Friday, January 28, 2011

[1965] Joan Sutherland sings Sempre Libera..

Musset: Vanish as does the smoke

Desgenais understood me; he saw that a profound sadness had taken possession of me. He asked if I had some secret cause of sorrow. I hesitated, but did not reply. 

"My dear Octave," he said, "if you have any trouble, do not hesitate to confide in me. Speak freely and you will find that I am your friend!" 

"I know it," I replied, "I know I have a friend; that is not my trouble." 

He urged me to explain.  "But what will it avail," I asked, "since neither of us can help matters? Do you want the fulness of my heart or merely a word and an excuse?" 

"Be frank!" he said. 

"Very well," I replied, "you have seen fit to give me advice in the past and now I ask you to listen to me as I have listened to you. You ask what is in my heart, and I am about to tell you. 

"Take the first comer and say to, him: 'Here are people who pass their lives drinking, riding, laughing, gambling, enjoying all kinds of pleasures; no barrier restrains them, their law is their pleasure, women are their playthings; they are rich. They have no cares, not one. All their days are days of feasting.' What do you think of it? Unless that man happened to be a severe bigot, he would probably reply that it was the greatest happiness that could be imagined.  "

'Then take that man into the centre of the whirl, place him at a table with a woman on either side, a glass in his hand, a handful of gold every morning and say to him: 'This is your life. While you sleep near your mistress, your horses neigh in the stables; while you drive your horses along the boulevards, your wines are ripening in your vaults; while you pass away the night drinking, the bankers are increasing your wealth. You have but to express a wish and your desires are gratified. You are the happiest of men. But take care lest some night of carousal you drink too much and destroy the capacity of your body for enjoyment. That would be a serious misfortune, for all the ills that afflict human flesh can be cured, except that. You ride some night through the woods with joyous companions; your horse falls and you are thrown into a ditch filled with mud, and it may be that your companions, in the midst of their happy shoutings will not hear your cry of anguish; it may be that the sound of their trumpets will die away in the distance while you drag your broken limbs through the deserted forest.  "

''Some night you will lose at the gaming-table; fortune has its bad days. When you return home and are seated before the fire, do not strike your forehead with your hands, and allow sorrow to moisten your cheeks with tears; do not anxiously cast your eyes about here and there as if searching for a friend; do not, under any circumstances, think of those who, under some thatched roof, enjoy a tranquil life and who sleep holding each other by the hand; for before you on your luxurious bed reclines a pale creature who loves--your money. From her you will seek consolation for your grief, and she will remark that you are very sad and ask if your loss was considerable; the tears from your eyes will concern her deeply, for they may be the cause of allowing her dress to grow old or the rings to drop from her fingers. Do not name him who won your money that night, for she may meet him on the morrow, and may make sweet eyes at him that would destroy your remaining happiness.  "

'That is what is to be expected of human frailty; have you the strength to endure it? Are you a man? Beware of disgust, it is an incurable evil; death is more to be desired than a living distaste for life. Have you a heart? Beware of love, for it is worse than disease for a debauchee, and it is ridiculous. Debauchees pay their mistresses, and the woman who sells herself has no right but that of contempt for the purchaser. Are you passionate? Take care of your face. It is shameful for a soldier to throw down his arms and for a debauchee to appear to hold to anything; his glory consists in touching nothing except with hands of marble that have been bathed in oil in order that nothing may stick to them.  "

''Are you hot-headed? If you desire to live, learn how to kill, for wine is a wrangler. Have you a conscience? Take care of your slumber, for a debauchee who repents too late is like a ship that leaks: it can neither return to land nor continue on its course; the winds can with difficulty move it, the ocean yawns for it, it careens and disappears. If you have a body, look out for suffering; if you have a soul, despair awaits you.  "

''O unhappy one! beware of men; while they walk along the same path with you, you will see a vast plain strewn with garlands where a happy throng of dancers trip the gladsome farandole standing in a circle, each a link in an endless chain. It is but a mirage; those who look down know that they are dancing on a silken thread stretched over an abyss that swallows up all who fall and shows not even a ripple on its surface. What foot is sure? Nature herself seems to deny you her divine consolation; trees and flowers are yours no more; you have broken your mother's laws, you are no longer one of her foster children; the birds of the field become silent when you appear.  "

