Part 1 out of 3
This etext was produced by David Widger
MEMOIRS OF JACQUES CASANOVA de SEINGALT 1725-1798
SPANISH PASSIONS, Volume 6b--EXPELLED FROM SPAIN
THE RARE UNABRIDGED LONDON EDITION OF 1894 TRANSLATED BY ARTHUR MACHEN TO
WHICH HAS BEEN ADDED THE CHAPTERS DISCOVERED BY ARTHUR SYMONS.
EXPELLED FROM SPAIN
I Make a Mistake and Manucci Becomes My Mortal Foe--His Vengeance--
I Leave Madrid--Saragossa--Valentia--Nina--I Arrive at Barcelona
If these Memoirs, only written to console me in the dreadful weariness
which is slowly killing me in Bohemia--and which, perhaps, would kill me
anywhere, since, though my body is old, my spirit and my desires are as
young as ever--if these Memoirs are ever read, I repeat, they will only
be read when I am gone, and all censure will be lost on me.
Nevertheless, seeing that men are divided into two sections, the one and
by far the greater composed of the ignorant and superficial, and the
other of the learned and reflective, I beg to state that it is to the
latter I would appeal. Their judgment, I believe, will be in favour of
my veracity, and, indeed, why should I not be veracious? A man can have
no object in deceiving himself, and it is for myself that I chiefly
Hitherto I have spoken nothing but the truth, without considering whether
the truth is in my favour or no. My book is not a work of dogmatic
theology, but I do not think it will do harm to anyone; while I fancy
that those who know how to imitate the bee and to get honey from every
flower will be able to extract some good from the catalogue of my vices
After this digression (it may be too long, but that is my business and
none other's), I must confess that never have I had so unpleasant a truth
to set down as that which I am going to relate. I committed a fatal act
of indiscretion--an act which after all these years still gives my heart
a pang as I think of it.
The day after my conquest I dined with the Venetian ambassador, and I had
the pleasure of hearing that all the ministers and grandees with whom I
had associated had the highest possible opinion of me. In three or four
days the king, the royal family, and the ministers would return to town,
and I expected to have daily conferences with the latter respecting the
colony in the Sierra Morena, where I should most probably be going.
Manucci, who continued to treat me as a valued friend, proposed to
accompany me on my journey, and would bring with him an adventuress, who
called herself Porto-Carrero, pretending to be the daughter or niece of
the late cardinal of that name, and thus obtained a good deal of
consideration; though in reality she was only the mistress of the French
consul at Madrid, the Abbe Bigliardi.
Such was the promising state of my prospects when my evil genius brought
to Madrid a native of Liege, Baron de Fraiture, chief huntsman of the
principality, and a profligate, a gamester, and a cheat, like all those
who proclaim their belief in his honesty nowadays.
I had unfortunately met him at Spa, and told him I was was going to
Portugal. He had come after me, hoping to use me as a means of getting
into good society, and of filling his pocket with the money of the dupes
he aspired to make.
Gamesters have never had any proof of my belonging to their infernal
clique, but they have always persisted in believing that I too am a
As soon as this baron heard that I was in Madrid he called on me, and by
dint of politeness obliged me to receive him. I thought any small
civilities I might shew or introductions I might give could do me no
harm. He had a travelling companion to whom he introduced me. He was a
fat, ignorant fellow, but a Frenchman, and therefore agreeable. A
Frenchman who knows how to present himself, who is well dressed, and has
the society air, is usually accepted without demur or scrutiny. He had
been a cavalry captain, but had been fortunate enough to obtain an
Four or five days after his appearance the baron asked me quietly enough
to lend him a score of louis, as he was hard up. I replied as quietly,
thanking him for treating me as a friend, but informing him that I really
could not lend him the money, as I wanted what little I had for my own
"But we can do good business together, and you cannot possibly be
"I do not know anything about good business, but I do know that I want my
money and cannot part with it."
"We are at our wits' end to quiet our landlord; come and speak to him."
"If I were to do so I should do you more harm than good. He would ask me
if I would answer for you, and I should reply that you are one of those
noblemen who stand in need of no surety. All the same, the landlord
would think that if I did not stand your surety, it must be from my
entertaining doubts as to your solvency."
I had introduced Fraiture to Count Manucci, on the Pando, and he
requested me to take him to see the count, to which request I was foolish
enough to accede.
A few days later the baron opened his soul to Manucci.
He found the Venetian disposed to be obliging, but wary. He refused to
lend money himself, but introduced the baron to someone who lent him
money on pledges without interest.
The baron and his friend did a little gaming and won a little money, but
I held aloof from them to the best of my ability.
I had my colony and Donna Ignazia, and wanted to live peacefully; and if
I had spent a single night away from home, the innocent girl would have
been filled with alarm.
About that time M. de Mocenigo went as ambassador to France, and was
replaced by M. Querini. Querini was a man of letters, while Mocenigo
only liked music and his own peculiar kind of love.
The new ambassador was distinctly favourable to me, and in a few days I
had reason to believe that he would do more for me than ever Mocenigo
would have done.
In the meanwhile, the baron and his friend began to think of beating a
retreat to France. There was no gaming at the ambassador's and no gaming
at the Court; they must return to France, but they owed money to their
landlord, and they wanted money for the journey. I could give them
nothing, Manucci would give them nothing; we both pitied them, but our
duty to ourselves made us cruel to everyone else. However, he brought
trouble on us.
One morning Manucci came to see me in evident perturbation.
"What is the matter?" said I.
"I do not know exactly. For the last week I have refused to see the
Baron Fraiture, as not being able to give him money, his presence only
wearied me. He has written me a letter, in which he threatens to blow
out his brains to-day if I will not lend him a hundred pistoles."
"He said the same thing to me three days ago; but I replied that I would
bet two hundred pistoles that he would do nothing of the kind. This made
him angry, and he proposed to fight a duel with me; but I declined on the
plea that as he was a desperate man either he would have an advantage
over me or I, over him. Give him the same answer, or, better still, no
answer at all."
"I cannot follow your advice. Here are the hundred pistoles. Take them
to him and get a receipt."
I admired his generosity and agreed to carry out his commission. I
called on the baron, who seemed rather uncomfortable when I walked in;
but considering his position I was not at all surprised.
I informed him that I was the bearer of a thousand francs from Count
Manucci, who thereby placed him in a position to arrange his affairs and
to leave Madrid. He received the money without any signs of pleasure,
surprise, or gratitude, and wrote out the receipt. He assured me that he
and his friend would start for Barcelona and France on the following day.
I then took the document to Manucci, who was evidently suffering from
some mental trouble; and I remained to dinner with the ambassador. It
was for the last time.
Three days after I went to dine with the ambassadors (for they all dined
together), but to my astonishment the porter told me that he had received
orders not to admit me.
The effect of this sentence on me was like that of a thunderbolt; I
returned home like a man in a dream. I immediately sat down and wrote to
Manucci, asking him why I had been subjected to such an insult; but
Philippe, my man, brought me back the letter unopened.
This was another surprise; I did not know what to expect next.
"What can be the matter?" I said to myself. "I cannot imagine, but I
will have an explanation, or perish."
I dined sadly with Donna Ignazia, without telling her the cause of my
trouble, and just as I was going to take my siesta a servant of Manucci's
brought me a letter from his master and fled before I could read it.
The letter contained an enclosure which I read first. It was from Baron
de Fraiture. He asked Manucci to lend him a hundred pistoles, promising
to shew him the man whom he held for his dearest friend to be his worst
Manucci (honouring me, by the way, with the title of ungrateful traitor)
said that the baron's letter had excited his curiosity and he he had met
him in St. Jerome's Park, where the baron had clearly proved this enemy
to be myself, since I had informed the baron that though the name of
Manucci was genuine the title of count was quite apocryphal.
After recapitulating the information which Fraiture had given him, and
which could only have proceeded from myself, he advised me to leave
Madrid as soon as possible, in a week at latest.
I can give the reader no idea of the shock this letter gave me. For the
first time in my life I had to confess myself guilty of folly,
ingratitude, and crime. I felt that my fault was beyond forgiveness, and
did not think of asking Manucci to pardon me; I could do nothing but
Nevertheless, in spite of Manucci's just indignation, I could not help
seeing that he had made a great mistake in advising me, in so insulting a
manner, to leave Madrid in a week. The young man might have known that
my self-respect would forbid my following such a piece of advice. He
could not compel me to obey his counsel or command; and to leave Madrid
would have been to commit a second baseness worse than the first.
