason to expect it any longer; I see her always
equally on her guard against me and against herself; if I were
not loved, I should make it my business to please; but I do
please; she loves me, and tries to hide it from me. What have I
then to hope, and what change am I to expect in my fortune?
though I am loved by the most amiable person in the world, I am
under that excess of passion which proceeds from the first
certainty of being loved by her, only to make me more sensible of
being ill used; let me see that you love me, fair Princess,"
cried he, "make me acquainted with your sentiments; provided I
know them once in my life from you, I am content that you resume
for ever the cruelties with which you oppress me; look upon me at
least with the same eyes with which I saw you look that night
upon my picture; could you behold that with such sweet
complacency, and yet avoid me with so much cruelty? What are you
afraid of? Why does my love appear so terrible to you? You love
me, and you endeavour in vain to conceal it; you have even given
me involuntary proofs of it; I know my happiness, permit me to
enjoy it, and cease to make me unhappy. Is it possible I should
be loved by the Princess of Cleves, and yet be unhappy? how
beautiful was she last night? how could I forbear throwing myself
at her feet? If I had done it, I might perhaps have hindered her
from shunning me, my respectful behaviour would have removed her
fears; but perhaps, after all, she did not know it was I; I
afflict myself more than I need; she was only frightened to see a
man at so unseasonable an hour."

These thoughts employed the Duke de Nemours all the day; he
wished impatiently for the night, and as soon as it came he
returned to Colomiers. Monsieur de Cleves's gentleman, who was
disguised that he might be less observed, followed him to the
place to which he had followed him the evening before, and saw
him enter the garden again. The Duke soon perceived that Madam
de Cleves had not run the risk of his making another effort to
see her, the doors being all shut; he looked about on all sides
to see if he could discover any light, but he saw none.

Madam de Cleves, suspecting he might return, continued in her
chamber; she had reason to apprehend she should not always have
the power to avoid him, and she would not submit herself to the
hazard of speaking to him in a manner that would have been
unsuitable to the conduct she had hitherto observed.

Monsieur de Nemours, though he had no hopes of seeing her, could
not find in his heart soon to leave a place where she so often
was; he passed the whole night in the garden, and found some
pleasure at least in seeing the same objects which she saw every
day; it was near sunrise before he thought of retiring; but as
last the fear of being discovered obliged him to go away.

It was impossible for him to return to Court without seeing Madam
de Cleves; he made a visit to his sister the Duchess of Mercoeur,
at her house near Colomiers. She was extremely surprised at her
brother's arrival; but he invented so probable a pretence for his
journey, and conducted his plot so skilfully, that he drew her to
make the first proposal herself of visiting Madam de Cleves.
This proposal was executed that very day, and Monsieur de Nemours
told his sister, that he would leave her at Colomiers, in order
to go directly to the King; he formed this pretence of leaving
her at Colomiers in hopes she would take her leave before him,
and he thought he had found out by that means an infallible way
of speaking to Madam de Cleves.

The Princess of Cleves, when they arrived, was walking in her
garden the sight of Monsieur de Nemours gave her no small
uneasiness, and put her out of doubt that it was he she had seen
the foregoing night. The certainty of his having done so bold
and imprudent a thing gave her some little resentment against
him, and the Duke observed an air of coldness in her face, which
sensibly grieved him; the conversation turned upon indifferent
matters, and yet he had the skill all the while to show so much
wit, complaisance, and admiration for Madam de Cleves, that part
of the coldness she expressed towards him at first left her in
spite of herself.

When his fears were over and he began to take heart, he showed an
extreme curiosity to see the pavilion in the forest; he spoke of
it as of the most agreeable place in the world, and gave so exact
a description of it, that Madam de Mercoeur said he must needs
have been there several times to know all the particular beauties
of it so well. "And yet, I don't believe," replied Madam de
Cleves, "that the Duke de Nemours was ever there; it has been
finished but a little while." "It is not long since I was
there," replied the Duke, looking upon her, "and I don't know
if I ought not to be glad you have forgot you saw me there."
Madam de Mercoeur, being taken up in observing the beauties of
the gardens, did not attend to what her brother said; Madam de
Cleves blushed, and with her eyes cast down, without looking on
Monsieur de Nemours, "I don't remember," said she, "to have
seen you there; and if you have been there, it was without my
knowledge." "It is true, Madam," replied he, "I was there
without your orders, and I passed there the most sweet and cruel
moments of my life."

Madam de Cleves understood very well what he said, but made him
no answer; her care was to prevent Madam de Mercoeur from going
into the bower, because the Duke de Nemours's picture was there,
and she had no mind she should see it; she managed the matter so
well, that the time passed away insensibly, and Madam de Mercoeur
began to talk of going home: but when Madam de Cleves found that
the Duke and his sister did not go together, she plainly saw to
what she was going to be exposed; she found herself under the
same embarrassment she was in at Paris, and took also the same
resolution; her fear, lest this visit should be a further
confirmation of her husband's suspicions, did not a little
contribute to determine her; and to the end Monsieur de Nemours
might not remain alone with her, she told Madam de Mercoeur she
would wait upon her to the borders of the forest, and ordered her
chariot to be got ready. The Duke was struck with such a violent
grief to find that Madam de Cleves still continued to exercise
the same rigours towards him, that he turned pale that moment.
Madam de Mercoeur asked him if he was ill, but he looked upon
Madam de Cleves without being perceived by anybody else, and made
her sensible by his looks that he had no other illness besides
despair: however, there was no remedy but he must let them go
together without daring to follow them; after what he had told
his sister, that he was to go directly to Court, he could not
return with her, but went to Paris, and set out from thence the
next day.

