The Complete Memoires of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
Part 64 out of 70
not far off.
The next day I was in Bologna, and the day after in Florence, where I met
the Chevalier Morosini, nephew of the Venetian procurator, a young man of
nineteen, who was travelling with Count Stratico, professor of
mathematics at the University of Padua. He gave me a letter for his
brother, a Jacobin monk, and professor of literature at Pisa, where I
stopped for a couple of hours on purpose to make the celebrated monk's
acquaintance. I found him even greater than his fame, and promised to
come again to Pisa, and make a longer stay for the purpose of enjoying
I stopped an hour at the Wells, where I made the acquaintance of the
Pretender to the throne of Great Britain, and from there went on to
Leghorn, where I found Count Orloff still waiting, but only because
contrary winds kept him from sailing.
The English consul, with whom he was staying, introduced me at once to
the Russian admiral, who received me with expressions of delight. He
told me he would be charmed if I would come on board with him. He told
me to have my luggage taken off at once, as he would set sail with the
first fair wind. When he was gone the English consul asked me what would
be my status with the admiral.
"That's just what I mean to find out before embarking my effects."
"You won't be able to speak to him till to-morrow." Next morning I
called on Count Orloff, and sent him in a short note, asking him to give
me a short interview before I embarked my mails.
An officer came out to tell me that the admiral was writing in bed, and
hoped I would wait.
I had been waiting a few minutes, when Da Loglio, the Polish agent at
Venice and an old friend of mine, came in.
"What are you doing here, my dear Casanova?" said he.
"I am waiting for an interview with the admiral."
"He is very busy."
After this, Da Loglio coolly went into the admiral's room. This was
impertinent of him; it was as if he said in so many words that the
admiral was too busy to see me, but not too busy to see him.
A moment after, Marquis Manucci came in with his order of St. Anne and
his formal air. He congratulated me on my visit to Leghorn, and then
said he had read my work on Venice, and had been surprised to find
himself in it.
He had some reason for surprise, for there was no connection between him
and the subject-matter; but he should have discovered before that the
unexpected often happens. He did not give me time to tell him so, but
went into the admiral's room as Da Loglio had done.
I was vexed to see how these gentlemen were admitted while I danced
attendance, and the project of sailing with Orloff began to displease me.
In five hours Orloff came out followed by a numerous train. He told me
pleasantly that we could have our talk at table or after dinner.
"After dinner, if you please," I said.
He came in and sat down at two o'clock, and I was among the guests.
Orloff kept on saying, "Eat away, gentlemen, eat away;" and read his
correspondence and gave his secretary letters all the time.
After dinner he suddenly glanced up at me, and taking me by the hand led
me to the window, and told me to make haste with my luggage, as he should
sail before the morning if the wind kept up.
"Quite so; but kindly tell me, count, what is to be my status or
employment an board your ship?"
"At present I have no special employ to give you; that will come in time.
Come on board as my friend."
"The offer is an honourable one so far as you are concerned, but all the
other officers might treat me with contempt. I should be regarded as a
kind of fool, and I should probably kill the first man who dared to
insult me. Give me a distinct office, and let me wear your uniform; I
will be useful to you. I know the country for which you are bound, I can
speak the language, and I am not wanting in courage."
"My dear sir, I really have no particular office to give you."
"Then, count, I wish you a pleasant sail; I am going to Rome. I hope you
may never repent of not taking me, for without me you will never pass the
"Is that a prophecy?"
"It's an oracle."
"We will test its veracity, my dear Calchus."
Such was the short dialogue I had with the worthy count, who, as a matter
of fact, did not pass the Dardanelles. Whether he would have succeeded
if I had been on board is more than I can say.
Next day I delivered my letters to M. Rivarola and the English banker.
The squadron had sailed in the early morning.
The day after I went to Pisa, and spent a pleasant week in the company of
Father Stratico, who was made a bishop two or three years after by means
of a bold stroke that might have ruined him. He delivered a funeral
oration over Father Ricci, the last general of the Jesuits. The Pope,
Ganganelli, had the choice of punishing the writer and increasing the
odium of many of the faithful, or of rewarding him handsomely. The
sovereign pontiff followed the latter course. I saw the bishop some
years later, and he told me in confidence that he had only written the
oration because he felt certain, from his knowledge of the human heart,
that his punishment would be a great reward.
This clever monk initiated me into all the charms of Pisan society. He
had organized a little choir of ladies of rank, remarkable for their
intelligence and beauty, and had taught them to sing extempore to the
guitar. He had had them instructed by the famous Gorilla, who was
crowned poetess-laureate at the capitol by night, six years later. She
was crowned where our great Italian poets were crowned; and though her
merit was no doubt great, it was, nevertheless, more tinsel than gold,
and not of that order to place her on a par with Petrarch or Tasso.
She was satirised most bitterly after she had received the bays; and the
satirists were even more in the wrong than the profaners of the capitol,
for all the pamphlets against her laid stress on the circumstance that
chastity, at all events, was not one of her merits. All poetesses, from
the days of Homer to our own, have sacrificed on the altar of Venus. No
one would have heard of Gorilla if she had not had the sense to choose
her lovers from the ranks of literary men; and she would never have been
crowned at Rome if she had not succeeded in gaining over Prince Gonzaga
Solferino, who married the pretty Mdlle. Rangoni, daughter of the Roman
consul, whom I knew at Marseilles, and of whom I have already spoken.
This coronation of Gorilla is a blot on the pontificate of the present
Pope, for henceforth no man of genuine merit will accept the honour which
was once so carefully guarded by the giants of human intellect.
Two days after the coronation Gorilla and her admirers left Rome, ashamed
of what they had done. The Abbe Pizzi, who had been the chief promoter
of her apotheosis, was so inundated with pamphlets and satires that for
some months he dared not shew his face.
This is a long digression, and I will now return to Father Stratico, who
made the time pass so pleasantly for me.
Though he was not a handsome man, he possessed the art of persuasion to
perfection; and he succeeded in inducing me to go to Sienna, where he
said I should enjoy myself. He gave me a letter of introduction for the
Marchioness Chigi, and also one for the Abbe Chiaccheri; and as I had
nothing better to do I went to Sienna by the shortest way, not caring to
The Abbe Chiaccheri gave me a warm welcome, and promised to do all he
could to amuse me; and he kept his word. He introduced me himself to the
Marchioness Chigi, who took me by storm as soon as she had read the
letter of the Abbe Stratico, her dear abbe, as she called him, when she
read the superscription in his writing.
The marchioness was still handsome, though her beauty had begun to wane;
but with her the sweetness, the grace, and the ease of manner supplied
the lack of youth. She knew how to make a compliment of the slightest
expression, and was totally devoid of any affection of superiority.
"Sit down," she began. "So you are going to stay a week, I see, from the
dear abbe's letter. That's a short time for us, but perhaps it may be
too long for you. I hope the abbe has not painted us in too rosy
"He only told me that I was to spend a week here, and that I should find
with you all the charms of intellect and sensibility."
"Stratico should have condemned you to a month without mercy."
"Why mercy? What hazard do I run?"
"Of being tired to death, or of leaving some small morsel of your heart
"All that might happen in a week, but I am ready to dare the danger, for
Stratico has guarded me from the first by counting on you, and from the
second by counting on myself. You will receive my pure and intelligent
homage. My heart will go forth from Sienna as free as it came, for I
have no hope of victory, and defeat would make me wretched."
"Is it possible that you are amongst the despairing?"
"Yes, and to that fact I owe my happiness."
"It would be a pity for you if you found yourself mistaken."
"Not such a pity as you may think, Madam. 'Carpe diem' is my motto.
'Tis likewise the motto of that finished voluptuary, Horace, but I only
take it because it suits me. The pleasure which follows desires is the
best, for it is the most acute.
"True, but it cannot be calculated on, and defies the philosopher. May
God preserve you, madam, from finding out this painful truth by
experience! The highest good lies in enjoyment; desire too often remains
unsatisfied. If you have not yet found out the truth of Horace's maxim,
I congratulate you."
The amiable marchioness smiled pleasantly and gave no positive answer.
Chiaccheri now opened his mouth for the first time, and said that the
greatest happiness he could wish us was that we should never agree. The
marchioness assented, rewarding Chiaccheri with a smile, but I could not
"I had rather contradict you," I said, "than renounce all hopes of
pleasing you. The abbe has thrown the apple of discord between us, but
if we continue as we have begun I shall take up my abode at Sienna."
The marchioness was satisfied with the sample of her wit which she had
given me, and began to talk commonplaces, asking me if I should like to
see company and enjoy society of the fair sex. She promised to take me
"Pray do not take the trouble," I replied. "I want to leave Sienna with
the feeling that you are the only lady to whom I have done homage, and
that the Abbe Chiaccheri has been my only guide."
The marchioness was flattered, and asked the abbe and myself to dine with
her on the following day in a delightful house she had at a hundred paces
from the town.
