The French Revolution was made poignantly memorable by the literary works of Victor Hugo (1802-1885). Such works as Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame forever memorialized the plight of the unfortunate working class. Adele Foucher grew up with Victor Hugo and at the age of 17, Hugo fell madly in love with her.
Although both families were opposed to their union, the couple became secretly engaged, determined to marry. Then…
Friday evening, March 15, 1822.
After the two delightful evenings spent yesterday and the day before, I shall certainly not go out tonight, but will sit here at home and write to you. Besides, my Adele, my adorable and adored Adele, what have I not to tell you? O, God! for two days, I have been asking myself every moment if such happiness is not a dream. It seems to me that what I feel is not of earth. I cannot yet comprehend this cloudless heaven.
You do not yet know, Adele, to what I had resigned myself. Alas, do I know it myself? Because I was weak, I fancied I was calm; because I was preparing myself for all the mad follies of despair, I thought I was courageous and resigned. Ah! let me cast myself humbly at your feet, you who are so grand, so tender and strong! I had been thinking that the utmost limit of my devotion could only be the sacrifice of my life; but you, my generous love, were ready to sacrifice for me the repose of yours.
…You have been privileged to receive every gift from nature, you have both fortitude and tears. Oh, Adele, do not mistake these words for blind enthusiasm – enthusiasm for you has lasted all my life, and increased day by day. My whole soul is yours. If my entire existence had not been yours, the harmony of my being would have been lost, and I must have died — died inevitably.
These were my meditations, Adele, when the letter that was to bring me hope of else despair arrived. If you love me, you know what must have been my joy. What I know you may have felt, I will not describe.
My Adele, why is there no word for this but joy? Is it because there is no power in human speech to express such happiness?
The sudden bound from mournful resignation to infinite felicity seemed to upset me. Even now I am still beside myself and sometimes I tremble lest I should suddenly awaken from this dream divine.
Oh, now you are mine! At last you are mine! Soon — in a few months, perhaps, my angel will sleep in my arms, will awaken in my arms, will live there. All your thoughts at all moments, all your looks will be for me; all my thoughts, all my moments, all my looks, will be for you! My Adele!
Adieu, my angel, my beloved Adele! Adieu! I will kiss your hair and go to bed. Still I am far from you, but I can dream of you. Soon perhaps you will be at my side. Adieu; pardon the delirium of your husband who embraces you, and who adores you, both for this life and another.
For three years Victor Hugo and Adele Foucher exchanged secret messages. The following letter was written shortly after Hugo was promised a pension from Louis XVIII as a reward for his loyalty. This pension allowed the couple to marry. Their
marriage lasted until Adele’s death in 1868.
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