Monsieur de Cleves's gentleman had observed him all the while; he
returned also to Paris, and when he found Monsieur de Nemours was
set out for Chambort, he took post to get thither before him, and
to give an account of his journey; his master expected his return
with impatience, as if the happiness or unhappiness of his life
depended upon it.

As soon as he saw him, he judged from his countenance and his
silence, that the news he brought was very disagreeable; he was
struck with sorrow, and continued some time with his head hung
down, without being able to speak; at last he made signs with his
hand to him to withdraw; "Go," says he, "I see what you have
to say to me, but I have not the power to hear it." "I can
acquaint you with nothing," said the gentleman, "upon which one
can form any certain judgment; it is true, the Duke de Nemours
went two nights successively into the garden in the forest, and
the day after he was at Colomiers with the Duchess of Mercoeur."
"'Tis enough," replied Monsieur de Cleves, still making signs
to him to withdraw, "'tis enough; I want no further
information." The gentleman was forced to leave his master,
abandoned to his despair; nor ever was despair more violent. Few
men of so high a spirit, and so passionately in love, as the
Prince of Cleves, have experienced at the same time the grief
arising from the falsehood of a mistress, and the shame of being
deceived by a wife.

Monsieur de Cleves could set no bounds to his affliction; he felt
ill of a fever that very night, and his distemper was accompanied
with such ill symptoms that it was thought very dangerous. Madam
de Cleves was informed of it, and came in all haste to him; when
she arrived, he was still worse; besides, she observed something
in him so cold and chilling with respect to her, that she was
equally surprised and grieved at it; he even seemed to receive
with pain the services she did him in his sickness, but at last
she imagined it was perhaps only the effect of his distemper.

When she was come to Blois where the Court then was, the Duke de
Nemours was overjoyed to think she was at the same place where he
was; he endeavoured to see her, and went every day to the Prince
of Cleves's under pretence of enquiring how he did, but it was to
no purpose; she did not stir out of her husband's room, and was
grieved at heart for the condition he was in. It vexed Monsieur
de Nemours to see her under such affliction, an affliction which
he plainly saw revived the friendship she had for Monsieur de
Cleves, and diverted the passion that lay kindling in her heart.
The thought of this shocked him severely for some time; but the
extremity, to which Monsieur de Cleves's sickness was grown,
opened to him a scene of new hopes; he saw it was probable that
Madam de Cleves would be at liberty to follow her own
inclinations, and that he might expect for the future a series of
happiness and lasting pleasures; he could not support the ecstasy
of that thought, a thought so full of transport! he banished it
out of his mind for fear of becoming doubly wretched, if he
happened to be disappointed in his hopes.

In the meantime Monsieur de Cleves was almost given over by his
physicians. One of the last days of his illness, after having
had a very bad night, he said in the morning, he had a desire to
sleep; but Madam de Cleves, who remained alone in his chamber,
found that instead of taking repose he was extremely restless;
she came to him, and fell on her knees by his bedside, her face
all covered with tears; and though Monsieur de Cleves had taken a
resolution not to show her the violent displeasure he had
conceived against her, yet the care she took of him, and the
sorrow she expressed, which sometimes he thought sincere, and at
other times the effect of her dissimulation and perfidiousness,
distracted him so violently with opposite sentiments full of woe,
that he could not forbear giving them vent.

"You shed plenty of tears, Madam," said he, "for a death which
you are the cause of, and which cannot give you the trouble you
pretend to be in; I am no longer in a condition to reproach
you," added he with a voice weakened by sickness and grief; "I
die through the dreadful grief and discontent you have given me;
ought so extraordinary an action, as that of your speaking to me
at Colomiers, to have had so little consequences? Why did you
inform me of your passion for the Duke de Nemours, if your virtue
was no longer able to oppose it? I loved you to that extremity,
I would have been glad to have been deceived, I confess it to my
shame; I have regretted that pleasing false security out of which
you drew me; why did not you leave me in that blind tranquillity
which so many husbands enjoy? I should perhaps have been
ignorant all my life, that you was in love with Monsieur de
Nemours; I shall die," added he, "but know that you make death
pleasing to me, and that, after you have taken from me the esteem
and affection I had for you, life would be odious to me. What
should I live for? to spend my days with a person whom I have
loved so much, and by whom I have been so cruelly deceived; or to
live apart from her and break out openly into violences so
opposite to my temper, and the love I had for you? That love,
Madam, was far greater than it appeared to you; I concealed the
greatest part of it from you, for fear of being importunate, or
of losing somewhat in your esteem by a behaviour not becoming a
husband: in a word, I deserved your affection more than once, and
I die without regret, since I have not been able to obtain it,
and since I can no longer desire it. Adieu, Madam; you will one
day regret a man who loved you with a sincere and virtuous
passion; you will feel the anxiety which reasonable persons meet
with in intrigue and gallantry, and you will know the difference
between such a love as I had for you, and the love of people who
only profess admiration for you to gratify their vanity in
seducing you; but my death will leave you at liberty, and you may
make the Duke de Nemours happy without guilt: what signifies
anything that can happen when I am no more, and why should I have
the weakness to trouble myself about it?