A prey to grief I spent the day without taking any steps one way or the
other, and I went to bed without supping and without the company of Donna
After a sound sleep I got up and wrote to the friend whom I had offended
a sincere and humble confession of my fault. I concluded my letter by
saying that I hoped that this evidence of my sincere and heartfelt
repentance would suffice, but if not that I was ready to give him any
honourable satisfaction in my power.
"You may," I said, "have me assassinated if you like, but I shall not
leave Madrid till its suits me to do so."
I put a commonplace seal on my letter, and had the address written by
Philippe, whose hand was unknown to Manucci, and then I sent it to Pando
where the king had gone.
I kept my room the whole day; and Donna Ignazia, seeing that I had
recovered my spirits to some degree, made no more enquiries about the
cause of my distress. I waited in the whole of the next day, expecting a
reply, but in vain.
The third day, being Sunday, I went out to call on the Prince della
Catolica. My carriage stopped at his door, but the porter came out and
told me in a polite whisper that his highness had his reasons for not
receiving me any longer.
This was an unexpected blow, but after it I was prepared for anything.
I drove to the Abbe Bigliardi, but the lackey, after taking in my name,
informed me that his master was out.
I got into my carriage and went to Varnier, who said he wanted to speak
"Come into my carriage," said I, "we will go and hear mass together."
On our way he told me that the Venetian ambassador, Mocenigo, had warned
the Duke of Medina Sidonia that I was a dangerous character.
"The duke," he added, "replied that he would cease to know you as soon as
he found out the badness of your character himself."
These three shocks, following in such quick succession, cast me into a
state of confusion. I said nothing till we heard mass together, but I
believe that if I had not then told him the whole story I should have had
an apoplectic fit.
Varnier pitied me, and said,--
"Such are the ways of the great when they have abjured all virtue and
honesty. Nevertheless, I advise you to keep silence about it, unless you
would irritate Manucci still farther."
When I got home I wrote to Manucci begging him to suspend his vengeance,
or else I should be obliged to tell the story to all those who insulted
me for the ambassador's sake. I sent the letter to M. Soderini, the
secretary of the embassy, feeling sure that he would forward it to
I dined with my mistress, and took her to the bull fight, where I chanced
to find myself in a box adjoining that in which Manucci and the two
ambassadors were seated. I made them a bow which they were obliged to
return, and did not vouchsafe them another glance for the rest of the
The next day the Marquis Grimaldi refused to receive me, and I saw that I
should have to abandon all hope. The Duke of Lossada remained my friend
on account of his dislike to the ambassador and his unnatural tastes; but
he told me that he had been requested not to receive me, and that he did
not think I had the slightest chance of obtaining any employment at
I could scarcely believe in such an extremity of vengeance: Manucci was
making a parade of the influence he possessed over his wife the
ambassador. In his insane desire for revenge he had laid all shame
I was curious to know whether he had forgotten Don Emmanuel de Roda and
the Marquis de la Moras; I found both of them had been forewarned against
me. There was still the Count of Aranda, and I was just going to see him
when a servant of his highness's came and told me that his master wished
to see me.
I shuddered, for in my then state of mind I drew the most sinister
conclusions from the message.
I found the great man alone, looking perfectly calm. This made me pluck
up a heart. He asked me to sit down--a favour he had not hitherto done
me, and this further contributed to cheer me.
"What have you been doing to offend your ambassador?" he began.
"My lord, I have done nothing to him directly, but by an inexcusable act
of stupidity I have wounded his dear friend Manucci in his tenderest
part. With the most innocent intentions I reposed my confidence in a
cowardly fellow, who sold it to Manucci for a hundred pistoles. In his
irritation, Manucci has stirred up the great man against me: 'hinc illae
"You have been unwise, but what is done is done. I am sorry for you,
because there is an end to all your hopes of advancement. The first
thing the king would do would be to make enquiries about you of the
"I feel it to my sorrow, my lord, but must I leave Madrid?"
"No. The ambassador did his best to make me send you way, but I told him
that I had no power over you so long as you did not infringe the laws."
"'He has calumniated a Venetian subject whom I am bound to protect,' said
"'In that case,' I replied, 'you can resort to the ordinary law, and
punish him to the best of your ability.'"
"The ambassador finally begged me to order you not to mention the matter
to any Venetian subjects at Madrid, and I think you can safely promise me
"My lord, I have much pleasure in giving your excellency my word of
honour not to do so."
"Very good. Then you can stay at Madrid as long as you please; and,
indeed, Mocenigo will be leaving in the course of a week."
From that moment I made up my mind to amuse myself without any thought of
obtaining a position in Spain. However, the ties of friendship made me
keep up my acquaintance with Varnier, the Duke of Medina Sidonia, and the
architect, Sabatini, who always gave me a warm welcome, as did his wife.
Donna Ignazia had more of my company than ever, and congratulated me on
my freedom from the cares of business.
After the departure of Mocenigo I thought I would go and see if Querini,
his nephew, was equally prejudiced against me. The porter told me that
he had received orders not to admit me, and I laughed in the man's face.
Six or seven weeks after Manucci's departure I, too, left Madrid. I did
so on compulsion, in spite of my love for Ignazia, for I had no longer
hopes of doing anything in Portugal, and my purse was nearly exhausted.
I thought of selling a handsome repeater and a gold snuff-box so as to
enable me to go to Marseilles, whence I thought of going to
Constantinople and trying my fortune there without turning renegade.
Doubtless, I should have found the plan unsuccessful, for I was attaining
an age when Fortune flies. I had no reason, however, to complain of
Fortune, for she had been lavish in her gifts to me, and I in my turn had
always abused them.
In my state of distress the learned Abbe Pinzi introduced me to a Genoese
bookseller, named Carrado, a thoroughly honest man, who seemed to have
been created that the knavery of most of the Genoese might be pardoned.
To him I brought my watch and snuff-box, but the worthy Carrado not only
refused to buy them, but would not take them in pledge. He gave me
seventeen hundred francs with no other security than my word that I would
repay him if I were ever able to do so. Unhappily I have never been able
to repay this debt, unless my gratitude be accounted repayment.
As nothing is sweeter than the companionship between a man and the woman
he adores, so nothing is bitterer than the separation; the pleasure has
vanished away, and only the pain remains.
I spent my last days at Madrid drinking the cup of pleasure which was
embittered by the thought of the pain that was to follow. The worthy
Diego was sad at the thought of losing me, and could with difficulty
refrain from tears.
For some time my man Philippe continued to give me news of Donna Ignazia.
She became the bride of a rich shoemaker, though her father was extremely
mortified by her making a marriage so much beneath her station.
I had promised the Marquis de las Moras and Colonel Royas that I would
come and see them at Saragossa, the capital of Aragon, and I arrived
there at the beginning of September. My stay lasted for a fortnight,
during which time I was able to examine the manners and customs of the
Aragonese, who were not subject to the ordinances of the Marquis of
Aranda, as long cloaks and low hats were to be seen at every corner.
They looked like dark phantoms more than men, for the cloak covered up at
least half the face. Underneath the cloak was carried el Spadino, a
sword of enormous length. Persons who wore this costume were treated
with great respect, though they were mostly arrant rogues; still they
might possibly be powerful noblemen in disguise.
The visitor to Saragossa should see the devotion which is paid to our
Lady del Pilar. I have seen processions going along the streets in which
wooden statues of gigantic proportions were carried. I was taken to the
best assemblies, where the monks swarmed. I was introduced to a lady of
monstrous size, who, I was informed, was cousin to the famous Palafox,
and I did not feel my bosom swell with pride as was evidently expected.
I also made the acquaintance of Canon Pignatelli, a man of Italian
origin. He was President of the Inquisition, and every morning he
imprisoned the procuress who had furnished him with the girl with whom he
had supped and slept. He would wake up in the morning tired out with the
pleasures of the night; the girl would be driven away and the procuress
imprisoned. He then dressed, confessed, said mass, and after an
excellent breakfast with plenty of good wine he would send out for
another girl, and this would go on day after day. Nevertheless, he was
held in great respect at Saragossa, for he was a monk, a canon, and an
The bull fights were finer at Saragossa than at Madrid--that is to say,
they were deadlier; and the chief interest of this barbarous spectacle
lies in the shedding of blood. The Marquis de las Moras and Colonel
Royas gave me some excellent dinners. The marquis was one of the
pleasantest men I met in Spain; he died very young two years after.
