Love is never peaceful – a letter from Madame Sevigne to her daughter

  Madame Sévigne, formerly known as Marie de Labidin-Chantard, was a representative of the 17th century French letter writers. Its ruler is vivid and funny, reflecting the social style of France in the era of Louis XIV, and is regarded as a treasure of French literature.
  To Madame Grignan:
   Rocher, Sunday, June 21, 1671
   Reply to letters of May 30 and June 2
  My child, I can breathe at last. I sighed in relief like M. de Lasouche, and all my nervousness and worry were swept away. God! Do you know how upset I am that I haven’t heard from you on a regular basis twice? Your letter is the backbone of my life, not an exaggeration, but a real fact. Dear child, tell you, I can’t take it anymore, so worried about your body. I’d rather put off writing and greeting you myself than hanging my heart all day long and worrying about your health. I have no choice but to confide in our dear Darkville. He is smart and kind, and understands my affection for you better than anyone else. I don’t know if he is out of love for you, love for me, or both, but he understands all my emotions. It is for this that I particularly like him. I regret telling you all about my pain, because when my pain eases, you’re going to be sad again. Alas, this is the misfortune of the separation of flesh and blood, tormenting two people.
  I waited hard for those two letters, and I was overjoyed when I received them. Do you know what happened? The post office took great pains to send it to Rennes because your brother was there. Things are messed up here, not even letters; you can imagine my tantrum at the post office.
  The Eucharistic celebrations you describe in your letter are very interesting. I am more satisfied with the rest of the letter. I finally learned, poor child, you are still beautiful! what! I can recognize you in a dozen women at a glance! what! You are not pale and emaciated like an Olympian princess! what! You are not at all as terminally ill as I used to be when I saw you! what! Boy, I am so happy. For God’s sake, have fun and cherish your body; remember that you do, I couldn’t be more grateful. M. Grignan should have said the same to you, and urged you to do it. I’m sure you’re carrying a boy; he should be extra careful. And I appreciate your dressing up too; remember how you bore us with that ugly black coat all the time? A woman’s indifference to dress is an act of femininity, for which M. Grignan will thank you, but it is less pleasing to the viewer.
  I’m for you to have the gold lace burnt and the square scarves remade, but short skirts may be difficult to lengthen. This fashion has reached you. In Vitre, some girls wore skirts up to the ankle, and one of them was named Miss Croc-Vasson and the other Miss Kerbonne, how funny those names sounded. You are like a queen, naturally a beautiful scenery in Provence, and I can only be happy for you here. The courtesy you wrote about yourself in your letter is very interesting.
  I gladly read your letter to the priest. Knowing such news, we are naturally hopeful and looking forward to your return. When I go to Provence, I will persuade you to come back with me and live here. You will be treated with courtesy everywhere, and you will come back to a different kind of courtesy, praise, and admiration. Anyway, we’ll see when that happens. In addition, I think that a family like yours, no matter how small the income is, it is a large number. If you’re going to sell land, think about how the money you get will be spent; buying and selling is like playing cards. We sold a small plot of land that only yielded wheat, and I was so happy and my income increased. At this point, your brother still doesn’t listen to my advice. He is indeed young and ignorant, but the tricky thing is that if a person does not know how to plan when he is young, he will have to piece together the rest of his life, without peace and prosperity.
  I was just wondering what the weather is like for you in Provence and how you deal with the fleas there, and you just answered my question. It has been raining for 3 weeks here. We don’t say “after the wind and rain, it will be sunny”, but “after the wind and rain, it is still rain”. All the workers were dismissed, and Pillois went home to rest. You should not write to me under a tree, but by the fire or in the priest’s study. We’re very busy here and haven’t decided whether to avoid Brittany III or play Holland. The only thing that is certain, my child, and I know you are convinced, is that we have not forgotten for a moment you poor “exile”. We often talk about you; although I often talk about you, I miss you a thousand times more in my heart, day and night, when I walk, all the time, when I talk about other things, just like my heart It is like loving God with true devotion. Many times, I deliberately do not mention you, but I miss you more; because sometimes it is out of politeness, but also out of strategy, some behaviors should not be excessive. I also often remind myself to put down the burden and go with the flow; you see, I often use some old sayings to warn myself.
  We read a lot. Ramos begged me to read Tasso’s poems with him. I’ve studied it before, and I’m familiar with it, so I like it; he’s good in Latin, he’s smart, and a good student, and I’m a good teacher myself with experience and a good teacher. Your brother told us funny stories, performed comedy like Molière, and read poems, novels, stories to us. He was funny and affectionate and always entertained us. We wanted to read it seriously, but he took him to read every book funny. When he is gone, we intend to continue reading Mr. Nicole’s beautiful Essays on Morality. He will go back to work in two weeks, and he has had a very pleasant time in Brittany.
  I wrote to little Deville to find out how you bleed. Please tell me in detail about your health and what you need. I am always overjoyed when you write to me. But, my little one, don’t get tired of writing to me, your body is always the most important thing.
  The priest and I both admire your ability to handle affairs, and believe that you will bring Grignan House back to life: some destroy, others repair. But the most important thing is to have more joy and more rest in life. But, my child, you are so far away from me, how can you rejoice and rest? As you said, we are talking and meeting through a veil. You are familiar with Roger, so your imagination still has a little foothold; as for me, it can only be imagined. I imagine a Provence, a house in Aix, perhaps prettier than your real house, as if seeing you in it. I also imagined Mr. Grignan in it, but you have few trees there (I’m sorry for that) and no wet caves. It’s hard for me to imagine what it’s like when you’re walking. Really worried about the wind blowing you off the balcony; if a whirlwind blows you here, I’ll keep the window open to catch you. God! I started thinking wildly again. Let’s go back to the topic, I think Grignan Castle is very beautiful and has the legacy of the ancestors of Ademar. I don’t know where you put all those mirrors. It is not unreasonable that you are so grateful to the priest. He has always been rigorous and careful in his work. I’m so happy to see him love you so much, and that’s what I want to thank you for, in your own way, the friendship between the three of us grows stronger day by day. Think how miserable I would be if he didn’t love you; but he loves you very much.
  Omg! I started babbling again. I write you two letters a week, and my friend Dubois takes great care to ensure that our correspondence is correct, for it is my life. I didn’t hear from you on time last time, but because of what you said in your letter, I’m not worried.
  I just received a letter from your great-aunt and grandmother just now. Your daughter is very interesting. Her nose doesn’t dare to be as perfect as yours, and she doesn’t want to be like… I won’t say more. She chose the third way, with a small square nose. Boy, are you not angry when I say this? well! You can’t have angry thoughts this time. Be happy, you have such a perfect start and end happily.
  Good-bye, my dearest child, kiss M. Grignan for me. You can also convey to him the greetings of the priest. Greetings from both the priest and your naughty brother. Ramos loved your letter very much, and it was beautifully written indeed.
  To my dear little beauty in the Castle of Apolidon.