The older I grew the more I became attached to the intellectual charms of
women. With the sensualist, the contrary takes place; he becomes more
material in his old age: requires women well taught in Venus's shrines,
and flies from all mention of philosophy.
As I was leaving her I told the abbe that if I stayed at Sienna I would
see no other woman but her, come what might, and he agreed that I was
The abbe shewed me all the objects of interest in Sienna, and introduced
me to the literati, who in their turn visited me.
The same day Chiaccheri took me to a house where the learned society
assembled. It was the residence of two sisters--the elder extremely ugly
and the younger very pretty, but the elder sister was accounted, and very
rightly, the Corinna of the place. She asked me to give her a specimen
of my skill, promising to return the compliment. I recited the first
thing that came into my head, and she replied with a few lines of
exquisite beauty. I complimented her, but Chiaccheri (who had been her
master) guessed that I did not believe her to be the author, and proposed
that we should try bouts rimes. The pretty sister gave out the rhymes,
and we all set to work. The ugly sister finished first, and when the
verses came to be read, hers were pronounced the best. I was amazed, and
made an improvisation on her skill, which I gave her in writing. In five
minutes she returned it to me; the rhymes were the same, but the turn of
the thought was much more elegant. I was still more surprised, and took
the liberty of asking her name, and found her to be the famous
"Shepherdess," Maria Fortuna, of the Academy of Arcadians.
I had read the beautiful stanzas she had written in praise of Metastasio.
I told her so, and she brought me the poet's reply in manuscript.
Full of admiration, I addressed myself to her alone, and all her
I had had an agreeable conversation with the marchioness in the morning,
but in the evening I was literally in an ecstacy.
I kept on talking of Fortuna, and asked the abbe if she could improvise
in the manner of Gorilla. He replied that she had wished to do so, but
that he had disallowed it, and he easily convinced me that this
improvisation would have been the ruin of her fine talent. I also agreed
with him when he said that he had warned her against making impromptus
too frequently, as such hasty verses are apt to sacrifice wit to rhyme.
The honour in which improvisation was held amongst the Greeks and Romans
is due to the fact that Greek and Latin verse is not under the dominion
of rhyme. But as it was, the great poets seldom improvised; knowing as
they did that such verses were usually feeble and common-place.
Horace often passed a whole night searching for a vigorous and elegantly-
turned phrase. When he had succeeded, he wrote the words on the wall and
went to sleep. The lines which cost him nothing are generally prosaic;
they may easily be picked out in his epistles.
The amiable and learned Abbe Chiaccheri, confessed to me that he was in
love with his pupil, despite her ugliness. He added that he had never
expected it when he began to teach her to make verses.
"I can't understand that," I said, "sublata lucerna', you know."
"Not at all," said he, with a laugh, "I love her for her face, since it
is inseperable from my idea of her."
A Tuscan has certainly more poetic riches at his disposal than any other
Italian, and the Siennese dialect is sweeter and more energetic than that
of Florence, though the latter claims the title of the classic dialect,
on account of its purity. This purity, together with its richness and
copiousness of diction it owes to the academy. From the great richness
of Italian we can treat a subject with far greater eloquence than a
French writer; Italian abounds in synonyms, while French is lamentably
deficient in this respect. Voltaire used to laugh at those who said that
the French tongue could not be charged with poverty, as it had all that
was necessary. A man may have necessaries, and yet be poor. The
obstinacy of the French academy in refusing to adopt foreign words skews
more pride than wisdom. This exclusiveness cannot last.
As for us we take words from all languages and all sources, provided they
suit the genius of our own language. We love to see our riches increase;
we even steal from the poor, but to do so is the general characteristic
of the rich.
The amiable marchioness gave us a delicious dinner in a house designed by
Palladio. Chiaccheri had warned me to say nothing about the Shepherdess
Fortuna; but at dinner she told him she was sure he had taken me to her
house. He had not the face to deny it, and I did not conceal the
pleasure I had received.
"Stratico admires Fortuna," said the marchioness, "and I confess that her
writings have great merit, but it's a pity one cannot go to the house,
except under an incognito."
"Why not?" I asked, in some astonishment.
"What!" said she to the abbe, "you did not tell him whose house it is?"
"I did not think it necessary, her father and mother rarely shew
"Well, it's of no consequence."
"But what is her father?" I asked, "the hangman, perhaps?"
"Worse, he's the 'bargello', and you must see that a stranger cannot be
received into good society here if he goes to such places as that."
Chiaccheri looked rather hurt, and I thought it my duty to say that I
would not go there again till the eve of my departure.
"I saw her sister once," said the marchioness; "she is really charmingly
pretty, and it's a great pity that with her beauty and irreproachable
morality she should be condemned to marry a man of her father's class."
"I once knew a man named Coltellini," I replied; "he is the son of the
bargello of Florence, and is poet-inordinary to the Empress of Russia.
I shall try to make a match between him and Fortuna's sister; he is a
young man of the greatest talents."
The marchioness thought my idea an excellent one, but soon after I heard
that Coltellini was dead.
The 'bargello' is a cordially-detested person all over Italy, if you
except Modena, where the weak nobility make much of the 'bargello', and
do justice to his excellent table. This is a curious fact, for as a rule
these bargellos are spies, liars, traitors, cheats, and misanthropes, for
a man despised hates his despisers.
At Sienna I was shewn a Count Piccolomini, a learned and agreeable man.
He had a strange whim, however, of spending six months in the year in the
strictest seclusion in his own house, never going out and never seeing
any company; reading and working the whole time. He certainly did his
best to make up for his hibernation during the other six months in the
The marchioness promised she would come to Rome in the course of the
summer. She had there an intimate friend in Bianconi who had abandoned
the practice of medicine, and was now the representative of the Court of
On the eve of my departure, the driver who was to take me to Rome came
and asked me if I would like to take a travelling companion, and save
myself three sequins.
"I don't want anyone."
"You are wrong, for she is very beautiful"
"Is she by herself?"
"No, she is with a gentleman on horseback, who wishes to ride all the way
"Then how did the girl come here?"
"On horseback, but she is tired out, and cannot bear it any longer. The
gentleman has offered me four sequins to take her to Rome, and as I am a
poor man I think you might let me earn the money."
"I suppose he will follow the carriage?"
"He can go as he likes; that can't make much difference to either of us."
"You say she is young and pretty."
"I have been told so, but I haven't seen her myself."
"What sort of a man is her companion?"
"He's a fine man, but he can speak very little Italian."
"Has he sold the lady's horse?"
"No, it was hired. He has only one trunk, which will go behind the
"This is all very strange. I shall not give any decision before speaking
to this man."
"I will tell him to wait on you."
Directly afterwards, a brisk-looking young fellow, carrying himself well
enough, and clad in a fancy uniform, came in. He told me the tale I had
heard from the coachman, and ended by saying that he was sure I would not
refuse to accommodate his wife in my carriage.
"Your wife, sir?"
I saw he was a Frenchman, and I addressed him in French.
"God be praised! You can speak my native tongue. Yes, sir, she is an
Englishwoman and my wife. I am sure she will be no trouble to you."
"Very good. I don't want to start later than I had arranged. Will she
be ready at five o'clock?"
The next morning when I got into my carriage, I found her already there.
I paid her some slight compliment, and sat down beside her, and we drove
Miss Betty--TheComte de L'Etoile--Sir B * * * M * * *--Reassured
This was the fourth adventure I had had of this kind. There is nothing
particularly out of the common in having a fellow-traveller in one's
carriage; this time, however, the affair had something decidedly romantic
I was forty-five, and my purse contained two hundred sequins. I still
loved the fair sex, though my ardour had decreased, my experience had
ripened, and my caution increased. I was more like a heavy father than a
young lover, and I limited myself to pretensions of the most modest
The young person beside me was pretty and gentle-looking, she was neatly
though simply dressed in the English fashion, she was fair and small, and
her budding breast could be seen outlined beneath the fine muslin of her
dress. She had all the appearances of modesty and noble birth, and
something of virginal innocence, which inspired one with attachment and
respect at the same time.
"I hope you can speak French madam?" I began.
"Yes, and a little Italian too."
"I congratulate myself on having you for my travelling companion."
"I think you should congratulate me."
"I heard you came to Sienna on horseback."
"Yes, but I will never do such a foolish thing again." "I think your
husband would have been wise to sell his horse and buy a carriage."
"He hired it; it does not belong to him. From Rome we are going to drive
"You like travelling?"
"Very much, but with greater comfort."
With these words the English girl, whose white skin did not look as if it
could contain a drop of blood, blushed most violently.
I guessed something of her secret, and begged pardon; and for more than
an hour I remain silent, pretending to gaze at the scenery, but in
reality thinking of her, for she began to inspire me with a lively
Though the position of my young companion was more than equivocal, I
determined to see my way clearly before I took any decisive step; and I
waited patiently till we got to Bon Couvent, where we expected to dine
and meet the husband.
We got there at ten o'clock.
