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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
From ‘Delphine’
By Madame de Staël (1766–1817)
 
Letter of Delphine to Léonce

WHAT motive could prevent me from seeing you? Léonce, no selfish emotions have power over me. God is my witness that for no possible advantages would I give up an hour, a single hour, that I could pass with you without remorse….  1
  We are very wretched. O Léonce, do you think I do not feel it? Everything seemed to unite only a few months ago to promise us the purest happiness. I was free; my position and my fortune assured me perfect independence; I had seen you; I had loved you with my whole soul: and the most fatal stroke—one that the slightest accident, the merest word, might have turned aside—has separated us forever!…  2
  If it is sweet to you, Léonce, when you suffer, to think that at that moment, whenever it may be, Delphine, your poor friend, overwhelmed by her sorrows, implores Heaven for power to bear them,—the Heaven which hitherto has always supported her, and which now she implores in vain,—if this idea, both cruel and sweet, can comfort you, ah! you may indulge in it at will! But what have our sorrows to do with our duties? That nobleness of life we worship in our days of happiness, is it not always the same? Shall it have less empire over us, because the moment has come to attain those heights we admired?  3
  Fate has willed that the purest enjoyments of heart and soul should be denied us. Perhaps, my friend, Providence has thought us worthy of that which is noblest in the world,—the sacrifice of love to duty….  4
  What still depends on us is to command our actions: our happiness is no longer in our power; we must trust that to the care of Heaven: after many struggles, God will give us at least calmness,—yes, at least calmness…. Let us strive to lead a life of devotion to others, a life of sacrifices and of duties; such a life has given almost happiness to virtuous souls.  5
 
M. de Serbellane (in conversation)
  “One can still make serviceable for the happiness of others a life that promises ourselves only pain; and this hope will give you the courage to live.”
  6
 
 
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