"Oh yes, Louise, how I love you! You can't conceive of the happiness you offer me by promising to be that companion of whom I dreamed such a long time: From earliest adolescence, I felt that I needed an angel descended from heavens to fufill the needs of my heart. You are that angel, so good and so loving, I so fear losing you, you my sister, my friend. I belong to you before God; I swore to be with you before God... Divine soul, shall I ever be able to offer you the happiness you deserve?"
Letter from Hippolyte to Louise Colet, October 1834
When Hippolyte Colet proposed to Louise Revoil, he fancied himself desperately in love with her. The two had little in common, except perhaps for Hippolyte's driving ambition
, which was nearly a match for Louise's own. Both were artists
of a sort, but Hippolyte was a musician
and aspiring composer
, a field which held little interest for Louise.
Hippolyte did not expect Louise to marry him for love
, instead he relied on what he could offer her: a modest income, true, but quite the impressive change in scenery. Hippolyte had been appointed as a teacher at the Paris Conservatory
, and Louise longed above all else to go to Paris
. On that basis alone, the two were wed
When the two emerged into Paris and Louise began to strive to make her mark on the literary scene, Hippolyte was instantly jealous
of her success. He censored his wife's dress, her actions, and her company. The marriage quickly became one of convenience, and both would soon seek companionship outside of it.
Tensions grew even greater when Louise won the Academie poetry
contest, and it was with no thought for Hippolyte that Louise began her affair with her benevolent judge
, Victor Cousin
When Louise became pregnant with Cousin's child, Hippolyte grew even more distant from her, and it was Cousin who cared for Louise and the child in the years after the birth
. In 1843, Hippolyte and Louise filed for a legal separation, and Hippolyte moved out to his own home.
The two were reunited briefly in 1849, when Hippolyte fell grievously ill and returned to Louise asking for aid. Louise cared for him until his death
a few months later.
This write up also appears at http://www.wam.umd.edu/~amsalter/colet/index.html as part of a study on Louise Colet I maintain.