The Church of Nuestra Senora del Pilar is situated on the ramparts of the
town, and the Aragonese fondly believe this portion of the town defences
to be impregnable.
I had promised Donna Pelliccia to go and see her at Valentia, and on my
way I saw the ancient town of Saguntum on a hill at some little distance.
There was a priest travelling with me and I told him and the driver (who
preferred his mules to all the antiquities in the world) that I should
like to go and see the town. How the muleteer and the priest objected to
"There are only ruins there, senor."
"That's just what I want to see."
"We shall never get to Valentia to-night."
"Here's a crown; we shall get there to-morrow."
The crown settled everything, and the man exclaimed,
"Valga me Dios, es un hombre de buen!" (So help me God, this is an honest
man!) A subject of his Catholic majesty knows no heartier praise than
I saw the massive walls still standing and in good condition, and yet
they were built during the second Punic War. I saw on two of the
gateways inscriptions which to me were meaningless, but which Seguier,
the old friend of the Marquis Maffei, could no doubt have deciphered.
The sight of this monument to the courage of an ancient race, who
preferred to perish in the flames rather than surrender, excited my awe
and admiration. The priest laughed at me, and I am sure he would not
have purchased this venerable city of the dead if he could have done so
by saying a mass. The very name has perished; instead of Saguntum it is
called Murviedro from the Latin 'muri veteres' (old walls); but Time that
destroys marble and brass destroys also the very memory of what has been.
"This place," said the priest, "is always called Murviedro."
"It is ridiculous to do so," I replied; "common sense forbids us calling
a thing old which was once young enough. That's as if you would tell me
that New Castille is really new."
"Well, Old Castille is more ancient than New Castille."
"No so. New Castille was only called so because it was the latest
conquest; but as a matter of fact it is the older of the two."
The poor priest took refuge in silence; shaking his head, and evidently
taking me for a madman.
I tried vainly to find Hannibal's head, and the inscription in honour of
Caesar Claudius, but I found out the remains of the amphitheatre.
The next day I remarked the mosaic pavement, which had been discovered
twenty years before.
I reached Valentia at nine o'clock in the morning, and found that I
should have to content myself with a bad lodging, as Marescalchi, the
opera manager, had taken all the best rooms for the members of his
company. Marescalchi was accompanied by his brother, a priest, whom I
found decidedly learned for his age. We took a walk together, and he
laughed when I proposed going into a cafe, for there was not such a thing
in the town. There were only taverns of the lowest class where the wine
is not fit to drink. I could scarcely believe it, but Spain is a
peculiar country. When I was at Valentia, a good bottle of wine was
scarcely obtainable, though Malaga and Alicante were both close at hand.
In the first three days of my stay at Valentia (the birthplace of
Alexander VI.), I saw all the objects of interest in the town, and was
confirmed in my idea that what seems so admirable in the descriptions of
writers and the pictures of artists loses much of its charm on actual
Though Valentia is blessed with an excellent climate, though it is well
watered, situated in the midst of a beautiful country, fertile in all the
choicest products of nature, though it is the residence of many of the
most distinguished of the Spanish nobility, though its women are the most
handsome in Spain, though it has the advantage of being the seat of an
archbishop; in spite of all these commodities, it is a most disagreeable
town to live in. One is ill lodged and ill fed, there is no good wine
and no good company, there is not even any intellectual provision, for
though there is a university, lettered men are absolutely unknown.
As for the bridges, churches, the arsenal, the exchange, the town hall,
the twelve town gates, and the rest, I could not take pleasure in a town
where the streets are not paved, and where a public promenade is
conspicuous by its absence. Outside the town the country is delightful,
especially on the side towards the sea; but the outside is not the
The feature which pleased me most was the number of small one-horse
vehicles which transport the traveller rapidly from one point to another,
at a very slight expense, and will even undertake a two or three days'
If my frame of mind had been a more pleasant one, I should have travelled
through the kingdoms of Murcia and Grenada, which surpass Italy in beauty
Poor Spaniards! This beauty and fertility of your land are the cause of
your ignorance, as the mines of Peru and Potosi have brought about that
foolish pride and all the prejudices which degrade you.
Spaniards, when will the impulse come? when will you shake off that fatal
lethargy? Now you are truly useless to yourselves, and the rest of the
world; what is it you need?
A furious revolution, a terrible shock, a conquest of regeneration; your
case is past gentle methods, it needs the cautery and the fire.
The first call I paid was on Donna Pelliccia. The first performance was
to be given in two days. This was not a matter of any difficulty, as the
same operas were to be presented as had been already played at Aranjuez,
the Escurial, and the Granja, for the Count of Aranda would never have
dared to sanction the performance of an Italian comic opera at Madrid.
The novelty would have been too great, and the Inquisition would have
The balls were a considerable shock, and two years after they were
suppressed. Spain will never make any real advance, until the
Inquisition is suppressed also.
As soon as Donna Pelliccia arrived, she sent in the letter of
introduction she had received from the Duke of Arcos, three months
before. She had not seen the duke since their meeting at Aranjuez.
Madam," said Don Diego, the person to whom she was commended, "I have
come to offer you my services, and to tell you of the orders his grace
has laid on me, of which you may possibly be ignorant."
"I hope, sir," she replied, "that I am not putting you to any
inconvenience, but I am extremely grateful to the duke and to yourself;
and I shall have the honour of calling on you to give you my thanks."
"Not at all; I have only to say that I have orders to furnish you with
any sums you may require, to the amount of twenty-five thousand
"Twenty-five thousand doubloons?"
"Exactly, madam, two hundred and fifty thousand francs in French money,
and no more. Kindly read his grace's letter; you do not seem to be aware
of its contents."
The letter was a brief one:
"Don Diego,--You will furnish Donna Pelliccia with whatever sums she may
require, not exceeding twenty-five thousand doubloons, at my account.
"THE DUKE DOS ARCOS"
We remained in a state of perfect stupefaction. Donna Pelliccia returned
the epistle to the banker, who bowed and took his leave.
This sounds almost incredible generosity, but in Spain such things are
not uncommon. I have already mentioned the munificent gift of Medina-
Celi to Madame Pichona.
Those who are unacquainted with the peculiar Spanish character and the
vast riches of some of the nobility, may pronounce such acts of
generosity to be ridiculous and positively injurious, but they make a
mistake. The spendthrift gives and squanders by a kind of instinct, and
so he will continue to do as long as his means remain. But these
splendid gifts I have described do not come under the category of
senseless prodigality. The Spaniard is chiefly ambitious of praise, for
praise he will do anything; but this very desire for admiration serves to
restrain him from actions by which he would incur blame. He wants to be
thought superior to his fellows, as the Spanish nation is superior to all
other nations; he wants to be thought worthy of a throne, and to be
considered as the possessor of all the virtues.
I may also note that while some of the Spanish nobility are as rich as
the English lords, the former have not so many ways of spending their
money as the latter, and thus are enabled to be heroically generous on
As soon as Don Diego had gone, we began to discuss the duke's noble
Donna Pelliccia maintained that the duke had wished to shew his
confidence in her by doing her the honour of supposing her incapable of
abusing his generosity; "at all events," she concluded, "I would rather
die of hunger than take a single doubloon of Don Diego."
"The duke would be offended," said a violinist; "I think you ought to
"You must take it all," said the husband.
I was of the lady's opinion, and told her that I was sure the duke would
reward her delicacy by making her fortune.
She followed my advice and her own impulse, though the banker
remonstrated with her.
Such is the perversity of the human mind that no one believed in Donna
Pelliccia's delicacy. When the king heard what had happened he ordered
the worthy actress to leave Madrid, to prevent the duke ruining himself.
Such is often the reward of virtue here below, but the malicious persons
who had tried to injure Donna Pelliccia by calumniating her to the king
were the means of making her fortune.
The duke who had only spoken once or twice to the actress in public, and
had never spent a penny on her, took the king's command as an insult, and
one not to be borne. He was too proud to solicit the king to revoke the
order he had given, and in the end behaved in a way befitting so noble-
minded a man. For the first time he visited Donna Pelliccia at her own
house, and begging her to forgive him for having been the innocent cause
of her disgrace, asked her to accept a rouleau and a letter which he laid
on the table.
The rouleau contained a hundred gold ounces with the words "for
travelling expenses," and the letter was addressed to a Roman bank, and
proved to be an order for twenty-four thousand Roman crowns.
