Back Again to Paris, Casanova, v19
Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
Part 1 out of 3
This etext was produced by David Widger
MEMOIRS OF JACQUES CASANOVA de SEINGALT 1725-1798
ADVENTURES IN THE SOUTH, Volume 4d--BACK AGAIN TO PARIS
THE RARE UNABRIDGED LONDON EDITION OF 1894 TRANSLATED BY ARTHUR
MACHEN TO WHICH HAS BEEN ADDED THE CHAPTERS DISCOVERED
BY ARTHUR SYMONS.
BACK AGAIN TO PARIS
My Stay at Paris and My Departure for Strasburg, Where I Find the
Renaud--My Misfortunes at Munich and My Sad Visit to Augsburg
At ten o'clock in the morning, cheered by the pleasant feeling of
being once more in that Paris which is so imperfect, but which is
the only true town in the world, I called on my dear Madame
d'Urfe, who received me with open arms. She told me that the
young Count d'Aranda was quite well, and if I liked she would ask
him to dinner the next day. I told her I should be delighted to
see him, and then I informed her that the operation by which she
was to become a man could not be performed till Querilinto, one of
the three chiefs of the Fraternity of the Rosy Cross, was
liberated from the dungeons of the Inquisition, at Lisbon.
"This is the reason," I added, "that I am going to Augsburg in the
course of next month, where I shall confer with the Earl of
Stormont as to the liberation of the adept, under the pretext of a
mission from the Portuguese Government. For these purposes I shall
require a good letter of credit, and some watches and snuff-boxes
to make presents with, as we shall have to win over certain of the
"I will gladly see to all that, but you need not hurry yourself as
the Congress will not meet till September."
"Believe me, it will never meet at all, but the ambassadors of the
belligerent powers will be there all the same. If, contrary to my
expectation, the Congress is held, I shall be obliged to go to
Lisbon. In any case, I promise to see you again in the ensuing
winter. The fortnight that I have to spend here will enable me to
defeat a plot of St. Germain's."
"St. Germain--he would never dare to return to Paris."
"I am certain that he is here in disguise. The state messenger
who ordered him to leave London has convinced him the English
minister was not duped by the demand for his person to be given
up, made by the Comte d'Afri in the name of the king to the
All this was mere guess-work, and it will be seen that I guessed
Madame d'Urfe then congratulated me on the charming girl whom I
had sent from Grenoble to Paris. Valenglard had told her the
"The king adores her," said she, "and before long she will make
him a father. I have been to see her at Passi with the Duchesse
"She will give birth to a son who will make France happy, and in
thirty years time you will see wondrous things, of which,
unfortunately, I can tell you nothing until your transformation.
Did you mention my name to her?"
"No, I did not; but I am sure you will be able to see her, if only
at Madame Varnier's."
She was not mistaken; but shortly afterwards an event happened
which made the madness of this excellent woman much worse.
Towards four o'clock, as we were talking over my travels and our
designs, she took a fancy to walk in the Bois du Boulogne. She
begged me to accompany her, and I acceded to her request. We
walked into the deepest recesses of the wood and sat down under a
tree. "It is eighteen years ago," said she, "since I fell asleep
on the same spot that we now occupy. During my sleep the divine
Horosmadis came down from the sun and stayed with me till I awoke.
As I opened my eyes I saw him leave me and ascend to heaven. He
left me with child, and I bore a girl which he took away from me
years ago, no doubt to punish me for, having so far forgotten
myself as to love a mortal after him. My lovely Iriasis was like
"You are quite sure that M. d'Urfe was not the child's father?"
"M. d'Urfe did not know me after he saw me lying beside the divine
"That's the genius of Venus. Did he squint?"
"To excess. You are aware, then, that he squints?"
"Yes, and I know that at the amorous crisis he ceases to squint."
"I did not notice that. He too, left me on account of my sinning
with an Arab."
"The Arab was sent to you by an enemy of Anael's, the genius of
"It must have been so; it was a great misfortune."
"On the contrary, it rendered you more fit for transformation."
We were walking towards the carriage when all at once we saw St.
Germain, but as soon as he noticed us he turned back and we lost
sight of him.
"Did you see him?" said I. "He is working against us, but our
genie makes him tremble."
"I am quite thunderstruck. I will go and impart this piece of
news to the Duc de Choiseul to-morrow morning. I am curious to
hear what he will say when I tell him."
As we were going back to Paris I left Madame d'Urfe, and walked to
the Porte St. Denis to see my brother. He and his wife received
me with cries of joy. I thought the wife very pretty but very
wretched, for Providence had not allowed my brother to prove his
manhood, and she was unhappily in love with him. I say unhappily,
because her love kept her faithful to him, and if she had not been
in love she might easily have found a cure for her misfortune as
her husband allowed her perfect liberty. She grieved bitterly,
for she did not know that my brother was impotent, and fancied
that the reason of his abstention was that he did not return her
love; and the mistake was an excusable one, for he was like a
Hercules, and indeed he was one, except where it was most to be
desired. Her grief threw her into a consumption of which she died
five or six years later. She did not mean her death to be a
punishment to her husband, but we shall see that it was so.
The next day I called on Madame Varnier to give her Madame Morin's
letter. I was cordially welcomed, and Madame Varnier was kind
enough to say that she had rather see me than anybody else in the
world; her niece had told her such strange things about me that
she had got quite curious. This, as is well known, is a
prevailing complaint with women.
"You shall see my niece," she said, "and she will tell you all
She wrote her a note, and put Madame Morin's letter under the same
"If you want to know what my niece's answer is," said Madame
Varnier, "you must dine with me."
I accepted the invitation, and she immediately told her servant
that she was not at home to anyone.
The small messenger who had taken the note to Passi returned at
four o'clock with the following epistle:
"The moment in which I see the Chevalier de Seingalt once more
will be one of the happiest of my life. Ask him to be at your
house at ten o'clock the day after tomorrow, and if he can't come
then please let me know."
After reading the note and promising to keep the appointment, I
left Madame Varnier and called on Madame de Rumain, who told me I
must spend a whole day with her as she had several questions to
put to my oracle.
Next day Madame d'Urfe told me the reply she had from the Duc de
Choiseul, when she told him that she had seen the Comte de St.
Germain in the Bois du Boulogne.
"I should not be surprised," said the minister, "considering that
he spent the night in my closet."
The duke was a man of wit and a man of the world. He only kept
secrets when they were really important ones; very different from
those make-believe diplomatists, who think they give themselves
importance by making a mystery of trifles of no consequence. It
is true that the Duc de Choiseul very seldom thought anything of
great importance; and, in point of fact, if there were less
intrigue and more truth about diplomacy (as there ought to be),
concealment would be rather ridiculous than necessary.
The duke had pretended to disgrace St. Germain in France that he
might use him as a spy in London; but Lord Halifax was by no means
taken in by this stratagem. However, all governments have the
politeness to afford one another these services, so that none of
them can reproach the others.
The small Conte d'Aranda after caressing me affectionately begged
me to come and breakfast with him at his boarding-house, telling
me that Mdlle. Viar would be glad to see me.
The next day I took care not to fail in my appointment with the
fair lady. I was at Madame Varnier's a quarter of an hour before
the arrival of the dazzling brunette, and I waited for her with a
beating at the heart which shewed me that the small favours she
had given me had not quenched the flame of love. When she made
her appearance the stoutness of her figure carried respect with
it, so that I did not feel as if I could come forward and greet
her tenderly; but she was far from thinking that more respect was
due to her than when she was at Grenoble, poor but also pure. She
kissed me affectionately and told me as much.
"They think I am happy," said she, "and envy my lot; but can one
be happy after the loss of one's self-respect? For the last six
months I have only smiled, not laughed; while at Grenoble I
laughed heartily from true gladness. I have diamonds, lace, a
beautiful house, a superb carriage, a lovely garden, waiting-
maids, and a maid of honour who perhaps despises me; and although
the highest Court ladies treat me like a princess, I do not pass a
single day without experiencing some mortification."
"Yes; people come and bring pleas before me, and I am obliged to
send them away as I dare not ask the king anything."
"Because I cannot look on him as my lover only; he is always my
sovereign, too. Ah! happiness is to be sought for in simple
homes, not in pompous palaces."
"Happiness is gained by complying with the duties of whatever
condition of life one is in, and you must constrain yourself to
rise to that exalted station in which destiny has placed you."
"I cannot do it; I love the king and I am always afraid of vexing
him. I am always thinking that he does too much for me, and thus
I dare not ask for anything for others."
"But I am sure the king would be only too glad to shew his love
for you by benefiting the persons in whom you take an interest."
"I know he would, and that thought makes me happy, but I cannot
overcome my feeling of repugnance to asking favours. I have a
hundred louis a month for pin-money, and I distribute it in alms
and presents, but with due economy, so that I am not penniless at
the end of the month. I have a foolish notion that the chief
reason the king loves me is that I do not importune him."
"And do you love him?"
"How can I help it? He is good-hearted, kindly, handsome, and
polite to excess; in short, he possesses all the qualities to
captivate a woman's heart.
"He is always asking me if I am pleased with my furniture, my
clothes, my servants, and my garden, and if I desire anything
altered. I thank him with a kiss, and tell him that I am pleased
"Does he ever speak of the scion you are going to present to him?"
"He often says that I ought to be careful of myself in my
situation. I am hoping that he will recognize my son as a prince
of the blood; he ought in justice to do so, as the queen is dead."
"To be sure he will."
"I should be very happy if I had a son. I wish I felt sure that I
would have one. But I say nothing about this to anyone. If I
dared speak to the king about the horoscope, I am certain he would
want to know you; but I am afraid of evil tongues."
"So am I. Continue in your discreet course and nothing will come
to disturb your happiness, which may become greater, and which I
am pleased to have procured for you."
