The Complete Memoires of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
Part 37 out of 70
"Sir, I don't know to what you are referring."
He thanked me again and left me, and walking by the banks of the
Rhone, which geographers say is the most rapid river in Europe, I
amused myself by looking at the ancient bridge. At dinner-time I
went back to the inn, and as the landlord knew that I paid six
francs a meal he treated me to an exquisite repast. Here, I
remember, I had some exceedingly choice Hermitage. It was so
delicious that I drank nothing else. I wished to make a
pilgrimage to Vaucluse and begged the landlord to procure me a
good guide, and after I had dressed I went to the theatre.
I found the Astrodi at the door, and giving her my sixteen
tickets, I sat down near the box of the vice-legate Salviati, who
came in a little later, surrounded by a numerous train of ladies
and gentlemen bedizened with orders and gold lace.
The so-called father of the false Astrodi came and whispered that
his daughter begged me to say that she was the celebrated Astrodi
I had known at Paris. I replied, also in a whisper, that I would
not run the risk of being posted as a liar by bolstering up an
imposture. The ease with which a rogue invites a gentleman to
share in a knavery is astonishing; he must think his confidence
confers an honour.
At the end of the first act a score of lackeys in the prince's
livery took round ices to the front boxes. I thought it my duty
to refuse. A young gentleman, as fair as love, came up to me, and
with easy politeness asked me why I had refused an ice.
"Not having the honour to know anyone here, I did not care that
anyone should be able to say that he had regaled one who was
unknown to him."
"But you, sir, are a man who needs no introduction."
"You do me too much honour."
"You are staying at the 'St. Omer'!"
"Yes; I am only stopping here to see Vaucluse, where I think of
going to-morrow if I can get a good guide."
"If you would do me the honour of accepting me, I should be
delighted. My name is Dolci, I am son of the captain of the vice-
"I feel the honour you do me, and I accept your obliging offer. I
will put off my start till your arrival."
"I will be with you at seven."
I was astonished at the easy grace of this young Adonis, who might
have been a pretty girl if the tone of his voice had not announced
his manhood. I laughed at the false Astrodi, whose acting was as
poor as her face, and who kept staring at me all the time. While
she sang she regarded me with a smile and gave me signs of an
understanding, which must have made the audience notice me, and
doubtless pity my bad taste. The voice and eyes of one actress
pleased me; she was young and tall, but hunchbacked to an
extraordinary degree. She was tall in spite of her enormous
humps, and if it had not been for this malformation she would have
been six feet high. Besides her pleasing eyes and very tolerable
voice I fancied that, like all hunchbacks, she was intelligent. I
found her at the door with the ugly Astrodi when I was leaving the
theatre. The latter was waiting to thank me, and the other was
selling tickets for her benefit.
After the Astrodi had thanked me, the hunchbacked girl turned
towards me, and with a smile that stretched from ear to ear and
displayed at least twenty-four exquisite teeth, she said that she
hoped I would honour her by being present at her benefit.
"If I don't leave before it comes off, I will," I replied.
At this the impudent Astrodi laughed, and in the hearing of
several ladies waiting for their carriages told me that her friend
might be sure of my presence, as she would not let me go before
the benefit night. "Give him sixteen tickets," she added. I was
ashamed to refuse, and gave her two louis. Then in a lower voice
the Astrodi said, "After the show we will come and sup with you,
but on the condition that you ask nobody else, as we want to be
In spite of a feeling of anger, I thought that such a supper-party
would be amusing, and as no one in the town knew me I resolved to
stay in the hope of enjoying a hearty laugh.
I was having my supper when Stuard and his wife went to their
room. This night I heard no sobs nor reproaches, but early next
morning I was surprised to see the chevalier who said, as if we
had been old friends, that he had heard that I was going to
Vaucluse, and that as I had taken a carriage with four places he
would be much obliged if I would allow him and his wife, who
wanted to see the fountain, to go with me. I consented.
Le Duc begged to be allowed to accompany me on horseback, saying
that he had been a true prophet. In fact it seemed as if the
couple had agreed to repay me for my expenditure by giving me new
hopes. I was not displeased with the expedition, and it was all
to my advantage, as I had had recourse to no stratagems to obtain
Dolci came, looking as handsome as an angel; my neighbours were
ready, and the carriage loaded with the best provisions in food
and drink that were obtainable; and we set off, Dolci seated
beside the lady and I beside the chevalier.
I had thought that the lady's sadness would give place, if not to
gaiety, at least to a quiet cheerfulness, but I was mistaken; for,
to all my remarks, grave or gay, she replied, either in
monosyllables or in a severely laconic style. Poor Dolci, who was
full of wit, was stupefied. He thought himself the cause of her
melancholy, and was angry with himself for having innocently cast
a shadow on the party of pleasure. I relieved him of his fears by
telling him that when he offered me his pleasant society I was not
aware that I was to be of service to the fair lady. I added that
when at day-break I received this information, I was pleased that
he would have such good company. The lady did not say a word.
She kept silent and gloomy all the time, and gazed to right and
left like one who does not see what is before his [her] eyes.
Dolci felt at ease after my explanation, and did his best to
arouse the lady, but without success. He talked on a variety of
topics to the husband, always giving her an opportunity of joining
in, but her lips remained motionless. She looked like the statue
of Pandora before it had been quickened by the divine flame.
The beauty of her face was perfect; her eyes were of a brilliant
blue, her complexion a delicate mixture of white and red, her arms
were as rounded as a Grace's, her hands plump and well shaped, her
figure was that of a nymph's, giving delightful hints of a
magnificent breast; her hair was a chestnut brown, her foot small:
she had all that constitutes a beautiful woman save that gift of
intellect, which makes beauty more beautiful, and gives a charm to
ugliness itself. My vagrant fancy shewed me her naked form, all
seemed ravishing, and yet I thought that though she might inspire
a passing fancy she could not arouse a durable affection. She
might minister to a man's pleasures, she could not make him happy.
I arrived at the isle resolved to trouble myself about her no
more; she might, I thought, be mad, or in despair at finding
herself in the power of a man whom she could not possibly love. I
could not help pitying her, and yet I could not forgive her for
consenting to be of a party which she knew she must spoil by her
As for the self-styled Chevalier Stuard, I did not trouble my head
whether he were her husband or her lover. He was young,
commonplace-looking, he spoke affectedly; his manners were not
good, and his conversation betrayed both ignorance and stupidity.
He was a beggar, devoid of money and wits, and I could not make
out why he took with him a beauty who, unless she were over-kind,
could add nothing to his means of living. Perhaps he expected to
live at the expense of simpletons, and had come to the conclusion,
in spite of his ignorance, that the world is full of such;
however, experience must have taught him that this plan cannot be
When we got to Vaucluse I let Dolci lead; he had been there a
hundred times, and his merit was enhanced in my eyes by the fact
that he was a lover of the lover of Laura. We left the carriage
at Apt, and wended our way to the fountain which was honoured that
day with a numerous throng of pilgrims. The stream pours forth
from a vast cavern, the handiwork of nature, inimitable by man.
It is situated at the foot of a rock with a sheer descent of more
than a hundred feet. The cavern is hardly half as high, and the
water pours forth from it in such abundance that it deserves the
name of river at its source. It is the Sorgue which falls into
the Rhone near Avignon. There is no other stream as pure and
clear, for the rocks over which it flows harbour no deposits of
any kind. Those who dislike it on account of its apparent
blackness should remember that the extreme darkness of the cavern
gives it that gloomy tinge.
Chiare fresche a dolce aque
Ove le belle membra
Pose colei the sola a me pay donna.
I wished to ascend to that part of the rock where Petrarch's house
stood. I gazed on the remains with tears in my eyes, like Leo
Allatius at Homer's grave. Sixteen years later I slept at Arqua,
where Petrarch died, and his house still remains. The likeness
between the two situations was astonishing, for from Petrarch's
study at Arqua a rock can be seen similar to that which may be
viewed at Vaucluse; this was the residence of Madonna Laura.
"Let us go there," said I, "it is not far off."
I will not endeavour to delineate my feelings as I contemplated
the ruins of the house where dwelt the lady whom the amorous
Petrarch immortalised in his verse--verse made to move a heart of
"Morte bella parea nel suo bel viso"
I threw myself with arms outstretched upon the ground as if I
would embrace the very stones. I kissed them, I watered them with
my tears, I strove to breathe the holy breath they once contained.
I begged Madame Stuard's pardon for having left her arm to do
homage to the spirit of a woman who had quickened the profoundest
soul that ever lived.
I say soul advisedly, for after all the body and the senses had
nothing to do with the connection.
"Four hundred years have past and gone," said I to the statue of a
woman who gazed at me in astonishment, "since Laura de Sade walked
here; perhaps she was not as handsome as you, but she was lively,
kindly, polite, and good of heart. May this air which she
breathed and which you breathe now kindle in you the spark of fire
divine; that fire that coursed through her veins, and made her
heart beat and her bosom swell. Then you would win the worship of
all worthy men, and from none would you receive the least offence.
Gladness, madam, is the lot of the happy, and sadness the portion
of souls condemned to everlasting pains. Be cheerful, then, and
you will do something to deserve your beauty."
