The Complete Memoires of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
Part 31 out of 70
"As much as possible."
"As little as possible, I suppose you mean."
"Not at all; I want to treat my guests with magnificance."
"All the same you must fix on a sum, as I know whom I've got to deal
"Well, well! two-three hundred ducats; will that do?"
"Two hundred; the Prince de Deux-Ponts did not spend more."
He began to write, and gave me his word that everything should be in
readiness. I left him and addressing myself to a sharp Italian page
said that I would give two ducats to the valet who would furnish me
with the names of the Cologne ladies who were in Bonn, and of the
gentlemen who had accompanied them. I got what I wanted in less than
half an hour, and before leaving the ball I told my mistress that all
should be done according to her desires.
I wrote eighteen notes before I went to bed, and in the morning a
confidential servant had delivered them before nine o'clock.
At nine o'clock I went to take leave of Count Verita, who gave me, on
behalf of the Elector, a superb gold snuff-box with his portrait set
in diamonds. I was very sensible of this mark of kindness, and I
wished to go and thank his serene highness before my departure, but
my friendly fellow-countryman told me that I might put off doing so
till I passed through Bonn on my way to Frankfort.
Breakfast was ordered for one o'clock. At noon I had arrived at
Bruhl, a country house of the Elector's, with nothing remarkable
about it save its furniture. In this it is a poor copy of the
Trianon. In a fine hall I found a table laid for twenty-four
persons, arranged with silver gilt plates, damask linen, and
exquisite china, while the sideboard was adorned with an immense
quantity of silver and silvergilt plate. At one end of the room were
two other tables laden with sweets and the choicest wines procurable.
I announced myself as the host, and the cook told me I should be
"The collation," said he, "will be composed of only twenty-four
dishes, but in addition there will be twenty-four dishes of English
oysters and a splendid dessert."
I saw a great number of servants, and told him that they would not be
necessary, but he said they were, as the guests' servants could not
I received all my guests at the door, confining my compliments to
begging their pardons for having been so bold as to procure myself
this great honour.
The breakfast was served at one exactly, and I had the pleasure of
enjoying the astonishment in my mistress's eyes when she saw that I
had treated them as well as a prince of the empire. She was aware
that everybody knew her to be the chief object of this lavish outlay,
but she was delighted to see that I did not pay her any attentions
which were at all invidious. The table was seated for twenty-four,
and though I had only asked eighteen people every place was occupied.
Three couples, therefore, had come without being asked; but that
pleased me all the more. Like a courtly cavalier I would not sit
down, but waited on the ladies, going from one to the other, eating
the dainty bits they gave me, and seeing that all had what they
By the time the oysters were done twenty bottles of champagne had
been emptied, so that when the actual breakfast commenced everybody
began to talk at once. The meal might easily have passed for a
splendid dinner, and I was glad to see that not a drop of water was
drunk, for the Champagne, Tokay, Rhine wine, Madeira, Malaga, Cyprus,
Alicante, and Cape wine would not allow it.
Before dessert was brought on an enormous dish of truffles was placed
on the table. I advised my guests to take Maraschino with it, and
those ladies who appreciated the liqueur drank it as if it had been
water. The dessert was really sumptuous. In it were displayed the
portraits of all the monarchs of Europe. Everyone complimented the
cook on his achievement, and he, his vanity being tickled and wishing
to appear good-natured, said that none of it would spoil in the
pocket, and accordingly everybody took as much as they chose.
General Kettler, who, in spite of his jealousy and the part he saw me
play, had no suspicion of the real origin of the banquet, said,
"I will wager that this is the Elector's doing. His highness has
desired to preserve his incognito, and M. Casanova has played his
part to admiration."
This remark set all the company in a roar.
"General," said I, "if the Elector had given me such an order, I
should, of course, have obeyed him, but I should have felt it a
humiliating part to play. His highness, however, has deigned to do
me a far greater honour; look here." So saying, I shewed him the
gold snuff-box, which made the tour of the table two or three times
When we had finished, we rose from table, astonished to find we had
been engaged for three hours in a pleasurable occupation, which all
would willingly have prolonged; but at last we had to part, and after
many compliments they all went upon their way, in order to be in time
for the theatre. As well pleased as my guests, I left twenty ducats
with the steward, for the servants, and promised him to let Count
Verita know of my satisfaction in writing.
I arrived at Cologne in time for the French play, and as I had no
carriage I went to the theatre in a sedan chair. As soon as I got
into the house, I saw the Comte de Lastic alone with my fair one.
I thought this a good omen, and I went to them directly. As soon as
she saw me, she said with a melancholy air that the general had got
so ill that he had been obliged to go to bed. Soon after, M. de
Lastic left us, and dropping her assumed melancholy she made me, with
the utmost grace, a thousand compliments, which compensated me for
the expenses of my breakfast a hundred times over.
"The general," said she, "had too much to drink; he is an envious
devil, and has discovered that it is not seemly of you to treat us as
if you were a prince. I told him that, on the contrary, you had
treated us as if we were princes, waiting on us with your napkin on
your arm. He thereupon found fault with me for degrading you."
"Why do you not send him about his business? So rude a fellow is not
worthy of serving so famous a beauty."
"It's too late. A woman whom you don't know would get possession of
him. I should be obliged to conceal my feelings, and that would vex
"I understand--I understand. Would that I were a great prince! In
the mean time, let me tell you that my sickness is greater than
"You are joking, I hope."
"Nay, not at all; I am speaking seriously, for the kisses I was so
happy to snatch from you at the ball have inflamed my blood, and if
you have not enough kindness to cure me in the only possible way I
shall leave Cologne with a life-long grief."
"Put off your departure: why should you desire to go to Stuttgart so
earnestly? I think of you, believe me, and I do not wish to deceive
you; but it is hard to find an opportunity."
"If you had not the general's carriage waiting for you to-night, and
I had mine, I could take you home with perfect propriety."
"Hush! As you have not your carriage, it is my part to take you
home. It is a splendid idea, that we must so contrive it that it may
not seem to be a concerted plan. You must give me your arm to my
carriage, and I shall then ask you where your carriage is; you will
answer that you have not got one. I shall ask you to come into mine,
and I will drop you at your hotel. It will only give us a couple of
minutes, but that is something till we are more fortunate."
I replied to her only by a look which expressed the intoxication of
my spirits at the prospect of so great bliss.
Although the play was quite a short one, it seemed to me to last for
ever. At last the curtain fell, and we went downstairs. When we got
to the portico she asked me the questions we had agreed upon, and
when I told her I had not got a carriage, she said, "I am going to
the general's to ask after his health; if it will not take you too
much out of your way, I can leave you at your lodging as we come
It was a grand idea. We should pass the entire length of the ill-
paved town twice, and thus we secured a little more time.
Unfortunately, the carriage was a chariot, and as we were going the
moon shone directly on us. On that occasion the planet was certainly
not entitled to the appellation of the lovers' friend. We did all we
could, but that was almost nothing, and I found the attempt a
desperate one, though my lovely partner endeavoured to help me as
much as possible. To add to our discomforts, the inquisitive and
impudent coachman kept turning his head round, which forced us to
moderate the energy of our movements. The sentry at the general's
door told our coachman that his excellency could see no one, and we
joyfully turned towards my hotel, and now that the moon was behind us
and the man's curiosity less inconvenient, we got on a little better,
or rather not so badly as before, but the horses seemed to me to fly
rather than gallop; however, feeling that it would be well to have
the coachman on my side in case of another opportunity, I gave him a
ducat as I got down.
I entered the hotel feeling vexed and unhappy, though more in love
than ever, for my fair one had convinced me that she was no passive
mistress, but could experience pleasure as well as give it. That
being the case I resolved not to leave Cologne before we had drained
the cup of pleasure together, and that, it seemed to me, could not
take place till the general was out of the way.
Next day, at noon, I went to the general's house to write down my
name, but I found he was receiving visitors and I went in. I made
the general an appropriate compliment, to which the rude Austrian
only replied by a cold inclination of the head. He was surrounded by
a good many officers, and after four minutes I made a general bow and
went out. The boor kept his room for three days, and as my mistress
did not come to the theatre I had not the pleasure of seeing her.
On the last day of the carnival Kettler asked a good many people to a
ball and supper. On my going to pay my court to my mistress in her
box at the theatre, and being left for a moment alone with her, she
asked me if I were invited to the general's supper. I answered in
"What!" said she, in an imperious and indignant voice, "he has not
asked you? You must go, for all that."
"Consider what you say," said I, gently, "I will do anything to
please you but that."
"I know all you can urge; nevertheless, you must go. I should feel
insulted if you were not at that supper. If you love me you will
give me this proof of your affection and (I think I may say) esteem."
"You ask me thus? Then I will go. But are you aware that you are
exposing me to the danger of losing my life or taking his? for I am
not the man to pass over an affront."
"I know all you can say," said she. "I have your honour at heart as
much as mine, or perhaps more so, but nothing will happen to you; I
will answer for everything. You must go, and you must give me your
promise now, for I am resolved if you do not go, neither will I, but
we must never see each other more."
"Then you may reckon upon me."
At that moment M. de Castries came in, and I left the box and went
to the pit, where I passed two anxious hours in reflecting on the
possible consequences of the strange step this woman would have me
take. Nevertheless, such was the sway of her beauty aver my soul, I
determined to abide by my promise and to carry the matter through,
and to put myself in the wrong as little as possible. I went to the
general's at the end of the play, and only found five or six people
there. I went up to a canoness who was very fond of Italian poetry,
and had no trouble in engaging her in an interesting discussion. In
half an hour the room was full, my mistress coming in last on the
general's arm. I was taken up with the canoness and did not stir,
and consequently Kettler did not notice me, while the lady in great
delight at seeing me left him no time to examine his guests, and he
was soon talking to some people at the other end of the room. In a
quarter of an hour afterwards supper was announced. The canoness
rose, took my arm, and we seated ourselves at table together, still
talking about Italian literature. Then came the catastrophe. When
all the places had been taken one gentleman was left standing, there
being no place for him. "How can that have happened?" said the
general, raising his voice, and while the servants were bringing
another chair and arranging another place he passed his guests in
review. All the while I pretended not to notice what was going on,
but when he came to me he said loudly,
"Sir, I did not ask you to come."