For twenty-nine years this worthy woman kept an establishment at Rome,
and did so in a manner which proved her worthy of her good fortune.
The day after Donna Pelliccia's departure the king saw the Duke of Arcos,
and told him not to be sad, but to forget the woman, who had been sent
away for his own good.
"By sending her away, your majesty obliged me to turn fiction into fact,
for I only knew her by speaking to her in various public places, and I
had never made her the smallest present."
"Then you never gave her twenty-five thousand doubloons?"
"Sire, I gave her double that sum, but only on the day before yesterday.
Your majesty has absolute power, but if she had not received her
dismissal I should never have gone to her house, nor should I have given
her the smallest present."
The king was stupefied and silent; he was probably meditating on the
amount of credit a monarch should give to the gossip that his courtiers
I heard about this from M. Monnino, who was afterwards known under the
title of Castille de Florida Blanca, and is now living in exile in
Murcia, his native country.
After Marescalchi had gone, and I was making my preparations for my
journey to Barcelona, I saw one day, at the bull fight, a woman whose
appearance had a strange kind of fascination about it.
There was a knight of Alcantara at my side, and I asked him who the lady
"She is the famous Nina."
"If you do not know her story, it is too long to be told here."
I could not help gazing at her, and two minutes later an ill-looking
fellow beside her came up to my companion and whispered something in his
The knight turned towards me and informed me in the most polite manner
that the lady whose name I had asked desired to know mine.
I was silly enough to be flattered by her curiosity, and told the
messenger that if the lady would allow me I would come to her box and
tell her my name in person after the performance.
"From your accent I should suppose you were an Italian."
"I am a Venetian."
"So is she."
When he had gone away my neighbour seemed inclined to be more
communicative, and informed me that Nina was a dancer whom the Count de
Ricla, the Viceroy of Barcelona, was keeping for some weeks at Valentia,
till he could get her back to Barcelona, whence the bishop of the diocese
had expelled her on account of the scandals to which she gave rise. "The
count," he added, "is madly in love with her, and allows her fifty
doubloons a day."
"I should hope she does not spend them."
"She can't do that, but she does not let a day pass without committing
some expensive act of folly."
I felt curious to know a woman of such a peculiar character, and longed
for the end of the bull fight, little thinking in what trouble this new
acquaintance would involve me.
She received me with great politeness, and as she got into her carriage
drawn by six mules, she said she would be delighted if I would breakfast
with her at nine o'clock on the following day.
I promised to come, and I kept my word.
Her house was just outside the town walls, and was a very large building.
It was richly and tastefully furnished, and was surrounded by an enormous
The first thing that struck me was the number of the lackeys and the
richness of their liveries, and the maids in elegant attire, who seemed
to be going and coming in all directions.
As I advanced I heard an imperious voice scolding some one.
The scold was Nina, who was abusing an astonished-looking man, who was
standing by a large table covered with stuffs and laces.
"Excuse me," said she, "but this fool of a Spaniard wants to persuade me
that this lace is really handsome."
She asked me what I thought of the lace, and though I privately thought
it lace of the finest quality, I did not care to contradict her, and so
replied that I was no judge.
"Madam," said the tradesman, "if you do not like the lace, leave it; will
you keep the stuffs?"
"Yes," she replied; "and as for the lace, I will shew you that it is not
the money that deters me."
So saying the mad girl took up a pair of scissors and cut the lace into
"What a pity!" said the man who had spoken to me at the bull fight.
"People will say that you have gone off your head."
"Be silent, you pimping rogue!" said she, enforcing her words with a
sturdy box on the ear.
The fellow went off, calling her strumpet, which only made her scream
with laughter; then, turning to the Spaniard, she told him to make out
his account directly.
The man did not want telling twice, and avenged himself for the abuse he
had received by the inordinate length of his bill.
She took up the account and placed her initials at the bottom without
deigning to look at the items, and said,--
"Go to Don Diego Valencia; he will pay you immediately."
As soon as we were alone the chocolate was served, and she sent a message
to the fellow whose ears she had boxed to come to breakfast directly.
"You needn't be surprised at my way of treating him," she said. "He's a
rascal whom Ricla has placed in my house to spy out my actions, and I
treat him as you have seen, so that he may have plenty of news to write
to his master."
I thought I must be dreaming; such a woman seemed to me beyond the limits
of the possible.
The poor wretch, who came from Bologna and was a musician by profession,
came and sat down with us without a word. His name was Molinari.
As soon as he had finished his breakfast he left the room, and Nina spent
an hour with me talking about Spain, Italy, and Portugal, where she had
married a dancer named Bergonzi.
"My father," she said, "was the famous charlatan Pelandi; you may have
known him at Venice."
After this piece of confidence (and she did not seem at all ashamed of
her parentage) she asked me to sup with her, supper being her favourite
meal. I promised to come, and I left her to reflect on the extraordinary
character of the woman, and on the good fortune which she so abused.
Nina was wonderfully beautiful; but as it has always been my opinion that
mere beauty does not go for much, I could not understand how a viceroy
could have fallen in love with her to such an extent. As for Molinari,
after which I had seen, I could only set him down as an infamous wretch.
I went to supper with her for amusement's sake, for, with all her beauty,
she had not touched my heart in the slightest degree. It was at the
beginning of October, but at Valentia the thermometer marked twenty
degrees Reaumur in the shade.
Nina was walking in the garden with her companion, both of them being
very lightly clad; indeed, Nina had only her chemise and a light
As soon as she saw me she came up and begged me to follow their example
in the way of attire, but I begged to be excused. The presence of that
hateful fellow revolted me in the highest degree.
In the interval before supper Nina entertained me with a number of
lascivious anecdotes of her experiences from the time she began her
present mode of living up to the age of twenty-two, which was her age
If it had not been for the presence of the disgusting Argus, no doubt all
these stories would have produced their natural effect on me; but as it
was they had none whatever.
We had a delicate supper and ate with appetite, and after it was over I
would have gladly left them; but Nina would not let me go. The wine had
taken effect, and she wished to have a little amusement.
After all the servants had been dismissed, this Messalina ordered
Molinari to strip naked, and she then began to treat him in a manner
which I cannot describe without disgust.
The rascal was young and strong, and, though he was drunk, Nina's
treatment soon placed him in a hearty condition. I could see that she
wished me to play my part in the revels, but my disgust had utterly
deprived me of all my amorous faculties.
Nina, too, had undressed, and seeing that I viewed the orgy coldly she
proceeded to satiate her desires by means of Molinari.
I had to bear with the sight of this beautiful woman coupling herself
with an animal, whose only merit lay in his virile monstrosity, which she
no doubt regarded as a beauty.
When she had exhausted her amorous fury she threw herself into a bath,
then came back, drank a bottle of Malmsey Madeira, and finally made her
brutal lover drink till he fell on to the floor.
I fled into the next room, not being able to bear it any longer, but she
followed me. She was still naked, and seating herself beside me on an
ottoman she asked me how I had enjoyed the spectacle.
I told her boldy that the disgust with which her wretched companion had
inspired me was so great that it had utterly annulled the effect of her
"That may be so, but now he is not here, and yet you do nothing. One
would not think it, to look at you."
"You are right, for I have my feelings like any other man, but he has
disgusted me too much. Wait till tomorrow, and let me not see that
monster so unworthy of enjoying you."
"He does not enjoy me. If I thought he did I would rather die than let
him have to do with me, for I detest him."
"What! you do not love him, and yet you make use of him in the way you
"Yes, just as I might use a mechanical instrument."
In this woman I saw an instance of the depths of degradation to which
human nature may be brought.
She asked me to sup with her on the following day, telling me that we
would be alone, as Molinari would be ill.
"He will have got over the effects of the wine."
"I tell you he will be ill. Come to-morrow, and come every evening."
"I am going the day after to-morrow."
"You will not go for a week, and then we will go together."
"If you go you will insult me beyond bearing."
I went home with my mind made up to depart without having anything more
to do with her; and though I was far from inexperienced in wickedness of
all kinds, I could not help feeling astonished at the unblushing
frankness of this Megaera, who had told me what I already knew, but in
words that I had never heard a woman use before.
"I only use him to satisfy my desires, and because I am certain that he
does not love me; if I thought he did I would rather die than allow him
to do anything with me, for I detest him."
