The Complete Memoires of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
Part 14 out of 70
between her knees, and begged the leader of the orchestra to begin
the concerto again. The deepest silence prevailed. I was trembling
all over, and almost fainting. Fortunately every look was fixed upon
Henriette, and nobody thought of me. Nor was she looking towards me,
she would not have then ventured even one glance, for she would have
lost courage, if she had raised her beautiful eyes to my face.
However, not seeing her disposing herself to play, I was beginning to
imagine that she had only been indulging in a jest, when she suddenly
made the strings resound. My heart was beating with such force that
I thought I should drop down dead.
But let the reader imagine my situation when, the concerto being
over, well-merited applause burst from every part of the room! The
rapid change from extreme fear to excessive pleasure brought on an
excitement which was like a violent fever. The applause did not seem
to have any effect upon Henriette, who, without raising her eyes from
the notes which she saw for the first time, played six pieces with
the greatest perfection. As she rose from her seat, she did not
thank the guests for their applause, but, addressing the young artist
with affability, she told him, with a sweet smile, that she had never
played on a finer instrument. Then, curtsying to the audience, she
"I entreat your forgiveness for a movement of vanity which has made
me encroach on your patience for half an hour."
The nobility and grace of this remark completely upset me, and I ran
out to weep like a child, in the garden where no one could see me.
"Who is she, this Henriette?" I said to myself, my heart beating, and
my eyes swimming with tears of emotion, "what is this treasure I have
in my possession?"
My happiness was so immense that I felt myself unworthy of it.
Lost in these thoughts which enhanced the pleasure of any tears, I
should have stayed for a long tune in the garden if Dubois had not
come out to look for me. He felt anxious about me, owing to my
sudden disappearance, and I quieted him by saying that a slight
giddiness had compelled me to come out to breathe the fresh air.
Before re-entering the room, I had time to dry my tears, but my
eyelids were still red. Henriette, however, was the only one to take
notice of it, and she said to me,
"I know, my darling, why you went into the garden"
She knew me so well that she could easily guess the impression made
on my heart by the evening's occurrence.
Dubois had invited the most amiable noblemen of the court, and his
supper was dainty and well arranged. I was seated opposite Henriette
who was, as a matter of course, monopolizing the general attention,
but she would have met with the same success if she had been
surrounded by a circle of ladies whom she would certainly have thrown
into the shade by her beauty, her wit, and the distinction of her
manners. She was the charm of that supper by the animation she
imparted to the conversation. M. Dubois said nothing, but he was
proud to have such a lovely guest in his house. She contrived to say
a few gracious words to everyone, and was shrewd enough never to
utter something witty without making me take a share in it. On my
side, I openly shewed my submissiveness, my deference, and my respect
for that divinity, but it was all in vain. She wanted everybody to
know that I was her lord and master. She might have been taken for
my wife, but my behaviour to her rendered such a supposition
The conversation having fallen on the respective merits of the French
and Spanish nations, Dubois was foolish enough to ask Henriette to
which she gave preference.
It would have been difficult to ask a more indiscreet question,
considering that the company was composed almost entirely of
Frenchmen and Spaniards in about equal proportion. Yet my Henriette
turned the difficulty so cleverly that the Frenchmen would have liked
to be Spaniards, and 'vice versa'. Dubois, nothing daunted, begged
her to say what she thought of the Italians. The question made me
tremble. A certain M. de la Combe, who was seated near me, shook his
head in token of disapprobation, but Henriette did not try to elude
"What can I say about the Italians," she answered, "I know only one?
If I am to judge them all from that one my judgment must certainly be
most favourable to them, but one single example is not sufficient to
establish the rule."
It was impossible to give a better answer, but as my readers may well
imagine, I did not appear to have heard it, and being anxious to
prevent any more indiscreet questions from Dubois I turned the
conversation into a different channel.
The subject of music was discussed, and a Spaniard asked Henriette
whether she could play any other instrument besides the violoncello.
"No," she answered, "I never felt any inclination for any other. I
learned the violoncello at the convent to please my mother, who can
play it pretty well, and without an order from my father, sanctioned
by the bishop, the abbess would never have given me permission to
"What objection could the abbess make?"
"That devout spouse of our Lord pretended that I could not play that
instrument without assuming an indecent position."
At this the Spanish guests bit their lips, but the Frenchmen laughed
heartily, and did not spare their epigrams against the over-
After a short silence, Henriette rose, and we all followed her
example. It was the signal for breaking up the party, and we soon
took our leave.
I longed to find myself alone with the idol of my soul. I asked her
a hundred questions without waiting for the answers.
"Ah! you were right, my own Henriette, when you refused to go to
that concert, for you knew that you would raise many enemies against
me. I am certain that all those men hate me, but what do I care?
You are my universe! Cruel darling, you almost killed me with your
violoncello, because, having no idea of your being a musician, I
thought you had gone mad, and when I heard you I was compelled to
leave the room in order to weep undisturbed. My tears relieved my
fearful oppression. Oh! I entreat you to tell me what other talents
you possess. Tell me candidly, for you might kill me if you brought
them out unexpectedly, as you have done this evening."
"I have no other accomplishments, my best beloved. I have emptied my
bag all at once. Now you know your Henriette entirely. Had you not
chanced to tell me about a month ago that you had no taste for music,
I would have told you that I could play the violoncello remarkably
well, but if I had mentioned such a thing, I know you well enough to
be certain that you would have bought an instrument immediately, and
I could not, dearest, find pleasure in anything that would weary
The very next morning she had an excellent violoncello, and, far from
wearying me, each time she played she caused me a new and greater
pleasure. I believe that it would be impossible even to a man
disliking music not to become passionately fond of it, if that art
were practised to perfection by the woman he adores.
The 'vox humana' of the violoncello; the king of instruments, went to
my heart every time that my beloved Henriette performed upon it. She
knew I loved to hear her play, and every day she afforded me that
pleasure. Her talent delighted me so much that I proposed to her to
give some concerts, but she was prudent enough to refuse my proposal.
But in spite of all her prudence we had no power to hinder the
decrees of fate.
The fatal hunchback came the day after his fine supper to thank us
and to receive our well-merited praises of his concert, his supper,
and the distinction of his guests.
"I foresee, madam," he said to Henriette, "all the difficulty I shall
have in defending myself against the prayers of all my friends, who
will beg of me to introduce them to you."
"You need not have much trouble on that score: you know that I never,
Dubois did not again venture upon speaking of introducing any friend.
On the same day I received a letter from young Capitani, in which he
informed me that, being the owner of St. Peter's knife and sheath, he
had called on Franzia with two learned magicians who had promised to
raise the treasure out of the earth, and that to his great surprise
Franzia had refused to receive him: He entreated me to write to the
worthy fellow, and to go to him myself if I wanted to have my share
of the treasure. I need not say that I did not comply with his
wishes, but I can vouch for the real pleasure I felt in finding that
I had succeeded in saving that honest and simple farmer from the
impostors who would have ruined him.
One month was gone since the great supper given by Dubois. We had
passed it in all the enjoyment which can be derived both from the
senses and the mind, and never had one single instant of weariness
caused either of us to be guilty of that sad symptom of misery which
is called a yawn. The only pleasure we took out of doors was a drive
outside of the city when the weather was fine. As we never walked in
the streets, and never frequented any public place, no one had sought
to make our acquaintance, or at least no one had found an opportunity
of doing so, in spite of all the curiosity excited by Henriette
amongst the persons whom we had chanced to meet, particularly at the
house of Dubois. Henriette had become more courageous, and I more
confident, when we found that she had not been recognized by any one
either at that supper or at the theatre. She only dreaded persons
belonging to the high nobility.
One day as we were driving outside the Gate of Colorno, we met the
duke and duchess who were returning to Parma. Immediately after
their carriage another vehicle drove along, in which was Dubois with
a nobleman unknown to us. Our carriage had only gone a few yards
from theirs when one of our horses broke down. The companion of
Dubois immediately ordered his coachman to stop in order to send to
our assistance. Whilst the horse was raised again, he came politely
to our carriage, and paid some civil compliment to Henriette.
M. Dubois, always a shrewd courtier and anxious to shew off at the
expense of others, lost no time in introducing him as M. Dutillot,
the French ambassador. My sweetheart gave the conventional bow. The
horse being all right again, we proceeded on our road after thanking
the gentlemen for their courtesy. Such an every-day occurrence could
not be expected to have any serious consequences, but alas! the most
important events are often the result of very trifling circumstances!
The next day, Dubois breakfasted with us. He told us frankly that
M. Dutillot had been delighted at the fortunate chance which had
afforded him an opportunity of making our acquaintance, and that he
had entreated him to ask our permission to call on us.
"On madam or on me?" I asked at once.
"Very well, but one at a time. Madam, as you know, has her own room
and I have mine."
"Yes, but they are so near each other!"
"Granted, yet I must tell you that, as far as I am concerned, I
should have much pleasure in waiting upon his excellency if he should
ever wish to communicate with me, and you will oblige me by letting
him know it. As for madam, she is here, speak to her, my dear M.
Dubois, for I am only her very humble servant."
Henriette assumed an air of cheerful politeness, and said to him,
"Sir, I beg you will offer my thanks to M. Dutillot, and enquire from
him whether he knows me."
"I am certain, madam," said the hunchback, "that he does not."
"You see he does not know me, and yet he wishes to call on me. You
must agree with me that if I accepted his visits I should give him a
singular opinion of my character. Be good enough to tell him that,
although known to no one and knowing no one, I am not an adventuress,
and therefore I must decline the honour of his visits."
Dubois felt that he had taken a false step, and remained silent. We
never asked him how the ambassador had received our refusal.
Three weeks after the last occurrence, the ducal court residing then
at Colorno, a great entertainment was given in the gardens which were
to be illuminated all night. Everybody had permission to walk about
the gardens. Dubois, the fatal hunchback appointed by destiny, spoke
so much of that festival, that we took a fancy to see it. Always the
same story of Adam's apple. Dubois accompanied us. We went to
Colorno the day before the entertainment, and put up at an inn.
