Dangerous Liaisons Appendix

The following two letters were part of Laclos’s original manuscript but were not included in any edition published during his lifetime. The first letter was removed from the work (it was “suppressed” by the authorleditor) and replaced by the note to Letter 154 (see p. 378). The second, apparently unfinished letter appeared at the end of the manuscript as a piece of correspondence that was lost and later found.


I AM AWARE, MADAME, that you do not love me; I am not ignorant that you have always been against me in your communications with Madame de Tourvel, and I have no doubt that your feelings are still the same; I agree even that you may suppose them to have some foundation. Nevertheless, it is to you that I address myself, and I do not fear, not merely to request you to place in the hands of Madame de Tourvel the letter for her which I enclose, but also to beg you to make sure that she reads it; to dispose her to do so by assuring her of my regrets, my repentance, and especially of my love. I am sensible that this request may seem to you a strange one. It astonishes even myself; but despair lays hold of any means, and does not calculate too nicely. Moreover, an interest so great and so dear as that which, at the moment, we have in common must thrust aside every other consideration. Madame de Tourvel is dying, Madame de Tourvel is unhappy; life, health, and happiness must be restored to her. That is the object to be secured; all means are good which may assure or hasten its success. If you reject those I offer, you will be responsible for the result: her death, your own remorse, my eternal despair—all will be your work.

I know that I have unworthily outragedkg a woman who deserves all my adoration; I know that the terrible wrongs I have done her are the sole cause of the misfortunes she is experiencing; but, Madame, fear lest you become an accomplice in them by preventing me from repairing them. I thrust the dagger into your friend’s heart, but none save I can withdraw the steel from the wound. I, I alone, know how it may be healed. What matters it that the guilt was mine, if I can be of use to her? Save your friend! save her! she needs your aid, not your vengeance.



O MY FRIEND, WHAT is this distress of which I am conscious since the moment of your parting from me! When calm is so necessary to me, how comes it that I am given up to an agitation so great that it becomes even pain, and causes me real terror? Would you believe it? I feel that even in order to write to you I need to collect my strength and to call reason to my aid. Yet I tell myself, I repeat to myself, that you are happy; but this idea, so precious to my heart, which you so rightly called the sweet calmative of love, has on the other hand become its ferment, and makes me succumb under a felicity too strong for me, while if I try to snatch myself away from this delicious meditation, I immediately fall once more into cruel anguishes, which I have so earnestly promised you to avoid, and from which, indeed, I ought to protect myself so carefully, since they lessen our happiness.

My friend, you have easily taught me to live only for you; teach me now to live when I am not with you…. No, that is not what I wish to say, but rather that, far from you, I would not live, or at least would forget my existence. Abandoned to myself, I can endure neither my happiness nor my suffering; I feel the need of repose, and all repose is impossible to me; in vain have I called on sleep, sleep has fled far from me; I can neither occupy myself nor remain idle, turn by turn a burning fire devours me and a mortal shudder annihilates me; every movement wearies me, yet I cannot keep still. Well, what shall I say? I should suffer less in the throes of the most violent of fevers, and, without my being able to explain or even conceive it, I yet feel assuredly that this state of suffering arises only from my powerlessness to contain or to direct a crowd of feelings, to whose charm I should nonetheless be happy to be able wholly to deliver up my soul.

At the actual moment when you went out, I was less tormented; some agitation indeed was mingled with my regrets, but I attributed it to the impatience caused me by the presence of my women, who came in at that moment, and whose service, always too dilatory for my taste, seemed to me to be prolonged a thousand times more than usual. Above all, I wished to be alone; I doubted not, when surrounded with such sweet remembrances, that I must find in solitude the only happiness of which your presence left me susceptible. How could I have foreseen that, strong as I was when with you to sustain the shock of so many varied feelings, so rapidly experienced, I could not support the memory of them alone? I was soon most cruelly undeceived…. Here, my tender friend, I hesitate to tell you all…. However, am I not yours, wholly yours, and must I hide from you a single one of my thoughts? Ah! that would be indeed impossible; only I claim your indulgence for involuntary thoughts which my heart does not share; I had, as my custom is, sent away my woman before retiring to bed….