Mademoiselle Angelique (German Edition)
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Original Publisher: Paris : L. Collin Language: fre Pages: Volume: 3. More information about this seller Contact this seller 4. Collin Language: fre Pages: Volume: 2. More information about this seller Contact this seller 5. Whoever you be, angel or demon, virgin or courtesan, shepherdess or princess, whether you come from north or south, you whom I do not know but whom I love! Descend from the sphere where you now are; leave the crystal sky, O comforting spirit, and cast upon my heart the shadow of your great wings.
Come, woman that I love, come, and let me clasp about you the arms that have been open so long. Ye golden doors of the palace where she dwells, turn on your hinges; raise yourself, latch of her humble cottage; untwine yourselves, ye branches of trees and thorns by the road-side; be broken, ye enchantments of the turret, ye spells of magicians; open, ranks of the common herd, and let her pass. If you come too late, O my ideal! I shall not have the strength to love you:—my heart is like a dovecote full of doves.
Every hour of the day some desire takes flight. The doves return to the dovecote, but my desires do not return to my heart. The drunkard finds no cruelty in any sort of a bottle; he falls from the wine-shop to the gutter and is happier on his dung-heap than a king on his throne. The sensual man resorts to courtesans in search of ready loves or shameless refinements of indecency: a painted cheek, a short skirt, an exposed bosom, an obscene jest, he is happy; his eye turns white, his lip is moist; he attains the height of his happiness, he enjoys the ecstasy of his vulgar lust.
The gambler needs only a green cloth and a worn and greasy pack of cards to procure the poignant excitement, the nervous spasms and the diabolical joy of his ghastly passion. Such people can satisfy their cravings or find distraction;—to me it is impossible. This idea has taken such thorough possession of me that I no longer care for the arts, and poetry has now no charm for me; the things that used to be my delight do not make the least impression on me.
I begin to believe that I am wrong, I demand more of nature and society than they can give. What I seek does not exist and I ought not to complain because I cannot find it. However, if the woman we dream of does not come within the conditions of human nature, how is it that we love only her and not others, since we are men and our instinct should draw us irresistibly toward them?
What puts this imaginary woman into our head? Where is the model, the type, the interior pattern that serves us as a point of comparison? Was it Raphael who caressed the contour that has caught your fancy? Was it Cleomenes who polished the marble that you adore? That transparent tint, that charming, blooming freshness, that flesh wherein the blood and the life flow in abundance, that lovely fair hair falling over the shoulders like a cloak of gold, that sparkling laughter, those amorous dimples, that figure undulating like a flame, that strength, that suppleness, that glistening satin, those rounded outlines, those plump arms, that full, smooth back, that whole appearance of blooming health belongs to Rubens.
What other than he drew the curves of those long, fine black eyebrows, and spread out the lashes of those modestly lowered lids? From him the lady of your thoughts stole the warm, ivory whiteness of complexion that fascinates you. She stood long before his canvas to catch the secret of the angelic smile that is always on her lips; she modelled her oval features upon those of a nymph or a saint. That line of the hip that undulates so voluptuously is taken from the sleeping Antiope. Dusty antiquity itself supplied much material for the composition of your young chimera; those strong and supple loins, about which you twine your arms so passionately, were carved by Praxiteles.
The divinity left everything for the express purpose of putting the toes of her charming foot outside the ruins of Herculaneum, so that your idol should not be lame. Nature also has contributed its share. You have seen here and there, in the prismatic rays of desire, a beautiful eye behind a blind, an ivory forehead pressed against a window, a mouth smiling behind a fan. What you saw was perfect; you assumed that the rest was like what you saw and you finished it out with bits of other beauties gathered elsewhere.
The star lent its beams, the flower its perfume, the palette its colors, the poet his harmony, the marble its shape, and you, your longing. We cannot reasonably hope for such a thing, and yet we do hope for it and seek it. How I pity and admire those who pursue the reality of their dream through everything and die content, if only they have once kissed their chimera on the lips! But what a frightful fate is that of the Columbuses who have not discovered their world, and of lovers who have not found their mistress.