In Italy the carriages never go faster than a walk; a man on foot can
outstrip them, as they rarely exceed three miles an hour. The tedium of
a journey under such circumstances is something dreadful, and in the hot
months one has to stop five or six hours in the middle of the day to
avoid falling ill.
My coachman said he did not want to go beyond St. Quirico, where there
was an excellent inn, that night, so he proposed waiting at Bon Couvent
till four o'clock. We had therefore six hours wherein to rest.
The English girl was astonished at not finding her husband, and looked
for him in all directions. I noticed her, and asked the landlord what
had become of him. He informed us that he had breakfasted and baited his
horse, and had then gone on, leaving word that he would await us at St.
Quirico and order supper there.
I thought it all very strange, but I said nothing. The poor girl begged
me to excuse her husband's behaviour.
"He has given me a mark of his confidence, madam, and there is nothing to
be offended at."
The landlord asked me if the vetturino paid my expenses, and I answered
in the negative; and the girl then told him to ask the vetturino if he
was paying for her.
The man came in, and to convince the lady that providing her with meals
was not in the contract, he gave her a paper which she handed to me to
read. It was signed "Comte de l'Etoile."
When she was alone with me my young companion begged me only to order
dinner for myself.
I understood her delicacy, and this made her all the dearer to me.
"Madame," said I, "you must please look upon me as an old friend.
I guess you have no money about you, and that you wish to fast from
motives of delicacy. Your husband shall repay me, if he will have it so.
If I told the landlord to only prepare dinner for myself I should be
dishonouring the count, yourself possibly, and myself most of all."
"I feel you are right sir. Let dinner be served for two, then; but I
cannot eat, for I feel ill, and I hope you will not mind my lying on the
bed for a moment."
"Pray do not let me disturb you. This is a pleasant room, and they can
lay the table in the next. Lie down, and sleep if you can, and I will
order dinner to be ready by two. I hope you will be feeling better by
I left her without giving her time to answer, and went to order dinner.
I had ceased to believe the Frenchman to be the beautiful Englishwoman's
husband, and began to think I should have to fight him.
The case, I felt certain, was one of elopement and seduction; and,
superstitious as usual, I was sure that my good genius had sent me in the
nick of time to save her and care for her, and in short to snatch her
from the hands of her infamous deceiver.
Thus I fondled my growing passion.
I laughed at the absurd title the rascal had given himself, and when the
thought struck me that he had possibly abandoned her to me altogether, I
made up my mind that he deserved hanging. Nevertheless, I resolved never
to leave her.
I lay down on the bed, and as I built a thousand castles in the air I
The landlady awoke me softly, saying that three o'clock had struck.
"Wait a moment before you bring in the dinner. I will go and see if the
lady is awake."
I opened the door gently, and saw she was still asleep, but as I closed
the door after me the noise awoke her, and she asked if I had dined.
"I shall not take any dinner, madam, unless you do me the honour to dine
with me. You have had a five hours' rest, and I hope you are better."
"I will sit down with you to dinner, as you wish it."
"That makes me happy, and I will order dinner to be served forthwith."
She ate little, but what little she did eat was taken with a good
appetite. She was agreeably surprised to see the beefsteaks and plum
pudding, which I had ordered for her.
When the landlady came in, she asked her if the cook was an Englishman,
and when she heard that I had given directions for the preparation of her
national dishes, she seemed full of gratitude. She cheered up, and
congratulated me on my appetite, while I encouraged her to drink some
excellent Montepulciano and Montefiascone. By dessert she was in good
spirits, while I felt rather excited. She told me, in Italian, that she
was born in London, and I thought I should have died with joy, in reply
to my question whether she knew Madame Cornelis, she replied that she had
known her daughter as they had been at school together.
"Has Sophie grown tall?"
"No, she is quite small, but she is very pretty, and so clever."
"She must now be seventeen."
"Exactly. We are of the same age."
As she said this she blushed and lowered her eyes.
"Are you ill?"
"Not at all. I scarcely like to say it, but Sophie is the very image of
"Why should you hesitate to say so? It has been remarked to me before.
No doubt it is a mere coincidence. How long ago is it since you have
"Eighteen months; she went back to her mother's, to be married as it was
said, but I don't know to whom."
"Your news interests me deeply."
The landlord brought me the bill, and I saw a note of three pains which
her husband had spent on himself and his horse.
"He said you would pay," observed the landlord.
The Englishwoman blushed. I paid the bill, and we went on.
I was delighted to see her blushing, it proved she was not a party to her
I was burning with the desire to know how she had left London and had met
the Frenchman, and why they were going to Rome; but I did not want to
trouble her by my questions, and I loved her too well already to give her
We had a three hours' drive before us, so I turned the conversation to
Sophie, with whom she had been at school.
"Was Miss Nancy Steyne there when you left?" said I.
The reader may remember how fond I had been of this young lady, who had
dined with me, and whom I had covered with kisses, though she was only
My companion sighed at hearing the name of Nancy, and told me that she
"Was she pretty when you knew her?"
"She was a beauty, but her loveliness was a fatal gift to her. Nancy was
a close friend of mine, we loved each other tenderly; and perhaps our
sympathy arose from the similarity of the fate in store for us. Nancy,
too loving and too simple, is now, perhaps, even more unhappy than
"More unhappy? What do you mean?"
"Is it possible that fate has treated you harshly? Is it possible that
you can be unhappy with such a letter of commendation as nature has given
"Alas! let us speak of something else."
Her countenance was suffused with emotion. I pitied her in secret, and
led the conversation back to Nancy.
"Tell me why you think Nancy is unhappy."
"She ran away with a young man she loved; they despaired of gaining the
parents' consent to the match. Since her flight nothing has been heard
of her, and you see I have some reason to fear that she is unhappy."
"You are right. I would willingly give my life if it could be the saving
"Where did you know her?"
"In my own house. She and Sophie dined with me, and her father came in
at the end of the meal."
"Now I know who you are. How often have I heard Sophie talking of you.
Nancy loved you as well as her father. I heard that you had gone to
Russia, and had fought a duel with a general in Poland. Is this true?
How I wish I could tell dear Sophie all this, but I may not entertain
such hopes now."
"You have heard the truth about me; but what should prevent you writing
what you like to England? I take a lively interest in you, trust in me,
and I promise you that you shall communicate with whom you please."
"I am vastly obliged to you."
With these words she became silent, and I left her to her thoughts.
At seven o'clock we arrived at St. Quirico, and the so-called Comte de
l'Etoile came out and welcomed his wife in the most loving fashion,
kissing her before everybody, no doubt with the object of giving people
to understand that she was his wife, and I her father.
The girl responded to all his caresses, looking as if a load had been
lifted off her breast, and without a word of reproach she went upstairs
with him, having apparently forgotten my existence. I set that down to
love, youth, and the forgetfulness natural to that early age.
I went upstairs in my turn with my carpet bag, and supper was served
directly, as we had to start very early the next morning if we wished to
reach Radicofani before the noonday heat.
We had an excellent supper, as the count had preceded us by six hours,
and the landlord had had plenty of time to make his preparations. The
English girl seemed as much in love with de l'Etoile as he with her, and
I was left completely out in the cold. I cannot describe the high
spirits, the somewhat risky sallies, and the outrageous humours of the
young gentleman; the girl laughed with all her heart, and I could not
help laughing too.
I considered that I was present at a kind of comedy, and not a gesture,
not a word, not a laugh did I allow to escape me.
"He may be merely a rich and feather-brained young officer," I said to
myself, "who treats everything in this farcical manner. He won't be the
first of the species I have seen. They are amusing, but frivolous, and
sometimes dangerous, wearing their honour lightly, and too apt to carry
it at the sword's point."
On this hypothesis I was ill pleased with my position. I did not much
like his manner towards myself; he seemed to be making a dupe of me, and
behaved all the while as if he were doing me an honour.
On the supposition that the Englishwoman was his wife, his treatment of
myself was certainly not warranted, and I was not the man to play zero.
I could not disguise the fact, however, that any onlooker would have
pronounced me to be playing an inferior part.
There were two beds in the room where we had our supper. When the
chambermaid came to put on the sheets, I told her to give me another
room. The count politely begged me to sleep in the same room with them,
and the lady remained neutral; but I did not much care for their company,
and insisted on leaving them alone.
I had my carpet bag taken to my room, wished them a good night and locked
myself in. My friends had only one small trunk, whence I concluded that
they had sent on their luggage by another way; but they did not even have
the trunk brought up to their room. I went to bed tranquilly, feeling
much less interested about the lady than I had been on the journey.
I was roused early in the morning, and made a hasty toilette. I could
hear my neighbours dressing, so I half opened my door, and wished them
good day without going into their room.
In a quarter of an hour I heard the sound of a dispute in the court-yard,
and on looking out, there were the Frenchman and the vetturino arguing
hotly. The vetturino held the horse's bridle, and the pretended count
did his best to snatch it away from him.