The worthy Dolci was kindled by my enthusiasm. He threw himself
upon me, and kissed me again and again; the fool Stuard laughed;
and his wife, who possibly thought me mad, did not evince the
slightest emotion. She took my arm, and we walked slowly towards
the house of Messer Francesco d'Arezzo, where I spent a quarter of
an hour in cutting my name. After that we had our dinner.
Dolci lavished more attention on the extraordinary woman than I
did. Stuard did nothing but eat and drink, and despised the
Sorgue water, which, said he, would spoil the Hermitage; possibly
Petrarch may have been of the same opinion. We drank deeply
without impairing our reason, but the lady was very temperate.
When we reached Avignon we bade her farewell, declining the
invitation of her foolish husband to come and rest in his rooms.
I took Dolci's arm and we walked beside the Rhone as the sun went
down. Among other keen and witty observations the young man
"That woman is an old hand, infatuated with a sense of her own
merit. I would bet that she has only left her own country because
her charms, from being too freely displayed, have ceased to please
there. She must be sure of making her fortune out of anybody she
comes across. I suspect that the fellow who passes for her
husband is a rascal, and that her pretended melancholy is put on
to drive a persistent lover to distraction. She has not yet
succeeded in finding a dupe, but as she will no doubt try to catch
a rich man, it is not improbable that she is hovering over you.".
When a young man of Dolci's age reasons like that, he is bound to
become a great master. I kissed him as I bade him good-night,
thanked him for his kindness, and we agreed that we would see more
of one another.
As I came back to my inn I was accosted by a fine-looking man of
middle age, who greeted me by name and asked with great politeness
if I had found Vaucluse as fine as I had expected. I was
delighted to recognize the Marquis of Grimaldi, a Genoese, a
clever and good-natured man, with plenty of money, who always
lived at Venice because he was more at liberty to enjoy himself
there than in his native country; which shews that there is no
lack of freedom at Venice.
After I had answered his question I followed him into his room,
where having exhausted the subject of the fountain he asked me
what I thought of my fair companion.
"I did not find her satisfactory in all respects," I answered; and
noticing the reserve with which I spoke, he tried to remove it by
the following confession:
"There are some very pretty women in Genoa, but not one to compare
with her whom you took to Vaucluse to-day. I sat opposite to her
at table yesterday evening, and I was struck with her perfect
beauty. I offered her my arm up the stair; I told her that I was
sorry to see her so sad, and if I could do anything for her she
had only to speak. You know I was aware she had no money. Her
husband, real or pretended, thanked me for my offer, and after I
had wished them a good night I left them.
"An hour ago you left her and her husband at the door of their
apartment, and soon afterwards I took the liberty of calling. She
welcomed me with a pretty bow, and her husband went out directly,
begging me to keep her company till his return. The fair one made
no difficulty in sitting next to me on a couch, and this struck me
as a good omen, but when I took her hand she gently drew it away.
I then told, her, in as few words as I could, that her beauty had
made me in love with her, and that if she wanted a hundred louis
they were at her service, if she would drop her melancholy, and
behave in a manner suitable to the feelings with which she had
inspired me. She only replied by a motion of the head, which
shewed gratitude, but also an absolute refusal of my offer. 'I am
going to-morrow,' said I. No answer. I took her hand again, and
she drew it back with an air of disdain which wounded me. I
begged her to excuse me, and I left the room without more ado.
"That's an account of what happened an hour ago. I am not amorous
of her, it was only a whim; but knowing, as I do, that she has no
money, her manner astonished me. I fancied that you might have
placed her in a position to despise my offer, and this would
explain her conduct, in a measure; otherwise I can't understand it
at all. May I ask you to tell me whether you are more fortunate
I was enchanted with the frankness of this noble gentleman, and
did not hesitate to tell him all, and we laughed together at our
bad fortune: I had to promise to call on him at Genoa, and tell
him whatever happened between us during the two days I purposed to
remain at Avignon. He asked me to sup with him and admire the
"She has had an excellent dinner," said I, "and in all probability
she will not have any supper."
"I bet she will," said the marquis; and he was right, which made
me see clearly that the woman was playing a part. A certain Comte
de Bussi, who had just come, was placed next to her at table. He
was a good-looking young man with a fatuous sense of his own
superiority, and he afforded us an amusing scene.
He was good-natured, a wit, and inclined to broad jokes, and his
manner towards women bordered on the impudent. He had to leave at
midnight and began to make love to his fair neighbour forthwith,
and teased her in a thousand ways; but she remained as dumb as a
statue, while he did all the talking and laughing, not regarding
it within the bounds of possibility that she might be laughing at
I looked at M. Grimaldi, who found it as difficult to keep his
countenance as I did. The young roue was hurt at her silence, and
continued pestering her, giving her all the best pieces on his
plate after tasting them first. The lady refused to take them,
and he tried to put them into her mouth, while she repulsed him in
a rage. He saw that no one seemed inclined to take her part, and
determined to continue the assault, and taking her hand he kissed
it again and again. She tried to draw it away, and as she rose he
put his arm round her waist and made her sit down on his knee; but
at this point the husband took her arm and led her out of the
room. The attacking party looked rather taken aback for a moment
as he followed her with his eyes, but sat down again and began to
eat and laugh afresh, while everybody else kept a profound
silence. He then turned to the footman behind his chair and asked
him if his sword was upstairs. The footman said no, and then the
fatuous young man turned to an abbe who sat near me, and enquired
who had taken away his mistress:
"It was her husband," said the abbe.
"Her husband! Oh, that's another thing; husbands don't fight--a
man of honour always apologises to them."
With that he got up, went upstairs, and came down again directly,
"The husband's a fool. He shut the door in my face, and told me
to satisfy my desires somewhere else. It isn't worth the trouble
of stopping, but I wish I had made an end of it."
He then called for champagne, offered it vainly to everybody, bade
the company a polite farewell and went upon his way.
As M. Grimaldi escorted me to my room he asked me what I had
thought of the scene we had just witnessed. I told him I would
not have stirred a finger, even if he had turned up her clothes.
"No more would I," said he, "but if she had accepted my hundred
louis it would have been different. I am curious to know the
further history of this siren, and I rely upon you to tell me all
about it as you go through Genoa."
He went away at day-break next morning.
When I got up I received a note from the false Astrodi, asking me
if I expected her and her great chum to supper. I had scarcely
replied in the affirmative, when the sham Duke of Courland I had
left at Grenoble appeared on the scene. He confessed in a humble
voice that he was the son of clock-maker at Narva, that his
buckles were valueless, and that he had come to beg an alms of me.
I gave him four Louis, and he asked me to keep his secret. I
replied that if anyone asked me about him that I should say what
was absolutely true, that I knew him nothing about him. "Thank
you; I am now going to Marseilles." "I hope you will have a
prosperous journey." Later on my readers will hear. how I found
him at Genoa. It is a good thing to know something about people
of his kind, of whom there are far too many in the world.
I called up the landlord and told him I wanted a delicate supper
for three in my own room.
He told me that I should have it, and then said, "I have just had
a row with the Chevalier Stuard."
"Because he has nothing to pay me with, and I am going to turn
them out immediately, although the lady is in bed in convulsions
which are suffocating her."
"Take out your bill in her charms."
"Ah, I don't care for that sort of thing! I am getting on in
life, and I don't want any more scenes to bring discredit on my
"Go and tell her that from henceforth she and her husband will
dine and sup in their own room and that I will pay for them as
long as I remain here."
"You are very generous, sir, but you know that meals in a private
room are charged double."
"I know they are."
I shuddered at the idea of the woman being turned out of doors
without any resources but her body, by which she refused to
profit. On the other hand I could not condemn the inn-keeper who,
like his fellows, was not troubled with much gallantry. I had
yielded to an impulse of pity without any hopes of advantage for
myself. Such were my thoughts when Stuard came to thank me,
begging me to come and see his wife and try and persuade her to
behave in a different manner.
"She will give me no answers, and you know that that sort of thing
is rather tedious."
"Come, she knows what you have done for her; she will talk to you,
for her feelings . . . ."
"What business have you to talk about feelings after what happened
"It was well for that gentleman that he went away at midnight,
otherwise I should have killed him this morning."
"My dear sir, allow me to tell you that all that is pure
braggadocio. Yesterday, not to-day, was the time to kill him, or
to throw your plate at his head, at all events. We will now go
and see your wife."
I found her in bed, her face to the wall, the coverlet right up to
her chin, and her body convulsed with sobs. I tried to bring her
to reason, but as usual got no reply. Stuard wanted to leave me,
but I told him that if he went out I would go too, as I could do
nothing to console her, as he might know after her refusing the
Marquis of Grimaldi's hundred louis for a smile and her hand to
"A hundred Louis!" cried the fellow with a sturdy oath; "what
folly! We might have been at home at Liege by now. A princess
allows one to kiss her hand for nothing, and she.... A hundred
Louis! Oh, damnable!"
