Friday, October 8, 2010

Last Letter of Queen Louise-Marie

Here is the last letter of Queen Louise-Marie of the Belgians to her husband, King Leopold I. Attached to her will, it was written during the final days of Louise-Marie's long battle with consumption, so heartbreaking to her family and friends. (The anniversary of her death is approaching, on October 11). The letter is a lyrical farewell of sublimated conjugal love (all the more remarkable, as the royal marriage was originally a purely political arrangement, dreaded by Louise-Marie), and of passionate desire for the eternal salvation of a husband, who did not share the Queen's Catholic faith.
Cher, cher ami,
Ce testament te sera remis lorsque je ne serai plus, lorsque mon coeur, ce coeur qui n'aura jamais battu que pour toi, aura cessé de battre, lorsque mes yeux qui aimaient tant à te contempler seront fermés par la mort et que mon âme seule pourra veiller sur toi, lorsque enfin je n'aurai plus d'espoir de te revoir que dans ce monde inconnu, objet de tes préoccupations et de tes voeux et où, je l'espère, Dieu nous fera la grâce d'être éternellement réunis. Puisses-tu trouver dans l'expression de mes dernières volontés et deviner par-delà les mots une faible partie de l'affection et de la reconnaissance que j'éprouve pour toi et qu'aucun langage humain ne pourra jamais rendre. Puisse Dieu se charger de la dette de ma reconnaissance et te remercier de ta bonté pour moi en te bénissant et en te protégeant en toutes choses comme mon coeur le désire et le lui demande sans cesse. Puisses-tu être heureux que je l'ai été par toi et près de toi. Puisses-tu être aimé, apprécié, chéri, admiré, j'allais presque dire adoré par beaucoup comme tu l'as été par moi. Puissent tes enfants être toujours pour toi une source de joie et de consolation. Puisse ta mort être douce comme celle du juste et tes derniers moments embellis par le souvenir de tout le bien que tu as fait à moi et aux autres. Puisses-tu, pendant l'éternité, jouir de ce bonheur immatériel et sans bornes pour lequel ton âme a été créée plus que toute autre et puissé-je te servir, toi et ceux que tu as aimés, ou seulement te voir de loin dans cette éternité bienheureuse et avoir la certitude de ton bonheur, même sans le partager. Tels sont, cher ami, mes derniers et mes plus chers voeux car il n'y a pas un battement de mon coeur ni une pensée de mon âme qui ne soit à toi et pour toi. Mon affection pour toi, cette affection qui a été, je puis le dire, la vie de ma vie, le mobile et l'essence de mon existence ici-bas doit même, je le sens, être immortelle comme l'âme que Dieu m'a donnée pour L'adorer, Le servir, Le prier et apprécier Ses bienfaits et doit, comme elle, survivre à ce corps de boue. Quel que soit le moment où Dieu tout-puissant m'appellera à Lui et quelque déchirement que la pensée seule de me séparer de toi me fasse éprouver, je ne puis que bénir Son nom, adorer Ses décrets, m'y soumettre et Le remercier du bonheur si grand et si peu fait pour la terre qu'Il m'a départi en m'unissant à toi. D'ailleurs, que ma vie soit longue ou courte, j'aurai toujours assez vécu si je t'ai été bonne à quelque chose, ne fût-ce qu'un instant.
***
Dear, dear friend,
This will shall be given to you when I shall be no longer, when my heart, this heart which will never have beaten except for you, shall have ceased to beat, when my eyes, which so loved to contemplate you, will have been closed by death, and my soul alone shall be able to watch over you, when, finally, I shall have no more hope of seeing you again, except in that unknown world, the object of your concerns and your wishes, where, I hope, God will grant us the grace of being eternally reunited. May you find, in the expression of my last wishes, and be able to guess, beyond words, a meagre part of the affection and the gratitude I feel towards you, and which no human language will ever be able to express. May God take charge of the debt of my gratitude and thank you for your kindness towards me, by blessing you and protecting you in all things as my heart desires and as I ask Him without ceasing. May you be happy that I have been happy because of you and close to you. May you be loved, appreciated, cherished, admired, I was almost going to say adored, by many, as you have been by me. May your children be always for you a source of joy and consolation. May your death be sweet like that of the just man and your last moments made beautiful by the memory of all the good you have done to me and to others. May you, in eternity, enjoy that immaterial happiness, without limits, for which your soul, more than any other, was created, and may I be able to serve you, you and those you have loved, or, at least, see you from afar in that blessed eternity and have the certitude of your happiness, even without sharing it. These, dear friend, are my last and dearest wishes, for there is not a beat of my heart nor a thought of my soul which is not yours and for you. My affection for you, that affection which was, I can say, the life of my life, the motive and the essence of my existence here below, must also, I sense, be immortal, like the soul God gave me to adore Him, to serve Him, to pray Him and to appreciate His benefits and must, like it, survive this body of mud. Whatever the moment when almighty God may call me to Him, and whatever anguish, which only the thought of being separated from you may cause me to feel, I can only bless His name, adore His decrees, submit myself to them and thank Him for the happiness, so great and so little made for this earth, which He granted me by uniting me to you. And whether my life is long or short, I will always have lived long enough if I was at all good for you, even if only for an instant. 
(cited by Madeleine Lassère in Louise reine des Belges: 1812-1850, 2006, pp. 258-259)

8 comments:

MadMonarchist said...

A shame people don't write like that anymore; they used to, and not only royals, but such emotional support seems lacking these days or at the very least often goes unsaid.

Brantigny said...

What were the thoughts of Leopold?

Matterhorn said...

When she died, he said: "Her death is saintly, like her life." He was very depressed by her loss. Nonetheless, he never became a Catholic as far as we can tell.

Matterhorn said...

Mad Monarchist, I agree. It is all the more remarkable given that here the Queen is the one giving consolation, although she, you would think, would be the one most in need of consolation herself at such a moment. But actually, she was much more able to face the situation than was Leopold. The King found it very difficult to spend time with Louise during her last illness, he seemed repulsed by it all and said he fell into a terrible state whenever he tried to attend his dying wife.

Ms. Lucy said...

Oh -this is so touching...and so powerful. Her love was really beyond words- although she uses hers in such a pure and beautiful way. And to think thatshe was so ill and still found to go beyond herself and completely absorb herself in her grand love. Wow..

Thanks for this amazing post- you're right, I do really love and appreciate reading stuff like this. It's just baffling. Thanks:)

Matterhorn said...

You're welcome. It's something I just *had* to post. To think, she was a shy woman during her life, but here she completely opens up her amazing, loving soul.

elena maria vidal said...

Oh, how beautiful. What a perfect expression of true love!

Matterhorn said...

It is all the more remarkable, as Leopold had not been a particularly faithful husband. Even towards the end of Louise's life, he was still causing her grief with his affair with beautiful young Arcadie Claret.