We did not part without tears. She was the first to go, after
kissing me and calling me her best friend. I stayed a short time
with Madame Varnier to compose my feelings, and I told her that I
should have married her instead of drawing her horoscope.
"She would no doubt have been happier. You did not foresee,
perhaps, her timidity and her lack of ambition."
"I can assure you that I did not reckon upon her courage or
ambition. I laid aside my own happiness to think only of hers.
But what is done cannot be recalled, and I shall be consoled if I
see her perfectly happy at last. I hope, indeed, she will be so,
above all if she is delivered of a son."
I dined with Madame d'Urfe, and we decided to send back Aranda to
his boarding-school that we might be more free to pursue our
cabalistic operations; and afterwards I went to the opera, where
my brother had made an appointment with me. He took me to sup at
Madame Vanloo's, and she received me in the friendliest manner
"You will have the pleasure of meeting Madame Blondel and her
husband," said she.
The reader will recollect that Madame Blondel was Manon Baletti,
whom I was to have married.
"Does she know I am coming?" I enquired.
"No, I promise myself the pleasure of seeing her surprise."
"I am much obliged to you for not wishing to enjoy my surprise as
well. We shall see each other again, but not to-day, so I must
bid you farewell; for as I am a man of honour I hope never to be
under the same roof as Madame Blondel again."
With this I left the room, leaving everybody in astonishment, and
not knowing where to go I took a coach and went to sup with my
sister-in-law, who was extremely glad to see me. But all through
supper-time this charming woman did nothing but complain of her
husband, saying that he had no business to marry her, knowing that
he could not shew himself a man.
"Why did you not make the trial before you married?"
"Was it for me to propose such a thing? How should I suppose that
such a fine man was impotent? But I will tell you how it all
happened. As you know, I was a dancer at the Comedie Italienne,
and I was the mistress of M. de Sauci, the ecclesiastical
commissioner. He brought your brother to my house, I liked him,
and before long I saw that he loved me. My lover advised me that
it was an opportunity for getting married and making my fortune.
With this idea I conceived the plan of not granting him any
favours. He used to come and see me in the morning, and often
found me in bed; we talked together, and his passions seemed to be
aroused, but it all ended in kissing. On my part, I was waiting
for a formal declaration and a proposal of marriage. At that
period, M. de Sauci settled an annuity of a thousand crowns on me
on the condition that I left the stage.
"In the spring M. de Sauci invited your brother to spend a month
in his country house. I was of the party, but for propriety's
sake it was agreed that I should pass as your brother's wife.
Casanova enjoyed the idea, looking upon it as a jest, and not
thinking of the consequences. I was therefore introduced as his
wife to my lover's family, as also to his relations, who were
judges, officers, and men about town, and to their wives, who were
all women of fashion. Your brother was in high glee that to play
our parts properly we were obliged to sleep together. For my
part, I was far from disliking the idea, or at all events I looked
upon it as a short cut to the marriage I desired.
"But how can I tell you? Though tender and affectionate in
everything, your brother slept with me for a month without our
attaining what seemed the natural result under the circumstances."
"You might have concluded, then, that he was impotent; for unless
he were made of stone, or had taken a vow of chastity, his conduct
"The fact is, that I had no means of knowing whether he was
capable or incapable of giving me substantial proof of his love."
"Why did you not ascertain his condition for yourself?"
"A feeling of foolish pride prevented me from putting him to the
test. I did not suspect the truth, but imagined reasons
flattering to myself. I thought that he loved me so truly that he
would not do anything before I was his wife. That idea prevented
me humiliating myself by making him give me some positive proof of
"That supposition would have been tenable, though highly
improbable, if you had been an innocent young maid, but he knew
perfectly well that your novitiate was long over."
"Very true; but what can you expect of a woman impelled by love
"Your reasoning is excellent, but it comes rather late." "Well,
at last we went back to Paris, your brother to his house, and I to
mine, while he continued his courtship, and I could not understand
what he meant by such strange behaviour. M. de Sauci, who knew
that nothing serious had taken place between us, tried in vain to
solve the enigma. 'No doubt he is afraid of getting you with
child,' he said, 'and of thus being obliged to marry you.' I began
to be of the same opinion, but I thought it a strange line for a
man in love to take.
"M. de Nesle, an officer in the French Guards, who had a pretty
wife I had met in the country, went to your brother's to call on
me. Not finding me there he asked why we did not live together.
Your brother replied openly that our marriage had been a mere
jest. M. de Nesle then came to me to enquire if this were the
truth, and when he heard that it was he asked me how I would like
him to make Casanova marry me. I answered that I should be
delighted, and that was enough for him. He went again to your
brother, and told him that his wife would never have associated
with me on equal terms if I had not been introduced to her as a
married woman; that the deceit was an insult to all the company at
the country-house, which must be wiped out by his marrying me
within the week or by fighting a duel. M. de Nesle added that if
he fell he would be avenged by all the gentlemen who had been
offended in the same way. Casanova replied, laughing, that so far
from fighting to escape marrying me, he was ready to break a lance
to get me. 'I love her,' he said, 'and if she loves me I am quite
ready to give her my hand. Be kind enough,' he added, 'to prepare
the way for me, and I will marry her whenever you like.'
"M. de Nesle embraced him, and promised to see to everything; he
brought me the joyful news, and in a week all was over. M. de
Nesle gave us a splendid supper on our wedding-day, and since then
I have had the title of his wife. It is an empty title, however,
for, despite the ceremony and the fatal yes, I am no wife, for
your brother is completely impotent. I am an unhappy wretch, and
it is all his fault, for he ought to have known his own condition.
He has deceived me horribly."
"But he was obliged to act as he did; he is more to be pitied than
to be blamed. I also pity you, but I think you are in the wrong,
for after his sleeping with you for a month without giving any
proof of his manhood you might have guessed the truth. Even if
you had been a perfect novice, M. de Sauci ought to have known
what was the matter; he must be aware that it is beyond the power
of man to sleep beside a pretty woman, and to press her naked body
to his breast without becoming, in spite of himself, in a state
which would admit of no concealment; that is, in case he were not
"All that seems very reasonable, but nevertheless neither of us
thought of it; your brother looks such a Hercules."
"There are two remedies open to you; you can either have your
marriage annulled, or you can take a lover; and I am sure that my
brother is too reasonable a man to offer any opposition to the
"I am perfectly free, but I can neither avail myself of a divorce
nor of a lover; for the wretch treats me so kindly that I love him
more and more, which doubtless makes my misfortune harder to bear."
The poor woman was so unhappy that I should have been delighted to
console her, but it was out of the question. However, the mere
telling of her story had afforded her some solace, and after
kissing her in such a way as to convince her that I was not like
my brother, I wished her good night.
The next day I called on Madame Vanloo, who informed me that
Madame Blondel had charged her to thank me for having gone away,
while her husband wished me to know that he was sorry not to have
seen me to express his gratitude.
"He seems to have found his wife a maid, but that's no fault of
mine; and Manon Baletti is the only person he ought to be grateful
to. They tell me that he has a pretty baby, and that he lives at
the Louvre, while she has another house in the Rue Neuve-des-
"Yes, but he has supper with her every evening."
"It's an odd way of living."
"I assure you it answers capitally. Blondel regards his wife as
his mistress. He says that that keeps the flame of love alight,
and that as he never had a mistress worthy of being a wife, he is
delighted to have a wife worthy of being a mistress."
The next day I devoted entirely to Madame de Rumain, and we were
occupied with knotty questions till the evening. I left her well
pleased. The marriage of her daughter, Mdlle. Cotenfau, with M.
de Polignac, which took place five or six years later, was the
result of our cabalistic calculations.
The fair stocking-seller of the Rue des Prouveres, whom I had
loved so well, was no longer in Paris. She had gone off with a M.
de Langlade, and her husband was inconsolable. Camille was ill.
Coralline had become the titulary mistress of the Comte de la
Marche, son of the Prince of Conti, and the issue of this union
was a son, whom I knew twenty years later. He called himself the
Chevalier de Montreal, and wore the cross of the Knights of Malta.
Several other girls I had known were widowed and in the country,
or had become inaccessible in other ways.
Such was the Paris of my day. The actors on its stage changed as
rapidly as the fashions.
I devoted a whole day to my old friend Baletti, who had left the
theatre and married a pretty ballet-girl on the death of his
father; he was making experiments with a view to finding the
I was agreeably surprised at meeting the poet Poinsinet at the
Comedic Francaise. He embraced me again and again, and told me
that M. du Tillot had overwhelmed him with kindness at Parma.
"He would not get me anything to do," said Poinsinet, "because a
French poet is rather at a discount in Italy."
"Have you heard anything of Lord Lismore?"
"Yes, he wrote to his mother from Leghorn, telling her that he was
going to the Indies, and that if you had not been good enough to
give him a thousand Louis he would have been a prisoner at Rome."
"His fate interests me extremely, and I should be glad to call on
his lady-mother with you."
"I will tell her that you are in Paris, and I am sure that she
will invite you to supper, for she has the greatest desire to talk
"How are you getting on here? Are you still content to serve
"He is not the god of wealth by any means. I have no money and no
room, and I shall be glad of a supper, if you will ask me. I will
read you my play, the 'Cercle', which has been accepted. I am
sure it will be successful?"
The 'Cercle' was a short prose play, in which the poet satirised
the jargon of Dr. Herrenschwand, brother of the doctor I had
consulted at Soleure. The play proved to be a great success.
I took Poinsinet home to supper, and the poor nursling of the
muses ate for four. In the morning he came to tell me that the
Countess of Lismore expected me to supper.
I found the lady, still pretty, in company with her aged lover, M.
de St. Albin, Archbishop of Cambrai, who spent all the revenues of
his see on her. This worthy prelate was one of the illegitimate
children of the Duc d'Orleans, the famous Regent, by an actress.
