Marianna Alcoforado.

The Letters of a Portuguese Nun online

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vous en coniure encore.

N’auez vous jamais fait quelque reflexion sur la maniere dont vous
m’auez traitée, ne pensez vous iamais que vous m’auez plus d’obligation
qu’à personne du monde; je vous ay aymé comme vne incensée; que de
mépris j’ay eu pour toutes choses! vostre procedé n’est point d’vn
honneste homme, il faut que vous ayez eu pour moy de l’auersion
naturelle, puis que vous ne m’auez pas aymée éperduëment; je me suis
laissée enchanter par des qualitez tres-mediocres, qu’auez vous fait
qui deust me plaire? quel sacrifice m’auez vous fait? n’auez vous pas
cherché mille autres plaisirs? auez vous renoncé au jeu, & à la chasse?
n’estes vous pas parti le premier pour aller à l’Armée? n’en estes-vous
pas reuenu apres tous les autres, vous vous y estes exposé folement,
quoy que je vous eusse prié de vous ménager pour l’amour de moy, vous
n’auez point cherché les moyens de vous establir en Portugal? où vous
estiez estimé; vne lettre de vostre frere vous en a fait partir, sans
hesiter vn moment, & n’ay-je pas sçeu que durant le voyage vous auez
esté de la plus belle humeur du monde. Il faut aduoüer que ie suis
obligée à vous haïr mortellement; ah! ie me suis attirée tous mes
mal-heurs: je vous ay d’abord accoustumé à vne grande passion, auec
trop de bonne foy, & il faut de l’artifice pour se faire aymer, il
faut chercher auec quelque adresse les moyens d’enflâmer, & l’amour
tout seul ne donne point de l’amour, vous vouliez que ie vous aymasse,
& comme vous auiez formé ce dessein, il n’y a rien que vous n’eussiez
fait pour y paruenir, vous vous fussiez mesme resolu à m’aymer, s’il
eut esté necessaire; mais vous auez connu que vous pouuiez reussir
dans vostre entreprise sans passion, & que vous n’en auiez aucun
besoin, quelle perfidie? croyés vous auoir pû impunement me tromper,
si quelque hazard vous r’amenoit en ce pays, ie vous declare que ie
vous liureray à la vengeance de mes parents. I’ay vécu long-temps
dans vn abandonnement & dans vne idolatrie qui me donne de l’horreur,
& mon remords me persecute auec vne rigueur insupportable, ie sens
viuement la honte des crimes que vo’ m’auez fait commettre, & ie n’ay
plus, helas! la passion qui m’empeschoit d’en connoistre l’énormité;
quand est-ce que mon cœur ne sera plus dechiré? quand est-ce que ie
seray deliurée de cét embarras, cruel! cependant je croy que ie ne
vous souhaitte point de mal, & que je me resouderois à consentir que
vous fussiez heureux; mais cōmēt pourrés vous l’estre si vous aués le
cœur biē fait; je veux vous écrire vne autre Lettre, pour vous faire
voir que ie seray peut-estre plus tranquille dans quelque tēps; que
j’auray de plaisir de pouuoir vous reprocher vos procedés iniustes
aprés que ie n’en seray plus si viuement touchée, & lors que ie vous
seray connoistre que ie vous méprise, que ie parle auec beaucoup
d’indifference de vostre trahison; que j’ay oublié tous mes plaisirs,
& toutes mes douleurs, & que ie ne me souuiens de vous que lors que
ie veux m’en souuenir. Ie demeure d’accord que vous auez de grands
aduantages sur moy, & que vous m’auez donné vne passion qui ma fait
perdre la raison, mais vous deuez en tirer peu de vanité; j’estois
jeune, j’estois credule, on m’auoit enfermée dans ce convēt depuis mon
enfance, ie n’auois veu que des gens desagreables, je n’auois jamais
entendu les loüanges que vous me donniez incessamment, il me sembloit
que je vous deuois les charmes, & la beauté que vo’ me trouuiez, &
dont vous me faisiez apperceuoir, j’entendois dire du bien de vous,
tout le monde me parloit en vostre faueur, vous faisiez tout ce qu’il
falloit pour me donner de l’amour; mais ie suis, enfin, reuenuë de cét
enchantement, vous m’auez dōné de grands secours, & j’aduoüe que j’en
auois vn extrême besoin: En vous renuoyant vos lettres, je garderay
soigneusement les deux dernieres que vous m’auez écrites, & ie les
reliray encore plus souuent que ie n’ay leu les premieres, afin de ne
retomber plus dans mes foiblesses, Ah! quelles me coûtēt cher, & que
i’aurois esté heureuse, si vous eussiez voulu souffrir que ie vous
eusse toûjours aimé. Ie connois bien que ie suis encore vn peu trop
occupée de mes reproches & de vostre infidelité; mais souuenez-vous
que ie me suis promise vn estat plus paisible, & que j’y paruiendray,
ou que ie prēdray contre moy quelque resolution extrême, que vous
apprendrez sans beaucoup de déplaisir; mais ie ne veux plus rien de
vous, ie suis vne folle de redire les mesmes choses si souuent, il faut
vous quitter & ne penser plus à vous, ie croy mesme que je ne vous
écriray plus, suis-je obligée de vous rendre vn compte exact de to’ mes
diuers mouuements.