Madam de Cleves was so far from imagining that her husband
suspected her virtue, that she heard all this discourse without
comprehending the meaning of it, and without having any other
notion about it, except that he reproached her for her
inclination for the Duke de Nemours; at last, starting all of a
sudden out of her blindness, "I guilty!" cried she, "I am a
stranger to the very thought of guilt; the severest virtue could
not have inspired any other conduct than that which I have
followed, and I never acted anything but what I could have wished
you to have been witness to." "Could you have wished,"
replied Monsieur de Cleves, looking on her with disdain, "I had
been a witness of those nights you passed with Monsieur de
Nemours? Ah! Madam; is it you I speak of, when I speak of a lady
that has passed nights with a man, not her husband?" "No,
sir," replied she, "it is not me you speak of; I never spent a
night nor a moment with the Duke de Nemours; he never saw me in
private, I never suffered him to do it, nor would give him a
hearing. I'll take all the oaths . . ." "Speak no more of
it," said he interrupting her, "false oaths or a confession
would perhaps give me equal pain."

Madam de Cleves could not answer him; her tears and her grief
took away her speech; at last, struggling for utterance, "Look
on me at least, hear me," said she; "if my interest only were
concerned I would suffer these reproaches, but your life is at
stake; hear me for your own sake; I am so innocent, truth pleads
so strongly for me, it is impossible but I must convince you."
"Would to God you could!" cried he; "but what can you say? the
Duke de Nemours, has not he been at Colomiers with his sister?
And did not he pass the two foregoing nights with you in the
garden in the forest?" "If that be my crime," replied she,
"it is easy to justify myself; I do not desire you to believe
me, believe your servants and domestics; ask them if I went into
the garden the evening before Monsieur de Nemours came to
Colomiers, and if I did not go out, of it the night before two
hours sooner than I used to do." After this she told him how
she imagined she had seen somebody in the garden, and
acknowledged that she believed it to be the Duke de Nemours; she
spoke to him with so much confidence, and truth so naturally
persuades, even where it is not probable, that Monsieur de Cleves
was almost convinced of her innocence. "I don't know," said
he, "whether I ought to believe you; I am so near death, that I
would not know anything that might make me die with reluctance;
you have cleared your innocence too late; however it will be a
comfort to me to go away with the thought that you are worthy of
the esteem I have had for you; I beg you I may be assured of this
further comfort, that my memory will be dear to you, and that if
it had been in your power you would have had for me the same
passion which you had for another." He would have gone on, but
was so weak that his speech failed him. Madam de Cleves sent for
the physicians, who found him almost lifeless; yet he languished
some days, and died at last with admirable constancy.

Madam de Cleves was afflicted to so violent a degree, that she
lost in a manner the use of her reason; the Queen was so kind as
to come to see her, and carried her to a convent without her
being sensible whither she was conducted; her sisters-in-law
brought her back to Paris, before she was in a condition to feel
distinctly even her griefs: when she was restored to her faculty
of thinking, and reflected what a husband she had lost, and
considered that she had caused his death by the passion which she
had for another, the horror she had for herself and the Duke de
Nemours was not to be expressed.

The Duke in the beginning of her mourning durst pay her no other
respects but such as decency required; he knew Madam de Cleves
enough to be sensible that great importunities and eagerness
would be disagreeable to her; but what he learned afterwards
plainly convinced him that he ought to observe the same conduct a
great while longer.

A servant of the Duke's informed him that Monsieur de Cleves's
gentleman, who was his intimate friend, had told him, in the
excess of his grief for the loss of his master, that Monsieur de
Nemours's journey to Colomiers was the occasion of his death.
The Duke was extremely surprised to hear this; but after having
reflected upon it, he guessed the truth in part, and rightly
judged what Madam de Cleves's sentiments would be at first, and
what a distance it would throw him from her, if she thought her
husband's illness was occasioned by his jealousy; he was of
opinion that he ought not so much as to put her in mind of his
name very soon, and he abided by that conduct, however severe it
appeared to him.

He took a journey to Paris, nor could he forbear calling at her
house to enquire how she did. He was told, that she saw nobody,
and that she had even given strict orders that they should not
trouble her with an account of any that might come to see her;
those very strict orders, perhaps, were given with a view to the
Duke, and to prevent her hearing him spoken of; but he was too
much in love to be able to live so absolutely deprived of the
sight of Madam de Cleves; he resolved to find the means, let the
difficulty be what it would, to get out of a condition which was
so insupportable to him.

The grief of that Princess exceeded the bounds of reason; a
husband dying, and dying on her account, and with so much
tenderness for her, never went out of her mind: she continually
revolved in her thoughts what she owed him, and she condemned
herself for not having had a passion for him, as if that had been
a thing which depended on herself; she found no consolation but
in the thought that she lamented him as he deserved to be
lamented, and that she would do nothing during the remainder of
her life, but what he would have been glad she should have done,
had he lived.

She had often been thinking how he came to know, that the Duke de
Nemours had been at Colomiers; she could not suspect that the
Duke himself had told it; though it was indifferent to her
whether he had or no, she thought herself so perfectly cured of
the passion she had had for him; and yet she was grieved at the
heart to think that he was the cause of her husband's death; and
she remembered with pain the fear Monsieur de Cleves expressed,
when dying, lest she should marry the Duke; but all these griefs
were swallowed up in that for the loss of her husband, and she
thought she had no other but that one.

After several months the violence of her grief abated, and she
fell into a languishing kind of melancholy. Madam de Martigues
made a journey to Paris, and constantly visited her during the
time she stayed there: she entertained her with an account of the
Court, and what passed there; and though Madam de Cleves appeared
unconcerned, yet still she continued talking on that subject in
hopes to divert her.

She talked to her of the Viscount, of Monsieur de Guise, and of
all others that were distinguished either in person or merit.
"As for the Duke de Nemours," says she, "I don't know if State
affairs have not taken possession of his heart in the room of
gallantry; he is abundantly less gay than he used to be, and
seems wholly to decline the company of women; he often makes
journeys to Paris, and I believe he is there now." The Duke de
Nemours's name surprised Madam de Cleves, and made her blush; she
changed the discourse, nor did Madam de Martigues take notice of
her concern.

