To London, Casanova, v22
Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
Part 2 out of 3
locked up in a good room, with a good bed to sleep on, and a good
supper; and I told the landlord that I should hold him answerable for
the lad as long as I was in his inn. The postillion had caught him
up at the fifth post, just before Amiens, and as he was already quite
tired out the little man surrendered like a lamb.
At day-break I summoned him before me, and asked him if he would come
to London of his own free will or bound hand and foot.
"I will come with you, I give you my word of honour; but you must let
me ride on before you. Otherwise, with this dress of mine, I should
be ashamed to go. I don't want it to be thought that you had to give
chase to me, as if I had robbed you."
"I accept your word of honour, but be careful to keep it. Embrace
me, and order another saddle-horse."
He mounted his horse in high spirits, and rode in front of the
carriage with Clairmont. He was quite astonished to find his trunk
at Calais, which he reached two hours before me.
My Arrival in London; Madame Cornelis--I Am Presented at Court--
I Rent a Furnished House--I Make a Large Circle of Acquaintance--
Manners of the English
When I got to Calais I consigned my post-chaise to the care of the
landlord of the inn, and hired a packet. There was only one
available for a private party, there being another for public use at
six francs apiece. I paid six guineas in advance, taking care to get
a proper receipt, for I knew that at Calais a man finds himself in an
awkward position if he is unable to support his claim by documents.
Before the tide was out Clairmont got all my belongings on board, and
I ordered my supper. The landlord told me that louis were not
current in England, and offered to give me guineas in exchange for
mine; but I was surprised when I found he gave me the same number of
guineas as I had given him of louis. I wanted him to take the
difference--four per cent.--but he refused, saying that he did not
allow anything when the English gave him guineas for louis. I do not
know whether he found his system a profitable one on the whole, but
it was certainly so for me.
The young Count d'Aranda, to whom I had restored his humble name of
Trenti, was quite resigned, but proud of having given me a specimen
of his knowingness by riding post. We were just going to sit down at
table, well pleased with one another, when I heard a loud
conversation in English going on near my door, and mine host came in
to tell me what it was about.
"It's the courier of the Duke of Bedford, the English ambassador,"
said he; "he announces the approach of his master, and is disputing
with the captain of the packet. He says he hired the boat by letter,
and that the captain had no right to let it to you. The master
maintains that he has received no such letter, and no one can prove
that he is telling a lie."
I congratulated myself on having taken the packet and paid the
earnest-money, and went to bed. At day-break the landlord said that
the ambassador had arrived at midnight, and that his man wanted to
He came in and told me that the nobleman, his master, was in a great
hurry to get to London, and that I should oblige him very much by
yielding the boat to him.
I did not answer a word, but wrote a note which ran as follows:
"My lord duke may dispose of the whole of the packet, with the
exception of the space necessary for my own accommodation, that of
two other persons, and my luggage. I am delighted to have the
opportunity of obliging the English ambassador."
The valet took the note, and returned to thank me on behalf of his
master, who stipulated, however, that he should be allowed to pay for
"Tell him that it is out of the question, as the boat is paid for
"He will give you the six guineas"
"Tell your master that I cannot allow him to pay. I do not buy to
The duke called on me in the course of half an hour, and said that we
were both of us in the right.
"However," he added, "there is a middle course, let us adopt it, and
I shall be just as much indebted to you."
"What is that, my lord?"
"We will each pay half."
"My desire to oblige you, my lord, will not allow me to refuse, but
it is I who will be indebted to you for the honour your lordship does
me. We will start as soon as you like, and I can make my
He shook my hand and left the room, and when he had gone I found
three guineas on the table. He had placed them there without my
noticing them. An hour afterwards I returned his call, and then told
the master to take the duke and his carriages on board.
We took two hours and a half in crossing the Channel; the wind was
strong, but we made a good passage.
The stranger who sets his foot on English soil has need of a good
deal of patience. The custom-house officials made a minute,
vexatious and even an impertinent perquisition; but as the duke and
ambassador had to submit, I thought it best to follow his example;
besides, resistance would be useless. The Englishman, who prides
himself on his strict adherence to the law of the land, is curt and
rude in his manner, and the English officials cannot be compared to
the French, who know how to combine politeness with the exercise of
English is different in every respect from the rest of Europe; even
the country has a different aspect, and the water of the Thames has a
taste peculiar to itself. Everything has its own characteristics,
and the fish, cattle, horses, men, and women are of a type not found
in any other land. Their manner of living is wholly different from
that of other countries, especially their cookery. The most striking
feature in their character is their national pride; they exalt
themselves above all other nations.
My attention was attracted by the universal cleanliness, the beauty
of the country, the goodness of the roads, the reasonable charges for
posting, the quickness of the horses, although they never go beyond a
trot; and lastly, the construction of the towns on the Dover road;
Canterbury and Rochester for instance, though large and populous, are
like long passages; they are all length and no breadth.
We got to London in the evening and stopped at the house of Madame
Cornelis, as Therese called herself. She was originally married to
an actor named Imer, then to the dancer Pompeati, who committed
suicide at Venice by ripping up his stomach with a razor.
In Holland she had been known as Madame Trenti, but at London she had
taken the name of her lover Cornelius Rigerboos, whom she had
contrived to ruin.
She lived in Soho Square, almost facing the house of the Venetian
ambassador. When I arrived I followed the instructions I had
received in her last letter. I left her son in the carriage, and
sent up my name, expecting she would fly to meet me; but the porter
told me to wait, and in a few minutes a servant in grand livery
brought me a note in which Madame Cornelis asked me to get down at
the house to which her servant would conduct me. I thought this
rather strange behaviour, but still she might have her reasons for
acting in this manner, so I did not let my indignation appear. When
we got to the house, a fat woman named Rancour, and two servants,
welcomed us, or rather welcomed my young friend; for the lady
embraced him, told him how glad she was to see him, and did not
appear to be aware of my existence.
Our trunks were taken in, and Madame Rancour having ascertained which
belonged to Cornelis, had them placed in a fine suite of three rooms,
and said, pointing out to him the apartment and the two servants,
"This apartment and the two servants are for you, and I, too, am your
most humble servant."
Clairmont told me that he had put my things in a room which
communicated with Cornelis's. I went to inspect it, and saw djrectly
that I was being treated as if I were a person of no consequence.
The storm of anger was gathering, but wonderful to relate, I subdued
myself, and did not say a word.
"Where is your room?" I said to Clairmont.
"Near the roof, and I am to share it with one of those two louts you
The worthy Clairmont, who knew my disposition, was surprised at the
calm with which I said,--
"Take your trunk there."
"Shall I open yours?"
"No. We will see what can be done to-morrow."
I still kept on my mask, and returned to the room of the young
gentleman who seemed to be considered as my master. I found him
listening with a foolish stare to Madame Rancour, who was telling him
of the splendid position his mother occupied, her great enterprise,
her immense credit, the splendid house she had built, her thirty-
three servants, her two secretaries, her six horses, her country
house, etc., etc.
"How is my sister Sophie?" said the young gentleman.
"Her name is Sophie, is it? She is only known as Miss Cornelis. She
is a beauty, a perfect prodigy, she plays at sight on several
instruments, dances like Terpsichore, speaks English, French, and
Italian equally well--in a word, she is really wonderful. She has a
governess and a maid. Unfortunately, she is rather short for her
age; she is eight."
She was ten, but as Madame Rancour was not speaking to me I refrained
from interrupting her.
My lord Cornelis, who felt very tired, asked at what hour they were
"At ten o'clock and not before," said the duenna, "for Madame
Cornelis is always engaged till then. She is always with her lawyer,
on account of an important law-suit she has against Sir Frederick
I could see that I should learn nothing worth learning by listening
to the woman's gossip, so I took my hat and cane and went for a walk
in the immense city, taking care not to lose my way.
It was seven o'clock when I went out, and a quarter of an hour after,
seeing a number of people in a coffeehouse, I entered it. It was the
most notorious place in London, the resort of all the rascally
Italians in town. I had heard of it at Lyons, and had taken a firm
resolve never to set foot in it, but almighty chance made me go there
unknown to myself. But it was my only visit.
I sat down by myself and called for a glass of lemonade, and before
long a man came and sat by me to profit by the light. He had a
printed paper in his hand, and I could see that the words were
Italian. He had a pencil with which he scratched out some words and
letters, writing the corrections in the margin. Idle curiosity made
me follow him in his work, and I noticed him correcting the word
'ancora', putting in an 'h' in the margin. I was irritated by this
barbarous spelling, and told him that for four centuries 'ancora' had
been spelt without an 'h'.
"Quite so," said he, "but I am quoting from Boccaccio, and one should
be exact in quotations."
"I apologize, sir; I see you are a man of letters."
"Well, in a small way. My name is Martinelli."