In the evening we walked through the gardens, in which we happened to
meet the ducal family and suite. According to the etiquette of the
French court, Madame de France was the first to curtsy to Henriette,
without stopping. My eyes fell upon a gentleman walking by the side
of Don Louis, who was looking at my friend very attentively. A few
minutes after, as we were retracing our steps, we came across the
same gentleman who, after bowing respectfully to us, took Dubois
aside. They conversed together for a quarter of an hour, following
us all the time, and we were passing out of the gardens, when the
gentleman, coming forward, and politely apologizing to me, asked
Henriette whether he had the honour to be known to her.
"I do not recollect having ever had the honour of seeing you before."
"That is enough, madam, and I entreat you to forgive me."
Dubois informed us that the gentleman was the intimate friend of the
Infante Don Louis, and that, believing he knew madam, he had begged
to be introduced. Dubois had answered that her name was D'Arci, and
that, if he was known to the lady, he required no introduction.
M. d'Antoine said that the name of D'Arci was unknown to him, and
that he was afraid of making a mistake. "In that state of doubt,"
added Dubois, "and wishing to clear it, he introduced himself, but
now he must see that he was mistaken."
After supper, Henriette appeared anxious. I asked her whether she
had only pretended not to know M. d'Antoine.
"No, dearest, I can assure you. I know his name which belongs to an
illustrious family of Provence, but I have never seen him before."
"Perhaps he may know you?"
"He might have seen me, but I am certain that he never spoke to me,
or I would have recollected him."
"That meeting causes me great anxiety, and it seems to have troubled
"I confess it has disturbed my mind."
"Let us leave Parma at once and proceed to Genoa. We will go to
Venice as soon as my affairs there are settled."
"Yes, my dear friend, we shall then feel more comfortable. But I do
not think we need be in any hurry."
We returned to Parma, and two days afterwards my servant handed me a
letter, saying that the footman who had brought it was waiting in the
"This letter," I said to Henriette, "troubles me."
She took it, and after she had read it--she gave it back to me,
"I think M. d'Antoine is a man of honour, and I hope that we may have
nothing to fear."
The letter ran as, follows:
"Either at your hotel or at my residence, or at any other place you
may wish to appoint, I entreat you, sir, to give me an opportunity of
conversing with you on a subject which must be of the greatest
importance to you.
"I have the honour to be, etc.
It was addressed M. Farusi.
"I think I must see him," I said, "but where?"
"Neither here nor at his residence, but in the ducal gardens. Your
answer must name only the place and the hour of the meeting."
I wrote to M. d'Antoine that I would see him at half-past eleven in
the ducal gardens, only requesting him to appoint another hour in
case mine was not convenient to him.
I dressed myself at once in order to be in good time, and meanwhile
we both endeavoured, Henriette and I, to keep a cheerful countenance,
but we could not silence our sad forebodings. I was exact to my
appointment and found M. d'Antoine waiting for me. As soon as we
were together, he said to me,
"I have been compelled, sir, to beg from you the favour of an
interview, because I could not imagine any surer way to get this
letter to Madame d'Arci's hands. I entreat you to deliver it to her,
and to excuse me if I give it you sealed. Should I be mistaken, my
letter will not even require an answer, but should I be right, Madame
d'Arci alone can judge whether she ought to communicate it to you.
That is my reason for giving it to you sealed. If you are truly her
friend, the contents of that letter must be as interesting to you as
to her. May I hope, sir, that you will be good enough to deliver it
"Sir, on my honour I will do it."
We bowed respectfully to each other, and parted company. I hurried
back to the hotel.
Henriette Receives the Visit of M. d'Antoine I Accompany Her as Far
as Geneva and Then I Lose Her--I Cross the St. Bernard, and Return
to Parma--A Letter from Hensiette--My Despair De La Haye Becomes
Attached to Me--Unpleasant Adventure with an Actress and Its
Consequences--I Turn a Thorough Bigot--Bavois--I Mystify a Bragging
As soon as I had reached our apartment, my heart bursting with
anxiety, I repeated to Henriette every word spoken by M. d'Antoine,
and delivered his letter which contained four pages of writing. She
read it attentively with visible emotion, and then she said,
"Dearest friend, do not be offended, but the honour of two families
does not allow of my imparting to you the contents of this letter. I
am compelled to receive M. d'Antoine, who represents himself as being
one of my relatives."
"Ah!" I exclaimed, "this is the beginning of the end! What a
dreadful thought! I am near the end of a felicity which was too
great to last! Wretch that I have been! Why did I tarry so long in
Parma? What fatal blindness! Of all the cities in the whole world,
except France, Parma was the only one I had to fear, and it is here
that I have brought you, when I could have taken you anywhere else,
for you had no will but mine! I am all the more guilty that you
never concealed your fears from me. Why did I introduce that fatal
Dubois here? Ought I not to have guessed that his curiosity would
sooner or later prove injurious to us? And yet I cannot condemn that
curiosity, for it is, alas! a natural feeling. I can only accuse all
the perfections which Heaven has bestowed upon you!--perfections
which have caused my happiness, and which will plunge me in an abyss
of despair, for, alas! I foresee a future of fearful misery."
"I entreat you, dearest, to foresee nothing, and to calm yourself.
Let us avail ourselves of all our reason in order to prove ourselves
superior to circumstances, whatever they may be. I cannot answer
this letter, but you must write to M. d'Antoine to call here tomorrow
and to send up his name."
"Alas! you compel me to perform a painful task."
"You are my best, my only friend; I demand nothing, I impose no task
upon you, but can you refuse me?"
"No, never, no matter what you ask. Dispose of me, I am yours in
life and death."
"I knew what you would answer. You must be with me when M.
d'Antoine calls, but after a few minutes given to etiquette, will
you find some pretext to go to your room, and leave us alone?
M. d'Antoine knows all my history; he knows in what I have done
wrong, in what I have been right; as a man of honour, as my relative,
he must shelter me from all affront. He shall not do anything
against my will, and if he attempts to deviate from the conditions I
will dictate to him, I will refuse to go to France, I will follow you
anywhere, and devote to you the remainder of my life. Yet, my
darling, recollect that some fatal circumstances may compel us to
consider our separation as the wisest course to adopt, that we must
husband all our courage to adopt it, if necessary, and to endeavour
not to be too unhappy.
"Have confidence in me, and be quite certain that I shall take care to
reserve for myself the small portion of happiness which I can be
allowed to enjoy without the man who alone has won all my devoted
love. You will have, I trust, and I expect it from your generous
soul, the same care of your future, and I feel certain that you must
succeed. In the mean time, let us drive away all the sad forebodings
which might darken the hours we have yet before us."
"Ah! why did we not go away immediately after we had met that
accursed favourite of the Infante!"
"We might have made matters much worse; for in that case
M. d'Antoine might have made up his mind to give my family a proof of
his zeal by instituting a search to discover our place of residence,
and I should then have been exposed to violent proceedings which you
would not have endured. It would have been fatal to both of us."
I did everything she asked me. From that moment our love became sad,
and sadness is a disease which gives the death-blow to affection. We
would often remain a whole hour opposite each other without
exchanging a single word, and our sighs would be heard whatever we
did to hush them.
The next day, when M. d'Antoine called, I followed exactly the
instructions she had given me, and for six mortal hours I remained
alone, pretending to write.
The door of my room was open, and a large looking-glass allowed us to
see each other. They spent those six hours in writing, occasionally
stopping to talk of I do not know what, but their conversation was
evidently a decisive one. The reader can easily realize how much I
suffered during that long torture, for I could expect nothing but the
total wreck of my happiness.
As soon as the terrible M. d'Antoine had taken leave of her,
Henriette came to me, and observing that her eyes were red I heaved a
deep sigh, but she tried to smile.
"Shall we go away to-morrow, dearest?"
"Oh! yes, I am ready. Where do you wish me to take you?"
"Anywhere you like, but we must be here in a fortnight."
"Here! Oh, fatal illusion!"
"Alas! it is so. I have promised to be here to receive the answer to
a letter I have just written. We have no violent proceedings to
fear, but I cannot bear to remain in Parma."
"Ah! I curse the hour which brought us to this city. Would you like
to go to Milan?"
"As we are unfortunately compelled to come back, we may as well take
with us Caudagna and his sister."
"As you please."
"Let me arrange everything. I will order a carriage for them, and
they will take charge of your violoncello. Do you not think that you
ought to let M. d'Antoine know where we are going?"
"No, it seems to me, on the contrary, that I need not account to him
for any of my proceedings. So much the worse for him if he should,
even for one moment, doubt my word."
The next morning, we left Parma, taking only what we wanted for an
absence of a fortnight. We arrived in Milan without accident, but
both very sad, and we spent the following fifteen days in constant
tete-a-tete, without speaking to anyone, except the landlord of the
hotel and to a dressmaker. I presented my beloved Henriette with a
magnificent pelisse made of lynx fur--a present which she prized
Out of delicacy, she had never enquired about my means, and I felt
grateful to her for that reserve. I was very careful to conceal from
her the fact that my purse was getting very light. When we came back
to Parma I had only three or four hundred sequins.
The day after our return M. d'Antoine invited himself to dine with
us, and after we had drunk coffee, I left him alone with Henriette.
Their interview was as long as the first, and our separation was
decided. She informed me of it, immediately after the departure of
M. d'Antoine, and for a long time we remained folded in each other's
arms, silent, and blending our bitter tears.
"When shall I have to part from you, my beloved, alas! too much
"Be calm, dearest, only when we reach Geneva, whither you are going
to accompany me. Will you try to find me a respectable maid by
to-morrow? She will accompany me from Geneva to the place where I am
bound to go."
"Oh! then, we shall spend a few days more together! I know no one
but Dubois whom I could trust to procure a good femme-de-chambre;
only I do not want him to learn from her what you might not wish him
"That will not be the case, for I will take another maid as soon as I
am in France."
Three days afterwards, Dubois, who had gladly undertaken the
commission, presented to Henriette a woman already somewhat advanced
in years, pretty well dressed and respectable-looking, who, being
poor, was glad of an opportunity of going back to France, her native
country. Her husband, an old military officer, had died a few months
before, leaving her totally unprovided for. Henriette engaged her,
and told her to keep herself ready to start whenever M. Dubois should
give her notice. The day before the one fixed for our departure, M.
d'Antoine dined with us, and, before taking leave of us, he gave
Henriette a sealed letter for Geneva.
