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The Marquis de Sade
A Life

The definitive biography by Neil Schaeffer

Home : The Prison Letters : Archive : February 1777
Sade to Mme de Montreuil.
end of February 1777

Of all the paths that vengeance and cruelty could have chosen, admit, Madame, that you have indeed taken the most ghastly of all. Come to Paris to glean the last of my mother's sighs, having no other aim but to see her and to embrace her yet one more time if she still lived, or to weep if she were no more, it is this very moment that you chose to turn me into your victim yet one more time! Alas! I asked you in my first letter if it was a second mother or a tyrant that I would find in you, but you have not left me long in uncertainty! Is it for this that I wiped your tears when you lost a father whom you cherished? and did you not then find my heart as sensitive to your suffering as to my own? Still, if I had come to Paris in order to defy you or with some plots which ought to have made you want me far from you! . . . But after the attention that my mother needed, my second aim was only to mollify you and to calm you, only to get on with you, in order to accept with regard to my appeal all the options that suited you and that you would have recommended. Independently of my letters, Amblet [Sade's former tutor and life-long friend] if he is frank (which I do not believe), must have told you this. But the treacherous friend combined with you to fool me, in order to destroy me, and the both of you have perfectly succeeded at it. They told me, while bringing me here, that this was done in order to settle my appeal, and that because of this aim, my detention was necessary. But, in good faith, can I be duped by these means? And when you used the same means [of a lettre de cachet to imprison Sade for five months following December 1772 at the fort of Miolans] in Savoy, did it accomplish even the slightest thing? The two absences of a year each that I since made, have they yielded the slightest improvement? So is it not quite obvious that it is my total destruction that you want and not my rehabilitation?

I would like to believe you for a moment that a lettre de cachet is indispensable for avoiding an even more regrettable performance, but must it be so harsh, so cruel? An order that exiled me from the kingdom, would it not have accomplished the same purpose? And would I not have performed it with the most rigorous exactitude, since I came of my own accord to place myself in your hands and to submit myself to whatever you would have required? When I wrote to you from Bordeaux so that you would send me some money in order to travel to Spain and you refused me any, that was yet one more proof that it was not sending me away that you wanted but my imprisonment; and all this, the more I recall the circumstances, serves to convince me that you never had any other intention. But I am mistaken, Madame. Amblet informed me of a different one, and it is this one that I wish to fulfill. He told me, Madame--doubtless on your behalf--that a death certificate was the document most suited and indispensable for hastening an end to this unfortunate business. You must have it, Madame, and I swear you will have it before long.

Since I will not proliferate my letters, as much because of the difficulty of writing them as for their ineffectiveness with you, this one will contain my final thoughts, be quite assured of that. My situation is appalling. Never--and you know it--neither in mind nor body, never have I been able to put up with a close confinement. In a much more lax prison [Miolans]--and you know this as well--I had risked my life to escape. Deprived here of such an option as that, there nevertheless remains one available to me that most assuredly no one can keep from me, and I will use it. From the bottom of her tomb, my unfortunate mother is calling me: I seem to see her open her bosom to me one more time and beckon me to enter there once again as into the only refuge left to me. It is a satisfaction for me to follow her so soon, and I ask you as a final favor, Madame, to have me buried beside her.

One thing only holds me back. It is a weakness, I admit, but I must confess it to you. I would have liked to see my children. I had set myself such a sweet pleasure of going to embrace them, after having seen you. My new misfortunes have not at all erased this wish, and I will carry it probably to my tomb. I commend them to you, Madame. Love them at least, even if you have hated their father. Give them an education that will preserve them, if that is possible, from the misfortunes to which negligence of mine has brought me. If they were aware of my sad fate, their hearts, modeled upon their gentle mother's, would throw them at your knees, and their innocent hands would doubtless be raised towards you to appease you. It is my love for them that gives birth to this consoling image, but it will not achieve anything, and I hasten to erase it from my mind lest it induce too many tender feelings at a time when I have need only of firmness. Adieu, Madame.

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