FIN.




_EXTRAIT DV_

_Priuilege du Roy_


Par Grace & Priuilege du Roy, donné à Paris le 28. jour d’Octobre
1668. Signé par le Roy en son Conseïl, MARGERET. Il est permis à
CLAVDE BARBIN, Marchand Libraire, de faire imprimer vn Liure intitulé,
_Lettres Portugaises_, pendant le temps & espace de _cinq années_; Et
deffenses sont faites à tous autres de l’Imprimer, sur peine de quinze
cent liures d’amande, de tous dépens, dommages & interests, comme il
est plus amplement porté par lesdites Lettres de Priuilege.

_Acheué d’imprimer pour la premiere fois le 4. Ianuier, 1669._

Les Exemplaires ont esté fournis.

_Registré sur le Liure de la Communauté de Marchands Libraires &
Imprimeurs de cette Ville, suiuant & conformement à Arrest de la Cour
de Parlement du 8. Avril, 1653, aux charges & conditions portées par le
present Priuilege. Fait à Paris le 17 Nouembre 1668._

SOVBRON, Syndic.




BIBLIOGRAPHY


The following forms the English Bibliography of the Letters: -

‘Five | love-letters | from a | Nun | to a | Cavalier | .’ Done out
of French into English. (By) Ro L’Estrange. London 1678. pp. 111-117,
12mo.

Here is the Preface: -

To the Reader. | You are to take this Translation very kind- | ly, for
the Authour | of it has ventur’d his | Reputation to oblige | you:
Ventur’d it | (I say) even in the very Attempt of Co | pying so Nice
an | Original. It is, in French, one of the | most Artificial Pieces
| perhaps of the Kind, | that is anywhere Ex- | tant: Beside the Pe-
| culiar Graces, and | Felicities of that Lan-| guage; in the matter
| of an Amour, which | cannot be adopted | into any other | Tongue
without Ex- | tream Force, and Affectation. There was | (it seems)
an Intrigue | of Love carry’d on | betwixt a French offi- | cer, and
a Nun in | Portugal. The Cava- | lier forsakes his Mis- | tress, and
Returns | for France. The La- | dy expostulates the | Business in five
Let- | ters of complaint, | which she sends af- | ter him; and those |
five Letters are here | at your Service. You | will find in them the
| Lively Image of an | Extravagant, and an | Unfortunate Passion; |
and that a woman may | be Flesh and Bloud, in a | Cloyster, as well as
in a | Palace.

‘Five love-letters from a Nun to a Cavalier,’ etc., etc., 1693. 16mo.
(2nd edition.)