I guessed the bone of contention: the Frenchman had no money, and the
vetturino asked in vain for his due. I knew that I should be drawn into
the dispute, and was making up my mind to do my duty without mercy, when
the Count de l'Etoile came in and said,--
"This blockhead does not understand what I say to him; but as he may have
right on his side, I must ask you to give him two sequins. I will return
you the money at Rome. By an odd chance I happen to have no money about
me, but the fellow might trust me as he has got my trunk. However, he
says he must be paid, so will you kindly oblige me? You shall hear more
of me at Rome."
Without waiting for me to reply, the rascal went out and ran down the
stairs. The vetturino remained in the room. I put my head out of the
window, and saw him leap on horseback and gallop away.
I sat down on my bed, and turned the scene over in my mind, rubbing my
hands gently. At last I went off into a mad roar of laughter; it struck
me as so whimsical and original an adventure.
"Laugh too," said I to the lady, "laugh or I will never get up."
"I agree with you that it's laughable enough, but I have not the spirit
"Well, sit down at all events."
I gave the poor devil of a vetturino two sequins, telling him that I
should like some coffee and to start in a quarter of an hour.
I was grieved to see my companion's sadness.
"I understand your grief," said I, "but you must try to overcome it. I
have only one favour to ask of you, and if you refuse to grant me that, I
shall be as sad as you, so we shall be rather a melancholy couple."
"What can I do for you?"
"You can tell me on your word of honour whether that extraordinary
character is your husband, or only your lover."
"I will tell you the simple truth; he is not my husband, but we are going
to be married at Rome."
"I breathe again. He never shall be your husband, and so much the better
for you. He has seduced you, and you love him, but you will soon get
"Never, unless he deceives me."
"He has deceived you already. I am sure he has told you that he is rich,
that he is a man of rank, and that he will make you happy; and all that
is a lie."
"How can you know all this?"
"Experience--experience is my great teacher. Your lover is a young
feather-brain, a man of no worth. He might possibly marry you, but it
would be only to support himself by the sale of your charms."
"He loves me; I am sure of it."
"Yes, he loves you, but not with the love of a man of honour. Without
knowing my name, or my character, or anything about me, he delivered you
over to my tender mercies. A man of any delicacy would never abandon his
loved one thus."
"He is not jealous. You know Frenchmen are not."
"A man of honour is the same in France, and England, and Italy, and all
the world over. If he loved you, would he have left you penniless in
this fashion? What would you do, if I were inclined to play the brutal
lover? You may speak freely."
"I should defend myself."
"Very good; then I should abandon you here, and what would you do then?
You are pretty, you are a woman of sensibility, but many men would take
but little account of your virtue. Your lover has left you to me; for
all he knew I might be the vilest wretch; but as it is, cheer up, you
have nothing to fear.
"How can you think that adventurer loves you? He is a mere monster. I
am sorry that what I say makes you weep, but it must be said. I even
dare tell you that I have taken a great liking to you; but you may feel
quite sure that I shall not ask you to give me so much as a kiss, and I
will never abandon you. Before we get to Rome I shall convince you that
the count, as he calls himself, not only does not love you, but is a
common swindler as well as a deceiver."
"You will convince me of that?"
"Yes, on my word of honour! Dry your eyes, and let us try to make this
day pass as pleasantly as yesterday. You cannot imagine how glad I feel
that chance has constituted me your protector. I want you to feel
assured of my friendship, and if you do not give me a little love in
return, I will try and bear it patiently."
The landlord came in and brought the bill for the count and his mistress
as well as for myself. I had expected this, and paid it without a word,
and without looking at the poor wandering sheep beside me. I recollected
that too strong medicines kill, and do not cure, and I was afraid I had
said almost too much.
I longed to know her history, and felt sure I should hear it before we
reached Rome. We took some coffee and departed, and not a word passed
between us till we got to the inn at La Scala, where we got down.
The road from La Scala to Radicofani is steep and troublesome. The
vetturino would require an extra horse, and even then would have taken
four hours. I decided, therefore, to take two post horses, and not to
begin the journey till ten o'clock.
"Would it not be better to go on now?" said the English girl; "it will be
very hot from ten till noon."
"Yes, but the Comte de l'Ltoile, whom we should be sure to meet at
Radicofani, would not like to see me."
"Why not? I am sure he would."
If I had told her my reason she would have wept anew, so in pity I spared
her. I saw that she was blinded by love, and could not see the true
character of her lover. It would be impossible to cure her by gentle and
persuasive argument; I must speak sharply, the wound must be subjected to
the actual cautery. But was virtue the cause of all this interest? Was
it devotion to a young and innocent girl that made me willing to
undertake so difficult and so delicate a task? Doubtless these motives
went for something, but I will not attempt to strut in borrowed plumes,
and must freely confess that if she had been ugly and stupid I should
probably have left her to her fate. In short, selfishness was at the
bottom of it all, so let us say no more about virtue.
My true aim was to snatch this delicate morsel from another's hand that I
might enjoy it myself. I did not confess as much to myself, for I could
never bear to calmly view my own failings, but afterwards I came to the
conclusion that I acted a part throughout. Is selfishness, then, the
universal motor of our actions? I am afraid it is.
I made Betty (such was her name) take a country walk with me, and the
scenery there is so beautiful that no poet nor painter could imagine a
more delicious prospect. Betty spoke Tuscan with English idioms and an
English accent, but her voice was so silvery and clear that her Italian
was delightful to listen to. I longed to kiss her lips as they spoke so
sweetly, but I respected her and restrained myself.
We were walking along engaged in agreeable converse, when all at once we
heard the church bells peal out. Betty said she had never seen a
Catholic service, and I was glad to give her that pleasure. It was the
feast day of some local saint, and Betty assisted at high mass with all
propriety, imitating the gestures of the people, so that no one would
have taken her for a Protestant. After it was over, she said she thought
the Catholic rite was much more adapted to the needs of loving souls than
the Angelican. She was astonished at the southern beauty of the village
girls, whom she pronounced to be much handsomer that the country lasses
in England. She asked me the time, and I replied without thinking that I
wondered she had not got a watch. She blushed and said the count had
asked her to give it him to leave in pawn for the horse he hired.
I was sorry for what I had said, for I had put Betty, who was incapable
of a lie, to great pain.
We started at ten o'clock with three horses, and as a cool wind was
blowing we had a pleasant drive, arriving at Radicofani at noon.
The landlord, who was also the postmaster, asked if I would pay three
pauls which the Frenchman had expended for his horse and himself,
assuring the landlord that his friend would pay.
For Betty's sake I said I would pay; but this was not all.
"The gentleman," added the man, "has beaten three of my postillions with
his naked sword. One of them was wounded in the face, and he has
followed his assailant, and will make him pay dearly for it. The reason
of the assault was that they wanted to detain him till he had paid."
"You were wrong to allow violence to be used; he does not look like a
thief, and you might have taken it for granted that I should pay."
"You are mistaken; I was not obliged to take anything of the sort for
granted; I have been cheated in this sort many times before. Your dinner
is ready if you want any."
Poor Betty was in despair. She observed a distressed silence; and I
tried to raise her spirits, and to make her eat a good dinner, and to
taste the excellent Muscat, of which the host had provided an enormous
All my efforts were in vain, so I called the vetturino to tell him that I
wanted to start directly after dinner. This order acted on Betty like
"You mean to go as far as Centino, I suppose," said the man. "We had
better wait there till the heat is over."
"No, we must push on, as the lady's husband may be in need of help. The
wounded postillion has followed him; and as he speaks Italian very
imperfectly, there's no knowing what may happen to him."
"Very good; we will go off."
Betty looked at me with the utmost gratitude; and by way of proving it,
she pretended to have a good appetite. She had noticed that this was a
certain way of pleasing me.
While we were at dinner I ordered up one of the beaten postillions, and
heard his story. He was a frank rogue; he said he had received some
blows with the flat of the sword, but he boasted of having sent a stone
after the Frenchman which must have made an impression on him.
I gave him a Paul, and promised to make it a crown if he would go to
Centino to bear witness against his comrade, and he immediately began to
speak up for the count, much to Betty's amusement. He said the man's
wound in the face was a mere scratch, and that he had brought it on
himself, as he had no business to oppose a traveller as he had done. By
way of comfort he told us that the Frenchman had only been hit by two or
three stones. Betty did not find this very consoling, but I saw that the
affair was more comic than tragic, and would end in nothing. The
postillion went off, and we followed him in half an hour.
Betty was tranquil enough till we got there, and heard that the count had
gone on to Acquapendente with the two postillions at his heels; she
seemed quite vexed. I told her that all would be well; that the count
knew how to defend himself; but she only answered me with a deep sigh.
I suspected that she was afraid we should have to pass the night
together, and that I would demand some payment for all the trouble I had
"Would you like us to go on to Acquapendente?" I asked her.
At this question her face beamed all over; she opened her arms, and I
I called the vetturino, and told him. I wanted to go on to Acquapendente
The fellow replied that his horses were in the stable, and that he was
not going to put them in; but that I could have post horses if I liked.
