Paris, Casanova, v6
Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
Part 3 out of 4
stouter than I, came up and enquired whether I was a foreigner. I
answered affirmatively, and he politely asked me how I liked Paris.
I praised Paris very warmly. But at that moment a very stout lady,
brilliant with diamonds, entered the box near us. Her enormous size
astonished me, and, like a fool, I said to the gentleman:
"Who is that fat sow?"
"She is the wife of this fat pig."
"Ah! I beg your pardon a thousand times!"
But my stout gentleman cared nothing for my apologies, and very far
from being angry he almost choked with laughter. This was the happy
result of the practical and natural philosophy which Frenchmen
cultivate so well, and which insures the happiness of their existence
under an appearance of frivolity!
I was confused, I was in despair, but the stout gentleman continued
to laugh heartily. At last he left the pit, and a minute afterwards
I saw him enter the box and speak to his wife. I was keeping an eye
on them without daring to look at them openly, and suddenly the lady,
following the example of her husband, burst into a loud laugh. Their
mirth making me more uncomfortable, I was leaving the pit, when the
husband called out to me, "Sir! Sir!"
"I could not go away without being guilty of impoliteness, and I went
up to their box. Then, with a serious countenance and with great
affability, he begged my pardon for having laughed so much, and very
graciously invited me to come to his house and sup with them that
same evening. I thanked him politely, saying that I had a previous
engagement. But he renewed his entreaties, and his wife pressing me
in the most engaging manner I told them, in order to prove that I was
not trying to elude their invitation, that I was expected to sup at
"In that case I am certain," said the gentleman, "of obtaining your
release if you do not object. Allow me to go myself to Silvia."
It would have been uncourteous on my part to resist any longer. He
left the box and returned almost immediately with my friend Baletti,
who told me that his mother was delighted to see me making such
excellent acquaintances, and that she would expect to see me at
dinner the next day. He whispered to me that my new acquaintance was
M. de Beauchamp, Receiver-General of Taxes.
As soon as the performance was over, I offered my hand to madame, and
we drove to their mansion in a magnificent carriage. There I found
the abundance or rather the profusion which in Paris is exhibited by
the men of finance; numerous society, high play, good cheer, and open
cheerfulness. The supper was not over till one o'clock in the
morning. Madame's private carriage drove me to my lodgings. That
house offered me a kind welcome during the whole of my stay in Paris,
and I must add that my new friends proved very useful to me. Some
persons assert that foreigners find the first fortnight in Paris very
dull, because a little time is necessary to get introduced, but I was
fortunate enough to find myself established on as good a footing as I
could desire within twenty-four hours, and the consequence was that I
felt delighted with Paris, and certain that my stay would prove an
The next morning Patu called and made me a present of his prose
panegyric on the Marechal de Saxe. We went out together and took a
walk in the Tuileries, where he introduced me to Madame du Boccage,
who made a good jest in speaking of the Marechal de Saxe.
"It is singular," she said, "that we cannot have a 'De profundis' for
a man who makes us sing the 'Te Deum' so often."
As we left the Tuileries, Patu took me to the house of a celebrated
actress of the opera, Mademoiselle Le Fel, the favourite of all
Paris, and member of the Royal Academy of Music. She had three very
young and charming children, who were fluttering around her like
"I adore them," she said to me.
"They deserve adoration for their beauty," I answered, "although they
have all a different cast of countenance."
"No wonder! The eldest is the son of the Duke d'Anneci, the second
of Count d'Egmont, and the youngest is the offspring of Maison-Rouge,
who has just married the Romainville."
"Ah! pray excuse me, I thought you were the mother of the three."
"You were not mistaken, I am their mother."
As she said these words she looked at Patu, and both burst into
hearty laughter which did not make me blush, but which shewed me my
I was a, novice in Paris, and I had not been accustomed to see women
encroach upon the privilege which men alone generally enjoy. Yet
mademoiselle Le Fel was not a bold-faced woman; she was even rather
ladylike, but she was what is called above prejudices. If I had
known the manners of the time better, I should have been aware that
such things were every-day occurrences, and that the noblemen who
thus sprinkled their progeny everywhere were in the habit of leaving
their children in the hands of their mothers, who were well paid.
The more fruitful, therefore, these ladies were, the greater was
My want of experience often led me into serious blunders, and
Mademoiselle Le Fel would, I have no doubt, have laughed at anyone
telling her that I had some wit, after the stupid mistake of which I
had been guilty.
Another day, being at the house of Lani, ballet-master of the opera,
I saw five or six young girls of thirteen or fourteen years of age
accompanied by their mothers, and all exhibiting that air of modesty
which is the characteristic of a good education. I addressed a few
gallant words to them, and they answered me with down-cast eyes. One
of them having complained of the headache, I offered her my smelling-
bottle, and one of her companions said to her,
"Very likely you did not sleep well last night."
"Oh! it is not that," answered the modest-looking Agnes, "I think I
am in the family-way."
On receiving this unexpected reply from a girl I had taken for a
maiden, I said to her,
"I should never have supposed that you were married, madam."
She looked at me with evident surprise for a moment, then she turned
towards her friend, and both began to laugh immoderately. Ashamed,
but for them more than myself, I left the house with a firm
resolution never again to take virtue for granted in a class of women
amongst whom it is so scarce. To look for, even to suppose, modesty,
amongst the nymphs of the green room, is, indeed, to be very foolish;
they pride themselves upon having none, and laugh at those who are
simple enough to suppose them better than they are.
Thanks to my friend Patu, I made the acquaintance of all the women
who enjoyed some reputation in Paris. He was fond of the fair sex,
but unfortunately for him he had not a constitution like mine, and
his love of pleasure killed him very early. If he had lived, he
would have gone down to posterity in the wake of Voltaire, but he
paid the debt of nature at the age of thirty.
I learned from him the secret which several young French literati
employ in order to make certain of the perfection of their prose,
when they want to write anything requiring as perfect a style as they
can obtain, such as panegyrics, funeral orations, eulogies,
dedications, etc. It was by surprise that I wrested that secret from
Being at his house one morning, I observed on his table several
sheets of paper covered with dode-casyllabic blank verse.
I read a dozen of them, and I told him that, although the verses were
very fine, the reading caused me more pain than pleasure.
"They express the same ideas as the panegyric of the Marechal de
Saxe, but I confess that your prose pleases me a great deal more."
"My prose would not have pleased you so much, if it had not been at
first composed in blank verse."
"Then you take very great trouble for nothing."
"No trouble at all, for I have not the slightest difficulty in
writing that sort of poetry. I write it as easily as prose."
"Do you think that your prose is better when you compose it from your
"No doubt of it, it is much better, and I also secure the advantage
that my prose is not full of half verses which flow from the pen of
the writer without his being aware of it."
"Is that a fault?"
"A great one and not to be forgiven. Prose intermixed with
occasional verses is worse than prosaic poetry."
"Is it true that the verses which, like parasites, steal into a
funeral oration, must be sadly out of place?"
"Certainly. Take the example of Tacitus, who begins his history of
Rome by these words: 'Urbem Roman a principio reges habuere'. They
form a very poor Latin hexameter, which the great historian certainly
never made on purpose, and which he never remarked when he revised
his work, for there is no doubt that, if he had observed it, he would
have altered that sentence. Are not such verses considered a blemish
in Italian prose?"
"Decidedly. But I must say that a great many poor writers have
purposely inserted such verses into their prose, believing that they
would make it more euphonious. Hence the tawdriness which is justly
alleged against much Italian literature. But I suppose you are the
only writer who takes so much pains."
"The only one? Certainly not. All the authors who can compose blank
verses very easily, as I can, employ them when they intend to make a
fair copy of their prose. Ask Crebillon, the Abby de Voisenon,
La Harpe, anyone you like, and they will all tell you the same thing.
Voltaire was the first to have recourse to that art in the small
pieces in which his prose is truly charming. For instance, the
epistle to Madame du Chatelet, which is magnificent. Read it, and if
you find a single hemistich in it I will confess myself in the
I felt some curiosity about the matter, and I asked Crebillon about
it. He told me that Fatu was right, but he added that he had never
practised that art himself.
Patu wished very much to take me to the opera in order to witness the
effect produced upon me by the performance, which must truly astonish
an Italian. 'Les Fetes Venitiennes' was the title of the opera which
was in vogue just then--a title full of interest for me. We went for
our forty sous to the pit, in which, although the audience was
standing, the company was excellent, for the opera was the favourite
amusement of the Parisians.
After a symphony, very fine in its way and executed by an excellent
orchestra, the curtain rises, and I see a beautiful scene
representing the small St. Mark's Square in Venice, taken from the
Island of St. George, but I am shocked to see the ducal palace on my
left, and the tall steeple on my right, that is to say the very
reverse of reality. I laugh at this ridiculous mistake, and Patu, to
whom I say why I am laughing, cannot help joining me. The music,
very fine although in the ancient style, at first amused me on
account of its novelty, but it soon wearied me. The melopaeia
fatigued me by its constant and tedious monotony, and by the shrieks
given out of season. That melopaeia, of the French replaces--at
least they think so--the Greek melapaeia and our recitative which
they dislike, but which they would admire if they understood Italian.
The action of the opera was limited to a day in the carnival, when
the Venetians are in the habit of promenading masked in St. Mark's
Square. The stage was animated by gallants, procuresses, and women
amusing themselves with all sorts of intrigues. The costumes were
whimsical and erroneous, but the whole was amusing. I laughed very
heartily, and it was truly a curious sight for a Venetian, when I saw
the Doge followed by twelve Councillors appear on the stage, all
dressed in the most ludicrous style, and dancing a 'pas d'ensemble'.