''You are alone! Beware of God! You are face to face with Him, standing like a cold statue upon the pedestal of will. The rain from heaven no longer refreshes you, it undermines and weakens you. The passing wind no longer gives you the kiss of life, its benediction on all that lives and breathes; it buffets you and makes you stagger. Every woman who kisses you takes from you a spark of life and gives you none in return; you exhaust yourself on phantoms; wherever falls a drop of your sweat there springs up one of those sinister weeds that grow in graveyards. Die! You are the enemy of all who love; blot yourself from the face of the earth, do not wait for old age; do not leave a child behind you, do not perpetuate a drop of your corrupted blood; vanish as does the smoke, do not deprive a single blade of living grass of a ray of sunlight.'" 

When I had spoken these words I fell back in my chair, and a flood of tears streamed from my eyes. 

The Confessions of a Child of the Century

Amelita Galli-Curci: Ah, Fors'e lui, Sempre Libera

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Musset: The well-beloved skeleton

Returning to Paris in the month of December, I passed the winter attending pleasure parties, masquerades, suppers, rarely leaving
Desgenais, who was delighted with me: not so was I with him. The more I went about, the more unhappy I became. It seemed to me after a short time that the world which had at first appeared so strange would hamper me, so to speak, at every step; yet where I had expected to see a spectre, I discovered, upon closer inspection, a shadow.

Desgenais asked what ailed me.

"And you?" I asked. "What is the matter with you? Have you lost some relative? Or do you suffer from some wound?"

At times he seemed to understand and did not question me. Occasionally we sat down at a cafe table and drank until our heads swam; or in the middle of the night took horses and rode ten or twelve leagues into the country; returning to the bath, then to table, then to gambling, then to bed; and on reaching mine, I fell on my knees and wept. That was my evening prayer.

Strange to say, I took pride in passing for what I was not, I boasted of being worse than I really was, and experienced a sort of melancholy pleasure in doing so. When I had actually done what I claimed, I felt nothing but ennui, but when I invented an account of some folly, some story of debauchery, or a recital of an orgy with which I had nothing to do, it seemed to me that my heart was better satisfied, although I know not why.

Whenever I joined a party of pleasure-seekers and visited some spot made sacred by tender associations I became stupid, went off by myself, looked gloomily at the trees and bushes as if I would like to trample them under my feet. Upon my return I would remain silent for hours.

The baleful idea that truth is nudity beset me on every occasion.

"The world," I said to myself, "is accustomed to call its disguise virtue, its chaplet religion, its flowing mantle convenience. Honor and Morality are man's chambermaids; he drinks in his wine the tears of the poor in spirit who believe in him; while the sun is high in the heavens he walks about with downcast eye; he goes to church, to the ball, to the assembly, and when evening has come he removes his mantle and there appears a naked bacchante with the hoofs of a goat."

But such thoughts aroused a feeling of horror, for I felt that if the body was under the clothing, the skeleton was under the body. "Is it possible that that is all?" I asked in spite of myself. Then I returned to the city, I saw a little girl take her mother's arm, and I became
like a child.

Although I had followed my friends into all manner of dissipation, I had no desire to resume my place in the world of society. The sight of women caused me intolerable pain; I could not touch a woman's hand without trembling. I had decided never to love again.

Nevertheless I returned from the ball one evening so sick at heart that I feared that it was love. I happened to have had beside me at supper the most charming and the most distinguished woman whom it had ever been my good fortune to meet. When I closed my eyes to sleep I saw her image before me. I thought I was lost, and I at once resolved that I would avoid meeting her again. A sort of fever seized me, and I lay on my bed for fifteen days, repeating over and over the lightest words I had exchanged with her.

As there is no spot on earth where one can be so well-known by his neighbors as in Paris, it was not long before the people of my acquaintance who had seen me with Desgenais began to accuse me of being a great libertine. In that I admired the discernment of the world: in proportion as I had passed for inexperienced and sensitive at the time of my rupture with my mistress, I was now considered corrupt and hardened. Some one had just told me that it was clear I had never loved that woman, that I had doubtless merely played at love, thereby paying me a compliment which I really did not deserve; but the truth of it was that I was so swollen with vanity I was charmed with it.