His exclamations, very natural under the circumstances, made me
feel inclined to laugh. The poor devil swore by all his gods, and
I was about to leave the room, when all at once the wretched woman
was seized with true or false convulsions. With one hand she
seized a water-bottle and sent it flying into the middle of the
room, and with the other she tore the clothes away from her
breast. Stuard tried to hold her, but her disorder increased in
violence, and the coverlet was disarranged to such a degree that I
could see the most exquisite naked charms imaginable. At last she
grew calm, and her eyes closed as if exhausted; she remained in
the most voluptuous position that desire itself could have
invented. I began to get very excited. How was I to look on such
beauties without desiring to possess them? At this point her
wretched husband left the room, saying he was gone to fetch some
water. I saw the snare, and my self-respect prevented my being
caught in it. I had an idea that the whole scene had been
arranged with the intent that I should deliver myself up to brutal
pleasure, while the proud and foolish woman would be free to
disavow all participation in the fact. I constrained myself, and
gently veiled what I would fain have revealed in all its naked
beauty. I condemned to darkness these charms which this monster
of a woman only wished me to enjoy that I might be debased.
Stuard was long enough gone. When he came back with the water-
bottle full, he was no doubt surprised to find me perfectly calm,
and in no disorder of any kind, and a few minutes afterwards I
went out to cool myself by the banks of the Rhone.
I walked along rapidly, feeling enraged with myself, for I felt
that the woman had bewitched me. In vain I tried to bring myself
to reason; the more I walked the more excited I became, and I
determined that after what I had seen the only cure for my
disordered fancy was enjoyment, brutal or not. I saw that I
should have to win her, not by an appeal to sentiment but by hard
cash, without caring what sacrifices I made. I regretted my
conduct, which then struck me in the light of false delicacy, for
if I had satisfied my desires and she chose to turn prude, I might
have laughed her to scorn, and my position would have been
unassailable. At last I determined on telling the husband that I
would give him twenty-five louis if he could obtain me an
interview in which I could satisfy my desires.
Full of this idea I went back to the inn, and had my dinner in my
own room without troubling to enquire after her. Le Duc told me
that she was dining in her room too, and that the landlord had
told the company that she would not take her meals in public any
more. This was information I possessed already.
After dinner I called on the good-natured Dolci, who introduced me
to his father, an excellent man, but not rich enough to satisfy
his son's desire of travelling. The young man was possessed of
considerable dexterity, and performed a number of very clever
conjuring tricks. He had an amiable nature, and seeing that I was
curious to know about his love affairs he told me numerous little
stories which shewed me that he was at that happy age when one's
inexperience is one's sole misfortune.
There was a rich lady for whom he did not care, as she wanted him
to give her that which he would be ashamed to give save for love,
and there was a girl who required him to treat her with respect.
I thought I could give him a piece of good advice, so I told him
to grant his favours to the rich woman, and to fail in respect now
and again to the girl, who would be sure to scold and then
forgive. He was no profligate, and seemed rather inclined to
become a Protestant. He amused himself innocently with his
friends of his own age, in a garden near Avignon, and a sister of
the gardener's wife was kind to him when they were alone.
In the evening I went back to the inn, and I had not long to wait
for the Astrodi and the Lepi (so the hunchbacked girl was named);
but when I saw these two caricatures of women I felt stupefied. I
had expected them, of course, but the reality confounded me. The
Astrodi tried to counterbalance her ugliness by an outrageous
freedom of manners; while the Lepi, who though a hunchback was
very talented and an excellent actress, was sure of exciting
desire by the rare beauty of her eyes and teeth, which latter
challenged admiration from her enormous mouth by their regularity
and whiteness. The Astrodi rushed up to me and gave me an Italian
embrace, to which, willy nilly, I was obliged to submit. The
quieter Lepi offered me her cheek, which I pretended to kiss. I
saw that the Astrodi was in a fair way to become intolerable, so I
begged her to moderate her transports, because as a novice at
these parties I wanted to get accustomed to them by degrees. She
promised that she would be very good.
While we were waiting for supper I asked her, for the sake of
something to say, whether she had found a lover at Avignon.
"Only the vice-legate's auditor," she replied; "and though he
makes me his pathic he is good-natured and generous. I have
accustomed myself to his taste easily enough, though I should have
thought such a thing impossible a year ago, as I fancied the
exercise a harmful one, but I was wrong."
"So the auditor makes a boy of you?"
"Yes. My sister would have adored him, as that sort of love is
"But your sister has such fine haunches."
"So have I! Look here, feel me."
"You are right; but wait a bit, it is too soon for that kind of
"We will be wanton after supper."
"I think you are wanton now," said the Lepi.
"Why? Ought you to shew your person like that?"
"My dear girl, you will be shewing yourself soon. When one is in
good company, one is in the golden age."
"I wonder at your telling everyone what sort of a connection you
have with the auditor," said I.
"Nonsense! I don't tell everyone, but everyone tells me and
congratulates me too. They know the worthy man never cared for
women, and it would be absurd to deny what everybody guesses. I
used to be astonished at my sister, but the best plan in this
world is to be astonished at nothing. But don't you like that?"
"No, I only like this."
As I spoke I laid hands on the Lepi, on the spot where one usually
finds what I called "this;" but the Astrodi, seeing that I found
nothing, burst into a roar of laughter, and taking my hand put it
just under her front hump, where at last I found what I wanted.
reader will guess my surprise. The poor creature, too ashamed to
be prudish, laughed too. My spirits also begin to rise, as I
thought of the pleasure I should get out of this new discovery
"Have you never had a lover?" said I to the Lepi.
"No," said the Astrodi, "she is still a maid."
"No, I am not," replied the Lepi, in some confusion, "I had a
lover at Bordeaux, and another at Montpellier."
"Yes, I know, but you are still as you were born."
"I can't deny it."
"What's that? Two lovers and still a maid! I don't understand;
please tell me about it, for I have never heard of such a thing."
"Before I satisfied my first lover which happened when I was only
twelve, I was just the same as I am now."
"It's wonderful. And what did he say when he saw it?"
"I swore that he was my first, and he believed me, putting it down
to the peculiar shape of my body."
"He was a man of spirit; but didn't he hurt you?"
"Not a bit; but then he was very gentle."
"You must have a try after supper," said the Astrodi to me, "that
would be fine fun."
"No, no," said the Lepi, "the gentleman would be too big for me."
"Nonsense! You don't want to take in all of him. I will show you
how it is."
With these words the impudent hussy proceeded to exhibit me, and I
let her do what she liked.
"That's just what I should have thought," cried the Lepi; "it
could never be done."
"Well, he is rather big," answered the Astrodi; "but there's a
cure for everything, and he will be content with half-measures."
"It's not the length, my dear, but the thickness which frightens
me; I am afraid the door is too narrow."
"All the better for you, for you can sell your maidenhead after
having had two lovers."
This conversation, not devoid of wit, and still more the
simplicity of the hunchback, had made me resolve to verify things
Supper came up, and I had the pleasure of seeing the two nymphs
eat like starving savages, and drink still better. When the
Hermitage had done its work the Astrodi proposed that we should
cast off the clothes which disfigure nature.
"Certainly," said I; "and I will turn away while you are getting
I went behind the curtains, took off my clothes, and went to bed
with my back to them. At last the Astrodi told me that they were
ready, and when I looked the Lepi took up all my attention. In
spite of her double deformity she was a handsome woman. My
glances frightened her, for she was doubtless taking part in an
orgy for the first time. I gave her courage, however, by dint of
praising those charms which the white and beautiful hands could
not hide, and at last I persuaded her to come and lie beside me.
Her hump prevented her lying on her back, but the ingenious
Astrodi doubled up the pillows and succeeded in placing her in a
position similar to that of a ship about to be launched. It was
also by the tender care of the Astrodi that the introduction of
the knife was managed, to the great delight of priest and victim.
After the operation was over she got up and kissed me, which she
could not do before, for her mouth reached to the middle of my
chest, while my feet were scarcely down to her knees. I would
have given ten louis to have been able to see the curious sight we
must have presented at work.
"Now comes my turn," said the Astrodi; "but I don't want you to
infringe on the rights of my auditor, so come and look round and
see where the path lies. Take that."
"What am I to do with this slice of lemon?"
"I want you to try whether the place is free from infection, or
whether it would be dangerous for you to pay it a visit."
"Is that a sure method?"
"Infallible; if everything were not right I could not bear the
"There you are. How's that?"
"All right; but don't deceive me, I want no half measures. My
reputation would be made if I became with child."
I ask my reader's leave to draw a veil over some incidents of this
truly scandalous orgy, in which the ugly woman taught me some
things I did not know before. At last, more tired than exhausted,
I told them to begone, but the Astrodi insisted on finishing up
with a bowl of punch. I agreed, but not wishing to have anything
more to do with either of them I dressed myself again. However,
the champagne punch excited them to such an extent that at last
they made me share their transports. The Astrodi placed her
friend in such a singular position that the humps were no longer
visible, and imagining that I had before me the high priestess of
Jove, I paid her a long sacrifice, in which death and resurrection
followed one another in succession. But I felt disgusted with
myself, and drew away from their lascivious frenzies, and gave
them ten Louis to get rid of them. The Astrodi fell on her knees,
blessed me, thanked me, called me her god; and the Lepi wept and
laughed for joy at the same time; and thus for a quarter of an
hour I was treated to a scene of an extraordinary kind.