We left Parma late in the evening, and stopped only two hours in
Turin, in order to engage a manservant whose services we required as
far as Geneva. The next day we ascended Mont Cenis in sedan-chairs,
and we descended to the Novalaise in mountain-sledges. On the fifth
day we reached Geneva, and we put up at the Hotel des Balances. The
next morning, Henriette gave me a letter for the banker Tronchin,
who, when he had read it, told me that he would call himself at the
hotel, and bring me one thousand louis d'or.
I came back and we sat down to dinner. We had not finished our meal
when the banker was announced. He had brought the thousand louis
d'or, and told Henriette that he would give her two men whom he could
recommend in every way.
She answered that she would leave Geneva as soon as she had the
carriage which he was to provide for her, according to the letter I
had delivered to him. He promised that everything would be ready for
the following day, and he left us. It was indeed a terrible moment!
Grief almost benumbed us both. We remained motionless, speechless,
wrapped up in the most profound despair.
I broke that sad silence to tell her that the carriage which M.
Tronchin would provide could not possibly be as comfortable and as
safe as mine, and I entreated her to take it, assuring her that by
accepting it she would give me a last proof of her affection.
"I will take in exchange, my dearest love, the carriage sent by the
"I accept the change, darling," she answered, "it will be a great
consolation to possess something which has belonged to you."
As she said these words, she slipped in my pocket five rolls
containing each one hundred louis d'or--a slight consolation for my
heart, which was almost broken by our cruel separation! During the
last twenty-four hours we could boast of no other eloquence but that
which finds expression in tears, in sobs, and in those hackneyed but
energetic exclamations, which two happy lovers are sure to address to
reason, when in its sternness it compels them to part from one
another in the very height of their felicity. Henriette did not
endeavour to lure me with any hope for the future, in order to allay
my sorrow! Far from that, she said to me,
"Once we are parted by fate, my best and only friend, never enquire
after me, and, should chance throw you in my way, do not appear to
She gave me a letter for M. d'Antoine, without asking me whether I
intended to go back to Parma, but, even if such had not been my
intention, I should have determined at once upon returning to that
city. She likewise entreated me not to leave Geneva until I had
received a letter which she promised to, write to me from the first
stage on her journey. She started at day-break, having with her a
maid, a footman on the box of the carriage, and being preceded by a
courier on horseback. I followed her with my eyes as long as I
could, see her carriage, and I was still standing on the same spot
long after my eyes had lost sight of it. All my thoughts were
wrapped up in the beloved object I had lost for ever. The world was
I went back to my room, ordered the waiter not to disturb me until
the return of the horses which had drawn Henriette's carriage, and I
lay down on my bed in the hope that sleep would for a time silence a
grief which tears could not drown.
The postillion who had driven Henriette did not return till the next
day; he had gone as far as Chatillon. He brought me a letter in
which I found one single word: Adieu! He told me that they had
reached Chatillon without accident, and that the lady had immediately
continued her journey towards Lyons. As I could not leave Geneva
until the following day, I spent alone in my room some of the most
melancholy hours of my life. I saw on one of the panes of glass of a
window these words which she had traced with the point of a diamond I
had given her: "You will forget Henriette." That prophecy was not
likely to afford me any consolation. But had she attached its full
meaning to the word "forget?" No; she could only mean that time
would at last heal the deep wounds of my heart, and she ought not to
have made it deeper by leaving behind her those words which sounded
like a reproach. No, I have not forgotten her, for even now, when my
head is covered with white hair, the recollection of her is still a
source of happiness for my heart! When I think that in my old age I
derive happiness only from my recollections of the past, I find that
my long life must have counted more bright than dark days, and
offering my thanks to God, the Giver of all, I congratulate myself,
and confess that life is a great blessing.
The next day I set off again for Italy with a servant recommended by
M. Tronchin, and although the season was not favourable I took the
road over Mont St. Bernard, which I crossed in three days, with seven
mules carrying me, my servant, my luggage, and the carriage sent by
the banker to the beloved woman now for ever lost to me. One of the
advantages of a great sorrow is that nothing else seems painful. It
is a sort of despair which is not without some sweetness. During
that journey I never felt either hunger or thirst, or the cold which
is so intense in that part of the Alps that the whole of nature seems
to turn to ice, or the fatigue inseparable from such a difficult and
I arrived in Parma in pretty good health, and took up my quarters at
a small inn, in the hope that in such a place I should not meet any
acquaintance of mine. But I was much disappointed, for I found in
that inn M. de la Haye, who had a room next to mine. Surprised at
seeing me, he paid me a long compliment, trying to make me speak, but
I eluded his curiosity by telling him that I was tired, and that we
would see each other again.
On the following day I called upon M. d'Antoine, and delivered the
letter which Henriette had written to him. He opened it in my
presence, and finding another to my address enclosed in his, he
handed it to me without reading it, although it was not sealed.
Thinking, however, that it might have been Henriette's intention that
he should read it because it was open, he asked my permission to do
so, which I granted with pleasure as soon as I had myself perused it.
He handed it back to me after he had read it, telling me very
feelingly that I could in everything rely upon him and upon his
influence and credit.
Here is Henriette's letter
"It is I, dearest and best friend, who have been compelled to abandon
you, but do not let your grief be increased by any thought of my
sorrow. Let us be wise enough to suppose that we have had a happy
dream, and not to complain of destiny, for never did so beautiful a
dream last so long! Let us be proud of the consciousness that for
three months we gave one another the most perfect felicity. Few
human beings can boast of so much! Let us swear never to forget one
another, and to often remember the happy hours of our love, in order
to renew them in our souls, which, although divided, will enjoy them
as acutely as if our hearts were beating one against the other. Do
not make any enquiries about me, and if chance should let you know
who I am, forget it for ever. I feel certain that you will be glad
to hear that I have arranged my affairs so well that I shall, for the
remainder of my life, be as happy as I can possibly be without you,
dear friend, by my side. I do not know who you are, but I am certain
that no one in the world knows you better than I do. I shall not
have another lover as long as I live, but I do not wish you to
imitate me. On the contrary I hope that you will love again, and I
trust that a good fairy will bring along your path another Henriette.
Farewell . . . farewell."
I met that adorable woman fifteen years later; the reader will see
where and how, when we come to that period of my life.
I went back to my room, careless of the future, broken down by the
deepest of sorrows, I locked myself in, and went to bed. I felt so
low in spirits that I was stunned. Life was not a burden, but only
because I did not give a thought to life. In fact I was in a state
of complete apathy, moral and physical. Six years later I found
myself in a similar predicament, but that time love was not the cause
of my sorrow; it was the horrible and too famous prison of The Leads,
I was not much better either in 1768, when I was lodged in the prison
of Buen Retiro, in Madrid, but I must not anticipate events.
At the end of twenty-four hours, my exhaustion was very great, but I
did not find the sensation disagreeable, and, in the state of mind in
which I was then, I was pleased with the idea that, by increasing,
that weakness would at last kill me. I was delighted to see that no
one disturbed me to offer me some food, and I congratulated myself
upon having dismissed my servant. Twenty-four more hours passed by,
and my weakness became complete inanition.
I was in that state when De la Haye knocked at my door. I would not
have answered if he had not said that someone insisted upon seeing
me. I got out of bed, and, scarcely able to stand, I opened my door,
after which I got into bed again.
"There is a stranger here," he said, "who, being in want of a
carriage, offers to buy yours"
"I do not want to sell it."
"Excuse me if I have disturbed you, but you look ill."
"Yes, I wish to be left alone."
"What is the matter with you?"
Coming nearer my bed, he took my hand, and found my pulse extremely
low and weak.
"What did you eat yesterday?"
"I have eaten nothing, thank God I for two days."
Guessing the real state of things, De la Haye became anxious, and
entreated me to take some broth. He threw so much kindness, so much
unction, into his entreaties that, through weakness and weariness, I
allowed myself to be persuaded. Then, without ever mentioning the
name of Henriette, he treated me to a sermon upon the life to come,
upon the vanity of the things of this life which we are foolish
enough to prefer, and upon the necessity of respecting our existence,
which does not belong to us.
I was listening without answering one word, but, after all, I was
listening, and De la Haye, perceiving his advantage, would not leave
me, and ordered dinner. I had neither the will nor the strength to
resist, and when the dinner was served, I ate something. Then De la
Have saw that he had conquered, and for the remainder of the day
devoted himself to amusing me by his cheerful conversation.
The next day the tables were turned, for it was I who invited him to
keep me company and to dine with me. It seemed to me that I had not
lost a particle of my sadness, but life appeared to me once more
preferable to death, and, thinking that I was indebted to him for the
preservation of my life, I made a great friend of him. My readers
will see presently that my affection for him went very far, and they
will, like me, marvel at the cause of that friendship, and at the
means through which it was brought about.
Three or four days afterwards, Dubois, who had been informed of
everything by De la Haye, called on me, and persuaded me to go out.
I went to the theatre, where I made the acquaintance of several
Corsican officers, who had served in France, in the Royal Italian
regiment. I also met a young man from Sicily, named Paterno, the
wildest and most heedless fellow it was possible to see. He was in
love with an actress who made a fool of him. He amused me with the
enumeration of all her adorable qualities, and of all the cruelties
she was practising upon him, for, although she received him at all
hours, she repulsed him harshly whenever he tried to steal the
slightest favour. In the mean time, she ruined him by making him pay
constantly for excellent dinners and suppers, which were eaten by her
family, but which did not advance him one inch towards the fulfilment
of his wishes.
He succeeded at last in exciting my curiosity. I examined the
actress on the stage, and finding that she was not without beauty I
expressed a wish to know her. Paterno was delighted to introduce me
I found that she was of tolerably easy virtue, and, knowing that she
was very far from rolling in riches, I had no doubt that fifteen or
twenty sequins would be quite sufficient to make her compliant. I
communicated my thoughts to Paterno, but he laughed and told me that,
if I dared to make such a proposition to her, she would certainly
shut her door against me. He named several officers whom she had
refused to receive again, because they had made similar offers.
