The Complete Memoires of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
Part 38 out of 70
When you know the whole play I will satisfy your curiosity."
I knew that careless or idle actors often pay no attention to
anything except their own parts, and thus a piece, though well
played in its parts, is badly rendered as a whole.
They submitted with a tolerably good grace, which the high and
mighty players of the Comedie Francaise would certainly not have
done. Just as I was beginning my heading the Marquis de Grimaldi
and the banker Belloni came in to call on me. I was glad for them
to be present at the trial, which only lasted an hour and a
After I had heard the opinion of the actors, who by their praise
of various situations shewed me that they had taken in the plot, I
told Costa to distribute the parts; but no sooner was this done
than the first actor and the first actress began to express their
displeasure; she, because I had given her the part of Lady Alton;
he, because I had not given him Murray's part; but they had to
bear it as it was my will. I pleased everybody by asking them all
to dinner for the day after the morrow, after dinner the piece to
be rehearsed for the first time.
The banker Belloni asked me to dinner for the following day,
including my lady, who excused herself with great politeness, in
the invitation; and M. Grimaldi was glad to take my place at
dinner at her request.
When I got to M. Belloni's, I was greatly surprised to see the
impostor Ivanoff, who instead of pretending not to know me, as he
ought to have done, came forward to embrace me. I stepped back
and bowed, which might be put down to a feeling of respect,
although my coldness and scant ceremony would have convinced any
observant eye of the contrary. He was well dressed, but seemed
sad, though he talked a good deal, and to some purpose, especially
on politics. The conversation turned on the Court of Russia,
where Elizabeth Petrovna reigned; and he said nothing, but sighed
and turned away pretending to wipe the tears from his eyes. At
dessert, he asked me if I had heard anything of Madame Morin,
adding, as if to recall the circumstance to my memory, that we had
supped together there:
"I believe she is quite well," I answered.
His servant, in yellow and red livery, waited on him at table.
After dinner he contrived to tell me that he had a matter of the
greatest importance he wanted to discuss with me.
"My only desire sir, is to avoid all appearance of knowing
anything about you."
"One word from you will gain me a hundred thousand crowns, and you
shall have half."
I turned my back on him, and saw him no more at Genoa.
When I got back to the inn I found M. de Grimaldi giving Rosalie
a lesson in Italian.
"She has given me an exquisite dinner," said he, "you must be very
happy with her."
In spite of his honest face, M. Grimaldi was in love with her,
but I thought I had nothing to fear. Before he went she invited
him to come to the rehearsal next day.
When the actors came I noticed amongst them a young man whose face
I did not know, and on my enquiring Rossi told me he was the
"I won't have any prompter; send him about his business."
"We can't get on without him."
"You'll have to; I will be the prompter."
The prompter was dismissed, but the three actresses began to
"If we knew our parts as well as the 'pater noster' we should be
certain to come to a dead stop if the prompter isn't in his box."
"Very good," said I to the actress, who was to play Lindane, "I
will occupy the box myself, but I shall see your drawers."
"You would have some difficulty in doing that," said the first
actor, "she doesn't wear any."
"So much the better."
"You know nothing about it," said the actress.
These remarks put us all in high spirits, and the ministers of
Thalia ended by promising that they would dispense with a
prompter. I was pleased with the way the piece was read, and they
said they would be letter-perfect in three days. But something
On the day fixed for the rehearsal they came without the Lindane
and Murray. They were not well, but Rossi said they would not
fail us eventually. I took the part of Murray, and asked Rosalie
to be the Lindane.
"I don't read Italian well enough," she whispered, "and I don't
wish to have the actors laughing at me; but Veronique could do
"Ask if she will read the part."
However, Veronique said that she could repeat it by heart.
"All the better," said I to her, laughing internally, as I thought
of Soleure, for I saw that I should thus be obliged to make love
to the girl to whom I had not spoken for the fortnight she had
been with us. I had not even had a good look at her face. I was
so afraid of Rosalie (whom I loved better every day) taking
What I had feared happened. When I took Veronique's hand, and
said, "Si, bella Lindana, debbe adorarvi!" everybody clapped,
because I gave the words their proper expression; but glancing at
Rosalie I saw a shadow on her face, and I was angry at not having
controlled myself better. Nevertheless, I could not help feeling
amazed at the way Veronique played the part. When I told her that
I adored her she blushed up to her eyes; she could not have played
the love-sick girl better.
We fixed a day for the dress-rehearsal at the theatre, and the
company announced the first night a week in advance to excite
public curiosity. The bills ran:
"We shall give Voltaire's Ecossaise, translated by an anonymous
author: no prompter will be present."
I cannot give the reader any idea of the trouble I had to quiet
Rosalie. She refused to be comforted; wept incessantly, and
touched my heart by gentle reproaches.
"You love Veronique," said she, "and you only translated that
piece to have an opportunity of declaring your love."
I succeeded in convincing her that she wronged me, and at last
after I had lavished caresses on her she suffered herself to be
calmed. Next morning she begged pardon for her jealousy, and to
cure it insisted on my speaking constantly to Veronique. Her
heroism went farther. She got up before me and sent me my coffee
by Veronique, who was as astonished as I was.
At heart Rosalie was a great creature, capable of noble resolves,
but like all women she gave way to sudden emotions. From that day
she gave me no more signs of jealousy, and treated her maid with
more kindness than ever. Veronique was an intelligent and well-
mannered girl, and if my heart had not been already occupied she
would have reigned there.
The first night of the play I took Rosalie to a box, and she would
have Veronique with her. M. de Grimaldi did not leave her for a
moment. The play was praised to the skies; the large theatre was
full of the best people in Genoa. The actors surpassed
themselves, though they had no prompter, and were loudly
applauded. The piece ran five nights and was performed to full
houses. Rossi, hoping perhaps that I would make him a present of
another play, asked my leave to give my lady a superb pelisse of
lynx-fur, which pleased her immensely.
I would have done anything to spare my sweetheart the least
anxiety, and yet from my want of thought I contrived to vex her.
I should never have forgiven myself if Providence had not ordained
that I should be the cause of her final happiness.
"I have reason to suspect," she said one day, "that I am with
child, and I am enchanted at the thought of giving you a dear
pledge of my love."
"If it comes at such a time it will be mine, and I assure you I
shall love it dearly."
"And if it comes two or three weeks sooner you will not be sure
that you are the parent?"
"Not quite sure; but I shall love it just as well, and look upon
it as my child as well as yours."
"I am sure you must be the father. It is impossible the child can
be Petri's, who only knew me once, and then very imperfectly,
whilst you and I have lived in tender love for so long a time."
She wept hot tears.
"Calm yourself, dearest, I implore you! You are right; it cannot
be Petri's child. You know I love you, and I cannot doubt that
you are with child by me and by me alone. If you give me a baby
as pretty as yourself, it will be mine indeed. Calm yourself."
"How can I be calm when you can have such a suspicion?"
We said no more about it; but in spite of my tenderness, my
caresses, and all the trifling cares which bear witness to love,
she was often sad and thoughtful. How many times I reproached
myself bitterly for having let out my silly calculations.
A few days later she gave me a sealed letter, saying,--
"The servant has given me this letter when you were away. I am
offended by his doing so, and I want you to avenge me."
I called the man, and said,--
"Where did you get this letter?"
"From a young man, who is unknown to me. He gave me a crown, and
begged me to give the letter to the lady without your seeing me,
and he promised to give me two crowns more if I brought him a
reply tomorrow. I did not think I was doing wrong, sir, as the
lady was at perfect liberty to tell you."
"That's all very well, but you must go, as the lady, who gave me
the letter unopened, as you can see for yourself, is offended with
I called Le Duc, who paid the man and sent him away. I opened the
letter, and found it to be from Petri. Rosalie left my side, not
wishing to read the contents. The letter ran as follows:
"I have seen you, my dear Rosalie. It was just as you were coming
out of the theatre, escorted by the Marquis de Grimaldi, who is my
godfather. I have not deceived you; I was still intending to come
and marry you at Marseilles next spring, as I promised. I love
you faithfully, and if you are still my good Rosalie I am ready to
marry you here in the presence of my kinfolk. If you have done
wrong I promise never to speak of it, for I know that it was I who
led you astray. Tell me, I entreat you, whether I may speak to
the Marquis de Grimaldi with regard to you. I am ready to receive
you from the hands of the gentleman with whom you are living,
provided you are not his wife. Be sure, if you are still free,
that you can only recover your honour by marrying your seducer."
"This letter comes from an honourable man who is worthy of
Rosalie," I thought to myself, "and that's more than I shall be,
unless I marry her myself. But Rosalie must decide."
I called her to me, gave her the letter, and begged her to read it
attentively. She did so, and gave it me back, asking me if I
advised her to accept Petri's offer.
"If you do dear Rosalie, I shall die of grief; but if I do not
yield you, my honour bids me marry you, and that I am quite ready
At this the charming girl threw herself on my breast, crying in
the voice of true love, "I love you and you alone, darling; but it
is not true that your honour bids you marry me. Ours is a
marriage of the heart; our love is mutual, and that is enough for
"Dear Rosalie, I adore you, but I am the best judge of my own
honour. If Petri is a well-to-do man and a man who would make you
happy, I must either give you up or take you myself."