How wise it was of Plato to wish to banish you from his republic, and what harm you have done us, O poets! Your ambrosia has made our absinthe more bitter than ever; and we have found our lives more arid and more devastated after plunging our eyes into the vistas leading to eternity that you open to us! What a terrible struggle your dreams have brought upon our realities! We have seated ourselves like Adam at the foot of the walls of the terrestrial paradise, on the steps of the staircase that leads to the world you have created, seeing a light brighter than the sunlight gleam through the chinks of the door, hearing vaguely some few scattered notes of a seraphic harmony.
Whenever one of the elect enters or comes out amid a flood of glory, we stretch our necks trying to see something through the open door. It is fairy-like architecture equalled nowhere save in Arabian tales. Great numbers of pillars, superimposed arches, fluted spiral columns, leaf-work marvellously carved, trefoils hollowed out of the stone, porphyry, jasper, lapis-lazuli and Heaven knows what! The door closes: you see no more—and you cast down your eyes, filled with burning tears, to the poor, bare, lifeless earth, to the ruined hovels, to the people in rags, to your own soul, an arid rock upon which nothing grows, to all the woes and misfortunes of reality.
Poets, painters, sculptors, musicians, why have you lied to us? Poets, why did you tell us your dreams? Musicians, why did you listen to the song of the stars and the flowers during the night, and note it down? I just gave full swing to the lyric impulse, my dear friend, and I have been talking on stilts for a long, long time.
But in truth the story is so poor that I am compelled to have recourse to digressions and reflections. I hope that it will not always be so, and that, before long, the romance of my life will be more involved and complicated than a Spanish imbroglio.
After wandering about from street to street, I decided to call on one of my friends who was to present me at a house where, according to what he told me, I should see a world of pretty women—a collection of flesh and blood idealities—the wherewithal to satisfy a score of poets. According to him I have only one fault, which I am certain to correct as I grow older and go more into society—he says I think too much of woman and not enough of women. God grant it! It must be that women feel that I despise them; for a compliment, which they would consider adorable and delightful to the last degree in the mouth of another, in mine displeases them and makes them angry, as if it were the most savage epigram.
That probably has something to do with the fault De C—— refers to. My heart beat a little faster as I went up the stairs, and I had barely recovered from my emotion when De C——, taking me by the elbow, brought me face to face with a woman of about thirty—not ill-looking—dressed with dissembled magnificence and extreme affectation of childlike simplicity—which did not prevent her being daubed with rouge like a carriage-wheel:—it was the lady of the house. De C——, assuming the shrill, mocking voice which is so different from his ordinary voice, and which he uses in society when he wants to be fascinating, said to her, half aloud, with abundant demonstrations of ironical respect, in which the most profound contempt could plainly be detected:.
I bowed awkwardly enough, and stammered a few disconnected words which could not have given her a very exalted opinion of my talents; other persons came in and I was delivered from the ennui inseparable from an introduction. De C—— led me to a window recess and began to lecture me vigorously.
What a wretched imagination! People will wear what she wears, and she never wears what any one else has worn. She is rich, too, and her carriages are in the best taste. People amuse her but do not move her; she has a cold heart and a dissolute head. As for her soul—if she has one, which is doubtful—it is of the blackest, and there is no malice and baseness of which she is not capable; but she is extremely adroit and keeps up appearances, just what is necessary to prevent anything being proved against her.
For instance, she will lie with a man, but she will never write him the simplest kind of a note. Thus her most intimate enemies can find nothing to say against her except that she applies too much rouge and that certain parts of her person are not, in fact, so well rounded as they seem to be—which is false. It would have been most unseemly of me not to have her. You are not exactly obliged to do it, although that would be courteous and proper.