I had them taken home in my carriage, and slept till ten o'clock
next morning. Just as I was going out for a walk Stuard came to
my room and told me, with an air of despair, that if I did not
give him the means of going away before I left he would throw
himself in the Rhine.
"That's rather tragic," said I, "but I can find a cure. I will
disburse twenty-five Louis, but it is your wife who must receive
them; and the only condition is that she must receive me alone for
an hour, and be entirely kind."
"Sir, we need just that sum; my wife is disposed to receive you;
go and talk to her. I shall not be in till noon."
I put twenty-five Louis in a pretty little purse, and left my room
thinking that the victory was won. I entered her room and
approached her bed respectfully. When she heard me she sat up in
bed without taking the trouble to cover her breast, and before I
could wish her good-day she spoke to me as follows:
"I am ready, sir, to pay with my body for the wretched twenty-five
Louis of which my husband is in need. You can do what you like
with me; but remember that in taking advantage of my position to
assuage your brutal lust you are the viler of the two, for I only
sell myself so cheaply because necessity compels me to do so.
Your baseness is more shameful than mine. Come on; here I am."
With this flattering address she threw off the coverlet with a
vigorous gesture, and displayed all her beauties, which I might
have gazed on with such different feelings from those which now
filled my breast. For a moment I was silent with indignation.
All my passion had evaporated; in those voluptuous rounded limbs I
saw now only the covering of a wild beast's soul. I put back the
coverlet with the greatest calmness, and addressed her in a tone
of cold contempt:
"No, madam, I shall not leave this room degraded because you have
told me so, but I shall leave it after imparting to you a few
degrading truths, of which you cannot be ignorant if you are a
woman of any decency whatever. Here are twenty-five louis, a
wretched sum to give a virtuous woman in payment of her favours,
but much more than you deserve. I am not brutal, and to convince
you of the fact I am going to leave you in the undisturbed
possession of your charms, which I despise as heartily as I should
have admired them if your behaviour had been different. I only
give you the money from a feeling of compassion which I cannot
overcome, and which is the only feeling I now have for you.
Nevertheless, let me tell you that whether a woman sells herself
for twenty-five louis or twenty-five million louis she is as much
a prostitute in the one case as in the other, if she does not give
her love with herself, or at all events the semblance of love.
I went back to my room, and in course of time Stuard came to thank
"Sir," said I, "let me alone; I wish to hear no more about your
They went away the next day for Lyons, and my readers will hear of
them again at Liege.
In the afternoon Dolci took me to his garden that I might see the
gardener's sister. She was pretty, but not so pretty as he was.
He soon got her into a good humour, and after some trifling
objection she consented to be loved by him in my presence. I saw
that this Adonis had been richly dowered by nature, and I told him
that with such a physical conformation he had no need of emptying
his father's purse to travel, and before long he took my advice.
This fair Ganymede might easily have turned me into Jove, as he
struggled amorously with the gardener's sister.
As I was going home I saw a young man coming out of a boat; he was
from twenty to twenty-five years old, and looked very sad. Seeing
me looking at him, he accosted me, and humbly asked for alms,
shewing me a document authorizing him to beg, and a passport
stating he had left Madrid six weeks before. He came from Parma,
and was named Costa. When I saw Parma my national prejudice spoke
in his favour, and I asked him what misfortune had reduced him to
"Only lack of money to return to my native country," said he.
"What were you doing at Madrid, and why did you leave?"
"I was there four years as valet to Dr. Pistoria, physician to the
King of Spain, but on my health failing I left him. Here is a
certificate which will shew you that I gave satisfaction."
"What can you do?"
"I write a good hand, I can assist a gentleman as his secretary,
and I intend being a scribe when I get home. Here are some verses
I copied yesterday."
"You write well; but can you write correctly without a book?"
"I can write from dictation in French, Latin, and Spanish."
"Yes, sir, if the dictation is done properly, for it is the
business of the one who dictates to see that everything is
I saw that Master Gaetan Costa was an ignoramus, but in spite of
that I took him to my room and told Le Duc to address him in
Spanish. He answered well enough, but on my dictating to him in
Italian and French I found he had not the remotest ideas on
"But you can't write," said I to him. However, I saw he was
mortified at this, and I consoled him by saying that I would take
him to his own country at my expense. He kissed my hand, and
assured me that I should find a faithful servant in him.
This young fellow took my fancy by his originality; he had
probably assumed it to distinguish himself from the blockheads
amongst whom he had hitherto lived, and now used it in perfect
good faith with everybody. He thought that the art of a scribe
solely consisted in possessing a good hand, and that the fairest
writer would be the best scribe. He said as much while he was
examining a paper I had written, and as my writing was not as
legible as his he tacitly told me I was his inferior, and that I
should therefore treat him with some degree of respect. I laughed
at this fad, and, not thinking him incorrigible I took him into my
service. If it had not been for that odd notion of his I should
probably have merely given him a louis, and no more. He said that
spelling was of no consequence, as those who knew how to spell
could easily guess the words, while those who did not know were
unable to pick out the mistakes. I laughed, but as I said nothing
he thought the laugh signified approval. In the dictation I gave
him the Council of Trent happened to occur. According to his
system he wrote Trent by a three and a nought. I burst out
laughing; but he was not in the least put out, only remarking that
the pronunciation being the same it was of no consequence how the
word was spelt. In point of fact this lad was a fool solely
through his intelligence, matched with ignorance and unbounded
self-confidence. I was pleased with his originality and kept him,
and was thus the greater fool of the two, as the reader will see.
I left Avignon next day, and went straight to Marseilles, not
troubling to stop at Aix. I halted at the "Treize Cantons,"
wishing to stay for a week at least in this ancient colony of the
Phocaeans, and to do as I liked there. With this idea I took no
letter of introduction; I had plenty of money, and needed nobody's
help. I told my landlord to give me a choice fish dinner in my
own room, as I was aware that the fish in those parts is better
than anywhere else.
I went out the next morning with a guide, to take me back to the
inn when I was tired of walking. Not heeding where I went, I
reached a fine quay; I thought I was at Venice again, and I felt
my bosom swell, so deeply is the love of fatherland graven on the
heart of every good man. I saw a number of stalls where Spanish
and Levantine wines were kept, and a number of people drinking in
them. A crowd of business men went hither and thither, running up
against each other, crossing each other's paths, each occupied
with his own business, and not caring whose way he got into.
Hucksters, well dressed and ill dressed, women, pretty and plain,
women who stared boldly at everyone, modest maidens with downcast
eyes, such was the picture I saw.
The mixture of nationalities, the grave Turk and the glittering
Andalusian, the French dandy, the gross Negro, the crafty Greek,
the dull Hollander; everything reminded me of Venice, and I
enjoyed the scene.
I stopped a moment at a street corner to read a playbill, and then
I went back to the inn and refreshed my weary body with a
delicious dinner, washed down with choice Syracusan wine. After
dinner I dressed and took a place in the amphitheatre of the
Rosalie--Toulon--Nice--I Arrive at Genoa--M. Grimaldi--Veronique
and Her Sister
I noticed that the four principal boxes on both sides of the
proscenium were adorned with pretty women, but not a single
gentleman. In the interval between the first and second acts I
saw gentlemen of all classes paying their devoirs to these ladies.
Suddenly I heard a Knight of Malta say to a girl, who was the sole
occupant of a box next to me,
"I will breakfast with you to-morrow."
This was enough for me. I looked at her more closely and finding
her to be a dainty morsel I said, as soon as the knight had gone,-
"Will you give me my supper?"
"With pleasure; but I have been taken in so often that I shan't
expect you without an earnest."
"How can I give you an earnest? I don't understand."
"You must be a new-comer here."
She laughed, called the knight, and said,--
"Be pleased to explain to this gentleman, who has just asked me
for supper, the meaning of the word 'earnest.'"
The good-natured knight explained, with a smile, that the lady,
fearing lest my memory should prove defective, wanted me to pay
for my supper in advance. I thanked him, and asked her if a louis
would be enough; and on her replying in the affirmative, I gave
her the Louis and asked for her address. The knight told me
politely that he would take me there himself after the theatre,
"She's the wantonest wench in all Marseilles."
He then asked me if I knew the town, and when I told him that I
had only come that day he said he was glad to be the first to make
my acquaintance. We went to the middle of, the amphitheatre and
he pointed out a score of girls to right and left, all of them
ready to treat the first comer to supper. They are all on the
free list, and the manager finds they serve his ends as
respectable women will not sit in their boxes, and they draw
people to the theatre. I noticed five or six of a better type
than the one I had engaged, but I resolved to stick to her for the
evening, and to make the acquaintance of the others another time.
"Is your favourite amongst them?" I said to the knight.
"No, I keep a ballet-girl, and I will introduce you to her, as I
am glad to say that I am free from all jealousy."