‘Five love-letters from a Nun to a Cavalier,’ etc. etc., 1701. 16mo.
(3rd edition.)

* ‘New Miscellaneous | Poems | with five | Love-Letters | from | a Nun
to a Cavalier |. Done into Verse |.’ The Second Edition. London 1713.
With frontispiece. 16mo. The Letters occupy pp. 3-43; the date of the
1st edition is unknown.

‘Letters | from a | Portuguese Nun | to | an Officer | in the | French
Army.’ | Translated by | W. R. Bowles, Esqre. London, 1808. 12mo.,
with frontispiece. pp. xvi-125. This includes the so-called Second
Part of the Letters.

‘Letters from a Portuguese Nun,’ etc., etc., 1817. (2nd edition.)

‘Letters from a Portuguese Nun,’ etc., etc., 1828. (3rd edition.)

‘The Love Letters of a | Portuguese Nun | being the letters written by
Marianna | Alcaforado to Noël Bouton de Cha-milly, Count of St. Leger
(later | Marquis of Chamilly), in | the year 1668.’ | Translated by |
R. H. | New York 1890. 12mo. 148 p.

‘Five love-letters written by a Cavalier (the Chevalier Del) in answer
to the five love-letters written to him by a Nun.’ London 1694. 12mo.

* * * * *

* ‘Seven | Portuguese Letters; | being a | second part | to the | Five
Love-Letters | from a | Nun | to a | Cavalier | .’ London 1681. pp.
iii-78. 8vo.

* ‘Seven | Love-Letters | from a | Nun | to a | Cavalier,’ | etc.,
etc., 1693. Small 4to. (2nd edition.)

N.B. - The translations marked with an asterisk are not mentioned by
Senhor Cordeiro in his Bibliography.




APPENDIX


During the passage of the present work through the press, Mr. York
Powell was fortunate enough to acquire by purchase in Oxford a book
not mentioned in any bibliographical dictionary, nor possessed by any
of the chief English libraries, containing a translation into verse
of the five Letters of the Portuguese Nun. On account of the rarity
of the book, of which this is probably a unique copy, as well as of
the curious rendering of the famous Letters, it seemed advisable to
transcribe here all that concerned the love-lorn Marianna, which has
therefore been done. It should perhaps be mentioned that every inquiry
as to the author of this translation and the date of its first edition
has proved fruitless.

The following is a description of the book in question -




New Miscellaneous
POEMS
With Five
_Love-Letters_
FROM
A Nun to a Cavalier.

Done into Verse.

_Nil dulcius est istoc amare aut amari, præter hoc ipsum amare & amari._

The Second Edition.

_London_, Printed for W. MEARS, at the _Lamb_ without _Temple-bar_.
1713.

One vol. in 16mo.

First comes the Preface, then a Table of Contents, and the title-page
to the Letters, which runs,

Five | Love-Letters | From a | Nun | to | A Cavalier | Done into Verse
| London | Printed in the Year 1713. |

The Letters take up pp. 3-43, after which is another title-page to the
Miscellaneous Poems, then the Poems themselves follow, occupying pp.
47-129.

The frontispiece to the volume shows the Nun seated at a table in
the act of writing; upon the table is a lighted candle, rosary and
ink-pot, while the portrait of her lover hangs over some book-shelves.
The engraving is unsigned, and seems to be different from any of those
hitherto recorded.




LOVE-LETTERS

FROM

A NUN TO A CAVALIER




LETTER I


Oh! the unhappy Joys which Love contains,
How short the Pleasures, and how long the Pains!
Curs’d be the treach’rous Hopes that drew me on,
And made me fondly to my Ruin run.
What I the Blessing of my Life design’d
Is now become the Torment of my Mind:
A Torment! which is equally as great
As is his Absence that doth it create.
Heav’ns! must this Absence then for ever last,
This Absence! which does all my comfort blast?
Must I no more enjoy the pleasing Light
That charm’d my Heart with Rapture and Delight?
Must I no more those lovely Eyes behold
Which have so oft their Master’s Passion told?
Nor was I wanting in the same intent; }
A thousand times my Eyes in Flashes sent }
The Dictates of my Heart, and shew’d you what they meant. }
But now they must be other ways employ’d:
When I reflect on what I have enjoy’d
Tears of their own accord in Streams will flow,
To think I ’m scorned, and left by faithless you.