But make your choice quickly and attack the one who pleases you best or seems to offer the most facilities, for by delaying you will lose the benefit of novelty, and the advantage it gives you over all the men here for a few days. All these ladies have no conception of the passions that are born in private intercourse and develop gradually in respect and silence; they are all for lightning strokes and occult sympathies; a wonderfully well-conceived scheme to avoid the ennui of resistance and all the long and wearisome repetitions that sentiment mingles with the romance of love, and which serve only to defer the conclusion to no purpose.
She has incredibly positive ideas on every subject; she goes to the bottom of everything with astonishing rapidity and accuracy of insight. The little woman is the incarnation of algebra; she is precisely what a dreamer and an enthusiast needs. She will soon cure you of your misty idealism: therein she will render you a great service. She will do it with the greatest pleasure, however, for her instinct leads her to disenchant poets. And with it all, vivacity, animation, health, and an indefinable suggestion of wantonness adroitly tempered by coquetry and tact, which made her a very desirable creature and more than justified the very lively passions she had inspired and continued to inspire every day.
But, before saying anything definite which will bind me, I would be very glad if you would have the kindness to point out those indulgent beauties who are so condescending as to be impressed with me, so that I may make my choice. She has never had an evil thought and has no idea wherein man differs from woman.
The Blessed Virgin is a Bacchante beside her, all of which does not prevent her having had more lovers than any woman I know, and that is certainly saying a good deal. You must talk to her without looking at her, without moving, in a contrite attitude and in a subdued, respectful voice; in that way you can say whatever you choose to her, provided that it is suitably glossed over, and she will allow you to take the greatest liberties, at first in words; afterward in deeds. Simply take care to roll your eyes tenderly when hers are cast down, and talk to her about the joys of platonic love and the communion of souls, while you employ with her the least platonic and least ideal pantomime imaginable!
What the devil! A prudish Messalina! You will find in society ten of her lovers who will swear to you that she is one of the most virtuous creatures on earth. I can only estimate approximately that she is somewhere between eighteen and thirty-six. With such a face as she has, she can make herself any age she chooses and date only from the day she arrived here. He pointed out several others, who, he said, would receive favorably whatever requests it might please me to prefer to them, and would treat me with peculiar philanthropy.
But the woman in pink in the chimney-corner and the modest dove who was her antithesis were incomparably superior to all the others; and, if they had not all the qualities I require, they had some of them, at least in appearance. I talked all the evening with them, especially with the last, and I took pains to cast my ideas in the most respectful mould;—although she hardly looked at me, I fancied sometimes that I could see her eyes gleaming behind the curtain of their lashes, and at some compliments that I ventured to address to her, decidedly broad but shrouded in the most modest gauze, I noticed just below the skin a tiny blush, held back and stifled, not unlike the effect produced by pouring a red liqueur into a glass that is half opaque.
The whole conversation was interspersed with pauses, unfinished phrases; veiled allusions, every syllable had its meaning, every pause its bearing; nothing could be more diplomatic or more charming.
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One must be forever on the alert and on his guard, and what I like best in conversation is ease, familiarity. Verily, Amadis on poor La Roche was no better than a dull pedant beside me. It was generosity, abnegation, self-sacrifice enough to put the late Curtius of Rome to the blush. Can you imagine anything more ridiculous, a more perfect scene for a comedy, than myself indulging in the quintessence of platonism?
And then my sugary manner, my demure, hypocritical little ways! It was the one evening in all my life when I seemed to be most virtuous and was least so. It must be very easy or else I must be strongly predisposed that way, to have succeeded so satisfactorily at the first trial. The woman would split a hair in three pieces lengthwise, and make fools of all the angelic and seraphic pundits that ever were. Indeed, from her way of talking, it was impossible to believe that she has the shadow of a body. How in the devil, when a woman tells you for two hours, with the most indifferent air you can imagine, that love lives only on privation and sacrifice and other fine things of that sort, can you decently hope to persuade her to get between two sheets with you some day to stir your blood and see if you are made alike?