"No, no; there is no hurry to decide. If you love me I am happy,
for I love you and none other. I shall not answer the letter, and
I don't want to hear anything more of Petri."
"You may be sure that I will say no more of him, but I am sure
that the marquis will have a hand in it."
"I daresay, but he won't speak to me twice on the subject."
After this treaty--a more sincere one than the Powers of Europe
usually make--I resolved to leave Genoa as soon as I got some
letters for Florence and Rome. In the meanwhile all was peace and
love between myself and Rosalie. She had not the slightest shadow
of jealousy in her soul, and M. de Grimaldi was the sole witness
of our happiness.
Five or six days later I went to see the marquis at his casino at
St. Pierre d'Arena, and he accosted me by saying that he was
happy to see me as he had an important matter he wished to discuss
with me. I guessed what it would be, but begged him to explain
himself. He then spoke as follows:
"A worthy merchant of the town brought his nephew, a young man
named Petri, to see me two days ago. He told me that the young
man is my godson, and he asked me to protect him. I answered that
as his godfather I owed him my protection, and I promised to do
what I could.
"He left my godson to talk it over with me, and he informed me
that he knew your mistress before you did at Marseilles, that he
had promised to marry her next spring, that he had seen her in my
company, and that having followed us he found out that she lived
with you. He was told that she was your wife, but not believing
it, wrote her a letter saying that he was ready to marry her; but
this letter fell into your hands, and he has had no reply to it.
"He could not make up his mind to lose a hope which made his
happiness, so he resolved to ascertain, through my good offices,
whether Rosalie would accept his proposition. He flatters himself
that on his informing me of his prosperous condition, I can tell
you that he is a likely man to make his wife happy. I told him
that I knew you, and would speak to you on the matter, and
afterwards inform him of the result of our interview.
"I have made enquires into his condition, and find that he has
already amassed a considerable sum of money. His credit, morals,
and reputation, are all excellent; besides, he is his uncle's sole
heir, and the uncle passes for a man very comfortably off. And
now, my dear M. Casanova, tell me what answer I am to make."
"Tell him that Rosalie is much obliged to him, and begs him to
forget her. We are going away in three or four days. Rosalie
loves me, and I her, and I am ready to marry her whenever she
"That's plain speaking; but I should have thought a man like you
would prefer freedom to a woman, however beautiful, to whom you
would be bound by indissoluble ties. Will you allow me to speak
to Rosalie myself about it?"
"You need not ask, my leave; speak to her, but in your own person
and not as representing my opinions. I adore her, and would not
have her think that I could cherish the thought of separating from
"If you don't want me to meddle in the matter, tell me so
"On the contrary, I wish you to see for yourself that I am not the
tyrant of the woman I adore."
"I will talk to her to-night."
I did not come home till supper-time, that the marquis might say
what he had to say in perfect freedom. The noble Genoese supped
with us, and the conversation turned on indifferent subjects.
After he had gone, my sweetheart told me what had passed between
them. He had spoken to her in almost the same words that he had
addressed to me, and our replies were nearly identical, though she
had requested the marquis to say no more about his godson, to
which request he had assented.
We thought the matter settled, and busied ourselves with
preparations for our departure; but three or four days after, the
marquis (who we imagined had forgotten all about his godson) came
and asked us to dine with him at St. Pierre d'Arena, where Rosalie
had never been.
"I want you to see my beautiful garden before you go," said M.
Grimaldi to her; "it will be one more pleasant recollection of
your stay for me."
We went to see him at noon the next day. He was with an elderly
man and woman, to whom he introduced us. He introduced me by
name, and Rosalie as a person who belonged to me.
We proceeded to walk in the garden, where the two old people got
Rosalie between them, and overwhelmed her with politeness and
complimentary remarks. She, who was happy and in high spirits,
answered in Italian, and delighted them by her intelligence, and
the grace which she gave to her mistakes in grammar.
The servants came to tell us that dinner was ready, and what was
my astonishment on entering the room to see the table laid for
six. I did not want much insight now to see through the marquis's
trick, but it was too late. We sat down, and just then a young
man came in.
"You are a little late," said the marquis; and then, without
waiting for his apology, he introduced him to me as M. Petri, his
godson, and nephew to his other guests, and he made him sit down
at his left hand, Rosalie being on his right. I sat opposite to
her, and seeing that she turned as pale as death the blood rushed
to my face; I was terribly enraged. This small despot's plot
seemed disgraceful to me; it was a scandalous insult to Rosalie
and myself--an insult which should be washed away in blood. I was
tempted to stab him at his table, but in spite of my agitation I
constrained myself. What could I do? Take Rosalie's arm, and
leave the room with her? I thought it over, but foreseeing the
consequences I could not summon up courage.
I have never spent so terrible an hour as at that fatal dinner.
Neither Rosalie nor myself ate a morsel, and the marquis who
helped all the guests was discreet enough not to see that we left
one course after another untouched. Throughout dinner he only
spoke to Petri and his uncle, giving them opportunities for saying
how large a trade they did. At dessert the marquis told the young
man that he had better go and look after his affairs, and after
kissing his hand he withdrew with a bow to which nobody replied.
Petri was about twenty-four, of a moderate height, with ordinary
but yet good-natured and honest features; respectful in his
manner, and sensible though not witty in what he said. After all
was said and done, I thought him worthy of Rosalie, but I
shuddered at the thought that if she became his wife she was lost
to me forever. After he had gone, the marquis said he was sorry
he had not known him before as he might be of use to him in his
"However, we will see to that in the future," said he, meaningly,
"I mean to make his fortune."
At this the uncle and aunt, who no doubt knew what to say, began
to laud and extol their nephew, and ended by saying that as they
had no children they were delighted that Petri, who would be their
heir, was to have his excellency's patronage.
"We are longing," they added, "to see the girl from Marseilles he
is going to marry. We should welcome her as a beloved daughter."
Rosalie whispered to me that she could bear it no longer, and
begged me to take her away. We rose, and after we had saluted the
company with cold dignity we left the room. The marquis was
visibly disconcerted. As he escorted us to the door he stammered
out compliments, for the want of something to say, telling Rosalie
that he should not have the honour of seeing her that evening, but
that he hoped to call on her the next day.
When we were by ourselves we seemed to breathe again, and spoke to
one another to relieve ourselves of the oppression which weighed
on our minds.
Rosalie thought, as well as I, that the marquis had played us a
shameful trick, and she told me I ought to write him a note,
begging him not to give himself the trouble of calling on us
"I will find some means of vengeance," said I; "but I don't think
it would be a good plan to write to him. We will hasten our
preparations for leaving, and receive him to-morrow with that cold
politeness which bears witness to indignation. Above all, we will
not make the slightest reference to his godson."
"If Petri really loves me," said she, "I pity him. I think he is
a good fellow, and I don't feel angry with him for being present
at dinner, as he may possibly be unaware that leis presence was
likely to give me offence. But I still shudder when I think of
it: I thought I should have died when our eyes met! Throughout
dinner he could not see my eyes, as I kept them nearly shut, and
indeed he could hardly see me. Did he look at me while he was
"No, he only looked at me. I am as sorry for him as you are, for,
as you say, he looks an honest fellow."
"Well, it's over now, and I hope I shall make a good supper. Did
you notice what the aunt said? I am sure she was in the plot.
She thought she would gain me over by saying she was ready to
treat me like her own child. She was a decent-looking woman,
We made a good supper, and a pleasant night inclined us to forget
the insult the marquis had put upon us. When we woke up in the
morning we laughed at it. The marquis came to see us in the
evening, and greeting me with an air of mingled confusion and
vexation, he said that he knew he had done wrong in surprising me
as he had, but that he was ready to do anything in his power by
way of atonement, and to give whatever satisfaction I liked.
Rosalie did not give me time to answer. "If you really feel,"
said she, "that you have insulted us, that is enough; we are amply
avenged. But all the same, sir, we shall be on our guard against
you for the future, though that will be for a short while, as we
are just leaving."
With this proud reply she made him a low bow and left the room.
When he was left alone with me M. Grimaldi addressed me as
"I take a great interest in your mistress's welfare; and as I feel
sure that she cannot long be happy in her present uncertain
position, while I am sure that she would make my godson an
excellent wife, I was determined that both of you should make his
acquaintance, for Rosalie herself knows very little of him. I
confess that the means I employed were dishonourable, but you will
pardon the means for the sake of the excellent end I had in view.
I hope you will have a pleasant journey, and that you may live for
a long time in uninterrupted happiness with your charming
mistress. I hope you will write to me, and always reckon on my
standing your friend, and doing everything in my power for you.
Before I go, I will tell you something which will give you an idea
of the excellent disposition of young Petri, to whose happiness
Rosalie seems essential.