My desire was to pass as blase, even while I was filled with desires and my exalted imagination was carrying me beyond all limits. I began to say that I could not make any headway with the women; my head was filled with chimeras which I preferred to realities. In short, my unique pleasure consisted in altering the nature of facts. If a thought were but extraordinary, if it shocked common sense, I became its ardent champion at the risk of advocating the most dangerous sentiments.

My greatest fault was imitation of everything that struck me, not by its beauty but by its strangeness, and not wishing to confess myself an imitator I resorted to exaggeration in order to appear original. According to my idea, nothing was good or even tolerable; nothing was worth the trouble of turning the head, and yet when I had become warmed up in a discussion it seemed as if there was no expression in the French language strong enough to sustain my cause; but my warmth would subside as soon as my opponents ranged themselves on my side.

It was a natural consequence of my conduct. Although disgusted with the life I was leading I was unwilling to change it:

        Simigliante a quells 'nferma
        Che non puo trovar posa in su le piume,
        Ma con dar volta suo dolore scherma.--DANTE.

Thus I tortured my mind to give it change, and I fell into all these vagaries in order to get away from myself.

But while my vanity was thus occupied, my heart was suffering, so that ever within me were a man who laughed and a man who wept. It was a perpetual struggle between my head and my heart. My own mockeries frequently caused me great pain and my deepest sorrows aroused a desire to burst into laughter.

One day a man boasted of being proof against superstitious fears, in fact, fear of every kind. His friends put a human skeleton in his bed and then concealed themselves in an adjoining room to wait for his return. They did not hear any noise, but in the morning they found him dressed and sitting on the bed playing with the bones; he had lost his reason.

I might be that man but for the fact that my favorite bones are those of a well-beloved skeleton; they are the debris of my first love, all that remains of the past.
The Confessions of a Child of the Century

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Rilke, The Second Elegy


Poetry Selection from Rainer Maria Rilke

Duino Elegies - The Second Elegy

Every angel is terrifying. And yet, alas,
I invoke you, almost deadly birds of the soul,
knowing about you. Where are the days of Tobias,
when one of you, veiling his radiance, stood at the front
    door,
slightly disguised for the journey, no longer appalling;
(a young man like the one who curiously peeked through the
window).
But if the archangel now, perilous, from behind the stars
took even one step down toward us: our own heart, beating
higher and higher, would beat us to death. Who *are* you?

Early successes, Creation's pampered favorites
mountain-ranges, peaks growing red in the dawn
of all Beginning, pollen of the flowering godhead,
joints of pure light, corridors, stairways, thrones,
space formed from essence, shields made of ecstasy, storms
of emotion whirled into rapture, and suddenly, alone,
*mirrors*: which scoop up the beauty that has streamed from
    their face
and gather it back, into themselves, entire.

But we, when moved by deep feeling, evaporate; we
breathe ourselves out and away; from moment to moment
our emotion grows fainter, like a perfume. Though someone
    may tell us:
"Yes, you've entered my bloodstream, the room, the whole
    springtime
is filled with you . . . "-what does it matter? he can't contain
    us,
we vanish inside him and around him. And those who are
    beautiful,
oh who can retain them? Appearance ceaselessly rises
in their face, and is gone. Like dew from the morning grass,
what is ours floats into the air, like steam from a dish
of hot food. O smile, where are you going? O upturned
glance:
new warm receding wave on the sea of the heart . . .
alas, but that is what we *are*. Does the infinite space
we dissolve into, taste of us then? Do the angels really
reabsorb only the radiance that streamed out from
    themselves, or
sometimes, as if by an oversight, is there a trace
of our essence in it as well? Are we mixed in with their
features even as slightly as that vague look
in the faces of pregnant women? They do not notice it
(how could they notice) in their swirling return to
themselves.

Lovers, if they knew how, might utter strange, marvelous
words in the night air. For it seems that everything
hides us. Look: trees do exist; the houses
that we live in still stand. We alone
fly past all things, as fugitive as the wind.
And all things conspire to keep silent about us, half
out of shame perhaps, half as unutterable hope.

