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The Marquis de Sade
A Life

The definitive biography by Neil Schaeffer

Home : The Prison Letters : Archive : August, 1779
Sade to his wife.
[August 1779]

I have received, my dear love, not your figs, but your stewed figs. By sending them to me in this way, you have tried to support your argument about the impossibility of sending them. It is not at all this way that they should be arranged for transport, so you need not be surprised that they are ruined. 1. Never pack them one on top of the other, and 2. place them in moss, each one in a little hole, well covered with moss. But that's all one to me; you have demonstrated your care and your goodwill, and to me, that is all that is necessary; just the tone of your behavior pleases me, as much as the appearance of the opposite annoys me. That leads me quite naturally to the excess of kindnesses which they heap on me here and which it is impossible not to make me feel something, and from that, you can imagine my gratitude to you.

Yesterday, I tried to intimate, not demand, because I am not accustomed to experiencing rejection from certain people created rather for my rejection than I was for theirs, if fate had not been pleased to turn everything upside down,--so I therefore tried to intimate that I would truly look upon it as a courtesy and a very great kindness to permit me to spend today alone in a room with a view, so that I could amuse myself a little with all of the excitement of the Vincennes festival which, indeed, is exactly the sort of entertainment for a poor wretch who never sees anything entombed behind four walls. I had enjoyed it a good deal from the room I was in two years ago, and I therefore wanted to sound out whether they would oblige me, only for this one day, by locking me in a room on the same floor so I could enjoy the same entertainment . . . See how they oblige me! although the favor was certainly modest and quite easily granted, they pretended not to understand me . . .

Oh! good God, good God, I cannot stop repeating it, how delighted la presidente [Mme de Montreuil] must be to have found such a man [Commandant de Rougemont], and how she must be licking her chops over it! I sometimes hear them flirting away like two gossips, because, thank God, they are, one as much as the other, gossips. My God, Monsieur, says la presidente, make sure that he believes this bit, take some care with that signal, and that letter, do not forget to seal it with black or with red wax, or to give it to him at such-and-such an hour or at such-and-such another . . . You will see, Monsieur, how important all that is! He has only to be brought to believe that, and if he believes that, he will no longer believe this, and then where will we be? . . .

Yes, my dear love, there you have them. From the senselessness and shallowness of my phrases you can judge the originals, because it is a perfect image of them. Afterwards, they part with great protestations of respect and mutual love, since scoundrels are like knaves: they are a mutual admiration society . . . But, what are you going to tell me now, what! that there is a great deal of treachery in the military? Well, but truly, my dear love, you obviously do not know that between a soldier serving the king and a soldier [de Rougemont] /serving the police/ there is the same difference as between a grenadier of Navarre and a soldier on the watch? Truth and duty are the virtues of one, he must have them, and he does have them. The most vile cheating and the most rotten lying, knavery and callousness, are the vices of the other, he must have them . . . /and he does have them/. Patience . . . patience! He laughs best who laughs last! This is my only hope and my only consolation. And I would indeed permit them to regard me as the least of men if only I could some day very decidedly show them that I was not born to be treated in that way.

If they who read my letter are angered by it, so much the worse for them . . . They are amusing themselves today after their fashion, they are having fun by preventing me from amusing myself; it is only fair that I should have my turn, and my pen will be my weapon /as long as fate does not furnish me with others/.

I embrace you and beg you not to forget for the first of the month: a pot of beef marrow, one of strawberry and one of apricot, a dozen iced cakes; a vial of lavender and one of eau de Cologne of the strongest and best quality; a half bottle of orange liqueur; a pound of powder and of small night candles, the same as the last ones, and the catalogue.

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Sade was incarcerated for 14 years without trial before being freed by the French Revolution. In that time he wrote hundreds of letters to his wife. Receive a new letter every week never before translated into English. Click here to subscribe.

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