And yet my Passion does so far exceed }
A vulgar Flame, that I with Pleasure bleed, }
And doat upon the Torments which from you proceed. }
From the first moment I beheld your Face,
To you I dedicated all my Days:
Your Eyes at first an easie Conquest gain’d,
Which since they have but too too well maintain’d.
Your Name each Hour I constantly repeat;
But what’s (alas!) the Comfort which I meet?
Nought but my wretched Fate’s too true Advice,
Which whispers to me in such Words as these:
Ah! Mariane, why do’st hope in vain
To see thy lovely Fugitive again?
The dear, false, cruel Man ’s for ever gone,
And thou, unhappy thou! art left alone:
Gone is the Tyrant, slighting all thy Charms,
And longs to languish in another’s Arms.
In vain you weep, in vain you sigh and mourn,
For he will never, never more return.
To fly from thee, he left his Downy Ease,
And scorn’d the Dangers of the raging Seas.
In France, dissolv’d in Pleasures, now he lies,
And for new Beauties every moment dies;
The Joys which once he with such Ardour sought }
Are now (alas!) all vanish’d and forgot; }
Nor art Thou ever present in his Thought. - - }

But hold! my Passion hurries me too far,
And makes me think you falser than you are.
You’ve, sure, more Honour than to use me so
For what I have endur’d and done for you,
Forget me! ’tis impossible you shou’d;
Nay, I believe you cannot if you wou’d.
My Case is bad enough without that Curse,
I need not find fresh Plagues to make it worse.
And when I think with how much care you strove
To let me see at first, your dawning Love;
When I reflect upon the Bliss it brought,
The Pleasure is too great to be forgot;
And I shou’d think I were ungrateful grown,
Should I not love you, tho’ by you undone. - -

Yet oh! the Mem’ry of my former Joys,
So hard’s my Fate, my present Ease destroys.
’Tis strange that what gave such delight before,
Shou’d serve to make me now lament the more. - -

A Thousand Passions, not to be exprest,
Your Letter rais’d in my distracted Breast;
My vanquish’d Senses from their Office fled, }
A long time stupid on the ground I laid, }
And since I’ve often wish’d I had been dead. }
But I unhappily reviv’d again
To suffer greater Torment, greater Pain;
A Thousand Evils I each Day endure,
Which nothing but the Sight of you can cure;
Yet I submit, without repining too,
Because the ills I bear proceed from you. - -

And ’tis because you know the Pow’r you have,
You use me thus, and make me such a Slave.
Oh! give me leave to speak - -
Is this the Recompense you think is due,
To those that sacrifice their Lives for you?
Yet use me as you will, to my last Breath,
Tho’ loath’d by you, I’ll keep my plighted Faith. - -

And did you understand what Pleasure lies
In being constant, you wou’d Change despise.
You’ll never meet with one will prove so kind,
Tho’ in another you more Beauty find.
Yet I can tell the time, tho’ now ’tis gone,
(Poor as it is) when mine has pleas’d alone. - -

You need not bid me keep you in my Mind,
I’m too much of myself to that inclin’d.
I can’t forget you, nor those Hopes you give
Of your return, in Portugal to live.
Cou’d I from this unhappy Cloister break,
You thro’ the Perils of the World I’d seek.
I’d follow where you went, without Regret,
And constantly upon your Fortune wait,
Think not I keep these Hopes to ease my Grief,
Or bring to my despairing Soul Relief;
No, I’m too well acquainted with my Fate,
And know I’m born to be unfortunate. - -

Yet while I write, some glimmering Hopes appear }
That yield a respite to my wild Despair, }
And some small Ease afford amidst my Care. }
Tell me, what made you press my Ruin so?
Why with your Craft a harmless Maid undo?
Why strove t’ ensnare my too-unguarded Heart,
When you were sure ere long you shou’d depart?
What Injury had I e’er done to you,
To make you with such Wiles, my Innocence pursue?