The next day I went to her at seven o'clock in the evening. She received
me with an air of feigned melancholy, saying,--
"Alas! we shall have to sup alone; Molinari has got the colic."
"You said he would be ill; have you poisoned him?"
"I am quite capable of doing so, but I hope I never shall."
"But you have given him something?"
"Only what he likes himself; but we will talk of that again. Let us sup
and play till to-morrow, and tomorrow evening we will begin again."
"I am going away at seven o'clock to-morrow."
"No, no, you are not; and your coachman will have no cause for complaint,
for he has been paid; here is the receipt."
These remarks, delivered with an air of amorous despotism, flattered my
vanity. I made up my mind to submit gaily, called her wanton, and said I
was not worth the pains she was taking over me.
"What astonishes me," said I, "is that with this fine house you do not
care to entertain company."
"Everybody is afraid to come; they fear Ricla's jealousy, for it is well
known that that animal who is now suffering from the colic tells him
everything I do. He swears that it is not so, but I know him to be a
liar. Indeed, I am very glad he does write to Ricla, and only wish he
had something of real importance to write about."
"He will tell him that I have supped alone with you."
"All the better; are you afraid?"
"No; but I think you ought to tell me if I have anything really to fear."
"Nothing at all; it will fall on me."
"But I should not like to involve you in a dispute which might be
prejudicial to your interests."
"Not at all; the more I provoke him, the better he loves me, and I will
make him pay dearly when he asks me to make it up."
"Then you don't love him?"
"Yes, to ruin him; but he is so rich that there doesn't seem much hope of
my ever doing that."
Before me I saw a woman as beautiful as Venus and as degraded as Lucifer;
a woman most surely born to be the ruin of anyone who had the misfortune
to fall in love with her. I had known women of similar character, but
never one so dangerous as she.
I determined to make some money out of her if I could.
She called for cards, and asked me to play with her at a game called
primiera. It is a game of chance, but of so complicated a nature that
the best player always wins. In a quarter of an hour I found that I was
the better player, but she had such luck that at the end of the game I
had lost twenty pistoles, which I paid on the spot. She took the money,
promising to give me my revenge.
We had supper, and then we committed all the wantonness she wished and I
was capable of performing, for with me the age of miracles was past.
The next day I called to see her earlier in the evening. We played
again; and she lost, and went on losing evening after evening, till I had
won a matter of two or three hundred doubloons, no unwelcome addition to
my somewhat depleted purse.
The spy recovered from his colic and supped with us every evening, but
his presence no longer interfered with my pleasure since Nina had ceased
to prostitute herself to him in my presence. She did the opposite;
giving herself to me, and telling him to write to the Comte de Ricla
whatever he liked.
The count wrote her a letter which she gave me to read. The poor love-
sick viceroy informed her that she might safely return to Barcelona, as
the bishop had received an order from the Court to regard her as merely
au actress, whose stay in his diocese would only be temporary; she would
thus be allowed to live there in peace so long as she abstained from
giving cause for scandal. She told me that whilst she was at Barcelona I
could only see her after ten o'clock at night, when the count always left
her. She assured me that I should run no risk whatever.
Possibly I should not have stayed at Barcelona at all if Nina had not
told me that she would always be ready to lend me as much money as I
She asked me to leave Valentia a day before her, and to await her at
Tarragona. I did so, and spent a very pleasant day in that town, which
abounds in remains of antiquity.
I ordered a choice supper according to her instructions, and took care
that she should have a separate bedroom so as to avoid any scandal.
She started in the morning begging me to wait till the evening, and to
travel by night so as to reach Barcelona by day-time. She told me to put
up at the "Santa Maria," and not to call till I had heard from her.
I followed all the directions given me by this curious woman, and found
myself comfortably lodged at Barcelona. My landlord was a Swiss who told
me in confidence that he had received instructions to treat me well, and
that I had only to ask for what I wanted.
We shall see soon what was the result of all this.
My Imprudence--Passano--I Am Imprisoned--My Departure from Barcelona--
Madame Castelbajac at Montpellier--Nimes--I Arrive at Aix
Although my Swiss landlord seemed an honest and trustworthy kind of man,
I could not help thinking that Nina had acted very imprudently in
commending me to him. She was the viceroy's mistress; and though the
viceroy might be a very agreeable man, he was a Spaniard, and not likely
to be easy-going in his love affairs. Nina herself had told me that he
was ardent, jealous, and suspicious. But the mischief was done, and
there was no help for it.
When I got up my landlord brought me a valet de place, for whose
character he said he could answer, and he then sent up an excellent
dinner. I had slept till three o'clock in the afternoon.
After dinner I summoned my host, and asked him whether Nina had told him
to get me a servant. He answered in the affirmative, and added that a
carriage was awaiting my commands at the door; it had been taken by the
"I am astonished to hear it, for no one but myself can say what I can
afford or not."
"Sir, everything is paid for."
"Paid for! I will not have it!"
"You can settle that with her, but I shall certainly take no payment."
I saw dangers ahead, but as I have never cared to cherish forbodings I
dismissed the idea.
I had a letter of introduction from the Marquis de las Moras to Don
Miguel de Cevallos, and another from Colonel Royas to Don Diego de la
Secada. I took my letters, and the next day Don Diego came to see me,
and took me to the Comte de Peralda. The day after Don Miguel introduced
me to the Comte de Ricla, Viceroy of Catalonia, and the lover of Nina.
The Comte de Peralada was a young man with a pleasant face but with an
ill-proportioned body. He was a great debauchee and lover of bad
company, an enemy of religion, morality, and law. He was directly
descended from the Comte de Peralada, who served Philip II. so well that
this king declared him "count by the grace of God." The original patent
of nobility was the first thing I saw in his antechamber, where it was
framed and glazed so that all visitors might see it in the quarter of an
hour they were kept waiting.
The count received me with an easy and cordiale manner, which seemed to
say that he renounced all the dignities of his rank. He thanked Don
Diego for introducing me, and talked a good deal about Colonel Royas. He
asked me if I had seen the English girl he was keeping at Saragossa, and
on my replying in the affirmative, he told me in a whisper that he had
slept with her.
He took me to his stables, where he had some splendid horses, and then
asked me to dine with him the next day.
The viceroy received me in a very different manner; he stood up so that
he might not have to offer me a chair, and though I spoke Italian, with
which language I knew him to be well acquainted, he answered me in
Spanish, styling me 'ussia' (a contraction of 'vuestra senoria', your
lordship, and used by everyone in Spain), while I gave him his proper
title of excellence.
He talked a good deal about Madrid, and complained that M. de Mocenigo
had gone to Paris by Bayonne instead of Barcelona, as he had promised
I tried to excuse my ambassador by saying that by taking the other route
he had saved fifty leagues of his journey, but the viceroy replied that
'tenir la palabra' (keeping to one's words) comes before all else.
He asked me if I thought of staying long at Barcelona, and seemed
surprised when I told him that, with his leave, I hoped to make a long
"I hope you will enjoy yourself," he said, "but I must warn you that if
you indulge in the pleasures which my nephew Peralada will doubtless
offer you, you will not enjoy a very good reputation at Barcelona."
As the Comte de Ricla made this observation in public, I thought myself
justified in communicating it to Peralada himself. He was delighted, and
told me, with evident vanity, that he had gone to Madrid three times, and
had been ordered to return to Catalonia on each occasion.
I thought my best plan would be to follow the viceroy's indirect advice,
so I refused to join in any of the little parties of pleasure which
On the fifth day after my arrival, an officer came to ask me to dinner at
the viceroy's. I accepted the invitation with much pleasure, for I had
been afraid of the viceroy's having heard of my relations with Nina, and
thought it possible that he might have taken a dislike to me. He was
very pleasant to me at dinner, often addressing his observations to me,
but always in a tone of great gravity.
I had been in Barcelona for a week, and was beginning to wonder why I had
not heard from Nina; but one evening she wrote me a note, begging me to
come on foot and alone to her house at ten o'clock the same night.
If I had been wise I should not have gone, for I was not in love with the
woman, and should have remembered the respect due to the viceroy; but I
was devoid of all wisdom and prudence. All the misfortunes I have
experienced in my long life never taught me those two most necessary
At the hour she had named I called on her, wearing my great coat, and
with a sword for my only weapon. I found Nina with her sister, a woman
of thirty-six or thereabouts, who was married to an Italian dancer,
nicknamed Schizza, because he had a flatter nose than any Tartar.
