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The Marquis de Sade
A Life

The definitive biography by Neil Schaeffer

Home : The Prison Letters : Archive : September, 1780
Sade to his wife.
[September 1780]

No, Madame, no, they have not at all restored my promenades. . . . I beg you to have them restored. That is absolutely necessary to my health, I am telling you this for the millionth time, and it is absolutely impossible for me to sleep or to eat when I do not take the air.

I imagine that this must seem an oddity to your cripple of a mother, who had never been able to unstick her filthy ass off her chair, but fortunately everybody is not like her. Instead of asking your quack doctor if a thick chest warmer would make me sick, you should ask him if the best way to kill a man who has a lung disease would not be to get him well accustomed to taking the air in a pleasant season, in order to make him even a bit more sick by making him resume exercise when it would be cold. That is what you should ask your doctor. Yes, I believe, if, in society, your mother herself heard it reported that there is a woman in the world who behaved this way towards someone who depended upon her, she would be the first to exclaim: Ah! the monster! But because it is herself, and because the violence of her vengeance blinds her . . . everything is fine. Oh! the abominable beast . . . How I hate her! Why can she not see to the bottom of my heart? And why should it be that there is no expression strong enough to be able to describe to her to what a degree I abhor her? . . . Oh why should heaven permit such a Fury to crawl upon the earth so long! But could she not be able at least to restore this kindness for this winter, the devilish scoundrel, since she should do some kindness in sixty years! But no, her rage would not have been fully satisfied, and as all the world hates her, detests her, and flies from her, . . . so that she can live with no one and so that even her children are obliged to leave her, everything must fall on me and I must drink the full draught of her venom that the detestable beast dares not spit upon others.

Since my winter clothes have been ordered and I must be pleased with them, send me my cartons now. I cannot do without them, and if I remain here this winter, I tell you that they are absolutely necessary.

Is it then not possible for you to get them to clean my room? . . . But since they could just say they did it, it would be good to discuss this matter in detail. For the past three weeks, they just gave a passing sweep of the broom to my room, without even deigning to remove the cobwebs with which it is covered. But in the closet where I sleep, which is the most essential thing, they never clean there, so besides the two feet of filth there, it gives rise to all sorts of creatures, and I defy you to name a single sort of vermin that is not found there. Is it not an odious injustice to leave a man in such filth? I agree with M. de Bory himself [prison commandant of Pierre-Encize], who, I believe, knows just as well as this little rascal of a man here, that the Minister’s intention is that the rooms of State prisoners, of those who, in short, are as I am here, that is to say, the worst, that their rooms, I say, should be cleaned every week. And you have seen and even noted, I recall, that those even of madmen were cleaned every week. But here they find it necessary to treat me worse than madmen are treated elsewhere, and doubtless that is what our gentleman calls attaining the same level of luxury as at the Bastille! This scoundrel needs to be broken on the rack, him and all his clique, in order to educate him from reasoning this way and also from vilely serving the vengeance of those who bribe him. And if I were in the Minister’s shoes, I would have him rot in a dungeon to give him a little lesson in humanity.

No, sublime and incomparable marquise, Heavenly Angel come to earth for the happiness of those who need nothing, no, I do not at all want any letters, nor excerpts, with the sole exception of the doctor’s, when he shall say: There you are, Monsieur, pack your bags and return victorious to Provence. Attend, for I am an oracle! Oh! when he shall speak like that, I will permit you to excerpt his letter for me and even to send me the original. There is nothing in the universe that concerns me or interests me like my release from this abominable place where men are treated like wild beasts and, which is worse, by their fellow men.

Certainly, if I do not know that the little doctor [Iberti--a physician Sade befriended in Italy] is in Spain, this will not be your fault, because it has now been nearly two years since you told me the same thing. So the books have arrived in Florence! Some more fresh news! Great God, what drivel! and how very appropriate is the title that I wrote on the paper that covered your letters: Triumph of stupid inaction-- as all that is quite worthy of a woman who has never had to busy herself with anything in her life, except a pin, a hair-do, and perform any other task than to blubber half the day over an almanac. Now, good God! those who love the arts and sciences, who, in short, are worthy of the soul that God had given them, do not occupy themselves with such like imbecilities, and do not try to make others get involved with such stuff, especially when it would only result in making their head worse by incensing it.

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