Suddenly the whole of the pit burst into loud applause at the
appearance of a tall, well-made dancer, wearing a mask and an
enormous black wig, the hair of which went half-way down his back,
and dressed in a robe open in front and reaching to his heels. Patu
said, almost reverently, "It is the inimitable Dupres." I had heard
of him before, and became attentive. I saw that fine figure coming
forward with measured steps, and when the dancer had arrived in front
of the stage, he raised slowly his rounded arms, stretched them
gracefully backward and forward, moved his feet with precision and
lightness, took a few small steps, made some battements and
pirouettes, and disappeared like a butterfly. The whole had not
lasted half a minute. The applause burst from every part of the
house. I was astonished, and asked my friend the cause of all those
"We applaud the grace of Dupres and, the divine harmony of his
movements. He is now sixty years of age, and those who saw him forty
years ago say that he is always the same."
"What! Has he never danced in a different style?"
"He could not have danced in a better one, for his style is perfect,
and what can you want above perfection?"
"Nothing, unless it be a relative perfection."
"But here it is absolute. Dupres always does the same thing, and
everyday we fancy we see it for the first time. Such is the power of
the good and beautiful, of the true and sublime, which speak to the
soul. His dance is true harmony, the real dance, of which you have
no idea in Italy."
At the end of the second act, Dupres appeared again, still with a
mask, and danced to a different tune, but in my opinion doing exactly
the same as before. He advanced to the very footlights, and stopped
one instant in a graceful attitude. Patu wanted to force my
admiration, and I gave way. Suddenly everyone round me exclaimed,--
"Look! look! he is developing himself!"
And in reality he was like an elastic body which, in developing
itself, would get larger. I made Patu very happy by telling him that
Dupres was truly very graceful in all his movements. Immediately
after him we had a female dancer, who jumped about like a fury,
cutting to right and left, but heavily, yet she was applauded 'con
"This is," said Patu, "the famous Camargo. I congratulate you, my
friend, upon having arrived in Paris in time to see her, for she has
accomplished her twelfth lustre."
I confessed that she was a wonderful dancer.
"She is the first artist," continued my friend, "who has dared to
spring and jump on a French stage. None ventured upon doing it
before her, and, what is more extraordinary, she does not wear any
"I beg your pardon, but I saw...."
"What? Nothing but her skin which, to speak the truth, is not made
of lilies and roses."
"The Camargo," I said, with an air of repentance, "does not please
me. I like Dupres much better."
An elderly admirer of Camargo, seated on my left, told me that in her
youth she could perform the 'saut de basque' and even the
'gargouillade', and that nobody had ever seen her thighs, although
she always danced without drawers.
"But if you never saw her thighs, how do you know that she does not
wear silk tights?"
"Oh! that is one of those things which can easily be ascertained. I
see you are a foreigner, sir."
"You are right."
But I was delighted at the French opera, with the rapidity of the
scenic changes which are done like lightning, at the signal of a
whistle--a thing entirely unknown in Italy. I likewise admired the
start given to the orchestra by the baton of the leader, but he
disgusted me with the movements of his sceptre right and left, as if
he thought that he could give life to all the instruments by the mere
motion of his arm. I admired also the silence of the audience, a
thing truly wonderful to an Italian, for it is with great reason that
people complain of the noise made in Italy while the artists are
singing, and ridicule the silence which prevails through the house as
soon as the dancers make their appearance on the stage. One would
imagine that all the intelligence of the Italians is in their eyes.
At the same time I must observe that there is not one country in the
world in which extravagance and whimsicalness cannot be found,
because the foreigner can make comparisons with what he has seen
elsewhere, whilst the natives are not conscious of their errors.
Altogether the opera pleased me, but the French comedy captivated me.
There the French are truly in their element; they perform splendidly,
in a masterly manner, and other nations cannot refuse them the palm
which good taste and justice must award to their superiority. I was
in the habit of going there every day, and although sometimes the
audience was not composed of two hundred persons, the actors were
perfect. I have seen 'Le Misanthrope', 'L'Avare', 'Tartufe', 'Le
Joueur', 'Le Glorieux', and many other comedies; and, no matter how
often I saw them. I always fancied it was the first time. I arrived
in Paris to admire Sarrazin, La Dangeville, La Dumesnil, La Gaussin,
La Clairon, Preville, and several actresses who, having retired from
the stage, were living upon their pension, and delighting their
circle of friends. I made, amongst others, the acquaintance of the
celebrated Le Vasseur. I visited them all with pleasure, and they
related to me several very curious anecdotes. They were generally
most kindly disposed in every way.
One evening, being in the box of Le Vasseur, the performance was
composed of a tragedy in which a very handsome actress had the part
of a dumb priestess.
"How pretty she is!" I said.
"Yes, charming," answered Le Vasseur, "She is the daughter of the
actor who plays the confidant. She is very pleasant in company, and
is an actress of good promise."
"I should be very happy to make her acquaintance."
"Oh! well; that is not difficult. Her father and mother are very
worthy people, and they will be delighted if you ask them to invite
you to supper. They will not disturb you; they will go to bed early,
and will let you talk with their daughter as long as you please. You
are in France, sir; here we know the value of life, and try to make
the best of it. We love pleasure, and esteem ourselves fortunate
when we can find the opportunity of enjoying life."
"That is truly charming, madam; but how could I be so bold as to
invite myself to supper with worthy persons whom I do not know, and
who have not the slightest knowledge of me?"
"Oh, dear me! What are you saying? We know everybody. You see how
I treat you myself. After the performance, I shall be happy to
introduce you, and the acquaintance will be made at once."
"I certainly must ask you to do me that honour, but another time."
"Whenever you like."
My Blunders in the French Language, My Success, My Numerous
Acquaintances--Louis XV.--My Brother Arrives in Paris.
All the Italian actors in Paris insisted upon entertaining me, in
order to shew me their magnificence, and they all did it in a
sumptuous style. Carlin Bertinazzi who played Harlequin, and was a
great favourite of the Parisians, reminded me that he had already
seen me thirteen years before in Padua, at the time of his return
from St. Petersburg with my mother. He offered me an excellent
dinner at the house of Madame de la Caillerie, where he lodged. That
lady was in love with him. I complimented her upon four charming
children whom I saw in the house. Her husband, who was present, said
"They are M. Carlin's children."
"That may be, sir, but you take care of them, and as they go by your
name, of course they will acknowledge you as their father."
"Yes, I should be so legally; but M. Carlin is too honest a man not
to assume the care of his children whenever I may wish to get rid of
them. He is well aware that they belong to him, and my wife would be
the first to complain if he ever denied it."
The man was not what is called a good, easy fellow, far from it; but
he took the matter in a philosophical way, and spoke of it with calm,
and even with a sort of dignity. He was attached to Carlin by a warm
friendship, and such things were then very common in Paris amongst
people of a certain class. Two noblemen, Boufflers and Luxembourg,
had made a friendly exchange of each other's wives, and each had
children by the other's wife. The young Boufflers were called
Luxembourg, and the young Luxembourg were called Boufflers. The
descendants of those tiercelets are even now known in France under
those names. Well, those who were in the secret of that domestic
comedy laughed, as a matter of course, and it did not prevent the
earth from moving according to the laws of gravitation.
The most wealthy of the Italian comedians in Paris was Pantaloon, the
father of Coraline and Camille, and a well-known usurer. He also
invited me to dine with his family, and I was delighted with his two
daughters. The eldest, Coraline, was kept by the Prince of Monaco,
son of the Duke of Valentinois, who was still alive; and Camille was
enamoured of the Count of Melfort, the favourite of the Duchess of
Chartres, who had just become Duchess of Orleans by the death of her
Coraline was not so sprightly as Camille, but she was prettier. I
began to make love to her as a young man of no consequence, and at
hours which I thought would not attract attention: but all hours
belong by right to the established lover, and I therefore found
myself sometimes with her when the Prince of Monaco called to see
her. At first I would bow to the prince and withdraw, but afterwards
I was asked to remain, for as a general thing princes find a tete-a-
tete with their mistresses rather wearisome. Therefore we used to
sup together, and they both listened, while it was my province to
eat, and to relate stories.
I bethought myself of paying my court to the prince, and he received
my advances very well. One morning, as I called on Coraline, he said
"Ah! I am very glad to see you, for I have promised the Duchess of
Rufe to present you to her, and we can go to her immediately."
Again a duchess! My star is decidedly in the ascendant. Well, let
us go! We got into a 'diable', a sort of vehicle then very
fashionable, and at eleven o'clock in the morning we were introduced
to the duchess.
Dear reader, if I were to paint it with a faithful pen, my portrait
of that lustful vixen would frighten you. Imagine sixty winters
heaped upon a face plastered with rouge, a blotched and pimpled
complexion, emaciated and gaunt features, all the ugliness of
libertinism stamped upon the countenance of that creature relining
upon the sofa. As soon as she sees me, she exclaims with rapid joy,
"Ah! this is a good-looking man! Prince, it is very amiable on your
part to bring him to me. Come and sit near me, my fine fellow!"
I obeyed respectfully, but a noxious smell of musk, which seemed to
me almost corpse-like, nearly upset me. The infamous duchess had
raised herself on the sofa and exposed all the nakedness of the most
disgusting bosom, which would have caused the most courageous man to
draw back. The prince, pretending to have some engagement, left us,
saying that he would send his carriage for me in a short time.
As soon as we were alone, the plastered skeleton thrust its arms
forward, and, without giving me time to know what I was about, the
creature gave me a horrible kiss, and then one of her hands began to
stray with the most bare-faced indecency.
"Let me see, my fine cock," she said, "if you have a fine . . ."
I was shuddering, and resisted the attempt.
"Well, well! What a baby you are!" said the disgusting Messaline;
"are you such a novice?"
"No, madam; but...."
"Oh, the villain!" she exclaimed, loosing her hold; "what was I going
to expose myself to!"