"That is quite true, general," I said, respectfully, "but I thought,
no doubt correctly, that the omission was due to forgetfulness, and I
thought myself obliged all the same to come and pay my court to your
Without a pause I renewed my conversation with the canoness, not so
much as looking around. A dreadful silence reigned for four or five
minutes, but the canoness began to utter witticisms which I took up
and communicated to my neighbours, so that in a short time the whole
table was in good spirits except the general, who preserved a sulky
silence. This did not much matter to me, but my vanity was concerned
in smoothing him down, and I watched for my opportunity.
M. de Castries was praising the dauphin, and his brothers, the Comte
de Lusace and the Duc de Courlande, were mentioned; this led the
conversation up to Prince Biron, formerly a duke, who was in Siberia,
and his personal qualities were discussed, one of the guests having
said that his chiefest merit was to have pleased the Empress Anne.
I begged his pardon, saying,--
"His greatest merit was to have served faithfully the last Duke
Kettler; who if it had not been for the courage of him who is now so
unfortunate, would have lost all his belongings in the war. It was
Duke Kettler who so heroically sent him to the Court of St.
Petersburg, but Biron never asked for the duchy. An earldom would
have satisfied him, as he recognized the rights of the younger branch
of the Kettler family, which would be reigning now if it were not for
the empress's whim: nothing would satisfy her but to confer a dukedom
on the favourite."
The general, whose face had cleared while I was speaking, said, in
the most polite manner of which he was capable, that I was a person
of remarkable information, adding regretfully,--
"Yes, if it were not for that whim I should be reigning now."
After this modest remark he burst into a fit of laughter and sent me
down a bottle of the best Rhine wine, and addressed his conversation
to me till the supper was over. I quietly enjoyed the turn things
had taken, but still more the pleasure I saw expressed in the
beautiful eyes of my mistress.
Dancing went on all night, and I did not leave my canoness, who was a
delightful woman and danced admirably. With my lady I only danced
one minuet. Towards the end of the ball the general, to finish up
with a piece of awkwardness, asked me if I was going soon. I replied
that I did not think of leaving Cologne till after the grand review.
I went to bed full of joy at having given the burgomaster's wife such
a signal proof of my love, and full of gratitude to fortune who had
helped me so in dealing with my doltish general, for God knows what I
should have done if he had forgotten himself so far as to tell me to
leave the table! The next time I saw the fair she told me she had
felt a mortal pang of fear shoot through her when the general said he
had not asked me.
"I am quite sure," said she, "that he would have gone further, if
your grand answer had not stopped his mouth; but if he had said
another word, my mind was made up."
"To do what?"
"I should have risen from the table and taken your arm, and we should
have gone out together. M. de Castries has told me that he would
have done the same, and I believe all the ladies whom you asked to
breakfast would have followed our example."
"But the affair would not have stopped then, for I should certainly
have demanded immediate satisfaction, and if he had refused it I
should have struck him with the flat of my sword."
"I know that, but pray forget that it was I who exposed you to this
danger. For my part, I shall never forget what I owe to you, and I
will try to convince you of my gratitude."
Two days later, on hearing that she was indisposed, I went to call on
her at eleven o'clock, at which time I was sure the general would not
be there. She received me in her husband's room, and he, in the
friendliest manner possible, asked me if I had come to dine with
them. I hastened to thank him for his invitation, which I accepted
with pleasure, and I enjoyed this dinner better than Kettler's
supper. The burgomaster was a fine-looking man, pleasant-mannered
and intelligent, and a lover of peace and quietness. His wife, whom
he adored, ought to have loved him, since he was by no means one of
those husbands whose motto is, "Displease whom you like, so long as
you please me."
On her husband's going out for a short time, she shewed me over the
"Here is our bedroom," said she; "and this is the closet in which I
sleep for five or six nights in every month. Here is a church which
we may look upon as our private chapel, as we hear mass from those
two grated windows. On Sundays we go down this stair and enter the
church by a door, the key to which is always in my keeping."
It was the second Saturday in Lent; we had an excellent fasting
dinner, but I did not for once pay much attention to eating. To see
this young and beautiful woman surrounded by her children, adored by
her family, seemed to me a beautiful sight. I left them at an early
hour to write to Esther, whom I did not neglect, all occupied as I
was with this new flame.
Next day I went to hear mass at the little church next to the
burgomaster's house. I was well cloaked so as not to attract
attention. I saw my fair one going out wearing a capuchin, and
followed by her family. I noted the little door which was so
recessed in the wall that it would have escaped the notice of anyone
who was unaware of its existence; it opened, I saw, towards the
The devil, who, as everybody knows, has more power in a church than
anywhere else, put into my head the idea of enjoying my mistress by
means of the door and stair. I told her my plan the next day at the
"I have thought of it as well as you," said she, laughing, "and I
will give you the necessary instructions in writing; you will find
them in the first gazette I send you."
We could not continue this pleasant interview, as my mistress had
with her a lady from Aix-la-Chapelle, who was staying with her for a
few days. And indeed the box was full of company.
I had not long to wait, for next day she gave me back the gazette
openly, telling me that she had not found anything to interest her in
it. I knew that it would be exceedingly interesting to me. Her note
was as follows:
"The design which love inspired is subject not to difficulty but
uncertainty. The wife only sleeps in the closet when her husband
asks her--an event which only occurs at certain periods, and the
separation does not last for more than a few days. This period is
not far off, but long custom has made it impossible for the wife to
impose on her husband. It will, therefore, be necessary to wait.
Love will warn you when the hour of bliss has come. The plan will be
to hide in the church; and there must be no thought of seducing the
door-keeper, for though poor he is too stupid to be bribed, and would
betray the secret. The only way will be to hide so as to elude his
watchfulness. He shuts the church at noon on working days; on feast
days he shuts it at evening, and he always opens it again at dawn.
When the time comes, all that need be done is to give the door a
gentle push-it will not be locked. As the closet which is to be the
scene of the blissful combat is only separated from the room by a
partition, there must be no spitting, coughing, nor nose-blowing: it
would be fatal. The escape will be a matter of no difficulty; one
can go down to the church, and go out as soon as it is opened. Since
the beadle has seen nobody in the evening, it is not likely that he
will see more in the morning."
I kissed again and again this charming letter, which I thought shewed
great power of mental combination, and I went next day to see how the
coast lay: this was the first thing to be done. There was a chair in
the church in which I should never have been seen, but the stair was
on the sacristy side, and that was always locked up. I decided on
occupying the confessional, which was close to the door. I could
creep into the space beneath the confessor's seat, but it was so
small that I doubted my ability to stay there after the door was
shut. I waited till noon to make the attempt, and as soon as the
church was empty I took up my position. I had to roll myself up into
a ball, and even then I was so badly concealed by the folding door
that anyone happening to pass by at two paces distance might easily
have seen me. However I did not care for that, for in adventures of
that nature one must leave a great deal to fortune. Determined to
run all risks I went home highly pleased with my observations. I put
everything I had determined down in writing, and sent it to her box
at the theatre, enclosed in an old gazette.
A week after she asked the general in my presence if her husband
could do anything for him at Aix-la-Chapelle, where he was going on
the morrow, with the intention of returning in three days. That was
enough for me, but a glance from her added meaning to her words. I
was all the more glad as I had a slight cold, and the next day being
a feast day I could take up my position at night fall, and thus avoid
a painful vigil of several hours' duration.
I curled myself up in the confessional at four o'clock, hiding myself
as best I could, and commending myself to the care of all the saints.
At five o'clock the beadle made his usual tour of inspection, went
out and locked the door. As soon as I heard the noise of the key I
came out of my narrow cell and sat down on a bench facing the
windows. Soon after my mistress's shadow appeared on the grated
panes, and I knew she had seen me.
I sat on the bench for a quarter of an hour and then pushed open the
little door and entered. I shut it and sat down on the lowest step
of the stair, and spent there five hours which would probably have
not been unpleasant ones if I had not been dreadfully tormented by
the rats running to and fro close to me. Nature has given me a great
dislike to this animal, which is comparatively harmless; but the
smell of rats always sickens me.
At last I heard the clock strike ten, the hour of bliss, and I saw
the form of my beloved holding a candle, and I was then freed from my
painful position. If my readers have been in such a situation they
can imagine the pleasures of that happy night, but they cannot divine
the minute circumstances; for if I was an expert my partner had an
inexhaustible store of contrivances for augmenting the bliss of that
sweet employment. She had taken care to get me a little collation,
which looked delicious, but which I could not touch, my appetite
lying in another quarter.
For seven hours, which I thought all too short, we enjoyed one
another, not resting, except for talk, which served to heighten our
The burgomaster was not the man for an ardent passion, but his
strength of constitution enabled him to do his duty to his wife every
night without failing, but, whether from regard to his health or from
a religious scruple, he suspended his rights every month while the
moon exercised hers, and to put himself out of temptation he made his
wife sleep apart. But for once in a way, the lady was not in the
position of a divorcee.
Exhausted, but not satiated with pleasure, I left her at day-break,
assuring her that when we met again she would find me the same; and
with that I went to hide in the confessional, fearing lest the
growing light might betray me to the beadle. However, I got away
without any difficulty, and passed nearly the whole day in bed,
having my dinner served to me in my room. In the evening I went to
the theatre, to have the pleasure of seeing the beloved object of
whom my love and constancy had made me the possessor.
At the end of a fortnight she sent me a note in which she told me
that she would sleep by herself on the night following. It was a
ferial day, and I therefore went to the church at eleven in the
morning after making an enormous breakfast. I hid myself as before,
and the beadle locked me in without making any discovery.