He supped with us, but he only opened his mouth to eat, and his
mistress only spoke of her son, whose talents she lauded to the
skies, though he was in reality a mere scamp; but I felt in duty
bound to echo what she said. It would have been cruel to
contradict her. I promised to let her know if I saw anything more
Poinsinet, who was hearthless and homeless, as they say, spent the
night in my room, and in the morning I gave him two cups of
chocolate and some money wherewith to get a lodging. I never saw
him again, and a few years after he was drowned, not in the
fountain of Hippocrene, but in the Guadalquivir. He told me that
he had spent a week with M. de Voltaire, and that he had hastened
his return to Paris to obtain the release of the Abbe Morellet
from the Bastile.
I had nothing more to do at Paris, and I was only waiting for some
clothes to be made and for a cross of the order, with which the
Holy Father had decorated me, to be set with diamonds and rubies.
I had waited for five or six days when an unfortunate incident
obliged me to take a hasty departure. I am loth to write what
follows, for it was all my own fault that I was nearly losing my
life and my honour. I pity those simpletons who blame fortune and
not themselves for their misfortunes.
I was walking in the Tuileries at ten o'clock in the morning, when
I was unlucky enough to meet the Dangenancour and another girl.
This Dangenancour was a dancer at the opera-house, whom I had
desired to meet previously to my last departure from Paris. I
congratulated myself on the lucky chance which threw her in my
way, and accosted her, and had not much trouble in inducing her to
dine with me at Choisi.
We walked towards the Pont-Royal, where we took a coach. After
dinner had been ordered we were taking a turn in the garden, when
I saw a carriage stop and two adventurers whom I knew getting out
of it, with two girls, friends of the ones I had with me. The
wretched landlady, who was standing at the door, said that if we
liked to sit down together she could give us an excellent dinner,
and I said nothing, or rather I assented to the yes of my two
nymphs. The dinner was excellent, and after the bill was paid,
and we were on the point of returning to Paris, I noticed that a
ring, which I had taken off to shew to one of the adventurers
named Santis, was still missing. It was an exceedingly pretty
miniature, and the diamond setting had cost me twenty-five Louis.
I politely begged Santis to return me the ring, and he replied
with the utmost coolness that he had done so already.
"If you had returned it," said I, "it would be on my finger, and
you see that it is not."
He persisted in his assertion; the girls said nothing, but
Santis's friend, a Portuguese, named Xavier, dared to tell me that
he had seen the ring returned.
"You're a liar," I exclaimed; and without more ado I took hold of
Santis by the collar, and swore I would rot let him go till he
returned me my ring. The Portuguese rose to come to his friend's
rescue, while I stepped back and drew my sword, repeating my
determination not to let them go. The landlady came on the scene
and began to shriek, and Santis asked me to give him a few words
apart. I thought in all good faith that he was ashamed to restore
the ring before company, but that he would give it me as soon as
we were alone. I sheathed my sword, and told him to come with me.
Xavier got into the carriage with the four girls, and they all
went back to Paris.
Santis followed me to the back of the inn, and then assuming a
pleasant smile he told me that he had put the ring into his
friend's pocket for a joke, but that I should have it back at
"That's an idle tale," I exclaimed, "your friend said that he saw
you return it, and now he has escaped me. Do you think that I am
green enough to be taken in by this sort of thing? You're a
couple of robbers."
So saying, I stretched out my hand for his watch-chain, but he
stepped back and drew his sword. I drew mine, and we had scarcely
crossed swords when he thrust, and I parrying rushed in and ran
him through and through. He fell to the ground calling, "Help!" I
sheathed my sword, and, without troubling myself about him, got
into my coach and drove back to Paris.
I got down in the Place Maubert, and walked by a circuitous way to
my hotel. I was sure that no one could have come after me there,
as my landlord did not even know my name.
I spent the rest of the day in packing up my trunks, and after
telling Costa to place them on my carriage I went to Madame
d'Urfe. After I had told her of what had happened, I begged her,
as soon as that which she had for me was ready, to send it to me
at Augsburg by Costa. I should have told her to entrust it to one
of her own servants, but my good genius had left me that day.
Besides I did not look upon Costa as a thief.
When I got back to the hotel I gave the rascal his instructions,
telling him to be quick and to keep his own counsel, and then I
gave him money for the journey.
I left Paris in my carriage, drawn by four hired horses, which
took me as far as the second post, and I did not stop till I got
to Strasburg, where I found Desarmoises and my Spaniard.
There was nothing to keep me in Strasburg, so I wanted to cross
the Rhine immediately; but Desarmoises persuaded me to come with
him to see an extremely pretty woman who had only delayed her
departure for Augsburg in the hope that we might journey there
"You know the lady," said the false marquis, "but she made me give
my word of honour that I would not tell you. She has only her
maid with her, and I am sure you will be pleased to see her."
My curiosity made me give in. I followed Desarmoises, and came
into a room where I saw a nice-looking woman whom I did not
recognize at first. I collected my thoughts, and the lady turned
out to be a dancer whom I had admired on the Dresden boards eight
years before. She was then mistress to Count Bruhl, but I had not
even attempted to win her favour. She had an excellent carriage,
and as she was ready to go to Augsburg I immediately concluded
that we could make the journey together very pleasantly.
After the usual compliments had passed, we decided on leaving for
Augsburg the following morning. The lady was going to Munich, but
as I had no business there we agreed that she should go by
"I am quite sure," she said, afterwards, "that you will come too,
for the ambassadors do not assemble at Augsburg till next
We supped together, and next morning we started on our way; she in
her carriage with her maid, and I in mine with Desarmoises,
preceded by Le Duc on horseback. At Rastadt, however, we made a
change, the Renaud (as she was called) thinking that she would
give less opportunity for curious surmises by riding with me while
Desarmoises went with the servant. We soon became intimate. She
told me about herself, or pretended to, and I told her all that I
did not want to conceal. I informed her that I was an agent of
the Court of Lisbon, and she believed me, while, for my part, I
believed that she was only going to Munich and Augsburg to sell
We began to talk about Desarmoises, and she said that it was well
enough for me to associate with him, but I should not countenance
his styling himself marquis.
"But," said I, "he is the son of the Marquis Desarmoises, of
"No, he isn't; he is only a retired messenger, with a small
pension from the department of foreign affairs. I know the
Marquis Desarmoises; he lives at Nancy, and is not so old as our
"Then one can't see how he can be Desarmoises's father."
"The landlord of the inn at Strasburg knew him when he was a
"How did you make his acquaintance?"
"We met at the table d'hote. After dinner he came up to my room,
and told me he was waiting for a gentleman who was going to
Augsburg, and that we might make the journey together. He told me
the name, and after questioning him I concluded that the gentleman
was yourself, so here we are, and I am very glad of it. But
listen to me; I advise you to drop all false styles and titles.
Why do you call yourself Seingalt?"
"Because it's my name, but that doesn't prevent my old friends
calling me Casanova, for I am both. You understand?"
"Oh, yes! I understand. Your mother is at Prague, and as she
doesn't get her pension on account of the war, I am afraid she
must be rather in difficulties."
"I know it, but I do not forget my filial duties. I have sent her
"That's right. Where are you going to stay at Augsburg ?"
"I shall take a house, and if you like you shall be the mistress
and do the honours."
"That would be delightful! We will give little suppers, and play
cards all night."
"Your programme is an excellent one."
"I will see that you get a good cook; all the Bavarian cooks are
good. We shall cut a fine figure, and people will say we love
each other madly."
"You must know, dearest, that I do not understand jokes at the
expense of fidelity."
"You may trust me for that. You know how I lived at Dresden."
"I will trust you, but not blindly, I promise you. And now let us
address each other in the same way; you must call me tu. You must
remember we are lovers."
The fair Renaud did not like traveling by night; she preferred to
eat a good supper, to drink heavily, and to go to bed just as her
head began to whirl. The heat of the wine made her into a
Bacchante, hard to appease; but when I could do no more I told her
to leave me alone, and she had to obey.
When we reached Augsburg we alighted at the "Three Moors," but the
landlord told us that though he could give us a good dinner he
could not put us up, as the whole of the hotel had been engaged by
the French ambassador. I called on M. Corti, the banker to whom I
was accredited, and he soon got me a furnished house with a
garden, which I took for six months. The Renaud liked it
No one had yet arrived at Augsburg. The Renaud contrived to make
me feel that I should be lonely at Augsburg without her, and
succeeded in persuading me to come with her to Munich. We put up
at the "Stag," and made ourselves very comfortable, while
Desarmoises went to stay somewhere else. As my business and that
of my new mate had nothing in common, I gave her a servant and a
carriage to herself, and made myself the same allowance.
The Abbe Gama had given me a letter from the Commendatore Almada
for Lord Stormont, the English ambassador at the Court of Bavaria.
This nobleman being then at Munich I hastened to deliver the
letter. He received me very well, and promised to do all he could
as soon as he had time, as Lord Halifax had told him all about it.
On leaving his Britannic Lordship's I called on M. de Folard, the
French ambassador, and gave him a letter from M. de Choiseul. M.
de Folard gave me a hearty welcome, and asked me to dine with him
the next day, and the day after introduced me to the Elector.
During the four fatal weeks I spent at Munich, the ambassador's
house was the only one I frequented. I call these weeks fatal,
and with reason, for in then I lost all my money, I pledged jewels
(which I never recovered) to the amount of forty thousand francs,
and finally I lost my health. My assassins were the Renaud and
Desarmoises, who owed me so much and paid me so badly.
The third day after my arrival I had to call on the Dowager
Electress of Saxony. It was my brother-in-law, who was in her
train, that made me go, by telling me that it must be done, as she
knew me and had been enquiring for me. I had no reason to repent
of my politeness in going, as the Electress gave me a good
reception, and made me talk to any extent. She was extremely
curious, like most people who have no employment, and have not
sufficient intelligence to amuse themselves.