But pardon me, (thou Charmer of my Soul!)
For I will charge you with no crime at all.
Let me hear oft from you, where-e’er you are,
For I methinks shou’d in your Fortune share,
But above all, I beg you, by the Love
Which once you swore shou’d ever constant prove;
By all those Vows, which you so often made
When on my panting Bosom you have laid,
Let me no longer this sad Absence mourn,
But bless me, bless me with your kind Return.
Adieu - and yet so tender am I grown,
I know not how to end these Lines so soon;
Oh I that I could but in their Room convey
Myself, thou lovely faithless Man, to Thee!
Fool that I am, I quite distracted grow, }
And talk of things impossible to do; }
Adieu, - for I can say no more - Adieu. - }
Love me for ever, and I’ll bear my Fate,
(Hard as it is) without the least Regret.




LETTER II

From a Nun to a Cavalier


Alas! it is impossible to tell
Th’ afflicting Pains that injur’d Lovers feel.
And if my Flame, by what I write, you rate,
Then have I made my self unfortunate.
Blest should I be, cou’d your own Breast define
The raging Passion that I feel in mine;
But I must ne’er enjoy that happy Fate: }
And if I ’m always doom’d to bear your Hate, }
’Tis base to use me at this barb’rous rate. }
Oh! it distracts my Soul when I reflect
Upon my slighted Charms, and your Neglect:
And ’twill t’ your Honour as destructive be,
As ’tis conducive to my Misery. - -

It now is come to pass what then I fear’d,
When you to leave me in such haste prepar’d.
Fool as I was, to think your Flame was true,
True as th’ Excessive Love I bear to you!
T’ encrease my Torments all your Acts incline;
To make me wretched is your whole Design.

Nor wou’d your Passion any Ease allow,
If only grounded on my Love for you:
But I’m so far ev’n from that poor Pretence,
Six Months are past since you departed hence;
Six tedious Melancholy Months are gone,
And I’ve not been so much as thought upon:
Blind with the fondness of my own Desire,
Else might have found my Joys wou’d soon expire.
How cou’d I think that you’d contented be
To leave your Friends and Native Place for me?
Alas! Remembrance of my former Joys
Adds to the Number of my Miseries.
Will all my flatt’ring Hopes then prove in vain?
Must I ne’er Live to see you here again?
Why may not I once more behold your Charms,
Once more enfold you in my longing Arms?
Why may not I, as heretofore, receive
Those sweet transporting Joys which none but you can give? - -

I find the Flame that set my Soul on Fire
In you was nothing but a loose Desire.
I should have reason’d ere it was too late,
And so prevented my approaching Fate:
My busie Thoughts were all on you bestow’d,
I for my own repose not one allow’d:
So pleas’d was I, whilst in your Lovely Arms,
I thought myself secure from future Harms:
But yet you may remember, oft I’ve said,
You’d be the Ruin of a harmless Maid;
But those were Notions that abortive dy’d,
And I upon your flatt’ring Oaths rely’d.

Cou’d I cease loving you, I shou’d have Ease,
But that ’s a Cure far worse than the Disease;
And ’tis (alas) impossible, I find,
To raze your Image from my tortur’d Mind;
And it ’s a thing which I did ne’er design,
For your Condition is far worse than mine;
You ’d better share what my poor soul endures,
Than th’ empty Joys you find in new Amours.
So far am I from envying your Fate,
I rather pity your unhappy State.
I all your false dissembling Arts defie:
I know I ’m rooted in your Memory,
And am perhaps the happiest of the Two,
In that I now am more employ’d than you.
They’ve made me Keeper of the Convent Door,
Which is a Place I ne’er supply’d before;
It is an Office I ne’er thought t’ have had;
All who discourse me think that I am mad.
Our Convent too must be as mad as I,
Or they might have perceiv’d my Incapacity.