I had a wait of ten hours, and the reflection that I should have to
spend the time partly in the church and partly on the dark and rat-
haunted staircase, without being able to take a pinch of snuff for
fear of being obliged to blow my nose, did not tend to enliven the
prospect; however, the hope of the great reward made it easy to be
borne. But at one o'clock I heard a slight noise, and looking up saw
a hand appear through the grated window, and a paper drop on the
floor of the church. I ran to pick it up, while my heart beat fast,
for my first idea was that some obstacle had occurred which would
compel me to pass the night on a bench in the church. I opened it,
and what was my joy to read as follows:
"The door is open, and you will be more comfortable on the staircase,
where you will find a light, a little dinner, and some books, than in
the church. The seat is not very easy, but I have done my best to
remedy the discomfort with a, cushion. Trust me, the time will seem
as long to me as to you, but be patient. I have told the general
that I do not feel very well, and shall not go out to-day. May God
keep you from coughing, especially during the night, for on the least
noise we should be undone."
What stratagems are inspired by love! I opened the door directly, and
found a nicely-laid meal, dainty viands, delicious wine, coffee, a
chafing dish, lemons, spirits of wine, sugar, and rum to make some
punch if I liked. With these comforts and some books, I could wait
well enough; but I was astonished at the dexterity of my charming
mistress in doing all this without the knowledge of anybody in the
I spent three hours in reading, and three more in eating, and making
coffee and punch, and then I went to sleep. At ten o'clock my
darling came and awoke me. This second night was delicious, but not
so much so as the former, as we could not see each other, and the
violence of our ecstatic combats was restrained by the vicinity of
the good husband. We slept part of the time, and early in the
morning I had to make good my retreat. Thus ended my amour with this
lady. The general went to Westphalia, and she was soon to go into
the country. I thus made my preparations for leaving Cologne,
promising to come and see her the year following, which promise
however I was precluded, as the reader will see, from keeping. I
took leave of my acquaintance and set out, regretted by all.
The stay of two months and a half which I made in Cologne did not
diminish my monetary resources, although I lost whenever I was
persuaded to play. However, my winnings at Bonn made up all
deficiencies, and my banker, M. Franck, complained that I had not
made any use of him. However, I was obliged to be prudent so that
those persons who spied into my actions might find nothing
I left Cologne about the middle of March, and I stopped at Bonn, to
present my respects to the Elector, but he was away. I dined with
Count Verita and the Abbe Scampar, a favourite of the Elector's.
After dinner the count gave me a letter of introduction to a canoness
at Coblentz, of whom he spoke in very high terms. That obliged me to
stop at Coblentz; but when I got down at the inn, I found that the
canoness was at Manheim, while in her stead I encountered an actress
named Toscani, who was going to Stuttgart with her young and pretty
daughter. She was on her way from Paris, where her daughter had been
learning character-dancing with the famous Vestris. I had known her
at Paris, but had not seen much of her, though I had given her a
little spaniel dog, which was the joy of her daughter. This daughter
was a perfect jewel, who had very little difficulty in persuading me
to come with them to Stuttgart, where I expected, for other reasons,
to have a very pleasant stay. The mother was impatient to know what
the duke would think of her daughter, for she had destined her from
her childhood to serve the pleasures of this voluptuous prince, who,
though he had a titular mistress, was fond of experimenting with all
the ballet-girls who took his fancy.
We made up a little supper-party, and it may be guessed that two of
us belonging to the boards the conversation was not exactly a course
in moral theology. The Toscani told me that her daughter was a
neophyte, and that she had made up her mind not to let the duke touch
her till he had dismissed his reigning mistress, whose place she was
designed to take. The mistress in question was a dancer named
Gardella, daughter of a Venetian boatman, whose name has been
mentioned in my first volume--in fine, she was the wife of Michel
d'Agata, whom I found at Munich fleeing from the terrible Leads,
where I myself languished for so long.
As I seemed to doubt the mother's assertion, and threw out some
rather broad hints to the effect that I believed that the first bloom
had been plucked at Paris, and that the Duke of Wurtemburg would only
have the second, their vanity was touched; and on my proposing to
verify the matter with my own eyes it was solemnly agreed that this
ceremony should take place the next day. They kept their promise,
and I was pleasantly engaged for two hours the next morning, and was
at last obliged to extinguish in the mother the flames her daughter
had kindled in my breast.
Although the Toscani was young enough, she would have found me ice if
her daughter had been able to satisfy my desires, but she did not
trust me well enough to leave us alone together. As it was she was
I resolved, then, on going to Stuttgart in company with the two
nymphs, and I expected to see there the Binetti, who was always an
enthusiastic admirer of mine. This actress was the daughter of a
Roman boatman. I had helped her to get on the boards the same year
that Madame de Valmarana had married her to a French dancer named
Binet, whose name she had Italianized by the addition of one
syllable, like those who ennoble themselves by adding another
syllable to their names. I also expected to see the Gardella, young
Baletti, of whom I was very fond, his young wife the Vulcani, and
several other of my old friends, who I thought would combine to make
my stay at Stuttgart a very pleasant one. But it will be seen that
it is a risky thing to reckon without one's host. At the last
posting station I bid adieu to my two friends, and went to the
Gardella Portrait of The Duke of Wurtemburg--My Dinner with Gardella,
And its Consequences--Unfortunate Meeting I Play and Lose Four
Thousand Louis--Lawsuit--Lucky Flight--My Arrival at Zurich--Church
Consecrated By Jesus Christ Himself
At that period the Court of the Duke of Wurtemburg was the most
brilliant in Europe. The heavy subsidies paid by France for
quartering ten thousand men upon him furnished him with the means for
indulging in luxury and debauchery. The army in question was a fine
body of men, but during the war it was distinguished only by its
The duke was sumptuous in his tastes, which were for splendid
palaces, hunting establishments on a large scale, enormous stables--
in short, every whim imaginable; but his chief expense was the large
salaries he paid his theatre, and, above all, his mistresses. He had
a French play, an Italian opera, grand and comic, and twenty Italian
dancers, all of whom had been principal dancers in Italian theatres.
His director of ballets was Novers, and sometimes five hundred
dancers appeared at once. A clever machinist and the best scene
painters did their best to make the audience believe in magic. All
the ballet-girls were pretty, and all of them boasted of having been
enjoyed at least once by my lord. The chief of them was a Venetian,
daughter of a gondolier named Gardella. She was brought up by the
senator Malipiero, whom my readers know for his good offices towards
myself, who had her taught for the theatre, and gave her a dancing-
master. I found her at Munich, after my flight from The Leads,
married to Michel Agata. The duke took a fancy to her, and asked her
husband, who was only too happy to agree, to yield her; but he was
satisfied with her charms in a year, and put her on the retired list
with the title of madame.
This honour had made all the other ballet-girls jealous, and they all
thought themselves as fit as she to be taken to the duke's titular
mistress, especially as she only enjoyed the honour without the
pleasure. They all intrigued to procure her dismissal, but the
Venetian lady succeeded in holding her ground against all cabals.
Far from reproaching the duke for this incorrigible infidelity, she
encouraged him in it, and was very glad to be left to herself, as she
cared nothing for him. Her chief pleasure was to have the ballet-
girls who aspired to the honours of the handkerchief come to her to
solicit her good offices. She always received them politely, gave
them her advice, and bade them do their best to please the prince.
In his turn the duke thought himself bound to shew his gratitude for
her good nature, and gave her in public all the honours which could
be given to a princess.
I was not long in finding out that the duke's chief desire was to be
talked about. He would have liked people to say that there was not a
prince in Europe to compare with him for wit, taste, genius, in the
invention of pleasures, and statesman-like capacities; he would fain
be regarded as a Hercules in the pleasures of Bacchus and Venus, and
none the less an Aristides in governing his people. He dismissed
without pity an attendant who failed to wake him after he had been
forced to yield to sleep for three or four hours, but he did not care
how roughly he was awakened.
It has happened that after having given his highness a large cup of
coffee, the servant has been obliged to throw him into a bath of cold
water, where the duke had to choose between awaking or drowning.
As soon as he was dressed the duke would assemble his council and
dispatch whatever business was on hand, and then he would give
audience to whoever cared to come into his presence. Nothing could
be more comic than the audiences he gave to his poorer subjects.
Often there came to him dull peasants and workmen of the lowest
class; the poor duke would sweat and rage to make them hear reason,
in which he was sometimes unsuccessful, and his petitioners would go
away terrified, desperate, and furious. As to the pretty country
maidens, he examined into their complaints in private, and though he
seldom did anything for them they went away consoled.
The subsidies which the French Crown was foolish enough to pay him
for a perfectly useless service did not suffice for his extravagant
expenses. He loaded his subjects with taxes till the patient people
could bear it no longer, and some years after had recourse to the
Diet of Wetzlar, which obliged him to change his system. He was
foolish enough to wish to imitate the King of Prussia, while that
monarch made fun of the duke, and called him his ape. His wife was
the daughter of the Margrave of Bayreuth, the prettiest and most
accomplished princess in all Germany. When I had come to Stuttgart
she was no longer there; she had taken refuge with her father, on
account of a disgraceful affront which had been offered her by her
unworthy husband. It is incorrect to say that this princess fled
from her husband because of his infidelities.
After I had dined by myself, I dressed and went to the opera provided
gratis by the duke in the fine theatre he had built. The prince was
in the front of the orchestra, surrounded by his brilliant Court. I
sat in a box on the first tier, delighted to be able to hear so well
the music of the famous Jumella, who was in the duke's service. In
my ignorance of the etiquette of small German Courts I happened to
applaud a solo, which had been exquisitely sung by a castrato whose
name I have forgotten, and directly afterwards an individual came
into my box and addressed me in a rude manner. However, I knew no
German, and could only answer by 'nich verstand'--"I don't
He went out, and soon after an official came in, who told me, in good
French, that when the sovereign was present all applause was
"Very good, sir. Then I will go away and come again when the
sovereign is not here, as when an air pleases me I always applaud."
After this reply I called for my carriage, but just as I was getting
into it the same official came and told me that the duke wanted to
speak to me. I accordingly followed him to the presence.
"You are M. Casanova, are you?" said the duke.
"Yes, my lord."
"Where do you come from?"
"Is this the first time you have been to Stuttgart?"
"Yes, my lord."
"Do you think of staying long?"
"For five or six days, if your highness will allow me."
"Certainly, you may stay as long as you like, and you may clap when
"I shall profit by your permission, my lord."
I sat down again, and the whole audience settled down to the play.