Lovers, gratified in each other, I am asking *you*
about us. You hold each other. Where is your proof?
Look, sometimes I find that my hands have become aware
of each other, or that my time-worn face
shelters itself inside them. That gives me a slight
sensation. But who would dare to exist, just for that?
You, though, who in the other's passion
grow until, overwhelmed, he begs you:
"No *more* . . ."; you who beneath his hands
swell with abundance, like autumn grapes;
you who may disappear because the other has wholly
emerged: I am asking you about us. I know,
you touch so blissfully because the caress preserves,
because the place you so tenderly cover
does not vanish; because underneath it
you feel pure duration. So you promise eternity, almost,
from the embrace. And yet, when you have survived
the terror of the first glances, the longing at the window,
and the first walk together, once only, through the garden:
lovers, are you the same? When you lift yourselves up
to each other's mouth and your lips join, drink against drink:
oh how strangely each drinker seeps away from his action.

Weren't you astonished by the caution of human gestures
on Attic gravestones? wasn't love and departure
placed so gently on shoulders that it seemed to be made
of a different substance than in our world? Remember the
    hands,
how weightlessly they rest, though there is power in the
torsos.
These self-mastered figures know: "We can go this far,
this is ours, to touch one another this lightly; the gods
can press down harder upon us. But that is the gods' affair."

If only we too could discover a pure, contained,
human place, our own strip of fruit-bearing soil
between river and rock. For our own heart always exceeds
    us,
as theirs did. And we can no longer follow it, gazing
into images that soothe it or into the godlike bodies
where, measured more greatly, it achieves a greater repose.

From 'Ahead of All Parting: The Selected Poetry and Prose of Rainer Maria Rilke' Edited and Translated by Stephen Mitchell

Monday, January 17, 2011

Fernando Rolim: Recordações

Gabriel Fauré: Après un rêve




Dans un sommeil que charmait ton image
Je rêvais le bonheur, ardent mirage,
Tes yeux étaient plus doux, ta voix pure et sonore,
Tu rayonnais comme un ciel éclairé par l'aurore;
Tu m'appelais et je quittais la terre
Pour m'enfuir avec toi vers la lumière,
Les cieux pour nous entr'ouvraient leurs nues,
Splendeurs inconnues, lueurs divines entrevues,
Hélas! Hélas! triste réveil des songes
Je t'appelle, ô nuit, rends moi tes mensonges,
Reviens, reviens radieuse,
Reviens ô nuit mystérieuse!

Anonymous Italian poem translated by Romain Bussine

Berlioz, Nuits d'été. Janet Baker.n°4. Absence.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Musset: The clasp of the marble hand

The man I had surprised with my mistress was one of my most intimate friends. I went to his house the next day, in company with a young lawyer named Desgenais; we took pistols, another witness, and repaired to the woods of Vincennes. On the way I avoided speaking to my adversary or even approaching him; thus I resisted the temptation to insult or strike him, a useless form of violence at a time when the law recognized the code. But I could not remove my eyes from him. He was the companion of my childhood, and we had lived in the closest intimacy for many years. He understood perfectly my love for my mistress, and had several times intimated that bonds of this kind were sacred to a friend, and that he would be incapable of an attempt to supplant me, even if he loved the same woman. In short, I had perfect confidence in him and I had perhaps never pressed the hand of any human creature more cordially than his.

Eagerly and curiously I scrutinized this man whom I had heard speak of love like an antique hero and whom yet I had caught caressing my mistress. It was the first time in my life I had seen a monster; I measured him with a haggard eye to see what manner of man was this. He whom I had known since he was ten years old, with whom I had lived in the most perfect friendship, it seemed to me I had never seen him. Allow me a comparison. 

There is a Spanish play, familiar to all the world, in which a stone statue comes to sup with a profligate, sent thither by divine justice. The profligate puts a good face on the matter and forces himself to affect indifference; but the statue asks for his hand, and when he has extended it he feels himself seized by a mortal chill and falls in convulsions.

Whenever I have loved and confided in any one, either friend or mistress, and suddenly discover that I have been deceived, I can only describe the effect produced on me by comparing it to the clasp of that marble hand. It is the actual impression of marble, it is as if a man of stone had embraced me. Alas! this horrible apparition has knocked more than once at my door; more than once we have supped together. 