"Yet," added the young man, "I wish you would make the attempt, and
tell me the result candidly."
I felt piqued, and promised to do it.
I paid her a visit in her dressing-room at the theatre, and as she
happened during our conversation to praise the beauty of my watch, I
told her that she could easily obtain possession of it, and I said at
what price. She answered, according to the catechism of her
profession, that an honourable man had no right to make such an offer
to a respectable girl.
"I offer only one ducat," said I, "to those who are not respectable."
And I left her.
When I told Paterno what had occurred, he fairly jumped for joy, but
I knew what to think of it all, for 'cosi sono tutte', and in spite
of all his entreaties, I declined to be present at his suppers, which
were far from amusing, and gave the family of the actress an
opportunity of laughing at the poor fool who was paying for them.
Seven or eight days afterwards, Paterno told me that the actress had
related the affair to him exactly in the same words which I had used,
and she had added that, if I had ceased my visits, it was only
because I was afraid of her taking me at my word in case I should
renew my proposal. I commissioned him to tell her that I would pay
her another visit, not to renew my offer, but to shew my contempt for
any proposal she might make me herself.
The heedless fellow fulfilled his commission so well that the
actress, feeling insulted, told him that she dared me to call on her.
Perfectly determined to shew that I despised her, I went to her
dressing-room the same evening, after the second act of a play in
which she had not to appear again. She dismissed those who were with
her, saying that she wanted to speak with me, and, after she had
bolted the door, she sat down gracefully on my knees, asking me
whether it was true that I despised her so much.
In such a position a man has not the courage to insult a woman, and,
instead of answering, I set to work at once, without meeting even
with that show of resistance which sharpens the appetite. In spite
of that, dupe as I always was of a feeling truly absurd when an
intelligent man has to deal with such creatures, I gave her twenty
sequins, and I confess that it was paying dearly for very smarting
regrets. We both laughed at the stupidity of Paterno, who did not
seem to know how such challenges generally end.
I saw the unlucky son of Sicily the next morning, and I told him
that, having found the actress very dull, I would not see her again.
Such was truly my intention, but a very important reason, which
nature took care to explain to me three days afterwards, compelled me
to keep my word through a much more serious motive than a simple
dislike for the woman.
However, although I was deeply grieved to find myself in such a
disgraceful position, I did not think I had any right to complain.
On the contrary, I considered that my misfortune to be a just and
well-deserved punishment for having abandoned myself to a Lais, after
I had enjoyed the felicity of possessing a woman like Henriette.
My disease was not a case within the province of empirics, and I
bethought myself of confiding in M. de is Haye who was then dining
every day with me, and made no mystery of his poverty. He placed me
in the hands of a skilful surgeon, who was at the same time a
dentist. He recognized certain symptoms which made it a necessity to
sacrifice me to the god Mercury, and that treatment, owing to the
season of the year, compelled me to keep my room for six weeks. It
was during the winter of 1749.
While I was thus curing myself of an ugly disease, De la Haye
inoculated me with another as bad, perhaps even worse, which I should
never have thought myself susceptible of catching. This Fleming, who
left me only for one hour in the morning, to go--at least he said so-
-to church to perform his devotions, made a bigot of me! And to such
an extent, that I agreed with him that I was indeed fortunate to have
caught a disease which was the origin of the faith now taking
possession of my soul. I would thank God fervently and with the most
complete conviction for having employed Mercury to lead my mind,
until then wrapped in darkness, to the pure light of holy truth!
There is no doubt that such an extraordinary change in my reasoning
system was the result of the exhaustion brought on by the mercury.
That impure and always injurious metal had weakened my mind to such
an extent that I had become almost besotted, and I fancied that until
then my judgment had been insane. The result was that, in my newly
acquired wisdom, I took the resolution of leading a totally different
sort of life in future. De la Haye would often cry for joy when he
saw me shedding tears caused by the contrition which he had had the
wonderful cleverness to sow in my poor sickly soul. He would talk to
me of paradise and the other world, just as if he had visited them in
person, and I never laughed at him! He had accustomed me to renounce
my reason; now to renounce that divine faculty a man must no longer
be conscious of its value, he must have become an idiot. The reader
may judge of the state to which I was reduced by the following
specimen. One day, De la Haye said to me:
"It is not known whether God created the world during the vernal
equinox or during the autumnal one."
"Creation being granted," I replied, in spite of the mercury, "such a
question is childish, for the seasons are relative, and differ in the
different quarters of the globe."
De la Haye reproached me with the heathenism of my ideas, told me
that I must abandon such impious reasonings.... and I gave way!
That man had been a Jesuit. He not only, however, refused to admit
it, but he would not even suffer anyone to mention it to him. This
is how he completed his work of seduction by telling me the history
of his life.
"After I had been educated in a good school," he said, "and had
devoted myself with some success to the arts and sciences, I was for
twenty years employed at the University of Paris. Afterwards I
served as an engineer in the army, and since that time I have
published several works anonymously, which are now in use in every
boys' school. Having given up the military service, and being poor,
I undertook and completed the education of several young men, some of
whom shine now in the world even more by their excellent conduct than
by their talents. My last pupil was the Marquis Botta. Now being
without employment I live, as you see, trusting in God's providence.
Four years ago, I made the acquaintance of Baron Bavois, from
Lausanne, son of General Bavois who commanded a regiment in the
service of the Duke of Modem, and afterwards was unfortunate enough
to make himself too conspicuous. The young baron, a Calvinist like
his father, did not like the idle life he was leading at home, and he
solicited me to undertake his education in order to fit him for a
military career. Delighted at the opportunity of cultivating his
fine natural disposition, I gave up everything to devote myself
entirely to my task. I soon discovered that, in the question of
faith, he knew himself to be in error, and that he remained a
Calvinist only out of respect to his family. When I had found out
his secret feelings on that head, I had no difficulty in proving to
him that his most important interests were involved in that question,
as his eternal salvation was at stake. Struck by the truth of my
words, he abandoned himself to my affection, and I took him to Rome,
where I presented him to the Pope, Benedict XIV., who, immediately
after the abjuration of my pupil got him a lieutenancy in the army of
the Duke of Modena. But the dear proselyte, who is only twenty-five
years of age, cannot live upon his pay of seven sequins a month, and
since his abjuration he has received nothing from his parents, who
are highly incensed at what they call his apostacy. He would find
himself compelled to go back to Lausanne, if I did not assist him.
But, alas! I am poor, and without employment, so I can only send him
the trifling sums which I can obtain from the few good Christians
with whom I am acquainted.
"My pupil, whose heart is full of gratitude, would be very glad to
know his benefactors, but they refuse to acquaint him with their
names, and they are right, because charity, in order to be
meritorious, must not partake of any feeling of vanity. Thank God,
I have no cause for such a feeling! I am but too happy to act as a
father towards a young saint, and to have had a share, as the humble
instrument of the Almighty, in the salvation of his soul. That
handsome and good young man trusts no one but me, and writes to me
regularly twice a week. I am too discreet to communicate his letters
to you, but, if you were to read them, they would make you weep for
sympathy. It is to him that I have sent the three gold pieces which
you gave me yesterday."
As he said the last words my converter rose, and went to the window
to dry his tears, I felt deeply moved, anal full of admiration for
the virtue of De la Haye and of his pupil, who, to save his soul, had
placed himself under the hard necessity of accepting alms. I cried
as well as the apostle, and in my dawning piety I told him that I
insisted not only upon remaining unknown to his pupil, but also upon
ignoring the amount of the sums he might take out of my purse to
forward to him, and I therefore begged that he would help himself
without rendering me any account. De la Haye embraced me warmly,
saying that, by following the precepts of the Gospel so well, I
should certainly win the kingdom of heaven.
The mind is sure to follow the body; it is a privilege enjoyed by
matter. With an empty stomach, I became a fanatic; and the hollow
made in my brain by the mercury became the home of enthusiasm.
Without mentioning it to De la Haye, I wrote to my three friends,
Messrs. Bragadin and company, several letters full of pathos
concerning my Tartufe and his pupil, and I managed to communicate my
fanaticism to them. You are aware, dear reader, that nothing is so
catching as the plague; now, fanaticism, no matter of what nature, is
only the plague of the human mind.
I made my friends to understand that the good of our society depended
upon the admission of these two virtuous individuals. I allowed them
to guess it, but, having myself became a Jesuit, I took care not to
say it openly. It would of course be better if such an idea appeared
to have emanated from those men, so simple, and at the same time so
truly virtuous. "It is God's will," I wrote to them (for deceit must
always take refuge under the protection of that sacred name), "that
you employ all your influence in Venice to find an honourable
position for M. de la Haye, and to promote the interests of young
M. Bavois in his profession."
M. de Bragadin answered that De la Haye could take up his quarters
with us in his palace, and that Bavois was to write to his protector,
the Pope, entreating His Holiness to recommend him to the ambassador
of Venice, who would then forward that recommendation to the Senate,
and that Bavois could, in that way, feel sure of good employment.
The affair of the Patriarchate of Aquileia was at that time under
discussion; the Republic of Venice was in possession of it as well as
the Emperor of Austria, who claimed the 'jus eligendi': the Pope
Benedict XIV. had been chosen as arbitrator, and as he had not yet
given his decision it was evident that the Republic would shew very
great deference to his recommendation.
While that important affair was enlisting all our sympathies, and
while they were expecting in Venice a letter stating the effect of
the Pope's recommendation, I was the hero of a comic adventure which,
for the sake of my readers, must not pass unnoticed.
At the beginning of April I was entirely cured of my last misfortune.
I had recovered all my usual vigour, and I accompanied my converter
to church every day, never missing a sermon. We likewise spent the
evening together at the cafe, where we generally met a great many
officers. There was among them a Provencal who amused everybody with
his boasting and with the recital of the military exploits by which
he pretended to have distinguished himself in the service of several
countries, and principally in Spain. As he was truly a source of
amusement, everybody pretended to believe him in order to keep up the
game. One day as I was staring at him, he asked me whether I knew
"By George, sir!"--I exclaimed, "know you! Why, did we not fight
side by side at the battle of Arbela?"