Nina had just been supping with her lover, who had left her at ten
o'clock, according to his invariable custom.
She said she was delighted to hear I had been to dinner with him, as she
had herself spoken to him in my praise, saying how admirably I had kept
her company at Valentia.
"I am glad to hear it, but I do not think you are wise in inviting me to
your house at such late hours."
"I only do so to avoid scandal amongst my neighbours."
"In my opinion my coming so late is only likely to increase the
probability of scandal, and to make your viceroy jealous."
"He will never hear of your coming."
"I think you are mistaken."
I went away at midnight, after a conversation of the most decent
character. Her sister did not leave us for a moment, and Nina gave her
no cause to suspect the intimacy of our relations.
I went to see her every evening, without encroaching on the count's
preserves. I thought myself secure, but the following warning should
have made me desist if I had not been carried away by the forces of
destiny and obstinacy in combination.
An officer in the Walloon Guards accosted me one day as I was walking by
myself just outside the town. He begged me in the most polite manner to
excuse him if he spoke on a matter which was indifferent to him but of
great consequence to me.
"Speak, sir," I replied, "I will take whatever you say in good part."
"Very good. You are a stranger, sir, and may not be acquainted with our
Spanish manners, consequently you are unaware of the great risk you run
in going to see Nina every evening after the count has left her."
"What risk do I run? I have no doubt that the count knows all about it
and does not object."
"I have no doubt as to his knowing it, and he may possibly pretend to
know nothing before her, as he fears as well as loves her; but if she
tells you that he does not object, she either deceives herself or you.
He cannot love her without being jealous, and a jealous Spaniard . . .
"Follow my advice, sir, and forgive my freedom."
"I am sincerely obliged to you for your kind interest in me, but I cannot
follow your advice, as by doing so I should be wanting in politeness to
Nina, who likes to see me and gives me a warm welcome. I shall continue
to visit her till she orders me not to do so, or till the count signifies
to me his displeasure at my visits to his mistress."
"The count will never do such a thing; he is too careful of his dignity."
The worthy officer then narrated to me all the acts of injustice which
Ricla had committed since he had fallen in love with this woman. He had
dismissed gentlemen from his service on the mere suspicion that they were
in love with her; some had been exiled, and others imprisoned on one
frivolous pretext or another. Before he had known Nina he had been a
pattern of wisdom, justice, and virtue, and now he had become unjust,
cruel, blindly passionate, and in every way a scandal to the high
position he occupied.
All this should have influenced me, but it had not the slightest effect.
I told him for politeness' sake that I would endeavour to part from her
by degrees, but I had no intention of doing so.
When I asked him how he knew that I visited Nina, he laughed and said it
was a common topic of conversation all over the town.
The same evening I called on her without mentioning my conversation with
the officer. There would have been some excuse for me if I had been in
love with her, but as it was . . . I acted like a madman.
On the 14th of November I went to see her at the usual time. I found her
with a man who was shewing her miniatures. I looked at him and found
that he was the scoundrel Passano, or Pogomas.
My blood boiled; I took Nina's hand and led her into a neighbouring room,
and told her to dismiss the rogue at once, or I would go to return no
"He's a painter."
"I am well acquainted with his history, and will tell you all about it
presently; but send him away, or I shall go."
She called her sister, and told her to order the Genoese to leave the
house and never to enter it again.
The thing was 'done in a moment, but the sister told us that as he went
out he had said,--
"Se ne pentira" ("He shall be sorry for it").
I occupied an hour in relating some of the injuries I had received from
this scoundrelly fellow.
The next day (November 15th), I went to Nina at the usual time, and after
spending two hours in pleasant converse with her and her sister I went
out as the clocks were striking midnight.
The door of the house was under an arcade, which extended to the end of
the street. It was a dark night; and I had scarcely gone twenty-five
paces when two men suddenly rushed at me.
I stepped back, drawing my sword, and exclaiming, "Assassins!" and then
with a rapid movement, I thrust my blade into the body of the nearest
assailant. I then left the arcade, and began to run down the street.
The second assassin fired a pistol at me, but it fortunately missed me.
I fell down and dropped my hat in my rapid flight, and got up and
continued my course without troubling to pick it up. I did not know
whether I was wounded or not, but at last I got to my inn, and laid down
the bloody sword on the counter, under the landlord's nose. I was quite
out of breath.
I told the landlord what had happened, and on taking off my great coat, I
found it to be pierced in two places just below the armpit.
"I am going to bed," I said to the landlord, "and I leave my great coat
and the sword in your charge. Tomorrow morning I shall ask you to come
with me before the magistrate to denounce this act of assassination, for
if the man was killed it must be shewn that I only slew him to save my
"I think your best plan would be to fly Barcelona immediately."
"Then you think I have not told you the strict truth?"
"I am sure you have; but I know whence the blow comes, and God knows what
will befall you!"
"Nothing at all; but if I fly I shall be accounted guilty. Take care of
the sword; they tried to assassinate me, but I think the assassins got
the worst of it."
I went to bed somewhat perturbed, but I had the consoling thought that if
I had killed a man I had done so to self-defence; my conscience was quite
At seven o'clock the next morning I heard a knocking at my door. I
opened it, and saw my landlord, accompanied by an officer, who told me to
give him all my papers, to dress, and to follow him, adding that he
should be compelled to use force in case of resistance.
"I have no intention of resisting," I replied. "By whose authority do
you ask me for my papers?"
"By the authority of the governor. They will be returned to you if
nothing suspicious is found amongst them."
"Where are you going to take me?"
"To the citadel."
I opened my trunk, took out my linen and my clothes, which I gave to my
landlord, and I saw the officer's astonishment at seeing my trunk half
filled with papers.
"These are all the papers I have," I said. I locked the box and gave the
officer the key.
"I advise you, sir," he said, "to put all necessary articles into a
portmanteau." He then ordered the landlord to send me a bed, and finally
asked me if I had any papers in my pockets.
"Only my passports."
"That's exactly what we want," he rejoined, with a grim smile.
"My passports are sacred; I will never give them to anyone but the
governor-general. Reverence your king; here is his passport, here is
that of the Count of Aranda, and here the passport of the Venetian
ambassador. You will have to bind me hand and foot before you get them."
"Be more moderate, sir. In giving them to me it is just as if you gave
them to the viceroy. If you resist I will not bind you hand and foot,
but I shall take you before the viceroy, and then you will be forced to
give them up in public. Give them to me with a good grace, and you shall
have an acknowledgement."
The worthy landlord told me I should be wiser to give in, so I let myself
be persuaded. The officer gave me a full quittance, which I put in my
pocketbook (this he let me keep out of his kindness), and then I followed
him. He had six constables with him, but they kept a good distance away.
Comparing this with the circumstances of my arrest at Madrid, I thought
myself well treated.
Before we left the inn the officer told me that I might order what meals
I pleased, and I asked the landlord to let me have my dinner and supper
On the way I told him of my adventure of the night before; he listened
attentively but made no comments.
When we reached the citadel I was delivered to the officer of the guard,
who gave me a room on the first floor. It was bare of furniture, but the
windows looked on to a square and had no iron bars.
I had scarcely been there ten minutes when my carpet bag and an excellent
bed were brought in.
As soon as I was alone I began to think over the situation. I finished
where I ought to have begun.
"What can this imprisonment have to do with my last night's adventure?" I
I could not make out the connection.
"They are bent on examining my papers; they must think I have been
tampering in some political or religious intrigue; but my mind is quite
at ease on that score. I am well lodged at present, and no doubt shall
be set free after my papers have been examined; they can find nothing
against me there.
"The affair of my attempted assassination will, no doubt, be considered
"Even if the rascal is dead, I do not see what they can do to me.
"On the other hand, my landlord's advice to fly from Barcelona looks
ominous; what if the assassins received their orders from some person
high in authority?
"It is possible that Ricla may have vowed my ruin, but it does not seem
probable to me.
"Would it have been wise to follow the landlord's advice?
"Possibly, but I do not think so; my honour would have suffered, and I
might have been caught and laid up in some horrid dungeon, whereas for a
prison I am comfortable enough here.
"In three or four days the examination of my papers will have been
completed, and as there is nothing in them likely to be offensive to the
powers that be, they will be returned to me with my liberty, which will
taste all the sweeter for this short deprivation.
"As for my passports they all speak in my favour.