The next day Madam de Cleves, who employed herself in things
suitable to the condition she was in, went to a man's house in
her neighbourhood, that was famous for working silk after a
particular manner, and she designed to bespeak some pieces for
herself; having seen several kinds of his work, she spied a
chamber door, where she thought there were more, and desired it
might be opened: the master answered, he had not the key, and
that the room was taken by a man, who came there sometimes in the
daytime to draw the plans and prospects of the fine houses and
gardens that were to be seen from his windows; "he is one of the
handsomest men I ever saw," added he, "and does not look much
like one that works for his living; whenever he comes here, I
observe he always looks towards the gardens and houses, but I
never see him work."

Madam de Cleves listened to this story very attentively, and what
Madam de Martigues had told her of Monsieur de Nemours's coming
now and then to Paris, she applied in her fancy to that handsome
man, who came to a place so near her house; and this gave her an
idea of Monsieur de Nemours endeavouring to see her; which raised
a disorder in her, of which she did not know the cause: she went
towards the windows to see where they looked into, and she found
they overlooked all her gardens, and directly faced her
apartment: and when she was in her own room, she could easily see
that very window where she was told the man came to take his
prospects. The thought that it was the Duke de Nemours, entirely
changed the situation of her mind; she no longer found herself in
that pensive tranquillity which she had begun to enjoy, her
spirits were ruffled again as with a tempest: at last, not being
able to stay at home, she went abroad to take the air in a garden
without the suburbs, where she hoped to be alone; she walked
about a great while, and found no likelihood of anyone's being

Having crossed a little wilderness she perceived at the end of
the walk, in the most remote part of the garden, a kind of a
bower, open on all sides, and went towards it; when she was near,
she saw a man lying on the benches, who seemed sunk into a deep
contemplation, and she discovered it was the Duke de Nemours.
Upon this she stopped short: but her attendants made some noise,
which roused the Duke out of his musing: he took no notice who
the persons were that disturbed him, but got up in order to avoid
the company that was coming towards him, and making a low bow,
which hindered him from seeing those he saluted, he turned into
another walk.

If he had known whom he avoided, with what eagerness would he
have returned? But he walked down the alley, and Madam de Cleves
saw him go out at a back door, where his coach waited for him.
What an effect did this transient view produce in the heart of
Madam de Cleves? What a flame rekindled out of the embers of her
love, and with what violence did it burn? She went and sat down
in the same place from which Monsieur de Nemours was newly risen,
and seemed perfectly overwhelmed; his image immediately possessed
her fancy, and she considered him as the most amiable person in
the world, as one who had long loved her with a passion full of
veneration and sincerity, slighting all for her, paying respect
even to her grief, to his own torture, labouring to see her
without a thought of being seen by her, quitting the Court
(though the Court's delight) to come and look on the walls where
she was shut up, and to pass his melancholy hours in places where
he could not hope to meet her; in a word, a man whose attachment
to her alone merited returns of love, and for whom she had so
strong an inclination, that she should have loved him, though she
had not been beloved by him; and besides, one whose quality was
suitable to hers: all the obstacles that could rise from duty and
virtue were now removed, and all the trace that remained on her
mind of their former condition was the passion the Duke de
Nemours had for her, and that which she had for him.

All these ideas were new to her; her affliction for the death of
her husband had left her no room for thoughts of this kind, but
the sight of Monsieur de Nemours revived them, and they crowded
again into her mind; but when she had taken her fill of them, and
remembered that this very man, whom she considered as a proper
match for her, was the same she had loved in her husband's
lifetime, and was the cause of his death, and that on his
death-bed he had expressed a fear of her marrying him, her severe
virtue was so shocked at the imagination, that she thought it
would be as criminal in her to marry Monsieur de Nemours now, as
it was to love him before: in short, she abandoned herself to
these reflections so pernicious to her happiness, and fortified
herself in them by the inconveniency which she foresaw would
attend such a marriage. After two hours' stay in this place she
returned home, convinced that it was indispensably her duty to
avoid the sight of the man she loved.

But this conviction, which was the effect of reason and virtue,
did not carry her heart along with it; her heart was so violently
fixed on the Duke de Nemours, that she became even an object of
compassion, and was wholly deprived of rest. Never did she pass
a night in so uneasy a manner; in the morning, the first thing
she did was to see if there was anybody at the window which
looked towards her apartment; she saw there Monsieur de Nemours,
and was so surprised upon it, and withdrew so hastily, as made
him judge she knew him; he had often wished to be seen by her,
ever since he had found out that method of seeing her, and when
he had no hopes of obtaining that satisfaction, his way was to go
to muse in the garden where she found him.

Tired at last with so unfortunate and uncertain a condition, he
resolved to attempt something to determine his fate: "What
should I wait for?" said he. "I have long known she loves me;
she is free; she has no duty now to plead against me; why should
I submit myself to the hardship of seeing her, without being seen
by her or speaking to her? Is it possible for love so absolutely
to have deprived me of reason and courage, and to have rendered
me so different from what I have been in all my other amours? It
was fit I should pay a regard to Madam de Cleves's grief; but I
do it too long, and I give her leisure to extinguish the
inclination she had for me."

After these reflections, he considered what measures he ought to
take to see her; he found he had no longer any reason to conceal
his passion from the Viscount de Chartres; he resolved to speak
to him of it, and to communicate to him his design with regard to
his niece.

The Viscount was then at Paris, the town being extremely full,
and everybody busy in preparing equipages and dresses to attend
the King of Navarre, who was to conduct the Queen of Spain:
Monsieur de Nemours, went to the Viscount, and made an ingenuous
confession to him of all he had concealed hitherto, except Madam
de Cleves's sentiments, which he would not seem to know.