When the arrangements were all made we placed ourselves in line, facing each other and slowly advancing. My adversary fired the first shot, wounding me in the right arm. I immediately seized my pistol in the other hand; but my strength failed, I could not raise it; I fell on one knee.

Then I saw my enemy running up to me with an expression of great anxiety on his face, and very pale. Seeing that I was wounded, my seconds hastened to my side, but he pushed them aside and seized my wounded arm. His teeth were set, and I could see that he was suffering intense anguish. His agony was as frightful as man can experience. 

"Go!" he cried; "go, stanch your wound at the house of-----"

He choked, and so did I.

Confessions of a Child of the Century

Professor António Damásio at UCSB on January 14.2011






Thursday, January 13, 2011

Musset: Octave betrayed

I have to explain how I was first taken with the malady of the age.  I was at table, at a great supper, after a masquerade. About me were my friends, richly costumed, on all sides young men and women, all sparkling with beauty and joy; on the right and on the left exquisite dishes, flagons, splendor, flowers; above my head was an obstreperous orchestra, and before me my loved one, whom I idolized.

I was then nineteen; I had passed through no great misfortune, I had suffered from no disease; my character was at once haughty and frank, my heart full of the hopes of youth. The fumes of wine fermented in my head; it was one of those moments of intoxication when all that one sees and hears speaks to one of the well-beloved. All nature appeared a beautiful stone with a thousand facets, on which was engraven the mysterious name. One would willingly embrace all who smile, and feel that he is brother of all who live. My mistress had granted me a rendezvous, and I was gently raising my glass to my lips while my eyes were fixed on her.

As I turned to take a napkin, my fork fell. I stooped to pick it up, and not finding it at first I raised the table cloth to see where it had rolled. I then saw under the table my mistress's foot; it touched that of a young man seated beside her; from time to time they exchanged a gentle pressure.

Perfectly calm, I asked for another fork and continued my supper. My mistress and her neighbor, on their side, were very quiet, talking but little and never looking at each other. The young man had his elbows on the table and was chatting with another woman, who was showing him her necklace and bracelets. My mistress sat motionless, her eyes fixed and swimming with languor. I watched both of them during the entire supper, and I saw nothing either in their gestures or in their faces that could betray them. Finally, at dessert, I dropped my napkin, and stooping down saw that they were still in the same position.

I had promised to escort my mistress to her home that night. She was a widow and therefore free, living alone with an old relative who served as chaperon. As I was crossing the hall she called to me:

"Come, Octave!" she said, "let us go; here I am."

I laughed, and passed out without replying. After walking a short distance I sat down on a stone projecting from a wall. I do not know what my thoughts were; I sat as if stupefied by the unfaithfulness of one of whom I had never been jealous, whom I had never had cause to suspect. What I had seen left no room for doubt; I was felled as if by a stroke from a club. The only thing I remember doing as I sat there, was looking mechanically up at the sky, and, seeing a star shoot across the heavens, I saluted that fugitive gleam, in which poets see a worn-out world, and gravely took off my hat to it.

I returned to my home very quietly, experiencing nothing, as if deprived of all sensation and reflection. I undressed and retired; hardly had my head touched the pillow when the spirit of vengeance seized me with such force that I suddenly sat bolt upright against the wall as if all my muscles were made of wood. I then jumped from my bed with a cry of pain; I could walk only on my heels, the nerves in my toes were so irritated. I passed an hour in this way, completely beside myself, and stiff as a skeleton. It was the first burst of passion I had ever experienced.