At those words everybody burst out laughing, but the boaster, nothing
daunted, said, with animation,
"Well, gentlemen, I do not see anything so very laughable in that. I
was at that battle, and therefore this gentleman might very well have
remarked me; in fact, I think I can recollect him."
And, continuing to speak to me, he named the regiment in which we
were brother officers. Of course we embraced one another,
congratulating each other upon the pleasure we both felt in meeting
again in Parma. After that truly comic joke I left the coffee-room
in the company of my inseparable preacher.
The next morning, as I was at breakfast with De la Haye, the boasting
Provencal entered my room without taking off his hat, and said,
"M. d'Arbela, I have something of importance to tell you; make haste
and follow me. If you are afraid, you may take anyone you please
with you. I am good for half a dozen men."
I left my chair, seized my pistols, and aimed at him.
"No one," I said, with decision, "has the right to come and disturb
me in my room; be off this minute, or I blow your brains out."
The fellow, drawing his sword, dared me to murder him, but at the
same moment De la Haye threw himself between us, stamping violently
on the floor. The landlord came up, and threatened the officer to
send for the police if he did not withdraw immediately.
He went away, saying that I had insulted him in public, and that he
would take care that the reparation I owed him should be as public as
When he had gone, seeing that the affair might take a tragic turn, I
began to examine with De la Haye how it could be avoided, but we had
not long to puzzle our imagination, for in less than half an hour an
officer of the Infante of Parma presented himself, and requested me
to repair immediately to head-quarters, where M. de Bertolan,
Commander of Parma, wanted to speak to me.
I asked De la Haye to accompany me as a witness of what I had said in
the coffee-room as well as of what had taken place in my apartment.
I presented myself before the commander, whom I found surrounded by
several officers, and, among them, the bragging Provencal.
M. de Bertolan, who was a witty man, smiled when he saw me; then,
with a very serious countenance, he said to me,
"Sir, as you have made a laughing-stock of this officer in a public
place, it is but right that you should give him publicly the
satisfaction which he claims, and as commander of this city I find
myself bound in duty to ask you for that satisfaction in order to
settle the affair amicably."
"Commander," I answered, "I do not see why a satisfaction should be
offered to this gentleman, for it is not true that I have insulted
him by turning him into ridicule. I told him that I had seen him at
the battle of Arbela, and I could not have any doubt about it when he
said that he had been present at that battle, and that he knew me
"Yes," interrupted the officer, "but I heard Rodela and not Arbela,
and everybody knows that I fought at Rodela. But you said Arbela,
and certainly with the intention of laughing at me, since that battle
has been fought more than two thousand years ago, while the battle of
Rodela in Africa took place in our time, and I was there under the
orders of the Duke de Mortemar."
"In the first place, sir, you have no right to judge of my
intentions, but I do not dispute your having been present at Rodela,
since you say so; but in that case the tables are turned, and now I
demand a reparation from you if you dare discredit my having been at
Arbela. I certainly did not serve under the Duke de Mortemar,
because he was not there, at least to my knowledge, but I was aid-de-
camp of Parmenion, and I was wounded under his eyes. If you were to
ask me to shew you the scar, I could not satisfy you, for you must
understand that the body I had at that time does not exist any
longer, and in my present bodily envelope I am only twenty-three
"All this seems to me sheer madness, but, at all events, I have
witnesses to prove that you have been laughing at me, for you stated
that you had seen me at that battle, and, by the powers! it is not
possible, because I was not there. At all events, I demand
"So do I, and we have equal rights, if mine are not even better than
yours, for your witnesses are likewise mine, and these gentlemen will
assert that you said that you had seen me at Rodela, and, by the
powers! it is not possible, for I was not there."
"Well, I may have made a mistake."
"So may I, and therefore we have no longer any claim against one
The commander, who was biting his lips to restrain his mirth, said to
"My dear sir, I do not see that you have the slightest right to
demand satisfaction, since this gentleman confesses, like you, that
he might have been mistaken."
"But," remarked the officer, "is it credible that he was at the
battle of Arbela?"
"This gentleman leaves you free to believe or not to believe, and he
is at liberty to assert that he was there until you can prove the
contrary. Do you wish to deny it to make him draw his sword?"
"God forbid! I would rather consider the affair ended."
"Well, gentlemen," said the commander, "I have but one more duty to
perform, and it is to advise you to embrace one another like two
We followed the advice with great pleasure.
The next day, the Provencal, rather crestfallen, came to share my
dinner, and I gave him a friendly welcome. Thus was ended that comic
adventure, to the great satisfaction of M. de la Haye.
I Receive Good News From Venice, to Which City I Return with De la
Haye and Bavois--My Three Friends Give Me a Warm Welcome; Their
Surprise at Finding Me a Model of Devotion--Bavois Lures
Me Back to My Former Way of Living--De la Haye a Thorough Hypocrite--
Adventure with the Girl Marchetti--I Win a Prize in the Lottery--I
Meet Baletti--De la Haye Leaves M. de Bragadin's Palace--My
Departure for Paris
Whilst De la Haye was every day gaining greater influence over my
weakened mind, whilst I was every day devoutly attending mass,
sermons, and every office of the Church, I received from Venice a
letter containing the pleasant information that my affair had
followed its natural course, namely, that it was entirely forgotten;
and in another letter M. de Bragadin informed me that the minister
had written to the Venetian ambassador in Rome with instructions to
assure the Holy Father that Baron Bavois would, immediately after his
arrival in Venice, receive in the army of the Republic an appointment
which would enable him to live honourably and to gain a high position
by his talents.
That letter overcame M. de la Haye with joy, and I completed his
happiness by telling him that nothing hindered me from going back to
my native city.
He immediately made up his mind to go to Modena in order to explain
to his pupil how he was to act in Venice to open for himself the way
to a brilliant fortune. De la Haye depended on me in every way; he
saw my fanaticism, and he was well aware that it is a disease which
rages as long as the causes from which it has sprung are in
existence. As he was going with me to Venice, he flattered himself
that he could easily feed the fire he had lighted. Therefore he
wrote to Bavois that he would join him immediately, and two days
after he took leave of me, weeping abundantly, praising highly the
virtues of my soul, calling me his son, his dear son, and assuring me
that his great affection for me had been caused by the mark of
election which he had seen on my countenance. After that, I felt my
calling and election were sure.
A few days after the departure of De la Haye, I left Parma in my
carriage with which I parted in Fusina, and from there I proceeded to
Venice. After an absence of a year, my three friends received me as
if I had been their guardian angel. They expressed their impatience
to welcome the two saints announced by my letters. An apartment was
ready for De la Haye in the palace of M. de Bragadin, and as state
reasons did not allow my father to receive in his own house a
foreigner who had not yet entered the service of the Republic, two
rooms had been engaged for Bavois in the neighbourhood.
They were thoroughly amazed at the wonderful change which had taken
place in my morals. Every day attending mass, often present at the
preaching and at the other services, never shewing myself at the
casino, frequenting only a certain cafe which was the place of
meeting for all men of acknowledged piety and reserve, and always
studying when I was not in their company. When they compared my
actual mode of living with the former one, they marvelled, and they
could not sufficiently thank the eternal providence of God whose
inconceivable ways they admired. They blessed the criminal actions
which had compelled me to remain one year away from my native place.
I crowned their delight by paying all my debts without asking any
money from M. de Bragadin, who, not having given me anything for one
year, had religiously put together every month the sum he had allowed
me. I need not say how pleased the worthy friends were, when they
saw that I had entirely given up gambling.
I had a letter from De la Haye in the beginning of May. He announced
that he was on the eve of starting with the son so dear to his heart,
and that he would soon place himself at the disposition of the
respectable men to whom I had announced him.
Knowing the hour at which the barge arrived from Modena, we all went
to meet them, except M. de Bragadin, who was engaged at the senate.
We returned to the palace before him, and when he came back, finding
us all together, he gave his new guests the most friendly welcome.
De la Haye spoke to me of a hundred things, but I scarcely heard what
he said, so much was my attention taken up by Bavois. He was so
different to what I had fancied him to be from the impression I had
received from De la Haye, that my ideas were altogether upset. I had
to study him; for three days before I could make up my mind to like
him. I must give his portrait to my readers.
Baron Bavois was a young man of about twenty-five, of middle size,
handsome in features, well made, fair, of an equable temper, speaking
well and with intelligence, and uttering his words with a tone of
modesty which suited him exactly. His features were regular and
pleasing, his teeth were beautiful, his hair was long and fine,
always well taken care of, and exhaling the perfume of the pomatum
with which it was dressed. That individual, who was the exact
opposite of the man that De la Haye had led me to imagine, surprised
my friends greatly, but their welcome did not in any way betray their
astonishment, for their pure and candid minds would not admit a
judgment contrary to the good opinion they had formed of his morals.
As soon as we had established De la Haye in his beautiful apartment,
I accompanied Bavois to the rooms engaged for him, where his luggage
had been sent by my orders. He found himself in very comfortable
quarters, and being received with distinction by his worthy host, who
was already greatly prejudiced in his favour, the young baron
embraced me warmly, pouring out all his gratitude, and assuring me
that he felt deeply all I had done for him without knowing him, as De
la Haye had informed him of all that had occurred. I pretended not
to understand what he was alluding to, and to change the subject of
conversation I asked him how he intended to occupy his time in Venice
until his military appointment gave him serious duties to perform.
"I trust," he answered, "that we shall enjoy ourselves in an
agreeable way, for I have no doubt that our inclinations are the
Mercury and De la Haye had so completely besotted me that I should
have found some difficulty in understanding these words, however
intelligible they were; but if I did not go any further than the
outward signification of his answer, I could not help remarking that
he had already taken the fancy of the two daughters of the house.
They were neither pretty nor ugly, but he shewed himself gracious
towards them like a man who understands his business. I had,
however, already made such great progress in my mystical education,
that I considered the compliments he addressed to the girls as mere
forms of politeness.
For the first day, I took my young baron only to the St. Mark's
Square and to the cafe, where we remained until supper-time, as it
had been arranged that he would take his meals with us. At the
supper-table he shewed himself very witty, and M. Dandolo named an
hour for the next day, when he intended to present him to the
secretary for war. In the evening I accompanied him to his lodging,
where I found that the two young girls were delighted because the
young Swiss nobleman had no servant, and because they hoped to
convince him that he would not require one.