The Viscount received what he told him with a great deal of
pleasure, and assured him, that though he was not acquainted with
his sentiments on that subject, he had often thought, since Madam
de Cleves had been a widow, that she was the only lady that
deserved him. Monsieur de Nemours entreated him to give him an
opportunity of speaking to her, and learning what disposition she
was in.

The Viscount proposed to carry him to her house, but the Duke was
of opinion she would be shocked at it, because as yet she saw
nobody; so that they agreed, it would be better for the Viscount
to ask her to come to him, under some pretence, and for the Duke
to come to them by a private staircase, that he might not be
observed. Accordingly this was executed; Madam de Cleves came,
the Viscount went to receive her, and led her into a great closet
at the end of his apartment; some time after Monsieur de Nemours
came in, as by chance: Madam de Cleves was in great surprise to
see him; she blushed and endeavoured to hide it; the Viscount at
first spoke of indifferent matters, and then went out, as if he
had some orders to give, telling Madam de Cleves he must desire
her to entertain the Duke in his stead, and that he would return

It is impossible to express the sentiments of Monsieur de
Nemours, and Madam de Cleves, when they saw themselves alone, and
at liberty to speak to one another, as they had never been
before: they continued silent a while; at length, said Monsieur
de Nemours, "Can you, Madam, pardon the Viscount for giving me
an opportunity of seeing you, and speaking to you, an opportunity
which you have always so cruelly denied me?" "I ought not to
pardon him," replied she, "for having forgot the condition I am
in, and to what he exposes my reputation." Having spoke these
words, she would have gone away; but Monsieur de Nemours stopping
her, "Fear not, Madam," said he; "you have nothing to
apprehend; nobody knows I am here; hear me, Madam, hear me, if
not out of goodness, yet at least for your own sake, and to free
yourself from the extravagancies which a passion I am no longer
master of will infallibly hurry me into." Madam de Cleves now
first yielded to the inclination she had for the Duke de Nemours,
and beholding him with eyes full of softness and charms, "But
what can you hope for," says she, "from the complaisance you
desire of me? You will perhaps repent that you have obtained it,
and I shall certainly repent that I have granted it. You deserve
a happier fortune than you have hitherto had, or than you can
have for the future, unless you seek it elsewhere." "I,
Madam," said he, "seek happiness anywhere else? Or is there
any happiness for me, but in your love? Though I never spoke of
it before, I cannot believe, Madam, that you are not acquainted
with my passion, or that you do not know it to be the greatest
and most sincere that ever was; what trials has it suffered in
things you are a stranger to? What trials have you put it to by
your rigour?"

"Since you are desirous I should open myself to you," answered
Madam de Cleves, "I'll comply with your desire, and I'll do it
with a sincerity that is rarely to be met with in persons of my
sex: I shall not tell you that I have not observed your passion
for me; perhaps you would not believe me if I should tell you so;
I confess therefore to you, not only that I have observed it, but
that I have observed it in such lights as you yourself could wish
it might appear to me in." "And if you have seen my passion,
Madam," said he, "is it possible for you not to have been moved
by it? And may I venture to ask, if it has made no impression on
your heart?" "You should have judged of that from my
conduct," replied she; "but I should be glad to know what you
thought of it." "I ought to be in a happier condition,"
replied he, "to venture to inform you; my fortune would
contradict what I should say; all I can tell you, Madam, is that
I heartily wished you had not acknowledged to Monsieur de Cleves
what you concealed from me, and that you had concealed from him
what you made appear to me." "How came you to discover,"
replied she blushing, "that I acknowledged anything to Monsieur
de Cleves?" "I learned it from yourself, Madam," replied he;
"but that you may the better pardon the boldness I showed in
listening to what you said, remember if I have made an ill use of
what I heard, if my hopes rose upon it, or if I was the more
encouraged to speak to you."

Here he began to relate how he had overheard her conversation
with Monsieur de Cleves; but she interrupted him before he had
finished; "Say no more of it," said she, "I see how you came
to be so well informed; I suspected you knew the business but too
well at the Queen-Dauphin's, who learned this adventure from
those you had entrusted with it."

Upon this Monsieur de Nemours informed her in what manner the
thing came to pass; "No excuses," says she; "I have long
forgiven you, without being informed how it was brought about;
but since you have learned from my ownself what I designed to
conceal from you all my life, I will acknowledge to you that you
have inspired me with sentiments I was unacquainted with before I
saw you, and of which I had so slender an idea, that they gave me
at first a surprise which still added to the pain that constantly
attends them: I am the less ashamed to make you this confession,
because I do it at a time when I may do it without a crime, and
because you have seen that my conduct has not been governed by my