When the play came to an end he took me to my nymph's lodging, and
we parted with the understanding that we were to see more of one
I found the lady in undress--a circumstance which went against
her, for what I saw did not please me. She gave me a capital
supper, and enlivened me by some witty and wanton sallies which
made me regard her in a more favourable light. When we had supper
she got into bed, and asked me to follow her example; but I told
her that I never slept out. She then offered me the English
article which brings peace to the soul, but I did not accept the
one she offered as I thought it looked of a common make.
"I have finer ones, but they are three francs each, and the maker
only sells them by the dozen," she said. "I will take a dozen if
they are really good," I replied.
She rang the bell, and a young, charming, and modest-looking girl
came in. I was struck with her.
"You have got a nice maid," I remarked, when the girl had gone for
the protective sheaths.
"She is only fifteen," she said, "and won't do anything, as she is
new to it."
"Will you allow me to see for myself?"
"You may ask her if you like, but I don't think she will consent."
The girl came back with the packet, and putting myself in a proper
position I told her to try one on. She proceeded to do so with a
sulky air and with a kind of repugnance which made me feel
interested in her. Number one would not go on, so she had to try
on a second, and the result was that I besprinkled her
plentifully. The mistress laughed, but she was indignant, threw
the whole packet in my face, and ran away in a rage. I wanted
nothing more after this, so I put the packet in my pocket, gave
the woman two Louis, and left the room. The girl I had treated so
cavalierly came to light me downstairs, and thinking I owed her an
apology I gave her a Louis and begged her pardon. The poor girl
was astonished, kissed my hand, and begged me to say nothing to
"I will not, my dear, but tell me truly whether you are still a
"Wonderful! but tell me why you wouldn't let me see for myself?"
"Because it revolted me."
"Nevertheless you will have to do so, for otherwise, in spite of
your prettiness, people will not know what to make of you. Would
you like to let me try?"
"Yes, but not in this horrible house."
"Go to my mother's to-morrow, I will be there. Your guide knows
where she lives."
When I got outside, I asked the man if he knew her. He replied in
the affirmative, and said he believed her to be an honest girl.
"You will take me to-morrow to see her mother," I said.
Next morning he took me to the end of the town, to a poor house,
where I found a poor woman and poor children living on the ground
floor, and eating hard black bread.
"What do you want?" said she.
"Is you daughter here?"
"No, and what if she were? I am not her bawd."
"No, of course not, my good woman."
Just then the girl came in, and the enraged mother flung an old
pot which came handy, at her head. Luckily it missed, but she
would not have escaped her mother's talons if I had not flung
myself between them. However, the old woman set up a dismal
shriek, the children imitated her, and the poor girl began to cry.
This hubbub made my man come in.
"You hussy!" screamed the mother, "you are bringing disgrace on
me; get out of my house. You are no longer my daughter!"
I was in a difficult position. The man begged her not to make
such a noise, as it would draw all the neighbours about the house;
but the enraged woman answered only by abuse. I drew six francs
from my pocket and gave them to her, but she flung them in my
face. At last I went out with the daughter, whose hair she
attempted to pull out by the roots, which project was defeated by
the aid of my man. As soon as we got outside, the mob which the
uproar had attracted hooted me and followed me, and no doubt I
should have been torn to pieces if I had not escaped into a
church, which I left by another door a quarter of an hour later.
My fright saved me, for I knew the ferocity of the Provencals, and
I took care not to reply a word to the storm of abuse which poured
on me. I believe that I was never in greater danger than on that
Before I got back to my inn I was rejoined by the servant and the
"How could you lead me into such a dangerous position?" said I.
"You must have known your mother was savage."
"I hoped she would behave respectfully to you."
"Be calm; don't weep any more. Tell me how I can serve you."
"Rather than return to that horrible house I was in yesterday I
would throw myself into the sea."
"Do you know of any respectable house where I can keep her?" said
I to the man.
He told me he did know a respectable individual who let furnished
"Take me to it, then."
The man was of an advanced age, and he had rooms to let on all the
"I only want a little nook," said the girl; and the old man took
us to the highest story, and opened the door of a garret, saying,-
"This closet is six francs a month, a month's rent to be paid in
advance, and I may tell you that my door is always shut at ten
o'clock, and that nobody can come and pass the night with you."
The room held a bed with coarse sheets, two chairs, a little
table, and a chest of drawers.
"How much will you board this young woman for?" said I.
He asked twenty sous, and two sous for the maid who would bring
her meals and do her room.
"That will do," said the girl, and she paid the month's rent and
the day's board. I left her telling her I would come back again.
As I went down the stairs I asked the old man to shew me a room
for myself. He skewed me a very nice one at a Louis a month, and
I paid in advance. He then gave me a latch-key, that I might go
and come when I liked.
"If you wish to board here," said he, "I think I could give
Having done this good work, I had my dinner by myself, and then
went to a coffee-house where I found the amiable Knight of Malta
who was playing. He left the game as soon as he saw me, put the
fistfull of gold he had won into his pocket, accosted me with the
politeness natural to a Frenchman, and asked me how I had liked
the lady who had given me my supper. I told him what had
happened, at which he laughed, and asked me to come and see his
ballet-girl. We found her under the hairdresser's hands, and she
received me with the playful familiarity with which one greets an
old acquaintance. I did not think much of her, but I pretended to
be immensely struck, with the idea of pleasing the good-natured
When the hairdresser left her, it was time for her to get ready
for the theatre, and she dressed herself, without caring who was
present. The knight helped her to change her chemise, which she
allowed him to do as a matter of course, though indeed she begged
me to excuse her.
As I owed her a compliment, I could think of nothing better than
to tell her that though she had not offended me she had made me
feel very uncomfortable.
"I don't believe you," said she.
"It's true all the same."
She came up to me to verify the fact, and finding I had deceived
her, she said half crossly,
"You are a bad fellow."
The women of Marseilles are undoubtedly the most profligate in
France. They not only pride themselves on never refusing, but
also on being the first to propose. This girl skewed me a
repeater, for which she had got up a lottery at twelve francs a
ticket. She had ten tickets left; I took them all, and so
delighted was she to touch my five Louis that she came and kissed
me, and told the knight that her unfaithfulness to him rested only
"I am charmed to hear it," said the Maltese. He asked me to sup
with her, and I accepted the invitation, but the sole pleasure I
had was looking at the knight at work. He was far inferior to
I wished them good night, and went to the house where I had placed
the poor girl. The maid skewed me to my room, and I asked her if
I might go to the garret. She took the light, I followed her up,
and Rosalie, as the poor girl was named, heard my voice and opened
the door. I told the maid to wait for me in my room, and I went
in and sat down on the bed.
"Are you contented, dear?" I said.
"I am quite happy."
"Then I hope you will be kind, and find room for me in your bed."
"You may come if you like, but I must tell you that you will not
find me a maid, as I have had one lover."
"You told me a lie, then?"
"Forgive me, I could not guess you would be my lover."
"I forgive you willingly; all the more so as I am no great
stickler for maidenheads."
She was as gentle as a lamb, and allowed me to gaze on all those
charms of which my hands and my lips disputed the possession; and
the notion that I was master of all these treasures put fire in
all my veins, but her submissive air distressed me.
"How is it you do not partake my desires?" said I.
"I dare not, lest you take me for a pretender."
Artifice or studied coquetry might have prompted such an answer,
but the real timidity and the frankness with which these words
were uttered could not have been assumed. Impatient to gain
possession of her I took off my clothes, and on getting into bed
to her I was astonished to find her a maid.
"Why did you tell me you had a lover?" said I. "I never heard of
a girl telling a lie of that sort before."
"All the same I did not tell a lie, but I am very glad that I seem
as if I had done so."
"Tell me all about it."
"Certainly I will, for I want to win your confidence. This is
"Two years ago my mother, though she was hot-tempered, still loved
me. I was a needle-woman, and earned from twenty to thirty sous a
day. Whatever I earned I gave my mother. I had never had a
lover, never thought of such a thing, and when my goodness was
praised I felt inclined to laugh. I had been brought up from a
child never to look at young men when I met them in the street,
and never to reply to them when they addressed any impudence to
"Two months ago a fine enough looking young man, a native of
Genoa, and a merchant in a small way, came to my mother to get her
to wash some very fine cotton stockings which the sea-water had
stained. When he saw me he was very complimentary, but in an
honest way. I liked him, and, no doubt seeing it, he came and
came again every evening. My mother was always present at our
interviews, and he looked at me and talked to me, but did not so
much as ask to kiss my hand. My mother was very pleased to notice
that the young man liked me, and often scolded me because I was
not polite enough to him. In time he had to go to Genoa in a
small ship which belonged to him, and which was laden with goods.
He assured us that he would return again the next spring and
declare his intentions. He said he hoped he should find me as
good as ever, and still without any lover. This was enough; my
mother looked upon him as my betrothed, and let us talk together
at the door till midnight. When he went I would shut the door and
lie down beside my mother, who was always asleep.
"Four or five days before his departure, he took my arm and got me
to go with him to a place about fifty paces from the house to
drink a glass of Muscat at a Greek's, who kept his tavern open all
night. We were only away for half an hour, and then it was that
he first kissed me. When I got home I found my mother awake, and
told her all; it seemed so harmless to me.