I have done a good many foolish things in the course of my
existence. I confess it as frankly as Rousseau, and my Memoirs
are not so egotistic as those of that unfortunate genius; but I
never committed such an act of folly as I did when I went to
Munich, where I had nothing to do. But it was a crisis in my
life. My evil genius had made me commit one folly after another
since I left Turin. The evening at Lord Lismore's, my connection
with Desarmoises, my party at Choisi, my trust in Costa, my union
with the Renaud, and worse than all, my folly in letting myself
play at faro at a place where the knavery of the gamesters is
renowned all over Europe, followed one another in fatal
succession. Among the players was the famous, or rather infamous,
Affisio, the friend of the Duc de Deux-Ponts, whom the duke called
his aide-decamp, and who was known for the keenest rogue in the
I played every day, and as I often lost money on my word of
honour, the necessity of paying the next day often caused me the
utmost anxiety. When I had exhausted my credit with the bankers,
I had recourse to the Jews who require pledges, and in this
Desarmoises and the Renaud were my agents, the latter of whom
ended by making herself mistress of all my property. This was not
the worst thing she did to me; for she, gave me a disease, which
devoured her interior parts and left no marks outwardly, and was
thus all the more dangerous, as the freshness of her complexion
seemed to indicate the most perfect health. In short, this
serpent, who must have come from hell to destroy me, had acquired
such a mastery over me that she persuaded me that she would be
dishonoured if I called in a doctor during our stay at Munich, as
everybody knew that we were living together as man and wife.
I cannot imagine what had become of my wits to let myself be so
beguiled, while every day I renewed the poison that she had poured
into my veins.
My stay at Munich was a kind of curse; throughout that dreadful
month I seemed to have a foretaste of the pains of the damned.
The Renaud loved gaming, and Desarmoises was her partner. I took
care not to play with them, for the false marquis was an
unmitigated cheat and often tricked with less skill than
impudence. He asked disreputable people to my house and treated
them at my expense; every evening scenes of a disgraceful
character took place.
The Dowager Electress mortified me extremely by the way she
addressed me on my last two visits to her.
"Everybody knows what kind of a life you lead here, and the way
the Renaud behaves, possibly without your knowing it. I advise
you to have done with her, as your character is suffering."
She did not know what a thraldom I was under. I had left Paris
for a month, and I had neither heard of Madame d'Urfe nor of
Costa. I could not guess the reason, but I began to suspect my
Italian's fidelity. I also feared lest my good Madame d'Urfe
might be dead or have come to her senses, which would have come to
the same thing so far as I was concerned; and I could not possibly
return to Paris to obtain the information which was so necessary
both for calming my mind and refilling my purse.
I was in a terrible state, and my sharpest pang was that I began
to experience a certain abatement of my vigors, the natural result
of advancing years. I had no longer that daring born of youth and
the knowledge of one's strength, and I was not yet old enough to
have learnt how to husband my forces. Nevertheless, I made an
effort and took a sudden leave of my mistress, telling her I would
await her at Augsburg. She did not try to detain me, but promised
to rejoin me as soon as possible; she was engaged in selling her
jewellery. I set out preceded by Le Duc, feeling very glad that
Desarmoises had chosen to stay with the wretched woman to whom he
had introduced me. When I reached my pretty house at Augsburg I
took to my bed, determined not to rise till I was cured or dead.
M. Carli, my banker, recommended to me a doctor named Cephalides,
a pupil of the famous Fayet, who had cured me of a similar
complaint several years before. This Cephalides was considered
the best doctor in Augsburg. He examined me and declared he could
cure me by sudorifics without having recourse to the knife. He
began his treatment by putting me on a severe regimen, ordering
baths, and applying mercury locally. I endured this treatment for
six weeks, at the end of which time I found myself worse than at
the beginning. I had become terribly thin, and I had two enormous
inguinal tumours. I had to make up my mind to have them lanced,
but though the operation nearly killed me it did not to make me
any better. He was so clumsy as to cut the artery, causing great
loss of blood which was arrested with difficulty, and would have
proved fatal if it had not been for the care of M. Algardi, a
Bolognese doctor in the service of the Prince-Bishop of Augsburg.
I had enough of Cephalides, and Dr. Algardi prepared in my
presence eighty-six pills containing eighteen grains of manna. I
took one of these pills every morning, drinking a large glass of
curds after it, and in the evening I had another pill with barley
water, and this was the only sustenance I had. This heroic
treatment gave me back my health in two months and a half, in
which I suffered a great deal of pain; but I did not begin to put
on flesh and get back my strength till the end of the year.
It was during this time that I heard about Costa's flight with my
diamonds, watches, snuff-box, linen, rich suits, and a hundred
louis which Madame d'Urfe had given him for the journey. The
worthy lady sent me a bill of exchange for fifty thousand francs,
which she had happily not entrusted to the robber, and the money
rescued me very opportunely from the state to which my imprudence
had reduced me.
At this period I made another discovery of an extremely vexatious
character; namely, that Le Duc had robbed me. I would have
forgiven him if he had not forced me to a public exposure, which I
could only have avoided with the loss of my honour. However, I
kept him in my service till my return to Paris at the commencement
of the following year.
Towards the end of September, when everybody knew that the
Congress would not take place, the Renaud passed through Augsburg
with Desarrnoises on her way to Paris; but she dared not come and
see me for fear I should make her return my goods, of which she
had taken possession without telling me. Four or five years later
she married a man named Bohmer, the same that gave the Cardinal de
Rohan the famous necklace, which he supposed was destined for the
unfortunate Marie Antoinette. The Renaud was at Paris when I
returned, but I made no endeavour to see her, as I wished, if
possible, to forget the past. I had every reason to do so, for
amongst all the misfortunes I had gone through during that
wretched year the person I found most at fault was myself.
Nevertheless, I would have given myself the pleasure of cutting
off Desarmoises's ears; but the old rascal, who, no doubt, foresaw
what kind of treatment I was likely to mete to him, made his
escape. Shortly after, he died miserably of consumption in
My health had scarcely returned, when I forgot all my woes and
began once more to amuse myself. My excellent cook, Anna Midel,
who had been idle so long, had to work hard to satisfy my ravenous
appetite. My landlord and pretty Gertrude, his daughter, looked
at me with astonishment as I ate, fearing some disastrous results.
Dr. Algardi, who had saved my life, prophesied a dyspepsia which
would bring me to the tomb, but my need of food was stronger than
his arguments, to which I paid no kind of attention; and I was
right, for I required an immense quantity of nourishment to
recover my former state, and I soon felt in a condition to renew
my sacrifices to the deity for whom I had suffered so much.
I fell in love with the cook and Gertrude, who were both young and
pretty. I imparted my love to both of them at once, for I had
foreseen that if I attacked them separately I should conquer
neither. Besides, I felt that I had not much time to lose, as I
had promised to sup with Madame, d'Urfe on the first night of the
year 1761 in a suite of rooms she had furnished for me in the Rue
de Bac. She had adorned the rooms with superb tapestry made for
Rene of Savoy, on which were depicted all the operations of the
Great Work. She wrote to me that she had heard that Santis had
recovered from the wound I had given him, and had been committed
to the Bicetre for fraud.
Gertrude and Anna Midel occupied my leisure moments agreeably
enough during the rest of my stay at Augsburg, but they did not
make me neglect society. I spent my evenings in a very agreeable
manner with Count Max de Lamberg, who occupied the position of
field-marshal to the prince-bishop. His wife had all the
attractions which collect good company together. At this house I
made the acquaintance of the Baron von Selentin, a captain in the
Prussian service, who was recruiting for the King of Prussia at
Augsburg. I was particularly drawn to the Count Lamberg by his
taste for literature. He was an extremely learned man, and has
published some excellent works. I kept up a correspondence with
him till his death, by his own fault, in 1792, four years from the
time of my writing. I say by his fault, but I should have said by
the fault of his doctors, who treated him mercurially for a
disease which was not venereal; and this treatment not only killed
him but took away his good name.
His widow is still alive, and lives in Bavaria, loved by her
friends and her daughters, who all made excellent marriages.
At this time a miserable company of Italian actors made their
appearance in Augsburg, and I got them permission to play in a
small and wretched theatre. As this was the occasion of an
incident which diverted me, the hero, I shall impart it to my
readers in the hope of its amusing them also.
The Actors--Bassi--The Girl From Strasburg The Female Count--
My Return to Paris I Go to Metz--Pretty Raton--The Pretended
A woman, ugly enough, but lively like all Italians, called on me,
and asked me to intercede with the police to obtain permission for
her company to act in Augsburg. In spite of her ugliness she was
a poor fellow-countrywoman, and without asking her name, or
ascertaining whether the company was good or bad, I promised to do
my best, and had no difficulty in obtaining the favour.
I went to the first performance, and saw to my surprise that the
chief actor was a Venetian, and a fellow-student of mine, twenty
years before, at St. Cyprian's College. His name was Bassi, and
like myself he had given up the priesthood. Fortune had made an
actor of him, and he looked wretched enough, while I, the adventurer,
had a prosperous air.
I felt curious to hear his adventures, and I was also actuated by
that feeling of kindliness which draws one towards the companions
of one's youthful and especially one's school days, so I went to
the back as soon as the curtain fell. He recognized me directly,
gave a joyful cry, and after he had embraced me he introduced me
to his wife, the woman who had called on me, and to his daughter,
a girl of thirteen or fourteen, whose dancing had delighted me.