"Can you believe, Madam," said Monsieur de Nemours, falling on
his knees, "but I shall expire at your feet with joy and
transport?" "I have told you nothing," said she smiling,
"but what you knew too well before." "Ah! Madam," said he,
"what a difference is there between learning it by chance, and
knowing it from yourself, and seeing withal that you are pleased
I know it." "It is true," answered she, "I would have you
know it, and I find a pleasure in telling it you; I don't even
know if I do not tell it you more for my own sake, than for
yours; for, after all, this confession will have no consequences,
and I shall follow the austere rules which my duty imposes upon
me." "How! Madam; you are not of this opinion," replied
Monsieur de Nemours; "you are no longer under any obligation of
duty; you are at liberty; and if I durst, I should even tell you,
that it is in your power to act so, that your duty shall one day
oblige you to preserve the sentiments you have for me." "My
duty," replied she, "forbids me to think of any man, but of you
the last in the world, and for reasons which are unknown to
you." "Those reasons perhaps are not unknown to me," answered
he, "but they are far from being good ones. I believe that
Monsieur de Cleves thought me happier than I was, and imagined
that you approved of those extravagancies which my passion led me
into without your approbation." "Let us talk no more of that
adventure," said she; "I cannot bear the thought of it, it
giving me shame, and the consequences of it have been such that
it is too melancholy a subject to be spoken of; it is but too
true that you were the cause of Monsieur de Cleves's death; the
suspicions which your inconsiderate conduct gave him, cost him
his life as much as if you had taken it away with your own hands:
judge what I ought to have done, had you two fought a duel, and
he been killed; I know very well, it is not the same thing in the
eye of the world, but with me there's no difference, since I know
that his death was owing to you, and that it was on my account."
"Ah! Madam," said Monsieur de Nemours, "what phantom of duty
do you oppose to my happiness? What! Madam, shall a vain and
groundless fancy hinder you from making a man happy, for whom you
have an inclination? What, have I had some ground to hope I
might pass my life with you? has my fate led me to love the most
deserving lady in the world? have I observed in her all that can
make a mistress adorable? Has she had no disliking to me? Have
I found in her conduct everything which perhaps I could wish for
in a wife? For in short, Madam, you are perhaps the only person
in whom those two characters have ever concurred to the degree
they are in you; those who marry mistresses, by whom they are
loved, tremble when they marry them, and cannot but fear lest
they should observe the same conduct towards others which they
observed towards them; but in you, Madam, I can fear nothing, I
see nothing in you but matter of admiration: have I had a
prospect of so much felicity for no other end but to see it
obstructed by you? Ah! Madam, you forget, that you have
distinguished me above other men; or rather, you have not
distinguished me; you have deceived yourself, and I have
flattered myself."

"You have not flattered yourself," replied she; "the reasons
of my duty would not perhaps appear so strong to me without that
distinction of which you doubt, and it is that which makes me
apprehend unfortunate consequences from your alliance." "I
have nothing to answer, Madam," replied he, "when you tell me
you apprehend unfortunate consequences; but I own, that after all
you have been pleased to say to me, I did not expect from you so
cruel a reason." "The reason you speak of," replied Madam de
Cleves, "is so little disobliging as to you, that I don't know
how to tell it you." "Alas! Madam," said he, " how can you
fear I should flatter myself too much after what you have been
saying to me?" "I shall continue to speak to you," says she,
"with the same sincerity with which I begun, and I'll lay aside
that delicacy and reserve that modesty obliges one to in a first
conversation, but I conjure you to hear me without interruption.

"I think I owe the affection you have for me, the poor
recompsense not to hide from you any of my thoughts, and to let
you see them such as they really are; this in all probability
will be the only time I shall allow myself the freedom to
discover them to you; and I cannot confess without a blush, that
the certainty of not being loved by you, as I am, appears to me
so dreadful a misfortune, that if I had not invincible reasons
grounded on my duty, I could not resolve to subject myself to it;
I know that you are free, that I am so too, and that
circumstances are such, that the public perhaps would have no
reason to blame either you or me, should we unite ourselves
forever; but do men continue to love, when under engagements for
life? Ought I to expect a miracle in my favour? And shall I
place myself in a condition of seeing certainly that passion come
to an end, in which I should place all my felicity? Monsieur de
Cleves was perhaps the only man in the world capable of
continuing to love after marriage; it was my ill fate that I was
not able to enjoy that happiness, and perhaps his passion had not
lasted but that he found none, in me; but I should not have the,
same way of preserving yours; I even think your constancy is
owing to the obstacles you have met with; you have met with
enough to animate you to conquer them; and my unguarded actions,
or what you learned by chance, gave you hopes enough not to be
discouraged." "Ah! Madam," replied Monsieur de Nemours, "I
cannot keep the silence you enjoined me; you do me too much
injustice, and make it appear too clearly that you are far from
being prepossessed in my favour." "I confess," answered she,
"that my passions may lead me, but they cannot blind me; nothing
can hinder me from knowing that you are born with a disposition
for gallantry, and have all the qualities proper to give success;
you have already had a great many amours, and you will have more;
I should no longer be she you placed your happiness in; I should
see you as warm for another as you had been for me; this would
grievously vex me, and I am not sure I should not have the
torment of jealousy; I have said too much to conceal from you
that you have already made me know what jealousy is, and that I
suffered such cruel inquietudes the evening the Queen gave me
Madam de Themines's letter, which it was said was addressed to
you, that to this moment I retain an idea of it, which makes me
believe it is the worst of all ills.