"Very good. Get me two horses immediately."
It is my belief that, if I had liked, Betty would have given me
everything at that moment, for she let herself fall into my arms. I
pressed her tenderly and kissed her, and that was all She seemed grateful
for my self-restraint.
The horses were put in, and after I had paid the landlord for the supper,
which he swore he had prepared for us, we started.
We reached Acquapendente in three quarters of an hour, and we found the
madcap count in high spirits. He embraced his Dulcinea with transports,
and Betty seemed delighted to find him safe and sound. He told us
triumphantly that he had beaten the rascally postillions, and had warded
their stones off.
"Where's the slashed postillion?" I asked.
"He is drinking to my health with his comrade; they have both begged my
"Yes," said Betty, "this gentleman gave him a crown."
"What a pity! You shouldn't have given them anything."
Before supper the Comte de l'Etoile skewed us the bruises on his thighs
and side; the rascal was a fine well-made fellow. However, Betty's
adoring airs irritated me, though I was consoled at the thought of the
earnest I had received from her.
Next day, the impudent fellow told me that he would order us a good
supper at Viterbo, and that of course I would lend him a sequin to pay
for his dinner at Montefiascone. So saying, he skewed me in an off-hand
way a bill of exchange on Rome for three thousand crowns.
I did not trouble to read it, and gave him the sequin, though I felt sure
I should never see it again.
Betty now treated me quite confidentially, and I felt I might ask her
almost any questions.
When we were at Montefiascone she said,--
"You see my lover is only without money by chance; he has a bill of
exchange for a large amount."
"I believe it to be a forgery."
"You are really too cruel."
"Not at all; I only wish I were mistaken, but I am sure of the contrary.
Twenty years ago I should have taken it for a good one, but now it's
another thing, and if the bill is a good one, why did he not negotiate it
at Sienna, Florence, or Leghorn?"
"It may be that be had not the time; he was in such a hurry to be gone.
Ah! if you knew all!"
"I only want to know what you like to tell me, but I warn you again that
what I say is no vague suspicion but hard fact."
"Then you persist in the idea that he does not love me."
"Nay, he loves you, but in such a fashion as to deserve hatred in
"How do you mean?"
"Would you not hate a man who loved you only to traffic in your charms?"
"I should be sorry for you to think that of him."
"If you like, I will convince you of what I say this evening."
"You will oblige me; but I must have some positive proof. It would be a
sore pain to me, but also a true service."
"And when you are convinced, will you cease to love him?"
"Certainly; if you prove him to be dishonest, my love will vanish away."
"You are mistaken; you will still love him, even when you have had proof
positive of his wickedness. He has evidently fascinated you in a deadly
manner, or you would see his character in its true light before this."
"All this may be true; but do you give me your proofs, and leave to me
the care of shewing that I despise him."
"I will prove my assertions this evening; but tell me how long you have
"About a month; but we have only been together for five days."
"And before that time you never accorded him any favours?"
"Not a single kiss. He was always under my windows, and I had reason to
believe that he loved me fondly."
"Oh, yes! he loves you, who would not? but his love is not that of a man
of honour, but that of an impudent profligate."
"But how can you suspect a man of whom you know nothing?"
"Would that I did not know him! I feel sure that not being able to visit
you, he made you visit him, and then persuaded you to fly with him."
"Yes, he did. He wrote me a letter, which I will shew you. He promises
to marry me at Rome."
"And who is to answer for his constancy?"
"His love is my surety."
"Do you fear pursuit?"
"Did he take you from a father, a lover, or a brother?"
"From a lover, who will not be back at Leghorn for a week or ten days."
"Where has he gone?"
"To London on business; I was under the charge of a woman whom he
"That's enough; I pity you, my poor Betty. Tell me if you love your
Englishman, and if he is worthy of your love."
"Alas! I loved him dearly till I saw this Frenchman, who made me
unfaithful to a man I adored. He will be in despair at not finding me
when he returns."
"Is he rich?"
"Not very; he is a business man, and is comfortably off."
"Is he young?"
"No. He is a man of your age, and a thoroughly kind and honest person.
He was waiting for his comsumptive wife to die to marry me."
"Poor man! Have you presented him with a child?"
"No. I am sure God did not mean me for him, for the count has conquered
"Everyone whom love leads astray says the same thing."
"Now you have heard everything, and I am glad I told you, for I am sure
you are my friend."
"I will be a better friend to you, dear Betty, in the future than in the
past. You will need my services, and I promise not to abandon you. I
love you, as I have said; but so long as you continue to love the
Frenchman I shall only ask you to consider me as your friend."
"I accept your promise, and in return I promise not to hide anything from
"Tell me why you have no luggage."
"I escaped on horseback, but my trunk, which is full of linen and other
effects, will be at Rome two days after us. I sent it off the day before
my escape, and the man who received it was sent by the count."
"Then good-bye to your trunk!"
"Why, you foresee nothing but misfortune!"
"Well, dear Betty, I only wish my prophecies may not be accomplished.
Although you escaped on horseback I think you should have brought a cloak
and a carpet bag with some linen."
"All that is in the small trunk; I shall have it taken into my room
We reached Viterbo at seven o'clock, and found the count very cheerful.
In accordance with the plot I had laid against the count, I began by
shewing myself demonstratively fond of Betty, envying the fortunate
lover, praising his heroic behaviour in leaving her to me, and so forth.
The silly fellow proceeded to back me up in my extravagant admiration.
He boasted that jealousy was utterly foreign to his character, and
maintained that the true lover would accustom himself to see his mistress
inspire desires in other men.
He proceeded to make a long dissertation on this theme, and I let him go
on, for I was waiting till after supper to come to the conclusive point.
During the meal I made him drink, and applauded his freedom from vulgar
prejudices. At dessert he enlarged on the duty of reciprocity between
"Thus," he remarked, "Betty ought to procure me the enjoyment of Fanny,
if she has reason to think I have taken a fancy to her; and per contra,
as I adore Betty, if I found that she loved you I should procure her the
pleasure of sleeping with you."
Betty listened to all this nonsense in silent astonishment.
"I confess, my dear count," I replied, "that, theoretically speaking,
your system strikes me as sublime, and calculated to bring about the
return of the Golden Age; but I am afraid it would prove absurd in
practice. No doubt you are a man of courage, but I am sure you would
never let your mistress be enjoyed by another man. Here are twenty-five
sequins. I will wager that amount that you will not allow me to sleep
with your wife."
"Ha! ha! You are mistaken in me, I assure you. I'll bet fifty sequins
that I will remain in the room a calm spectator of your exploits. My
dear Betty, we must punish this sceptic; go to bed with him."
"You are joking."
"Not at all; to bed with you, I shall love you all the more."
"You must be crazy, I shall do nothing of the kind."
The count took her in his arms, and caressing her in the tenderest manner
begged her to do him this favour, not so much for the twenty-five Louis,
as to convince me that he was above vulgar prejudices. His caresses
became rather free, but Betty repulsed him gently though firmly, saying
that she would never consent, and that he had already won the bet, which
was the case; in fine the poor girl besought him to kill her rather than
oblige her to do a deed which she thought infamous.
Her words, and the pathetic voice with which they were uttered, should
have shamed him, but they only put him into a furious rage. He repulsed
her, calling her the vilest names, and finally telling her that she was
a hypocrite, and he felt certain she had already granted me all a
worthless girl could grant.
Betty grew pale as death, and furious in my turn, I ran for my sword. I
should probably have run him through, if the infamous scoundrel had not
fled into the next room, where he locked himself in.
I was in despair at seeing Betty's distress, of which I had been the
innocent cause, and I did my best to soothe her.
She was in an alarming state. Her breath came with difficulty, her eyes
seemed ready to start out of her head, her lips were bloodless and
trembling, and her teeth shut tight together. Everyone in the inn was
asleep. I could not call for help, and all I could do was to dash water
in her face, and speak soothing words.
At last she fell asleep, and I remained beside her for more than two
hours, attentive to her least movements, and hoping that she would awake
strengthened and refreshed.
At day-break I heard l'Etoile going off, and I was glad of it. The
people of the inn knocked at our door, and then Betty awoke.
"Are you ready to go, my dear Betty?"
"I am much better, but I should so like a cup of tea."
The Italians cannot make tea, so I took what she gave me, and went to
prepare it myself.
When I came back I found her inhaling the fresh morning air at the
window. She seemed calm, and I hoped I had cured her. She drank a few
cups of tea (of which beverage the English are very fond), and soon
regained her good looks.
She heard some people in the room where we had supped, and asked me if I
had taken up the purse which I had placed on the table. I had forgotten
I found my purse and a piece of paper bearing the words, "bill of
exchange for three thousand crowns." The impostor had taken it out of
his pocket in making his bet, and had forgotten it. It was dated at
Bordeaux, drawn on a wine merchant at Paris to l'Etoile's order. It was
payable at sight, and was for six months. The whole thing was utterly
I took it to Betty, who told me she knew nothing about bills, and begged
me to say nothing more about that infamous fellow. She then said, in a
voice of which I can give no idea,--
"For pity's sake do not abandon a poor girl, more worthy of compassion
I promised her again to have all a father's care for her, and soon after
we proceeded on our journey.