He did not stop here, but turning to his mates, of whom he was
chief, introduced me to them as his best friend. These worthy
people, seeing me dressed like a lord, with a cross on my breast,
took me for a cosmopolitan charlatan who was expected at Augsburg,
and Bassi, strange to say, did not undeceive them. When the
company had taken off its stage rags and put on its everyday rags,
Bassi's ugly wife took me by the arm and said I must come and sup
with her. I let myself be led, and we soon got to just the kind
of room I had imagined. It was a huge room on the ground floor,
which served for kitchen, dining-room, and bedroom all at once.
In the middle stood a long table, part of which was covered with a
cloth which looked as if it had been in use for a month, and at
the other end of the room somebody was washing certain earthenware
dishes in a dirty pan. This den was lighted by one candle stuck
in the neck of a broken bottle, and as there were no snuffers
Bassi's wife snuffed it cleverly with her finger and thumb, wiping
her hand on the table-cloth after throwing the burnt wick on the
floor. An actor with long moustaches, who played the villain in
the various pieces, served an enormous dish of hashed-up meat,
swimming in a sea of dirty water dignified with the name of sauce;
and the hungry family proceeded to tear pieces of bread off the
loaf with their fingers or teeth, and then to dip them in the
dish; but as all did the same no one had a right to be disgusted.
A large pot of ale passed from hand to hand, and with all this
misery mirth displayed itself on every countenance, and I had to
ask myself what is happiness. For a second course there was a
dish of fried pork, which was devoured with great relish. Bassi
was kind enough not to press me to take part in this banquet, and
I felt obliged to him.
The meal over, he proceeded to impart to me his adventures, which
were ordinary enough, and like those which many a poor devil has
to undergo; and while he talked his pretty daughter sat on my
knee. Bassi brought his story to an end by saying that he was
going to Venice for the carnival, and was sure of making a lot of
money. I wished him all the luck he could desire, and on his
asking me what profession I followed the fancy took me to reply
that I was a doctor.
"That's a better trade than mine," said he, "and I am happy to be
able to give you a valuable present."
"What is that?" I asked.
"The receipt for the Venetian Specific, which you can sell at two
florins a pound, while it will only cost you four gros."
"I shall be delighted; but tell me, how is the treasury?"
"Well, I can't complain for a first night. I have paid all
expenses, and have given my actors a florin apiece. But I am sure
I don't know how I am to play to-morrow, as the company has
rebelled; they say they won't act unless I give each of them a
florin in advance."
"They don't ask very much, however."
"I know that, but I have no money, and nothing to pledge; but they
will be sorry for it afterwards, as I am sure I shall make at
least fifty florins to-morrow."
"How many are there in the company?"
"Fourteen, including my family. Could you lend me ten florins?
I would pay you back tomorrow night."
"Certainly, but I should like to have you all to supper at the
nearest inn to the theatre. Here are the ten florins."
The poor devil overflowed with gratitude, and said he would order
supper at a florin a head, according to my instructions.
I thought the sight of fourteen famished actors sitting down to a
good supper would be rather amusing.
The company gave a play the next evening, but as only thirty or at
most forty people were present, poor Bassi did not know where to
turn to pay for the lighting and the orchestra. He was in
despair; and instead of returning my ten florins he begged me to
lend him another ten, still in the hope of a good house next time.
I consoled him by saying we would talk it over after supper, and
that I would go to the inn to wait for my guests.
I made the supper last three hours by dint of passing the bottle
freely. My reason was that I had taken a great interest in a
young girl from Strasburg, who played singing chamber-maids. Her
features were exquisite and her voice charming, while she made me
split my sides with laughing at her Italian pronounced with an
Alsatian accent, and at her gestures which were of the most comic
I was determined to possess her in the course of the next twenty-
four hours, and before the party broke up I spoke as follows:--
"Ladies and gentlemen, I will engage you myself for a week at
fifty florins a day on the condition that you acknowledge me as
your manager for the time being, and pay all the expenses of the
theatre. You must charge the prices I name for seats, five
members of the company to be chosen by me must sup with me every
evening. If the receipts amount to more than fifty florins, we
will share the overplus between us."
My proposal was welcomed with shouts of joy, and I called for pen,
ink, and paper, and drew up the agreement.
"For to-morrow," I said to Bassi, "the prices for admission shall
remain the same, but the day after we will see what can be done.
You and your family will sup with me to-morrow, as also the young
Alsatian whom I could never separate from her dear Harlequin:"
He issued bills of an enticing description for the following
evening; but, in spite of all, the pit only contained a score of
common people, and nearly all the boxes were empty.
Bassi had done his best, and when we met at supper he came up to
me looking extremely confused, and gave me ten or twelve florins.
"Courage!" said I; and I proceeded to share them among the guests
We had a good supper, and I kept them at table till midnight,
giving them plenty of choice wine and playing a thousand pranks
with Bassi's daughter and the young Alsatian, who sat one on each
side of me. I did not heed the jealous Harlequin, who seemed not
to relish my familiarities with his sweetheart. The latter lent
herself to my endearments with a bad enough grace, as she hoped
Harlequin would marry her, and consequently did not want to vex
him. When supper was over, we rose, and I took her between my
arms, laughing, and caressing her in a manner which seemed too
suggestive to the lover, who tried to pull me away. I thought
this rather too much in my turn, and seizing him by his shoulders
I dismissed him with a hearty kick, which he received with great
humility. However, the situation assumed a melancholy aspect, for
the poor girl began to weep bitterly. Bassi and his wife, two
hardened sinners, laughed at her tears, and Bassi's daughter said
that her lover had offered me great provocation; but the young
Alsatian continued weeping, and told me that she would never sup
with me again if I did not make her lover return.
"I will see to all that," said I; and four sequins soon made her
all smiles again. She even tried to shew me that she was not
really cruel, and that she would be still less so if I could
manage the jealous Harlequin. I promised everything, and she did
her best to convince me that she would be quite complaisant on the
I ordered Bassi to give notice that the pit would be two florins
and the boxes a ducat, but that the gallery would be opened freely
to the first comers.
"We shall have nobody there," said he, looking alarmed.
"Maybe, but that remains to be seen. You must request twelve
soldiers to keep order, and I will pay for them."
"We shall want some soldiers to look after the mob which will
beseige the gallery, but as for the rest of the house . . . ."
"Again I tell you, we shall see. Carry out my instructions, and
whether they prove successful or no, we will have a merry supper
The next day I called upon the Harlequin in his little den of a
room, and with two Louis, and a promise to respect his mistress, I
made him as soft as a glove.
Bassi's bills made everybody laugh. People said he must be mad;
but when it was ascertained that it was the lessee's speculation,
and that I was the lessee, the accusation of madness was turned on
me, but what did I care? At night the gallery was full an hour
before the rise of the curtain; but the pit was empty, and there was
nobody in the boxes with the exception of Count Lamberg, a Genoese
abbe named Bolo, and a young man who appeared to me a woman in
The actors surpassed themselves, and the thunders of applause from
the gallery enlivened the performance.
When we got to the inn, Bassi gave me the three ducats for the
three boxes, but of course I returned them to him; it was quite a
little fortune for the poor actors. I sat down at table between
Bassi's wife and daughter, leaving the Alsatian to her lover. I
told the manager to persevere in the same course, and to let those
laugh who would, and I made him promise to play all his best
When the supper and the wine had sufficiently raised my spirits, I
devoted my attention to Bassi's daughter, who let me do what I
liked, while her father and mother only laughed, and the silly
Harlequin fretted and fumed at not being able to take the same
liberties with his Dulcinea. But at the end of supper, when I had
made the girl in a state of nature, I myself being dressed like
Adam before he ate the fatal apple, Harlequin rose, and taking his
sweetheart's arm was going to draw her away. I imperiously told
him to sit down, and he obeyed me in amazement, contenting himself
with turning his back. His sweetheart did not follow his example,
and so placed herself on the pretext of defending my victim that
she increased my enjoyment, while my vagrant hand did not seem to
The scene excited Bassi's wife, and she begged her husband to give
her a proof of his love for her, to which request he acceded,
while modest Harlequin sat by the fire with his head on his hands.
The Alsatian was in a highly excited state, and took advantage of
her lover's position to grant me all I wished, so I proceeded to
execute the great work with her, and the violent movements of her
body proved that she was taking as active a part in it as myself.
When the orgy was over I emptied my purse on the table, and
enjoyed the eagerness with which they shared a score of sequins.
This indulgence at a time when I had not yet recovered my full
strength made me enjoy a long sleep. Just as I awoke I was handed
a summons to appear before the burgomaster. I made haste with my
toilette, for I felt curious to know the reason of this citation,
and I was aware I had nothing to fear. When I appeared, the
magistrate addressed me in German, to which I turned a deaf ear,
for I only knew enough of that language to ask for necessaries.
When he was informed of my ignorance of German he addressed me in
Latin, not of the Ciceronian kind by any means, but in that
peculiar dialect which obtains at most of the German universities.
"Why do you bear a false name?" he asked.
"My name is not false. You can ask Carli, the banker, who has
paid me fifty thousand florins."
"I know that; but your name is Casanova, so why do you call
"I take this name, or rather I have taken it, because it belongs
to me, and in such a manner that if anyone else dared to take it I
should contest it as my property by every legitimate resource."
"Ah! and how does this name belong to you?"
"Because I invented it; but that does not prevent my being
Casanova as well."
"Sir, you must choose between Casanova and Seingalt; a man cannot
have two names."
"The Spaniards and Portuguese often have half a dozen names."
"But you are not a Spaniard or a Portuguese; you are an Italian:
and, after all, how can one invent a name?"
"It's the simplest thing in the world."
"The alphabet belongs equally to the whole human race; no one can
deny that. I have taken eight letters and combined them in such a
way as to produce the word Seingalt. It pleased me, and I have
adopted it as my surname, being firmly persuaded that as no one
had borne it before no one could deprive me of it, or carry it
without my consent."