I availed myself of the opportunity, snatched my hat, and took to my
heels, afraid lest the door-keeper should stop me.
I took a coach and drove to Coraline's, where I related the
adventure. She laughed heartily, and agreed with me that the prince
had played me a nasty trick. She praised the presence of mind with
which I had invented an impediment, but she did not give me an
opportunity of proving to her that I had deceived the duchess.
Yet I was not without hope, and suspected that she did not think me
sufficiently enamoured of her.
Three or four days afterwards, however, as we had supper together and
alone, I told her so many things, and I asked her so clearly to make
me happy or else to dismiss me, that she gave me an appointment for
the next day.
"To-morrow," she said, "the prince goes to Versailles, and he will
not return until the day after; we will go together to the warren to
hunt ferrets, and have no doubt we shall come back to Paris pleased
with one another."
"That is right."
The next day at ten o'clock we took a coach, but as we were nearing
the gate of the city a vis-a-vis, with servants in a foreign livery
came tip to us, and the person who was in it called out, "Stop!
The person was the Chevalier de Wurtemburg, who, without deigning to
cast even one glance on me, began to say sweet words to Coraline, and
thrusting his head entirely out of his carriage he whispered to her.
She answered him likewise in a whisper; then taking my hand, she said
to me, laughingly,
"I have some important business with this prince; go to the warren
alone, my dear friend, enjoy the hunt, and come to me to-morrow."
And saying those words she got out, took her seat in the vis-a-vis,
and I found myself very much in the position of Lot's wife, but not
Dear reader, if you have ever been in such a predicament you will
easily realize the rage with which I was possessed: if you have never
been served in that way, so much the better for you, but it is
useless for me to try to give you an idea of my anger; you would not
I was disgusted with the coach, and I jumped out of it, telling the
driver to go to the devil. I took the first hack which happened to
pass, and drove straight to Patu's house, to whom I related my
adventure, almost foaming with rage. But very far from pitying me or
sharing my anger, Patu, much wiser, laughed and said,
"I wish with all my heart that the same thing might happen to me; for
you are certain of possessing our beautiful Coraline the very first
time you are with her."
"I would not have her, for now I despise her heartily." "Your
contempt ought to have come sooner. But, now that is too late to
discuss the matter, I offer you, as a compensation, a dinner at the
Hotel du Roule."
"Most decidedly yes; it is an excellent idea. Let us go."
The Hotel du Roule was famous in Paris, and I had not been there yet.
The woman who kept it had furnished the place with great elegance,
and she always had twelve or fourteen well-chosen nymphs, with all
the conveniences that could be desired. Good cooking, good beds,
cleanliness, solitary and beautiful groves. Her cook was an artist,
and her wine-cellar excellent. Her name was Madame Paris; probably
an assumed name, but it was good enough for the purpose. Protected
by the police, she was far enough from Paris to be certain that those
who visited her liberally appointed establishment were above the
middle class. Everything was strictly regulated in her house and
every pleasure was taxed at a reasonable tariff. The prices were six
francs for a breakfast with a nymph, twelve for dinner, and twice
that sum to spend a whole night. I found the house even better than
its reputation, and by far superior to the warren.
We took a coach, and Patu said to the driver,
"I understand, your honour."
After a drive of half an hour, we stopped before a gate on which
could be read, "Hotel du Roule."
The gate was closed. A porter, sporting long mustachioes, came out
through a side-door and gravely examined us. He was most likely
pleased with our appearance, for the gate was opened and we went in.
A woman, blind of one eye, about forty years old, but with a remnant
of beauty, came up, saluted us politely, and enquired whether we
wished to have dinner. Our answer being affirmative, she took us to
a fine room in which we found fourteen young women, all very
handsome, and dressed alike in muslin. As we entered the room, they
rose and made us a graceful reverence; they were all about the same
age, some with light hair, some with dark; every taste could be
satisfied. We passed them in review, addressing a few words to each,
and made our choice. The two we chose screamed for joy, kissed us
with a voluptuousness which a novice might have mistaken for love,
and took us to the garden until dinner would be ready. That garden
was very large and artistically arranged to minister to the pleasures
of love. Madame Paris said to us,
"Go, gentlemen, enjoy the fresh air with perfect security in every
way; my house is the temple of peace and of good health."
The girl I had chosen was something like Coraline, and that made me
find her delightful. But in the midst of our amorous occupations we
were called to dinner. We were well served, and the dinner had given
us new strength, when our single-eyed hostess came, watch in hand, to
announce that time was up. Pleasure at the "Hotel du Roule" was
measured by the hour.
I whispered to Patu, and, after a few philosophical considerations,
addressing himself to madame la gouvernante, he said to her,
"We will have a double dose, and of course pay double."
"You are quite welcome, gentlemen."
We went upstairs, and after we had made our choice a second time, we
renewed our promenade in the garden. But once more we were
disagreeably surprised by the strict punctuality of the lady of the
house. "Indeed! this is too much of a good thing, madam."
"Let us go up for the third time, make a third choice, and pass the
whole night here."
"A delightful idea which I accept with all my heart."
"Does Madame Paris approve our plan?"
"I could not have devised a better one, gentlemen; it is a
When we were in the room, and after we had made a new choice, the
girls laughed at the first ones who had not contrived to captivate
us, and by way of revenge these girls told their companions that we
were lanky fellows.
This time I was indeed astonished at my own choice. I had taken a
true Aspasia, and I thanked my stars that I had passed her by the
first two times, as I had now the certainty of possessing her for
fourteen hours. That beauty's name was Saint Hilaire; and under that
name she became famous in England, where she followed a rich lord the
year after. At first, vexed because I had not remarked her before,
she was proud and disdainful; but I soon proved to her that it was
fortunate that my first or second choice had not fallen on her, as
she would now remain longer with me. She then began to laugh, and
shewed herself very agreeable.
That girl had wit, education and talent-everything, in fact, that is
needful to succeed in the profession she had adopted. During the
supper Patu told me in Italian that he was on the point of taking her
at the very moment I chose her, and the next morning he informed me
that he had slept quietly all night. The Saint Hilaire was highly
pleased with me, and she boasted of it before her companions. She
was the cause of my paying several visits to the Hotel du Roule, and
all for her; she was very proud of my constancy.
Those visits very naturally cooled my ardour for Coraline. A singer
from Venice, called Guadani, handsome, a thorough musician, and very
witty, contrived to captivate her affections three weeks after my
quarrel with her. The handsome fellow, who was a man only in
appearance, inflamed her with curiosity if not with love, and caused
a rupture with the prince, who caught her in the very act. But
Coraline managed to coax him back, and, a short time after, a
reconciliation took place between them, and such a good one, that a
babe was the consequence of it; a girl, whom the prince named
Adelaide, and to whom he gave a dowry. After the death of his
father, the Duke of Valentinois, the prince left her altogether and
married Mlle. de Brignole, from Genoa. Coraline became the mistress
of Count de la Marche, now Prince de Conti. Coraline is now dead, as
well as a son whom she had by the count, and whom his father named
Count de Monreal.
Madame la Dauphine was delivered of a princess, who received the
title of Madame de France.
In the month of August the Royal Academy had an exhibition at the
Louvre, and as there was not a single battle piece I conceived the
idea of summoning my brother to Paris. He was then in Venice, and he
had great talent in that particular style. Passorelli, the only
painter of battles known in France, was dead, and I thought that
Francois might succeed and make a fortune. I therefore wrote to M.
Grimani and to my brother; I persuaded them both, but Francois did
not come to Paris till the beginning of the following year.
Louis XV., who was passionately fond of hunting, was in the habit of
spending six weeks every year at the Chateau of Fontainebleau. He
always returned to Versailles towards the middle of November. That
trip cost him, or rather cost France, five millions of francs. He
always took with him all that could contribute to the amusement of
the foreign ambassadors and of his numerous court. He was followed
by the French and the Italian comedians, and by the actors and
actresses of the opera.
During those six weeks Fontainebleau was more brilliant than
Versailles; nevertheless, the artists attached to the theatres were
so numerous that the Opera, the French and Italian Comedies, remained
open in Paris.
Baletti's father, who had recovered his health, was to go to
Fontainebleau with Silvia and all his family. They invited me to
accompany them, and to accept a lodging in a house hired by them.
It was a splendid opportunity; they were my friends, and I accepted,
for I could not have met with a better occasion to see the court and
all the foreign ministers. I presented myself to M. de Morosini, now
Procurator at St. Mark's, and then ambassador from the Republic to
the French court.
The first night of the opera he gave me permission to accompany him;
the music was by Lulli. I had a seat in the pit precisely under the
private box of Madame de Pompadour, whom I did not know. During the
first scene the celebrated Le Maur gave a scream so shrill and so
unexpected that I thought she had gone mad. I burst into a genuine
laugh, not supposing that any one could possibly find fault with it.
But a knight of the Order of the Holy Ghost, who was near the
Marquise de Pompadour, dryly asked me what country I came from. I
answered, in the same tone,
"I have been there, and have laughed heartily at the recitative in
"I believe you, sir, and I feel certain that no one ever thought of
objecting to your laughing."
My answer, rather a sharp one, made Madame de Pompadour laugh, and
she asked me whether I truly came from down there.
"What do you mean by down there?"
"I mean Venice."
"Venice, madam, is not down there, but up there."
That answer was found more singular than the first, and everybody in
the box held a consultation in order to ascertain whether Venice was
down or up. Most likely they thought I was right, for I was left
alone. Nevertheless, I listened to the opera without laughing; but
as I had a very bad cold I blew my nose often. The same gentleman
addressing himself again to me, remarked that very likely the windows
of my room did not close well. That gentleman, who was unknown to me
was the Marechal de Richelieu. I told him he was mistaken, for my
windows were well 'calfoutrees'. Everyone in the box burst into a
loud laugh, and I felt mortified, for I knew my mistake; I ought to
have said 'calfeutrees'. But these 'eus' and 'ous' cause dire misery
to all foreigners.
