Our love for the beauty which is eternal, stifles not
in us love for that which is fleeting and temporal; and we can easily be
charmed with the perfect works Heaven has created. Its reflected attractions
shine forth in such as you; but it is in you alone that its choicest wonders
are centred. It has lavished upon you charms which dazzle the eye, and which
touch the heart; and I have never gazed on you, perfect creature, without
admiring the Creator of the universe, and without feeling my heart seized
with an ardent love for the most beautiful picture in which He has reproduced
Himself. At first I feared that this secret tenderness might be a skilful
assault of the evil one; I even thought I would avoid your presence, fearing
you might prove a stumbling-block to my salvation. But I have learnt, O
adorable beauty, that my passion need not be a guilty one; that I can reconcile
it with modesty; and I have given up my whole soul to it. I know that I
am very presumptuous in making you the offer of such a heart as mine; but
in my love I hope everything from you, nothing from the vain efforts of
my unworthy self. In you is my hope, my happiness, my peace; on you depends
my misery or bliss; and by your verdict I shall be for ever happy, if you
wish it; unhappy if it pleases you. I know that such language from me seems
somewhat strange; but after all, I am not an angel; and, if you condemn
the confession I make, you have only your own attractions to blame for it.
As soon as I beheld their more than human beauty, my whole being was surrendered
to you. The unspeakable sweetness of your divine charms forced the obstinate
resistance of my heart; it overcame everything -- fasting, prayers, and
tears -- and fixed all my hopes in you. A thousand times my eyes and my
sighs have told you this; to-day I explain myself with words. Ah! if you
consider with some kindness the tribulations and trials of your unworthy
slave, if your goodness has compassion on me, and deigns to stoop so low
as my nothingness, I shall ever have for you, O marvellous beauty, a devotion
never to be equalled. With me your reputation runs no risk, and has no disgrace
to fear. All those court gallants upon whom women dote, are noisy in their
doings, boastful in their talk. Ever vain of their success, they never receive
favours without divulging them; and their indiscreet tongues dishonour the
altar on which their hearts sacrifice. But men like me burn with a hidden
flame, and secrecy is for ever assured. The care which we take of our own
reputation is a warrant to the woman who accepts our heart, that she will
find love without scandal, and pleasure without fear.
Credits: Reprinted from The Dramatic Works of Molière, Vol. II.
Ed. Charles Heron Wall. London: George Bell & Sons, 1898.
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