The poor girl fell asleep, and I followed her example. We were awoke by
the vetturino who informed us, greatly to our astonishment, that we were
at Monterosi. We had slept for six hours, and had done eighteen miles.
We had to stay at Monterosi till four o'clock, and we were glad of it,
for we needed time for reflection.
In the first place I asked about the wretched deceiver, and was told that
he had made a slight meal, paid for it, and said he was going to spend
the night at La Storta.
We made a good dinner, and Betty plucking up a spirit said we must
consider the case of her infamous betrayer, but for the last time.
"Be a father to me," said she; "do not advise but command; you may reckon
on my obedience. I have no need to give you any further particulars, for
you have guessed all except the horror with which the thought of my
betrayer now inspires me. If it had not been for you, he would have
plunged me into an abyss of shame and misery."
"Can you reckon on the Englishman forgiving you?"
"I think so."
"Then we must go back to Leghorn. Are you strong enough to follow this
counsel? I warn you that if you approve of it, it must be put into
execution at once. Young, pretty, and virtuous as you are, you need not
imagine that I shall allow you to go by yourself, or in the company of
strangers. If you think I love you, and find me worthy of your esteem,
that is sufficient regard for me. I will live with you like a father, if
you are not in a position to give me marks of a more ardent affection.
Be sure I will keep faith with you, for I want to redeem your opinion of
men, and to shew you that there are men as honourable as your seducer was
Betty remained for a quarter of an hour in profound silence, her head
resting on her elbows, and her eyes fixed on mine. She did not seem
either angry or astonished, but as far as I could judge was lost in
thought. I was glad to see her reflective, for thus she would be able to
give me a decided answer: At last she said:
"You need not think, my dear friend, that my silence proceeds from
irresolution. If my mind were not made up already I should despise
myself. I am wise enough at any rate to appreciate the wisdom of your
generous counsels. I thank Providence that I have fallen into the hands
of such a man who will treat me as if I were his daughter."
"Then we will go back to Leghorn, and start immediately."
"My only doubt is how to manage my reconcilliation with Sir B---- M----.
I have no doubt he will pardon me eventually; but though he is tender and
good-hearted he is delicate where a point of honour is concerned, and
Subject to sudden fits of violence. This is what I want to avoid; for he
might possibly kill me, and then I should be the cause of his ruin."
"You must consider it on the way, and tell me any plans you may think
"He is an intelligent man, and it would be hopeless to endeavour to dupe
him by a lie. I must make a full confession in writing without hiding a
single circumstance; for if he thought he was being duped his fury would
be terrible. If you will write to him you must not say that you think me
worthy of forgiveness; you must tell him the facts and leave him to judge
for himself. He will be convinced of my repentance when he reads the
letter I shall bedew with my tears, but he must not know of my
whereabouts till he has promised to forgive me. He is a slave to his
word of honour, and we shall live together all our days without my ever
hearing of this slip. I am only sorry that I have behaved so foolishly."
"You must not be offended if I ask you whether you have ever given him
like cause for complaint before."
"What is his history?"
"He lived very unhappily with his first wife; and he was divorced from
his second wife for sufficient reasons. Two years ago he came to our
school with Nancy's father, and made my acquaintance. My father died,
his creditors seized everything, and I had to leave the school, much to
Nancy's distress and that of the other pupils. At this period Sir B----
M---- took charge of me, and gave me a sum which placed me beyond the
reach of, want for the rest of my days. I was grateful, and begged him
to take me with him when he told me he was leaving England. He was
astonished; and, like a man of honour, said he loved me too well to
flatter himself that we could travel together without his entertaining
more ardent feelings for me than those of a father. He thought it out of
the question for me to love him, save as a daughter.
"This declaration, as you may imagine, paved the way for a full
"'However you love me,' I said, 'I shall be well pleased, and if I can do
anything for you I shall be all the happier.'
"He then gave me of his own free will a written promise to marry me on
the death of his wife. We started on our travels, and till my late
unhappy connection I never gave him the slightest cause for complaint."
"Dry your eyes, dear Betty, he is sure to forgive you. I have friends at
Leghorn, and no one shall find out that we have made acquaintance. I
will put you in good hands, and I shall not leave the town till I hear
you are back with Sir B---- M-----. If he prove inexorable I promise
never to abandon you, and to take you back to England if you like."
"But how can you spare the time?"
"I will tell you the truth, my dear Betty. I have nothing particular to
do at Rome, or anywhere else. London and Rome are alike to me."
"How can I shew my gratitude to you?"
I summoned the vetturino, and told him we must return to Viterbo. He
objected, but I convinced him with a couple of piastres, and by agreeing
to use the post horses and to spare his own animals.
We got to Viterbo by seven o'clock, and asked anxiously if no one had
found a pocket-book which I pretended I had lost. I was told no such
thing had been found, so I ordered supper with calmness, although
bewailing my loss. I told Betty that I acted in this sort to obviate any
difficulties which the vetturino might make about taking us back to
Sienna, as he might feel it his duty to place her in the hands of her
supposed husband. I had up the small trunk, and after we had forced the
lock Betty took out her cloak and the few effects she had in it, and we
then inspected the adventurer's properties, most likely all he possessed
in the world. A few tattered shirts, two or three pairs of mended silk
stockings, a pair of breeches, a hare's foot, a pot of grease, and a
score of little books-plays or comic operas, and lastly a packet of
letters; such were the contents of the trunk.
We proceeded to read the letters, and the first thing we noted was the
address: "To M. L'Etoile, Actor, at Marseilles, Bordeaux, Bayonne,
I pitied Betty. She saw herself the dupe of a vile actor, and her
indignation and shame were great.
"We will read it all to-morrow," said I; "to-day we have something else
The poor girl seemed to breathe again.
We got over our supper hastily, and then Betty begged me to leave her
alone for a few moments for her to change her linen and go to bed.
"If you like," said I, "I will have a bed made up for me in the next
"No, dear friend, ought I not to love your society? What would have
become of me without you?"
I went out for a few minutes, and when I returned and came to her bedside
to wish her good night, she gave me such a warm embrace that I knew my
hour was come.
Reader, you must take the rest for granted. I was happy, and I had
reason to believe that Betty was happy also.
In the morning, we had just fallen asleep, when the vettuyino knocked at
I dressed myself hastily to see him.
"Listen," I said, "it is absolutely necessary for me to recover my
pocket-book, and I hope to find it at Acquapendente."
"Very good, sir, very good," said the rogue, a true Italian, "pay me as
if I had taken you to Rome, and a sequin a day for the future, and if you
like, I will take you to England on those terms."
The vetturino was evidently what is called wide awake. I gave him his
money, and we made a new agreement. At seven o'clock we stopped at
Montefiascone to write to Sir B---- M---- , she in English, and I in
Betty had now an air of satisfaction and assurance which I found
charming. She said she was full of hope, and seemed highly amused at the
thought of the figure which the actor would cut when he arrived at Rome
by himself. She hoped that we should come across the man in charge of
her trunk, and that we should have no difficulty in getting it back.
"He might pursue us."
"He dare not do so."
"I expect not, but if he does I will give him a warm welcome. If he does
not take himself off I will blow out his brains."
Before I began my letter to Sir B---- M----. Betty again warned me to
conceal nothing from him.
"Not even the reward you gave me?"
"Oh, yes! That is a little secret between ourselves."
In less than three hours the letters were composed and written. Betty
was satisfied with my letter; and her own, which she translated for my
benefit, was a perfect masterpiece of sensibility, which seemed to me
certain of success.
I thought of posting from Sienna, to ensure her being in a place of
safety before the arrival of her lover.
The only thing that troubled me was the bill of exchange left behind by
l'Etoile, for whether it were true or false, I felt bound to deal with it
in some way, but I could not see how it was to be done.
We set out again after dinner in spite of the heat, and arrived at
Acquapendente in the evening and spent the night in the delights of
As I was getting up in the morning I saw a carriage in front of the inn,
just starting for Rome. I imagined that amidst the baggage Betty's trunk
might be discovered, and I told her to get up, and see if it were there.
We went down, and Betty recognized the trunk she had confided to her
We begged the vetturino to restore it to us, but he was inflexible; and
as he was in the right we had to submit. The only thing he could do was
to have an embargo laid on the trunk at Rome, the said embargo to last
for a month. A notary was called, and our claim properly drawn up. The
vetturino, who seemed an honest and intelligent fellow, assured us he had
received nothing else belonging to the Comte de l'Etoile, so we were
assured that the actor was a mere beggar on the lookout for pickings, and
that the rags in the small trunk were all his possessions.
