Heloise and Abelard 1st Letter

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  • Published : February 18, 2007
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To her master, nay father, to her husband, nay brother; his handmaid, nay daughter, his spouse, nay sister: to ABELARD, HELOISE. Your letter written to a friend for his comfort, beloved, was lately brought to me by chance. Seeing at once from the title that it was yours, I began the more ardently to read it in that the writer was so dear to me, that I might at least be refreshed by his words as by a picture of him whose presence I have lost. Almost every line of that letter, I remember, was filled with gall and wormwood, to wit those that related the miserable story of our conversion, and your unceasing crosses, my all. You didst indeed fulfil in that letter what at the beginning of it you hadst promised your friend, namely that in comparison with your troubles he should deem his own to be nothing or but a small matter. After setting forth your former persecution by your masters, then the outrage of supreme treachery upon your body, you have turned your pen to the execrable jealousy and inordinate assaults of your fellow-pupils also, namely Alberic of Rheims and Lotulph the Lombard; and what by their instigation was done to that famous work of your theology, and what to yourself, as it were condemned to prison, you havet not omitted. From these you comest to the machinations of thine Abbot and false brethren, and the grave detraction of you by those two pseudo-apostles, stirred up against you by the aforesaid rivals, and to the scandal raised by many of the name of Paraclete given to the oratory in departure from custom: and then, coming to those intolerable and still continuing persecutions of your life, you havet carried to the end the miserable story of that cruellest of extortioners and those wickedest of monks, whom you callest your sons. Which things I deem that no one can read or hear with dry eyes, for they renewed in fuller measure my griefs, so diligently did they express each several part, and increased them the more, in that you relatedst that your perils are still growing, so that we are all alike driven to despair of your life, and every day our trembling hearts and throbbing bosoms await the latest rumour of your death. And so in His Name Who still protects you in a certain measure for Himself, in the Name of Christ, as His handmaids and thine, we beseech you to deign to inform us by frequent letters of those shipwrecks in which you still art tossed, that you mayest have us at least, who alone have remained to you, as partners in they grief or joy. For they are wont to bring some comfort to a grieving man who grieve with him, and any burden that is laid on several is borne more easily, or transferred. And if this tempest should have been stilled for a space, then all the more hasten you to write, the more pleasant your letter will be. But whatsoever it be of which you mayest write to us, you wilt confer no small remedy on us; if only in this that you wilt shew yourself to be keeping us in mind. For how pleasant are the letters of absent friends Seneca himself by own example teaches us, writing thus in a certain passage to his friend Lucilius: "Because you writest me often, I thank you. For in the one way possible you shewest yourself to me. Never do I receive a letter from you, but immediately we are together." If the portraits of our absent friends are pleasant to us, which renew our memory of them and relieve our regret for their absence by a false and empty consolation, how much more pleasant are letters which bring us the written characters of the absent friend. But thanks be to God, that in this way at least no jealousy prevents you from restoring to us your presence, no difficulty impedes you, no neglect (I beseech you) need delay you. You have written to your friend the comfort of a long letter, considering his difficulties, no doubt, but treating of thine own. Which diligently recording, whereas you didst intend them for his comfort, you havet added greatly to our desolation, and while you wert...
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