"He only told me the following, after I had absolutely refused to
take charge of a letter he had written to Rosalie, despairing of
being able to send it any other way. After assuring me that
Rosalie had loved him, and that consequently she could not have
any fixed aversion for him, he added that if the fear of being
with child was the reason why she would not marry him he would
agree to put off the marriage till after the child was born,
provided that she would agree to stay in Genoa in hiding, her
presence to be unknown to all save himself. He offers to pay all
the expenses of her stay. He made a remarkably wise reflection
when we were talking it over.
"'If she gave birth to a child too soon after our marriage,' said
he, 'both her honour and mine would suffer hurt; she might also
lose the liking of my relations, and if Rosalie is to be my wife I
want her to be happy in everything."'
At this Rosalie, who had no doubt been listening at the door after
the manner of her sex, burst into the room, and astonished me by
the following speech:
"If M. Petri chid not tell you that it was possible that I might
be with child by him, he is a right honest man, but now I tell you
so myself. I do not think it likely, but still it is possible.
Tell him, sir, that I will remain at Genoa until the child is
born, in the case of my being pregnant, of which I have no certain
knowledge, or until I am quite sure that I am not with child. If
I do have a child the truth will be made known. In the case of
there being no doubt of M. Petri's being the parent, I am ready to
marry him; but if he sees for himself that the child is not his I
hope he will be reasonable enough to let me alone for the future.
As to the expenses and my lodging at Genoa, tell him that he need
not trouble himself about either."
I was petrified. I saw the consequence of my own imprudent words,
and my heart seemed broken. The marquis asked me if this decision
was given with my authority, and I replied that as my sweetheart's
will was mine he might take her words for law. He went away in
high glee, for he foresaw that all would go well with his plans
when once he was able to exert his influence on Rosalie. The
absent always fare ill.
"You want to leave me, then, Rosalie?" said I, when we were alone.
"Yes, dearest, but it will not be for long."
"I think we shall never see each other again."
"Why not, dearest? You have only to remain faithful to me.
Listen to me. Your honour and my own make it imperative that I
should convince Petri that I am not with child by him, and you
that I am with child by you."
"I never doubted it, dear Rosalie."
"Yes, dear, you doubted it once and that is enough. Our parting
will cost me many a bitter tear, but these pangs are necessary to
my future happiness. I hope you will write to me, and after the
child is born it will be for you to decide on how I shall rejoin
you. If I am not pregnant I will rejoin you in a couple of months
"Though I may grieve at your resolve I will not oppose it, for I
promised I would never cross you. I suppose you will go into a
convent; and the marquis must find you a suitable one, and protect
you like a father. Shall I speak to him on the subject? I will
leave you as much money as you will want."
"That will not be much. As for M. de Grimaldi, he is bound in
honour to procure me an asylum. I don't think it will be
necessary for you to speak to him about it."
She was right, and I could not help admiring the truly astonishing
tact of this girl.
In the morning I heard that the self-styled Ivanoff had made his
escape an hour before the police were to arrest him at the suit of
the banker, who had found out that one of the bills he had
presented was forged. He had escaped on foot, leaving all his
baggage behind him.
Next day the marquis came to tell Rosalie that his godson had no
objection to make to her plan. He added that the young man hoped
she would become his wife, whether the child proved to be his or
"He may hope as much as he likes," said Rosalie, with a smile.
"He also hopes that you will allow him to call on you now and
then. I have spoken to my kinswoman, the mother-superior of
convent. You are to have two rooms, and a very good sort of woman
is to keep you company, wait on you, and nurse you when the time
comes. I have paid the amount you are to pay every month for your
board. Every morning I will send you a confidential man, who will
see your companion and will bring me your orders. And I myself
will come and see you at the grating as often as you please."
It was then my sad duty, which the laws of politeness enjoined, to
thank the marquis for his trouble.
"'Tis to you, my lord," said I, "I entrust Rosalie. I am placing
her, I am sure, in good hands. I will go on my way as soon as she
is in the convent; I hope you will write a letter to the mother-
superior for her to take."
"I will write it directly," said he.
And as Rosalie had told him before that she would pay for
everything herself, he gave her a written copy of the agreement he
"I have resolved," said Rosalie to the marquis, "to go into the
convent to-morrow, and I shall be very glad to have a short visit
from you the day after."
"I will be there," said the marquis, "and you may be sure that I
will do all in my power to make your stay agreeable."
The night was a sad one for both of us. Love scarcely made a
pause amidst our alternate complaints and consolations. We swore
to be faithful for ever, and our oaths were sincere, as ardent
lovers' oaths always are. But they are as nought unless they are
sealed by destiny, and that no mortal mind may know.
Rosalie, whose eyes were red and wet with tears, spent most of the
morning in packing up with Veronique, who cried too. I could not
look at her, as I felt angry with myself for thinking how pretty
she was. Rosalie would only take two hundred sequins, telling me
that if she wanted more she could easily let me know.
She told Veronique to look after me well for the two or three days
I should spend at Genoa, made me a mute curtsy, and went out with
Costa to get a sedan-chair. Two hours after, a servant of the
marquis's came to fetch her belongings, and I was thus left alone
and full of grief till the marquis came and asked me to give him
supper, advising that Veronique should be asked in to keep us
"That's a rare girl," said he, "you really don't know her, and you
ought to know her better."
Although I was rather surprised, I did not stop to consider what
the motives of the crafty Genoese might be, and I went and asked
Veronique to come in. She replied politely that she would do so,
adding that she knew how great an honour I did her.
I should have been the blindest of men if I had not seen that the
clever marquis had succeeded in his well-laid plans, and that he
had duped me as if I had been the merest freshman. Although I
hoped with all my heart that I should get Rosalie back again, I
had good reasons for suspecting that all the marquis's wit would
be employed to seduce her, and I could not help thinking that he
Nevertheless, in the position I was in, I could only keep my fears
to myself and let him do his utmost.
He was nearly sixty, a thorough disciple of Epicurus, a heavy
player, rich, eloquent, a master of state-craft, highly popular at
Genoa, and well acquainted with the hearts of men, and still more
so with the hearts of women. He had spent a good deal of time at
Venice to be more at liberty, and to enjoy the pleasures of life
at his ease. He had never married, and when asked the reason
would reply that he knew too well that women would be either
tyrants or slaves, and that he did not want to be a tyrant to any
woman, nor to be under any woman's orders. He found some way of
returning to his beloved Venice, in spite of the law forbidding
any noble who has filled the office of doge to leave his native
soil. Though he behaved to me in a very friendly manner he knew
how to maintain an air of superiority which imposed on me.
Nothing else could have given him the courage to ask me to dinner
when Petri was to be present. I felt that I had been tricked, and
I thought myself in duty bound to make him esteem me by my
behaviour for the future. It was gratitude on his part which made
him smooth the way to my conquest of Veronique, who doubtless
struck him as a fit and proper person to console me for the loss
I did not take any part in the conversation at supper, but the
marquis drew out Veronique, and she shone. It was easy for me to
see that she had more wit and knowledge of the world than Rosalie,
but in my then state of mind this grieved rather than rejoiced me.
M. de Grimaldi seemed sorry to see me melancholy, and forced me,
as it were, to join in the conversation. As he was reproaching me
in a friendly manner for my silence, Veronique said with a
pleasing smile that I had a good reason to be silent after the
declaration of love I had made to her, and which she had received
so ill. I was astonished at this, and said that I did not
remember having ever made her such a declaration; but she made me
laugh in spite of myself, when she said that her name that day was
"Ah, that's in a play," said I, "in real life the man who declares
his love in words is a simpleton; 'tis with deeds the true lover
shews his love."
"Very true, but your lady was frightened all the same."
"No, no, Veronique; she is very fond of you."
"I know she is; but I have seen her jealous of me."
"If so, she was quite wrong."
This dialogue, which pleased me little, fell sweetly on the
marquis's ears; he told me that he was going to call on Rosalie
next morning, and that if I liked to give him a supper, he would
come and tell me about her in the evening. Of course I told him
that he would be welcome.
After Veronique had lighted me to my room, she asked me to let my
servants wait on me, as if she did so now that my lady was gone,
people might talk about her.
"You are right," said I, "kindly send Le Duc to me."
Next morning I had a letter from Geneva. It came from my
Epicurean syndic, who had presented M. de Voltaire with my
translation of his play, with an exceedingly polite letter from
me, in which I begged his pardon for having taken the liberty of
travestying his fine French prose in Italian. The syndic told me
plainly that M. de Voltaire had pronounced my translation to be a
My self-esteem was so wounded by this, and by his impoliteness in
not answering my letter, with which he could certainly find no
fault, whatever his criticism of my translation might be, that I
became the sworn enemy of the great Voltaire. I have censured him
in all the works I have published, thinking that in wronging him I
was avenging myself, to such an extent did passion blind me. At
the present time I feel that even if my works survive, these
feeble stings of mine can hurt nobody but myself. Posterity will
class me amongst the Zoiluses whose own impotence made them attack
this great man to whom civilization and human happiness owe so
much. The only crime that can truthfully be alleged against
Voltaire is his attacks on religion. If he had been a true
philosopher he would never have spoken on such matters, for, even
if his attacks were based on truth, religion is necessary to
morality, without which there can be no happiness.