 The Confessions of a Child of the Century

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Alfred Schnittke - Fragments Bosch (III, IV, V)

Alfred de Musset: About despair





Thus these youth found employment for their idle powers in a fondness for despair. To scoff at glory, at religion, at love, at all the world, is a great consolation for those who do not know what to do; they mock at themselves, and in doing so prove the correctness of their view. And then it is pleasant to believe one's self unhappy when one is only idle and tired. Debauchery, moreover, the first result of the principles of death, is a terrible millstone for grinding the energies.
The rich said: "There is nothing real but riches, all else is a dream; let us enjoy and then let us die." Those of moderate fortune said: "There is nothing real but oblivion, all else is a dream; let us forget and let us die." And the poor said: "There is nothing real but unhappiness, all else is a dream; let us blaspheme and die."
Alfred de Musset, Child of a Century

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Alfred de Musset: Croisilles (2)

Before speaking of this answer, a word must be said about Mademoiselle Godeau. She was not quite free from the vanity of her father, but her good nature was ever uppermost. She was, in the full meaning of the term, a spoilt child. She habitually spoke very little, and never was she seen with a needle in her hand; she spent her days at her toilet, and her evenings on the sofa, not seeming to hear the conversation going on around her. As regards her dress, she was prodigiously coquettish, and her own face was surely what she thought most of on earth. A wrinkle in her collarette, an ink-spot on her finger, would have distressed her; and, when her dress pleased her, nothing can describe the last look which she cast at her mirror before leaving the room.

She showed neither taste nor aversion for the pleasures in which young ladies usually delight. She went to balls willingly enough, and renounced going to them without a show of temper, sometimes without motive.  The play wearied her, and she was in the constant habit of falling asleep there. When her father, who worshipped her, proposed to make her some present of her own choice, she took an hour to decide, not being able to think of anything she cared for. When M. Godeau gave a reception or a dinner, it often happened that Julie would not appear in the drawing-room, and at such times she passed the evening alone in her own room, in full dress, walking up and down, her fan in her hand. If a compliment was addressed to her, she turned away her head, and if any one attempted to pay court to her, she responded only by a look at once so dazzling and so serious as to disconcert even the boldest.

Never had a sally made her laugh; never had an air in an opera, a flight of tragedy, moved her; indeed, never had her heart given a sign of life; and, on seeing her pass in all the splendor of her nonchalant loveliness one might have taken her for a beautiful somnambulist, walking through the world as in a trance.  So much indifference and coquetry did not seem easy to understand. Some said she loved nothing, others that she loved nothing but herself. A single word, however, suffices to explain her character,--she was waiting. From the age of fourteen she had heard it ceaselessly repeated that nothing was so charming as she. She was convinced of this, and that was why she paid so much attention to dress. In failing to do honor to her own person, she would have thought herself guilty of sacrilege.

She walked, in her beauty, so to speak, like a child in its holiday dress; but she was very far from thinking that her beauty was to remain useless.  Beneath her apparent unconcern she had a will, secret, inflexible, and the more potent the better it was concealed. The coquetry of ordinary women, which spends itself in ogling, in simpering, and in smiling, seemed to her a childish, vain, almost contemptible way of fighting with shadows. She felt herself in possession of a treasure, and she disdained to stake it piece by piece; she needed an adversary worthy of herself; but, too accustomed to see her wishes anticipated, she did not seek that adversary; it may even be said that she felt astonished at his failing to present himself.

For the four or five years that she had been out in society and had conscientiously displayed her flowers, her furbelows, and her beautiful shoulders, it seemed to her inconceivable that she had not yet inspired some great passion.  Had she said what was really behind her thoughts, she certainly would have replied to her many flatterers: "Well! if it is true that I am so beautiful, why do you not blow your brains out for me?" An answer which many other young girls might make, and which more than one who says nothing hides away in a corner of her heart, not far perhaps from the tip of her tongue.  What is there, indeed, in the world, more tantalizing for a woman than to be young, rich, beautiful, to look at herself in her mirror and see herself charmingly dressed, worthy in every way to please, fully disposed to allow herself to be loved, and to have to say to herself: "I am admired, I am praised, all the world thinks me charming, but nobody loves me. My gown is by the best maker, my laces are superb, my coiffure is irreproachable, my face the most beautiful on earth, my figure slender, my foot prettily turned, and all this helps me to nothing but to go and yawn in the corner of some drawing-room! If a young man speaks to me he treats me as a child; if I am asked in marriage, it is for my dowry; if somebody presses my hand in a dance, it is sure to be some provincial fop; as soon as I appear anywhere, I excite a murmur of admiration; but nobody speaks low, in my ear, a word that makes my heart beat. I hear impertinent men praising me in loud tones, a couple of feet away, and never a look of humbly sincere adoration meets mine. Still I have an ardent soul full of life, and I am not, by any means, only a pretty doll to be shown about, to be made to dance at a ball, to be dressed by a maid in the morning and undressed at night--beginning the whole thing over again the next day."