In short, we parted the best of friends, mutually congratulating each other on the elevation and purity of our sentiments. My conversation with the other was, as you will imagine, of a very different tenor. We laughed as much as we talked. We made fun, and very wittily too, of all the women there. I listened and approved, for it is impossible to draw with more telling strokes or to apply colors more brilliantly; it was the most interesting gallery of caricatures that I have ever seen.
There is an atmosphere of prose about her in which a poetic idea cannot live.
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She is charming, sparkling with wit, and yet when you are with her you think only of base, vulgar things; as I talked to her I felt a crowd of desires, incongruous and impracticable in that place; I felt like ordering wine and getting tipsy, taking her on my knee and kissing her neck—like lifting up her skirt to see if her garter was above or below the knee, like singing an obscene song at the top of my voice, smoking a pipe or smashing the windows: the devil knows what.
Circe was probably a wanton like my little woman in pink. It is a shameful thing to say, but I felt a keen delight in the consciousness that the brute nature was gaining the upper hand; I did not resist it, I assisted it with all my strength, corruption is so natural to man and there is so much mud in the clay of which he is made. Chapter II — My conversation with the other was, as you will imagine, of a very different tenor. And yet I was afraid for a minute of the gangrene that was gaining upon me, and I tried to leave my corrupter; but the floor seemed to have risen to my knees, and I was as if riveted to my place.
At last I made a determined effort and left her, and, it being then very late, I returned home in dire perplexity, very much disturbed in mind and with none too clear an idea what I ought to do. According to all appearances, O my friend! Most certainly I shall do it, and one or the other shall be my mistress before long or may the devil fly away with me; but way down in my heart a still small voice reproaches me for lying to my love and for pausing thus at the first smile of a woman I do not love, instead of seeking untiringly through the world, in cloisters and all sorts of bad places, in palaces and taverns, the woman who was made for me and whom God destines for me, be she princess or serving-maid, nun or courtesan.
It may be because I live much alone and the smallest details take on too much importance in a life so monotonous as mine. I give too much heed to my living and thinking: I hear the throbbing of my arteries, the beating of my heart; by dint of dose attention I disengage my most intangible ideas from the confused haze in which they float, and give them a body.
The din of action would drive away this swarm of indolent thoughts that are flying about in my head and deafening me with the buzzing of their wings: instead of pursuing phantoms I should come to blows with realities; I should ask women for nothing beyond what they can give—pleasure—and I should not try to embrace some fanciful ideal decked out in hazy perfections. I am unable to see what is, from having stared at what is not, and my eye, so keen for the ideal, is terribly short-sighted for the real; so that I have known women whom everybody declared to be most ravishing creatures, but who seemed to me very far from that.
I have greatly admired pictures generally considered to be daubs, and fantastic or unintelligible verses have given me more pleasure than the most courtly productions. To protect myself from such a great disaster, I look at myself in every mirror and in all the streams I pass. To tell the truth, as a result of musing and mental wandering I am terribly afraid of being led into something monstrous and unnatural.
That is a serious matter and I must be on my guard. I carefully roll up and put away in a drawer the pattern of my ideal mistress in order not to try it upon this one. I propose to enjoy tranquilly such good qualities and merits as she has. I propose to leave her in a dress adapted to her figure, and not to try to fit clothes to her that I have cut out, in case of emergency, for the lady of my thoughts. I am the titular lover of the pink lady; that is almost a profession, an office, and it gives a man a firm footing in society.
But all this serves only to make me the whiter, and all the ladies consider that my hair is the finest in the world, and that the niceties of my toilet are in the best taste, and they seem strongly disposed to make up to me for all that I spend for their benefit, for they are not fools enough to believe that all that elegance has no other aim than my own private embellishment.
But soon, another object having distracted the attention of the slighted princess, the little war of words ceased and everything resumed its usual order. You would like to know from point to point, for you love exactness in all things, the story of our love-affairs with this fair Bradamante, and by what successive steps I passed from the general to the particular and from the condition of simple spectator to that of actor; how, after being one of the audience, I became the lover.