I Fall in Love With Veronique--Her Sister--Plot Against Plot--My
I have never liked eating by myself, and thus I have never turned
hermit, though I once thought of turning monk; but a monk without
renouncing all the pleasures of life lives well in a kind of holy
idleness. This dislike to loneliness made me give orders that the
table should be laid for two, and indeed, after supping with the
marquis and myself, Veronique had some right to expect as much, to
say nothing of those rights which her wit and beauty gave her.
I only saw Costa, and asked him what had become of Le Duc. He
said he was ill. "Then go behind the lady's chair," said I. He
obeyed, but smiled as he did so. Pride is a universal failing,
and though a servant's pride is the silliest of all it is often
pushed to the greatest extremes.
I thought Veronique prettier than before. Her behaviour, now free
and now reserved, as the occasion demanded, shewed me that she was
no new hand, and that she could have played the part of a princess
in the best society. Nevertheless (so strange a thing is the
heart of man), I was sorry to find I liked her, and my only
consolation was that her mother would come and take her away
before the day was over. I had adored Rosalie, and my heart still
bled at the thought of our parting.
The girl's mother came while we were still at table. She was
astounded at the honour I shewed her daughter, and she overwhelmed
me with thanks.
"You owe me no gratitude," said I to her; "your daughter is
clever, good, and beautiful."
"Thank the gentleman for his compliment," said the mother, "for
you are really stupid, wanton, and ugly;" and then she added, "But
how could you have the face to sit at table with the gentleman in
a dirty chemise?"
"I should blush, mother, if I thought you were right; but I put a
clean one on only two hours ago."
"Madam," said I to the mother, "the chemise cannot look white
beside your daughter's whiter skin."
This made the mother laugh, and pleased the girl immensely. When
the mother told her that she was come to take her back, Veronique
said, with a sly smile,--
"Perhaps the gentleman won't be pleased at my leaving him twenty-
four hours before he goes away."
"On the contrary," said I, "I should be very vexed."
"Well; then, she can stay, sir," said the mother; "but for
decency's sake I must send her younger sister to sleep with her."
"If you please," I rejoined. And with that I left them.
The thought of Veronique troubled me, as I knew I was taken with
her, and what I had to dread was a calculated resistance.
The mother came into my room where I was writing, and wished me a
pleasant journey, telling me for the second time that she was
going to send her daughter Annette. The girl came in the evening,
accompanied by a servant, and after lowering her mezzaro, and
kissing my hand respectfully, she ran gaily to kiss her sister.
I wanted to see what she was like, and called for candles; and on
their being brought I found she was a blonde of a kind I had never
before seen. Her hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes were the colour of
pale gold, fairer almost than her skin, which was extremely
delicate. She was very short-sighted, but her large pale blue
eyes were wonderfully beautiful. She had the smallest mouth
imaginable, but her teeth, though regular, were not so white as
her skin. But for this defect Annette might have passed for a
Her shortness of sight made too brilliant a light painful to her,
but as she stood before me she seemed to like me looking at her.
My gaze fed hungrily on the two little half-spheres, which were
not yet ripe, but so white as to make me guess how ravishing the
rest of her body must be. Veronique did not shew her breasts so
freely. One could see that she was superbly shaped, but
everything was carefully hidden from the gaze. She made her
sister sit down beside her and work, but when I saw that she was
obliged to hold the stuff close to her face I told her that she
should spare her eyes, for that night at all events, and with that
she obediently put the work down.
The marquis came as usual, and like myself he thought Annette,
whom he had never seen before, an astonishing miniature beauty.
Taking advantage of his age and high rank, the voluptuous old man
dared to pass his hand over her breast, and she, who was too
respectful to cross my lord, let him do it without making the
slightest objection. She was a compound of innocence and
The woman who shewing little succeeds in making a man want to see
more, has accomplished three-fourths of the task of making him
fall in love with her; for is love anything else than a kind of
curiosity? I think not; and what makes me certain is that when the
curiosity is satisfied the love disappears. Love, however,
is the strongest kind of curiosity in existence, and I was already
curious about Annette.
M. Grimaldi told Veronique that Rosalie wished her to stay with me
till I left Genoa, and she was as much astonished at this as I
"Be kind enough to tell her," said I to the marquis, "that
Veronique has anticipated her wishes and has got her sister
Annette to stay with her."
"Two are always better than one, my dear fellow," replied the
After these remarks we left the two sisters together and went into
my room, where he said,--
"Your Rosalie is contented, and you ought to congratulate yourself
on having made her happy, as I am sure she will be. The only
thing that vexes me is that you can't go and see her yourself with
"You are in love with her, my lord."
"I confess that I am, but I am an old man, and it vexes me."
"That's no matter, she will love you tenderly; and if Petri ever
becomes her husband, I am sure she will never be anything more
than a good friend to him. Write to me at Florence and tell me
how she receives him."
"Stay here for another three days; the two beauties there will
make the time seem short."
"It's exactly for that reason that I want to go tomorrow. I am
afraid of Veronique."
"I shouldn't have thought that you would have allowed any woman to
"I am afraid she has cast her fatal nets around me, and when the
time comes she will be strictly moral. Rosalie is my only love."
"Well, here's a letter from her."
I went apart to read the letter, the sight of which made my heart
beat violently; it ran as follows:
"Dearest,--I see you have placed me in the hands of one who
will care for me like a father. This is a new kindness which
I owe to the goodness of your heart. I will write to you at
whatever address you send me. If you like Veronique, my
darling, do not fear any jealousy from me; I should be wrong
to entertain such a feeling in my present position. I expect
that if you make much of her she will not be able to resist,
and I shall be glad to hear that she is lessening your
sadness. I hope you will write me a few lines before you
I went up to the marquis and told him to read it. He seemed
"Yes," said he, "the dear girl will find in me her friend and
father, and if she marries my godson and he does not treat her as
he ought, he will not possess her long. I shall remember her in
my will, and thus when I am dead my care will still continue. But
what do you think of her advice as to Veronique? I don't expect
she is exactly a vestal virgin, though I have never heard anything
I had ordered that the table should be laid for four, so Annette
sat down without our having to ask her. Le Duc appeared on the
scene, and I told him that if he were ill he might go to bed.
"I am quite well," said he.
"I am glad to hear it; but don't trouble now, you shall wait on me
when I am at Leghorn."
I saw that Veronique was delighted at my sending him away, and I
resolved then and there to lay siege to her heart. I began by
talking to her in a very meaning manner all supper-time, while the
marquis entertained Annette. I asked him if he thought I could
get a felucca next day to take me to Lerici.
"Yes," said he, "whenever you like and with as many oarsmen as you
please; but I hope you will put off your departure for two or
"No," I replied, ogling Veronique, "the delay might cost me too
The sly puss answered with a smile that shewed she understood my
When we rose from the table I amused myself with Annette, and the
marquis with Veronique. After a quarter of an hour he came and
said to me,--
"Certain persons have asked me to beg you to stay a few days
longer, or at least to sup here to-morrow night."
"Very good. We will talk of the few days more at supper to-
"Victory!" said the marquis; and Veronique seemed very grateful to
me for granting her request. When our guest was gone, I asked my
new housekeeper if I might send Costa to bed.
"As my sister is with me, there can be no ground for any
"I am delighted that you consent; now I am going to talk to you."
She proceeded to do my hair, but she gave no answer to my soft
speeches. When I was on the point of getting into bed she wished
me good night, and I tried to kiss her by way of return. She
repulsed me and ran to the door, much to my surprise. She was
going to leave the room, when I addressed her in a voice of grave
"I beg you will stay; I want to speak to you; come and sit by me.
Why should you refuse me a pleasure which after all is a mere mark
"Because, things being as they are, we could not remain friends,
neither could we be lovers."
"Lovers! why not, we are perfectly free"
"I am not free; I am bound by certain prejudices which do not
"I should have thought you were superior to prejudices."
"There are some prejudices which a woman ought to respect. The
superiority you mention is a pitiful thing; always the dupe of
itself. What would become of me, I should like to know, if I
abandoned myself to the feelings I have for you?"
"I was waiting for you to say that, dear Veronique. What you feel
for me is not love. If it were so, you would feel as I do, and
you would soon break the bonds of prejudice."
"I confess that my head is not quite turned yet, but still I feel
that I shall grieve at your departure."
"If so, that is no fault of mine. But tell me what I can do for
you during my short stay here."
"Nothing; we do not know one another well enough."
"I understand you, but I would have you know that I do not intend
to marry any woman who is not my friend."
"You mean you will not marry her till you have ceased to be her
"You would like to finish where I would begin."
"You may be happy some day, but you play for high stakes."
"Well, well, it's a case of win all or lose all."
"That's as may be. But without further argument it seems to me
that we could safely enjoy our love, and pass many happy moments
undisturbed by prejudice."