"This is a very odd idea. Your arguments are rather specious than
well grounded, for your name ought to be none other than your
"I suggest that there you are mistaken; the name you yourself bear
because your father bore it before you, has not existed from all
eternity; it must have been invented by an ancestor of yours who
did not get it from his father, or else your name would have been
Adam. Does your worship agree to that?"
"I am obliged to; but all this is strange, very strange."
"You are again mistaken. It's quite an old custom, and I engage
to give you by to-morrow a long list of names invented by worthy
people still living, who are allowed to enjoy their names in peace
and quietness without being cited to the town hall to explain how
they got them."
"But you will confess that there are laws against false names?"
"Yes, but I repeat this name is my true name. Your name which I
honour, though I do not know it, cannot be more true than mine,
for it is possible that you are not the son of the gentleman you
consider your father." He smiled and escorted me out, telling me
that he would make enquiries about me of M. Carli.
I took the part of going to M. Carli's myself. The story made
him laugh. He told me that the burgomaster was a Catholic, a
worthy man, well to do, but rather thick-headed; in short, a fine
subject for a joke.
The following morning M. Carli asked me to breakfast, and
afterwards to dine with the burgomaster.
"I saw him yesterday," said he, "and we had a long talk, in the
course of which I succeeded in convincing him on the question of
names, and he is now quite of your opinion."
I accepted the invitation with pleasure, as I was sure of seeing
some good company. I was not undeceived; there were some charming
women and several agreeable men. Amongst others, I noticed the
woman in man's dress I had seen at the theatre. I watched her at
dinner, and I was the more convinced that she was a woman.
Nevertheless, everybody addressed her as a man, and she played the
part to admiration. I, however, being in search of amusement, and
not caring to seem as if I were taken in, began to talk to her in
a stream of gallantry as one talks to a woman, and I contrived to
let her know that if I were not sure of her sex I had very strong
suspicions. She pretended not to understand me, and everyone
laughed at my feigned expression of offence.
After dinner, while we were taking coffee, the pretended gentleman
shewed a canon who was present a portrait on one of her rings. It
represented a young lady who was in the company, and was an
excellent likeness--an easy enough matter, as she was very ugly.
My conviction was not disturbed, but when I saw the imposter
kissing the young lady's hand with mingled affection and respect,
I ceased jesting on the question of her sex. M. Carli took me
aside for a moment, and told me that in spite of his effeminate
appearance this individual was a man, and was shortly going to
marry the young lady whose hand he had just kissed.
"It may be so," said I, "but I can't believe it all the same."
However, the pair were married during the carnival, and the
husband obtained a rich dowry with his wife. The poor girl died
of 'grief in the course of a year, but did not say a word till she
was on her death-bed. Her foolish parents, ashamed of having been
deceived so grossly, dared not say anything, and got the female
swindler out of the way; she had taken good care, however, to lay
a firm hold on the dowry. The story became known, and gave the
good folk of Augsburg much amusement, while I became renowned for
my sagacity in piercing the disguise.
I continued to enjoy the society of my two servants and of the
fair Alsation, who cost me a hundred louis. At the end of a week
my agreement with Bassi came to an end, leaving him with some
money in his pocket. He continued to give performances, returning
to the usual prices and suppressing the free gallery. He did very
I left Augsburg towards the middle of December.
I was vexed on account of Gertrude, who believed herself with
child, but could not make up her mind to accompany me to France.
Her father would have been pleased for me to take her; he had no
hopes of getting her a husband, and would have been glad enough to
get rid of her by my making her my mistress.
We shall hear more of her in the course of five or six years, as
also of my excellent cook, Anna Midel, to whom I gave a present of
four hundred florins. She married shortly afterwards, and when I
visited the town again I found her unhappy.
I could not make up my mind to forgive Le Duc, who rode on the
coachman's box, and when we were in Paris, half-way along the Rue
St. Antoine, I made him take his trunk and get down; and I left
him there without a character, in spite of his entreaties. I
never heard of him again, but I still miss him, for, in spite of
his great failings, he was an excellent servant. Perhaps I should
have called to mind the important services he had rendered me at
Stuttgart, Soleure, Naples, Florence, and Turin; but I could not
pass over his impudence in compromising me before the Augsburg
magistrate. If I had not succeeded in bringing a certain theft
home to him, it would have been laid to my door, and I should have
I had done a good deal in saving him from justice, and, besides, I
had rewarded him liberally for all the special services he had
From Augsburg I went to Bale by way of Constance, where I stayed
at the dearest inn in Switzerland. The landlord, Imhoff, was the
prince of cheats, but his daughters were amusing, and after a
three days' stay I continued my journey. I got to Paris on the
last day of the year 1761, and I left the coach at the house in
the Rue du Bacq, where my good angel Madame d'Urfe had arranged me
a suite of rooms with the utmost elegance.
I spent three weeks in these rooms without going anywhere, in
order to convince the worthy lady that I had only returned to
Paris to keep my word to her, and make her be born again a man.
We spent the three weeks in making preparations for this divine
operation, and our preparations consisted of devotions to each of
the seven planets on the days consecrated to each of the
intelligences. After this I had to seek, in a place which the
spirits would point out to me, for a maiden, the daughter of an
adept, whom I was to impregnate with a male child in a manner only
known to the Fraternity of the Rosy Cross. Madame d'Urfe was to
receive the child into her arms the moment it was born; and to
keep it beside her in bed for seven days. At the end of the seven
days she would die with her lips on the lips of the child, who
would thus receive her reasonable soul, whereas before it had
only possessed a vegetal soul.
This being done, it was to be my part to care for the child with
the magisterium which was known to me, and as soon as it had
attained to its third year Madame d'Urfe would begin to recover
her self-consciousness, and then I was to begin to initiate her in
the perfect knowledge of the Great Work.
The operation must take place under the full moon during the
months of April, May, or June. Above all, Madame d'Urfe was to
make a will in favour of the child, whose guardian I was to be
till its thirteenth year.
This sublime madwoman had no doubts whatever as to the truth of
all this, and burned with impatience to see the virgin who was
destined to be the vessel of election. She begged me to hasten my
I had hoped, in obtaining my answers from the oracle, that she
would be deterred by the prospect of death, and I reckoned on the
natural love of life making her defer the operation for an
indefinite period. But such was not the case, and I found myself
obliged to keep my word, in appearance at all events, and to go on
my quest for the mysterious virgin.
What I wanted was some young hussy whom I could teach the part,
and I thought of the Corticelli. She had been at Prague for the
last nine months, and when we were at Bologna I had promised to
come and see her before the end of the year. But as I was leaving
Germany--by no means a land of pleasant memories to me--I did not
think it was worth while going out of my way for such a trifle in
the depth of winter. I resolved to send her enough money for the
journey, and to let her meet me in some French town.
M. de Fouquet, a friend of Madame d'Urfe's, was Governor of Metz,
and I felt sure that, with a letter of introduction from Madame
d'Urfe, this nobleman would give me a distinguished reception.
Besides, his nephew, the Comte de Lastic, whom I knew well, was
there with his regiment. For these reasons I chose Metz as a
meeting-place with the virgin Corticelli, to whom this new part
would certainly be a surprise. Madame d'Urfe gave me the
necessary introductions, and I left Paris on January 25th, 1762,
loaded with presents. I had a letter of credit to a large amount,
but I did not make use of it as my purse was abundantly
I took no servant, for after Costa's robbing me and Le Duc's
cheating me I felt as if I could not trust in anyone. I got to
Metz in two days, and put up at the "Roi Dagobert," an excellent
inn, where I found the Comte de Louvenhaupt, a Swede, whom I had
met at the house of the Princess of Anhalt-Zerbst, mother of the
Empress of Russia. He asked me to sup with him and the Duc de
Deux Pants, who was travelling incognito to Paris to visit Louis
XV., whose constant friend he was.
The day after my arrival I took my letters to the governor, who
told me I must dine with him every day. M. de Lastic had left
Metz, much to my regret, as he would have contributed in no small
degree to the pleasure of my stay. The same day I wrote to the
Corticelli, sending her fifty louis, and telling her to come with
her mother as soon as possible, and to get someone who knew the
way to accompany her. She could not leaves Prague before the
beginning of Lent, and to make sure of her coming I promised that
I would make her fortune.
In four or five days I knew my way about the town, but I did not
frequent polite assemblies, preferring to go to the theatre, where
a comic opera singer had captivated me. Her name was Raton, and
she was only fifteen, after the fashion of actresses who always
subtract at least two or three years from their age. However,
this failing is common to women, and is a pardonable one, since to
be youthful is the greatest of all advantages to them. Raton was
not so much handsome as attractive, but what chiefly made her an
object of desire was the fact that she had put the price of
twenty-five louis on her maidenhead. One could spend a night with
her, and make the trial for a Louis; the twenty-five were only to
be paid on the accomplishment of the great work.
It was notorious that numerous officers in the army and young
barristers had undertaken the operation unsuccessfully, and all of
them had paid a louis apiece.
This singular case was enough to whet my curiosity. I was not
long before I called on Raton, but not wishing to be duped by her
I took due precautions. I told her that she must come and sup
with me, and that I would give her the twenty-five louis if my
happiness was complete, and that if I were unsuccessful she should
have six louis instead of one, provided that she was not tied.
Her aunt assured me that this was not the case; but I could not
help thinking of Victorine.
Raton came to supper with her aunt, who went to bed in an
adjoining closet when the dessert was brought in. The girl's
figure was exquisitely beautiful, and I felt that I had no small
task before me. She was kind, laughing, and defied me to the
conquest of a fleece not of gold, but of ebony, which the youth of
Metz had assaulted in vain. Perhaps the reader will think that I,
who was no longer in my first vigour, was discouraged by the
thought of the many who had failed; but I knew my powers, and it
only amused me. Her former lovers had been Frenchmen, more
skilled in carrying strong places by assault than in eluding the
artfulness of a girl who corked herself up. I was an Italian, and
knew all about that, so I had no doubts as to my victory.