Soon after, an actor sung an air which the duke applauded, and of
course all the courtiers, but not caring much for the song I sat
still--everyone to his taste. After the ballet the duke went to the
favourite's box, kissed her hand, and left the theatre. An official,
who was sitting by me and did not know that I was acquainted with the
Gardella, told me that as I had had the honour of speaking to the
prince I might obtain the honour of kissing his favourite's hand.
I felt a strong inclination to laugh, but I restrained myself; and a
sudden and very irrational impulse made me say that she was a
relation of mine. The words had no sooner escaped me than I bit my
lip, for this stupid lie could only do me harm, but it was decreed
that I should do nothing at Stuttgart but commit blunders. The
officer, who seemed astonished at my reply, bowed and went to the
favourite's box to inform her of my presence. The Gardelia looked in
my direction and beckoned to me with her fan, and I hastened to
comply with the invitation, laughing inwardly at the part I was going
to play. As soon as I came in she graciously gave me her hand, which
I kissed, calling her my cousin.
"Did you tell the duke you were my cousin?" said she.
"No," I replied.
"Very good, then I will do so myself; come and dine with me
She then left the house, and I went to visit the ballet-girls, who
were undressing: The Binetti, who was one of the oldest of my
acquaintances, was in an ecstasy of joy at seeing me, and asked me to
dine with her every day. Cartz, the violin, who had been with me in
the orchestra at St. Samuel's, introduced me to his pretty daughter,
"She is not made for the duke's eyes to gaze on, and he shall never
The good man was no prophet, as the duke got possession of her a
short time after. She presented him with two babies, but these
pledges of affection could not fix the inconstant prince.
Nevertheless, she was a girl of the most captivating kind, for to the
most perfect beauty she added grace, wit, goodness, and kindness,
which won everyone's heart. But the duke was satiated, and his only
pleasure lay in novelty.
After her I saw the Vulcani, whom I had known at Dresden, and who
suddenly presented her husband to me. He threw his arms round my
neck. He was Baletti, brother of my faithless one, a young man of
great talent of whom I was very fond.
I was surrounded by all these friends, when the officer whom I had so
foolishly told that I was related to the Gardella came in and began
to tell the story. The Binetti, after hearing it, said to him,
"It's a lie."
"But my dear," said I to her, "you can't be better informed on the
subject than I am." She replied by laughing, but Cartz said, very
"As Gardella is only a boatman's daughter, like Binetti, the latter
thinks, and very rightly, that you ought to have given her the
refusal of your cousinship."
Next day I had a pleasant dinner with the favourite, though she told
me that, not having seen the duke, she could not tell me how he would
take my pleasantry, which her mother resented very much. This mother
of hers, a woman of the lowest birth, had become very proud since her
daughter was a prince's mistress, and thought my relationship a blot
on their escutcheon. She had the impudence to tell me that her
relations had never been players, without reflecting that it must be
worse to descend to this estate than to rise from it, if it were
dishonourable. I ought to have pitied her, but not being of a
forbearing nature I retorted by asking if her sister was still alive,
a question which made her frown and to which she gave no answer. The
sister I spoke of was a fat blind woman, who begged on a bridge in
After having spent a pleasant day with the favourite, who was the
oldest of my theatrical friends, I left her, promising to come to
breakfast the next day; but as I was going out the porter bade me not
to put my feet there again, but would not say on whose authority he
gave me this polite order. It would have been wiser to hold my
tongue, as this stroke must have come from the mother; or, perhaps,
from the daughter, whose vanity I had wounded: she was a good-enough
actress to conceal her anger.
I was angry with myself, and went away in an ill humour; I was
humiliated to see myself treated in such a manner by a wretched
wanton of an actress; though if I had been more discreet I could have
got a welcome in the best society. If I had not promised to dine
with Binetti the next day I should have posted off forthwith, and I
should thus have escaped all the misadventures which befell me in
that wretched town.
The Binetti lived in the house of her lover, the Austrian ambassador,
and the part of the house she occupied adjoined the town wall. As
will be seen; this detail is an important one. I dined alone with my
good fellow-countrywoman, and if I had felt myself capable of love at
that period all my old affection would have resumed its sway over me,
as her beauty was undiminished, and she had more tact and knowledge
of the world than when I knew her formerly.
The Austrian ambassador was a good-natured, easygoing, and generous
man; as for her husband he was not worthy of her, and she never saw
him. I spent a pleasant day with her, talking of our old friends,
and as I had nothing to keep me in Wurtemburg I decided to leave in
two days, as I had promised the Toscani and her daughter to go with
them on the next day to Louisbourg. We were to start at five in the
morning, but the following adventure befell me:--
As I was leaving Binetti's house I was greeted very courteously by
three officers whom I had become acquainted with at the coffee house,
and I walked along the promenade with them.
"We are going," said one of them, "to visit certain ladies of easy
virtue; we shall be glad to have you of our company."
"I only speak a few words of German," I answered, "and if I join you
I shall be bored."
"Ah! but the ladies are Italians," they exclaimed, "nothing could
suit you better."
I did not at all like following them, but my evil genius led me in
that wretched town from one blunder to another, and so I went in
spite of myself.
We turned back into the town, and I let myself be led up to the third
floor of an ill-looking house, and in the meanest of rooms I saw the
pretended nieces of Peccini. A moment after Peccini appeared, and
had the impudence to throw his arms around my neck, calling me his
best friend. His nieces overwhelmed me with caresses, and seemed to
confirm the idea that we were old friends. I did nothing and held my
The officers prepared for a debauch; I did not imitate their example,
but this made no difference to them. I saw into what an evil place I
had been decoyed, but a false shame prevented me from leaving the
house without ceremony. I was wrong, but I determined to be more
prudent for the future.
Before long a pot-house supper was served, of which I did not
partake; but not wishing to seem bad company I drank two or three
small glasses of Hungarian wine. After supper, which did not last
very long, cards were produced, and one of the officers held a bank
at faro. I punted and lost the fifty or sixty Louis I had about me.
I felt that I was drunk, my head was reeling, and I would have gladly
given over playing and gone away, but I have never been so possessed
as on that day, either from false shame or from the effects of the
drugged wine they gave me. My noble officers seemed vexed that I had
lost, and would give me my revenge. They made me hold a bank of a
hundred Louis in fish, which they counted out to me. I did so, and
lost. I made a bank again, and again I lost. My inflamed
understanding, my increasing drunkenness, and my anger, deprived me
of all sense, and I kept increasing my bank, losing all the time,
till at midnight my good rascals declared they would play no more.
They made a calculation, and declared that I had lost nearly a
hundred thousand francs. So great was my intoxication, although I
had had no more wine, that they were obliged to send for a sedan
chair to take me to my inn. While my servant was undressing me he
discovered that I had neither my watches nor my gold snuff-boy.
"Don't forget to wake me at four in the morning," said I. Therewith
I went to bed and enjoyed a calm and refreshing sleep.
While I was dressing next morning I found a hundred Louis in my
pocket, at which I was much astonished, for my dizziness of brain
being over now, I remembered that I had not this money about me the
evening before; but my mind was taken up with the pleasure party, and
I put off thinking of this incident and of my enormous losses till
afterwards. I went to the Toscani and we set out for Louisbourg,
where we had a capital dinner, and my spirits ran so high that my
companions could never have guessed the misfortune that had just
befallen me. We went back to Stuttgart in the evening.
When I got home my Spaniard told me that they knew nothing about my
watches and snuff-box at the house where I had been the evening
before, and that the three officers had come to call on me, but not
finding me at home they had told him to warn me that they would
breakfast with me on the following morning. They kept the
"Gentlemen," said I, as soon as they came in, "I have lost a sum
which I cannot pay, and which I certainly should not have lost
without the drugged wine you gave me. You have taken me to a den of
infamy, where I was shamefully robbed of jewellery to the value of
more than three hundred Louis. I complain of no one, since I have
only my own folly to complain of. If I had been wiser all this would
not have happened to me."
They exclaimed loudly at this speech, and tried to play the part of
men of honour. They spoke in vain, as I had made up my mind to pay
Whilst we were in the thick of the fight, and were beginning to get
angry over it, Baletti, Toscani, and Binetti came in, and heard the
discussion. I then had breakfast brought in, and after we had
finished my friends left me.
When we were once more alone, one of the rascals addressed me as
"We are too honest, sir, to take advantage of your position. You
have been unfortunate, but all men are sometimes unfortunate, and we
ask nothing better than a mutual accommodation. We will take over
all your properties; jewels, diamonds, arms, and carriage, and have
them valued; and if the sum realized does not cover your debt we will
take your acceptance, payable at date, and remain good friends."
"Sir, I do not wish for the friendship of robbers, and I will not
play a single farthing."
At this they tried threats, but I kept cool and said,--
"Gentlemen, your menaces will not intimidate me, and, as far as I can
see, you have only two ways of getting paid; either by way of the
law, in which case I do not think I shall find it difficult to get a
barrister to take up my case, or, secondly, you can pay yourselves on
my body, honourably, with sword in hand."
As I had expected, they replied that if I wished they would do me the
honour of killing me after I had paid them. They went off cursing,
telling me that I would be sorry for what I had said.
Soon after I went out and spent the day with the Toscani in gaiety
which, situated as I was, was not far off madness. At the time I
placed it to the daughter's charms, and to the need my spirits were
in of recovering their elasticity.
However, the mother having witnessed the rage of the three robbers
was the first to urge me to fortify myself against their villainy by
an appeal to the law.
"If you give them the start," said she, "they may possibly gain a
great advantage over you in spite of the right being on your side."
And whilst I toyed with her charming daughter, she sent for a
barrister. After hearing my case the counsel told me that my best
way would be to tell the whole story to the sovereign as soon as
"They took you to the house of ill-fame; they poured out the drugged
wine which deprived you of your reason; they made you play in spite
of their prince's prohibition (for gaming is strictly forbidden); in
this company you were robbed of your jewels after they had made you
lose an enormous sum. It's a hanging matter, and the duke's interest
will be to do you justice, for an act of scoundrelism like this
committed by his officers would dishonour him all over Europe."