"Possibly, but one gets burnt fingers at that game, and I shudder
at the very thought of it. No, no; leave me alone, there is my
sister who will wonder why I am in your arms."
"Very good; I see I was mistaken, and Rosalie too."
"Why what did she think about me?"
"She wrote and told me that she thought you would be kind."
"I hope she' mayn't have to repent for having been too kind
"Good bye, Veronique."
I felt vexed at having made the trial, for in these matters one
always feels angry at failure. I decided I would leave her and
her precepts, true or false, alone; but when I awoke in the
morning and saw her coming to my bed with a pleasant smile on her
face, I suddenly changed my mind. I had slept upon my anger and I
was in love again. I thought she had repented, and that I should
be victorious when I attacked her again. I put on a smile myself
and breakfasted gaily with her and her sister. I behaved in the
same way at dinner; and the general high spirits which M. de
Grimaldi found prevailing in the evening, made him think,
doubtless, that we were getting on well, and he congratulated us.
Veronique behaved exactly as if the marquis had guessed the truth,
and I felt sure of having her after supper, and in the ecstasy of
the thought I promised to stay for four days longer.
"Bravo, Veronique!" said the marquis, "that's the way. You are
intended by nature to rule your lovers with an absolute sway."
I thought she would say something to diminish the marquis's
certainty that there was an agreement between us, but she did
nothing of the sort, seeming to enjoy her triumph which made her
appear more beautiful than ever; whilst I looked at her with the
submissive gaze of a captive who glories in, his chain. I took
her behaviour as an omen of my approaching conquest, and did not
speak to M. de Grimaldi alone lest he might ask me questions which
I should not care to answer. He told us before he went away that
he was engaged on the morrow, and so could not come to see us till
the day after.
As soon as we were alone Veronique said to me, "You see how I let
people believe what they please; I had rather be thought kind, as
you call it, than ridiculous, as an honest girl is termed now-a-
days. Is it not so?"
"No, dear Veronique, I will never call you ridiculous, but I shall
think you hate me if you make me pass another night in torture.
You have inflamed me."
"Oh, pray be quiet! For pity's sake leave me alone! I will not
inflame you any more. Oh! Oh!"
I had enraged her by thrusting a daring hand into the very door of
the sanctuary. She repulsed me and fled. Three or four minutes
later her sister came to undress me. I told her gently to go to
bed as I had to write for three or four hours; but not caring that
she should come on a bootless errand I opened a box and gave her a
watch. She took it modestly, saying,--
"This is for my sister, I suppose?"
"No, dear Annette, it's for you."
She gave a skip of delight, and I could not prevent her kissing my
I proceeded to write Rosalie a letter of four pages. I felt
worried and displeased with myself and everyone else. I tore up
my letter without reading it over, and making an effort to calm
myself I wrote her another letter more subdued than the first, in
which I said nothing of Veronique, but informed my fair recluse
that I was going on the day following.
I did not go to bed till very late, feeling out of temper with the
world. I considered that I had failed in my duty to Veronique,
whether she loved me or not, for I loved her and I was a man of
honour. I had a bad night, and when I awoke it was noon, and on
ringing Costa and Annette appeared. The absence of Veronique
shewed how I had offended her. When Costa had left the room I
asked Annette after her sister, and she said that she was working.
I wrote her a note, in which I begged her pardon, promising that I
would never offend her again, and begging her to forget everything
and to be just the same as before. I was taking my coffee when
she came into my room with an expression of mortification which
grieved me excessively.
"Forget everything, I beg, and I will trouble you no more. Give
me my buckles, as I am going for a country walk, and I shall not
be in till suppertime. I shall doubtless get an excellent
appetite, and as you have nothing more to fear you need not
trouble to send me Annette again."
I dressed myself in haste, and left the town by the first road
that came in my way, and I walked fast for two hours with the
intention of tiring myself, and of thus readjusting the balance
between mind and body. I have always found that severe exercise
and fresh air are the best cure for any mental perturbation.
I had walked for more than three leagues when hunger and weariness
made me stop at a village inn, where I had an omelette cooked. I
ate it hungrily with brown bread and wine, which seemed to me
delicious though it was rather sharp.
I felt too tired to walk back to Genoa, so I asked for a carriage;
but there was no such thing to be had. The inn-keeper provided me
with a sorry nag and a man to guide me. Darkness was coming on,
and we had more than six miles to do. Fine rain began to fall
when I started, and continued all the way, so that I got home by
eight o'clock wet to the skin, shivering with cold, dead tired,
and in a sore plight from the rough saddle, against which my satin
breeches were no protection. Costa helped me to change my
clothes, and as he went out Annette came in.
"Where is your sister?"
"She is in bed with a bad headache. She gave me a letter for you;
here it is."
"I have been obliged to go to bed on account of a severe headache
to which I am subject. I feel better already, and I shall be able
to wait on you to-morrow. I tell you as much, because I do not
wish you to think that my illness is feigned. I am sure that your
repentance for having humiliated me is sincere, and I hope in your
turn that you will forgive me or pity me, if my way of thinking
prevents me from conforming to yours."
"Annette dear, go and ask your sister if she would like us to sup
in her room."
She soon came back telling me that Veronique was obliged, but
begged me to let her sleep.
I supped with Annette, and was glad to see that, though she only
drank water, her appetite was better than mine. My passion for
her sister prevented me thinking of her, but I felt that Annette
would otherwise have taken my fancy. When we were taking dessert,
I conceived the idea of making her drunk to get her talk of her
sister, so I gave her a glass of Lunel muscat.
"I only drink water, sir."
"Don't you like wine?"
"Yes, but as I am not used to it I am afraid of its getting into
"Then you can go to bed; you will sleep all the better."
She drank the first glass, which she enjoyed immensely, then a
second, and then a third. Her little brains were in some
confusion when she had finished the third glass. I made her talk
about her sister, and in perfect faith she told me all the good
"Then you are very fond of Veronique?" said I.
"Oh, yes! I love her with all my heart, but she will not let me
"No doubt she is afraid of your ceasing to love her. But do you
think she ought to make me suffer so?"
"No, but if you love her you ought to forgive her."
Annette was still quite reasonable. I made her drink a fourth
glass of muscat, but an instant after she told me that she could
not see anything, and we rose from the table. Annette began to
please me a little too much, but I determined not to make any
attempts upon her for fear of finding her too submissive. A
little resistance sharpens the appetite, while favours granted
with too much ease lose a great deal of their charm. Annette was
only fourteen, she had a soft heart, no knowledge of the world or
her own rights, and she would not have resisted my embraces for
fear of being rude. That sort of thing would only please a rich
and voluptuous Turk.
I begged her to do my hair, intending to dismiss her directly
after, but when she had finished I asked her to give me the
"What do you want it for?"
"For the blisters that cursed saddle on which I rode six miles
"Does the ointment do them good?"
"Certainly; it takes away the smart, and by to-morrow I shall be
cured, but you must send Costa to me, as I cannot put it on
"Can't I do it?"
"Yes, but I am afraid that would be an abuse of your kindness."
"I guess why; but as I am short-sighted, how shall I see the
"If you want to do it for me, I will place myself so that it will
be easier for you. Stay, put the candle on this table."
"There you are, but don't let Costa put it on again to-morrow, or
he will guess that I or my sister did it to-night."
"You will do me the same service, then, to-morrow?"
"I or my sister, for she will get up early."
"Your sister! No, my dear; she would be afraid of giving me too
much pleasure by touching me so near."
"And I am only afraid of hurting you. Is that right? Good
heavens! what a state your skin is in!"
"You have not finished yet."
"I am so short-sighted; turn round."
"With pleasure. Here I am."
The little wanton could not resist laughing at what she saw,
doubtless, for the first time. She was obliged to touch it to
continue rubbing the ointment in, and I saw that she liked it, as
she touched it when she had no need, and not being able to stand
it any longer I took hold of her hand and made her stop her work
in favour of a pleasanter employment.
When she had finished I burst out laughing to hear her ask, in the
most serious way, the pot of ointment still in her left hand,
"Did I do it right!"
"Oh, admirably, dear Annette! You are an angel, and I am sure you
know what pleasure you gave me. Can you come and spend an hour
"Wait a bit."
She went out and shut the door, and I waited for her to return;
but my patience being exhausted I opened the door slightly, and
saw her undressing and getting into bed with her sister. I went
back to my room and to bed again, without losing all hope. I was
not disappointed, for in five minutes back she came, clad in her
chemise and walking on tip-toe.
"Come to my arms, my love; it is very cold."
"Here I am. My sister is asleep and suspects nothing; and even if
she awoke the bed is so large that she would not notice my
"You are a divine creature, and I love you with all my heart."
"So much the better. I give myself up to you; do what you like
with me, on the condition that you think of my sister no more."
"That will not cost me much. I promise that I will not think of
I found Annette a perfect neophyte, and though I saw no blood on
the altar of love next morning I did not suspect her on that
account. I have often seen such cases, and I know by experience
that the effusion of blood or its absence proves nothing. As a
general rule a girl cannot be convicted of having had a lover
unless she be with child.
