A Coward's Wisdom


16 September 1689

I must make you understand that this is neither a story of flowers and sunlight nor a story of romance and passion…

Ah, apologies. For passion, in my mind's eye, is not the pursuit of carnal gratification, but the immortalization of desire. Desire that is dark, deep, and sometimes sacred can be the source of passion. Desire that belies our expressions, actions, and words spurs passion that is insatiable. And upon the assumption that you take up my definition of passion, I can say to you, my newfound confidante, that this, my tale, has very much to do with passion; my passion; her passion; his passion.

Let us begin with benevolence or else our attraction to one another cannot grow. I do not want to frighten you away so I'll respectfully show homage to you as I speak, and it is only fair that you should know that I am here for sorrow; I am here for long-suffering; I am here to tell you about these.

However…before we begin my tirade of sorrow and long suffering, I should like you to allow me a single bias and that is that no one can be trusted.

An objection to this? You have my complete sympathy for as far as I know, you've trusted, you've played the naiveté, or you've given faith despite the odds. Admirable actions, I admit, but this is not a discourse on man's nature. I am convinced upon this reasoning:

That everyone has desires and dreams. One's dreams and desires probably coincide with that of the human being he so loves and trusts. What happens when those animal-like desires begin to differ to the point that they even cross paths? What then?

I am not taking a liberty by speaking to you in this manner. Here in Versailles, we are a beautiful people and France is the center of diplomacy. No, this is not the voice of a zealous philosopher, coining his theorem from past works. I speak solely from experience.

An experience, indeed! I share it with you because I know you will understand when I finish. Yet, that is not my main reason for recalling the whole painful ordeal. It is a long ordeal after all and I would not consume my time doing such a thing to gain sympathy. Non; it is for me. I must heal and I must live after all that has been given, and all that has been stolen. I am not, dear confidante, a very good man.

I should more suitably have called this memoir, "A Cynic's Wisdom," because I am more that now than the coward, but you are about to hear about a coward's wisdom nonetheless. Use your definition of coward for I haven't a new one for you; whatever yours may be, I was that.

You must bear with me, though, for I am bitter.

My name is Jaques Cléon de Verie, a French man past all other assimilated qualities. It is the year 1689 and I reside in Versailles.

Why do I go on about all this? It is not necessary. It is best that I begin before you leave. Beginnings must be done properly.

I shall therefore begin with a little boy named Jaques and a little girl named Jacquiline.