Front Page Titles (by Subject) CANTO V. - Complete Works, vol. 4 Familiar Letters; Miscellaneous Pieces; The Temple of Gnidus; A Defence of the Spirit of Laws
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CANTO V. - Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Complete Works, vol. 4 Familiar Letters; Miscellaneous Pieces; The Temple of Gnidus; A Defence of the Spirit of Laws 
The Complete Works of M. de Montesquieu (London: T. Evans, 1777), 4 vols. Vol. 4.
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I CONTINUED talking to the young Aristeus of my tender passion, which made him sigh for his own, when I endeavoured to ease his heart by intreating him to disburden it to me: and this is what he said. I shall forget nothing; for I am inspired by the same God that made him speak.
In all my story you will find nothing but what is extremely simple: my adventures are only the sentiments of a tender heart: these are my pleasures, and these my pains; for as my love for Camilla forms the happiness, it also forms the history, of my life.
Camilla is the daughter of one of the principal inhabitants of Gnidus; she is beautiful, and has a countenance that makes an impression on all hearts. The women who form desires demand of the Gods the graces of Camilla: the men who see her would see her always, or fear longer to see her.
She is of a graceful stature; and has a noble, but modest air; her eyes are lively, and susceptible of tenderness; her features are expressly made for each other, and have charms adapted to give her a conquest over the heart.
Camilla does not seek to adorn herself: but she is better adorned than other women.
She has that wit which nature almost constantly refuses to the fair, and is equally capable of seriousness and gaiety. If you chuse it, she will join in a sensible conversation; or she will jest like the Graces.
The more wit a person has, the more will he find in Camilla. Her thoughts are so natural, that she seems to speak the language of the heart. Every thing she says, every thing she does, has the charm of simplicity; and you always find her a native shepherdess. Graces so easy, so refined, so delicate, are always observed; but are better felt than described.
With all these advantages, Camilla loves me; she is transported at seeing me; she is sorry when I leave her; and, as if I could live without her, makes me promise to return. I continually tell her that I love her, she believes me: I tell her that I adore her, she knows it; but is as delighted as if she knew it not. When I tell her that she constitutes the felicity of my life, she tells me that I am the happiness of hers. In short, she loves me so much, that she almost makes me believe that I am worchy of her love.
For a month did I see Camilla, without daring to tell her that I loved, and almost without daring to tell it myself. The more amiable I found her, the less were my hopes of meeting with a return. O Camilla! thought I, thy charms captivate my soul; but they let me know, that I am unworthy of thee. I sought to forget her; I would have effaced her image from my heart. How happy was I that I could not succeed! That image has remained there, and will never be obliterated.
I said to Camilla: I once loved the bustle and noise of life: but now I seek solitude: I had views of ambition; but I desire nothing but thy presence: I was desirous of visiting distant climates; but my heart is now only a citizen of the places where thou breathest. Every thing but thee has vanished from before my eyes.
When Camilla speaks of her tenderness, she has always something to say to me, and she fancies she has forgot what she has protested a thousand times. I am so charmed at hearing her, that I sometimes pretend not to believe her, in order to hear her still flatter my heart. Sometimes we both preserve that sweet silence, which is the most tender language of lovers.
When I have been absent from Camilla, I have endeavoured to give her an account of what I have heard or seen. With what dost thou entertain me, says she? talk to me of our love; or if thou hast not thought of it, if thou hast nothing to say to me, O cruel Aristeus, suffer me to speak.
Sometimes, embracing me, she says, Thou art melancholy. ’Tis true, I reply; but the melancholy of lovers is delightful: I feel my tears flow, and know not for why; for thou lovest me: I have no cause of complaint; and yet I complain. Deliver me not from the languor of my mind; suffer me to sigh out at the same time my pains and my pleasures.
In the transports of love my soul is too strongly agitated; it is drawn towards its happiness without enjoying it: but now I relish even melancholy itself. Dry not up my tears: what signifies my shedding them, while I am happy.
Sometimes Camilla says: Dost thou love me? Yes, I love thee. But how dost thou love me? I love, I reply, as I have loved: for I can only compare the affection I have for thee, by that which I have felt for the same transporting object.
I hear Camilla praised by all who know her: these praises affect me as if they were made to myself, and I am more delighted with them, than she.
When we have company, she talks with such wit, that I am charmed with her least words: but I am still better pleased, when she is silent.
When she contracts a friendship, I would be that friend; and suddenly I reflect that I shall not be beloved.
O Camilla, take care of the deceits of lovers. They tell thee that they love; and they speak truth: they tell thee, that they love thee more than I; but I swear by the Gods, that I love thee still more.
When I perceive her at a distance, my soul flies to her; she approaches, and my heart is agitated; I come up to her, and my soul seems as if it would leave me to enter Camilla’s breast, and that hers is going to animate mine.
Sometimes, when I would steal from her one favour, she refuses me, and instantly grants me another. This is not artifice. Divided between modesty and love, she would refuse me every thing; and yet she wishes that she might deny me nothing.
She says, is it not sufficient that I love you? What can you desire more, after having had my heart? I desire, say I, that thou wouldst for me commit a fault that is in the power of love, and which the greatness of love can justify.
If I ever cease to love thee, my Camilla, may the destinies be mistaken, and take that for the last of my days! May they cut off the remainder of a life, which I should find deplorable when I recollected the pleasure I had found in loving.
Aristeus sighed, and was silent; and I plainly saw, that he only ceased to talk of Camilla, in order to enjoy the pleasure of thinking of her charms.