Ninon de l’Enclos to
I learn with pleasure
that my soul is dearer to you than my body, and that your common
sense is always leading you upward to better things. The body,
in fact, is little worthy of regard, and the soul has always some
light, which sustains it, and renders it sensible of the memory
of a friend whose absence has not effaced his image.
I often tell the old stories
in which d’Elbène, de Charleval, and the Chevalier de Rivière cheer
up the “moderns.” You are brought in at the most interesting
points, but as you are also a modern, I am on my guard against praising
you too highly in the presence of the Academicians, who have declared
in favor of the “ancients.”
I have been told of a
musical prologue, which I would very much like to hear at the Paris
Theater. The “Beauty,” who is its subject, would strike with
envy every woman who should hear it. All our Helens have no
right to find a Homer, and always be goddesses of beauty.
Here I am at the top, how am I to descend?
My very dear friend, would
it not be well to permit the heart to speak its own language?
I assure you, I love you always. Do not change your ideas
on that point, they have always been in my favor, and may this mental
communication, which some philosophers believe to be supernatural,
I have testified to M.
Turretin, the joy I should feel to be of some service to him.
He found me among my friends, many of whom deemed him worthy of
the praise you have given him. If he desires to profit by
what is left of our honest Abbés in the absence of the court, he
will be treated like a man you esteem. I read him your letter
with spectacles, of course, but they did me no harm, for I preserved
my gravity all the time. If he is amorous of that merit which
is called here “distinguished,” perhaps your wish will be accomplished,
for every day, I meet with this fine phrase as a consolation for
I know that you would
like to see La Fontaine in England, he is so little regarded in
Paris, his head is so feeble. ‘Tis the destiny of poets, of
which Tasso and Lucretius are evidence. I doubt whether there
is any love philter that could affect La Fontaine, he has never
been a lover of women unless they were able to foot the bills.