"Then you are in a great way indeed. I know you by repute, and if I
am not mistaken you are a relation of Calsabigi, who has spoken of
you to me. I have read some of your satires."
"May I ask to whom I have the honour of speaking?"
"My name is Seingalt. Have you finished your edition of the
"I am still at work on it, and trying to increase the number of my
"If you will be so kind I should be glad to be of the number."
"You do me honour."
He gave me a ticket, and seeing that it was only for a guinea I took
four, and telling him I hoped to see him again at the same coffee-
house, the name of which I asked him, he told it me, evidently
astonished at my ignorance; but his surprise vanished when I informed
him that I had only been in London for an hour, and that it was my
first visit to the great city.
"You will experience some trouble in finding your way back," said he,
"allow me to accompany you."
When we had got out he gave me to understand that chance had led me
to the "Orange Coffee House," the most disreputable house in London.
"But you go there."
"Yes, but I can say with Juvenal:
"'Cantabit vacuus coram latrone viator.'
"The rogues can't hurt me; I know them and they know me; we never
trouble each other."
"You have been a long time in London, I suppose."
"I presume you know a good many people."
"Yes, but I seldom wait on anyone but Lord Spencer. I am occupied
with literary work and live all by myself. I don't make much, but
enough to live on. I live in furnished apartments, and have twelve
shirts and the clothes you see on my back, and that is enough for my
"'Nec ultra deos lacesso.'"
I was pleased with this honest man, who spoke Italian with the most
On the way back I asked him what I had better do to get a comfortable
lodging. When he heard the style in which I wished to live and the
time I proposed to spend in London, he advised me to take a house
"You will be given an inventory of the goods," said he, "and as soon
as you get a surety your house will be your castle."
"I like the idea," I answered, "but how shall I find such a house?"
"That is easily done."
He went into a shop, begged the mistress to lend him the Advertiser,
noted down several advertisements, and said,--
"That's all we have to do."
The nearest house was in Pall Mall and we went to see it. An old
woman opened the door to us, and shewed us the ground floor and the
three floors above. Each floor contained two rooms and a closet.
Everything shone with cleanliness; linen, furniture, carpets,
mirrors, and china, and even the bells and the bolts on the doors.
The necessary linen was kept in a large press, and in another was the
silver plate and several sets of china. The arrangements in the
kitchen were excellent, and in a word, nothing was lacking in the way
of comfort. The rent was twenty guineas a week, and, not stopping to
bargain, which is never of any use in London, I told Martinelli that
I would take it on the spot.
Martinelli translated what I said to the old woman, who told me that
if I liked to keep her on as housekeeper I need not have a surety,
and that it would only be necessary for me to pay for each week in
advance. I answered that I would do so, but that she must get me a
servant who could speak French or Italian as well as English. She
promised to get one in a day's time, and I paid her for four weeks'
rent on the spot, for which she gave me a receipt under the name of
the Chevalier de Seingalt. This was the name by which I was known
during the whole of my stay in London.
Thus in less than two hours I was comfortably settled in a town which
is sometimes described as a chaos, especially for a stranger. But in
London everything is easy to him who has money and is not afraid of
spending it. I was delighted to be able to escape so soon from a
house where I was welcomed so ill, though I had a right to the best
reception; but I was still more pleased at the chance which had made
me acquainted with Martinelli, whom I had known by repute for six
When I got back Madame Cornelis had not yet arrived, though ten
o'clock had struck. Young Cornelis was asleep on the sofa. I was
enraged at the way the woman treated me, but I resolved to put a good
face on it.
Before long three loud knocks announced the arrival of Madame
Cornelis in a sedan-chair, and I heard her ascending the stairs. She
came in and seemed glad to see me, but did not come and give me those
caresses which I had a right to expect. She ran to her son and took
him on her knee, but the sleepy boy did not respond to her kisses
with any great warmth.
"He is very tired, like myself," said I, "and considering that we are
travellers in need of rest you have kept us waiting a long time."
I do not know whether she would have answered at all, or, if so, what
her answer would have been, for just at that moment a servant came in
and said that supper was ready. She rose and did me the honour to
take my arm, and we went into another room which I had not seen. The
table was laid for four, and I was curious enough to enquire who was
the fourth person.
"It was to have been my daughter, but I left her behind, as when I
told her that you and her brother had arrived she asked me if you
"And you have punished her for doing so?"
"Certainly, for in my opinion she ought to have asked for her brother
first and then for you. Don't you think I was right?"
"Poor Sophie! I am sorry for her. Gratitude has evidently more
influence over her than blood relationship."
"It is not a question of sentiment, but of teaching young persons to
think with propriety."
"Propriety is often far from proper."
The woman told her son that she was working hard to leave him a
fortune when she died, and that she had been obliged to summon him to
England as he was old enough to help her in her business.
"And how am I to help you, my dear mother?"
"I give twelve balls and twelve suppers to the nobility, and the same
number to the middle classes in the year. I have often as many as
six hundred guests at two guineas a head. The expenses are enormous,
and alone as I am I must be robbed, for I can't be in two places at
once. Now that you are here you can keep everything under lock and
key, keep the books, pay and receive accounts, and see that everyone
is properly attended to at the assemblies; in fine, you will perform
the duties of the master."
"And do you think that I can do all that?"
"You will easily learn it."
"I think it will be very difficult."
"One of my secretaries will come and live with you, and instruct you
in everything. During the first year you will only have to acquire
the English language, and to be present at my assemblies, that I may
introduce you to the most distinguished people in London. You will
get quite English before long."
"I would rather remain French."
"That's mere prejudice, my dear, you will like the sound of Mister
"Yes; that is your name."
"It's a very funny one."
"I will write it down, so that you may not forget it." Thinking that
her dear son was joking. Madame Cornelis looked at me in some
astonishment, and told him to go to bed, which he did instantly.
When we were alone she said he struck her as badly educated, and too
small for his age.
"I am very much afraid," said she, "that we shall have to begin his
education all over again. What has he learnt in the last six years?"
"He might have learnt a great deal, for he went to the best boarding
school in Paris; but he only learnt what he liked, and what he liked
was not much. He can play the flute, ride, fence, dance a minuet,
change his shirt every day, answer politely, make a graceful bow,
talk elegant trifles, and dress well. As he never had any
application, he doesn't know anything about literature; he can
scarcely write, his spelling is abominable, his arithmetic limited,
and I doubt whether he knows in what continent England is situated."
"He has used the six years well, certainly."
"Say, rather, he has wasted them; but he will waste many more."
"My daughter will laugh at him; but then it is I who have had the
care of her education. He will be ashamed when he finds her so well
instructed though she is only eight."
"He will never see her at eight, if I know anything of reckoning; she
is fully ten."
"I think I ought to know the age of my own daughter. She knows
geography, history, languages, and music; she argues correctly, and
behaves in a manner which is surprising in so young a child. All the
ladies are in love with her. I keep her at a school of design all
day; she shews a great taste for drawing. She dines with me on
Sundays, and if you would care to come to dinner next Sunday you will
confess that I have not exaggerated her capacities."
It was Monday. I said nothing, but I thought it strange that she did
not seem to consider that I was impatient to see my daughter. She
should have asked me to meet her at supper the following evening.
"You are just in time," said she, "to witness the last assembly of
the year; for in a few weeks all the nobility will leave town in
order to pass the summer in the country. I can't give you a ticket,
as they are only issued to the nobility, but you can come as my
friend and keep close to me. You will see everything. If I am asked
who you are, I will say that you have superintended the education of
my son in Paris, and have brought him back to me."
"You do me too much honour."
We continued talking till two o'clock in the morning, and she told me
all about the suit she had with Sir Frederick Fermer. He maintained
that the house she had built at a cost of ten thousand guineas
belonged to him as he had furnished the money. In equity he was
right, but according to English law wrong, for it was she who had
paid the workmen, the contractors, and the architect; it was she that
had given and received receipts, and signed all documents. The
house, therefore, belonged to her, and Fermer admitted as much; but
he claimed the sum he had furnished, and here was the kernel of the
whole case, for she had defied him to produce a single acknowledgment
of money received.
"I confess," said this honest woman, "that you have often given me a
thousand pounds at a time, but that was a friendly gift, and nothing
to be wondered at in a rich Englishman, considering that we were
lovers and lived together."
She had won her suit four times over in two years, but Fermer took
advantage of the intricacies of English law to appeal again and
again, and now he had gone to the House of Lords, the appeal to which
might last fifteen years.
"This suit," said the honest lady, "dishonours Fermer."
"I should think it did, but you surely don't think it honours you."
"Certainly I do."
"I don't quite understand how you make that out."
"I will explain it all to you."
"We will talk it over again"
In the three hours for which we talked together this woman did not
once ask me how I was, whether I was comfortable, how long I intended
to stay in London, or whether I had made much money. In short she
made no enquiries what ever about me, only saying with a smile, but
"I never have a penny to spare."