"There is scarce a woman but out of vanity or inclination
desires to engage you; there are very few whom you do not please,
and my own experience would make me believe, that there are none
whom it is not in your power to please; I should think you always
in love and beloved, nor should I be often mistaken; and yet in
this case I should have no remedy but patience, nay I question if
I should dare to complain: a lover may be reproached; but can a
husband be so, when one has nothing to urge, but that he loves
one no longer? But admit I could accustom myself to bear a
misfortune of this nature, yet how could I bear that of imagining
I constantly saw Monsieur de Cleves, accusing you of his death,
reproaching me with having loved you, with having married you,
and showing me the difference betwixt his affection and yours?
It is impossible to over-rule such strong reasons as these; I
must continue in the condition I am in, and in the resolution I
have taken never to alter it." "Do you believe you have the
power to do it, Madam?" cried the Duke de Nemours. "Do you
think your resolution can hold out against a man who adores, and
who has the happiness to please you? It is more difficult than
you imagine, Madam, to resist a person who pleases and loves one
at the same time; you have done it by an austerity of virtue,
which is almost without example; but that virtue no longer
opposes your inclinations, and I hope you will follow them in
spite of yourself." "I know nothing can be more difficult than
what I undertake," replied Madam de Cleves; "I distrust my
strength in the midst of my reasons; what I think I owe to the
memory of Monsieur de Cleves would be a weak consideration, if
not supported by the interest of my ease and repose; and the
reasons of my repose have need to be supported by those of my
duty; but though I distrust myself, I believe I shall never
overcome my scruples, nor do I so much as hope to overcome the
inclination I have for you; that inclination will make me
unhappy, and I will deny myself the sight of you, whatever
violence it is to me: I conjure you, by all the power I have
over you, to seek no occasion of seeing me; I am in a condition
which makes that criminal which might be lawful at another time;
decency forbids all commerce between us." Monsieur de Nemours
threw himself at her feet, and gave a loose to all the violent
motions with which he was agitated; he expressed both by his
words and tears the liveliest and most tender passion that ever
heart was touched with; nor was the heart of Madam de Cleves
insensible; she looked upon him with eyes swelled with tears:
"Why was it," cries she, "that I can charge you with Monsieur
de Cleves's death? Why did not my first acquaintance with you
begin since I have been at liberty, or why did not I know you
before I was engaged? Why does fate separate us by such
invincible obstacles?" "There are no obstacles, Madam,"
replied Monsieur de Nemours; "it is you alone oppose my
happiness; you impose on yourself a law which virtue and reason
do not require you to obey." "'Tis true," says she, "I
sacrifice a great deal to a duty which does not subsist but in my
imagination; have patience, and expect what time may produce;
Monsieur de Cleves is but just expired, and that mournful object
is too near to leave me clear and distinct views; in the meantime
enjoy the satisfaction to know you have gained the heart of a
person who would never have loved anyone, had she not seen you:
believe the inclination I have for you will last forever, and
that it will be uniform and the same, whatever becomes of me:
Adieu," said she; "this is a conversation I ought to blush for;
however, give an account of it to the Viscount; I agree to it,
and desire you to do it."

With these words she went away, nor could Monsieur de Nemours
detain her. In the next room she met with the Viscount, who
seeing her under so much concern would not speak to her, but led
her to her coach without saying a word; he returned to Monsieur
de Nemours, who was so full of joy, grief, admiration, and of all
those affections that attend a passion full of hope and fear,
that he had not the use of his reason. It was a long time ere
the Viscount could get from him an account of the conversation;
at last the Duke related it to him, and Monsieur de Chartres,
without being in love, no less admired the virtue, wit and merit
of Madam de Cleves, than did Monsieur de Nemours himself; they
began to examine what issue could reasonably be hoped for in this
affair; and however fearful the Duke de Nemours was from his
love, he agreed with the Viscount, that it was impossible Madam
de Cleves should continue in the resolution she was in; they were
of opinion nevertheless that it was necessary to follow her
orders, for fear, upon the public's perceiving the inclination he
had for her, she should make declarations and enter into
engagements with respect to the world, that she would afterwards
abide by, lest it should be thought she loved him in her
husband's lifetime.

Monsieur de Nemours determined to follow the King; it was a
journey he could not well excuse himself from, and so he resolved
to go without endeavouring to see Madam de Cleves again from the
window out of which he had sometimes seen her; he begged the
Viscount to speak to her; and what did he not desire him to say
in his behalf? What an infinite number of reasons did he furnish
him with, to persuade her to conquer her scruples? In short,
great part of the night was spent before he thought of going

As for Madam de Cleves, she was in no condition to rest; it was a
thing so new to her to have broke loose from the restraints she
had laid on herself, to have endured the first declarations of
love that ever were made to her, and to have confessed that she
herself was in love with him that made them, all this was so new
to her, that she seemed quite another person; she was surprised
at what she had done; she repented of it; she was glad of it; all
her thoughts were full of anxiety and passion; she examined again
the reasons of her duty, which obstructed her happiness; she was
grieved to find them so strong, and was sorry that she had made
them out so clear to Monsieur de Nemours: though she had
entertained thoughts of marrying him, as soon as she beheld him
in the garden of the suburbs, yet her late conversation with him
made a much greater impression on her mind; at some moments she
could not comprehend how she could be unhappy by marrying him,
and she was ready to say in her heart, that her scruples as to
what was past, and her fears for the future, were equally
groundless: at other times, reason and her duty prevailed in her
thoughts, and violently hurried her into a resolution not to
marry again, and never to see Monsieur de Nemours; but this was a
resolution hard to be established in a heart so softened as hers,
and so lately abandoned to the charms of love. At last, to give
herself a little ease, she concluded that it was not yet
necessary to do herself the violence of coming to any resolution,
and decency allowed her a considerable time to determine what to
do: however she resolved to continue firm in having no commerce
with Monsieur de Nemours. The Viscount came to see her, and
pleaded his friend's cause with all the wit and application
imaginable, but could not make her alter her conduct, or recall
the severe orders she had given to Monsieur de Nemours; she told
him her design was not to change her condition; that she knew how
difficult it was to stand to that design, but that she hoped she
should be able to do it; she made him so sensible how far she was
affected with the opinion that Monsieur de Nemours was the cause
of her husband's death, and how much she was convinced that it
would be contrary to her duty to marry him, that the Viscount was
afraid it would be very difficult to take away those impressions;
he did not, however, tell the Duke what he thought, when he gave
him an account of his conversation with her, but left him as much
hope as a man who is loved may reasonably have.