Half an hour afterwards M. de Richelieu asked me which of the two
actresses pleased me most by her beauty.
"That one, sir."
"But she has ugly legs."
"They are not seen, sir; besides, whenever I examine the beauty of a
woman, 'la premiere chose que j'ecarte, ce sont les jambes'."
That word said quite by chance, and the double meaning of which I did
not understand, made at once an important personage of me, and
everybody in the box of Madame de Pompadour was curious to know me.
The marshal learned who I was from M. de Morosini, who told me that
the duke would be happy to receive me. My 'jeu de mots' became
celebrated, and the marshal honoured me with a very gracious welcome.
Among the foreign ministers, the one to whom I attached myself most
was Lord Keith, Marshal of Scotland and ambassador of the King of
Prussia. I shall have occasion to speak of him.
The day after my arrival in Fontainebleau I went alone to the court,
and I saw Louis XV., the handsome king, go to the chapel with the
royal family and all the ladies of the court, who surprised me by
their ugliness as much as the ladies of the court of Turin had
astonished me by their beauty. Yet in the midst of so many ugly ones
I found out a regular beauty. I enquired who she was.
"She is," answered one of my neighbours, "Madame de Brionne, more
remarkable by her virtue even than by her beauty. Not only is there
no scandalous story told about her, but she has never given any
opportunity to scandal-mongers of inventing any adventure of which
she was the heroine."
"Perhaps her adventures are not known."
"Ah, monsieur! at the court everything is known."
I went about alone, sauntering through the apartments, when suddenly
I met a dozen ugly ladies who seemed to be running rather than
walking; they were standing so badly upon their legs that they
appeared as if they would fall forward on their faces. Some
gentleman happened to be near me, curiosity impelled me to enquire
where they were coming from, and where they were going in such haste.
"They are coming from the apartment of the queen who is going to
dine, and the reason why they walk so badly is that their shoes have
heels six inches high, which compel them to walk on their toes and
with bent knees in order to avoid falling on their faces."
"But why do they not wear lower heels?"
"It is the fashion."
"What a stupid fashion!"
I took a gallery at random, and saw the king passing along, leaning
with one arm on the shoulder of M. d'Argenson. "Oh, base servility!"
I thought to myself. "How can a man make up his mind thus to bear
the yoke, and how can a man believe himself so much above all others
as to take such unwarrantable liberties!"
Louis XV. had the most magnificent head it was possible to see, and
he carried it with as much grace as majesty. Never did even the most
skilful painter succeed in rendering justice to the expression of
that beautiful head, when the king turned it on one side to look with
kindness at anyone. His beauty and grace compelled love at once. As
I saw him, I thought I had found the ideal majesty which I had been
so surprised not to find in the king of Sardinia, and I could not
entertain a doubt of Madame de Pompadour having been in love with the
king when she sued for his royal attention. I was greatly mistaken,
perhaps, but such a thought was natural in looking at the countenance
of Louis XV.
I reached a splendid room in which I saw several courtiers walking
about, and a table large enough for twelve persons, but laid out only
"For whom is this table?"
"For the queen. Her majesty is now coming in."
It was the queen of France, without rouge, and very simply dressed;
her head was covered with a large cap; she looked old and devout.
When she was near the table, she graciously thanked two nuns who were
placing a plate with fresh butter on it. She sat down, and
immediately the courtiers formed a semicircle within five yards of
the table; I remained near them, imitating their respectful silence.
Her majesty began to eat without looking at anyone, keeping her eyes
on her plate. One of the dishes being to her taste, she desired to
be helped to it a second time, and she then cast her eyes round the
circle of courtiers, probably in order to see if among them there was
anyone to whom she owed an account of her daintiness. She found that
person, I suppose, for she said,
"Monsieur de Lowendal!"
At that name, a fine-looking man came forward with respectful
inclination, and said,
"I believe this is a fricassee of chickens."
"I am of the same opinion, madam."
After this answer, given in the most serious tone, the queen
continued eating, and the marshal retreated backward to his original
place. The queen finished her dinner without uttering a single word,
and retired to her apartments the same way as she had come. I
thought that if such was the way the queen of France took all her
meals, I would not sue for the honour of being her guest.
I was delighted to have seen the famous captain who had conquered
Bergen-op-Zoom, but I regretted that such a man should be compelled
to give an answer about a fricassee of chickens in the serious tone
of a judge pronouncing a sentence of death.
I made good use of this anecdote at the excellent dinner Silvia gave
to the elite of polite and agreeable society.
A few days afterwards, as I was forming a line with a crowd of
courtiers to enjoy the ever new pleasure of seeing the king go to
mass, a pleasure to which must be added the advantage of looking at
the naked and entirely exposed arms and bosoms of Mesdames de France,
his daughters, I suddenly perceived the Cavamacchia, whom I had left
in Cesena under the name of Madame Querini. If I was astonished to
see her, she was as much so in meeting me in such a place. The
Marquis of Saint Simon, premier 'gentilhomme' of the Prince de Conde,
"Madame Querini in Fontainebleau?"
"You here? It reminds me of Queen Elizabeth saying,
"'Pauper ubique facet.'"
"An excellent comparison, madam."
"I am only joking, my dear friend; I am here to see the king, who
does not know me; but to-morrow the ambassador will present me to his
She placed herself in the line within a yard or two from me, beside
the door by which the king was to come. His majesty entered the
gallery with M. de Richelieu, and looked at the so-called Madame
Querini. But she very likely did not take his fancy, for, continuing
to walk on, he addressed to the marshal these remarkable words, which
Juliette must have overheard,
"We have handsomer women here."
In the afternoon I called upon the Venetian ambassador. I found him
in numerous company, with Madame Querini sitting on his right. She
addressed me in the most flattering and friendly manner; it was
extraordinary conduct on the part of a giddy woman who had no cause
to like me, for she was aware that I knew her thoroughly, and that I
had mastered her vanity; but as I understood her manoeuvring I made
up my mind not to disoblige her, and even to render her all the good
offices I could; it was a noble revenge.
As she was speaking of M. Querini, the ambassador congratulated her
upon her marriage with him, saying that he was glad M. Querini had
rendered justice to her merit, and adding,
"I was not aware of your marriage."
"Yet it took place more than two years since," said Juliette.
"I know it for a fact," I said, in my turn; "for, two years ago, the
lady was introduced as Madame Querini and with the title of
excellency by General Spada to all the nobility in Cesena, where I
was at that time."
"I have no doubt of it," answered the ambassador, fixing his eyes
upon me, "for Querini has himself written to me on the subject."
A few minutes afterwards, as I was preparing to take my leave, the
ambassador, under pretense of some letters the contents of which he
wished to communicate to me, invited me to come into his private
room, and he asked me what people generally thought of the marriage
"Nobody knows it, and it is even rumoured that the heir of the house
of Querini is on the point of marrying a daughter of the Grimani
family; but I shall certainly send the news to Venice."
"That Juliette is truly Madame Querini, since your excellency will
present her as such to Louis XV."
"Who told you so?"
"Perhaps she has altered her mind."
I repeated to the ambassador the words which the king had said to
M. de Richelieu after looking at Juliette.
"Then I can guess," remarked the ambassador, "why Juliette does not
wish to be presented to the king."
I was informed some time afterwards that M. de Saint Quentin, the
king's confidential minister, had called after mass on the handsome
Venetian, and had told her that the king of France had most certainly
very bad taste, because he had not thought her beauty superior to
that of several ladies of his court. Juliette left Fontainebleau the
In the first part of my Memoirs I have spoken of Juliette's beauty;
she had a wonderful charm in her countenance, but she had already
used her advantages too long, and her beauty was beginning to fade
when she arrived in Fontainebleau.
I met her again in Paris at the ambassador's, and she told me with a
laugh that she had only been in jest when she called herself Madame
Querini, and that I should oblige her if for the future I would call
her by her real name of Countess Preati. She invited me to visit her
at the Hotel de Luxembourg, where she was staying. I often called on
her, for her intrigues amused me, but I was wise enough not to meddle
She remained in Paris four months, and contrived to infatuate M.
Ranchi, secretary of the Venetian Embassy, an amiable and learned
man. He was so deeply in love that he had made up his mind to marry
her; but through a caprice which she, perhaps, regretted afterwards,
she ill-treated him, and the fool died of grief. Count de Canes.
ambassador of Maria Theresa, had some inclination for her, as well as
the Count of Zinzendorf. The person who arranged these transient and
short-lived intrigues was a certain Guasco, an abbe not over-favoured
with the gifts of Plutus. He was particularly ugly, and had to
purchase small favours with great services.
But the man whom she really wished to marry was Count Saint Simon.
He would have married her if she had not given him false addresses to
make enquiries respecting her birth. The Preati family of Verona
denied all knowledge of her, as a matter of course, and M. de Saint
Simon, who, in spite of all his love, had not entirely lost his
senses, had the courage to abandon her. Altogether, Paris did not
prove an 'el dorado' for my handsome countrywoman, for she was
obliged to pledge her diamonds, and to leave them behind her. After
her return to Venice she married the son of the Uccelli, who sixteen
years before had taken her out of her poverty. She died ten years
I was still taking my French lessons with my good old Crebillon; yet
my style, which was full of Italianisms, often expressed the very
reverse of what I meant to say. But generally my 'quid pro quos'
only resulted in curious jokes which made my fortune; and the best of
it is that my gibberish did me no harm on the score of wit: on the
contrary, it procured me fine acquaintances.
Several ladies of the best society begged me to teach them Italian,
saying that it would afford them the opportunity of teaching me
French; in such an exchange I always won more than they did.