Her receipts amounted to more than twenty-four thousand pounds per
annum, but her expenses were enormous and she had debts.
I avenged myself on her indifference by not saying a word about
myself. I was dresssed simply but neatly, and had not any jewellry
or diamonds about my person.
I went to bed annoyed with her, but glad to have discovered the
badness of her heart. In spite of my longing to see my daughter I
determined not to take any steps to meet her till the ensuing Sunday,
when I was invited to dinner.
Early next morning I told Clairmont to pull all my goods and chattels
in a carriage, and when all was ready I went to take leave of young
Cornelis, telling him I was going to live in Pall Mall, and leaving
him my address.
"You are not going to stay with me, then?" said he.
"No, your mother doesn't know how to welcome or to treat me."
"I think you are right. I shall go back to Paris."
"Don't do anything so silly. Remember that here you are at home, and
that in Paris you might not find a roof to shelter you. Farewell; I
shall see you on Sunday."
I was soon settled in my new house, and I went out to call on M.
Zuccato, the Venetian ambassador. I gave him M. Morosini's letter,
and he said, coldly, that he was glad to make my acquaintance. When
I asked him to present me at Court the insolent fool only replied
with a smile, which might fairly be described as contemptuous. It
was the aristocratic pride coming out, so I returned his smile with a
cold bow, and never set foot in his house again.
On leaving Zuccato I called on Lord Egremont, and finding him ill
left my letter with the porter. He died a few days after, so M.
Morosini's letters were both useless through no fault of his. We
shall learn presently what was the result of the little note.
I then went to the Comte de Guerchi, the French ambassador, with a
letter from the Marquis Chauvelin, and I received a warm welcome.
This nobleman asked me to dine with him the following day, and told
me that if I liked he would present me at Court after chapel on
Sunday. It was at that ambassador's table that I made the
acquaintance of the Chevalier d'Eon, the secretary of the embassy,
who afterwards became famous. This Chevalier d'Eon was a handsome
woman who had been an advocate and a captain of dragoons before
entering the diplomatic service; she served Louis XV. as a valiant
soldier and a diplomatist of consummate skill. In spite of her manly
ways I soon recognized her as a woman; her voice was not that of a
castrato, and her shape was too rounded to be a man's. I say nothing
of the absence of hair on her face, as that might be an accident.
In the first days of my stay in London I made the acquaintance of my
bankers; who held at least three hundred thousand francs of my money.
They all honoured my drafts and offered their services to me, but I
did not make use of their good offices.
I visited the theatres of Covent Garden and Drury Lane, but I could
not extract much enjoyment out of the perfomances as I did not know a
word of English. I dined at all the taverns, high and low, to get
some insight into the peculiar manners of the English. In the
morning I went on 'Change, where I made some friends. It was there
that a merchant to whom I spoke got me a Negro servant who spoke
English, French, and Italian with equal facility; and the same
individual procured me a cook who spoke French. I also visited the
bagnios where a rich man can sup, bathe, and sleep with a fashionable
courtezan, of which species there are many in London. It makes a
magnificent debauch and only costs six guineas. The expense may be
reduced to a hundred francs, but economy in pleasure is not to my
On Sunday I made an elegant toilette and went to Court about eleven,
and met the Comte de Guerchi as we had arranged. He introduced me to
George III., who spoke to me, but in such a low voice that I could
not understand him and had to reply by a bow. The queen made up for
the king, however, and I was delighted to observe that the proud
ambassador from my beloved Venice was also present. When M. de
Guerchi introduced me under the name of the Chevalier de Seingalt,
Zuccato looked astonished, for Mr. Morosini had called me Casanova in
his letter. The queen asked me from what part of France I came, and
understanding from my answer that I was from Venice, she looked at
the Venetian ambassador, who bowed as if to say that he had no
objection to make. Her Majesty then asked me if I knew the
ambassadors extraordinary, who had been sent to congratulate the
king, and I replied that I had the pleasure of knowing them
intimately, and that I had spent three days in their society at
Lyons, where M. Morosini gave me letters for my Lord d'Egremont and
"M. Querini amused me extremely," said the queen; "he called me a
"He meant to say that your highness is as witty as an angel."
I longed for the queen to ask me why I had not been presented by M.
Zuccatto, for I had a reply on the tip of my tongue that would have
deprived the ambassador of his sleep for a week, while I should have
slept soundly, for vengeance is a divine pleasure, especially when it
is taken on the proud and foolish; but the whole conversation was a
compound of nothings, as is usual in courts.
After my interview was over I got into my sedan-chair and went to
Soho Square. A man in court dress cannot walk the streets of London
without being pelted with mud by the mob, while the gentleman look on
and laugh. All customs must be respected; they are all at once
worthy and absurd.
When I got to the house of Madame Cornelis, I and my Negro Jarbe were
shewn upstairs, and conducted through a suite of gorgeous apartments
to a room where the lady of the house was sitting with two English
ladies and two English gentlemen. She received me with familiar
politeness, made me sit down in an armchair beside her, and then
continued the conversation in English without introducing me. When
her steward told her that dinner was ready, she gave orders for the
children to be brought down.
I had long desired this meeting, and when I saw Sophie I ran to meet
her; but she, who had profited by her mother's instructions, drew
back with profound courtesy and a compliment learnt by heart. I did
not say anything for fear I should embarrass her, but I felt grieved
to the heart.
Madame Cornelis then brought forward her son, telling the company
that I had brought him to England after superintending his education
for six years. She spoke in French, so I was glad to see that her
friends understood that language.
We sat down to table; Madame Cornelis between her two children, and I
between the two Englishwomen, one of whom delighted me by her
pleasant wit. I attached myself to her as soon as I noticed that the
mistress of the house only spoke to me by chance, and that Sophie did
not look at me. She was so like me that no mistake was possible. I
could see that she had been carefully tutored by her mother to behave
in this manner, and I felt this treatment to be both absurd and
I did not want to let anyone see that I was angry, so I began to
discourse in a pleasant strain on the peculiarities of English
manners, taking care, however, not to say anything which might wound
the insular pride of the English guests. My idea was to make them
laugh and to make myself agreeable, and I succeeded, but not a word
did I speak to Madame Cornelis; I did not so much as look at her.
The lady next to me, after admiring the beauty of my lace, asked me
what was the news at Court.
"It was all news to me," said I, "for I went there to-day for the
"Have you seen the king?" said Sir Joseph Cornelis.
"My dear, you should not ask such questions," said his mother.
"Because the gentleman may not wish to answer them."
"On the contrary, madam, I like being questioned. I have been
teaching your son for the last six years to be always asking
something, for that is the way to acquire knowledge. He who asks
nothing knows nothing."
I had touched her to the quick, and she fell into a sulky silence.
"You have not told me yet," said the lad, "whether you saw the king."
"Yes, my man, I saw the king and the queen, and both their majesties
did me the honour to speak to me."
"Who introduced you?"
"The French ambassador."
"I think you will agree with me," said the mother, "that last
question was a little too much."
"Certainly it would be if it were addressed to a stranger, but not to
me who am his friend. You will notice that the reply he extracted
from me did me honour. If I had not wished it to be known that I had
been at Court, I should not have come here in this dress."
"Very good; but as you like to be questioned, may I ask you why you
were not presented by your own ambassador?"
"Because the Venetian ambassador would not present me, knowing that
his Government have a bone to pick with me."
By this time we had come to the dessert, and poor Sophie had not
uttered a syllable.
"Say something to M. de Seingalt," said her mother.
"I don't know what to say," she answered. "Tell M. de Seingalt to
ask me some questions, and I will answer to the best of my ability."
"Well, Sophie, tell me in what studies you are engaged at the present
"I am learning drawing; if you like I will shew you some of my work."
"I will look at it with pleasure; but tell me how you think you have
offended me; you have a guilty air."
"I, sir? I do not think I have done anything amiss."
"Nor do I, my dear; but as you do not look at me when you speak I
thought you must be ashamed of something. Are you ashamed of your
fine eyes? You blush. What have you done?"
"You are embarrassing her," said the mother. "Tell him, my dear,
that you have done nothing, but that a feeling of modesty and respect
prevents you from gazing at the persons you address."
"Yes," said I; "but if modesty bids young ladies lower their eyes,
politeness should make them raise them now and again."
No one replied to this objection, which was a sharp cut for the
absurd woman; but after an interval of silence we rose from the
table, and Sophie went to fetch her drawings.
"I won't look at anything, Sophie, unless you will look at me."
"Come," said her mother, "look at the gentleman."
She obeyed as quickly as lightning, and I saw the prettiest eyes
"Now," said I, "I know you again, and perhaps you may remember having
"Yes, although it is six years ago since we met, I recognized you
"And yet you did not look me in the face! If you knew how impolite
it was to lower your eyes when you are addressing anyone, you would
not do it. Who can have given you such a bad lesson?"