However, my preparations were superfluous; for as soon as Raton
felt from my mode of attack that the trick would be of no avail
she met my desires half-way, without trying the device which had
made her seem to be what she was no longer to her inexpert lovers.
She gave herself up in good faith, and when I had promised to keep
the secret her ardours were equal to mine. It was not her first
trial, and I consequently need not have given her the twenty-five
louis, but I was well satisfied, and not caring much for
maidenheads rewarded her as if I had been the first to bite at the
I kept Raton at a louis a day till the arrival of the Corticelli,
and she had to be faithful to me, as I never let her go out of my
sight. I liked the girl so well and found her so pleasant that I
was sorry that the Corticelli was coming; however, I was told of
her arrival one night just as I was leaving my box at the theatre.
My footman told me in a loud voice that my lady wife, my daughter,
and a gentleman had just arrived from Frankfort, and were awaiting
me at the inn.
"Idiot," I exclaimed, "I have no wife and no daughter."
However, all Metz heard that my family had arrived.
The Corticelli threw her arms round my neck, laughing as usual,
and her mother presented me to the worthy man who had accompanied
them from Prague to Metz. He was an Italian named Month, who had
lived for a long time at Prague, where he taught his native
language. I saw that M. Month and the old woman were suitably
accommodated, and I then led the young fool into my room. I found
her changed for the better; she had grown, her shape was improved,
and her pleasant manners made her a very charming girl.
I Returned to Paris With The Corticelli, Now Countess Lascaris--
The Hypostasis Fails--Aix-la-Chapelle--Duel--Mimi d'Ache--The
Corticelli Turns Traitress to Her Own Disadvantage--Journey to
"Why did you allow your mother to call herself my wife, little
simpleton? Do you think that's a compliment to my judgment? She
might have given herself out for your governess, as she wishes to
pass you off as my daughter."
"My mother is an obstinate old woman who had rather be whipped at
the cart-tail than call herself my governess. She has very narrow
ideas, and always thinks that governess and procuress mean the
"She's an old fool, but we will make her hear reason either with
her will or in spite of it. But you look well dressed, have you
made your fortune?"
"At Prague I captivated the affections of Count N----, and he
proved a generous lover. But let your first action be to send
back M. Month. The worthy man has his family at Prague to look after;
he can't afford to stay long here."
"True, I will see about it directly."
The coach started for Frankfort the same evening, and summoning
Month I thanked him for his kindness and paid him generously, so
he went off well pleased.
I had nothing further to do at Metz, so I took leave of my new
friends, and in two days time I was at Nancy, where I wrote to
Madame d'Urfe that I was on my way back with a virgin, the last of
the family of Lascaris, who had once reigned at Constantinople. I
begged her to receive her from my hands, at a country house which
belonged to her, where we should be occupied for some days in
She answered that she would await us at Pont-Carre, an old castle
four leagues distant from Paris, and that she would welcome the
young princess with all possible kindness.
"I owe her all the more friendship," added the sublime madwoman,
"as the family of Lascaris is connected with the family of d'Urfe,
and as I am to be born again in the seed of the happy virgin."
I felt that my task would be not exactly to throw cold water on
her enthusiasm, but to hold it in check and to moderate its
manifestations. I therefore explained to her by return of post
that she must be content to treat the virgin as a countess, not a
princess, and I ended by informing her that we should arrive,
accompanied by the countess's governess, on the Monday of Holy
I spent twelve days at Nancy, instructing the young madcap in the
part she had to play, and endeavouring to persuade her mother that
she must content herself with being the Countess Lascaris's humble
servant. It was a task of immense difficulty; it was not enough
to shew her that our success depended on her submitting; I had to
threaten to send her back to Bologna by herself. I had good
reason to repent of my perseverance. That woman's obstinacy was
an inspiration of my good angel's, bidding me avoid the greatest
mistake I ever made.
On the day appointed we reached Pont-Carre. Madame d'Urfe, whom I
had advised of the exact hour of our arrival, had the drawbridge
of the castle lowered, and stood in the archway in the midst of
her people, like a general surrendering with all the honours of
war. The dear lady, whose madness was but an excess of wit, gave
the false princess so distinguished a reception that she would
have shewn her amazement if I had not warned her of what she might
expect. Thrice did she clasp her to her breast with a tenderness
that was quite maternal, calling her her beloved niece, and
explaining the entire pedigrees of the families of Lascaris and
d'Urfe to make the countess understand how she came to be her
niece. I was agreeably surprised to see the polite and dignified
air with which the Italian wench listened to all this; she did not
even smile, though the scene must have struck her as extremely
As soon as we got into the castle Madame d'Urfe proceeded to cense
the new-comer, who received the attention with all the dignity of
an opera queen, and then threw herself into the arms of the
priestess, who received her with enthusiastic affection.
At dinner the countess was agreeable and talkative, which won her
Madame d'Urfe's entire favour; her broken French being easily
accounted for. Laura, the countess's mother, only knew her native
Italian, and so kept silence. She was given a comfortable room,
where her meals were brought to her, and which she only left to
The castle was a fortified building, and had sustained several
sieges in the civil wars. As its name, Pont-Carre, indicated, it
was square, and was flanked by four crenelated towers and
surrounded by a broad moat. The rooms were vast, and richly
furnished in an old-fashioned way. The air was full of venomous
gnats who devoured us and covered our faces with painful bites;
but I had agreed to spend a week there, and I should have been
hard put to it to find a pretext for shortening the time. Madame
d'Urfe had a bed next, her own for her niece, but I was not afraid
of her attempting to satisfy herself as to the countess's
virginity, as the oracle had expressly forbidden it under pain or
failure. The operation was fixed for the fourteenth day of the
On that day we had a temperate supper, after which I went to bed.
A quarter of an hour afterwards Madame d'Urfe came, leading the
virgin Lascaris. She undressed her, scented her, cast a lovely
veil over her body, and when the countess was laid beside me she
remained, wishing to be present at an operation which was to
result in her being born again in the course of nine months.
The act was consummated in form, and then Madame d'Urfe left us
alone for the rest of the night, which was well employed.
Afterwards, the countess slept with her aunt till the last day of
the moon, when I asked the oracle if the Countess Lascaris had
conceived. That well might be, for I had spared nothing to that
intent; but I thought it more prudent to make the oracle reply
that the operation had failed because the small Count d'Aranda had
watched us behind a screen. Madame d'Urfe was in despair, but I
consoled her by a second reply, in which the oracle declared that
though the operation could only be performed in France in April,
it could take place out of that realm in May; but the inquisitive
young count, whose influence had proved so fatal, must be sent for
at least a year to some place a hundred leagues from Paris. The
oracle also indicated the manner in which he was to travel; he was
to have a tutor, a servant, and all in order.
The oracle had spoken, and no more was wanted. Madame d'Urfe
thought of an abbe she liked for his tutor, and the count was sent
to Lyons, with strong letters of commendation to M. de Rochebaron,
a relation of his patroness. The young man was delighted to
travel, and never had any suspicion of the way in which I had
slandered him. It was not a mere fancy which suggested this
course of action. I had discovered that the Corticelli was making
up to him, and that her mother favoured the intrigue. I had
surprised her twice in the young man's room, and though he only
cared for the girl as a youth cares for all girls, the Signora
Laura did not at all approve of my opposing her daughter's
Our next task was to fix on some foreign town where we could again
attempt the mysterious operation. We settled on Aix-la-Chapelle,
and in five or six days all was ready for the journey.
The Corticeili, angry with me for having thwarted her in her
projects, reproached me bitterly, and from that time began to be
my enemy; she even allowed herself to threaten me if I did not get
back the pretty boy, as she called him.
"You have no business to be jealous," said she, "and I am the
mistress of my own actions."
"Quite right, my dear," I answered; "but it is my business to see
that you do not behave like a prostitute in your present
The mother was in a furious rage, and said that she and her
daughter would return to Bologna, and to quiet them I promised to
take them there myself as soon as we had been to Aix-la-Chapelle.
Nevertheless I did not feel at ease, and to prevent any plots
taking place I hastened our departure.
We started in May, in a travelling carriage containing Madame
d'Urfe, myself, the false Lascaris, and her maid and favourite,
named Brougnole. We were followed by a coach with two seats; in
it were the Signora Laura and another servant. Two men-servants
in full livery sat on the outside of our travelling carriage. We
stopped a day at Brussels, and another at Liege. At Aix there
were many distinguished visitors, and at the first ball we
attended Madame d'Urfe presented the Lascaris to two Princesses of
Mecklenburg as her niece. The false countess received their
embraces with much ease and modesty, and attracted the particular
attention of the Margrave of Baireuth and the Duchess of
Wurtemberg, his daughter, who took possession of her, and did not
leave her till the end of the ball.
I was on thorns the whole time, in terror lest the heroine might
make some dreadful slip. She danced so gracefully that everybody
gazed at her, and I was the person who was complimented on her
I suffered a martyrdom, for these compliments seemed to be given
with malicious intent. I suspected that the ballet-girl had been
discovered beneath the countess, and I felt myself dishonoured. I
succeeded in speaking privately to the young wanton for a moment,
and begged her to dance like a young lady, and not like a chorus
girl; but she was proud of her success, and dared to tell me that
a young lady might know how to dance as well as a professional
dancer, and that she was not going to dance badly to please me. I
was so enraged with her impudence, that I would have cast her off
that instant if it had been possible; but as it was not, I
determined that her punishment should lose none of its sharpness
by waiting; and whether it be a vice or a virtue, the desire of
revenge is never extinguished in my heart till it is satisfied.