Madame Preodot, who was one of my pupils, received me one morning;
she was still in bed, and told me that she did not feel disposed to
have a lesson, because she had taken medicine the night previous.
Foolishly translating an Italian idiom, I asked her, with an air of
deep interest, whether she had well 'decharge'?
"Sir, what a question! You are unbearable."
I repeated my question; she broke out angrily again.
"Never utter that dreadful word."
"You are wrong in getting angry; it is the proper word."
"A very dirty word, sir, but enough about it. Will you have some
"No, I thank you. I have taken a 'cafe' and two 'Savoyards'."
"Dear me! What a ferocious breakfast! Pray, explain yourself."
"I say that I have drunk a cafe and eaten two Savoyards soaked in it,
and that is what I do every morning."
"You are stupid, my good friend. A cafe is the establishment in
which coffee is sold, and you ought to say that you have drunk 'use
tasse de cafe'"
"Good indeed! Do you drink the cup? In Italy we say a 'caffs', and
we are not foolish enough to suppose that it means the coffee-house."
"He will have the best of it! And the two 'Savoyards', how did you
"Soaked in my coffee, for they were not larger than these on your
"And you call these 'Savoyards'? Say biscuits."
"In Italy, we call them 'Savoyards' because they were first invented
in Savoy; and it is not my fault if you imagined that I had swallowed
two of the porters to be found at the corner of the streets--big
fellows whom you call in Paris Savoyards, although very often they
have never been in Savoy."
Her husband came in at that moment, and she lost no time in relating
the whole of our conversation. He laughed heartily, but he said I
was right. Her niece arrived a few minutes after; she was a young
girl about fourteen years of age, reserved, modest, and very
intelligent. I had given her five or six lessons in Italian, and as
she was very fond of that language and studied diligently she was
beginning to speak.
Wishing to pay me her compliments in Italian, she said to me,
"'Signore, sono in cantata di vi Vader in bona salute'."
"I thank you, mademoiselle; but to translate 'I am enchanted', you
must say 'ho pacer', and for to see you, you must say 'di vedervi'."
"I thought, sir, that the 'vi' was to be placed before."
"No, mademoiselle, we always put it behind."
Monsieur and Madame Preodot were dying with laughter; the young lady
was confused, and I in despair at having uttered such a gross
absurdity; but it could not be helped. I took a book sulkily, in the
hope of putting a stop to their mirth, but it was of no use: it
lasted a week. That uncouth blunder soon got known throughout Paris,
and gave me a sort of reputation which I lost little by little, but
only when I understood the double meanings of words better.
Crebillon was much amused with my blunder, and he told me that I
ought to have said after instead of behind. Ah! why have not all
languages the same genius! But if the French laughed at my mistakes
in speaking their language, I took my revenge amply by turning some
of their idioms into ridicule.
"Sir," I once said to a gentleman, "how is your wife?"
"You do her great honour, sir."
"Pray tell me, sir, what her honour has to do with her health?"
I meet in the Bois de Boulogne a young man riding a horse which he
cannot master, and at last he is thrown. I stop the horse, run to the
assistance of the young man and help him up.
"Did you hurt yourself, sir?"
"Oh, many thanks, sir, au contraire."
"Why au contraire! The deuce! It has done you good? Then begin
And a thousand similar expressions entirely the reverse of good
sense. But it is the genius of the language.
I was one day paying my first visit to the wife of President de
N----, when her nephew, a brilliant butterfly, came in, and she
introduced me to him, mentioning my name and my country.
"Indeed, sir, you are Italian?" said the young man. "Upon my word,
you present yourself so gracefully that I would have betted you were
"Sir, when I saw you, I was near making the same mistake; I would
have betted you were Italian."
Another time, I was dining at Lady Lambert's in numerous and
brilliant company. Someone remarked on my finger a cornelian ring on
which was engraved very beautifully the head of Louis XV. My ring
went round the table, and everybody thought that the likeness was
A young marquise, who had the reputation of being a great wit, said
to me in the most serious tone,
"It is truly an antique?"
"The stone, madam, undoubtedly."
Everyone laughed except the thoughtless young beauty, who did not
take any notice of it. Towards the end of the dinner, someone spoke
of the rhinoceros, which was then shewn for twenty-four sous at the
St. Germain's Fair.
"Let us go and see it!" was the cry.
We got into the carriages, and reached the fair. We took several
turns before we could find the place. I was the only gentleman; I
was taking care of two ladies in the midst of the crowd, and the
witty marquise was walking in front of us. At the end of the alley
where we had been told that we would find the animal, there was a man
placed to receive the money of the visitors. It is true that the
man, dressed in the African fashion, was very dark and enormously
stout, yet he had a human and very masculine form, and the beautiful
marquise had no business to make a mistake. Nevertheless, the
thoughtless young creature went up straight to him and said,
"Are you the rhinoceros, sir?"
"Go in, madam, go in."
We were dying with laughing; and the marquise, when she had seen the
animal, thought herself bound to apologize to the master; assuring
him that she had never seen a rhinoceros in her life, and therefore
he could not feel offended if she had made a mistake.
One evening I was in the foyer of the Italian Comedy, where between
the acts the highest noblemen were in the habit of coming, in order
to converse and joke with the actresses who used to sit there waiting
for their turn to appear on the stage, and I was seated near Camille,
Coraline's sister, whom I amused by making love to her. A young
councillor, who objected to my occupying Camille's attention, being a
very conceited fellow, attacked me upon some remark I made respecting
an Italian play, and took the liberty of shewing his bad temper by
criticizing my native country. I was answering him in an indirect
way, looking all the time at Camille, who was laughing. Everybody
had congregated around us and was attentive to the discussion, which,
being carried on as an assault of wit, had nothing to make it
But it seemed to take a serious turn when the young fop, turning the
conversation on the police of the city, said that for some time it
had been dangerous to walk alone at night through the streets of
"During the last month," he added, "the Place de Greve has seen the
hanging of seven men, among whom there were five Italians. An
"Nothing extraordinary in that," I answered; "honest men generally
contrive to be hung far away from their native country; and as a
proof of it, sixty Frenchmen have been hung in the course of last
year between Naples, Rome, and Venice. Five times twelve are sixty;
so you see that it is only a fair exchange."
The laughter was all on my side, and the fine councillor went away
rather crestfallen. One of the gentlemen present at the discussion,
finding my answer to his taste, came up to Camille, and asked her in
a whisper who I was. We got acquainted at once.
It was M. de Marigni, whom I was delighted to know for the sake of my
brother whose arrival in Paris I was expecting every day. M. de
Marigni was superintendent of the royal buildings, and the Academy of
Painting was under his jurisdiction. I mentioned my brother to him,
and he graciously promised to protect him. Another young nobleman,
who conversed with me, invited me to visit him. It was the Duke de
I told him that I had seen him, then only a child, eight years before
in Naples, and that I was under great obligations to his uncle, Don
Lelio. The young duke was delighted, and we became intimate friends.
My brother arrived in Paris in the spring of 1751, and he lodged with
me at Madame Quinson's. He began at once to work with success for
private individuals; but his main idea being to compose a picture to
be submitted to the judgment of the Academy, I introduced him to M.
de Marigni, who received him with great distinction, and encouraged
him by assuring him of his protection. He immediately set to work
with great diligence.
M. de Morosini had been recalled, and M. de Mocenigo had succeeded
him as ambassador of the Republic. M. de Bragadin had recommended me
to him, and he tendered a friendly welcome both to me and to my
brother, in whose favour he felt interested as a Venetian, and as a
young artist seeking to build up a position by his talent.
M. de Mocenigo was of a very pleasant nature; he liked gambling
although he was always unlucky at cards; he loved women, and he was
not more fortunate with them because he did not know how to manage
them. Two years after his arrival in Paris he fell in love with
Madame de Colande, and, finding it impossible to win her affections,
he killed himself.
Madame la Dauphine was delivered of a prince, the Duke of Burgundy,
and the rejoicings indulged in at the birth of that child seem to me
incredible now, when I see what the same nation is doing against the
king. The people want to be free; it is a noble ambition, for
mankind are not made to be the slaves of one man; but with a nation
populous, great, witty, and giddy, what will be the end of that
revolution? Time alone can tell us.
The Duke de Matalona procured me the acquaintance of the two princes,
Don Marc Antoine and Don Jean Baptiste Borghese, from Rome, who were
enjoying themselves in Paris, yet living without display. I had
occasion to remark that when those Roman princes were presented at
the court of France they were only styled "marquis:" It was the same
with the Russian princes, to whom the title of prince was refused
when they wanted to be presented; they were called "knees," but they
did not mind it, because that word meant prince. The court of France
has always been foolishly particular on the question of titles, and
is even now sparing of the title of monsieur, although it is common
enough everywhere every man who was not titled was called Sieur. I
have remarked that the king never addressed his bishops otherwise
than as abbes, although they were generally very proud of their
titles. The king likewise affected to know a nobleman only when his
name was inscribed amongst those who served him.
Yet the haughtiness of Louis XV. had been innoculated into him by
education; it was not in his nature. When an ambassador presented
someone to him, the person thus presented withdrew with the certainty
of having been seen by the king, but that was all. Nevertheless,
Louis XV. was very polite, particularly with ladies, even with his
mistresses, when in public. Whoever failed in respect towards them
in the slightest manner was sure of disgrace, and no king ever
possessed to a greater extent the grand royal virtue which is called
dissimulation. He kept a secret faithfully, and he was delighted
when he knew that no one but himself possessed it.