I spent two hours of delight with this pretty baby, for she was so
small, so delicate, and so daintily shaped all over, that I can
find no better name for her. Her docility did not detract from
the piquancy of the pleasure, for she was voluptuously inclined.
When I rose in the morning she came to my room with Veronique, and
I was glad to see that while the younger sister was radiant with
happiness the elder looked pleasant and as if she desired to make
herself agreeable. I asked her how she was, and she told me that
diet and sleep had completely cured her. "I have always found
them the best remedy for a headache." Annette had also cured me
of the curiosity I had felt about her. I congratulated myself on
I was in such high spirits at supper that M. de Grimaldi thought I
had won everything from Veronique, and I let him think so. I
promised to dine with him the next day, and I kept my word. After
dinner I gave him a long letter for Rosalie, whom I did not expect
to see again except as Madame Petri, though I took care not to let
the marquis know what I thought.
In the evening I supped with the two sisters, and I made myself
equally agreeable to both of them. When Veronique was alone with
me, putting my hair into curl-papers, she said that she loved me
much more now that I behaved discreetly.
"My discretion," I replied, "only means that I have given up the
hope of winning you. I know how to take my part."
"Your love was not very great, then?"
"It sprang up quickly, and you, Veronique, could have made it
increase to a gigantic size."
She said nothing, but bit her lip, wished me good night and left
the room. I went to bed expecting a visit from Annette, but I
waited in vain. When I rang the next morning the dear girl
appeared looking rather sad. I asked her the reason.
"Because my sister is ill, and spent the whole night in writing,"
Thus I learnt the reason of her not having paid me a visit.
"Do you know what she was writing about?"
"Oh, no! She does not tell me that kind of thing, but here is a
letter for you."
I read through the long and well-composed letter, but as it bore
marks of craft and dissimulation it made me laugh. After several
remarks of no consequence she said that she had repulsed me
because she loved me so much and that she was afraid that if she
satisfied my fancy she might lose me.
"I will be wholly yours," she added, "if you will give me the
position which Rosalie enjoyed. I will travel in your company,
but you must give me a document, which M. de Grimaldi will sign as
a witness, in which you must engage to marry me in a year, and to
give me a portion of fifty thousand francs; and if at the end of a
year you do not wish to marry me, that sum to be at my absolute
She stipulated also that if she became a mother in the course of a
year the child should be hers in the event of our separating. On
these conditions she would become my mistress, and would have for
me all possible love and kindness.
This proposal, cleverly conceived, but foolishly communicated to
me, shewed me that Veronique had not the talent of duping others.
I saw directly that M. de Grimaldi had nothing to do with it, and
I felt sure that he would laugh when I told him the story.
Annette soon came back with the chocolate, and told me that her
sister hoped I would answer her letter.
"Yes, dear," said I, "I will answer her when I get up."
I took my chocolate, put on my dressing-gown, and went to
Veronique's room. I found her sitting up in bed in a negligent
attire that might have attracted me if her letter had not deprived
her of my good opinion. I sat on the bed, gave her back the
letter, and said,--
"Why write, when we can talk the matter over?"
"Because one is often more at ease in writing than in speaking."
"In diplomacy and business that will pass, but not in love. Love
makes no conditions. Let us have no documents, no safeguards, but
give yourself up to me as Rosalie did, and begin to-night without
my promising anything. If you trust in love, you will make him
your prisoner. That way will honour us and our pleasures, and if
you like I will consult M. de Grimaldi on the subject. As to your
plan, if it does not injure your honour, it does small justice to
your common sense, and no one but a fool would agree to it. You
could not possibly love the man to whom you make such a proposal,
and as to M. de Grimaldi, far from having anything to do with it,
I am sure he would be indignant at the very idea."
This discourse did not put Veronique out of countenance. She said
she did not love me well enough to give herself to me
unconditionally; to which I replied that I was not sufficiently
taken with her charms to buy them at the price she fixed, and so I
I called Costa, and told him to go and warn the master of the
felucca that I was going the next day, and with this idea I went
to bid good-bye to the marquis, who informed me that he had just
been taking Petri to see Rosalie, who had received him well
enough. I told him I was glad to hear it, and said that I
commended to him the care of her happiness, but such commendations
were thrown away.
It is one of the most curious circumstances of my history, that in
one year two women whom I sincerely loved and whom I might have
married were taken from me by two old men, whose affections I had
fostered without wishing to do so. Happily these gentlemen made
my mistresses' fortunes, but on the other hand they did me a still
greater service in relieving me of a tie which I should have found
very troublesome in course of time. No doubt they both saw that
my fortune, though great in outward show, rested on no solid
basis, which, as the reader will see, was unhappily too true. I
should be happy if I thought that my errors or rather follies
would serve as a warning to the readers of these Memoirs.
I spent the day in watching the care with which Veronique and
Annette packed up my trunks, for I would not let my two servants
help in any way. Veronique was neither sad nor gay. She looked
as if she had made up her mind, and as if there had never been any
differences between us. I was very glad, for as I no longer cared
for her I should have been annoyed to find that she still cared
We supped in our usual manner, discussing only commonplace topics,
but just as I was going to bed Annette shook my hand in a way that
told me to prepare for a visit from her. I admired the natural
acuteness of young girls, who take their degrees in the art of
love with so much ease and at such an early age. Annette, almost
a child, knew more than a young man of twenty. I decided on
giving her fifty sequins without letting Veronique see me, as I
did not intend to be so liberal towards her. I took a roll of
ducats and gave them to her as soon as she came.
She lay down beside me, and after a moment devoted to love she
said that Veronique was asleep, adding,--
"I heard all you said to my sister, and I am sure you love her."
"If I did, dear Annette, I should not have made my proposal in
such plain terms."
"I should like to believe that, but what would you have done if
she had accepted your offer? You would be in one bed by this, I
"I was more than certain, dearest, that her pride would hinder her
We had reached this point in our conversation when we were
surprised by the sudden appearance of Veronique with a lighted
candle, and wearing only her chemise. She laughed at her sister
to encourage her, and I joined in the laughter, keeping a firm
hold on the little one for fear of her escaping. Veronique looked
ravishing in her scanty attire, and as she laughed I could not be
angry with her. However, I said,--
"You have interrupted our enjoyment, and hurt your sister's
feelings; perhaps you will despise her for the future?"
"On the contrary, I shall always love her."
"Her feelings overcame her, and she surrendered to me without
making any terms."
"She has more sense than I"
"Do you mean that?"
"I do, really."
"I am astonished and delighted to hear it; but as it is so, kiss
At this invitation Veronique put down the candle, and covered
Annette's beautiful body with kisses. The scene made me feel very
"Come, Veronique," said I, "you will die of cold; come and lie
I made room for her, and soon there were three of us under the
same sheet. I was in an ecstasy at this group, worthy of Aretin's
"Dearest ones," said I, "you have played me a pretty trick; was it
premeditated? And was Veronique false this morning, or is she
"We did not premeditate anything, I was true this morning, and I
am true now. I feel that I and my plan were very silly, and I
hope you will forgive me, since I have repented and have had my
punishment. Now I think I am in my right senses, as I have
yielded to the feelings with which you inspired me when I saw you
first, and against which I have fought too long."
"What you say pleases me extremely."
"Well, forgive me and finish my punishment by shewing that you are
not angry with me."
"How am I to do that?"
"By telling me that you are vexed no longer, and by continuing to
give my sister proofs of your love."
"I swear to you that so far from being angry with you I am very
fond of you; but would you like us to be fond in your presence?"
"Yes, if you don't mind me."
Feeling excited by voluptuous emotions, I saw that my part could
no longer be a passive one.
"What do you say," said I to my blonde, "will you allow your
heroic sister to remain a mere looker-on at our sweet struggles?
Are you not generous enough to let me make her an actress in the
"No; I confess I do not feel as if I could be so generous to-
night, but next night, if you will play the same part, we will
change. Veronique shall act and I will look on."
"That would do beautifully," said Veronique, with some vexation in
her manner, "if the gentleman was not going to-morrow morning."
"I will stay, dear Veronique, if only to prove how much I love
I could not have wished for plainer speech on her part, and I
should have liked to shew her how grateful I felt on the spot; but
that would have been at Annette's expense, as I had no right to
make any alteration in the piece of which she was the author and
had a right to expect all the profits. Whenever I recall this
pleasant scene I feel my heart beat with voluptuous pleasure, and
even now, with the hand of old age upon me, I can not recall it
Veronique resigned herself to the passive part which her younger
sister imposed on her, and turning aside she leant her head on her
hand, disclosing a breast which would have excited the coldest of
men, and bade me begin my attack on Annette. It was no hard task
she laid upon me, for I was all on fire, and I was certain of
pleasing her as long as she looked at me. As Annette was short-
sighted, she could not distinguish in the heat of the action which
way I was looking, and I succeeded in getting my right hand free,
without her noticing me, and I was thus enabled to communicate a
pleasure as real though not as acute as that enjoyed by her
sister. When the coverlet was disarranged, Veronique took the
trouble to replace it, and thus offered me, as if by accident, a
new spectacle. She saw how I enjoyed the sight of her charms, and
her eye brightened. At last, full of unsatisfied desire, she
shewed me all the treasures which nature had given her, just as I
had finished with Annette for the fourth time. She might well
think that I was only rehearsing for the following night, and her
fancy must have painted her coming joys in the brightest colours.