"Next day, excited by the recollection of what had happened the
night before, I went with him again, and love began to gain
ground. We indulged in caresses which were no longer innocent, as
we well knew. However, we forgave each other, as we had abstained
from the chief liberty.
"The day after, my lover--as he had to journey in the night--took
leave of my mother, and as soon as she was in bed I was not longer
in granting what I desired as much as he. We went to the Greek's,
ate and drank, and our heated senses gained love's cause; we
forgot our duty, and fancied our misdemeanour a triumph.
"Afterwards we fell asleep, and when we awoke we saw our fault in
the clear, cold light of day. We parted sorrowful rather than
rejoicing, and the reception my mother gave me was like that you
witnessed this morning. I assured her that marriage would take
away the shame of my sin, and with this she took up a stick and
would have done for me, if I had not taken to my heels, more from
instinct than from any idea of what I was doing.
"Once in the street I knew not where to turn, and taking refuge in
a church I stayed there like one in a dream till noon. Think of
my position. I was hungry, I had no refuge, nothing but the
clothes I wore, nothing that would get me a morsel of bread. A
woman accosted me in the street. I knew her and I also knew that
she kept a servants' agency. I asked her forthwith if she could
get me a place.
"'I had enquiries about a maid this morning,' said she, 'but it is
for a gay woman, and you are pretty. You would have a good deal
of difficulty in remaining virtuous.'
"'I can keep off the infection,' I answered, 'and in the position
I am in I cannot pick and choose.'
"She thereupon took me to the lady, who was delighted to see me,
and still more delighted when I told her that I had never had
anything to do with a man. I have repented of this lie bitterly
enough, for in the week I spent at that profligate woman's house I
have had to endure the most humiliating insults that an honest
girl ever suffered. No sooner did the men who came to the house
hear that I was a maid than they longed to slake their brutal lust
upon me, offering me gold if I would submit to their caresses. I
refused and was reviled, but that was not all. Five or six times
every day I was obliged to remain a witness of the disgusting
scenes enacted between my mistress and her customers, who, when I
was compelled to light them about the house at night, overwhelmed
me with insults, because I would not do them a disgusting service
for a twelve-sous piece. I could not bear this sort of life much
longer, and I was thinking of drowning myself. When you came you
treated me so ignominiously that my resolve to die was
strengthened, but you were so kind and polite as you went away
that I fell in love with you directly, thinking that Providence
must have sent you to snatch me away from the abyss. I thought
your fine presence might calm my mother and persuade her to take
me back till my lover came to marry me. I was undeceived, and I
saw that she took me for a prostitute. Now, if you like, I am
altogether yours, and I renounce my lover of whom I am no longer
worthy. Take me as your maid, I will love you and you only; I
will submit myself to you and do whatever you bid me."
Whether it were weakness or virtue on my part, this tale of woe
and a mother's too great severity drew tears from my eyes, and
when she saw my emotion she wept profusely, for her heart was in
need of some relief.
"I think, my poor Rosalie, you have only one chemise."
"Alas! that is all."
Comfort yourself, my dear; all your wants shall be supplied
tomorrow, and in the evening you shall sup with me in my room on
the second floor. I will take care of you."
"You pity me, then?"
"I fancy there is more love than pity in it."
"Would to God it were so!"
This "would to God," which came from the very depths of her soul,
sent me away in a merry mood. The servant who had been waiting
for me for two hours, and was looking rather glum, relaxed when
she saw the colour of a crown which I gave her by way of
"Tell your master," said I, "that Rosalie will sup with me to-
morrow; let us have a fasting dinner, but let it be a good one."
I returned to my inn quite in love with Rosalie, and I
congratulated myself on having at last heard a true tale from a
pretty mouth. She appeared to me so well disposed that her small
failing seemed to make her shine the more. I resolved never to
abandon her, and I did so in all sincerity; was I not in love?
After I had had my chocolate next morning I went out with a guide
to the shops, where I got the necessary articles, paying a good
but not an excessive price. Rosalie was only fifteen, but with
her figure, her well-formed breasts, and her rounded arms, she
would have been taken for twenty. Her shape was so imprinted on
my brain that everything I got for her fitted as if she had been
measured for it. This shopping took up all the morning, and in
the afternoon the man took her a small trunk containing two
dresses, chemises, petticoats, handkerchiefs, stockings, gloves,
caps, a pair of slippers, a fan, a work-bag, and a mantle. I was
pleased at giving her such a delightful surprise, and I longed for
suppertime that I might enjoy the sight of her pleasure.
The Knight of Malta came to dine with me without ceremony, and I
was charmed to see him. After we had dined he persuaded me to go
to the theatre, as in consequence of the suspense of the
subscription arrangements the boxes would be filled with all the
quality in Marseilles.
"There will be no loose women in the amphitheatre," said he, "as
everybody has to pay."
That decided me and I went. He presented me to a lady with an
excellent connection, who asked me to come and see her. I excused
myself on the plea that I was leaving so shortly. Nevertheless
she was very useful to me on my second visit to Marseilles. Her
name was Madame Audibert.
I did not wait for the play to end, but went where love called me.
I had a delightful surprise when I saw Rosalie; I should not have
known her. But I cannot resist the pleasure of recalling her
picture as she stood before me then, despite the years that have
rolled by since that happy moment.
Rosalie was an enticing-looking brunette, above the middle height.
Her face was a perfect oval, and exquisitely proportioned. Two
fine black eyes shed a soft and ravishing light around. Her
eyebrows were arched, and she had a wealth of hair, black and
shining as ebony; her skin was while and lightly tinged with
colour. On her chin was a dimple, and her slightest smile
summoned into being two other dimples, one on each cheek. Her
mouth was small, disclosing two rows of fairest orient pearls, and
from her red lips flowed forth an indefinable sweetness. The
lower lip projected ever so lightly, and seemed designed to hold a
kiss. I have spoken of her arms, her breast, and her figure,
which left nothing to be desired, but I must add to this catalogue
of her charms, that her hand was exquisitely shaped, and that her
foot was the smallest I have ever seen. As to her other beauties,
I will content myself with saying that they were in harmony with
those I have described.
To see her at her best, one had to see her smiling; and hitherto
she had been sad or vexed--states of mind which detract from a
woman's appearance. But now sadness was gone, and gratitude and
pleasure had taken its place. I examined her closely, and felt
proud, as I saw what a transformation I had effected; but I
concealed my surprise, lest she should think I had formed an
unfavourable impression of her. I proceeded, therefore, to tell
her that I should expose myself to ridicule if I attempted to keep
a beauty like herself for a servant.
"You shall be my mistress," I said, "and my servants shall respect
you as if you were my wife."
At this Rosalie, as if I had given her another being, began to try
and express her gratitude for what I had done. Her words, which
passion made confused, increased my joy; here was no art nor
deceit, but simple nature.
There was no mirror in her garret, so she had dressed by her sense
of touch, and I could see that she was afraid to stand up and look
at herself in the mirror in my room. I knew the weak spot in all
women's hearts (which men are very wrong in considering as matter
for reproach), and I encouraged her to admire herself, whereupon
she could not restrain a smile of satisfaction.
"I think I must be in disguise," said she, "for I have never seen
myself so decked out before."
She praised the tasteful simplicity of the dress I had chosen, but
was vexed at the thought that her mother would still be
"Think no more of your mother, dearest one. You look like a lady
of quality, and I shall be quite proud when the people at Genoa
ask me if you are my daughter."
"Yes, at Genoa. Why do you blush?"
"From surprise; perhaps I may see there one whom I have not yet
"Would you like to stay here better?"
"No, no! Love me and be sure that I love you and for your own
sake, not from any thought of my own interests."
"You are moved, my angel; let me wipe away your tears with
She fell into my arms, and she relieved the various feelings of
which her heart was full by weeping for some time. I did not try
to console her, for she had not grief; she wept as tender souls,
and women, more especially, often will. We had a delicious supper
to which I did honour for two, for she ate nothing. I asked her
if she was so unfortunate as not to care for good food.
"I have as good an appetite as anyone," she replied, "and an
excellent digestion. You shall see for yourself when I grow more
accustomed to my sudden happiness."
"At least you can drink; this wine is admirable. If you prefer
Greek muscat I will send for some. It will remind you of your
"If you love me at all, I beg you will spare me that
"You shall have no more mortification from me, I promise you. It
was only a joke, and I beg your pardon for it."
"As I look upon you I feel in despair at not having known you
"That feeling of yours, which wells forth from the depths of your
open soul, is grand. You are beautiful and good, for you only
yielded to the voice of love with the prospect of becoming his
wife; and when I think what you are to me I am in despair at not
being sure you love me. An evil genius whispers in my ear that
you only bear with me because I had the happiness of helping you."
"Indeed, that is an evil genius. To be sure, if I had met you in
the street I should not have fallen head over ears in love with
you, like a wanton, but you would certainly have pleased me. I am
sure I love you, and not for what you have done for me; for if I
were rich and you were poor, I would do anything in the world for
you. But I don't want it to be like that, for I had rather be
your debtor than for you to be mine. These are my real feelings,
and you can guess the rest."
