A testimony of lover’s misunderstanding, by Saint-Just
She arrived with very slow steps. She came in, embraced him, squeezed his hand. He reproached her softly her long absence and her silence. She answered nothing. He led her by his hand, and, arrived at his apartment, he offered her the most tender caresses. She smiled and did not utter a word. They both lied down on a bed, she tasted not pleasure but took great part in that of her friend. She placed her hands around the skin of his body, she crossed her legs on his legs. He asked her whether she did not love him anymore. She kissed him and kept a deep silence. “Let me open your mouth”, he added, “with a kiss.” She smiled. Afterwards he made her a reproach for not having written to him. “I had to come”, she answered – “Previously, when you came you brought me several letters.” She answered nothing. “I will leave you”, he says. She does not say a word. “Why are you so sad?” – “Because you told me that you will leave me.” – “You were sad before.” She says nothing. “But”, he added, “Whereby will we end? We will have to part, you do not think about the future.” – “I have stopped thinking about it. I do not know why. It seems to me that I will always find you here.” – “You become indifferent, but why such sadness?” – “You want me to follow you, I could never resolve myself to that. I will promise it in order to bind you to your advancement. We will see afterwards, but I could never resolve myself to that, this is what pains me, I think about it all the time.” – “In that case let us forget each other immediately. Go, cheer up. When we have to part one day, let us spare us more regrets. Adieu, I will have another woman and I will bring you my little children, you will love them like your own.” – “No”, she screamed, “I do not want to.” She burst out in tears while she kept hugging him many times. “Let us get over our weakness”, he carried on, and he repeated to her that he would take another woman which would be like her and that would bring her his little children. “You see how I know how to take my side. I would take it as well if you were unfaithful. Are you not jealous?” – “No.” – “Do you love me?” – “Yes, I love you.” – “Well, we have to forget each other, to part and not to see each other again.” She cries. He did not hesitate to show her that he loved her still the same, he made her promise to visit him the day after tomorrow, she took the secret of her sadness with her. When she got out, she felt rather calm and she went. She had promised her friend to tell him a lot of things. She had written so much of it to her friend, and when he asked her to she did not answer. On the go he told her: “Three things bother you, what you confided to me formerly.” She wanted to know [some words unreadable]. He led her out and they embraced tenderly.
He said to himself: “Either she does not trust me or she is jealous or she has an intention that she does not dare to tell me.”
Saint-Just wrote this text at an unknown date, perhaps in the winter of the year II. It has been published together with the Institutions répubicaines. I have translated the version that Bernard Vinot quotes, which is, however, hugely edited and does not display Saint-Just’s unique spelling and punctuation. On the other hand, that means that the text (and above all, the dialogue) is comprehensible.
Whether the text is autobiographical or not, remains unclear. Many of Saint-Just’s biographers, however, claim that it may be autobiographical and speculate on the woman’s identity. Could it be Thérèse Gellé-Thorin?
However, if anyone knows more about this piece of literature, I would be happy to learn.
Thank you. I guess it is quite certain that Thérèse had at some point a relation with Saint-Just. As a letter by Thullier, Saint-Just’s friend from Blérancourt, indicates, when Thérèse left her husband Thorin in 1793 and went to Paris, people in Blérancourt guessed she had eloped with Saint-Just (which was not the case). If the woman is Thérèse and the text is autobiographical, my guess would be that it could be written or reminiscent of some time before Saint-Just’s departure for Paris in 1792, since he seems to be leaving for a longer or definite period. But that is speculation.