Such at all events were my thoughts, but the fates determined
otherwise. I was in the middle of the seventh act, always slower
and more pleasant for the actress than the first two or three,
when Costa came knocking loudly at my door, calling out that the
felucca was ready. I was vexed at this untoward incident, got up
in a rage, and after telling him to pay the master for the day, as
I was not going till the morrow, I went back to bed, no longer,
however, in a state to continue the work I begun. My two
sweethearts were delighted with me, but we all wanted rest, though
the piece should not have finished with an interruption. I wanted
to get some amusement out of the interval, and proposed an
ablution, which made Annette laugh and which Veronique pronounced
to be absolutely necessary. I found it a delicious hors d'oeuvre
to the banquet I had enjoyed. The two sisters rendered each other
various services, standing in the most lascivious postures, and I
found my situation as looker-on an enviable one.
When the washing and the laughter it gave rise to were over, we
returned to the stage where the last act should have been
performed. I longed to begin again, and I am sure I should have
succeeded if I had been well backed up by my partner; but Annette,
who was young and tired out with the toils of the night, forgot
her part, and yielded to sleep as she had yielded to love.
Veronique began to laugh when she saw her asleep, and I had to do
the same, when I saw that she was as still as a corpse.
"What a pity!" said Veronique's eyes; but she said it with her
eyes alone, while I was waiting for these words to issue from her
lips. We were both of us wrong: she for not speaking, and I for
waiting for her to speak. It was a favourable moment, but we let
it pass by, and love punished us. I had, it is true, another
reason for abstaining. I wished to reserve myself for the night.
Veronique went to her own bed to quiet her excited feelings, and I
stayed in bed with my sleeping beauty till noon, when I wished her
good morning by a fresh assault which was completed neither on her
side nor on mine to the best of my belief.
The day was spent in talking about ourselves, and determined to
eat only one meal, we did not sit down to table till night began
to fall. We spent two hours in the consumption of delicate
dishes, and in defying Bacchus to make us feel his power. We rose
as we saw Annette falling asleep, but we were not much annoyed at
the thought that she would not see the pleasures we promised each
other. I thought that I should have enough to do to contemplate
the charms of the one nymph without looking at Annette's beauties.
We went to bed, our arms interlaced, our bodies tight together,
and lip pressed on lip, but that was all. Veronique saw what
prevented me going any further, and she was too polite and modest
to complain. She dissembled her feelings and continued to caress
me, while I was in a frenzy of rage. I had never had such a
misfortune, unless as the result of complete exhaustion, or from a
strong mental impression capable of destroying my natural
faculties. Let my readers imagine what I suffered; in the flower
of my age, with a strong constitution, holding the body of a woman
I had ardently desired in my arms, while she tenderly caressed me,
and yet I could do nothing for her. I was in despair; one cannot
offer a greater insult to a woman.
At last we had to accept the facts and speak reasonably, and I was
the first to bewail my misfortune.
"You tired yourself too much yesterday," said she, "and you were
not sufficiently temperate at supper. Do not let it trouble you,
dearest, I am sure you love me. Do not try to force nature, you
will only weaken yourself more. I think a gentle sleep would
restore your manly powers better than anything. I can't sleep myself,
but don't mind me. Sleep, we will make love together afterwards."
After those excellent and reasonable suggestions, Veronique turned
her back to me and I followed her example, but in vain did I
endeavour to obtain a refreshing slumber; nature which would not
give me the power of making her, the loveliest creature, happy,
envied me the power of repose as well. My amorous ardour and my
rage forbade all thoughts of rest, and my excited passions
conspired against that which would enable them to satisfy their
desires. Nature punished me for having distrusted her, and
because I had taken stimulants fit only for the weak. If I had
fasted, I should have done great things, but now there was a
conflict between the stimulants and nature, and by my desire for
enjoyment I had deprived myself of the power to enjoy. Thus
nature, wise like its Divine Author, punishes the ignorance and
presumption of poor weak mortals.
Throughout this terrible and sleepless night my mind roamed
abroad, and amidst the reproaches with which I overwhelmed myself
I found a certain satisfaction in the thought that they were not
wholly undeserved. This is the sole enjoyment I still have when I
meditate on my past life and its varied adventures. I feel that
no misfortune has befallen me save by my own fault, whilst I
attribute to natural causes the blessings, of which I have enjoyed
many. I think I should go mad if in my soliloquies I came across
any misfortune which I could not trace to my own fault, for I
should not know where to place the reason, and that would degrade
me to the rank of creatures governed by instinct alone. I feel
that I am somewhat more than a beast. A beast, in truth, is a
foolish neighbour of mine, who tries to argue that the brutes
reason better than we do.
"I will grant," I said, "that they reason better than you, but I
can go no farther; and I think every reasonable man would say as
This reply has made me an enemy, although he admits the first part
of the thesis.
Happier than I, Veronique slept for three hours; but she was
disagreeably surprised on my telling her that I had not been able
to close an eye, and on finding me in the same state of impotence
as before. She began to get angry when I tried to convince her
rather too forcibly that my misfortune was not due to my want of
will, and then she blamed herself as the cause of my impotence;
and mortified by the idea, she endeavoured to destroy the spell by
all the means which passion suggested, and which I had hitherto
thought infallible; but her efforts and mine were all thrown away.
My despair was as great as hers when at last, wearied, ashamed,
and degraded in her own eyes, she discontinued her efforts, her
eyes full of tears. She went away without a word, and left me
alone for the two or three hours which had still to elapse before
the dawn appeared.
At day-break Costa came and told me that the sea being rough and a
contrary wind blowing, the felucca would be in danger of
"We will go as soon as the weather improves," said I; "in the
mean time light me a fire"
I arose, and proceeded to write down the sad history of the night.
This occupation soothed me, and feeling inclined to sleep I lay
down again and slept for eight hours. When I awoke I felt better,
but still rather sad. The two sisters were delighted to see me in
good health, but I thought I saw on Veronique's features an
unpleasant expression of contempt. However, I had deserved it,
and I did not take the trouble of changing her opinion, though if
she had been more caressing she might easily have put me in a
state to repair the involuntary wrongs I had done her in the
night. Before we sat down to table I gave her a present of a
hundred sequins, which made her look a little more cheerful. I
gave an equal present to my dear Annette, who had not expected
anything, thinking herself amply recompensed by my first gift and
by the pleasure I had afforded her.
At midnight the master of the felucca came to tell me that the
wind had changed, and I took leave of the sisters. Veronique shed
tears, but I knew to what to attribute them. Annette kissed me
affectionately; thus each played her own part. I sailed for
Lerici, where I arrived the next day, and then posted to Leghorn.
Before I speak of this town I think I shall interest my readers by
narrating a circumstance not unworthy of these Memoirs.
A Clever Cheat--Passano--Pisa--Corilla--My Opinion of Squinting
Eyes--Florence--I See Therese Again--My Son--Corticelli
I was standing at some distance from my carriage into which they
were putting four horses, when a man accosted me and asked me if I
would pay in advance or at the next stage. Without troubling to
look at him I said I would pay in advance, and gave him a coin
requesting him to bring me the change.
"Directly, sir," said he, and with that he went into the inn.
A few minutes after, just as I was going to look after my change,
the post-master came up and asked me to pay for the stage.
"I have paid already, and I am waiting for my change. Did I not
give the money to you?"
"Certainly not, sir."
"Whom did I give it to, then?"
"I really can't say; but you will be able to recognize the man,
"It must have been you or one of your people."
I was speaking loud, and all the men came about me.
"These are all the men in my employ," said the master, and he
asked if any of them had received the money from me.
They all denied the fact with an air of sincerity which left no
room for suspicion. I cursed and swore, but they let me curse and
swear as much as I liked. At last I discovered that there was no
help for it, and I paid a second time, laughing at the clever
rascal who had taken me in so thoroughly. Such are the lessons of
life; always full of new experiences, and yet one never knows
enough. From that day I have always taken care not to pay for
posting except to the proper persons.
In no country are knaves so cunning as in Italy, Greece ancient
and modern excepted.
When I got to the best inn at Leghorn they told me that there was
a theatre, and my luck made me go and see the play. I was
recognized by an actor who accosted me, and introduced me to one
of his comrades, a self-styled poet, and a great enemy of the Abbe
Chiari, whom I did not like, as he had written a biting satire
against me, and I had never succeeded in avenging myself on him.