The child glanced towards her mother, who was standing by a window,
and I saw who was her preceptress.
I felt that I had taken sufficient vengeance, and began to examine
her drawings, to praise them in detail, and to congratulate her on
her talents. I told her that she ought to be thankful to have a
mother who had given her so good an education. This indirect
compliment pleased Madame Cornelis, and Sophie, now free from all
restraint, gazed at me with an expression of child-like affection
which ravished me. Her features bore the imprint of a noble soul
within, and I pitied her for having to grow up under the authority of
a foolish mother. Sophie went to the piano, played with feeling, and
then sang some Italian airs, to the accompaniment of the guitar, too
well for her age. She was too precocious, and wanted much more
discretion in her education than Madame Cornelis was able to give
When her singing had been applauded by the company, her mother told
her to dance a minuet with her brother, who had learnt in Paris, but
danced badly for want of a good carriage. His sister told him so
with a kiss, and then asked me to dance with her, which I did very
readily. Her mother, who thought she had danced exquisitely, as was
indeed the case, told her that she must give me a kiss. She came up
to me, and drawing her on my knee I covered her face with kisses,
which she returned with the greatest affection. Her mother laughed
with all her heart, and then Sophie, beginning to be doubtful again,
went up to her and asked if she were angry. Her mother comforted her
with a kiss.
After we had taken coffee, which was served in the French fashion,
Madame Cornelis shewed me a magnificent hall which she had built, in
which she could give supper to four hundred persons seated at one
table. She told me, and I could easily believe her, that there was
not such another in all London.
The last assembly was given before the prorogation of Parliament; it
was to take place in four or five days. She had a score of pretty
girls in her service, and a dozen footmen all in full livery.
"They all rob me," said she, "but I have to put up with it. What I
want is a sharp man to help me and watch over my interests; if I had
such an one I should make an immense fortune in a comparatively short
time; for when it is a question of pleasure, the English do not care
what they spend."
I told her I hoped she would find such man and make the fortune, and
then I left her, admiring her enterprise.
When I left Soho Square I went to St. James's Park to see Lady
Harrington for whom I bore a letter, as I have mentioned. This lady
lived in the precincts of the Court, and received company every
Sunday. It was allowable to play in her house, as the park is under
the jurisdiction of the Crown. In any other place there is no
playing cards or singing on Sundays. The town abounds in spies, and
if they have reason to suppose that there is any gaming or music
going on, they watch for their opportunity, slip into the house, and
arrest all the bad Christians, who are diverting themselves in a
manner which is thought innocent enough in any other country. But to
make up for this severity the Englishman may go in perfect liberty to
the tavern or the brothel, and sanctify the Sabbath as he pleases.
I called on Lady Harrington, and having sent up my letter she
summoned me into her presence. I found her in the midst of about
thirty persons, but the hostess was easily distinguished by the air
of welcome she had for me.
After I had made my bow she told me she had seen me at Court in the
morning, and that without knowing who I was she had been desirous of
making my acquaintance. Our conversation lasted three-quarters of an
hour, and was composed of those frivolous observations and idle
questions which are commonly addressed to a traveller.
The lady was forty, but she was still handsome. She was well known
for her gallantries and her influence at Court. She introduced me to
her husband and her four daughters, charming girls of a marriageable
age. She asked me why I had come to London when everybody was on the
point of going out of town. I told her that as I always obeyed the
impulse of the moment, I should find it difficult to answer her
question; besides, I intended staying for a year, so that the
pleasure would be deferred but not lost.
My reply seemed to please her by its character of English
independence, and she offered with exquisite grace to do all in her
power for me.
"In the meanwhile," said she, "we will begin by letting you see all
the nobility at Madame Cornelis's on Thursday next. I can give you a
ticket to admit to ball and supper. It is two guineas."
I gave her the money, and she took the ticket again, writing on it,
"Is this formality necessary, my lady?"
"Yes; or else they would ask you for the money at the doors."
I did not think it necessary to say anything about my connection with
the lady of Soho Square.
While Lady Harrington was making up a rubber at whist, she asked me
if I had any other letters for ladies.
"Yes," said I, "I have one which I intend to present to-morrow. It
is a singular letter, being merely a portrait."
"Have you got it about you?"
"Yes, my lady."
"May I see it?"
"Certainly. Here it is."
"It is the Duchess of Northumberland. We will go and give it her."
"Just wait till they have marked the game."
Lord Percy had given me this portrait as a letter of introduction to
"My dear duchess," said Lady Harrington, "here is a letter of
introduction which this gentleman begs to present to you."
"I know, it is M. de Seingalt. My son has written to me about him.
I am delighted to see you, Chevalier, and I hope you will come and
see me. I receive thrice a week."
"Will your ladyship allow me to present my valuable letter in
"Certainly. You are right."
I played a rubber of whist for very small stakes, and lost fifteen
guineas, which I paid on the spot. Directly afterwards Lady
Harrington took me apart, and gave me a lesson which I deem worthy of
"You paid in gold," said she; "I suppose you had no bank notes about
"Yes, my lady, I have notes for fifty and a hundred pounds."
"Then you must change one of them or wait till another time to play,
for in England to pay in gold is a solecism only pardonable in a
stranger. Perhaps you noticed that the lady smiled?"
"Yes; who is she?"
"Lady Coventry, sister of the Duchess of Hamilton."
"Ought I to apologize?"
"Not at all, the offence is not one of those which require an
apology. She must have been more surprised than offended, for she
made fifteen shillings by your paying her in gold."
I was vexed by this small mischance, for Lady Coventry was an
exquisitely beautiful brunette. I comforted myself, however, without
The same day I made the acquaintance of Lord Hervey, the nobleman who
conquered Havana, a pleasant an intelligent person. He had married
Miss Chudleigh, but the marriage was annulled. This celebrated Miss
Chudleigh was maid of honour to the Princess Dowager of Wales, and
afterwards became Duchess of Kingston. As her history is well known
I shall say something more of her in due course. I went home well
enough pleased with my day's work.
The next day I began dining at home, and found my cook very
satisfactory; for, besides the usual English dishes, he was
acquainted with the French system of cooking, and did fricandeaus,
cutlets, ragouts, and above all, the excellent French soup, which is
one of the principal glories of France.
My table and my house were not enough for my happiness. I was alone,
and the reader will understand by this that Nature had not meant me
for a hermit. I had neither a mistress nor a friend, and at London
one may invite a man to dinner at a tavern where he pays for himself,
but not to one's own table. One day I was invited by a younger son
of the Duke of Bedford to eat oysters and drink a bottle of
champagne. I accepted the invitation, and he ordered the oysters and
the champagne, but we drank two bottles, and he made me pay half the
price of the second bottle. Such are manners on the other side of
the Channel. People laughed in my face when I said that I did not
care to dine at a tavern as I could not get any soup.
"Are you ill?" they said, "soup is only fit for invalids."
The Englishman is entirely carnivorous. He eats very little bread,
and calls himself economical because he spares himself the expense of
soup and dessert, which circumstance made me remark that an English
dinner is like eternity: it has no beginning and no end. Soup is
considered very extravagant, as the very servants refuse to eat the
meat from which it has been made. They say it is only fit to give to
dogs. The salt beef which they use is certainly excellent. I cannot
say the same for their beer, which was so bitter that I could not
drink it. However, I could not be expected to like beer after the
excellent French wines with which the wine merchant supplied me,
certainly at a very heavy cost.
I had been a week in my new home without seeing Martinelli. He came
on a Monday morning, and I asked him to dine with me. He told me
that he had to go to the Museum, and my curiosity to see the famous
collection which is such an honour to England made me accompany him.
It was there that I made the acquaintance of Dr. Mati, of whom I
shall speak in due course.
At dinner Martinelli made himself extremely pleasant. He had a
profound knowledge of the English manners and customs which it
behoved me to know if I wished to get on. I happened to speak of the
impoliteness of which I had been guilty in paying a gaming debt in
gold instead of paper, and on this text he preached me a sermon on
the national prosperity, demonstrating that the preference given to
paper shews the confidence which is felt in the Bank, which may or
may not be misplaced, but which is certainly a source of wealth.
This confidence might be destroyed by a too large issue of paper
money, and if that ever took place by reason of a protracted or
unfortunate war, bankruptcy would be inevitable, and no one could
calculate the final results.
After a long discussion on politics, national manners, literature, in
which subjects Martinelli shone, we went to Drury Lane Theatre, where
I had a specimen of the rough insular manners. By some accident or
other the company could not give the piece that had been announced,
and the audience were in a tumult. Garrick, the celebrated actor who
was buried twenty years later in Westminster Abbey, came forward and
tried in vain to restore order. He was obliged to retire behind the
curtain. Then the king, the queen, and all the fashionables left the
theatre, and in less than an hour the theatre was gutted, till
nothing but the bare walls were left.