Oh! how I wish to be as blest as they
Who, as your Servants, your Commands obey.
I shou’d be Proud, like one of them, to wait
On you, tho’ ’twere ev’n in the meanest State.
My Love for you I don’t at all repent;
That you ’ve seduced me, I am well content.
Your Rig’rous Absence, tho’ ’twill fatal prove,
Yet lessens not the Vigour of my Love.
My Passion I to all the World proclaim,
And make no Secret of my raging Flame.
Some Things I ’ve done irregular, ’tis true,
And glory’d in them, ’cause they were for you;
My Fame, my Honour, and Religion, are
All made subservient to the Love I bear.

Whilst I am writing, I have no intent
That you shou’d Answer what I now have sent:
Force not your self, I ’ll not receive a Word
You send, that comes not of its own accord.
If not by writing you do Ease receive,
So ’t too to me shall Satisfaction give,
To Pardon all your Faults I ’m much inclin’d,
And shall be pleas’d to prove you ’re not unkind.

I’m told that France has made a Peace; if so }
A Visit here then sure you might bestow, }
And take me with you wheresoe’er you go, }
That must alone at your disposal be,
I fear (alas) it is too good for me.
Since you first left this sad forsaken Place,
I ’ve not enjoy’d a Moment’s Health or Ease:
The Accent of your Name my Cares abate,
Which I a thousand times a Day repeat.
Within our Convent some there are who know }
From whence the Source of all my Sorrows flow, }
Who strive to Ease me and Discourse of you. }

I ’m constant to my Chamber, which is dear
To me, because you ’ve been so often there:
Your Picture as unvaluable I prize,
And have it always fixt before my Eyes:
The Counterfeit does Satisfaction give;
But when I think that I must never live
To see the Bright, the Fair Original,
Great are the Horrors, great the Pains I feel,

Oh! how I ’m wrack’d and torn with endless Pain
To think I ne’er must see you here again!
But why shou’d it be possible to be
That I your lovely Form no more must see?
For ever! are you then for ever gone?
For ever must I make my fruitless Moan?
No, Mariane, thou wilt soon have Peace;
Kind Death approaches, he will give thee Ease.
Ah me! how fast my fainting Spirits fail! -
Farewel, Oh, pity me! - Thou lovely Man,
Farewel. - -




LETTER III

From a Nun to a Cavalier


What will become of miserable me?
What will th’ Event of my Misfortunes be,
How can I hold, now all my hopes retire?
On them I liv’d, and must with them expire.
Where are the cordial Lines to heal my Pain,
T’ assure me I shall see you here again?
Where are the Letters that should bring Relief,
Compose my Soul, and mitigate my Grief?

Fool’d with vain Projects, I of late design’d
To strive to calm and heal my tortur’d Mind:
The slender Hopes I have of seeing you,
Joyn’d with the Coldness of your last Adieu;
Th’ Improbability of your Return,
The many tedious restless Nights I ’ve born,
Your frivolous Excuses to be gone,
Encourag’d my Design and urg’d me on;
Nor did I doubt Success till, ah! too soon,
I found I still must love, still doat and be undone.

Wretch that I am! compel’d alone to bear
The heavy Burthen, which you ought to share.
You ’re the Offender, and I undergo
The Punishment, which ought to fall on you.
’Tis plain, I never yet enjoy’d your Love,
Since all my Torments can’t your Pity move,
Feign’d were the Transports, false the Vows you made,
And only us’d that I might be betray’d.
Your whole Design was to ensnare my Heart
Then cruelly to act a Tyrant’s Part.

T’ abuse a Love like mine, is highly base,
And cannot but redound to your Disgrace.
Who would have thought, when of my love possest,
’Twas not enough to make you ever blest?
And ’tis for your own sake I ’m troubled most,
When I but think upon the Joys you ’ve lost:


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