I felt some repugnance to this course, for though the duke was a
shameless libertine I did not like telling him such a disgraceful
story. However, the case was a serious one, and after giving it due
reflection I determined to wait on the dike on the following morning.
"As the duke gives audience to the first comer," I said to myself,
"why should I not have as good a reception as a labouring man? "In
this way I concluded that it would be no use to write to him, and I
was on my way to the Court, when, at about twenty paces from the gate
of the castle, I met my three gentlemen who accosted me rudely and
said I had better make up my mind to pay, or else they would play the
devil with me.
I was going on without paying any attention to them, when I felt
myself rudely seized by the right arm. A natural impulse of self-
defence made me put my hand to my sword, and I drew it in a manner
that shewed I was in earnest. The officer of the guard came running
up, and I complained that the three were assaulting me and
endeavouring to hinder my approach to the prince. On enquiry being
made, the sentry and the numerous persons who were present declared
that I had only drawn in self-defence, so the officer decided that I
had perfect liberty to enter the castle.
I was allowed to penetrate to the last antechamber without any
obstacle being raised. Here I addressed myself to the chamberlain,
demanding an audience with the sovereign, and he assured me that I
should be introduced into the presence. But directly afterwards the
impudent scoundrel who had taken hold of my arm came up and began to
speak to the chamberlain in German. He said his say without my being
able to contradict him, and his representations were doubtless not in
my favour. Very possibly, too, the chamberlain was one of the gang,
and I went from Herod to Pilate. An hour went by without my being
able to see the prince, and then the chamberlain, who had assured me
that I should have an audience, came and told me that I might go
home, as the duke had heard all the circumstances of the case, and
would no doubt see that justice was done me.
I saw at once that I should get no justice at all, and as I was
walking away I thought how best I could get out of the difficulty.
On my way I met Binetti, who knew how I was placed, and he asked me
to come and dine with him, assuring me that the Austrian ambassador
would take me under his protection, and that he would save me from
the violent measures which the rascals no doubt intended to take, in
spite of the chamberlain's assurances. I accepted the invitation,
and Binetti's charming wife, taking the affair to heart, did not lose
a moment in informing her lover, the ambassador, of all the
This diplomatist came into the room with her, and after hearing all
the details from my lips he said that in all probability the duke
knew nothing about it.
"Write a brief account of the business," said he, "and I will lay it
before the sovereign, who will no doubt see justice done."
I went to Binetti's desk, and as soon as I had written down my true
relation I gave it, unsealed, to the ambassador, who assured me that
it should be in the duke's hands in the course of an hour.
At dinner my country-woman assured me again that her lover should
protect me, and we spent the day pleasantly enough; but towards
evening my Spaniard came and assured me that if I returned to the inn
I should be arrested, "for" said he, "an officer came to see you, and
finding you were out he took up his position at the street door and
has two soldiers standing at the foot of the staircase."
The Binetti said, "You must not go to the inn; stay here, where you
have nothing to fear. Send for what you want, and we will wait and
see what happens." I then gave orders to my Spaniard to go and fetch
the belongings which were absolutely necessary to me.
At midnight the ambassador came in; we were still up, and he seemed
pleased that his mistress had sheltered me. He assured me that my
plea had been laid before the sovereign, but during the three days I
was in the house I heard no more about it.
On the fourth day, whilst I was pondering as to how I should act, the
ambassador received a letter from a minister requesting him, on
behalf of the sovereign, to dismiss me from his house, as I had a
suit pending with certain officers of his highness, and whilst I was
with the ambassador justice could not take its course. The
ambassador gave me the letter, and I saw that the minister promised
that strict justice should be done me. There was no help for it; I
had to make up my mind to return to my inn, but the Binetti was so
enraged that she began to scold her lover, at which he laughed,
saying, with perfect truth, that he could not keep me there in
defiance of the prince.
I re-entered the inn without meeting anyone, but when I had had my
dinner and was just going to see my counsel an officer served me with
a summons, which was interpreted to me by my landlord, which ordered
me to appear forthwith before the notary appointed to take my
deposition. I went to him with the officer of the court, and spent
two hours with the notary, who wrote down my deposition in German
while I gave it in Latin. When it was done he told me to sign my
name; to which I answered that I must decline to sign a document I
did not understand. He insisted on my doing it, but I was immovable.
He then got in a rage and said I ought to be ashamed of myself for
suspecting a notary's honour. I replied calmly that I had no doubts
as to his honour, but that I acted from principle, and that as I did
not understand what he had written I refused to sign it. I left him,
and was accompanied by the officer to my own counsel, who said I had
done quite right, and promised to call on me the next day to receive
my power of attorney.
"And when I have done that," he said, "your business will be mine."
I was comforted by this man, who inspired me with confidence, and
went back to the hotel, where I made a good supper and went
tranquilly to sleep. Next morning, however, when I awoke, my
Spaniard announced an officer who had followed him, and told me in
good French that I must not be astonished to find myself a prisoner
in my room, for being a stranger and engaged in a suit at law it was
only right that the opposite party should be assured that I would not
escape before judgment was given. He asked very politely for my
sword, and to my great regret I was compelled to give it him. The
hilt was of steel, exquisitely chased; it was a present from Madame
d'Urfe, and was worth at least fifty louis.
I wrote a note to my counsel to tell him what had happened; he came
to see me and assured me that I should only be under arrest for a few
As I was obliged to keep my room, I let my friends know of my
confinement, and I received visits from dancers and ballet-girls, who
were the only decent people I was acquainted with in that wretched
Stuttgart, where I had better never have set foot. My situation was
not pleasant to contemplate: I had been drugged, cheated, robbed,
abused, imprisoned, threatened with a mulct of a hundred thousand
francs, which would have stripped me to my shirt, as nobody knew the
contents of my pocket-book. I could think of nothing else. I had
written to Madame the Gardella, but to no purpose, as I got no
answer. All the consolation I got was from Binetti, Toscani, and
Baletti, who dined or supped with me every day. The three rascals
came to see me one by one, and each tried to get me to give him money
unknown to the other two, and each promised that if I would do that,
he would get me out of the difficulty. Each would have been content
with three or four hundred louis, but even if I had given that sum to
one of them I had no guarantee that the others would desist from
their persecution. Indeed, if I had done so I should have given some
ground to their pretensions, and bad would have been made worse. My
answer was that they wearied me, and that I should be glad if they
would desist from visiting me.
On the fifth day of my arrest the duke left for Frankfort; and the
same day Binetti came and told me from her lover that the duke had
promised the officers not to interfere, and that I was therefore in
danger of an iniquitous sentence. His advice was to neglect no means
of getting out of the difficulty, to sacrifice all my property,
diamonds, and jewellery, and thus to obtain a release from my
enemies. The Binetti, like a wise woman, disliked this counsel, and
I relished it still less, but she had to perform her commission.
I had jewellery and lace to the value of more than a hundred thousand
francs, but I could not resolve to make the sacrifice. I did not
know which way to turn or where to go, and while I was in this state
of mind my barrister came in. He spoke as follows:
"Sir, all my endeavors on your behalf have been unsuccessful. There
is a party against you which seems to have support in some high
quarter, and which silences the voice of justice. It is my duty to
warn you that unless you find some way of arranging matters with
these rascals you are a ruined man. The judgment given by the police
magistrate, a rascal like the rest of them, is of a summary
character, for as a stranger you will not be allowed to have recourse
to the delays of the law. You would require bail to do that. They
have managed to procure witnesses who swear that you are a
professional gamester, that it was you who seduced the three officers
into the house of your countryman Peccini, that it is not true that
your wine was drugged that you did not lose your watches nor your
snuff-box, for, they say, these articles will be found in your mails
when your goods are sold. For that you will only have to wait till
to-morrow or the day after, and do not think that I am deceiving you
in any particular, or you will be sorry for it. They will come here
and empty your mails, boxes, and pockets, a list will be made, and
they will be sold by auction the same day. If the sum realized is
greater than the debt the surplus will go in costs, and you may
depend upon it that a very small sum will be returned to you; but if,
on the other hand, the sum is not sufficient to pay everything,
including the debt, costs, expenses of the auction, etc., you will be
enrolled as a common soldier in the forces of His Most Serene
Highness. I heard it said to the officer, who is your greatest
creditor, that the four Louis enlistment money would be taken into
account, and that the duke would be glad to get hold of such a fine
The barrister left me without my noticing him. I was so petrified by
what he had said. I was in such a state of collapse that in less
than an hour all the liquids in my body must have escaped. I, a
common soldier in the army of a petty sovereign like the duke, who
only existed by the horrible traffic in human flesh which he carried
on after the manner of the Elector of Hesse. I, despoiled by those
knaves, the victim of an iniquitous sentence. Never! I would
endeavour to hit upon some plan to gain time.
I began by writing to my chief creditor that I had decided to come to
an agreement with them, but I wished them all to wait upon my notary,
with witnesses, to put a formal close to the action and render me a
free man again.
I calculated that one of them was sure to be on duty on the morrow,
and thus I should gain a day at any rate. In the mean time I hoped
to discover some way of escape.
I next wrote to the head of the police, whom I styled "your
excellency" and "my lord," begging him to vouchsafe his all-powerful
protection. I told him that I had resolved on selling all my
property to put an end to the suit which threatened to overwhelm me,
and I begged him to suspend the proceedings, the cost of which could
only add to my difficulties. I also asked him to send me a
trustworthy man to value my effects as soon as I had come to an
agreement with my creditors, with whom I begged for his good offices.
When I had done I sent my Spaniard to deliver the letters.
The officer to whom I had written, who pretended that I was his
debtor to the amount of two thousand Louis, came to see me after
dinner. I was in bed; and I told him I thought I had fever. He
began to offer his sympathy, and, genuine or not, I was pleased with
it. He told me he had just had some conversation with the chief of
the police, who had shewn him my letter.
"You are very wise," said he, "in consenting to a composition, but we
need not all three be present. I have full powers from the other
two, and that will be sufficient for the notary:"
"I am in bad enough case," I replied, "for you to grant me the favour
of seeing you all together; I cannot think you will refuse me."
"Well, well, you shall be satisfied, but if you are in a hurry to
leave Stuttgart I must warn you that we cannot come before Monday,
for we are on duty for the next four days."