The Chevalier d'Eon is a proof of this, for the king alone knew and
had always known that the chevalier was a woman, and all the long
discussions which the false chevalier had with the office for foreign
affairs was a comedy which the king allowed to go on, only because it
Louis XV. was great in all things, and he would have had no faults if
flattery had not forced them upon him. But how could he possibly
have supposed himself faulty in anything when everyone around him
repeated constantly that he was the best of kings? A king, in the
opinion of which he was imbued respecting his own person, was a being
of a nature by far too superior to ordinary men for him not to have
the right to consider himself akin to a god. Sad destiny of kings!
Vile flatterers are constantly doing everything necessary to reduce
them below the condition of man.
The Princess of Ardore was delivered about that time of a young
prince. Her husband, the Neapolitan ambassador, entreated Louis XV.
to be god-father to the child; the king consented and presented his
god-son with a regiment; but the mother, who did not like the
military career for her son, refused it. The Marshal de Richelieu
told me that he had never known the king laugh so heartily as when he
heard of that singular refusal.
At the Duchess de Fulvie's I made the acquaintance of Mdlle.
Gaussin, who was called Lolotte. She was the mistress of Lord
Albemarle, the English ambassador, a witty and very generous
nobleman. One evening he complained of his mistress praising the
beauty of the stars which were shining brightly over her head, saying
that she ought to know he could not give them to her. If Lord
Albemarle had been ambassador to the court of France at the time of
the rupture between France and England, he would have arranged all
difficulties amicably, and the unfortunate war by which France lost
Canada would not have taken place. There is no doubt that the
harmony between two nations depends very often upon their respective
ambassadors, when there is any danger of a rupture.
As to the noble lord's mistress, there was but one opinion respecting
her. She was fit in every way to become his wife, and the highest
families of France did not think that she needed the title of Lady
Albemarle to be received with distinction; no lady considered it
debasing to sit near her, although she was well known as the mistress
of the English lord. She had passed from her mother's arms to those
of Lord Albemarle at the age of thirteen, and her conduct was always
of the highest respectability. She bore children whom the ambassador
acknowledged legally, and she died Countess d'Erouville. I shall
have to mention her again in my Memoirs.
I had likewise occasion to become acquainted at the Venetian Embassy
with a lady from Venice, the widow of an English baronet named Wynne.
She was then coming from London with her children, where she had been
compelled to go in order to insure them the inheritance of their late
father, which they would have lost if they had not declared
themselves members of the Church of England. She was on her way back
to Venice, much pleased with her journey. She was accompanied by her
eldest daughter--a young girl of twelve years, who, notwithstanding
her youth, carried on her beautiful face all the signs of perfection.
She is now living in Venice, the widow of Count de Rosenberg, who
died in Venice ambassador of the Empress-Queen Maria Theresa. She is
surrounded by the brilliant halo of her excellent conduct and of all
her social virtues. No one can accuse her of any fault, except that
of being poor, but she feels it only because it does not allow her to
be as charitable as she might wish.
The reader will see in the next chapter how I managed to embroil
myself with the French police.
My Broil With Parisian Justice--Mdlle. Vesian
The youngest daughter of my landlady, Mdlle. Quinson, a young girl
between fifteen and sixteen years of age, was in the habit of often
coming to my room without being called. It was not long before I
discovered that she was in love with me, and I should have thought
myself ridiculous if I had been cruel to a young brunette who was
piquant, lively, amiable, and had a most delightful voice.
During the first four or five months nothing but childish trifles
took place between us; but one night, coming home very late and
finding her fast asleep on my bed, I did not see the necessity of
waking her up, and undressing myself I lay down beside her.... She
left me at daybreak.
Mimi had not been gone three hours when a milliner came with a
charming young girl, to invite herself and her friend to breakfast; I
thought the young girl well worth a breakfast, but I was tired and
wanted rest, and I begged them both to withdraw. Soon after they had
left me, Madame Quinson came with her daughter to make my bed. I put
my dressing-gown on, and began to write.
"Ah! the nasty hussies!" exclaims the mother.
"What is the matter, madam?"
"The riddle is clear enough, sir; these sheets are spoiled."
"I am very sorry, my dear madam, but change them, and the evil will
be remedied at once."
She went out of the room, threatening and grumbling,
"Let them come again, and see if I don't take care of them!"
Mimi remained alone with me, and I addressed her some reproaches for
her imprudence. But she laughed, and answered that Love had sent
those women on purpose to protect Innocence! After that, Mimi was no
longer under any restraint, she would come and share my bed whenever
she had a fancy to do so, unless I sent her back to her own room, and
in the morning she always left me in good time. But at the end of
four months my beauty informed me that our secret would soon be
"I am very sorry," I said to her, "but I cannot help it."
"We ought to think of something."
"Well, do so."
"What can I think of? Well, come what will; the best thing I can do
is not to think of it."
Towards the sixth month she had become so large, that her mother, no
longer doubting the truth, got into a violent passion, and by dint of
blows compelled her to name the father. Mimi said I was the guilty
swain, and perhaps it was not an untruth.
With that great discovery Madame Quinson burst into my room in high
dudgeon. She threw herself on a chair, and when she had recovered
her breath she loaded me with insulting words, and ended by telling
me that I must marry her daughter. At this intimation, understanding
her object and wishing to cut the matter short, I told her that I was
already married in Italy.
"Then why did you come here and get my daughter with child?"
"I can assure you that I did not mean to do so. Besides, how do you
know that I am the father of the child?"
"Mimi says so, and she is certain of it."
"I congratulate her; but I warn you, madam, that I am ready to swear
that I have not any certainty about it."
"Then nothing. If she is pregnant, she will be confined."
She went downstairs, uttering curses and threats: the next day I was
summoned before the commissary of the district. I obeyed the
summons, and found Madame Quinson fully equipped for the battle. The
commissary, after the preliminary questions usual in all legal cases,
asked me whether I admitted myself guilty towards the girl Quinson of
the injury of which the mother, there present personally, complained.
"Monsieur le Commissaire, I beg of you to write word by word the
answer which I am going to give you."
"I have caused no injury whatever to Mimi, the plaintiff's daughter,
and I refer you to the girl herself, who has always had as much
friendship for me as I have had for her."
"But she declares that she is pregnant from your doings."
"That may be, but it is not certain."
"She says it is certain, and she swears that she has never known any
"If it is so, she is unfortunate; for in such a question a man cannot
trust any woman but his own wife."
"What did you give her in order to seduce her?"
"Nothing; for very far from having seduced her, she has seduced me,
and we agreed perfectly in one moment; a pretty woman does not find
it very hard to seduce me."
"Was she a virgin?"
"I never felt any curiosity about it either before or after;
therefore, sir, I do not know."
"Her mother claims reparation, and the law is against you."
"I can give no reparation to the mother; and as for the law I will
obey it when it has been explained to me, and when I am convinced
that I have been guilty against it."
"You are already convinced. Do you imagine that a man who gets an
honest girl with child in a house of which he is an inmate does not
transgress the laws of society?"
"I admit that to be the case when the mother is deceived; but when
that same mother sends her daughter to the room of a young man, are
we not right in supposing that she is disposed to accept peacefully
all the accidents which may result from such conduct?"
"She sent her daughter to your room only to wait on you."
"And she has waited on me as I have waited on her if she sends her to
my room this evening, and if it is agreeable to Mimi, I will
certainly serve her as well as I can; but I will have nothing to do
with her against her will or out of my room, the rent of which I have
always paid punctually."
"You may say what you like, but you must pay the fine."
"I will say what I believe to be just, and I will pay nothing; for
there can be no fine where there is no law transgressed. If I am
sentenced to pay I shall appeal even to the last jurisdiction and
until I obtain justice, for believe me, sir, I know that I am not
such an awkward and cowardly fellow as to refuse my caresses to a
pretty woman who pleases me, and comes to provoke them in my own
room, especially when I feel myself certain of the mother's
I signed the interrogatory after I had read it carefully, and went
away. The next day the lieutenant of police sent for me, and after
he had heard me, as well as the mother and the daughter, he acquitted
me and condemned Madame Quinson in costs. But I could not after all
resist the tears of Mimi, and her entreaties for me to defray the
expenses of her confinement. She was delivered of a boy, who was
sent to the Hotel Dieu to be brought up at the nation's expense.
Soon afterwards Mimi ran away from her mother's house, and she
appeared on the stage at St. Laurent's Fair. Being unknown, she had
no difficulty in finding a lover who took her for a maiden. I found
her very pretty on the stage.
"I did not know," I said to her, "that you were a musician."
"I am a musician about as much as all my companions, not one of whom
knows a note of music. The girls at the opera are not much more
clever, and in spite of that, with a good voice and some taste, one
can sing delightfully."
I advised her to invite Patu to supper, and he was charmed with her.
Some time afterwards, however, she came to a bad end, and
The Italian comedians obtained at that time permission to perform
parodies of operas and of tragedies. I made the acquaintance at that
theatre of the celebrated Chantilly, who had been the mistress of the
Marechal de Saxe, and was called Favart because the poet of that name
had married her. She sang in the parody of 'Thetis et Pelee', by M.
de Fontelle, the part of Tonton, amidst deafening applause. Her
grace and talent won the love of a man of the greatest merit, the
Abbe de Voisenon, with whom I was as intimate as with Crebillon. All
the plays performed at the Italian Comedy, under the name of Madame
Favart, were written by the abbe, who became member of the Academie
after my departure from Paris. I cultivated an acquaintance the
value of which I could appreciate, and he honoured me with his
friendship. It was at my suggestions that the Abbe de Voisenon
conceived the idea of composing oratorios in poetry; they were sung
for the first time at the Tuileries, when the theatres were closed in
consequence of some religious festival. That amiable abbe, who had
written several comedies in secret, had very poor health and a very
small body; he was all wit and gracefulness, famous for his shrewd
repartees which, although very cutting, never offended anyone. It
was impossible for him to have any enemies, for his criticism only
grazed the skin and never wounded deeply. One day, as he was
returning from Versailles, I asked him the news of the court.