After this business had been dispatched Betty brightened up amazingly.
"Heaven," she exclaimed, "is arranging everything. My mistake will serve
as a warning to me for the future, for the lesson has been a severe one,
and might have been much worse if I had not had the good fortune of
"I congratulate you," I replied, "on having cured yourself so quickly of
a passion that had deprived you of your reason."
"Ah! a woman's reason is a fragile thing. I shudder when I think of the
monster; but I verily believe that I should not have regained my senses
if he had not called me a hypocrite, and said that he was certain I had
already granted you my favours. These infamous words opened my eyes, and
made me see my shame. I believe I would have helped you to pierce him to
the heart if the coward had not run away. But I am glad he did run away,
not for his sake but for ours, for we should have been in an unpleasant
position if he had been killed."
"You are right; he escaped my sword because he is destined for the rope."
"Let him look to that himself, but I am sure he will never dare to shew
his face before you or me again."
We reached Radicofani at ten o'clock, and proceeded to write postscripts
to our letters to Sir B---- M---- We were sitting at the same table,
Betty opposite to the door and I close to it, so that anyone coming in
could not have seen me without turning round.
Betty was dressed with all decency and neatness, but I had taken off my
coat on account of the suffocating heat. Nevertheless, though I was in
shirt sleeves, I should not have been ashamed of my attire before the
most respectable woman in Italy.
All at once I heard a rapid step coming along the passage, and the door
was dashed open. A furious-looking man came in, and, seeing Betty, cried
"Ah! there you are."
I did not give him time to turn round and see me, but leapt upon him and
seized him by the shoulders. If I had not done so he would have shot me
dead on the spot.
As I leapt upon him I had involuntarily closed the door, and as he cried,
"Let me go, traitor!" Betty fell on her knees before him, exclaiming,
"No, no! he is my preserver."
Sir B---- M---- was too mad with rage to pay any attention to her,
and kept on,---
"Let me go, traitors"
As may be imagined, I did not pay much attention to this request so long
as the loaded pistol was in his hand.
In our struggles he at last fell to the ground and I on top of him.
The landlord and his people had heard the uproar, and were trying to get
in; but as we had fallen against the door they could not do so.
Betty had the presence of mind to snatch the pistol from his hand, and I
then let him go, calmly observing,
"Sir, you are labouring under a delusion."
Again Betty threw herself on her knees, begging him to calm himself, as I
was her preserver not her betrayer.
"What do you mean by 'preserver'?" said B---- M----
Betty gave him the letter, saying,--
The Englishman read the letter through without rising from the ground,
and as I was certain of its effect I opened the door and told the
landlord to send his people away, and to get dinner for three, as
everything had been settled.
by Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
MEMOIRS OF JACQUES CASANOVA de SEINGALT 1725-1798
SPANISH PASSIONS, Volume 6c--ROME
THE MEMOIRS OF JACQUES CASANOVA DE SEINGALT
THE RARE UNABRIDGED LONDON EDITION OF 1894 TRANSLATED BY ARTHUR MACHEN TO
WHICH HAS BEEN ADDED THE CHAPTERS DISCOVERED BY ARTHUR SYMONS.
RETURN TO ROME
Rome--The Actor's Punishment--Lord Baltimore--Naples--Sara Goudar--
Departure of Betty--Agatha--Medina--Albergoni--Miss Chudleigh--The Prince
of Francavilla--The Swimmers
As I fell over the Englishman I had struck my hand against a nail, and
the fourth finger of my left hand was bleeding as if a vein had been
opened. Betty helped me to tie a handkerchief around the wound, while Sir
B---- M---- read the letter with great attention. I was much pleased
with Betty's action, it shewed she was confident, and sure of her lover's
I took up my coat and carpet-bag, and went into the next room to change
my linen, and dress for dinner. Any distress at the termination of my
intrigue with Betty was amply compensated for by my joy at the happy
ending of a troublesome affair which might have proved fatal for me.
I dressed myself, and then waited for half an hour, as I heard Betty and
Sir B---- M---- speaking in English calmly enough, and I did not care to
interrupt them. At last the Englishman knocked at my door, and came in
looking humble and mortified. He said he was sure I had not only saved
Betty, but had effectually cured her of her folly.
"You must forgive my conduct, sir," said he, "for I could not guess that
the man I found with her was her saviour and not her betrayer. I thank
Heaven which inspired you with the idea of catching hold of me from
behind, as I should certainly have killed you the moment I set eyes on
you, and at this moment I should be the most wretched of men. You must
forgive me, sir, and become my friend."
I embraced him cordially, telling him that if I had been in his place I
should have acted in a precisely similar manner.
We returned to the room, and found Betty leaning against the bed, and
The blood continuing to flaw from my wound, I sent for a surgeon who said
that a vein had been opened, and that a proper ligature was necessary.
Betty still wept, so I told Sir B---- M---- that in my opinion she
deserved his forgiveness.
"Forgiveness?" said he, "you may be sure I have already forgiven her, and
she well deserves it. Poor Betty repented directly you shewed her the
path she was treading, and the tears she is shedding now are tears of
sorrow at her mistake. I am sure she recognizes her folly, and will
never be guilty of such a slip again."
Emotion is infectious. Betty wept, Sir B---- M---- wept, and I wept to
keep them company. At last nature called a truce, and by degrees our
sobs and tears ceased and we became calmer.
Sir B---- M----, who was evidently a man of the most generous character,
began to laugh and jest, and his caresses had great effect in calming
Betty. We made a good dinner, and the choice Muscat put us all in the
best of spirits.
Sir B---- M---- said we had better rest for a day or two; he had
journeyed fifteen stages in hot haste, and felt in need of repose.
He told us that on arriving at Leghorn, and finding no Betty there, he
had discovered that her trunk had been booked to Rome, and that the
officer to whom it belonged had hired a horse, leaving a watch as a
pledge for it. Sir B---- M---- recognized Betty's watch, and feeling
certain that she was either on horseback with her seducer or in the wagon
with her trunk, he immediately resolved to pursue.
"I provided myself," he added, "with two good pistols, not with the idea
of using one against her, for my first thought about her was pity, and my
second forgiveness; but I determined to blow out the scoundrel's brains,
and I mean to do it yet. We will start for Rome to-morrow."
Sir B---- M----'s concluding words filled Betty with joy, and I believe
she would have pierced her perfidious lover to the heart if he had been
brought before her at that moment.
"We shall find him at Roland's," said I.
Sir B---- M---- took Betty in his arms, and gazed at me with an air of
content, as if he would have shewn me the greatness of an English heart--
a greatness which more than atones for its weakness.
"I understand your purpose," I said, "but you shall not execute your
plans without me. Let me have the charge of seeing that justice is done
you. If you will not agree, I shall start for Rome directly, I shall get
there before you, and shall give the wretched actor warning of your
approach. If you had killed him before I should have said nothing, but
at Rome it is different, and you would have reason to repent of having
indulged your righteous indignation. You don't know Rome and priestly
justice. Come, give me your hand and your word to do nothing without my
consent, or else I shall leave you directly."
Sir B---- M---- was a man of my own height but somewhat thinner, and five
or six years older; the reader will understand his character without my
My speech must have rather astonished him, but he knew that my
disposition was benevolent, and he could not help giving me his hand and
"Yes, dearest," said Betty, "leave vengeance to the friend whom Heaven
has sent us."
"I consent to do so, provided everything is done in concert between us."
After this we parted, and Sir B---- M----, being in need of rest, I went
to tell the vetturino that we should start for Rome again on the
"For Rome! Then you have found your pocketbook? It seems to me, my good
sir, that you would have been wiser not to search for it."
The worthy man, seeing my hand done up in lint, imagined I had fought a
duel, and indeed everybody else came to the same conclusion.
Sir B---- M---- had gone to bed, and I spent the rest of the day in the
company of Betty, who was overflowing with the gratitude. She said we
must forget what had passed between us, and be the best of friends for
the rest of our days, without a thought of any further amorous relations.
I had not much difficulty in assenting to this condition.
She burned with the desire for vengeance on the scoundrelly actor who had
deceived her; but I pointed out that her duty was to moderate Sir B----
M----'s passions, as if he attempted any violence in Rome it might prove
a very serious matter for him, besides its being to the disadvantage of
his reputation to have the affair talked of.
"I promise you," I added, "to have the rogue imprisoned as soon as we
reach Rome, and that ought to be sufficient vengeance for you. Instead
of the advantages he proposed for himself, he will receive only shame and
all the misery of a prison."
Sir B---- M---- slept seven or eight hours, and rose to find that a good
deal of his rage had evaporated. He consented to abide by my
arrangements, if he could have the pleasure of paying the fellow a visit,
as he wanted to know him.
After this sensible decision and a good supper I went to my lonely couch
without any regret, for I was happy in the consciousness of having done a
We started at day-break the next morning, and when we reached
Acquapendente we resolved to post to Rome. By the post the journey took
twelve hours, otherwise we should have been three days on the road.