After this destruction, which went on without any authority
interposing, the mad populace rushed to the taverns to consume gin
and beer. In a fortnight the theatre was refitted and the piece
announced again, and when Garrick appeared before the curtain to
implore the indulgence of the house, a voice from the pit shouted,
"On your knees." A thousand voices took up the cry "On your knees,"
and the English Roscius was obliged to kneel down and beg
forgiveness. Then came a thunder of applause, and everything was
over. Such are the English, and above all, the Londoners. They hoot
the king and the royal family when they appear in public, and the
consequence is, that they are never seen, save on great occasions,
when order is kept by hundreds of constables.
One day, as I was walking by myself, I saw Sir Augustus Hervey, whose
acquaintance I had made, speaking to a gentleman, whom he left to
come to me. I asked him whom he had been speaking to.
"That's the brother of Earl Ferrers," said he, "who was hanged a
couple of months ago for murdering one of his people."
"And you speak to his brother?"
"Why shouldn't I?"
"Is he not dishonoured by the execution of his relative?"
"Dishonoured! Certainly not; even his brother was not dishonoured.
He broke the law, but he paid for it with his life, and owed society
nothing more. He's a man of honour, who played high and lost; that's
all. I don't know that there is any penalty in the statute book
which dishonours the culprit; that would be tyrannical, and we would
not bear it. I may break any law I like, so long as I am willing to
pay the penalty. It is only a dishonour when the criminal tries to
escape punishment by base or cowardly actions."
"How do you mean?"
"To ask for the royal mercy, to beg forgiveness of the people, and
"How about escaping from justice?"
"That is no dishonour, for to fly is an act of courage; it continues
the defiance of the law, and if the law cannot exact obedience, so
much the worse for it. It is an honour for you to have escaped from
the tyranny of your magistrates; your flight from The Leads was a
virtuous action. In such cases man fights with death and flees from
it. 'Vir fugiens denuo pugnabit'."
"What do you think of highway robbers, then?"
"I detest them as wretches dangerous to society, but I pity them when
I reflect that they are always riding towards the gallows. You go
out in a coach to pay a visit to a friend three or four miles out of
London. A determined and agile-looking fellow springs upon you with
his pistol in his hand, and says, 'Your money or your life.' What
would you do in such a case?"
"If I had a pistol handy I would blow out his brains, and if not I
would give him my purse and call him a scoundrelly assassin."
"You would be wrong in both cases. If you killed him, you would be
hanged, for you have no right to take the law into your own hands;
and if you called him an assassin, he would tell you that he was no
assassin as he attacked you openly and gave you a free choice. Nay,
he is generous, for he might kill you and take your money as well.
You might, indeed, tell him he has an evil trade, and he would tell
you that you were right, and that he would try to avoid the gallows
as long as possible. He would then thank you and advise you never to
drive out of London without being accompanied by a mounted servant,
as then no robber would dare to attack you. We English always carry
two purses on our journeys; a small one for the robbers and a large
one for ourselves."
What answer could I make to such arguments, based as they were on the
national manners? England is a rich sea, but strewn with reefs, and
those who voyage there would do well to take precautions. Sir
Augustus Hervey's discourse gave me great pleasure.
Going from one topic to another, as is always the way with a
desultory conversation, Sir Augustus deplored the fate of an unhappy
Englishman who had absconded to France with seventy thousand pounds,
and had been brought back to London, and was to be hanged.
"How could that be?" I asked.
"The Crown asked the Duc de Nivernois to extradite him, and Louis XV.
granted the request to make England assent to some articles of the
peace. It was an act unworthy of a king, for it violates the right
of nations. It is true that the man is a wretch, but that has
nothing to do with the principle of the thing."
"Of course they have got back the seventy thousand pounds?"
"Not a shilling of it."
"How was that?"
"Because no money was found on him. He has most likely left his
little fortune to his wife, who can marry again as she is still young
"I wonder the police have not been after her."
"Such a thing is never thought of. What could they do? It's not
likely that she would confess that her husband left her the stolen
money. The law says robbers shall be hanged, but it says nothing
about what they have stolen, as they are supposed to have made away
with it. Then if we had to take into account the thieves who had
kept their theft and thieves who had spent it, we should have to make
two sets of laws, and make all manner of allowances; the end of it
would be inextricable confusion. It seems to us Englishmen that it
would not be just to ordain two punishments for theft. The robber
becomes the owner of what he has stolen; true, he 'got it by
violence, but it is none the less his, for he can do what he likes
with it. That being the case, everyone should be careful to keep
what he has, since he knows that once stolen he will never see it
again. I have taken Havana from Spain: this was robbery on a large
He talked at once like a philosopher and a faithful subject of his
Engaged in this discussion we walked towards the Duchess of
Northumberland's, where I made the acquaintance of Lady Rochefort,
whose husband had just been appointed Spanish ambassador. This
lady's gallantries were innumerable, and furnished a fresh topic of
conversation every day.
The day before the assembly at Soho Square Martinelli dined with me,
and told me that Madame Cornelis was heavily in debt, and dared not
go out except on Sundays, when debtors are privileged.
"The enormous and unnecessary expense which she puts herself to,"
said he, "will soon bring her to ruin. She owes four times the
amount of her assets, even counting in the house, which is a doubtful
item, as it is the subject of litigation."
This news only distressed me for her children's sake, for I thought
that she herself well deserved such a fate.
The Assembly--Adventure at Ranelagh The English Courtezans--Pauline
I went in due time to the assembly, and the secretary at the door
wrote down my name as I handed in my ticket. When Madame Cornelis
saw me she said she was delighted I had come in by ticket, and that
she had had some doubts as to whether I would come.
"You might have spared yourself the trouble of doubting," said I,
"for after hearing that I had been to Court you might have guessed
that a matter of two guineas would not have kept me away. I am sorry
for our old friendship's sake that I did not pay the money to you;
for you might have known that I would not condescend to be present in
the modest manner you indicated."
This address, delivered with an ironical accent, embarrassed Madame
Cornelis, but Lady Harrington, a great supporter of hers, came to her
"I have a number of guineas to hand over to you, my dear Cornelis,
and amongst others two from M. de Seingalt, who, I fancy, is an old
friend of yours. Nevertheless, I did not dare to tell him so," she
added, with a sly glance in my direction.
"Why not, my lady? I have known Madame Cornelis for many years."
"I should think you have," she answered, laughing, "and I
congratulate you both. I suppose you know the delightful Miss Sophie
"Certainly, my lady, who so knows the mother knows the daughter."
"Quite so, quite so."
Sophie was standing by, and after kissing her fondly Lady Harrington
"If you love yourself, you ought to love her, for she is the image of
"Yes, it is a freak of nature."
"I think there is something more than a freak in this instance."
With these words the lady took Sophie's hand, and leaning on my arm
she led us through the crowd, and I had to bear in silence the
remarks of everyone.
"There is Madame Cornelis's husband."
"That must be M. Cornelis."
"Oh! there can be no doubt about it."
"No, no," said Lady Harrington, "you are all quite wrong."
I got tired of these remarks, which were all founded on the
remarkable likeness between myself and Sophie. I wanted Lady
Harrington to let the child go, but she was too much amused to do so.
"Stay by me," she said, "if you want to know the names of the
guests." She sat down, making me sit on one side and Sophie on the
Madame Cornelis then made her appearance, and everyone asked her the
same questions, and made the same remarks about me. She said bravely
that I was her best and her oldest friend, and that the likeness
between me and her daughter might possibly be capable of explanation.
Everyone laughed and said it was very natural that it should be so.
To change the subject, Madame Cornelis remarked that Sophie had
learnt the minuet and danced it admirably.
"Then fetch a violin player," said Lady Harrington, "that we may have
the pleasure of witnessing the young artist's performance."
The ball had not yet begun, and as soon as the violinist appeared, I
stepped forward and danced with Sophie, to the delight of the select
circle of spectators.
The ball lasted all night without ceasing, as the company ate by
relays, and at all times and hours; the waste and prodigality were
worthy of a prince's palace. I made the acquaintance of all the
nobility and the Royal Family, for they were all there, with the
exception of the king and queen, and the Prince of Wales. Madame
Cornelis must have received more than twelve hundred guineas, but the
outlay was enormous, without any control or safeguard against the
thefts, which must have been perpetrated on all sides. She tried to
introduce her son to everybody, but the poor lad looked like a
victim, and did nothing but make profound bows. I pitied him from my
As soon as I got home I went to bed and spent the whole of the next
day there. The day after I went to the "Staven Tavern," as I had
been told that the prettiest girls in London resorted to it. Lord
Pembroke gave me this piece of information; he went there very
frequently himself. When I got to the tavern I asked for a private
room, and the landlord, perceiving that I did not know English,
accosted me in French, and came to keep me company. I was astonished
at his grave and reverend manner of speaking, and did not like to
tell him that I wanted to dine with a pretty Englishwoman. At last,
however, I summoned up courage to say, with a great deal of
circumlocution, that I did not know whether Lord Pembroke had
deceived me in informing me that I should find the prettiest girls in
London at his house.
