No sooner was she in her closet, she opened the letter and found it as follows:
"I have loved you too well to leave you in a belief that the change you observe in me is an effect of lightness; I must inform you that your falsehood is the cause of it; you will be surprised to hear me speak of your falsehood; you have dissembled it with so much skill, and I have taken so much care to conceal my knowledge of it from you, that you have reason to be surprised at the discovery; I am myself in wonder, that I have discovered nothing of it to you before; never was grief equal to mine; I thought you had the most violent passion for me, I did not conceal that which I had for you, and at the time that I acknowledged it to you without reserve, I found that you deceived me, that you loved another, and that in all probability I was made a sacrifice to this new mistress. I knew it the day you run at the ring, and this was the reason I was not there; at first I pretended an indisposition in order to conceal my sorrow, but afterwards I really fell into one, nor could a constitution delicate like mine support so violent a shock. When I began to be better, I still counterfeited sickness, that I might have an excuse for not seeing and for not writing to you; besides I was willing to have time to come to a resolution in what manner to deal with you; I took and quitted the same resolution twenty times; but at last I concluded you deserved not to see my grief, and I resolved not to show you the least mark of it. I had a desire to bring down your pride, by letting you see, that my passion for you declined of itself: I thought I should by this lessen the value of the sacrifice you had made of me, and was loth you should have the pleasure of appearing more amiable in the eyes of another, by showing her how much I loved you; I resolved to write to you in a cold and languishing manner, that she, to whom you gave my letters, might perceive my love was at an end: I was unwilling she should have the satisfaction of knowing I was sensible that she triumphed over me, or that she should increase her triumph by my despair and complaints. I thought I should punish you too little by merely breaking with you, and that my ceasing to love you would give you but a slight concern, after you had first forsaken me; I found it was necessary you should love me, to feel the smart of not being loved, which I so severely experienced myself; I was of opinion that if anything could rekindle that flame, it would be to let you see that mine was extinguished, but to let you see it through an endeavour to conceal it from you, as if I wanted the power to acknowledge it to you: this resolution I adhered to; I found it difficult to take, and when I saw you again I thought it impossible to execute. I was ready a hundred times to break out into tears and complaints; my ill state of health, which still continued, served as a disguise to hide from you the affliction and trouble I was in; afterward I was supported by the pleasure of dissembling with you, as you had done with me; however it was doing so apparent a violence to myself to tell you or to write to you that I loved you, that you immediately perceived I had no mind to let you see my affection was altered; you was touched with this, you complained of it; I endeavoured to remove your fears, but it was done in so forced a manner, that you were still more convinced by it, I no longer loved you; in short, I did all I intended to do. The fantasticalness of your heart was such, that you advanced towards me in proportion as you saw I retreated from you. I have enjoyed all the pleasure which can arise from revenge; I plainly saw, that you loved me more than you had ever done, and I showed you I had no longer any love for you. I had even reason to believe that you had entirely abandoned her, for whom you had forsaken me; I had ground too to be satisfied you had never spoken to her concerning me; but neither your discretion in that particular, nor the return of your affection can make amends for your inconstancy; your heart has been divided between me and another, and you have deceived me; this is sufficient wholly to take from me the pleasure I found in being loved by you, as I thought I deserved to be, and to confirm me in the resolution I have taken never to see you more, which you are so much surprised at."
The Princess of Cleves
Madame de Lafayette
Photo copy righted by the artist also known as alydelu