"I am sorry to hear it, but I will wait. Give me your word of honour
that all proceedings shall be suspended in the mean time."
"Certainly; here is my hand, and you may reckon on me. In my turn I
have a favour to ask. I like your post-chaise; will you let me have
it for what it cost you?"
"Be kind enough to call the landlord, and tell him in my presence
that the carriage belongs to me."
I had the landlord upstairs and did as the rascal had asked me, but
mine host told him that he could dispose of it after he had paid for
it, and with that he turned his back on him and left the room.
"I am certain of having the chaise," said the officer, laughing. He
then embraced me, and went away.
I had derived so much pleasure from my talk with him that I felt
quite another man. I had four days before me; it was a rare piece of
Some hours after, an honest-looking fellow who spoke Italian well
came to tell me, from the chief of police, that my creditors would
meet on the ensuing Monday, and that he himself was appointed to
value my goods. He advised me to make it a condition of the
agreement that my goods should not be sold by auction, and that my
creditors should consider his valuation as final and binding. He
told me that I should congratulate myself if I followed his advice.
I told him that I would not forget his services, and begged him to
examine my mails and my jewel-box. He examined everything and told
me that my lace alone was worth twenty thousand francs. "In all," he
added, "your goods are worth more than a hundred thousand francs, but
I promise to tell your adversaries another story, Thus, if you can
persuade them to take half their debt, you will get off with half
"In that ease," I said, "you shall have fifty louis, and here are six
as an earnest."
"I am grateful to you, and you can count upon my devotion. The whole
town and the duke as well know your creditors to be knaves, but they
have their reasons for refusing to see their conduct in its true
I breathed again, and now all my thoughts were concentrated on making
my escape with all I possessed, my poor chaise excepted. I had a
difficult task before me, but not so difficult a one as my flight
from The Leads, and the recollection of my great escape gave me fresh
My first step was to ask Toscani, Baletti, and the dancer Binetti to
supper, as I had measures to concert with these friends of mine, whom
I could rely on, and who had nothing to fear from the resentment of
After we had had a good supper I told them how the affair stood, and
that I was determined to escape, and to carry my goods with me. "And
now," I said, "I want your advice."
After a brief silence Binetti said if I could get to his house I
could lower myself down from a window, and once on the ground I
should be outside the town walls and at a distance of a hundred paces
from the high road, by which I could travel post and be out of the
duke's dominions by daybreak. Thereupon Baletti opened the window
and found that it would be impossible to escape that way, on account
of a wooden roof above a shop. I looked out also, and seeing that he
was right I said that I should no doubt hit on some way of making my
escape from the inn, but what troubled me chiefly was my luggage.
The Toscani then said:--
"You will have to abandon your mails, which you could not take off
without attracting attention, and you must send all your effects to
my house. I engage to deliver safely whatever you may put in my
care. I will take away your effects under my clothes in several
journeys, and I can begin to-night."
Baletti thought this idea a good one, and said that to do it the
quicker his wife would come and help. We fixed on this plan, and I
promised Binetti to be with him at midnight on Sunday, even if I had
to stab the sentry, who was at my door all day, but who went away at
night after locking me in. Baletti said he would provide me with a
faithful servant, and a post-chaise with swift horses, which would
take my effects in other mails. To make the best use of the time,
the Toscani began to load herself, putting two of my suits of clothes
under her dress. For the next few days my friends served me so well
that, at midnight on Saturday, my mails and my dressing case were
empty; I kept back all the jewellery intending to carry it in my
On Sunday, the Toscani brought me the keys of the two mails, in which
she had put my goods; and Baletti came also to tell me that all the
necessary measures had been taken, and that I should find a post-
chaise, under the charge of his servant, waiting for me on the high
road. So far good, and the reader shall now hear how I contrived to
escape from my inn.
The sentry confined himself to a small ante-chamber, where he walked
up and down, without ever coming into my room, except at my
invitation. As soon as he heard that I had gone to bed he locked the
door, and went off till the next day. He used to sup on a little
table in a corner of the ante-room; his food being sent out by me.
Profiting by my knowledge of his habits, I gave my Spaniard the
"After supper, instead of going to bed, I shall hold myself in
readiness for leaving my room, and I shall leave it when I see the
light extinguished in the ante-room, while I shall take care that my
candle be so placed as not to shew any light outside, or to reflect
my shadow. Once out of my room, I shall have no difficulty in
reaching the stairs, and my escape will be accomplished. I shall go
to Binetti's, leave the town by his house, and wait for you at
Furstenburg. No one can hinder you from joining me in the course of
a day or two. So when you see me ready in my room, and this will be
whilst the sentry is having his supper, put out the candle on the
table: you can easily manage to do so whilst snuffing it. You will
then take it to re-light it, and I shall seize that moment to get off
in the darkness. When you conclude that I have got out of the ante-
room, you can come back to the soldier with the lighted candle, and
you can help him to finish his bottle. By that time I shall be safe,
and when you tell him I have gone to bed he will come to the door,
wish me good night, and after locking the door and putting the key in
his pocket he will go away with you. It is not likely that he will
come in and speak to me when he hears I have gone to bed."
Nevertheless, as he might possibly take it into his head to come into
the room, I carefully arranged a wig-block in a night-cap on the
pillow, and huddled up the coverlet so as to deceive a casual glance.
All my plans were successful, as I heard afterwards from my Spaniard.
Whilst he was drinking with the sentry I was getting on my great
coat, girding on my hanger (I had no longer a sword), and putting my
loaded pistols in my pocket. As soon as the darkness told me that Le
Duc had put out the candle I went out softly, and reached the
staircase without making the least noise. Once there the rest was
easy, for the stair led into the passage, and the passage to the main
door, which was always open till nearly midnight.
I stepped out along the street, and at a quarter to twelve I got to
Binetti's, and found his wife looking out for me at the window. When
I was in the room, whence I intended to escape, we lost no time. I
threw my overcoat to Baletti, who was standing in the ditch below, up
to the knees in mud, and binding a strong cord round my waist I
embraced the Binetti and Baletti's wife, who lowered me down as
gently as possible. Baletti received me in his arms, I cut the cord,
and after taking my great coat I followed his footsteps. We strode
through the mud, and going along a hedge we reached the high road in
a state of exhaustion, although it was not more than a hundred paces
as the crow flies from where we stood to the house. At a little
distance off, beside a small wayside inn, we found the postchaise in
which sat Baletti's servant. He got out, telling us that the
postillion had just gone into the inn to have a glass of beer and
light his pipe. I took the good servant's place, and gave him a
reward, and begged them both to be gone, saying I would manage all
the rest myself.
It was April and, 1760--my birthday--and a remarkable period in my
career, although my whole life has been filled with adventures, good
I had been in the carriage for two or three minutes when the
postillion came and asked me if we had much longer to wait. He
thought he was speaking to the same person that he had left in the
chaise, and I did not undeceive him. "Drive on," I answered, "and
make one stage of it from here to Tubingen, without changing horses
at Waldenbach." He followed my instructions, and we went along at a
good pace, but I had a strong inclination to laugh at the face he
made when he saw me at Tubingen. Baletti's servant was a youth, and
slightly built; I was tall, and quite a man. He opened his eyes to
their utmost width, and told me I was not the same gentleman that was
in the carriage when he started. "You're drunk," said I, putting in
his hand four times what he was accustomed to get, and the poor devil
did not say a word. Who has not experienced the persuasive influence
of money? I went on my journey, and did not stop till I reached
Furstenburg, where I was quite safe.
I had eaten nothing on the way, and by the time I got to the inn I
was dying of hunger. I had a good supper brought to me, and then I
went to bed and slept well. As soon as I awoke I wrote to my three
rascals. I promised to wait ten days for them at the place from
which I dated the letter, and I challenged them to a duel a
l'outrance, swearing that I would publish their cowardice all over
Europe if they refused to measure swords with me. I next wrote to
the Toscani, to Baletti, and to the good-natured mistress of the
Austrian ambassador, commending Le Duc to their care, and thanking
them for their friendly help.
The three rascals did not come, but the landlord's two daughters,
both of them pretty, made me pass the three days very agreeably.
On the fourth day, towards noon, I had the pleasure of seeing my
faithful Spaniard riding into the town carrying his portmanteau on
"Sir," said he, "all Stuttgart knows you to be here, and I fear, lest
the three officers who were too cowardly to accept your challenge may
have you assassinated. If you are wise you will set out for
"That's cowardly, my lad," said I. "Don't be afraid about me, but
tell me all that happened after my escape."
"As soon as you were gone, sir, I carried out your instructions, and
helped the poor devil of a sentry to empty his bottle, though he
would have willingly dispensed with my assistance in the matter; I
then told him you had gone to bed, and he locked the door as usual,
and went away after shaking me by the hand. After he had gone I went
to bed. Next morning the worthy man was at his post by nine o'clock,
and at ten the three officers came, and on my telling them that you
were still asleep they went away, bidding me come to a coffee-house,
and summon them when you got up. As they waited and waited to no
purpose, they came again at noon, and told the soldier to open the
door. What followed amused me, though I was in some danger in the
midst of the rascals.
"They went in, and taking the wig-block for your head they came up to
the bed and politely wished you good morning. You took no notice, so
one of them proceeded to give you a gentle shake, and the bauble fell
and rolled along the floor. I roared with laughter at the sight of
"'You laugh, do you, rascal? Tell us where your master is.' And to
give emphasis to their words they accompanied them with some strokes
of the cane.
"I was not going to stand this sort of thing, so I told them, with an
oath, that if they did not stop I should defend myself, adding that I
was not my master's keeper, and advising them to ask the sentry.
"The sentry on his part swore by all the saints that you must have
escaped by the window, but in spite of this a corporal was summoned,
and the poor man was sent to prison.
"The clamour that was going on brought up the landlord, who opened
your mails, and on finding them empty said that he would be well
enough paid by your postchaise, replying only with a grin to the
officer who pretended you had given it him.