We were still talking on the same subject when midnight struck,
and my old landlord came and asked me if I were pleased.
"I must thank you," I replied, "I am delighted. Who cooked this
"She understands her craft; tell her I thought it excellent."
"Yes, sir, but it is dear."
"Not too dear for me. You shall be pleased with me as I with you,
and take care to have as good a supper to-morrow evening, as I
hope the lady will be well enough to do justice to the products of
your daughter's culinary skill."
"Bed is a capital place to get an appetite. Ah! it is sixty years
since I have had anything to do with that sort of thing. What are
you laughing at, mademoiselle?"
"At the delight with which you must recollect it."
"You are right, it is a pleasant recollection; and thus I am
always ready to forgive young folks the peccadilloes that love
makes them commit."
"You are a wise old man," said I, "everyone should sympathise with
the tenderest of all our mortal follies."
"If the old man is wise," said Rosalie, when he had left the room,
"my mother must be very foolish."
"Would you like me to take you to the play to-morrow?"
"Pray do not. I will come if you like, but it will vex me very
much. I don't want to walk out with you or to go to the theatre
with you here. Good heavens! What would people say. No,
neither at Marseilles; but elsewhere, anything you please and with
all my heart."
"Very good, my dear, just as you please. But look at your room;
no more garret for you; and in three days we will start."
"Yes; tell me to-morrow what you require for the journey, for I
don't want you to lack for anything, and if you leave it all to me
I might forget something which would vex me."
"Well, I should like another cloak, a cloak with a lining, some
boots, a night-cap, and a prayer-book."
"You know how to read, do you?"
"Certainly; and I can write fairly well."
"I am glad to hear it. Your asking me so freely for what you want
is a true proof of your love; where confidence dwells not there is
no love. I will not forget anything, but your feet are so small
that I should advise you to get your boots yourself."
Our talk was so pleasant, and I experienced such delight in
studying her disposition, that we did not go to bed till five
o'clock. In the arms of love and sleep we spent seven delicious
hours, and when we rose at noon we were fast lovers. She called
me thou, talked of love and not of gratitude, and, grown more
familiar with her new estate, laughed at her troubles. She kissed
me at every opportunity, called me her darling boy, her joy, and
as the present moment is the only real thing in this life, I
enjoyed her love, I was pleased with her caresses, and put away
all ideas of the dreadful future, which has only one certainty--
death, 'ultima linea rerum'.
The second night was far sweeter than the first; she had made a
good supper, and drunk well, though moderately; thus she was
disposed to refine on her pleasure, and to deliver herself with
greater ardour to all the voluptuous enjoyments which love
I gave her a pretty watch and a gold shuttle for her to amuse
"I wanted it," said she, "but I should never have dared to ask for
I told her that this fear of my displeasure made me doubt once
more whether she really loved me. She threw herself into my arms,
and promised that henceforth she would shew me the utmost
I was pleased to educate this young girl, and I felt that when her
mind had been developed she would be perfect.
On the fourth day I warned her to hold herself in readiness to
start at a moment's notice. I had said nothing about my plans to
Costa or Le Duc, but Rosalie knew that I had two servants, and I
told her that I should often make them talk on the journey for the
sake of the laughter their folly would afford me.
"You, my dear," I had said to her, "must be very reserved with
them, and not allow them to take the slightest liberty. Give them
your orders as a mistress, but without pride, and you will be
obeyed and respected. If they forget themselves in the slightest
particular, tell me at once."
I started from the hotel of the "Treize Cantons" with four post-
horses, Le Duc and Costa sitting on the coachman's seat. The
guide, whom I had paid well for his services, took us to Rosalie's
door. I got out of the carriage, and after thanking the kindly
old landlord, who was sorry to lose so good a boarder, I made her
get in, sat down beside her, and ordered the postillions to go to
Toulon, as I wished to see that fine port before returning to
Italy. We got to Toulon at five o'clock.
My Rosalie behaved herself at supper like the mistress of a house
accustomed to the best society. I noticed that Le Duc as head man
made Costa wait upon her, but I got over him by telling my
sweetheart that he would have the honour of doing her hair, as he
could do it as well as the best barber in Paris. He swallowed the
golden pill, and gave in with a good grace, and said, with a
profound bow, that he hoped to give madam satisfaction.
We went out next morning to see the port, and were shewn over the
place by the commandant, whose acquaintance we made by a lucky
chance. He offered his arm to Rosalie, and treated her with the
consideration she deserved for her appearance and the good sense
of her questions. The commandant accepted my invitation to
dinner, at which Rosalie spoke to the point though not to excess,
and received the polite compliments of our worthy guest with much
grace. In the afternoon he took us over the arsenal, and after
having him to dinner could not refuse his invitation to supper.
There was no difficulty about Rosalie; the commandant introduced
her immediately to his wife, his daughter, and his son. I was
delighted to see that her manner with ladies even surpassed her
manner with gentlemen. She was one of Nature's own ladies. The
commandant's wife and daughter caressed her again and again, and
she received their attentions with that modest sensibility which
is the seal of a good education.
They asked me to dinner the next day, but I was satisfied with
what I had seen, so I took leave, intending to start on the
When we got back to the inn I told her how pleased I was with her,
and she threw her arms round my neck for joy.
"I am always afraid," said she, "of being asked who I am."
"You needn't be afraid, dearest; in France no gentleman or lady
would think of asking such a question."
"But if they did, what ought I to do?"
"You should make use of an evasion."
"What's an evasion?"
"A way of escaping from a difficulty without satisfying
"Give me an example."
"Well, if such a question were asked you, you might say, 'You had
better ask this gentleman.'"
"I see, the question is avoided; but is not that impolite?"
"Yes; but not so impolite as to ask an embarrassing question."
"And what would you say if the question was passed on to you?"
"Well, my answer would vary in a ratio with the respect in which I
held the questioner. I would not tell the truth, but I should say
something. And I am glad to see you attentive to my lessons.
Always ask questions, and you will always find me ready to answer,
for I want to teach you. And now let us to bed; we have to start
for Antibes at an early hour, and love will reward you for the
pleasure you have given me to-day."
At Antibes I hired a felucca to take me to Genoa, and as I
intended to return by the same route I had my carriage warehoused
for a small monthly payment. We started early with a good wind,
but the sea becoming rough, and Rosalie being mortally afraid, I
had the felucca rowed into Villafranca, where I engaged a carriage
to take me to Nice. The weather kept us back for three days, and
I felt obliged to call on the commandant, an old officer named
He gave me an excellent reception, and after the usual compliments
had passed, said,--
"Do you know a Russian who calls himself Charles Ivanoff?"
"I saw him once at Grenoble."
"It is said that he has escaped from Siberia, and that he is the
younger son of the Duke of Courland."
"So I have heard, but I know no proof of his claim to the title."
"He is at Genoa, where it is said a banker is to give him twenty
thousand crowns. In spite of that, no one would give him a sou
here, so I sent him to Genoa at my own expense, to rid the place
I felt very glad that the Russian had gone away before my arrival.
An officer named Ramini, who was staying at the same inn as
myself, asked if I would mind taking charge of a packet which
M. de St. Pierre, the Spanish consul, had to send to the Marquis
Grimaldi, at Genoa. It was the nobleman I had just seen at Avignon,
and I was pleased to execute the commission. The same officer
asked me whether I had ever seen a certain Madame Stuard.
"She came here a fortnight ago with a man who calls himself her
husband. The poor devils hadn't a penny, and she, a great beauty,
enchanted everybody, but would give no one a smile or a word."
"I have both seen and know her," I answered. "I furnished her
with the means to come here. How could she leave Nice without any
"That's just what no one can understand. She went off in a
carriage, and the landlord's bill was paid. I was interested in
the woman. The Marquis Grimaldi told me that she had refused a
hundred louis he offered her, and that a Venetian of his
acquaintance had fared just as badly. Perhaps that is you?"
"It is, and I gave her some money despite my treatment."
M. Peterson came to see me, and was enchanted with Rosalie's
amiable manner. This was another conquest for her, and I duly
complimented her upon it.
Nice is a terribly dull place, and strangers are tormented by the
midges, who prefer them to the inhabitants. However, I amused
myself at a small bank at faro, which was held at a coffee-house,
and at which Rosalie, whose play I directed, won a score of
Piedmontese pistoles. She put her little earnings into a purse,
and told me she liked to have some money of her own. I scolded
her for not having told me so before, and reminded her of her
"I don't really want it," said she, "it's only my
We soon made up our little quarrel.
In such ways did I make this girl my own, in the hope that for the
remnant of my days she would be mine, and so I should not be
forced to fly from one lady to another. But inexorable fate
ordained it otherwise.
The weather grew fine again, and we got on board once more, and
the next day arrived at Genoa, which I had never seen before. I
put up at "St. Martin's Inn," and for decency's sake took two
rooms, but they were adjoining one another. The following day I
sent the packet to M. Grimaldi, and a little later I left my card
at his palace.
My guide took me to a linen-draper's, and I bought some stuff for
Rosalie, who was in want of linen. She was very pleased with it.
