At the beginning of 1820 the newspapers announced the deathof M. Myriel, Bishop of D—-, surnamed “Monseigneur Bienvenu,”who had died in the odor of sanctity at the age of eighty-two.
You are watching: The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved.
The Bishop of D—- –to supply here a detail which the papers omitted–had been blind for many years before his death, and content to be blind,as his sister was beside him.
Let us remark by the way, that to be blind and to be loved, is,in fact, one of the most strangely exquisite forms of happinessupon this earth, where nothing is complete. To have continually atone”s side a woman, a daughter, a sister, a charming being, who isthere because you need her and because she cannot do without you;to know that we are indispensable to a person who is necessary to us;to be able to incessantly measure one”s affection by the amountof her presence which she bestows on us, and to say to ourselves,”Since she consecrates the whole of her time to me, it is because Ipossess the whole of her heart”; to behold her thought in lieuof her face; to be able to verify the fidelity of one being amidthe eclipse of the world; to regard the rustle of a gown as the soundof wings; to hear her come and go, retire, speak, return, sing,and to think that one is the centre of these steps, of this speech;to manifest at each instant one”s personal attraction; to feelone”s self all the more powerful because of one”s infirmity;to become in one”s obscurity, and through one”s obscurity, the stararound which this angel gravitates,–few felicities equal this.The supreme happiness of life consists in the conviction that oneis loved; loved for one”s own sake–let us say rather, loved inspite of one”s self; this conviction the blind man possesses.To be served in distress is to be caressed. Does he lack anything?No. One does not lose the sight when one has love. And what love!A love wholly constituted of virtue! There is no blindness wherethere is certainty. Soul seeks soul, gropingly, and finds it.And this soul, found and tested, is a woman. A hand sustains you;it is hers: a mouth lightly touches your brow; it is her mouth:you hear a breath very near you; it is hers. To have everythingof her, from her worship to her pity, never to be left, to havethat sweet weakness aiding you, to lean upon that immovable reed,to touch Providence with one”s hands, and to be able to takeit in one”s arms,–God made tangible,–what bliss! The heart,that obscure, celestial flower, undergoes a mysterious blossoming.One would not exchange that shadow for all brightness!The angel soul is there, uninterruptedly there; if she departs,it is but to return again; she vanishes like a dream, and reappearslike reality. One feels warmth approaching, and behold! she is there.One overflows with serenity, with gayety, with ecstasy; one is aradiance amid the night. And there are a thousand little cares.Nothings, which are enormous in that void. The most ineffableaccents of the feminine voice employed to lull you, and supplyingthe vanished universe to you. One is caressed with the soul.One sees nothing, but one feels that one is adored. It is a paradiseof shadows.
It was from this paradise that Monseigneur Welcome had passedto the other.
The announcement of his death was reprinted by the local journalof M. sur M. On the following day, M. Madeleine appeared cladwholly in black, and with crape on his hat.
This mourning was noticed in the town, and commented on. It seemedto throw a light on M. Madeleine”s origin. It was concluded that somerelationship existed between him and the venerable Bishop. “He hasgone into mourning for the Bishop of D—-” said the drawing-rooms;this raised M. Madeleine”s credit greatly, and procured for him,instantly and at one blow, a certain consideration in the nobleworld of M. sur M. The microscopic Faubourg Saint-Germain of theplace meditated raising the quarantine against M. Madeleine,the probable relative of a bishop. M. Madeleine perceived theadvancement which he had obtained, by the more numerous courtesiesof the old women and the more plentiful smiles of the young ones.One evening, a ruler in that petty great world, who was curiousby right of seniority, ventured to ask him, “M. le Maire is doubtlessa cousin of the late Bishop of D—-?”
He said, “No, Madame.”
“But,” resumed the dowager, “you are wearing mourning for him.”
He replied, “It is because I was a servant in his family in my youth.”
Another thing which was remarked, was, that every time that heencountered in the town a young Savoyard who was roaming about thecountry and seeking chimneys to sweep, the mayor had him summoned,inquired his name, and gave him money. The little Savoyards toldeach other about it: a great many of them passed that way.
Literature Network » Victor Hugo » Les Miserables » Chapter IV. M. Madeleine in Mourning