"The king is yawning," he answered, "because he must come to the
parliament to-morrow to hold a bed of justice."
"Why is it called a bed of justice?"
"I do not know, unless it is because justice is asleep during the
I afterwards met in Prague the living portrait of that eminent writer
in Count Francois Hardig, now plenipotentiary of the emperor at the
court of Saxony.
The Abbe de Voisenon introduced me to Fontenelle, who was then
ninety-three years of age. A fine wit, an amiable and learned man,
celebrated for his quick repartees, Fontenelle could not pay a
compliment without throwing kindness and wit into it. I told him
that I had come from Italy on purpose to see him.
"Confess, sir," he said to me, "that you have kept me waiting a very
This repartee was obliging and critical at the same time, and pointed
out in a delicate and witty manner the untruth of my compliment. He
made me a present of his works, and asked me if I liked the French
plays; I told him that I had seen 'Thetis et Pelee' at the opera.
That play was his own composition, and when I had praised it, he told
me that it was a 'tete pelee'.
"I was at the Theatre Francais last night," I said, "and saw
"It is the masterpiece of Racine; Voltaire, has been wrong in
accusing me of having criticized that tragedy, and in attributing to
me an epigram, the author of which has never been known, and which
ends with two very poor lines:
"Pour avoir fait pis qu'Esther,
Comment diable as-to pu faire"
I have been told that M. de Fontenelle had been the tender friend of
Madame du Tencin, that M. d'Alembert was the offspring of their
intimacy, and that Le Rond had only been his foster-father. I knew
d'Alembert at Madame de Graffigny's. That great philosopher had the
talent of never appearing to be a learned man when he was in the
company of amiable persons who had no pretension to learning or
the sciences, and he always seemed to endow with intelligence those
who conversed with him.
When I went to Paris for the second time, after my escape from The
Leads of Venice, I was delighted at the idea of seeing again the
amiable, venerable Fontenelle, but he died a fortnight after my
arrival, at the beginning of the year 1757.
When I paid my third visit to Paris with the intention of ending my
days in that capital, I reckoned upon the friendship of
M. d'Alembert, but he died, like Fontenelle, a fortnight after my
arrival, towards the end of 1783. Now I feel that I have seen Paris
and France for the last time. The popular effervescence has
disgusted me, and I am too old to hope to see the end of it.
Count de Looz, Polish ambassador at the French court, invited me in
1751 to translate into Italian a French opera susceptible of great
transformations, and of having a grand ballet annexed to the subject
of the opera itself. I chose 'Zoroastre', by M. de Cahusac. I had
to adapt words to the music of the choruses, always a difficult task.
The music remained very beautiful, of course, but my Italian poetry
was very poor. In spite of that the generous sovereign sent me a
splendid gold snuff-box, and I thus contrived at the same time to
please my mother very highly.
It was about that time that Mdlle. Vesian arrived in Paris with her
brother. She was quite young, well educated, beautiful, most
amiable, and a novice; her brother accompanied her. Her father,
formerly an officer in the French army, had died at Parma, his native
city. Left an orphan without any means of support, she followed the
advice given by her friends; she sold the furniture left by her
father, with the intention of going to Versailles to obtain from the
justice and from the generosity of the king a small pension to enable
her to live. As she got out of the diligence, she took a coach, and
desired to be taken to some hotel close by the Italian Theatre; by
the greatest chance she was brought to the Hotel de Bourgogne, where
I was then staying myself.
In the morning I was told that there were two young Italians, brother
and sister, who did not appear very wealthy, in the next room to
mine. Italians, young, poor and newly arrived, my curiosity was
excited. I went to the door of their room, I knocked, and a young
man came to open it in his shirt.
"I beg you to excuse me, sir," he said to me, "if I receive you in
such a state."
"I have to ask your pardon myself. I only come to offer you my
services, as a countryman and as a neighbour."
A mattress on the floor told me where the young man had slept; a bed
standing in a recess and hid by curtains made me guess where the
sister was. I begged of her to excuse me if I had presented myself
without enquiring whether she was up.
She answered without seeing me, that the journey having greatly tried
her she had slept a little later than usual, but that she would get
up immediately if I would excuse her for a short time.
"I am going to my room, mademoiselle, and I will come back when you
send for me; my room is next door to your own."
A quarter of an hour after, instead of being sent for, I saw a young
and beautiful person enter my room; she made a modest bow, saying
that she had come herself to return my visit, and that her brother
would follow her immediately.
I thanked her for her visit, begged her to be seated, and I expressed
all the interest I felt for her. Her gratitude shewed itself more by
the tone of her voice than by her words, and her confidence being
already captivated she told me artlessly, but not without some
dignity, her short history or rather her situation, and she concluded
by these words:
"I must in the course of the day find a less expensive lodging, for I
only possess six francs."
I asked her whether she had any letters of recommendation, and she
drew out of her pocket a parcel of papers containing seven or eight
testimonials of good conduct and honesty, and a passport.
"Is this all you have, my dear countrywoman?"
"Yes. I intend to call with my brother upon the secretary of war, and
I hope he will take pity on me."
"You do not know anybody here?"
"Not one person, sir; you are the first man in France to whom I have
exposed my situation."
"I am a countryman of yours, and you are recommended to me by your
position as well as by your age; I wish to be your adviser, if you
will permit me."
"Ah, sir! how grateful I would be!"
"Do not mention it. Give me your papers, I will see what is to be
done with them. Do not relate your history to anyone, and do not say
one word about your position. You had better remain at this hotel.
Here are two Louis which I will lend you until you are in a position
to return them to me."
She accepted, expressing her heart-felt gratitude.
Mademoiselle Vesian was an interesting brunette of sixteen. She had
a good knowledge of French and Italian, graceful manners, and a
dignity which endowed her with a very noble appearance. She informed
me of her affairs without meanness, yet without that timidity which
seems to arise from a fear of the person who listens being disposed
to take advantage of the distressing position confided to his honour.
She seemed neither humiliated nor bold; she had hope, and she did not
boast of her courage. Her virtue was by no means ostentatious, but
there was in her an air of modesty which would certainly have put a
restraint upon anyone disposed to fail in respect towards her. I
felt the effect of it myself, for in spite of her beautiful eyes, her
fine figure, of the freshness of her complexion, her transparent
skin, her negligee--in one word, all that can tempt a man and which
filled me with burning desires, I did not for one instant lose
control over myself; she had inspired me with a feeling of respect
which helped me to master my senses, and I promised myself not only
to attempt nothing against her virtue, but also not to be the first
man to make her deviate from the right path. I even thought it
better to postpone to another interview a little speech on that
subject, the result of which might be to make me follow a different
"You are now in a city," I said to her, "in which your destiny must
unfold itself, and in which all the fine qualities which nature has
so bountifully bestowed upon you, and which may ultimately cause your
fortune, may likewise cause your ruin; for here, by dear
countrywoman, wealthy men despise all libertine women except those
who have offered them the sacrifice of their virtue. If you are
virtuous, and are determined upon remaining so, prepare yourself to
bear a great deal of misery; if you feel yourself sufficiently above
what is called prejudice, if, in one word, you feel disposed to
consent to everything, in order to secure a comfortable position, be
very careful not to make a mistake. Distrust altogether the sweet
words which every passionate man will address to you for the sake of
obtaining your favours, for, his passion once satisfied, his ardour
will cool down, and you will find yourself deceived. Be wary of your
adorers; they will give you abundance of counterfeit coin, but do not
trust them far. As far as I am concerned, I feel certain that I
shall never injure you, and I hope to be of some use to you. To
reassure you entirely on my account, I will treat you as if you were
my sister, for I am too young to play the part of your father, and I
would not tell you all this if I did not think you a very charming
Her brother joined us as we were talking together. He was a good-
looking young man of eighteen, well made, but without any style about
him; he spoke little, and his expression was devoid of individuality.
We breakfasted together, and having asked him as we were at table for
what profession he felt an inclination, he answered that he was
disposed to do anything to earn an honourable living.
"Have you any peculiar talent?"
"I write pretty well."
"That is something. When you go out, mistrust everybody; do not
enter any cafe, and never speak to anyone in the streets. Eat your
meals in your room with your sister, and tell the landlady to give
you a small closet to sleep in. Write something in French to-day,
let me have it to-morrow morning, and we will see what can be done.
As for you, mademoiselle, my books are at your disposal, I have your
papers; to-morrow I may have some news to tell you; we shall not see
each other again to-day, for I generally come home very late." She
took a few books, made a modest reverence, and told me with a
charming voice that she had every confidence in me.
Feeling disposed to be useful to her, wherever I went during that day
I spoke of nothing but of her and of her affairs; and everywhere men
and women told me that if she was pretty she could not fail, but that
at all events it would be right for her to take all necessary steps.
I received a promise that the brother should be employed in some
office. I thought that the best plan would be to find some
influential lady who would consent to present Mdlle. Vesian to
M. d'Argenson, and I knew that in the mean time I could support her.
I begged Silvia to mention the matter to Madame de Montconseil, who
had very great influence with the secretary of war. She promised to
do so, but she wished to be acquainted with the young girl.
I returned to the hotel towards eleven o'clock, and seeing that there
was a light still burning in the room of Mdlle. Vesian I knocked at
her door. She opened it, and told me that she had sat up in the hope
of seeing me. I gave her an account of what I had done. I found her
disposed to undertake all that was necessary, and most grateful for
my assistance. She spoke of her position with an air of noble
indifference which she assumed in order to restrain her tears; she
succeeded in keeping them back, but the moisture in her eyes proved
all the efforts she was making to prevent them from falling. We had
talked for two hours, and going from one subject to another I learned
that she had never loved, and that she was therefore worthy of a
lover who would reward her in a proper manner for the sacrifice of
her virtue. It would have been absurd to think that marriage was to
be the reward of that sacrifice; the young girl had not yet made what
is called a false step, but she had none of the prudish feelings of
those girls who say that they would not take such a step for all the
gold in the universe, and usually give way before the slightest
attack; all my young friend wanted was to dispose of herself in a
proper and advantageous manner.