"No, sir," said he, "my lord has not deceived you, and you can have
as many as you like."
"That's what I came for."
He called out some name, and a tidy-looking lad making his
appearance, he told him to get me a wench just as though he were
ordering a bottle of champagne. The lad went out, and presently a
girl of herculean proportions entered.
"Sir," said I, "I don't like the looks of this girl."
"Give her a shilling and send her away. We don't trouble ourselves
about ceremonies in London."
This put me at my ease, so I paid my shilling and called for a
prettier wench. The second was worse than the first, and I sent her
away, and ten others after her, while I could see that my
fastidiousness amused the landlord immensely.
"I'll see no more girls," said I at last, "let me have a good dinner.
I think the procurer must have been making game of me for the sake of
"It's very likely; indeed it often happens so when a gentleman does
not give the name and address of the wench he wants."
In the evening as I was walking in St. James's Park, I remembered it
was a Ranelagh evening, and wishing to see the place I took a coach
and drove there, intending to amuse myself till midnight, and to find
a beauty to my taste.
I was pleased with the rotunda. I had some tea, I danced some
minuets, but I made no acquaintances; and although I saw several
pretty women, I did not dare to attack any of them. I got tired, and
as it was near midnight I went out thinking to find my coach, for
which I had not paid, still there, but it was gone, and I did not
know what to do. An extremely pretty woman who was waiting for her
carriage in the doorway, noticed my distress, and said that if I
lived anywhere near Whitehall, she could take me home. I thanked her
gratefully, and told her where I lived. Her carriage came up, her
man opened the door, and she stepped in on my arm, telling me to sit
beside her, and to stop the carriage when it got to my house.
As soon as we were in the carriage, I burst out into expressions of
gratitude; and after telling her my name I expressed my regret at not
having seen her at Soho Square.
"I was not in London," she replied, "I returned from Bath to-day."
I apostrophised my happiness in having met her. I covered her hands
with kisses, and dared to kiss her on the cheek; and finding that she
smiled graciously, I fastened my lips on hers, and before long had
given her an unequivocal mark of the ardour with which she had
She took my attentions so easily that I flattered myself I had not
displeased her, and I begged her to tell me where I could call on her
and pay my court while I remained in London, but she replied,--
"We shall see each other again; we must be careful."
I swore secrecy, and urged her no more. Directly after the carriage
stopped, I kissed her hand and was set down at my door, well pleased
with the ride home.
For a fortnight I saw nothing of her, but I met her again in a house
where Lady Harrington had told me to present myself, giving her name.
It was Lady Betty German's, and I found her out, but was asked to sit
down and wait as she would be in soon. I was pleasantly surprised to
find my fair friend of Ranelagh in the room, reading a newspaper. I
conceived the idea of asking her to introduce me to Lady Betty, so I
went up to her and proffered my request, but she replied politely
that she could not do so not having the honour to know my name.
"I have told you my name, madam. Do you not remember me?"
"I remember you perfectly, but a piece of folly is not a title of
I was dumbfounded at the extraordinary reply, while the lady calmly
returned to her newspaper, and did not speak another word till the
arrival of Lady Betty.
The fair philosopher talked for two hours without giving the least
sign of knowing who I was, although she answered me with great
politeness whenever I ventured to address her. She turned out to be
a lady of high birth and of great reputation.
Happening to call on Martinelli, I asked him who was the pretty girl
who was kissing her hands to me from the house opposite. I was
pleasantly surprised to hear that she was a dancer named Binetti.
Four years ago she had done me a great service at Stuttgart, but I
did not know she was in London. I took leave of Martinelli to go and
see her, and did so all the more eagerly when I heard that she had
parted from her husband, though they were obliged to dance together
at the Haymarket.
She received me with open arms, telling me that she had recognized me
"I am surprised, my dear elder," said she, "to see you in London."
She called me "elder" because I was the oldest of her friends.
"Nor did I know that you were here. I came to town after the close
of the opera. How is it that you are not living with your husband?"
"Because he games, loses, and despoils me of all I possess. Besides,
a woman of my condition, if she be married, cannot hope that a rich
lover will come and see her, while if she be alone she can receive
visits without any constraint."
"I shouldn't have thought they would be afraid of Binetti; he used to
be far from jealous."
"Nor is he jealous now; but you must know that there is an English
law which allows the husband to arrest his wife and her lover if he
finds them in 'flagrante delicto'. He only wants two witnesses, and
it is enough that they are sitting together on a bed. The lover is
forced to pay to the husband the half of all he possesses. Several
rich Englishmen have been caught in this way, and now they are very
shy of visiting married women, especially Italians."
"So you have much to be thankful for. You enjoy perfect liberty, can
receive any visitors you like, and are in a fair way to make a
"Alas! my dear friend, you do not know all. When he has information
from his spies that I have had a visitor, he comes to me in a sedan-
chair at night, and threatens to turn me out into the street if I do
not give him all the money I have. He is a terrible rascal!"
I left the poor woman, after giving her my address, and telling her
to come and dine with me whenever she liked. She had given me a
lesson on the subject of visiting ladies. England has very good
laws, but most of them are capable of abuse. The oath which jurymen
have to take to execute them to the letter has caused several to be
interpreted in a manner absolutely contrary to the intention of the
legislators, thus placing the judges in a difficult predicament.
Thus new laws have constantly to be made, and new glosses to explain
the old ones.
My Lord Pembroke, seeing me at my window, came in, and after
examining my house, including the kitchen, where the cook was at
work, told me that there was not a nobleman in town who had such a
well-furnished and comfortable house. He made a calculation, and
told me that if I wanted to entertain my friends I should require
three hundred pounds a month. "You can't live here," said he,
"without a pretty girl, and those who know that you keep bachelor's
hall are of opinion that you are very wise, and will save a great
deal of useless expense."
"Do you keep a girl, my lord?"
"No, for I am unfortunate enough to be disgusted with a woman after I
have had her for a day."
"Then you require a fresh one every day?"
"Yes, and without being as comfortable as you I spend four times as
much. You must know that I live in London like a stranger. I never
dine at my own house. I wonder at your dining alone."
"I can't speak English. I like soup and good wine, and that is
enough to keep me from your taverns."
"I expect so, with your French tastes."
"You will confess that they are not bad tastes."
"You are right, for, good Englishman as I am, I get on very well in
He burst out laughing when I told him how I had dispatched a score of
wenches at the "Staven Tavern," and that my disappointment was due to
"I did not tell you what names to send for, and I was wrong."
"Yes, you ought to have told me."
"But even if I did they wouldn't have come, for they are not at the
orders of the procurers. If you will promise to pay them as I do, I
will give you some tickets which will make them come."
"Can I have them here?"
"Just as you like."
"That will be most convenient for me. Write out the tickets and let
them know French if you can."
"That's the difficulty; the prettiest only speak English."
"Never mind, we shall understand each other well enough for the
purpose I dare say."
He wrote several tickets for four and six guineas each; but one was
marked twelve guineas.
"She is doubly pretty, is she?" said I.
"Not exactly, but she has cuckolded a duke of Great Britain who keeps
her, and only uses her once or twice a month."
"Would you do me the honour of testing the skill of my cook?"
"Certainly, but I can't make an appointment."
"And supposing I am out."
"I'll go to the tavern."
Having nothing better to do I sent Jarbe to one of the four-guinea
wenches, telling him to advise her that she would dine with me. She
came. She did not attract me sufficiently to make me attempt more
than some slight toying. She went away well pleased with her four
guineas, which she had done nothing to earn. Another wench, also at
four guineas, supped with me the following evening. She had been
very pretty, and, indeed, was so still, but she was too melancholy
and quiet for my taste, and I could not makeup my mind to tell her to
The third day, not feeling inclined to try another ticket, I went to
Covent Garden, and on meeting an attractive young person I accosted
her in French, and asked her if she would sup with me.
"How much will you give me at dessert?"
After the play I ordered a good supper for two, and she displayed an
appetite after mine own heart. When we had supped I asked for her
name and address, and I was astonished to find that she was one of
the girls whom Lord Pembroke had assessed at six guineas. I
concluded that it was best to do one's own business, or, at any rate,
not to employ noblemen as agents. As to the other tickets, they
procured me but little pleasure. The twelve-guinea one, which I had
reserved for the last, as a choice morsel, pleased me the least of
all, and I did not care to cuckold the noble duke who kept her.