That is what Mademoiselle Godeau had many times said to herself; and there were hours when that thought inspired her with so gloomy a feeling that she remained mute and almost motionless for a whole day. When Croisilles wrote her, she was in just such a fit of ill-humor. She had just been taking her chocolate and was deep in meditation, stretched upon a lounge, when her maid entered and handed her the letter with a mysterious air. She looked at the address, and not recognizing the handwriting, fell again to musing.  The maid then saw herself forced to explain what it was, which she did with a rather disconcerted air, not being at all sure how the young lady would take the matter. Mademoiselle Godeau listened without moving, then opened the letter, and cast only a glance at it; she at once asked for a sheet of paper, and nonchalantly wrote these few words:

"No, sir, I assure you I am not proud. If you had only a hundred thousand crowns, I would willingly marry you."  

Such was the reply which the maid at once took to Croisilles, who gave her another louis for her trouble. 

Alfred de Mussset: Croisilles (1)

Of all the obstacles which hinder the smooth course of love, the greatest is, without doubt, what is called false shame, which is indeed a very potent obstacle.  Croisilles was not troubled with this unhappy failing, which both pride and timidity combine to produce; he was not one of those who, for whole months, hover round the woman they love, like a cat round a caged bird. As soon as he had given up the idea of drowning himself, he thought only of letting his dear Julie know that he lived solely for her. But how could he tell her so? Should he present himself a second time at the mansion of the fermier-général, it was but too certain that M. Godeau would have him ejected.  Julie, when she happened to take a walk, never went without her maid; it was therefore useless to undertake to follow her. To pass the nights under the windows of one's beloved is a folly dear to lovers, but, in the present case, it would certainly prove vain. I said before that Croisilles was very religious; it therefore never entered his mind to seek to meet his lady-love at church. As the best way, though the most dangerous, is to write to people when one cannot speak to them in person, he decided on the very next day to write to the young lady.  His letter possessed, naturally, neither order nor reason. It read somewhat as follows:  


"Mademoiselle,--Tell me exactly, I beg of you, what fortune one must possess to be able to pretend to your hand. I am asking you a strange question; but I love you so desperately, that it is impossible for me not to ask it, and you are the only person in the world to whom I can address it. It seemed to me, last evening, that you looked at me at the play. I had wished to die; would to God I were indeed dead, if I am mistaken, and if that look was not meant for me. Tell me if Fate can be so cruel as to let a man deceive himself in a manner at once so sad and so sweet. I believe that you commanded me to live. You are rich, beautiful. I know it. Your father is arrogant and miserly, and you have a right to be proud; but I love you, and the rest is a dream. Fix your charming eyes on me; think of what love can do, when I who suffer so cruelly, who must stand in fear of every thing, feel, nevertheless, an inexpressible joy in writing you this mad letter, which will perhaps bring down your anger upon me. But think also, mademoiselle that you are a little to blame for this, my folly. Why did you drop that bouquet? Put yourself for an instant, if possible, in my place; I dare think that you love me, and I dare ask you to tell me so. Forgive me, I beseech you. I would give my life's blood to be sure of not offending you, and to see you listening to my love with that angel smile which belongs only to you.  
"Whatever you may do, your image remains mine; you can remove it only by tearing out my heart. As long as your look lives in my remembrance, as long as the bouquet keeps a trace of its perfume, as long as a word will tell of love, I will cherish hope."  


Having sealed his letter, Croisilles went out and walked up and down the street opposite the Godeau mansion, waiting for a servant to come out. Chance, which always serves mysterious loves, when it can do so without compromising itself, willed it that Mademoiselle Julie's maid should have arranged to purchase a cap on that day. She was going to the milliner's when Croisilles accosted her, slipped a louis into her hand, and asked her to take charge of his letter.  The bargain was soon struck; the servant took the money to pay for her cap and promised to do the errand out of gratitude. Croisilles, full of joy, went home and sat at his door awaiting an answer.