"In the midst of the tumult a superior officer came up, who decided
that you must have escaped through the window, and ordered the sentry
to be set at liberty on the spot. Then came my turn, for, as I kept
on laughing and answered all questions by 'I don't know,' these
gentleman had me taken to prison, telling me I should stay there till
I informed them where you, or at least your effects, could be found.
"The next day one of them came to the prison, and told me that unless
I confessed I should undoubtedly be sent to the galleys.
"'On the faith of a Spaniard,' I answered, I know nothing, but if I
did it would be all the same to you, for no one can make an honest
servant betray his master.
"At this the rascal told the turnkey to give me a taste of the lash,
and after this had been done I was set at liberty.
"My back was somewhat scarified, but I had the proud consciousness of
having done my duty, and I went back and slept at the inn, where they
were glad to see me. Next morning everyone knew you were here and
had sent a challenge to the three sharpers, but the universal opinion
was that they were too knowing to risk their lives by meeting you.
Nevertheless, Madame Baletti told me to beg you to leave Furstenburg,
as they might very likely have you assassinated. The landlord sold
your chaise and your mails to the Austrian ambassador, who, they say,
let you escape from a window in the apartment occupied by his
mistress. No one offered to prevent me coming here.
"Three hours after Le Duc's arrival I took post and went to
Schaffhaus, and from there to Zurich, with hired horses, as there are
no posts in Switzerland. At Zurich I put up at the "Sward," an
"After supper, powdering over my arrival in Zurich where I had dropped
from the clouds as it were, I began, to reflect seriously upon my
present situation and the events of my past life. I recalled my
misfortunes and scrutinized my conduct; and was not long in
concluding that all I had suffered was through my own fault, and that
when fortune would have crowned me with happiness I had persistently
trifled that happiness away. I had just succeeded in escaping from a
trap where I might have perished, or at least have been overwhelmed
with shame, and I shuddered at the thought. I resolved to be no more
fortune's plaything, but to escape entirely from her hands. I
calculated my assets and found I was possessed of a hundred thousand
crowns. "With that," said I, "I can live secure amidst the changes
and chances of this life, and I shall at last experience true
I went to bed pondering over these fancies, and my sleep was full of
happy dreams. I saw myself dwelling in a retired spot amidst peace
and plenty. I thought I was surrounded on all sides by a fair
expanse of country which belonged to me, where I enjoyed that freedom
the world cannot give. My dreams had all the force of reality, till
a sudden awakening at day-break came to give them the lie. But the
imaginary bliss I had enjoyed had so taken my fancy that I could not
rest till I realized it. I arose, dressed myself hastily, and went
out, fasting, without knowing where I was going.
I walked on and on, absorbed in contemplation, and did not really
awake till I found myself in a ravine between two lofty mountains.
Stepping forward I reached a valley surrounded by mountains on all
sides, and in the distance a fine church, attached to a pile of
buildings, magnificently situated. I guessed it to be a monastery,
and I made my way towards it.
The church door was open, and I went in and was amazed at the rich
marbles and the beauty of the altars; and, after hearing the last
mass, I went to the sacristy and found myself in a crowd of
The abbot, whom I recognized by his cross, came towards me and asked
if I wished to see the church and monastery. I replied that I should
be delighted, and he, with two other brethren, offered to shew me
all. I saw their rich ornaments, chasubles embroidered with gold and
pearls, the sacred vessels adorned with diamonds and other precious
stones, a rich balustrade, etc.
As I understood German very imperfectly and the Swiss dialect (which
is hard to acquire and bears the same relation to German that Genoese
has to Italian) not at all, I began to speak Latin, and asked the
abbot if the church had been built for long. Thereupon the very
reverend father entered into a long history, which would have made me
repent my inquisitiveness if he had not finished by saying that the
church was consecrated by Jesus Christ Himself. This was carrying
its foundation rather far back, and no doubt my face expressed some
surprise, for to convince me of the truth of the story the abbot bade
me follow him into the church, and there on a piece of marble
pavement he shewed me the imprint of the foot of Jesus, which He had
left there at the moment of the consecration, to convince the
infidels and to save the bishop the trouble of consecrating the
The abbot had had this divinely revealed to him in a dream, and going
into the church to verify the vision he saw the print of the Divine
Foot, and gave thanks to the Lord.
by Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
MEMOIRS OF JACQUES CASANOVA de SEINGALT 1725-1798
THE ETERNAL QUEST, Volume 3d--SWITZERLAND
THE RARE UNABRIDGED LONDON EDITION OF 1894 TRANSLATED BY ARTHUR
MACHEN TO WHICH HAS BEEN ADDED THE CHAPTERS DISCOVERED
BY ARTHUR SYMONS.
THE ETERNAL QUEST
I Resolve to Become a Monk--I go to Confession--Delay of a Fortnight
--Giustiniani, the Apostle Capuchin--I Alter my Mind; My Reasons--My
Pranks at the Inn--I Dine With the Abbot
The cool way in which the abbot told these cock-and-bull stories gave
me an inclination to laughter, which the holiness of the place and
the laws of politeness had much difficulty in restraining. All the
same I listened with such an attentive air that his reverence was
delighted with me and asked where I was staying.
"Nowhere," said I; "I came from Zurich on foot, and my first visit
was to your church."
I do not know whether I pronounced these words with an air of
compunction, but the abbot joined his hands and lifted them to
heaven, as if to thank God for touching my heart and bringing me
there to lay down the burden of my sins. I have no doubt that these
were his thoughts, as I have always had the look of a great sinner.
The abbot said it was near noon and that he hoped I would do him the
honour of dining with him, and I accepted with pleasure, for I had
had nothing to eat and I knew that there is usually good cheer in
such places. I did not know where I was and I did not care to ask,
being willing to leave him under the impression that I was a pilgrim
come to expiate my sins.
On our way from the church the abbot told me that his monks were
fasting, but that we should eat meat in virtue of a dispensation he
had received from Benedict XIV., which allowed him to eat meat all
the year round with his guests. I replied that I would join him all
the more willingly as the Holy Father had given me a similar
dispensation. This seemed to excite his curiosity about myself, and
when we got to his room, which did not look the cell of a penitent,
he hastened to shew me the brief, which he had framed and glazed and
hung up opposite the table so that the curious and scrupulous might
have it in full view.
As the table was only laid for two, a servant in full livery came in
and brought another cover; and the humble abbot then told me that he
usually had his chancellor with him at dinner, "for," said he, "I
have a chancery, since as abbot of Our Lady of Einsiedel I am a
prince of the Holy Roman Empire."
This was a relief to me, as I now knew where I was, and I no longer
ran the risk of shewing my ignorance in the course of conversation.
This monastery (of which I had heard before) was the Loretto of the
Mountains, and was famous for the number of pilgrims who resorted to
In the course of dinner the prince--abbot asked me where I came from,
if I were married, if I intended to make a tour of Switzerland,
adding that he should be glad to give me letters of introduction.
I replied that I was a Venetian, a bachelor, and that I should be
glad to accept the letters of introduction he had kindly offered me,
after I had had a private conference with him, in which I desired to
take his advice on my conscience.
Thus, without premeditation, and scarcely knowing what I was saying,
I engaged to confess to the abbot.
This was my way. Whenever I obeyed a spontaneous impulse, whenever I
did anything of a sudden, I thought I was following the laws of my
destiny, and yielding to a supreme will. When I had thus plainly
intimated to him that he was to be my confessor, he felt obliged to
speak with religious fervour, and his discourses seemed tolerable
enough during a delicate and appetising repast, for we had snipe and
woodcock; which made me exclaim,--
"What! game like that at this time of year?"
"It's a secret," said he, with a pleased smile, "which I shall be
glad to communicate to you."
The abbot was a man of taste, for though he affected sobriety he had
the choicest wines and the most delicious dishes on the table. A
splendid salmon-trout was brought, which made him smile with
pleasure, and seasoning the good fare with a jest, he said in Latin
that we must taste it as it was fish, and that it was right to fast a
While he was talking the abbot kept a keen eye on me, and as my fine
dress made him feel certain that I had nothing to ask of him he spoke
When dinner was over the chancellor bowed respectfully and went out.
Soon after the abbot took me over the monastery, including the
library, which contained a portrait of the Elector of Cologne in
semi-ecclesiastical costume. I told him that the portrait was a good
though ugly likeness, and drew out of my pocket the gold snuffbox the
prince had given me, telling him that it was a speaking likeness. He
looked at it with interest, and thought his highness had done well to
be taken in the dress of a grand-master. But I perceived that the
elegance of the snuff-box did no harm to the opinion the abbot had
conceived of me. As for the library, if I had been alone it would
have made me weep. It contained nothing under the size of folio, the
newest books were a hundred years old, and the subject-matter of all
these huge books was solely theology and controversy. There were
Bibles, commentators, the Fathers, works on canon law in German,
volumes of annals, and Hoffman's dictionary.
"I suppose your monks have private libraries of their own," I said,
"which contain accounts of travels, with historical and scientific
"Not at all," he replied; "my monks are honest folk, who are content
to do their duty, and to live in peace and sweet ignorance."
I do not know what happened to me at that moment, but a strange whim
came into my head--I would be a monk, too. I said nothing about it
at the moment, but I begged the abbot to take me to his private
"I wish to make a general confession of all my sins," said I, "that I
may obtain the benefit of absolution, and receive the Holy Eucharist
on the morrow."
He made no answer, but led the way to a pretty little room, and
without requiring me to kneel down said he was ready to hear me.
I sat down before him and for three consecutive hours I narrated
scandalous histories unnumerable, which, however, I told simply and
not spicily, since I felt ascetically disposed and obliged myself to
speak with a contrition I did not feel, for when I recounted my
follies I was very far from finding the remembrance of them
In spite of that, the serene or reverend abbot believed, at all
events, in my attrition, for he told me that since by the appointed
means I had once more placed myself in a state of grace, contrition
would be perfected in me.
According to the good abbot, and still more according to me, without
grace contrition is impossible.
After he had pronounced the sacramental words which take away the
sins of men, he advised me to retire to the chamber he had appointed
for me, to pass the rest of the day in prayer, and to go to bed at an
early hour, but he added that I could have supper if I was accustomed
to that meal. He told me that I might communicate at the first mass
next morning, and with that we parted.