"I cannot think that the all-powerful hand of the viceroy could have
directed the assassin's sword; it would be a dishonour to him, and if it
were so, he would not be treating me so kindly now. If it were his
doing, he must have heard directly that the blow had failed, and in that
case I do not think he would have arrested me this morning.
"Shall I write to Nina? Will writing be allowed here?"
As I was puzzling my brains with these reflections, stretched on my bed
(for I had no chair), I heard some disturbance, and on opening my window
I saw, to my great astonishment, Passano being brought into the prison by
a corporal and two soldiers. As he was going in, the rascal looked up
and saw me, and began to laugh.
"Alas!" I said to myself, "here is fresh food for conjecture. The fellow
told Nina's sister that I should be sorry for what I had done. He must
have directed some fearful calumny against me, and they are imprisoning
him so as to be sure of his evidence."
On reflection, I was well pleased at the turn affairs had taken.
An excellent dinner was set before me, but I had no chair or table. The
deficiency was remedied by the soldier who was in charge of me for the
consideration of a duro.
Prisoners were not allowed to have pen and ink without special
permission; but paper and pencils were not included under this
regulation, so my guard got them for me, together with candles and
candlesticks, and I proceeded to kill time by making geometrical
calculations. I made the obliging soldier sup with me, and he promised
to commend me to one of his comrades who would serve me well. The guard
was relieved at eleven.
On the fourth day the officer of the guard came to me with a distressed
look, and told me that he had the disagreeable duty of giving me some
very bad news.
"What is that, sir?"
"I have received orders to transfer you to the bottom of the tower."
"To transfer me?"
"Then they must have discovered in me a criminal of the deepest dye! Let
us go at once."
I found myself in a kind of round cellar, paved with large flagstones,
and lighted by five or six narrow slits in the walls. The officer told
me I must order what food required to be brought once a day, as no one
was allowed to come into the 'calabozo', or dungeon, by night.
"How about lights?"
"You may lave one lamp always burning, and that will be enough, as books
are not allowed. When your dinner is brought, the officer on duty will
open the pies and the poultry to see that they do not contain any
documents; for here no letters are allowed to come in or go out."
"Have these orders been given for my especial benefit?"
"No, sir; it is the ordinary rule. You will be able to converse with the
"The door will be open, then?"
"Not at all."
"How about the cleanliness of my cell?"
"A soldier will accompany the officer in charge of your dinner, and he
will attend to your wants for a trifle."
"May I amuse myself by making architectural plans with the pencil?"
"As much as you like."
"Then will you be good enough to order some paper to be bought for me?"
The officer seemed to pity me as he left me, and bolted and barred the
heavy door behind which I saw a man standing sentry with his bayonet
fixed. The door was fitted with a small iron grating.
When I got my paper and my dinner at noonday the officer cut open a fowl,
and plunged a fork in the other dishes so as to make sure that there were
no papers at the bottom.
My dinner would have sufficed for six people. I told the officer that I
should be much honoured by his dining with me, but he replied that it was
strictly forbidden. He gave me the same answer when I asked if I might
have the newspapers.
It was a festival time for the sentinels, as I shared my meals and my
good wine with them; and consequently these poor fellows were firmly
attached to me.
I was curious to know who was paying for my good cheer, but there was no
chance of my finding out, for the waiter from the inn was never allowed
to approach my cell.
In this dungeon, where I was imprisoned for forty-two days, I wrote in
pencil and without other reference than my memory, my refutation of
Amelot de la Houssaye's "History of the Venetian Government."
I was most heartily amused during my imprisonment, and in the following
While I was at Warsaw an Italian named Tadini came to Warsaw. He had an
introduction to Tomatis who commended him to me. He called himself an
oculist. Tomatis used to give him a dinner now and again, but not being
well off in those days I could only give him good words and a cup of
coffee when he chanced to come about my breakfast-time.
Tadini talked to everybody about the operations he had performed, and
condemned an oculist who had been at Warsaw for twenty years, saying that
he did not understand how to extract a cataract, while the other oculist
said that Tadini was a charlatan who did not know how the eye was made.
Tadini begged me to speak in his favour to a lady who had had a cataract
removed by the Warsaw oculist, only to return again a short time after
The lady was blind of the one eye, but she could see with the other, and
I told Tadini that I did not care to meddle with such a delicate matter.
"I have spoken to the lady," said Tadini, "and I have mentioned your name
as a person who will answer for me."
"You have done wrong; in such a matter I would not stand surety for the
most learned of men, and I know nothing about your learning."
"But you know I am an oculist."
"I know you were introduced to me as such, but that's all. As a
professional man, you should not need anyone's commendation, you should
be able to say, 'Operibus credite'. That should be your motto."
Tadini was vexed with my incredulity, and shewed me a number of
testimonials, which I might possibly have read, if the first which met my
eye had not been from a lady who protested to all and singular that
M. Tadini had cured her of amaurosis. At this I laughed in his face and
told him to leave me alone.
A few days after I found myself dining with him at the house of the lady
with the cataract. She had almost made up her mind to submit to the
operation, but as the rascal had mentioned my name, she wanted me to be
present at a dispute between Tadini and the other oculist who came in
with the dessert.
I disposed myself to listen to the arguments of the two rival professors
with considerable pleasure. The Warsaw oculist was a German, but spoke
French very well; however, he attacked Tadini in Latin. The Italian
checked him by saying that their discourse must be conducted in a
language intelligible to the lady, and I agreed with him. It was plain
that Tadini did not know a word of Latin.
The German oculist began by admitting that after the operation for
cataract there was no chance of the disease returning, but that there was
a considerable risk of the crystalline humour evaporating, and the
patient being left in a state of total blindness.
Tadini, instead of denying this statement (which was inaccurate), had the
folly to take a little box out of his pocket. It contained a number of
minute round crystals.
"What's that?" said the old professor.
"A substance which I can place in the cornea to supply the loss of the
The German went off into a roar of laughter so long and loud that the
lady could not help laughing. I should have liked to join them, but I
was ashamed to be thought the patron of this ignorant fellow, so I
preserved a gloomy silence.
Tadini no doubt interpreted my silence as a mark of disapproval of the
German's laughter, and thought to better matters by asking me to give my
"As you want to hear it," said I, "here it is."
"There's a great difference between a tooth and the crystalline humour;
and though you may have succeeded in putting an artificial tooth into a
gum, this treatment will not do with the eye."
"Sir, I am not a dentist."
"No, nor an oculist either."
At this the ignorant rascal got up and left the room, and it was
decidedly the best thing he could do.
We laughed over this new treatment, and the lady promised to have nothing
more to do with him. The professor was not content to despise his
opponent in silence. He had him cited before the Faculty of Medicine to
be examined on his knowledge of the eye, and procured the insertion of a
satiric article in the news on the new operation for replacing the
crystalline humour, alluding to the wonderful artist then in Warsaw who
could perform this operation as easily as a dentist could put in a false
This made Tadini furious, and he set upon the old professor in the street
and forced him to the refuge in a house.
After this he no doubt left the town on foot, for he was seen no more.
Now the reader is in a position to understand my surprise and amusement,
when, one day as I peered through the grating in my dungeon, I saw the
oculist Tadini standing over me with gun in hand. But he at all events
evinced no amusement whatever, while I roared and roared again with
laughter for the two hours his duty lasted.
I gave him a good meal and a sufficiency of my excellent wine, and at the
end a crown, promising that he should have the same treatment every time
he returned to the post. But I only saw him four times, as the guard at
my cell was a position eagerly coveted and intrigued for by the other
He amused me by the story of his misadventures since he had left Warsaw.
He had travelled far and wide without making a fortune, and at last
arrived in Barcelona, where he failed to meet with any courtesy or
consideration. He had no introduction, no diploma; he had refused to
submit to an examination in the Latin tongue, because (as he said) there
was no connection between the learned languages and the diseases of the
eye; and the result was that, instead of the common fate of being ordered
to leave the country, he was made into a soldier. He told me in
confidence that he intended to desert, but he said he should take care to
avoid the galleys.
"What have you done with your crystals?"
"I have renounced them since I left Warsaw, though I am sure they would
I never heard of him again.
On December 28th, six weeks after my arrest, the officer of the guard
came to my cell and told me to dress and follow him.
"Where are we going?"
"I am about to deliver you to an officer of the viceroy, who is waiting."
I dressed hastily, and after placing all my belongings in a portmanteau I
followed him. We went to the guardroom, and there I was placed under the
charge of the officer who had arrested me, who took me to the palace.