The next day, a little earlier than the time appointed, I called upon
him with M. Dandolo and M. Barbaro, who were both to present him at
the war office. We found him at his toilet under the delicate hands
of the eldest girl, who was dressing his hair. His room, was
fragrant with the perfumes of his pomatums and scents. This did not
indicate a sainted man; yet my two friends did not feel scandalized,
although their astonishment was very evident, for they had not
expected that show of gallantry from a young neophyte. I was nearly
bursting into a loud laugh, when I heard M. Dandolo remark that,
unless we hurried, we would not have time to hear mass, whereupon
Bavois enquired whether it was a festival. M. Dandolo, without
passing any remark, answered negatively, and after that, mass was not
again mentioned. When Bavois was ready, I left them and went a
different way. I met them again at dinner-time, during which the
reception given to the young baron by the secretary was discussed,
and in the evening my friends introduced him to several ladies who
were much pleased with him. In less than a week he was so well known
that there was no fear of his time hanging wearily on his hands, but
that week was likewise enough to give me a perfect insight into his
nature and way of thinking. I should not have required such a long
study, if I had not at first begun on a wrong scent, or rather if my
intelligence had not been stultified by my fanaticism. Bavois was
particularly fond of women, of gambling, of every luxury, and, as he
was poor, women supplied him with the best part of his resources. As
to religious faith he had none, and as he was no hypocrite he
confessed as much to me.
"How have you contrived," I said to him one day, "such as you are, to
deceive De la Haye?"
"God forbid I should deceive anyone. De la Haye is perfectly well
aware of my system, and of my way of thinking on religious matters,
but, being himself very devout, he entertains a holy sympathy for my
soul, and I do not object to it. He has bestowed many kindnesses
upon me, and I feel grateful to him; my affection for him is all the
greater because he never teases me with his dogmatic lessons or with
sermons respecting my salvation, of which I have no doubt that God,
in His fatherly goodness, will take care. All this is settled
between De la Haye and me, and we live on the best of terms:"
The best part of the joke is that, while I was studying him, Bavois,
without knowing it, restored my mind to its original state, and I was
ashamed of myself when I realized that I had been the dupe of a
Jesuit who was an arrant hypocrite, in spite of the character of
holiness which he assumed, and which he could play with such
marvellous ability. From that moment I fell again into all my former
practices. But let us return to De la Haye.
That late Jesuit, who in his inmost heart loved nothing but his own
comfort, already advanced in years, and therefore no longer caring
for the fair sex, was exactly the sort of man to please my
simpleminded trio of friends. As he never spoke to them but of God,
of His angels, and of everlasting glory, and as he was always
accompanying them to church, they found him a delightful companion.
They longed for the time when he would discover himself, for they
imagined he was at the very least a Rosicrucian, or perhaps the
hermit of Courpegna, who had taught me the cabalistic science and
made me a present of the immortal Paralis. They felt grieved because
the oracle had forbidden them, through my cabalistic lips, ever to
mention my science in the presence of Tartufe.
As I had foreseen, that interdiction left me to enjoy as I pleased
all the time that I would have been called upon to devote to their
devout credulity, and besides, I was naturally afraid lest De la
Haye, such as I truly believed him to be, would never lend himself to
that trifling nonsense, and would, for the sake of deserving greater
favour at their hands, endeavour to undeceive them and to take my
place in their confidence.
I soon found out that I had acted with prudence, for in less than
three weeks the cunning fox had obtained so great an influence over
the mind of my three friends that he was foolish enough, not only to
believe that he did not want me any more to support his credit with
them, but likewise that he could supplant me whenever he chose. I
could see it clearly in his way of addressing me, as well as in the
change in his proceedings.
He was beginning to hold with my friends frequent conversations to
which I was not summoned, and he had contrived to make them introduce
him to several families which I was not in the habit of visiting. He
assumed his grand jesuitic airs, and, although with honeyed word he
would take the liberty of censuring me because I sometimes spent a
night out, and, as he would say, "God knows where!"
I was particularly vexed at his seeming to accuse me of leading his
pupil astray. He then would assume the tone of a man speaking
jestingly, but I was not deceived. I thought it was time to put an
end to his game, and with that intention I paid him a visit in his
bedroom. When I was seated, I said,
"I come, as a true worshipper of the Gospel, to tell you in private
something that, another time, I would say in public."
"What is it, my dear friend?"
"I advise you for the future not to hurl at me the slightest taunt
respecting the life I am leading with Bavois, when we are in the
presence of my three worthy friends. I do not object to listen to
you when we are alone."
"You are wrong in taking my innocent jests seriously."
"Wrong or right, that does not matter. Why do you never attack your
proselyte? Be careful for the future, or I might on my side, and
only in jest like you, throw at your head some repartee which you
have every reason to fear, and thus repay you with interest."
And bowing to him I left his room.
A few days afterwards I spent a few hours with my friends and
Paralis, and the oracle enjoined them never to accomplish without my
advice anything that might be recommended or even insinuated by
Valentine; that was the cabalistic name of the disciple of Escobar.
I knew I could rely upon their obedience to that order.
De la Haye soon took notice of some slight change; he became more
reserved, and Bavois, whom I informed of what I had done, gave me his
full approbation. He felt convinced, as I was, that De la Haye had
been useful to him only through weak or selfish reasons, that is,
that he would have cared little for his soul if his face had not been
handsome, and if he had not known that he would derive important
advantages from having caused his so-called conversion.
Finding that the Venetian government was postponing his appointment
from day to day, Bavois entered the service of the French ambassador.
The decision made it necessary for him not only to cease his visits
to M. de Bragadin, but even to give up his intercourse with De la
Haye, who was the guest of that senator.
It is one of the strictest laws of the Republic that the patricians
and their families shall not hold any intercourse with the foreign
ambassadors and their suites. But the decision taken by Bavois did
not prevent my friends speaking in his favour, and they succeeded in
obtaining employment for him, as will be seen further on.
The husband of Christine, whom I never visited, invited me to go to
the casino which he was in the habit of frequenting with his aunt and
his wife, who had already presented him with a token of their.
mutual affection. I accepted his invitation, and I found Christine
as lovely as ever, and speaking the Venetian dialect like her
husband. I made in that casino the acquaintance of a chemist, who
inspired me with the wish to follow a course of chemistry. I went to
his house, where I found a young girl who greatly pleased me. She
was a neighbour, and came every evening to keep the chemist's
elderly wife company, and at a regular hour a servant called to take
her home. I had never made love to her but once in a trifling sort
of way, and in the presence of the old lady, but I was surprised not
to see her after that for several days, and I expressed my
astonishment. The good lady told me that very likely the girl's
cousin, an abbe, with whom she was residing, had heard of my seeing
her every evening, had become jealous, and would not allow her to
"An abbe jealous?"
"Why not? He never allows her to go out except on Sundays to attend
the first mass at the Church of Santa Maria Mater Domini, close by
his dwelling. He did not object to her coming here, because he knew
that we never had any visitors, and very likely he has heard through
the servant of your being here every evening."
A great enemy to all jealous persons, and a greater friend to my
amorous fancies, I wrote to the young girl that, if she would leave
her cousin for me, I would give her a house in which she should be
the mistress, and that I would surround her with good society and
with every luxury to be found in Venice. I added that I would be in
the church on the following Sunday to receive her answer.
I did not forget my appointment, and her answer was that the abbe
being her tyrant, she would consider herself happy to escape out of
his clutches, but that she could not make up her mind to follow me
unless I consented to marry her. She concluded her letter by saying
that, in case I entertained honest intentions towards her, I had only
to speak to her mother, Jeanne Marchetti, who resided in Lusia, a
city thirty miles distant from Venice.
This letter piqued my curiosity, and I even imagined that she had
written it in concert with the abbe. Thinking that they wanted to
dupe me, and besides, finding the proposal of marriage ridiculous, I
determined on having my revenge. But I wanted to get to the bottom
of it, and I made up my mind to see the girl's mother. She felt
honoured by my visit, and greatly pleased when, after I had shewn her
her daughter's letter, I told her that I wished to marry her, but
that I should never think of it as long as she resided with the abbe.
"That abbe," she said, "is a distant relative. He used to live alone
in his house in Venice, and two years ago he told me that he was in
want of a housekeeper. He asked me to let my daughter go to him in
that capacity, assuring me that in Venice she would have good
opportunities of getting married. He offered to give me a deed in
writing stating that, on the day of her marriage, he would give her
all his furniture valued at about one thousand ducats, and the
inheritance of a small estate, bringing one hundred ducats a year,
which lie possesses here. It seemed to me a good bargain, and, my
daughter being pleased with the offer, I accepted. He gave me the
deed duly drawn by a notary, and my daughter went with him. I know
that he makes a regular slave of her, but she chose to go.
Nevertheless, I need not tell you that my most ardent wish is to see
her married, for, as long as a girl is without a husband, she is too
much exposed to temptation, and the poor mother cannot rest in
"Then come to Venice with me. You will take your daughter out of the
abbe's house, and I will make her my wife. Unless that is done I
cannot marry her, for I should dishonour myself if I received my wife
from his hands."
"Oh, no! for he is my cousin, although only in the fourth degree,
and, what is more, he is a priest and says the mass every day."
"You make me laugh, my good woman. Everybody knows that a priest
says the mass without depriving himself of certain trifling
enjoyments. Take your daughter with you, or give up all hope of ever
seeing her married."
"But if I take her with me, he will not give her his furniture, and
perhaps he will sell his small estate here."
"I undertake to look to that part of the business. I promise to take
her out of his hands, and to make her come back to you with all the
furniture, and to obtain the estate when she is my wife. If you knew
me better, you would not doubt what I say. Come to Venice, and I
assure you that you shall return here in four or five days with your
She read the letter which had been written to me by her daughter
again, and told me that, being a poor widow, she had not the money
necessary to pay the expenses of her journey to Venice, or of her
return to Louisa.
"In Venice you shall not want for anything," I said; "in the mean
time, here are ten sequins."
"Ten sequins! Then I can go with my sister-in-law?"