They set out the next day, and went after the King; the Viscount
wrote to Madam de Cleves at Monsieur de Nemours's request, and in
a second letter, which soon followed the first, the Duke wrote a
line or two in his own hand; but Madam de Cleves determined not
to depart from the rules she had prescribed herself, and fearing
the accidents that might happen from letters, informed the
Viscount that she would receive his letters no more, if he
continued to speak of Monsieur de Nemours, and did it in so
peremptory a manner, that the Duke desired him not to mention

During the absence of the Court, which was gone to conduct the
Queen of Spain as far as Poitou, Madam de Cleves continued at
home; and the more distant she was from Monsieur de Nemours, and
from everything that could put her in mind of him, the more she
recalled the memory of the Prince of Cleves, which she made it
her glory to preserve; the reasons she had not to marry the Duke
de Nemours appeared strong with respect to her duty, but
invincible with respect to her quiet; the opinion she had, that
marriage would put an end to his love, and the torments of
jealousy, which she thought the infallible consequences of
marriage, gave her the prospect of a certain unhappiness if she
consented to his desires; on the other hand, she thought it
impossible, if he were present, to refuse the most amiable man in
the world, the man who loved her, and whom she loved, and to
oppose him in a thing that was neither inconsistent with virtue
nor decency: she thought that nothing but absence and distance
could give her the power to do it; and she found she stood in
need of them, not only to support her resolution not to marry,
but even to keep her from seeing Monsieur de Nemours; she
resolved therefore to take a long journey, in order to pass away
the time which decency obliged her to spend in retirement; the
fine estate she had near the Pyrenees seemed the most proper
place she could make choice of; she set out a few days before the
Court returned, and wrote at parting to the Viscount to conjure
him not to think of once enquiring after her, or of writing to her.

Monsieur de Nemours was as much troubled at this journey as
another would have been for the death of his mistress; the
thought of being deprived so long a time of the sight of Madam de
Cleves grieved him to the soul, especially as it happened at a
time when he had lately enjoyed the pleasure of seeing her, and
of seeing her moved by his passion; however he could do nothing
but afflict himself, and his affliction increased every day.
Madam de Cleves, whose spirits had been so much agitated, was no
sooner arrived at her country seat, but she fell desperately ill;
the news of it was brought to Court; Monsieur de Nemours was
inconsolable; his grief proceeded even to despair and
extravagance; the Viscount had much a-do to hinder him from
discovering his passion in public, and as much a-do to keep him
from going in person to know how she did; the relation and
friendship between her and the Viscount served as an excuse for
sending frequent messengers; at last they heard she was out of
the extremity of danger she had been in, but continued in a
languishing malady that left but little hopes of life.

The nature of her disease gave her a prospect of death both near,
and at a distance, and showed her the things of this life in a
very different view from that in which they are seen by people in
health; the necessity of dying, to which she saw herself so near,
taught her to wean herself from the world, and the lingeringness
of her distemper brought her to a habit in it; yet when she was a
little recovered, she found that Monsieur de Nemours was not
effaced from her heart; but to defend herself against him, she
called to her aid all the reasons which she thought she had never
to marry him; after a long conflict in herself, she subdued the
relics of that passion which had been weakened by the sentiments
her illness had given her; the thoughts of death had reproached
her with the memory of Monsieur de Cleves, and this remembrance
was so agreeable to her duty, that it made deep impressions in
her heart; the passions and engagements of the world appeared to
her in the light, in which they appear to persons who have more
great and more distant views. The weakness of her body, which
was brought very low, aided her in preserving these sentiments;
but as she knew what power opportunities have over the wisest
resolutions, she would not hazard the breach of those she had
taken, by returning into any place where she might see him she
loved; she retired, under pretence of change of air, into a
convent, but without declaring a settled resolution of quitting
the Court.

Upon the first news of it, Monsieur de Nemours felt the weight of
this retreat, and saw the importance of it; he presently thought
he had nothing more to hope, but omitted not anything that might
oblige her to return; he prevailed with the Queen to write; he
made the Viscount not only write, but go to her, but all to no
purpose; the Viscount saw her, but she did not tell him she had
fixed her resolution; and yet he judged, she would never return
to Court; at last Monsieur de Nemours himself went to her, under
pretence of using the waters; she was extremely grieved and
surprised to hear he was come, and sent him word by a person of
merit about her, that she desired him not to take it ill if she
did not expose herself to the danger of seeing him, and of
destroying by his presence those sentiments she was obliged to
preserve; that she desired he should know, that having found it
both against her duty and peace of mind to yield to the
inclination she had to be his, all things else were become so
indifferent to her, that she had renounced them for ever; that
she thought only of another life, and had no sentiment remaining
as to this, but the desire of seeing him in the same dispositions
she was in.

Monsieur de Nemours was like to have expired in the presence of
the lady who told him this; he begged her a thousand times to
return to Madam de Cleves, and to get leave for him to see her;
but she told him the Princess had not only forbidden her to come
back with any message from him, but even to report the
conversation that should pass between them. At length Monsieur
de Nemours was obliged to go back, oppressed with the heaviest
grief a man is capable of, who has lost all hopes of ever seeing
again a person, whom he loved not only with the most violent,
but most natural and sincere passion that ever was; yet still he
was not utterly discouraged, but used all imaginable methods to
make her alter her resolution; at last, after several years, time
and absence abated his grief, and extinguished his passion.
Madam de Cleves lived in a manner that left no probability of her
ever returning to Court; she spent one part of the year in that
religious house, and the other at her own, but still continued
the austerity of retirement, and constantly employed herself in
exercises more holy than the severest convents can pretend to;
and her life, though it was short, left examples of inimitable virtues.


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