I obeyed with a docility which has puzzled me ever since, but at the
time I thought nothing of it. I was left alone in a room which I did
not even examine, and there I pondered over the idea which had come
into my head before making my confession; and I quite made up my mind
that chance, or rather my good genius, had led me to that spot, where
happiness awaited me, and where I might shelter all my days from the
tempests of the world.
"Whether I stay here," said I, "depends on myself alone, as I am sure
the abbot will not refuse me the cowl if I give him ten thousand
crowns for my support."
All that was needed to secure my happiness seemed a library of my own
choosing, and I did not doubt but that the abbot would let me have
what books I pleased if I promised to leave them to the monastery
after my death.
As to the society of the monks, the discord, envy, and all the
bickerings inseparable from such a mode of life, I thought I had
nothing to pass in that way, since I had no ambitions which could
rouse the jealousy of the other monks. Nevertheless, despite my
fascination, I foresaw the possibility of repentance, and I shuddered
at the thought, but I had a cure for that also.
"When I ask for the habit," I said, "I will also ask that my
novitiate be extended for ten years, and if repentance do not come in
ten years it will not come at all. I shall declare that I do not
wish for any cure or any ecclesiastical dignity. All I want is peace
and leave to follow my own tastes, without scandalising anyone."
I thought: I could easily remove any objections which might be made
to the long term of my novitiate, by agreeing, in case I changed my
mind, to forfeit the ten thousand crowns which I would pay in
I put down this fine idea in writing before I went to bed; and in the
morning, finding myself unshaken in my resolve, after I had
communicated I gave my plan to the abbot, who was taking chocolate in
He immediately read my plan, and without saying anything put it on
the table, and after breakfast he walked up and down the room and
read it again, and finally told me that he would give me an answer
I waited till night with the impatience of a child who has been
promised toys on its birthday--so completely and suddenly can an
infatuation change one's nature. We had as good a dinner as on the
day before, and when we had risen from the table the good abbot said,
"My carriage is at the door to take you to Zurich. Go, and let me
have a fortnight to think it over. I will bring my answer in person.
In the meanwhile here are two sealed letters, which please deliver
I replied that I would obey his instructions and that I would wait
for him at the "Sword," in the hope that be would deign to grant my
wishes. I took his hand, which he allowed me to kiss, and I then set
out for Zurich.
As soon as my Spaniard saw me the rascal began to laugh. I guessed
what he was thinking, and asked him what he was laughing at.
"I am amazed to see that no sooner do you arrive in Switzerland than
you contrive to find some amusement which keeps you away for two
"Ah, I see; go and tell the landlord that I shall want the use of a
good carriage for the next fortnight, and also a guide on whom I can
My landlord, whose name was Ote, had been a captain, and was thought
a great deal of at Zurich. He told me that all the carriages in the
neighbourhood were uncovered. I said they would do, as there was
nothing better to be had, and he informed me I could trust the
servant he would provide me with.
Next morning I took the abbot's letters. One was for M. Orelli and
the other for a M. Pestalozzi, neither of whom I found at home; but
in the afternoon they both called on me, asked me to dinner, and made
me promise to come with them the same evening to a concert. This is
the only species of entertainment allowed at Zurich, and only members
of the musical society can be present, with the exception of
strangers, who have to be introduced by a member, and are then
admitted on the payment of a crown. The two gentlemen both spoke in
very high terms of the Abbot of Einsiedel.
I thought the concert a bad one, and got bored at it. The men sat on
the right hand and the women on the left. I was vexed with this
arrangement, for in spite of my recent conversation I saw three or
four ladies who pleased me, and whose eyes wandered a good deal in my
direction. I should have liked to make love to them, to make the
best of my time before I became a monk.
When the concert was over, men and women went out together, and the
two citizens presented me to their wives and daughters, who looked
pleasant, and were amongst those I had noticed.
Courtesy is necessarily cut short in the street, and, after I had
thanked the two gentlemen, I went home to the "Sword."
Next day I dined with M. Orelli, and I had an opportunity for doing
justice to his daughter's amiability without being able to let her
perceive how she had impressed me. The day after, I played the same
part with M. Pestalozzi, although his charming daughter was pretty
enough to excite my gallantry. But to my own great astonishment I
was a mirror of discretion, and in four days that was my character
all over the town. I was quite astonished to find myself accosted in
quite a respectful manner, to which I was not accustomed; but in the
pious state of mind I was in, this confirmed me in the belief that my
idea of taking the cowl had been a Divine inspiration. Nevertheless,
I felt listless and weary, but I looked upon that as the inevitable
consequence of so complete a change of life, and thought it would
disappear when I grew more accustomed to goodness.
In order to put myself, as soon as possible, on an equality with my
future brethren, I passed three hours every morning in learning
German. My master was an extraordinary man, a native of Genoa, and
an apostate Capuchin. His name was Giustiniani. The poor man, to
whom I gave six francs every morning, looked upon me as an angel from
heaven, although I, with the enthusiasm of a devotee, took him for a
devil of hell, for he lost no opportunity of throwing a stone at the
religious orders. Those orders which had the highest reputation,
were, according to him, the worst of all, since they led more people
astray. He styled monks in general as a vile rabble, the curse of
the human race.
"But," said I to him one day, "you will confess that Our Lady of
Einsiedel . . ."
"What!" replied the Genoese, without letting me finish my remark, "do
you think I should make an exception in favour of a set of forty
ignorant, lazy, vicious, idle, hypocritical scoundrels who live bad
lives under the cloak of humility, and eat up the houses of the poor
simpletons who provide for them, when they ought to be earning their
"But how about his reverend highness the abbot?"
"A stuck-up peasant who plays the part of a prince, and is fool
enough to think himself one."
"But he is a prince."
"As much a prince as I am. I look upon him as a mere buffoon."
"What has he done to you?"
"Nothing; but he is a monk."
"He is a friend of mine."
"I cannot retract what I have said, but I beg your pardon."
This Giustiniani had a great influence upon me, although I did not
know it, for I thought my vocation was sure. But my idea of becoming
a monk at Einsiedel came to an end as follows:
The day before the abbot was coming to see me, at about six o'clock
in the evening, I was sitting at my window, which looked out on the
bridge, and gazing at the passers-by, when all at once a carriage and
four came up at a good pace and stopped at the inn. There was no
footman on it, and consequently the waiter came out and opened the
door, and I saw four well-dressed women leave the carriage. In the
first three I saw nothing noticeable, but the fourth, who was dressed
in a riding-habit, struck me at once with her elegance and beauty.
She was a brunette with fine and well-set eyes, arched eyebrows, and
a complexion in which the hues of the lily and the rose were mingled.
Her bonnet was of blue satin with a silver fillet, which gave her an
air I could not resist. I stretched out from the window as far as I
could, and she lifted her eyes and looked at me as if I had bade her
do so. My position obliged me to look at her for half a minute; too
much for a modest woman, and more than was required to set me all
I ran and took up my position at the window of my ante-chamber, which
commanded a view of the staircase, and before long I saw her running
by to rejoin her three companions. When she got opposite to my
window she chanced to turn in that direction, and on seeing me cried
out as if she had seen a ghost; but she soon recollected herself and
ran away, laughing like a madcap, and rejoined the other ladies who
were already in their room.
Reader, put yourself in my place, and tell me how I could have
avoided this meeting. And you who would bury yourselves in monastic
shades, persevere, if you can, after you have seen what I saw at
Zurich on April 23rd.
I was in such a state of excitement that I had to lie down on my bed.
After resting a few minutes, I got up and almost unconsciously went
towards the passage window and saw the waiter coming out of the
"Waiter," said I, "I will take supper in the dining-room with
"If you want to see those ladies, that won't do, as they have ordered
their supper to be brought up to them. They want to go to bed in
good time as they are to leave at day-break."
"Where are they going?"
"To Our Lady of Einsiedel to pay their vows."
"Where do they come from?"
"What are their names?"
"I don't know."
I went to lie down again, and thought how I could approach the fair
one of my thoughts. Should I go to Einsiedel, too? But what could I
do when I got there? These ladies are going to make their
confessions; I could not get into the confessional. What kind of a
figure should I cut among the monks? And if I were to meet the
abbot on the way, how could I help returning with him? If I had had
a trusty friend I would have arranged an ambuscade and carried off my
charmer. It would have been an easy task, as she had nobody to
defend her. What if I were to pluck up my heart and beg them to let
me sup in their company? I was afraid of the three devotees; I
should meet with a refusal. I judged that my charmer's devotion was
more a matter of form than any thing else, as her physiognomy
declared her to be a lover of pleasure, and I had long been
accustomed to read womens' characters by the play of their features.
I did not know which way to turn, when a happy idea came into my
head. I went to the passage window and stayed there till the waiter
went by. I had him into the room, and began my discourse by sliding
a piece of gold into his hand. I then asked him to lend me his green
apron, as I wished to wait upon the ladies at supper.
"What are you laughing at?"
"At your taking such a fancy, sir, though I think I know why."
"You are a sharp fellow."
"Yes, sir, as sharp as most of them; I will get you a new apron. The
pretty one asked me who you were."
"What did you tell her?"
"I said you were an Italian; that's all."
"If you will hold your tongue I will double that piece of gold."
"I have asked your Spaniard to help me, sir, as I am single-handed,
and supper has to be served at the same time both upstairs and
"Very good; but the rascal mustn't come into the room or he would be
sure to laugh. Let him go to the kitchen, bring up the dishes, and
leave them outside the door."
The waiter went out, and returned soon after with the apron and Le
Duc, to whom I explained in all seriousness what he had to do. He
laughed like a madman, but assured me he would follow my directions.
I procured a carving-knife, tied my hair in a queue, took off my
coat, and put on the apron over my scarlet waistcoat ornamented with
gold lace. I then looked at myself in the glass, and thought my
appearance mean enough for the modest part I was about to play. I
was delighted at the prospect, and thought to myself that as the
ladies came from Soleure they would speak French.
Le Duc came to tell me that the waiter was going upstairs. I went
into the ladies' room and said, "Supper is about to be served,
"Make haste about it, then," said the ugliest of them, "as we have
got to rise before day-break."
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