I asked them to come and sup with me--a windfall which these
people are not given to refusing. The pretended poet was a
Genoese, and called himself Giacomo Passano. He informed me that
he had written three hundred sonnets against the abbe, who would
burst with rage if they were ever printed. As I could not
restrain a smile at the good opinion the poet had of his works, he
offered to read me a few sonnets. He had the manuscript about
him, and I could not escape the penance. He read a dozen or so,
which I thought mediocre, and a mediocre sonnet is necessarily a
bad sonnet, as this form of poetry demands sublimity; and thus
amongst the myriads of sonnets to which Italy gives birth very few
can be called good.
If I had given myself time to examine the man's features, I
should, no doubt, have found him to be a rogue; but I was blinded
by passion, and the idea of three hundred sonnets against the Abbe
Chiari fascinated me.
I cast my eyes over the title of the manuscript, and read, "La
Chiareide di Ascanio Pogomas."
"That's an anagram of my Christian name and my surname; is it not
a happy combination?"
This folly made me smile again. Each of the sonnets was a dull
diatribe ending with "l'abbate Chiari e un coglione." He did not
prove that he was one, but he said so over and over again, making
use of the poet's privilege to exaggerate and lie. What he wanted
to do was to annoy the abbe, who was by no means what Passano
called him, but on the contrary, a wit and a poet; and if he had
been acquainted with the requirements of the stage he would have
written better plays than Goldoni, as he had a greater command of
I told Passano, for civility's sake, that he ought to get his
"I would do so," said he, "if I could find a publisher, for I am
not rich enough to pay the expenses, and the publishers are a pack
of ignorant beggars. Besides, the press is not free, and the
censor would not let the epithet I give to my hero pass. If I
could go to Switzerland I am sure it could be managed; but I must
have six sequins to walk to Switzerland, and I have not got them."
"And when you got to Switzerland, where there are no theatres,
what would you do for a living?"
"I would paint in miniature. Look at those."
He gave me a number of small ivory tablets, representing obscene
subjects, badly drawn and badly painted.
"I will give you an introduction to a gentleman at Berne," I said;
and after supper I gave him a letter and six sequins. He wanted
to force some of his productions on me, but I would not have them.
I was foolish enough to give him a letter to pretty Sara's father,
and I told him to write to me at Rome, under cover of the banker
I set out from Leghorn the next day and went to Pisa, where I
stopped two days. There I made the acquaintance of an Englishman,
of whom I bought a travelling carriage. He took me to see
Corilla, the celebrated poetess. She received me with great
politeness, and was kind enough to improvise on several subjects
which I suggested. I was enchanted, not so much with her grace
and beauty, as by her wit and perfect elocution. How sweet a
language sounds when it is spoken well and the expressions are
well chosen. A language badly spoken is intolerable even from a
pretty mouth, and I have always admired the wisdom of the Greeks
who made their nurses teach the children from the cradle to speak
correctly and pleasantly. We are far from following their good
example; witness the fearful accents one hears in what is called,
often incorrectly, good society.
Corilla was 'straba', like Venus as painted by the ancients--why,
I cannot think, for however fair a squint-eyed woman may be
otherwise, I always look upon her face as distorted. I am sure
that if Venus had been in truth a goddess, she would have made the
eccentric Greek, who first dared to paint her cross-eyed, feel the
weight of her anger. I was told that when Corilla sang, she had
only to fix her squinting eyes on a man and the conquest was
complete; but, praised be God! she did not fix them on me.
At Florence I lodged at the "Hotel Carrajo," kept by Dr. Vannini,
who delighted to confess himself an unworthy member of the Academy
Della Crusca. I took a suite of rooms which looked out on the
bank of the Arno. I also took a carriage and a footman, whom, as
well as a coachman, I clad in blue and red livery. This was M.
de Bragadin's livery, and I thought I might use his colours, not
with the intention of deceiving anyone, but merely to cut a dash.
The morning after my arrival I put on my great coat to escape
observation, and proceeded to walk about Florence. In the evening
I went to the theatre to see the famous harlequin, Rossi, but I
considered his reputation was greater than he deserved. I passed
the same judgment on the boasted Florentine elocution; I did not
care for it at all. I enjoyed seeing Pertici; having become old,
and not being able to sing any more, he acted, and, strange to
say, acted well; for, as a rule, all singers, men and women, trust
to their voice and care nothing for acting, so that an ordinary
cold entirely disables them for the time being.
Next day I called on the banker, Sasso Sassi, on whom I had a good
letter of credit, and after an excellent dinner I dressed and went
to the opera an via della Pergola, taking a stage box, not so much
for the music, of which I was never much of an admirer, as because
I wanted to look at the actress.
The reader may guess my delight and surprise when I recognised in
the prima donna Therese, the false Bellino, whom I had left at
Rimini in the year 1744; that charming Therese whom I should
certainly have married if M. de Gages had not put me under arrest.
I had not seen her for seventeen years, but she looked as
beautiful and ravishing as ever as she came forward on the stage.
It seemed impossible. I could not believe my eyes, thinking the
resemblance must be a coincidence, when, after singing an air, she
fixed her eyes on mine and kept them there. I could no longer
doubt that it was she; she plainly recognized me. As she left the
stage she stopped at the wings and made a sign to me with her fan
to come and speak to her.
I went out with a beating heart, though I could not explain my
perturbation, for I did not feel guilty in any way towards
Therese, save in that I had not answered the last letter she had
written me from Naples, thirteen years ago. I went round the
theatre, feeling a greater curiosity as to the results of our
interview than to know what had befallen her during the seventeen
years which seemed an age to me.
I came to the stage-door, and I saw Therese standing at the top of
the stair. She told the door-keeper to let me pass; I went up and
we stood face to face. Dumb with surprise I took her hand and
pressed it against my heart.
"Know from that beating heart," said I, "all that I feel."
"I can't follow your example," said she, "but when I saw you I
thought I should have fainted. Unfortunately I am engaged to
supper. I shall not shut my eyes all night. I shall expect you
at eight o'clock to-morrow morning. Where are you staying?"
"At Dr. Vannini's."
"Under what name?"
"How long have you been here?"
"Are you stopping long in Florence?"
"As long as you like."
"Are you married?"
"Cursed be that supper! What an event! You must leave me now,
I have to go on. Good-bye till seven o'clock to-morrow."
She had said eight at first, but an hour sooner was no harm.
I returned to the theatre, and recollected that I had neither asked
her name or address, but I could find out all that easily. She
was playing Mandane, and her singing and acting were admirable.
I asked a well-dressed young man beside me what that admirable
actress's name was.
"You have only come to Florence to-day, sir?"
"I arrived yesterday."
"Ah! well, then it's excusable. That actress has the same name as
I have. She is my wife, and I am Cirillo Palesi, at your
I bowed and was silent with surprise. I dared not ask where she
lived, lest he might think my curiosity impertinent. Therese
married to this handsome young man, of whom, of all others, I had
made enquiries about her! It was like a scene in a play.
I could bear it no longer. I longed to be alone and to ponder
over this strange adventure at my ease, and to think about my
visit to Therese at seven o'clock the next morning. I felt the
most intense curiosity to see what the husband would do when he
recognized me, and he was certain to do so, for he had looked at
me attentively as he spoke. I felt that my old flame for Therese
was rekindled in my heart, and I did not know whether I was glad
or sorry at her being married.
I left the opera-house and told my footman to call my carriage.
"You can't have it till nine o'clock, sir; it was so cold the
coachman sent the horses back to the stable."
"We will return on foot, then."
"You will catch a cold."
"What is the prima donna's name?"
"When she came here, she called herself Lanti, but for the last
two months she has been Madame Palesi. She married a handsome
young man with no property and no profession, but she is rich, so
he takes his ease and does nothing."
"Where does she live?"
"At the end of this street. There's her house, sir; she lodges on
the first floor."
This was all I wanted to know, so I said no more, but took note of
the various turnings, that I might be able to find my way alone
the next day. I ate a light supper, and told Le Duc to call me at
"But it is not light till seven."
"I know that."
At the dawn of day, I was at the door of the woman I had loved so
passionately. I went to the first floor, rang the bell, and an
old woman came out and asked me if I were M. Casanova. I told her
that I was, whereupon she said that the lady had informed her I
was not coming till eight.
"She said seven."
"Well, well, it's of no consequence. Kindly walk in here. I will
go and awake her."
In five minutes, the young husband in his night-cap and dressing-
gown came in, and said that his wife would not be long. Then
looking at me attentively with an astounded stare, he said,
"Are you not the gentleman who asked me my wife's name last
"You are right, I did. I have not seen your wife for many years,
but I thought I recognized her. My good fortune made me enquire
of her husband, and the friendship which formerly attached me to
her will henceforth attach me to you."
As I uttered this pretty compliment Therese, as fair as love,
rushed into the room with open arms. I took her to my bosom in a
transport of delight, and thus we remained for two minutes, two
friends, two lovers, happy to see one another after a long and sad
parting. We kissed each other again and again, and then bidding
her husband sit down she drew me to a couch and gave full course
to her tears. I wept too, and my tears were happy ones. At last
we wiped our eyes, and glanced towards the husband whom we had
completely forgotten. He stood in an attitude of complete
astonishment, and we burst out laughing. There was something so
comic in his surprise that it would have taxed all the talents of
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