I will gratify your desire with the very greatest pleasure. There is nothing unpleasant in our romance; it is all rose-colored, and no tears are shed except tears of pleasure; you will find no long descriptions or repetitions, and everything moves on toward the end with the haste and speed so urgently recommended by Horace;—it is a genuine French romance. The princess, although very humane to her subjects, is not as lavish of her favors at first, as you might think; she knows their value too well not to make you purchase them; she also knows too well how a judicious delay sharpens the appetite and what relish a semi-resistance adds to the pleasure, to abandon herself to you at first, however keen the inclination you have aroused in her.
To tell the whole story at length, I must go back a little. I gave you a very circumstantial account of our first interview. I had one or two, perhaps three others in the same house, and then she invited me to call on her; I did not make her repeat the invitation, as you can believe; I went there at discreet intervals at first, then a little more frequently, then still more so, and finally whenever the fancy seized me, and I must confess that it seized me at least three or four times a day.
You will say perhaps that her bold and free-and-easy manners left the field free to rash hopes. I do not think that that is the real motive: I have seen some women whose prodigious freedom of manner excluded the last vestige of doubt, who did not produce that effect upon me, and in whose presence I was conscious of a timidity and uneasiness that were, to say the least, misplaced. The result is, generally speaking, that I am less amiable with the woman I long to possess than with those who are indifferent to me; it is because of the excitement of waiting for an opportunity and my uncertainty as to the success of my project; that makes me gloomy and casts me into a fit of musing which takes away much of my power of pleasing and my presence of mind.
When I see the hours I had set aside for another purpose passing one by one, I am filled with anger in spite of myself, and I cannot keep from saying very sharp, harsh things, which sometimes go as far as brutality and put my affair back a hundred leagues. With Rosette I had no such feeling; never, even at the moment when she resisted me most stubbornly, did I have the idea that she wanted to escape from my love. I calmly allowed her to display all her little coquetries, and I endured in patience the overlong delays to which it pleased her to subject my ardor; there was something smiling in her harshness that consoled you for it as much as possible, and in her most Hyrcanian cruelties you could distinguish a background of humanity that made it impossible for you to have any very serious fear.
My wit has displayed itself freely; and, by the skill and fire of her retorts, she has led me to discover more than I had any idea that I possessed, and more perhaps than I really do possess. A miraculous thing! I have known her nearly two months, and in those two months the only times I have been bored have been when I was not with her.
You will agree that she can be no inferior woman to produce such a result, for women usually produce exactly the opposite effect on me and are much more agreeable to me at a distance than near at hand. In the eyes of the world I have a mistress whom several desire and envy me, and whom no one would disdain. My desire is gratified, therefore, in appearance, and I no longer have the right to pick a quarrel with fate. However, it seems to me that I have no mistress; I can convince myself that I have by arguing it out, but I do not feel it, and if anybody should ask me unexpectedly if I had one, I think I should answer no.
Do not think from what I say that I do not love her or that she is displeasing to me in any way; on the contrary, I am very fond of her and I see in her what everybody else would see in her: a pretty, alluring creature. I simply do not feel that I possess her, that is all. And yet no woman ever gave me so much pleasure, and if I have ever known bliss, it has been in her arms.
Explain it all if you can. The facts, however, are as I tell them to you. But the human heart is full of such absurdities; and if we were obliged to reconcile all the contradictions it exhibits, we should have a heavy task on our hands. I see her all day, and all night too, if I choose. I bestow as many caresses on her as I please; I have her naked or dressed, in town or in the country.
Her good humor is inexhaustible, and she enters heart and soul into my whims however eccentric they may be; one evening the fancy seized me to possess her in the middle of the salon, with all the candles lighted, the fire blazing on the hearth, the chairs arranged in a circle as if for a grand evening reception, she, in a toilette de bal with her bouquet and her fan, all her diamonds on her fingers and her neck, feathers in her hair—the most magnificent costume imaginable—and I dressed like a bear; she consented.