As soon as we reached Rome I went to the customhouse and put in the
document relating to Betty's trunk. The next day it was duly brought to
our inn and handed over to Betty.
As Sir B---- M---- had placed the case in my hands I went to the
bargello, an important person at Rome, and an expeditious officer when he
sees a case clearly and feels sure that the plaintiffs do not mind
spending their money. The bargello is rich, and lives well; he has an
almost free access to the cardinal-vicar, the governor, and even the Holy
He gave me a private interview directly, and I told him the whole story,
finally saying that all we asked for was that the rogue should be
imprisoned and afterwards expelled from Rome.
"You see," I added, "that our demand is a very moderate one, and we could
get all we want by the ordinary channels of the law; but we are in a
hurry, and I want you to take charge of the whole affair. If you care to
do so we shall be prepared to defray legal expenses to the extent of
The bargello asked me to give him the bill of exchange and all the
effects of the adventurer, including the letters.
I had the bill in my pocket and gave it him on the spot, taking a receipt
in exchange. I told him to send to the inn for the rest.
"As soon as I have made him confess the facts you allege against him,"
said the bargello, "we shall be able to do something. I have already
heard that he is at Roland's, and has been trying to get the
Englishwoman's trunk. If you liked to spend a hundred crowns instead of
fifty we could send him to the galleys for a couple of years."
"We will see about that," said I, "for the present we will have him into
He was delighted to hear that the horse was not l'Etoile's property, and
said that if I liked to call at nine o'clock he would have further news
I said I would come. I really had a good deal to do at Rome. I wanted
to see Cardinal Bernis in the first place, but I postponed everything to
the affair of the moment.
I went back to the inn and was told by a valet de place, whom Sir B----
M---- had hired, that the Englishman had gone to bed.
We were in need of a carriage, so I summoned the landlord and was
astonished to find myself confronted by Roland in person.
"How's this?" I said. "I thought you were still at the Place d'Espagne."
"I have given my old house to my daughter who has married a prosperous
Frenchman, while I have taken this palace where there are some
"Has your daughter many foreigners staying at her house now?"
"Only one Frenchman, the Comte de l'Etoile, who is waiting for his
equipage to come on. He has an excellent horse, and I am thinking of
buying it from him."
"I advise you to wait till to-morrow, and to say nothing about the advice
I have given you."
"Why should I wait?"
"I can't say any more just now."
This Roland was the father of the Therese whom I had loved nine years
before, and whom my brother Jean had married in 1762, a year after my
departure. Roland told me that my brother was in Rome with Prince
Beloselski, the Russian ambassador to the Court of Saxony.
"I understood that my brother could not come to Rome."
"He came with a safe-conduct which the Dowager Electress of Saxony
obtained for him from the Holy Father. He wants his case to be re-tried,
and there he makes a mistake, for if it were heard a hundred times the
sentence would continue the same. No one will see him, everyone avoids
him, even Mengs will have nothing to say to him."
"Mengs is here, is he? I though he had been at Madrid."
"He has got leave of absence for a year, but his family remains in
After hearing all this news which was far from pleasant to me, as I did
not wish to see Mengs or my brother, I went to bed, leaving orders that
I was to be roused in time for dinner.
In an hour's time I was awakened by the tidings that some one was waiting
to give me a note. It was one of the bargello's men, who had come to
take over l'Etoile's effects.
At dinner I told Sir B---- M---- what I had done, and we agreed that he
should accompany me to the bargello's in the evening.
In the afternoon we visited some of the principal palaces, and after
taking Betty back to the inn we went to the bargello, who told us our man
was already in prison, and that it would cost very little to send him to
"Before making up my mind I should like to speak to him," said Sir B----
"You can do so to-morrow. He confessed everything without any trouble,
and made a jest of it, saying he was not afraid of any consequences, as
the young lady had gone with him of her own free will. I shewed him the
bill of exchange, but he evinced no emotion whatever. He told me that he
was an actor by profession, but also a man of rank. As to the horse, he
said he was at perfect liberty to sell it, as the watch he had left in
pledge was worth more than the beast."
I had forgotten to inform the bargello that the watch aforesaid belonged
We gave the worthy official fifty crowns, and supped with Betty, who had,
as I have remarked, recovered her trunk, and had been busying herself in
putting her things to rights.
She was glad to hear that the rascal was in prison, but she did not seem
to wish to pay him a visit.
We went to see him in the afternoon of the next day.
The bargello had assigned us an advocate, who made out a document
demanding payment by the prisoner of the expenses of the journey, and of
his arrest, together with a certain sum as compensation to the person
whom he had deceived, unless he could prove his right to the title of
count in the course of six weeks.
We found l'Etoile with this document in his hand; someone was translating
it for him into French.
As soon as the rascal saw me, he said, with a laugh, that I owed him
twenty-five Louis as he had left Betty to sleep with me.
The Englishman told him he lied; it was he that had slept with her.
"Are you Betty's lover?" asked l'Etoile.
"Yes, and if I had caught you with her I should have blown out your
brains, for you have deceived her doubly; you're only a beggarly actor."
"I have three thousand crowns."
"I will pay six thousand if the bill proves to be a good one. In the
meanwhile you will stay here, and if it be false, as I expect it is, you
will go to the galleys."
"I shall speak to my counsel."
We went out and called on the advocate, for Sir B---- M---- had a lively
desire to send the impudent rascal to the galleys. However, it could not
be done, for l'Etoile said he was quite ready to give up the bill, but
that he expected Sir B---- M---- to pay a crown a day for his keep while
he remained in prison.
Sir B---- M---- thought he would like to see something of Rome, as he was
there, and was obliged to buy almost everything as he had left his
belongings behind him, while Betty was well provided for as her trunk was
of immense capacity. I went with them everywhere; it was not exactly the
life I liked, but there would be time for me to please myself after they
had gone. I loved Betty without desiring her, and I had taken a liking
to the Englishman who had an excellent heart. At first he wanted to stay
a fortnight at Rome, and then to return to Leghorn; but his friend Lord
Baltimore, who had come to Rome in the meanwhile, persuaded him to pay a
short visit to Naples.
This nobleman, who had with him a very pretty Frenchwoman and two
servants, said he would see to the journey, and that I must join the
party. I had made his acquaintance at London.
I was glad to have the opportunity of seeing Naples again. We lodged at
the "Crocielles" at Chiaggia, or Chiaja, as the Neapolitans call it.
The first news I heard was the death of the Duke of Matalone and the
marriage of his widow with Prince Caramanica.
This circumstance put an end to some of my hopes, and I only thought of
amusing myself with my friends, as if I had never been at Naples before.
Lord Baltimore had been there several times, but his mistress, Betty, and
Sir B---- M----, were strangers, and wanted to see everything. I
accordingly acted as cicerone, for which part I and my lord, too, were
much better qualified than the tedious and ignorant fellows who had an
official right to that title.
The day after our arrival I was unpleasantly surprised to see the
notorious Chevalier Goudar, whom I had known at London. He called on
This famous rout had a house at Pausilippo, and his wife was none other
than the pretty Irish girl Sara, formerly a drawer in a London tavern.
The reader has been already introduced to her. Goudar knew I had met
her, so he told me who she was, inviting us all to dine with him the next
Sara skewed no surprise nor confusion at the sight of me, but I was
petrified. She was dressed with the utmost elegance, received company
admirably, spoke Italian with perfect correctness, talked sensibly, and
was exquisitely beautiful; I was stupefied; the metamorphosis was so
In a quarter of an hour five or six ladies of the highest rank arrived,
with ten or twelve dukes, princes, and marquises, to say nothing of a
host of distinguished strangers.
The table was laid for thirty, but before dinner Madame Goudar seated
herself at the piano, and sang a few airs with the voice of a siren, and
with a confidence that did not astonish the other guests as they knew
her, but which astonished me extremely, for her singing was really
Goudar had worked this miracle. He had been educating her to be his wife
for six or seven years.
After marrying her he had taken her to Paris, Vienna, Venice, Florence,
Rome, etc., everywhere seeking fortune, but in vain. Finally he had come
to Naples, where he had brought his wife into the fashion of obliging her
to renounce in public the errors of the Anglican heresy. She had been
received into the Catholic Church under the auspices of the Queen of
Naples. The amusing part in all this was that Sara, being an Irishwoman,
had been born a Catholic, and had never ceased to be one.
All the nobility, even to the Court, went to see Sara, while she went
nowhere, for no one invited her. This kind of thing is a characteristic
of nobility all the world over.
Goudar told me all these particulars, and confessed that he only made his
living by gaming. Faro and biribi were the only pillars of his house;
but they must have been strong ones, for he lived in great style.
He asked me to join with him, and I did not care to refuse; my purse was
fast approaching total depletion, and if it were not for this resource I
could not continue living in the style to which I had been accustomed.
Having taken this resolution I declined returning to Rome with Betty and
Sir B---- M-----, who wanted to repay me all I had spent on her account.
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