Page:Marquis de Sade - Adelaide of Brunswick.djvu/27

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relate the story of those rulers who had only domestic virtues; it traces to posterity only those who by their actions surprised the world even though they often spent part of their lives in prison. I wanted an ambitious husband, an illustrious warrior and not a feeble prince whose good deeds will not be remembered because he is too weak to capture the fancy of the people. In addition, he has the vices of the people; he dares to be jealous of a woman like me! Let him realize that if I were capable of what he fears, I would dignify my wrongs even more than he makes illustrious his virtues, and one would speak with more respect of Adelaide the guilty than of Frederick the kind. Why doesn't my husband take advantage of the situation to shake off the yoke of the Emperor? The weakness of Henry IV, his lack of resolution, his perpetual changes, open the field without limit to the ambition of a prince. Frederick has as much right to the throne as Henry. Why not take it? Why doesn't he arm his subjects? Why doesn't he triumph like Wittekind? If that hero made Charlemagne tremble, can't Frederick frighten Henry? Ah, count, don't speak to me of a prince without ambition. Without doubt such a one could make his family happy, but he would never be the glory of the universe; and weakness will cause his name to be effaced from the pages of history. No, the scrolls of immortality are engraved with the names of laurel-crowned heroes."

"These sentiments are worthy of your soul," said Mersburg. "They stimulate all those to whom they are addressed; and if the illustrious sons of a blood as noble as yours are inflamed like you, Saxony would soon have no more oppressor to dread; such sons would throw off the shackles of slavery and would rule in place of the tyrants."

"If they have the apathy of Frederick, could the burning blood of Adelaide circulate in their veins? No, Mersburg, this was not the husband that I needed."

"The one who suited you, Milady, would be, perhaps, in your court?"

"I don't like for people to guess my secrets."

"I would never have dared if you had not developed the theme. While offering my sincere excuses to Your Highness, I dare to assure her at the same time that if I have tried to know