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They certainly thought that their mistress was stark mad; but what they thought or did not think mattered little to us. That was the most burlesque evening of my whole life. Can you imagine the appearance I must have presented with my hat and feather under my paw, rings on every claw, a little silver-hilted sword and a sky-blue ribbon on its hilt? I approached the fair one, and, having made her a most graceful reverence, sat down beside her and besieged her in due form. The skin soon followed the head; for not being accustomed to play the bear, I was stifled in it, more so than was necessary.
Thereupon the ball-dress had a fine time as you can imagine; the feathers fell like snow around my beauty, the shoulders soon came out of the sleeves, the bosom from the corset, the feet from the shoes, the legs from the stockings; the unstrung necklaces rolled on the floor, and I believe that fresher dress was never more pitilessly rumpled and torn; the dress was of silver gauze and the lining of white satin. Rosette displayed on that occasion a heroism altogether unusual to her sex, which gave me a most exalted opinion of her.
It must be that Rosette adores me or else she is blessed with a philosophy superior to that of Epictetus. Rosette displayed on that occasion a heroism altogether unusual to her sex. Nevertheless I think that I paid Rosette the full value of her dress and more, in coin which is none the less esteemed and valued because it does not pass current with tradesmen. Such unexampled heroism surely deserved such a recompense.
However, like the generous creature she is, she repaid what I gave her. I had a wild, almost convulsive sort of pleasure, such as I did not believe myself capable of enjoying. The resounding kisses mingled with bursts of laughter, the shuddering, impatient caresses, all the piquant, tantalizing sensations, the pleasure imperfectly enjoyed because of the costume and the situation, but a hundred times keener than if there had been no obstacles, produced such an effect on my nerves that I was seized with paroxysms which I had some difficulty in overcoming.
There was something so maternal and so chaste in her glance that I entirely forgot the more than anacreontic scene that had just taken place, and threw myself on my knees at her feet, asking permission to kiss her hand; which permission she granted with extraordinary dignity and gravity. The slightest gestures, the most insignificant attitudes, all the most trivial details stood out clearly in my memory: I remembered everything, even to the slightest inflections of the voice, the most indescribable shades of enjoyment; but it did not seem to me that all those things had happened to me rather than to some one else.
I was not sure that it was not all an illusion, a phantasmagoria, a dream, or that I had not read it somewhere or other, or even that it was not a story invented by myself as I had invented many others. I dreaded being the dupe of my own credulity or the plaything of some deception; and notwithstanding the evidence of my weariness and the material proofs that I had not slept at home, I could easily have believed that I had gone to bed at my usual hour and slept till morning.
I am very unfortunate in my inability to acquire the moral certainty of something of which I am physically certain. In ordinary cases the contrary is the case and the fact proves the idea. I would like well to prove the fact by the idea; I cannot do it; although it is a strange thing, it is so. It rests with myself, to a certain extent, to have a mistress; but I cannot force myself to believe that I have one, even though that is the fact. If I have not the necessary faith in me, even for a thing so palpable as that, it is just as impossible for me to believe in so simple a fact as for another to believe in the Trinity.
Faith is not to be acquired, it is a pure gift, a special grace from Heaven. No one ever longed as I do to live the life of others and to assimilate another nature to my own; no one ever had less success. Whatever I may do, other men are little more than phantoms to me and I do not feel their existence; but it is not the desire to understand their lives and share in them that I lack.
It is the power or the want of real sympathy with anything on earth. The existence or non-existence of a person or thing does not interest me enough to affect me in a perceptible and convincing way. The sight of a man or a woman who appears before me in flesh and blood leaves on my mind no more definite trace than the fanciful vision of a dream: a pale world of shadows and of apparitions, false or true, hovers about me, murmuring low, and in the midst of them I feel as utterly alone as possible, for not one of them has any effect upon me for good or evil, and they seem to me to be of a nature altogether different from mine.