"Come with anyone you like, but let us go soon so as to reach
Chiozza, where we must sleep. To-morrow we shall dine in Venice, and
I undertake to defray all expenses."
We arrived in Venice the next day at ten o'clock, and I took the two
women to Castello, to a house the first floor of which was empty. I
left them there, and provided with the deed signed by the abbe I went
to dine with my three friends, to whom I said that I had been to
Chiozza on important business. After dinner, I called upon the
lawyer, Marco de Lesse, who told me that if the mother presented a
petition to the President of the Council of Ten, she would
immediately be invested with power to take her daughter away with all
the furniture in the house, which she could send wherever she
pleased. I instructed him to have the petition ready, saying that I
would come the next morning with the mother, who would sign it in his
I brought the mother early in the morning, and after she had signed
the petition we went to the Boussole, where she presented it to the
President of the Council. In less than a quarter of an hour a
bailiff was ordered to repair to the house of the priest with the
mother, and to put her in possession of her daughter, and of all the
furniture, which she would immediately take away.
The order was carried into execution to the very letter. I was with
the mother in a gondola as near as possible to the house, and I had
provided a large boat in which the sbirri stowed all the furniture
found on the premises. When it was all done, the daughter was
brought to the gondola, and she was extremely surprised to see me.
Her mother kissed her, and told her that I would be her husband the
very next day. She answered that she was delighted, and that nothing
had been left in her tyrant's house except his bed and his clothes.
When we reached Castello, I ordered the furniture to be brought out
of the boat; we had dinner, and I told the three women that they must
go back to Lusia, where I would join them as soon as I had settled
all my affairs. I spent the afternoon gaily with my intended. She
told us that the abbe was dressing when the bailiff presented the
order of the Council of Ten, with injunctions to allow its free
execution under penalty of death; that the abbe finished his toilet,
went out to say his mass, and that everything had been done without
the slightest opposition. "I was told," she added, "that my mother
was waiting for me in the gondola, but I did not expect to find you,
and I never suspected that you were at the bottom of the whole
"It is the first proof I give you of my love."
These words made her smile very pleasantly.
I took care to have a good supper and some excellent wines, and after
we had spent two hours at table in the midst of the joys of Bacchus,
I devoted four more to a pleasant tete-a-tete with my intended bride.
The next morning, after breakfast, I had the whole of the furniture
stowed in a peotta, which I had engaged for the purpose and paid for
beforehand. I gave ten more sequins to the mother, and sent them
away all three in great delight. The affair was completed to my
honour as well as to my entire satisfaction, and I returned home.
The case had made so much noise that my friends could not have
remained ignorant of it; the consequence was that, when they saw me,
they shewed their surprise and sorrow. De la Haye embraced me with
an air of profound grief, but it was a feigned feeling--a harlequin's
dress, which he had the talent of assuming with the greatest
facility. M. de Bragadin alone laughed heartily, saying to the
others that they did not understand the affair, and that it was the
forerunner of something great which was known only to heavenly
spirits. On my side, being ignorant of the opinion they entertained
of the matter, and certain that they were not informed of all the
circumstances, I laughed like M. de Bragadin, but said nothing. I
had nothing to fear, and I wanted to amuse myself with all that would
We sat down to table, and M. Barbaro was the first to tell me in a
friendly manner that he hoped at least that this was not the day
after my wedding.
"Then people say that I am married?"
"It is said everywhere and by everybody. The members of the Council
themselves believe it, and they have good reason to believe that they
"To be right in believing such a thing, they ought to be certain of
it, and those gentlemen have no such certainty. As they are not
infallible any more than any one, except God, I tell you that they
are mistaken. I like to perform good actions and to get pleasure for
my money, but not at the expense of my liberty: Whenever you want to
know my affairs, recollect that you can receive information about
them only from me, and public rumour is only good to amuse fools."
"But," said M. Dandolo, "you spent the night with the person who is
represented as your wife?"
"Quite true, but I have no account to give to anyone respecting what
I have done last night. Are you not of my opinion, M. de la Haye?"
"I wish you would not ask my opinion, for I do not know. But I must
say that public rumour ought not to be despised. The deep affection
I have for you causes me to grieve for what the public voice says
"How is it that those reports do not grieve M. de Bragadin, who has
certainly greater affection for me than you have?"
"I respect you, but I have learned at my own expense that slander is
to be feared. It is said that, in order to get hold of a young girl
who was residing with her uncle--a worthy priest, you suborned a
woman who declared herself to be the girl's mother, and thus deceived
the Supreme Council, through the authority of which she obtained
possession of the girl for you. The bailiff sent by the Council
swears that you were in the gondola with the false mother when the
young girl joined her. It is said that the deed, in virtue of which
you caused the worthy ecclesiastic's furniture to be carried off, is
false, and you are blamed for having made the highest body of the
State a stepping-stone to crime. In fine, it is said that, even if
you have married the girl, and no doubt of it is entertained, the
members of the Council will not be silent as to the fraudulent means
you have had recourse to in order to carry out your intentions
"That is a very long speech," I said to him, coldly, "but learn from
me that a wise man who has heard a criminal accusation related with
so many absurd particulars ceases to be wise when he makes himself
the echo of what he has heard, for if the accusation should turn out
to be a calumny, he would himself become the accomplice of the
After that sentence, which brought the blood to the face of the
Jesuit, but which my friends thought very wise, I entreated him, in a
meaning voice, to spare his anxiety about me, and to be quite certain
that I knew the laws of honour, and that I had judgment enough to
take care of myself, and to let foul tongues say what they liked
about me, just as I did when I heard them speak ill of him.
The adventure was the talk of the city for five or six days, after
which it was soon forgotten.
But three months having elapsed without my having paid any visit to
Lusia, or having answered the letters written to me by the damigella
Marchetti, and without sending her the money she claimed of me, she
made up her mind to take certain proceedings which might have had
serious consequences, although they had none whatever in the end.
One day, Ignacio, the bailiff of the dreaded tribunal of the State
inquisitors, presented himself as I was sitting at table with my
friends, De la Haye, and two other guests. He informed me that the
Cavaliere Cantarini dal Zoffo wished to see me, and would wait for me
the next morning at such an hour at the Madonna de l'Orto. I rose
from the table and answered, with a bow, that I would not fail to
obey the wishes of his excellency. The bailiff then left us.
I could not possibly guess what such a high dignitary of State could
want with my humble person, yet the message made us rather anxious,
for Cantarini dal Zoffo was one of the Inquisitors, that is to say, a
bird of very ill omen. M. de Bragadin, who had been Inquisitor while
he was Councillor, and therefore knew the habits of the tribunal,
told me that I had nothing to fear.
"Ignacio was dressed in private clothes," he added, "and therefore he
did not come as the official messenger of the dread tribunal.
M. Cantarini wishes to speak to you only as a private citizen, as he
sends you word to call at his palace and not at the court-house. He
is an elderly man, strict but just, to whom you must speak frankly
and without equivocating, otherwise you would make matters worse."
I was pleased with M. de Bragadin's advice, which was of great use to
me. I called at the appointed time.
I was immediately announced, and I had not long to wait. I entered
the room, and his excellency, seated at a table, examined me from
head to foot for one minute without speaking to me; he then rang the
bell, and ordered his servant to introduce the two ladies who were
waiting in the next room. I guessed at once what was the matter, and
felt no surprise when I saw the woman Marchetti and her daughter.
His excellency asked me if I knew them.
"I must know them, monsignor, as one of them will become my wife when
she has convinced me by her good conduct that she is worthy of that
"Her conduct is good, she lives with her mother at Lusia; you have
deceived her. Why do you postpone your marriage with her? Why do
you not visit her? You never answer her letters, and you let her be
"I cannot marry her, your excellency, before I have enough to support
her. That will come in three or four years, thanks to a situation
which M. de Bragadin, my only protector, promises to obtain for me.
Until then she must live honestly, and support herself by working.
I will only marry her when I am convinced of her honesty, and
particularly when I am certain that she has given up all intercourse
with the abbe, her cousin in the fourth degree. I do not visit her
because my confessor and my conscience forbid me to go to her house."
"She wishes you to give her a legal promise of marriage, and
"Monsignor, I am under no obligation to give her a promise of
marriage, and having no means whatever I cannot support her. She
must earn her own living with her mother"
"When she lived with her cousin," said her mother, "she never wanted
anything, and she shall go back to him."
"If she returns to his house I shall not take the trouble of taking
her out of his hands a second time, and your excellency will then see
that I was right to defer my marriage with her until I was convinced
of her honesty."
The judge told me that my presence, was no longer necessary. It was
the end of the affair, and I never heard any more about it. The
recital of the dialogue greatly amused my friends.
At the beginning of the Carnival of 1750 I won a prize of three
thousand ducats at the lottery. Fortune made me that present when I
did not require it, for I had held the bank during the autumn, and
had won. It was at a casino where no nobleman dared to present
himself, because one of the partners was an officer in the service of
the Duke de Montalegre, the Spanish Ambassador. The citizens of
Venice felt ill at ease with the patricians, and that is always the
case under an aristocratic government, because equality exists in
reality only between the members of such a government.
As I intended to take a trip to Paris, I placed one thousand sequins
in M. de Bragadin's hands, and with that project in view I had the
courage to pass the carnival without risking my money at the faro-
table. I had taken a share of one-fourth in the bank of an honest
patrician, and early in Lent he handed me a large sum.
Towards mid-Lent my friend Baletti returned from Mantua to Venice.
He was engaged at the St. Moses Theatre as ballet-master during the
Fair of the Assumption. He was with Marina, but they did not live
together. She made the conquest of an English Jew, called Mendez,
who spent a great deal of money for her. That Jew gave me good news
of Therese, whom he had known in Naples, and in whose hands he had
left some of his spoils. The information pleased me, and I was very
glad to have been prevented by Henriette from joining Therese in
Naples, as I had intended, for I should certainly have fallen in love
with her again, and God knows what the consequences might have been.
It was at that time that Bavois was appointed captain in the service
of the Republic; he rose rapidly in his profession, as I shall
De la Haye undertook the education of a young nobleman called Felix
Calvi, and a short time afterwards he accompanied him to Poland. I
met him again in Vienna three years later.