Lord Pembroke was young, handsome, rich, and full of wit. I went to
see him one day, and found him just getting out of bed. He said he
would walk with me and told his valet to shave him.
"But," said I, "there's not a trace of beard on your face."
"There never is," said he, "I get myself shaved three times a day."
"Yes, when I change my shirt I wash my hands; when I wash my hands I
have to wash my face, and the proper way to wash a man's face is with
"When do you make these three ablutions?"
"When I get up, when I dress for dinner, and when I go to bed, for I
should not like the woman who is sleeping with me to feel my beard."
We had a short walk together, and then I left him as I had some
writing to do. As we parted, he asked me if I dined at home. I
replied in the affirmative, and foreseeing that he intended dining
with me I warned my cook to serve us well, though I did not let him
know that I expected a nobleman to dinner. Vanity has more than one
string to its bow.
I had scarcely got home when Madame Binetti came in, and said that if
she were not in the way, she would be glad to dine with me. I gave
her a warm welcome, and she said I was really doing her a great
service, as her husband would suffer the torments of hell in trying
to find out with whom she had dined.
This woman still pleased me; and though she was thirty-five, nobody
would have taken her for more than twenty-five. Her appearance was
in every way pleasing. Her lips were of the hue of the rose,
disclosing two exquisite rows of teeth. A fine complexion, splendid
eyes, and a forehead where Innocence might have been well enthroned,
all this made an exquisite picture. If you add to this, that her
breast was of the rarest proportions, you will understand that more
fastidious tastes than mine would have been satisfied with her.
She had not been in my house for half an hour when Lord Pembroke came
in. They both uttered an exclamation, and the nobleman told me that
he had been in love with her for the last six months; that he had
written ardent letters to her of which she had taken no notice.
"I never would have anything to do with him," said she, "because he
is the greatest profligate in all England; and it's a pity," she
added, "because he is a kindhearted nobleman."
This explanation was followed by a score of kisses, and I saw that
they were agreed.
We had a choice dinner in the French style, and Lord Pembroke swore
he had not eaten so good a dinner for the last year.
"I am sorry for you," he said, "when I think of you being alone every
Madame Binetti was as much a gourmet as the Englishman, and when we
rose from table we felt inclined to pass from the worship of Comus to
that of Venus; but the lady was too experienced to give the
Englishman anything more than a few trifling kisses.
I busied myself in turning over the leaves of some books I had bought
the day before, and left them to talk together to their heart's
content; but to prevent their asking me to give them another dinner I
said that I hoped chance would bring about such another meeting on
At six o'clock, after my guests had left me, I dressed and went to
Vauxhaull, where I met a French officer named Malingan, to whom I had
given some money at Aix-la-Chapelle. He said he would like to speak
to me, so I gave him my name and address. I also met a well-known
character, the Chevalier Goudar, who talked to me about gaming and
women. Malingan introduced me to an individual who he said might be
very useful to me in London. He was a man of forty, and styled
himself son of the late Theodore, the pretender to the throne of
Corsica, who had died miserably in London fourteen years before,
after having been imprisoned for debt for seven years. I should have
done better if I had never gone to Vauxhall that evening.
The entrance-fee at Vauxhall was half the sum charged at Ranelagh,
but in spite of that the amusements were of the most varied kinds.
There was good fare, music, walks in solitary alleys, thousands of
lamps, and a crowd of London beauties, both high and low.
In the midst of all these pleasures I was dull, because I had no girl
to share my abode or my good table, and make it dear to me. I had
been in London for six weeks; ana in no other place had I been alone
for so long.
My house seemed intended for keeping a mistress with all decency, and
as I had the virtue of constancy a mistress was all I wanted to make
me happy. But how was I to find a woman who should be the equal of
those women I had loved before? I had already seen half a hundred of
girls, whom the town pronounced to be pretty, and who did not strike
me as even passable. I thought the matter over continually, and at
last an odd idea struck me.
I called the old housekeeper, and told her by the servant, who acted
as my interpreter, that I wanted to let the second or third floor for
the sake of company; and although I was at perfect liberty to do what
I liked with the house, I would give her half-a-guinea a week extra.
Forthwith I ordered her to affix the following bill to the window:
Second or third floor to be let, furnished, to a young lady speaking
English and French, who receives no visitors, either by day or night.
The old Englishwoman, who had seen something of the world, began to
laugh so violently when the document was translated to her that I
thought she would have choked.
"What are you laughing at, my worthy woman?"
"Because this notice is a laughing matter."
"I suppose you think I shall have no applications?"
"Not at all, the doorstep will be crowded from morn to night, but I
shall leave it all to Fanny. Only tell me how much to ask."
"I will arrange about the rent in my interview with the young lady.
I don't think I shall have so many enquiries, for the young lady is
to speak French and English, and also to be respectable. She must
not receive any visits, not even from her father and mother, if she
"But there will be a mob in front of the house reading the notice."
"All the better. Nothing is the worse for being a little odd."
It happened just as the old woman had foretold; as soon as the notice
was up, everybody stopped to read it, made various comments, and
passed on. On the second day after it was up, my Negro told me that
my notice was printed in full in the St. James's Chronicle, with some
amusing remarks. I had the paper brought up to me, and Fanny
translated it. It ran as follows:
"The landlord of the second and third floors probably occupies the
first floor himself. He must be a man of the world and of good
taste, for he wants a young and pretty lodger; and as he forbids her
to receive visits, he will have to keep her company himself."
"The landlord should take care lest he become his own dupe, for it is
very likely that the pretty lodger would only take the room to sleep
in, and possibly only to sleep in now and then; and if she chose she
would have a perfect right to refuse to receive the proprietor's
These sensible remarks delighted me, for after reading them I felt
Such matters as these give their chief interest to the English
newspapers. They are allowed to gossip about everything, and the
writers have the knack of making the merest trifles seem amusing.
Happy is the nation where anything may be written and anything said!
Lord Pembroke was the first to come and congratulate me on my idea,
and he was succeeded by Martinelli; but he expressed some fears as to
the possible consequences, "for," said he, "there are plenty of women
in London who would come and lodge with you to be your ruin."
"In that case," I answered, "it would be a case of Greek meeting
Greek; however, we shall see. If I am taken in, people will have the
fullest right to laugh at me, for I have been warned."
I will not trouble my readers with an account of the hundred women
who came in the first ten days, when I refused on one pretext or
another, though some of them were not wanting in grace and beauty.
But one day, when I was at dinner, I received a visit from a girl of
from twenty to twenty-four years, simply but elegantly dressed; her
features were sweet and gracious, though somewhat grave, her
complexion pale, and her hair black. She gave me a bow which I had
to rise to return, and as I remained standing she politely begged me
not to put myself out, but to continue my dinner. I begged her to be
seated and to take dessert, but she refused with an air of modesty
which delighted me.
This fair lady said, not in French, but in Italian worthy of a
Sinnese, its purity was so perfect, that she hoped I would let her
have a room on the third floor, and that she would gladly submit to
all my conditions.
"You may only make use of one room if you like, but all the floor
will belong to you."
"Although the notice says the rooms will be let cheaply, I shall not
be able to afford more than one room. Two shillings a week is all I
"That's exactly what I want for the whole suite of rooms; so you see
you can use them all. My maid will wait on you, get you whatever
food you may require, and wash your linen as well. You can also
employ her to do your commissions, so that you need not go out for
"Then I will dismiss my maid," she said; "she robs me of little, it
is true, but still too much for my small means. I will tell your
maid what food to buy for me every day, and she shall have six sots a
week for her pains."
"That will be ample. I should advise you to apply to my cook's wife,
who will get your dinner and supper for you as cheaply as you could
"I hardly think so, for I am ashamed to tell you how little I spend."
"Even if you only spend two sols a day, she will give you two sols'
worth. All the same I advise you to be content with what you get
from the kitchen, without troubling about the price, for I usually
have provision made for four, though I dine alone, and the rest is
the cook's perquisite. I merely advise you to the best of my
ability, and I hope you will not be offended at my interest in your
"Really, sir, you are too generous."
"Wait a moment, and you will see how everything will be settled
I told Clairmont to order up the maid and the cook's wife, and I said
to the latter:
"For how much could you provide dinner and supper for this young lady
who is not rich, and only wants to eat to live?"
"I can do it very cheaply; for you usually eat alone, and have enough
"Very good; then I hope you will treat her very well for the sum she
"I can only afford five sols a day."
"That will do nicely."
I gave orders that the bill should be taken down directly, and that
the young lady's room should be made comfortable. When the maid and
the cook's wife had left the room, the young lady told me that she
should only go out on Sundays to hear mass at the Bavarian
ambassador's chapel, and once a month to a person who gave her three
guineas to support her.
"You can go out when you like," said I, "and without rendering an
account to anybody of your movements."
She begged me not to introduce anyone to her, and to tell the, porter
to deny her to anyone who might come to the door to make enquiries.