If I speak to them and they make what seems a sensible reply, I am as surprised as if my dog or my cat should suddenly open his mouth and take part in the conversation: the sound of their voices always astonishes me and I could easily believe that they are only fleeting apparitions and I the mirror in which they are reflected. Inferior or superior, I certainly am not of their kind.
There are moments when I recognize none but God above me, and others when I deem myself hardly the equal of the earthworm under its stone or the mollusk on its sand-bank; but whatever my frame of mind, exalted or humble, I have never been able to persuade myself that men were really my fellows. When any one calls me monsieur , or, in speaking of me, refers to me as that man , it always seems strange to me.
My very name seems to me but an empty one and not my real name; and yet, no matter how low it may be uttered, amid the loudest noise, I turn suddenly with a convulsive and peevish eagerness which I have never been able to explain. It is when I have been living with a woman that I feel most strongly how utterly my nature repels every sort of alliance and mixture. I am like a drop of oil in a glass of water. No matter how much you turn it and shake it, the oil will never mix with the water; it will separate into a hundred thousand little globules which will unite again and rise to the surface the instant it becomes calm: the drop of oil and the glass of water epitomize my history.
Even lust—that diamond chain that binds all human beings together, that consuming fire that melts the stone and metal of the heart and causes them to fall in tears as material fire melts iron and granite—all powerful as it is, has never been able to subdue or move me. And yet my senses are very sharp; but my heart is a hostile sister to my body, and the ill-mated couple, like every possible couple, lawfully or unlawfully united, lives in a state of constant warfare. How many times have I been angry with myself! What superhuman efforts have I made to be different! How I have exhorted myself to be affectionate, lover-like, passionate!
Whatever I do, it always recoils, wiping the kiss away, as soon as I release my hold. What torture for that poor heart to look on at the orgies of my body and to be constantly compelled to sit through banquets at which it has nothing to eat! I exhausted the whole category of experiments, and I have not succeeded in solving my doubts to any great extent. With her my pleasure is so keen that my heart often finds itself diverted at least, if not touched, a state of things that impairs the accuracy of observations.
I have pleasure because I am young and ardent; but the pleasures came from myself and not from another. Its source was in myself rather than in Rosette. It is of no use for me to struggle, I cannot go out of myself for a single moment. I am still what I was, that is to say, a very tired, very tiresome creature, who disgusts me exceedingly. I am a prisoner in myself and all escape is impossible: the prisoner longs to escape, the walls ask nothing better than to crumble, and the doors to open before him; but some inexplicable fatality keeps every stone immovable in its place, every bolt in its groove; it is as impossible for me to admit any one to my quarters as to go myself to others; I cannot make or receive calls, and I live in the most absolute solitude amid the multitude: my bed may not be widowed, but my heart always is.
Such reflections and many others have often given me, at moments when it was most inappropriate, a meditative, dreamy air, which has caused me to be accused most unjustly of coldness and infidelity. I have done all that I possibly could to convince myself that she belongs to me. I have tried to go down into her heart, but I have always stopped on the first step of the staircase, at her flesh or her mouth. Despite the intimacy of our corporeal relations, I feel that we have nothing in common. Never has an idea of the same tenor as mine spread its wings in that youthful, smiling head; never has that heart, overflowing with life and fire, whose palpitations cause that firm, white breast to rise and fall, beaten in unison with my heart.
My soul has never coalesced with hers. If you know all that I have done to compel my heart to share the love of my body! Like Salmacis of old, enamored of the young Hermaphrodite, I have tried to melt her body and mine together; I have drunk her breath and her warm tears that bliss forced from the brimming chalice of her eyes. The more inextricably our bodies were intertwined, the closer our embrace, the less I loved her. My heart, sitting sadly by, looked on with a pitying air at that deplorable union to which it was not bidden, or veiled its face in disgust and wept silently behind the skirt of its cloak.
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