I was making my preparations to go to the Fair of Reggio, then to
Turin, where the whole of Italy was congregating for the marriage of
the Duke of Savoy with a princess of Spain, daughter of Philip V.,
and lastly to Paris, where, Madame la Dauphine being pregnant,
magnificent preparations were made in the expectation of the birth of
a prince. Baletti was likewise on the point of undertaking the same
journey. He was recalled by his parents, who were dramatic artists:
his mother was the celebrated Silvia.
Baletti was engaged at the Italian Theatre in Paris as dancer and
first gentleman. I could not choose a companion more to my taste,
more agreeable, or in a better position to procure me numerous
advantageous acquaintances in Paris.
I bade farewell to my three excellent friends, promising to return
within two years.
I left my brother Francois in the studio of Simonetti, the painter of
battle pieces, known as the Parmesan. I gave him a promise to think
of him in Paris, where, at that time particularly, great talent was
always certain of a high fortune. My readers will see how I kept my
I likewise left in Venice my brother Jean, who had returned to that
city after having travelled through Italy with Guarienti. He was on
the point of going to Rome, where he remained fourteen years in the
studio of Raphael Mengs. He left Rome for Dresden in 1764, where he
died in the year 1795.
Baletti started before me, and I left Venice, to meet him in Reggio,
on the 1st of June, 1750. I was well fitted out, well supplied with
money, and sure not to want for any, if I led a proper life. We
shall soon see, dear reader, what judgment you will pass on my
conduct, or rather I shall not see it, for I know that when you are
able to judge, I shall no longer care for your sentence.
I Stop at Ferrara, Where I Have a Comic Adventure--My Arrival in
Precisely at twelve o'clock the peotta landed me at Ponte di Lago
Oscuro, and I immediately took a post-chaise to reach Ferrara in time
for dinner. I put up at St. Mark's Hotel. I was following the
waiter up the stairs, when a joyful uproar, which suddenly burst from
a room the door of which was open, made me curious to ascertain the
cause of so much mirth. I peeped into the room, and saw some twelve
persons, men and women, seated round a well-supplied table. It was a
very natural thing, and I was moving on, when I was stopped by the
exclamation, "Ah, here he is!" uttered by the pretty voice of a
woman, and at the same moment, the speaker, leaving the table, came
to me with open arms and embraced me, saying,
"Quick, quick, a seat for him near me; take his luggage to his room."
A young man came up, and she said to him, "Well, I told you he would
She made me sit near her at the table, after I had been saluted by
all the guests who had risen to do me honour.
"My dear cousin," she said, addressing me, "you must be hungry;" and
as she spoke she squeezed my foot under the table. "Here is my
intended husband whom I beg to introduce to you, as well as my father
and mother-in-law. The other guests round the table are friends of
the family. But, my dear cousin, tell me why my mother has not come
At last I had to open my lips!
"Your mother, my dear cousin, will be here in three or four days, at
I thought that my newly-found cousin was unknown to me, but when I
looked at her with more attention, I fancied I recollected her
features. She was the Catinella, a dancer of reputation, but I had
never spoken to her before. I easily guessed that she was giving me
an impromptu part in a play of her own composition, and I was to be a
'deux ex machina'. Whatever is singular and unexpected has always
attracted me, and as my cousin was pretty, I lent myself most
willingly to the joke, entertaining no doubt that she would reward me
in an agreeable manner. All I had to do was to play my part well,
but without implicating myself. Therefore, pretending to be very
hungry, I gave her the opportunity of speaking and of informing me by
hints of what I had to know, in order not to make blunders.
Understanding the reason of my reserve, she afforded me the proof of
her quick intelligence by saying sometimes to one person, sometimes
to the other, everything it was necessary for me to know. Thus I
learnt that the wedding could not take place until the arrival of her
mother, who was to bring the wardrobe and the diamonds of my cousin.
I was the precentor going to Turin to compose the music of the opera
which was to be represented at the marriage of the Duke of Savoy.
This last discovery pleased me greatly, because I saw that I should
have no difficulty in taking my departure the next morning, and I
began to enjoy the part I had to play. Yet, if I had not reckoned
upon the reward, I might very well have informed the honourable
company that my false cousin was mad, but, although Catinella was
very near thirty, she was very pretty and celebrated for her
intrigues; that was enough, and she could turn me round her little
The future mother-in-law was seated opposite, and to do me honour she
filled a glass and offered it to me. Already identified with my part
in the comedy, I put forth my hand to take the glass, but seeing that
my hand was somewhat bent, she said to me,
"What is the matter with your hand, sir?"
"Nothing serious, madam; only a slight sprain which a little rest
will soon cure."
At these words, Catinella, laughing heartily, said that she regretted
the accident because it would deprive her friends of the pleasure
they would have enjoyed in hearing me play the harpsichord.
"I am glad to find it a laughing matter, cousin."
"I laugh, because it reminds me of a sprained ankle which I once
feigned to have in order not to dance."
After coffee, the mother-in-law, who evidently understood what was
proper, said that most likely my cousin wanted to talk with me on
family matters, and that we ought to be left alone.
Every one of the guests left the room.
As soon as I was alone with her in my room, which was next to her own
she threw herself on a sofa, and gave way to a most immoderate fit of
"Although I only know you by name," she said to me, "I have entire
confidence in you, but you will do well to go away to-morrow. I have
been here for two months without any money. I have nothing but a few
dresses and some linen, which I should have been compelled to sell to
defray my expenses if I had not been lucky enough to inspire the son
of the landlord with the deepest love. I have flattered his passion
by promising to become his wife, and to bring him as a marriage
portion twenty thousand crowns' worth of diamonds which I am supposed
to have in Venice, and which my mother is expected to bring with her.
But my mother has nothing and knows nothing of the affair, therefore
she is not likely to leave Venice."
"But, tell me, lovely madcap, what will be the end of this
extravaganza? I am afraid it will take a tragic turn at the last."
"You are mistaken; it will remain a comedy, and a very amusing one,
too. I am expecting every hour the arrival of Count Holstein,
brother of the Elector of Mainz. He has written to me from
Frankfort; he has left that city, and must by this time have reached
Venice. He will take me to the Fair of Reggio, and if my intended
takes it into his head to be angry, the count will thrash him and pay
my bill, but I am determined that he shall be neither thrashed nor
paid. As I go away, I have only to whisper in his ear that I will
certainly return, and it will be all right. I know my promise to
become his wife as soon as I come back will make him happy."
"That's all very well! You are as witty as a cousin of Satan, but I
shall not wait your return to marry you; our wedding must take place
"What folly! Well, wait until this evening."
"Not a bit of it, for I can almost fancy I hear the count's carriage.
If he should not arrive, we can continue the sport during the night."
"Do you love me?"
"To distraction! but what does it matter? However, your excellent
comedy renders you worthy of adoration. Now, suppose we do not waste
"You are right: it is an episode, and all the more agreeable for
I can well recollect that I found it a delightful episode. Towards
evening all the family joined us again, a walk was proposed, and we
were on the point of going out, when a carriage drawn by six post-
horses noisily entered the yard. Catinella looked through the
window, and desired to be left alone, saying that it was a prince who
had come to see her. Everybody went away, she pushed me into my room
and locked me in. I went to the window, and saw a nobleman four
times as big as myself getting out of the carriage. He came
upstairs, entered the room of the intended bride, and all that was
left to me was the consolation of having seized fortune by the
forelock, the pleasure of hearing their conversation, and a
convenient view, through a crevice in the partition, of what
Catinella contrived to do with that heavy lump of flesh. But at last
the stupid amusement wearied me, for it lasted five hours, which were
employed in amorous caresses, in packing Catinella's rags, in loading
them on the carriage, in taking supper, and in drinking numerous
bumpers of Rhenish wine. At midnight the count left the hotel,
carrying away with him the beloved mistress of the landlord's son.
No one during those long hours had come to my room, and I had not
called. I was afraid of being discovered, and I did not know how far
the German prince would have been pleased if he had found out that he
had an indiscreet witness of the heavy and powerless demonstrations
of his tenderness, which were a credit to neither of the actors, and
which supplied me with ample food for thoughts upon the miseries of
After the departure of the heroine, catching through the crevice a
glimpse of the abandoned lover, I called out to him to unlock my
door. The poor silly fellow told me piteously that, Catinella having
taken the key with her, it would be necessary to break the door open.
I begged him to have it done at once, because I was hungry. As soon
as I was out of my prison I had my supper, and the unfortunate lover
kept me company. He told me that Catinella had found a moment to
promise him that she would return within six weeks, that she was
shedding tears in giving him that assurance, and that she had kissed
him with great tenderness.
"Has the prince paid her expenses?"
"Not at all. We would not have allowed him to do it, even if he had
offered. My future wife would have felt offended, for you can have
no idea of the delicacy of her feelings."
"What does your father say of her departure?"
"My father always sees the worst side of everything; he says that she
will never come back, and my mother shares his opinion rather than
mine. But you, signor maestro, what do you think?"
"That if she has promised to return, she will be sure to keep her
"Of course; for if she did not mean to come back, she would not have
given me her promise."
"Precisely; I call that a good argument."
I had for my supper what was left of the meal prepared by the count's
cook, and I drank a bottle of excellent Rhenish wine which Catinella
had juggled away to treat her intended husband, and which the worthy
fellow thought could not have a better destination than to treat his
future cousin. After supper I took post-horses and continued my
journey, assuring the unhappy, forlorn lover that I would do all I
could to persuade my cousin to come back very soon. I wanted to pay
my bill, but he refused to receive any money. I reached Bologna a
few minutes after Catinella, and put up at the same hotel, where I
found an opportunity of telling her all her lover had said. I
arrived in Reggio before her, but I could not speak to her in that
city, for she was always in the company of her potent and impotent
lord. After the fair, during which nothing of importance occurred to
me, I left Reggio with my friend Baletti and we proceeded to Turin,
which I wanted to see, for the first time I had gone to that city
with Henriette I had stopped only long enough to change horses.
I found everything beautiful in Turin, the city, the court, the
theatre, and the women, including the Duchess of Savoy, but I could
not help laughing when I was told that the police of the city was
very efficient, for the streets were full of beggars. That police,
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