I could not help sighing as I listened to her very sensible remarks,
considering the position in which she was placed by an adverse
destiny. Her sincerity was charming to me; I was burning with
desire. Lucie of Pasean came back to my memory; I recollected how
deeply I had repented the injury I had done in neglecting a sweet
flower, which another man, and a less worthy one, had hastened to
pluck; I felt myself near a lamb which would perhaps become the prey
of some greedy wolf; and she, with her noble feelings, her careful
education, and a candour which an impure breath would perhaps destroy
for ever, was surely not destined for a lot of shame. I regretted I
was not rich enough to make her fortune, and to save her honour and
her virtue. I felt that I could neither make her mine in an
illegitimate way nor be her guardian angel, and that by becoming her
protector I should do her more harm than good; in one word, instead
of helping her out of the unfortunate position in which she was, I
should, perhaps, only contribute to her entire ruin. During that
time I had her near me, speaking to her in a sentimental way, and not
uttering one single word of love; but I kissed her hand and her arms
too often without coming to a resolution, without beginning a thing
which would have too rapidly come to an end, and which would have
compelled me to keep her for myself; in that case, there would have
been no longer any hope of a fortune for her, and for me no means of
getting rid of her. I have loved women even to madness, but I have
always loved liberty better; and whenever I have been in danger of
losing it fate has come to my rescue.
I had remained about four hours with Mdlle. Vesian, consumed by the
most intense desires, and I had had strength enough to conquer them.
She could not attribute my reserve to a feeling of modesty, and not
knowing why I did not shew more boldness she must have supposed that
I was either ill or impotent. I left her, after inviting her to
dinner for the next day.
We had a pleasant dinner, and her brother having gone out for a walk
after our meal we looked together out of the window from which we
could see all the carriages going to the Italian Comedy. I asked her
whether she would like to go; she answered me with a smile of
delight, and we started at once.
I placed her in the amphitheatre where I left her, telling her that
we would meet at the hotel at eleven o'clock. I would not remain
with her, in order to avoid the questions which would have been
addressed to me, for the simpler her toilet was the more interesting
After I had left the theatre, I went to sup at Silvia's and returned
to the hotel. I was surprised at the sight of an elegant carriage; I
enquired to whom it belonged, and I was told that it was the carriage
of a young nobleman who had supped with Mdlle. Vesian. She was
The first thing next morning, as I was putting my head out of the
window, I saw a hackney coach stop at the door of the hotel; a young
man, well dressed in a morning costume, came out of it, and a minute
after I heard him enter the room of Mdlle. Vesian. Courage! I had
made up my mind; I affected a feeling of complete indifference in
order to deceive myself.
I dressed myself to go out, and while I was at my toilet Vesian came
in and told me that he did not like to go into his sister's room
because the gentleman who had supped with her had just arrived.
"That's a matter of course," I said.
"He is rich and very handsome. He wishes to take us himself to
Versailles, and promises to procure some employment for me."
"I congratulate you. Who is he?"
"I do not know."
I placed in an envelope the papers she had entrusted to me, and I
handed them to him to return to his sister. I then went out. When I
came home towards three o'clock, the landlady gave me a letter which
had been left for me by Mdlle. Vesian, who had left the hotel.
I went to my room, opened the letter, and read the following lines:
"I return the money you have lent me with my best thanks. The Count
de Narbonne feels interested in me, and wishes to assist me and my
brother. I shall inform you of everything, of the house in which he
wishes me to go and live, where he promises to supply me all I want.
Your friendship is very dear to me, and I entreat you not to forget
me. My brother remains at the hotel, and my room belongs to me for
the month. I have paid everything."
"Here is," said I to myself, "a second Lucie de Pasean, and I am a
second time the dupe of my foolish delicacy, for I feel certain that
the count will not make her happy. But I wash my hands of it all."
I went to the Theatre Francais in the evening, and enquired about
Narbonne. The first person I spoke to told me,
"He is the son of a wealthy man, but a great libertine and up to his
neck in debts."
Nice references, indeed! For a week I went to all the theatres and
public places in the hope of making the acquaintance of the count,
but I could not succeed, and I was beginning to forget the adventure
when one morning, towards eight o'clock Vesian calling on me, told me
that his sister was in her room and wished to speak to me. I
followed him immediately. I found her looking unhappy and with eyes
red from crying. She told her brother to go out for a walk, and when
he had gone she spoke to me thus:
"M. de Narbonne, whom I thought an honest man, because I wanted him
to be such, came to sit by me where you had left me at the theatre;
he told me that my face had interested him, and he asked me who I
was. I told him what I had told you. You had promised to think of
me, but Narbonne told me that he did not want your assistance, as he
could act by himself. I believed him, and I have been the dupe of my
confidence in him; he has deceived me; he is a villain."
The tears were choking her: I went to the window so as to let her cry
without restraint: a few minutes after, I came back and I sat down by
"Tell me all, my dear Vesian, unburden your heart freely, and do not
think yourself guilty towards me; in reality I have been wrong more
than you. Your heart would not now be a prey to sorrow if I had not
been so imprudent as to leave you alone at the theatre."
"Alas, sir! do not say so; ought I to reproach you because you
thought me so virtuous? Well, in a few words, the monster promised
to shew me every care, every attention, on condition of my giving him
an undeniable, proof of my affection and confidence--namely, to take
a lodging without my brother in the house of a woman whom he
represented as respectable. He insisted upon my brother not living
with me, saying that evil-minded persons might suppose him to be my
lover. I allowed myself to be persuaded. Unhappy creature! How
could I give way without consulting you? He told me that the
respectable woman to whom he would take me would accompany me to
Versailles, and that he would send my brother there so that we should
be both presented to the war secretary. After our first supper he
told me that he would come and fetch me in a hackney coach the next
morning. He presented me with two louis and a gold watch, and I
thought I could accept those presents from a young nobleman who
shewed so much interest in me. The woman to whom he introduced me
did not seem to me as respectable as he had represented her to be.
I have passed one week with her without his doing anything to benefit
my position. He would come, go out, return as he pleased, telling me
every day that it would be the morrow, and when the morrow came there
was always some impediment. At last, at seven o'clock this morning,
the woman told me that the count was obliged to go into the country,
that a hackney coach would bring me back to his hotel, and that he
would come and see me on his return. Then, affecting an air of
sadness, she told me that I must give her back the watch because the
count had forgotten to pay the watchmaker for it. I handed it to her
immediately without saying a word, and wrapping the little I
possessed in my handkerchief I came back here, where I arrived half
an hour since."
"Do you hope to see him on his return from the country?"
"To see him again! Oh, Lord! why have I ever seen him?"
She was crying bitterly, and I must confess that no young girl ever
moved me so deeply as she did by the expression of her grief. Pity
replaced in my heart the tenderness I had felt for her a week before.
The infamous proceedings of Narbonne disgusted me to that extent
that, if I had known where to find him alone, I would immediately
have compelled him to give me reparation. Of course, I took good
care not to ask the poor girl to give me a detailed account of her
stay in the house of Narbonne's respectable procurers; I could guess
even more than I wanted to know, and to insist upon that recital
would have humiliated Mdlle. Vesian. I could see all the infamy of
the count in the taking back of the watch which belonged to her as a
gift, and which the unhappy girl had earned but too well. I did all
I could to dry her tears, and she begged me to be a father to her,
assuring me that she would never again do anything to render her
unworthy of my friendship, and that she would always be guided by my
"Well, my dear young friend, what you must do now is not only to
forget the unworthy count and his criminal conduct towards you, but
also the fault of which you have been guilty. What is done cannot be
undone, and the past is beyond remedy; but compose yourself, and
recall the air of cheerfulness which shone on your countenance a week
ago. Then I could read on your face honesty, candour, good faith,
and the noble assurance which arouses sentiment in those who can
appreciate its charm. You must let all those feelings shine again on
your features; for they alone can interest honest people, and you
require the general sympathy more than ever. My friendship is of
little importance to you, but you may rely upon it all the more
because I fancy that you have now a claim upon it which you had not a
week ago: Be quite certain, I beg, that I will not abandon you until
your position is properly settled. I cannot at present tell you
more; but be sure that I will think of you."
"Ah, my friend! if you promise to think of me, I ask for no more.
Oh! unhappy creature that I am; there is not a soul in the world who
thinks of me."
She was: so deeply moved that she fainted away. I came to her
assistance without calling anyone, and when she had recovered her
consciousness and some calm, I told her a hundred stories, true or
purely imaginary, of the knavish tricks played in Paris by men who
think of nothing but of deceiving young girls. I told her a few
amusing instances in order to make her more cheerful, and at last I
told her that she ought to be thankful for what had happened to her
with Narbonne, because that misfortune would give her prudence for
During that long tete-a-tete I had no difficulty in abstaining from
bestowing any caresses upon her; I did not even take her hand, for
what I felt for her was a tender pity; and I was very happy when at
the end of two hours I saw her calm and determined upon bearing
misfortune like a heroine.
She suddenly rose from her seat, and, looking at me with an air of
modest trustfulness, she said to me,
"Are, you particularly engaged in any way to-day?"
"No, my dear:"
"Well, then, be good enough to take me somewhere out of Paris; to
some place where I can breathe the fresh air freely; I shall then
recover that appearance which you think I must have to interest in my
favour those who will see me; and if I can enjoy a quiet sleep
throughout the next night I feel I shall be happy again."
"I am grateful to you for your confidence in me. We will go out as
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