The day after the ball Madame d'Urfe presented her with a casket
containing a beautiful watch set with brilliants, a pair of
diamond ear-rings, and a ring containing a ruby of fifteen carats.
The whole was worth sixty thousand francs. I took possession of
it to prevent her going off without my leave.
In the meanwhile I amused myself with play and making bad
acquaintances. The worst of all was a French officer, named
d'Ache, who had a pretty wife and a daughter prettier still.
Before long the daughter had taken possession of the heart which
the Corticelli had lost, but as soon as Madame d'Ache saw that I
preferred her daughter to herself she refused to receive me at her
I had lent d'Ache ten Louis, and I consequently felt myself
entitled to complain of his wife's conduct; but he answered rudely
that as I only went to the house after his daughter, his wife was
quite right; that he intended his daughter to make a good match,
and that if my intentions were honourable I had only to speak to
the mother. His manner was still more offensive than his words,
and I felt enraged, but knowing the brutal drunken characteristics
of the man, and that he was always ready to draw cold steel for a
yes or a no, I was silent and resolved to forget the girl, not
caring to become involved with a man like her father.
I had almost cured myself of my fancy when, a few days after our
conversation, I happened to go into a billiard-room where d'Ache
was playing with a Swiss named Schmit, an officer in the Swedish
army. As soon as d'Ache saw me he asked whether I would lay the
ten Louis he owed me against him.
"Yes," said I, "that will make double or quits."
Towards the end of the match d'Ache made an unfair stroke, which
was so evident that the marker told him of it; but as this stroke
made him the winner, d'Ache seized the stakes and put them in his
pocket without heeding the marker or the other player, who, seeing
himself cheated before his very eyes, gave the rascal a blow
across the face with his cue. D'Ache parried the blow with his
hand, and drawing his sword rushed at Schmit, who had no arms.
The marker, a sturdy young fellow, caught hold of d'Ache round the
body, and thus prevented murder. The Swiss went out, saying,
"We shall see each other again."
The rascally Frenchman cooled down, and said to me,
"Now, you see, we are quits."
"Very much quits."
"That's all very well; but, by God! you might have prevented the
insult which has dishonoured me."
"I might have done so, but I did not care to interfere. You are
strong enough to look after yourself. Schmit had not his sword,
but I believe him to be a brave man; and he will give you
satisfaction if you will return him his money, for there can be no
doubt that you lost the match."
An officer, named de Pyene, took me up and said that he himself
would give me the twenty louis which d'Ache had taken, but that
the Swiss must give satisfaction. I had no hesitation in
promising that he would do so, and said I would bring a reply to
the challenge the next morning.
I had no fears myself. The man of honour ought always to be ready
to use the sword to defend himself from insult, or to give
satisfaction for an insult he has offered. I know that the law of
duelling is a prejudice which may be called, and perhaps rightly,
barbarous, but it is a prejudice which no man of honour can
contend against, and I believed Schmit to be a thorough gentleman.
I called on him at day-break, and found him still in bed. As soon
as he saw me, he said,
"I am sure you have come to ask me to fight with d'Ache. I am
quite ready to burn powder with him, but he must first pay me the
twenty Louis he robbed me of."
"You shall have them to-morrow, and I will attend you. D'Ache
will be seconded by M. de Pyene."
"Very good. I shall expect you at day-break."
Two hours after I saw de Pyene, and we fixed the meeting for the
next day, at six o'clock in the morning. The arms were to be
pistols. We chose a garden, half a league from the town, as the
scene of the combat.
At day-break I found the Swiss waiting for me at the door of his
lodgings, carolling the 'ranz-des-vaches', so dear to his fellow-
countrymen. I thought that a good omen.
"Here you are," said he; "let us be off, then."
On the way, he observed, "I have only fought with men of honour up
to now, and I don't much care for killing a rascal; it's hangman's
"I know," I replied, "that it's very hard to have to risk one's
life against a fellow like that."
"There's no risk," said Schmit, with a laugh. "I am certain that
I shall kill him."
"How can you be certain?"
"I shall make him tremble."
He was right. This secret is infallible when it is applied to a
coward. We found d'Ache and de Pyene on the field, and five or
six others who must have been present from motives of curiosity.
D'Ache took twenty louis from his pocket and gave them to his
"I may be mistaken, but I hope to make you pay dearly for your
brutality." Then turning to me he said,
"I owe you twenty louis also;" but I made no reply.
Schmit put the money in his purse with the calmest air imaginable,
and making no reply to the other's boast placed himself between
two trees, distant about four paces from one another, and drawing
two pistols from his pocket said to d'Ache,
"Place yourself at a distance of ten paces, and fire first. I
shall walk to and fro between these two trees, and you may walk as
far if you like to do so when my turn comes to fire."
Nothing could be clearer or more calmly delivered than this
"But we must decide," said I, "who is to have the first shot."
"There is no need," said Schmit. "I never fire first, besides,
the gentleman has a right to the first shot."
De Pyene placed his friend at the proper distance and then stepped
aside, and d'Ache fired on his antagonist, who was walking slowly
to and fro without looking at him. Schmit turned round in the
coolest manner possible, and said,
"You have missed me, sir; I knew you would. Try again."
I thought he was mad, and that some arrangement would be come to;
but nothing of the kind. D'Ache fired a second time, and again
missed; and Schmit, without a word, but as calm as death, fired
his first pistol in the air, and then covering d'Ache with his
second pistol hit him in the forehead and stretched him dead on
the ground. He put back his pistols into his pocket and went off
directly by himself, as if he were merely continuing his walk. In
two minutes I followed his example, after ascertaining that the
unfortunate d'Ache no longer breathed.
I was in a state of amazement. Such a duel was more like a combat
of romance than a real fact. I could not understand it; I had
watched the Swiss, and had not noticed the slightest change pass
over his face.
I breakfasted with Madame d'Urfe, whom I found inconsolable. It
was the full moon, and at three minutes past four exactly I ought
to perform the mysterious creation of the child in which she was
to be born again. But the Lascaris, on whom the work was to be
wrought, was twisting and turning in her bed, contorting herself
in such a way that it would be impossible for me to accomplish the
My grief, when I heard what had happened, was hypocritical; in the
first place because I no longer felt any desire for the girl, and
in the second because I thought I saw a way in which I could make
use of the incident to take vengeance on her.
I lavished consolations on Madame d'Urfe; and on consulting the
oracle I found that the Lascaris had been defiled by an evil
genius, and that I must search for another virgin whose purity
must be under the protection of more powerful spirits. I saw that
my madwoman was perfectly happy with this, and I left her to visit
the Corticelli, whom I found in bed with her mother beside her.
"You have convulsions, have you, dearest?" said I.
"No, I haven't. I am quite well, but all the same I shall have
them till you give me back my jewel-casket."
"You are getting wicked, my poor child; this comes of following
your mother's advice. As for the casket, if you are going to
behave like this, probably you will have it."
"I will reveal all."
"You will not be believed; and I shall send you back to Bologna
without letting you take any of the presents which Madame d'Urfe
has given you."
"You ought to have given me back the casket when I declared myself
Signora Laura told me that this was only too true, though I was
not the father.
"Who is, then?" I asked.
"Count N----, whose mistress she was at Prague."
It did not seem probable, as she had no symptoms of pregnancy;
still it might be so. I was obliged to plot myself to bring the
plots of these two rascally women to nought, and without saying
anything to them I shut myself up with Madame d'Urfe to enquire of
the oracle concerning the operation which was to make her happy.
After several answers, more obscure than any returned from the
oracular tripod at Delphi, the interpretation of which I left to
the infatuated Madame d'Urfe, she discovered herself--and I took
care not to contradict her--that the Countess Lascaris had gone
mad. I encouraged her fears, and succeeded in making her obtain
from a cabalistic pyramid the statement that the reason the
princess had not conceived was that she had been defiled by an
evil genius--an enemy of the Fraternity of the Rosy Cross. This
put Madame d'Urfe fairly on the way, and she added on her own
account that the girl must be with child by a gnome.
She then erected another pyramid to obtain guidance on our quest,
and I so directed things that the answer came that she must write
to the moon.
This mad reply, which should have brought her to her senses, only
made her more crazy than ever. She was quite ecstatic, and I am
sure that if I had endeavoured to shew her the nothingness of all
this I show have had nothing for my trouble. Her conclusion would
probably have been that I was possessed by an evil spirit, and was
no longer a true Rosy Cross. But I had no idea of undertaking a
cure which would have done me harm and her no 'good. Her
chimerical notions made her happy, and the cold naked truth would
doubtless have made her unhappy.
She received the order to write to the moon with the greater
delight as she knew what ceremonies were to be observed in
addressing that planet; but she could not dispense with the
assistance of an adept, and I knew she would reckon on me. I told
her I should always be ready to serve her, but that, as she knew
herself, we should have to wait for the first phase of the new
moon. I was very glad to gain time, for I had lost heavily at
play, and I could not leave Aix-la-Chapelle before a bill, which I
had drawn on M. d'O. of Amsterdam, was cashed. In the mean time
we agreed that as the Countess Lascaris had become mad, we must
not pay any attention to what she might say, as the words would
not be hers but would proceed from the evil spirit who possessed
Nevertheless, we determined that as her state was a pitiable one,
and should be as much alleviated as possible, she should continue
to dine with us, but that in the evening she was to go to her
governess and sleep with her.
After having thus disposed of Madame d'Urfe to disbelieve whatever
the Corticelli cared to tell her, and to concentrate all her
energies on the task of writing to Selenis, the intelligence of
the moon, I set myself seriously to work to regain the money I had
lost at play; and here my cabala was no good to me. I pledged the
Corticelli's casket for a thousand louis, and proceeded to play in
an English club where I had a much better chance of winning than
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