We were still at table when the Marquis Grimaldi was announced; he
kissed me and thanked me for bringing the parcel. His next remark
referred to Madame Stuard. I told him what had happened, and he
laughed, saying that he was not quite sure what he would have done
under the circumstances.
I saw him looking at Rosalie attentively, and I told him she was
as good as she was beautiful.
"I want to find her a maid," I said, "a good seamstress, who could
go out with her, and above all who could talk Italian to her, for
I want her to learn the language that I may take her into society
at Florence, Rome and Naples."
"Don't deprive Genoa of the pleasure of entertaining her," said
the marquis. "I will introduce her under whatever name she
pleases, and in my own house to begin with."
"She has good reasons for preserving her incognito here."
"Ah, I see!--Do you think of staying here long?"
"A month, or thereabouts, and our pleasures will be limited to
seeing the town and its surroundings and going to the theatre. We
shall also enjoy the pleasures of the table. I hope to eat
champignons every day, they are better here than anywhere else"
"An excellent plan. I couldn't suggest a better. I am going to
see what I can do in the way of getting you a maid, mademoiselle."
"You sir? How can I deserve such great kindness?"
"My interest in you is the greater, as I think you come from
Rosalie blushed. She was not aware that she lisped, and that this
betrayed her. I extricated her from her confusion by telling the
marquis his conjecture was well founded.
I asked him how I could get the Journal de Savans, the Mercure de
France, and other papers of the same description. He promised to
send me a man who would get me all that kind of thing. He added
that if I would allow him to send me some of his excellent
chocolate he would come and breakfast with us. I said that both
gift and guest were vastly agreeable to me.
As soon as he had gone Rosalie asked me to take her to a
"I want ribbons and other little things," said she, "but I should
like to bargain for them and pay for them out of my own money,
without your having anything to do with it."
"Do whatever you like, my dear, and afterwards we will go to the
The milliner to whom we went proved to be a Frenchwoman. It was a
charming sight to see Rosalie shopping. She put on an important
air, seemed to know all about it, ordered bonnets in the latest
fashion, bargained, and contrived to spend five or six louis with
great grandeur. As we left the shop I told her that I had been
taken for her footman, and I meant to be revenged. So saying, I
made her come into a jeweller's, where I bought her a necklace,
ear-rings, and brooches in imitation diamonds, and without letting
her say a word I paid the price and left the shop.
"You have bought me some beautiful things," said she, "but you are
too lavish with your money; if you had bargained you might have
saved four louis at least."
"Very likely, dearest, but I never was any hand at a bargain."
I took her to the play, but as she did not understand the language
she got dreadfully tired, and asked me to take her home at the end
of the first act, which I did very willingly. When we got in I
found a box waiting for me from M. Grimaldi. It proved to contain
twenty-four pounds of chocolate. Costa, who had boasted of his
skill in making chocolate in the Spanish fashion, received orders
to make us three cups in the morning.
At nine o'clock the marquis arrived with a tradesman, who sold me
some beautiful oriental materials. I gave them to Rosalie to make
two 'mezzaro' for herself. The 'mezzaro' is a kind of hooded
cloak worn by the Genoese women, as the 'cendal' is worn at
Venice, and the 'mantilla' at Madrid.
I thanked M. Grimaldi for the chocolate, which was excellent;
Costa was quite proud of the praise the marquis gave him. Le Duc
came in to announce a woman, whose name I did not know.
"It's the mother of the maid I have engaged," said M. Grimaldi.
She came in, and I saw before me a well-dressed woman, followed by
a girl from twenty to twenty-four years old, who pleased me at the
first glance. The mother thanked the marquis, and presented her
daughter to Rosalie, enumerating her good qualities, and telling
her that she would serve her well, and walk with her when she
wished to go out.
"My daughter," she added, "speaks French, and you will find her a
good, faithful, and obliging girl."
She ended by saying that her daughter had been in service lately
with a lady, and that she would be obliged if she could have her
meals by herself.
The girl was named Veronique. Rosalie told her that she was a
good girl, and that the only way to be respected was to be
respectable. Veronique kissed her hand, the mother went away, and
Rosalie took the girl into her room to begin her work.
I did not forget to thank the marquis, for he had evidently chosen
a maid more with a view to my likings than to those of my
sweetheart. I told him that I should not fail to call on him, and
he replied that he would be happy to see me at any hour, and that
I should easily find him at his casino at St. Pierre d'Arena,
where he often spent the night.
by Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
MEMOIRS OF JACQUES CASANOVA de SEINGALT 1725-1798
ADVENTURES IN THE SOUTH, Volume 4b--RETURN TO ITALY
THE RARE UNABRIDGED LONDON EDITION OF 1894 TRANSLATED BY ARTHUR
MACHEN TO WHICH HAS BEEN ADDED THE CHAPTERS DISCOVERED
BY ARTHUR SYMONS.
RETURN TO ITALY
The Play--The Russian--Petri--Rosalie at the Convent
When the marquis had gone, seeing Rosalie engaged with Veronique,
I set myself to translate the 'Ecossaise' for the actors at Genoa,
who seemed pretty good ones, to play.
I thought Rosalie looking sad at dinner, and said,
"What is the matter, dearest? You know I do not like to see you
"I am vexed at Veronique's being prettier than I."
"I see what you mean; I like that! But console your, self,
Veronique is nothing compared to you, in my eyes at all events.
You are my only beauty; but to reassure you I will ask M. de
Grimaldi to tell her mother to come and fetch her away, and to get
me another maid as ugly as possible."
"Oh, no! pray do not do so; he will think I am jealous, and I
wouldn't have him think so for the world."
"Well, well, smile again if you do not wish to vex me."
"I shall soon do that, if, as you assure me, she will not make me
lose your love. But what made the old gentleman get me a girl
like that? Do you think he did it out of mischief?"
"No, I don't think so. I am sure, on the other hand, that he
wanted to let you know that you need not fear being compared with
anybody. Are you pleased with her in other respects?"
"She works well, and she is very respectful. She does not speak
four words without addressing me as signora, and she is careful to
translate what she says from Italian into French. I hope that in
a month I shall speak well enough for us to dispense with her
services when we go to Florence. I have ordered Le Duc to clear
out the room I have chosen for her, and I will send her her dinner
from our own table. I will be kind to her, but I hope you will
not make me wretched."
"I could not do so; and I do not see what there can be in common
between the girl and myself."
"Then you will pardon my fears."
"The more readily as they shew your love."
"I thank you, but keep my secret."
I promised never to give a glance to Veronique, of whom I was
already afraid, but I loved Rosalie and would have done anything
to save her the least grief.
I set to at my translation after dinner; it was work I liked. I
did not go out that day, and I spent the whole of the next morning
with M. de Grimaldi.
I went to the banker Belloni and changed all my gold into gigliati
sequins. I made myself known after the money was changed, and the
head cashier treated me with great courtesy. I had bills on this
banker for forty thousand Roman crowns, and on Lepri bills for
Rosalie did not want to go to the play again, so I got her a piece
of embroidery to amuse her in the evening. The theatre was a
necessity for me; I always went unless it interferred with some
still sweeter pleasure. I went by myself, and when I got home I
found the marquis talking to my mistress. I was pleased, and
after I had embraced the worthy nobleman I complimented Rosalie on
having kept him till my arrival, adding gently that she should
have put down her work.
"Ask him," she replied, "if he did not make me keep on. He said
he would go if I didn't, so I gave in to keep him."
She then rose, stopped working, and in the course of an
interesting conversation she succeeded in making the marquis
promise to stay to supper, thus forestalling my intention. He was
not accustomed to take anything at that hour, and ate little; but
I saw he was enchanted with my treasure, and that pleased me, for
I did not think I had anything to fear from a man of sixty;
besides, I was glad at the opportunity of accustoming Rosalie to
good society. I wanted her to be a little coquettish, as a woman
never pleases in society unless she shews a desire to please.
Although the position was quite a strange one for her, she made me
admire the natural aptitude of women, which may be improved or
spoiled by art but which exists more or less in them all, from the
throne to the milk-pail. She talked to M. de Grimaldi in a way
that seemed to hint she was willing to give a little hope. As our
guest did not eat, she said graciously that he must come to dinner
some day that she might have an opportunity of seeing whether he
really had any appetite.
When he had gone I took her on my knee, and covering her with
kisses asked her where she had learnt to talk to great people so
"It's an easy matter," she replied. "Your eyes speak to my soul,
and tell me what to do and what to say."
A professed rhetorician could not have answered more elegantly or
I finished the translation; I had it copied out by Costa and took
it to Rossi, the manager, who said he would put it on directly,
when I told him I was going to make him a present of the play. I
named the actors of my choice, and asked him to bring them to dine
with me at my inn, that I might read the play and distribute the
As will be guessed, my invitation was accepted, and Rosalie
enjoyed dining with the actors and actresses, and especially
hearing herself called Madame Casanova every moment. Veronique
explained everything she did not understand.
When my actors were round me in a ring, they begged me to tell
them their parts, but I would not give in on this point.
"The first thing to be done," said I, "is for you to listen
attentively to the whole piece without minding about your parts.
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