I promised that her wishes should be respected, and she went away
saying that she was going for her trunk.
I immediately ordered my household to treat her with the utmost
respect. The old housekeeper told me that she had paid the first
week in advance, taking a receipt, and had gone, as she had come, in
a sedan-chair. Then the worthy old woman made free to tell me to be
on my guard.
"Against what? If I fall in love with her, so much the better; that
is just what I want. What name did she give you?"
"Mistress Pauline. She was quite pale when she came, and she went
away covered with blushes."
I was delighted to hear it. I did not want a woman merely to satisfy
my natural desires, for such can be found easily enough; I wished for
some one whom I could love. I expected beauty, both of the body and
the soul; and my love increased with the difficulties and obstacles I
saw before me. As to failure, I confess I did not give it a moment's
thought, for there is not a woman in the world who can resist constant
and loving attentions, especially when her lover is ready to
make great sacrifices.
When I got back from the theatre in the evening the maid told me that
the lady had chosen a modest closet at the back, which was only
suitable for a servant. She had had a moderate supper, only drinking
water, and had begged the cook's wife only to send her up soup and
one dish, to which the woman had replied that she must take what was
served, and what she did not eat would do for the servant.
"When she finished she shut herself up to write, and wished me good
evening with much politeness."
"What is she going to take in the morning?"
"I asked her, and she said she would only take a little bread."
"Then you had better tell her that it is the custom of the house for
the cook to serve everybody with coffee, chocolate, or tea, according
to taste, in the morning, and that I shall be pained if she refuses
to fare like the rest of us. But don't tell her I said so. Here's a
crown for you, and you shall have one every week if you will wait
upon and care for her properly."
Before going to bed I wrote her a polite note, begging her to leave
the closet. She did so, but she went into another back room, and
consented to take coffee for her breakfast. Wishing to make her dine
and sup with me, I was dressing myself, and preparing to proffer my
request in such a way as to make a refusal impossible, when young
Cornelis was announced. I received him smilingly, and thanked him
for the first visit he had paid me in the course of six weeks.
"Mamma hasn't allowed me to come. I have tried to do so a score of
times without her leave. Read this letter, and you will find
something which will surprise you."
I opened the letter and read as follows:
"Yesterday a bailiff waited for my door to be opened and slipped in
and arrested me. I was obliged to go with him, and I am now in the
sponging-house, and if I can't get bail by to-day he will take me to
Kings Bench Prison. The bail I require is to the amount of two
hundred pounds, to pay a bill which has fallen due. Dear friend,
come and succour me or else my other creditors will get wind of my
imprisonment and I shall be ruined. You surely will not allow that
to happen, if not for my sake at least for the sake of my innocent
children. You cannot bail me yourself, but you can easily get a
householder to do so. If you have the time come and call on me, and
I will shew you that I could not help doing the bill, otherwise I
could not have given my last ball, as the whole of my plate and china
I felt angry with the impudent woman who had hitherto paid me so
little attention, and I wrote that I could only pity her, and that I
had no time to go and see her, and that I should be ashamed to ask
anyone to bail her out.
When young Cornelis had gone away in a melancholy mood, I told
Clairmont to ask Pauline if she would allow me to bid her a good day.
She sent word that I was at liberty to do so, and on going upstairs
to her room I found her sitting at a table on which were several
Some linen on a chest of drawers did not give me the idea that she
was very poor.
"I am immensely obliged," said she, "for all your goodness to me."
"Say nothing of that, madam; it is I who have need of your goodness."
"What can I do to shew my gratitude?"
"Could you trouble yourself to take your meals with me? When I am
alone I eat like an ogre, and my health suffers. If you do not feel
inclined to grant me that favour, do not hesitate to refuse, and I
assure you you shall fare just as well as if you had acceded to my
"I shall be delighted to dine and sup with you; sir, whenever you are
alone and you like to send for me. Nevertheless, I am not sure that
my society will amuse you."
"Very good, I am grateful to you, and I promise you you shall never
repent of your kindness. I will do my best to amuse you, and I hope
I shall succeed, for you have inspired me with the liveliest
interest. We will dine at one to-day."
I did not sit down or look at her books, or even ask her if she had
spent a good night. The only thing I noted was that she had looked
pale and careworn when I came in, and when I went out her cheeks were
the colour of the rose.
I went for a walk in the park, feeling quite taken with this charming
woman, and resolved to make her love me, for I did not want to owe
anything to gratitude. I felt curious to know where she came from,
and suspected she was an Italian; but I determined to ask her no
questions for fear of offending her.
When I got home Pauline came down of her own free will, and I was
delighted with this, which I took for a good omen. As we had half an
hour before us, I asked her how she found her health.
"Nature," she replied, "has favoured me with such a good constitution
that I have never had the least sickness in my life, except on the
"You have made a voyage, then."
"I must have done so to come to England."
"You might be an Englishwoman."
"Yes, for the English language has been familiar to me from my
We were seated on a sofa, and on the table in front of us was a
chess-board. Pauline toyed with the pawns, and I asked her if she
could play chess.
"Yes, and pretty well too from what they tell me."
"Then we will have a game together; my blunders will amuse you."
We began, and in four moves I was checkmated. She laughed, and I
admired her play. We began again, and I was checkmated in five
moves. My agreeable guest laughed heartily, and while she laughed I
became intoxicated with love, watching the play of her features, her
exquisite teeth, and her happy expression. We began another game,
Pauline played carelessly, and I placed her in a difficult position.
"I think you may conquer me," said she.
"What happiness for me!"
The servant came in to tell us that dinner was ready.
"Interruptions are often extremely inconvenient," said I, as I
offered her my arm, feeling quite sure that she had not lost the
significance of my last words, for women find a meaning for
We were just sitting down to table when Clairmont announced my
daughter and Madame Rancour.
"Tell them that I am at dinner, and that I shall not be disengaged
till three o'clock."
Just as my man was leaving the room to carry back my answer, Sophie
rushed in and knelt before me, choking with sobs.
This was too much for me, and raising her I took her on my knees,
saying I knew what she had come for, and that for love of her I would
Passing from grief to joy the dear child kissed me, calling me her
father, and at last made me weep myself.
"Dine with us, dear Sophie," said I, "I shall be the more likely to
do what you wish."
She ran from my arms to embrace Pauline, who was weeping out of
sympathy, and we all dined happily together. Sophie begged me to
give Madame Rancour some dinner.
"It shall be so if you please, but only for your sake, for that woman
Rancour deserves that I should leave her standing at the door to
punish her for her impertinence to me when I came to London."
The child amused us in an astonishing way all dinnertime, Pauline
keeping her ears open and not saying a word, so surprised was she to
hear a child of her age talk in a way that would have excited
attention in a woman of twenty. Although perfectly respectful she
condemned her mother's conduct, and said that she was unfortunate in
being obliged to give her a blind obedience.
"I would wager that you don't love her much."
"I respect, but I cannot love her, for I am always afraid. I never
see her without fearing her."
"Why do you weep, then, at her fate?"
"I pity her, and her family still more, and the expressions she used
in sending me to you were very affecting."
"What were these expressions?"
"'Go,' said she, 'kneel before him, for you and you alone can soften
"Then you knelt before me because your mother told you to do so."
"Yes, for if I had followed my own inclination I should have rushed
to your arms."
"You answer well. But are you sure of persuading me?"
"No, for one can never be sure of anything; but I have good hopes of
success, remembering what you told me at the Hague. My mother told
me that I was only three then, but I know I was five. She it was who
told me not to look at you when I spoke to you, but fortunately you
made her remove her prohibition. Everybody says that you are my
father, and at the Hague she told me so herself; but here she is
always dinning it into my ears that I am the daughter of M. de
"But, Sophie dear, your mother does wrong in making you a bastard
when you are the legitimate daughter of the dancer Pompeati, who
killed himself at Vienna."
"Then I am not your daughter?"
"Clearly, for you cannot have two fathers, can you?"
"But how is it that I am your image?"
"It's a mere chance."
"You deprive me of a dream which has made me happy."
Pauline said nothing, but covered her with kisses, which Sophie
returned effusively. She asked me if the lady was my wife, and on my
replying in the affirmative she called Pauline her "dear mamma,"
which made "dear mamma" laugh merrily.
When the dessert was served I drew four fifty-pound notes out of my
pocket-book, and giving them to Sophie told her that she might hand
them over to her mother if she liked, but that the present was for
her and not for her mother.
"If you give her the money," I said, "she will be able to sleep to-
night in the fine house where she gave me such a poor reception."
"It makes me unhappy to think of it, but you must forgive her."
"Yes, Sophie; but out of love for you."
"Write to her to the effect that it is to me you give the money, not
to her; I dare not tell her so myself."
"I could not do that, my dear; it would be insulting her in her
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