There a Government official shewed me my trunk, telling me that I should
find all my papers intact; and he then returned me my three passports,
with the remark that they were genuine documents.
"I knew that all along."
"I suppose so, but we had reasons for doubting their authenticity."
"They must have been strange reasons, for, as you now confess, these
reasons were devoid of reason."
"You must be aware that I cannot reply to such an objection."
"I don't ask you to do so."
"Your character is perfectly clear; all the same I must request you to
leave Barcelona in three days, and Catalonia in a week."
"Of course I will obey; but it strikes me that the Catalonian method of
repairing injustice is somewhat peculiar."
"If you think you have ground for complaint you are at liberty to go to
Madrid and complain to the Court."
"I have certainly grounds enough for complaint, sir, but I shall go to
France, and not to Madrid; I have had enough of Spanish justice. Will
you please give me the order to leave in writing?"
"That's unnecessary; you may take it for granted. My name is Emmanuel
Badillo; I am a secretary of state. That gentleman will escort you back
to the room where you were arrested. You will find everything just as
you have left it. You are a free man. To-morrow I will send you your
passport, signed by the viceroy and myself. Good day, sir."
Accompanied by the officer and a servant bearing my portmanteau, I
proceeded to my old inn.
On my way I saw a theatrical poster, and decided to go to the opera.
The good landlord was delighted to see me again, and hastened to light me
a fire, for a bitterly cold north wind was blowing. He assured me that
no one but himself had been in my room, and in the officer's presence he
gave me back my sword, my great coat, and, to my astonishment, the hat I
had dropped in my flight from the assassins.
The officer asked me if I had any complaints to make, and I replied that
I had none.
"I should like to hear you say that I had done nothing but my duty, and
that personally I have not done you any injury."
I shook his hand, and assured him of my esteem.
"Farewell, sir," said he, "I hope you will have a pleasant journey."
I told my landlord that I would dine at noon, and that I trusted to him
to celebrate my liberation in a fitting manner, and then I went to the
post office to see if there were any letters for me. I found five or six
letters, with the seals intact, much to my astonishment. What is one to
make of a Government which deprives a man of his liberty on some trifling
pretext, and, though seizing all his papers, respects the privacy of his
letters? But Spain, as I have remarked, is peculiar in every way.
These letters were from Paris, Venice, Warsaw, and Madrid, and I have
never had any reason to believe that any other letters had come for me
during my imprisonment.
I went back to my inn, and asked my landlord to bring the bill.
"You do not owe me anything, sir. Here is your bill for the period
preceding your imprisonment, and, as you see, it has been settled. I
also received orders from the same source to provide for you during your
imprisonment, and as long as you stayed at Barcelona."
"Did you know how long I should remain in prison?"
"No, I was paid by the week."
"Who paid you?"
"You know very well."
"Have you had any note for me?"
"Nothing at all."
"What has become of the valet de place?"
"I paid him, and sent him away immediately after your arrest."
"I should like to have him with me as far as Perpignan."
"You are right, and I think the best thing you can do is to leave Spain
altogether, for you will find no justice in it."
"What do they say about my assassination?"
"Why, they say you fired the shot that people heard yourself, and that
you made your own sword bloody, for no one was found there, either dead
"That's an amusing theory. Where did my hat come from?"
"It was brought to me three days after."
"What a confusion! But was it known that I was imprisoned in the tower?"
"Everybody knew it, and two good reasons were given, the one in public,
and the other in private."
"What are these reasons?"
"The public reason was that you had forged your passports; the private
one, which was only whispered at the ear, was that you spent all your
nights with Nina."
"You might have sworn that I never slept out of your inn."
"I told everyone as much, but no matter; you did go to her house, and for
a certain nobleman that's a crime. I am glad you did not fly as I
advised you, for as it is your character is cleared before everybody."
"I should like to go to the opera this evening; take me a box."
"It shall be done; but do not have anything more to do with Nina, I
"No, my good friend, I have made up my mind to see her no more."
Just as I was sitting down to dinner, a banker's clerk brought me a
letter which pleased me very much. It contained the bills of exchange I
had drawn in Genoa, in favour of M. Augustin Grimaldi. He now sent them
back, with these words:
"Passano has been vainly endeavouring to persuade me to send these bills
to Barcelona, so that they may be protested, and you arrested. I now
send them to you to convince you that I am not one of those who delight
in trampling down the victims of bad fortune.
"--Genoa, November 30th, 1768."
For the fourth time a Genoese had behaved most generously to me. I was
almost persuaded that I ought to forgive the infamous Passano for the
sake of his four excellent fellow-countrymen.
But this virtue was a little beyond me. I concluded that the best thing
I could do would be to rid the Genoese name of the opprobrium which this
rascal was always bringing on it, but I could never find an opportunity.
Some years after I heard that the wretch died in miserable poverty in
I was curious at the time to know what had become of him, as it was
important for me to be on my guard. I confided my curiosity to my
landlord, and he instructed one of the servants to make enquiries. I
only heard the following circumstance:
Ascanio Pogomas, or Passano, had been released at the end of November,
and had then been embarked on a felucca bound for Toulon.
The same day I wrote a long and grateful letter to M. Grimaldi. I had
indeed reason to be grateful, for if he had listened to my enemy he might
have reduced me to a state of dreadful misery.
My landlord had taken the box at the opera in my name, and two hours
afterwards, to everyone's great astonishment, the posters announcing the
plays of the evening were covered by bills informing the public that two
of the performers had been taken ill, that the play would not be given,
and the theatre closed till the second day of the new year.
This order undoubtedly came from the viceroy, and everybody knew the
I was sorry to have deprived the people of Barcelona of the only
amusement they had in the evening, and resolved to stay indoors, thinking
that would be the most dignified course I could adopt.
'Amor che fa gentile un cor villano'.
If he had known the lover of Nina he would have changed the line into
'Amor che fa villan un cor gentile'.
In four months I shall be able to throw some more light on this strange
I should have left Barcelona the same day, but a slight tinge of
superstition made me desire to leave on the last day of the unhappy year
I had spent in Spain. I therefore spent my three days of grace in
writing letters to all my friends.
Don Miguel de Cevallos, Don Diego de la Secada, and the Comte de la
Peralada came to see me, but separately. Don Diego de la Secada was the
uncle of the Countess A---- B---- whom I had met at Milan. These
gentlemen told me a tale as strange as any of the circumstances which had
happened to me at Barcelona.
On the 26th of December the Abbe Marquisio, the envoy of the Duke of
Modena, asked the viceroy, before a considerable number of people, if he
could pay me a visit, to give me a letter which he could place in no
hands but mine. If not he said he should be obliged to take the letter
to Madrid, for which town he was obliged to set out the next day.
The count made no answer, to everyone's astonishment, and the abbe left
for Madrid the next day, the eve of my being set at liberty.
I wrote to the abbe, who was unknown to me, but I never succeeded in
finding out the truth about this letter.
There could be no doubt that I had been arrested by the despotic viceroy,
who had been persuaded by Nina that I was her favoured lover. The
question of my passports must have been a mere pretext, for eight or ten
days would have sufficed to send them to Madrid and have them back again
if their authenticity had been doubted. Possibly Passano might have told
the viceroy that any passports of mine were bound to be false, as I
should have had to obtain the signature of my own ambassador. This, he
might have said, was out of the question as I was in disgrace with the
Venetian Government. As a matter of fact, he was mistaken if he really
said so, but the mistake would have been an excusable one.
When I made up my mind at the end of August to leave Madrid, I asked the
Count of Aranda for a passport. He replied that I must first obtain one
from my ambassador, who, he added, could not refuse to do me this
Fortified with this opinion I called at the embassy. M. Querini was at
San Ildefonso at the time, and I told the porter that I wanted to speak
to the secretary of embassy.
The servant sent in my name, and the fop gave himself airs, and pretended
that he could not receive me. In my indignation I wrote to him saying
that I had not called to pay my court to the secretary, but to demand a
passport which was my right. I gave my name and my degree (doctor of
law), and begged him to leave the passport with the porter, as I should
call for it on the following day.
I presented myself accordingly, and the porter told me that the
ambassador had left verbal orders that I was not to have a passport.
I wrote immediately to the Marquis Grimaldi and to the Duke of Lossada,
begging them to request the ambassador to send me a passport in the usual
form, or else I should publish the shameful reasons for which his uncle
Mocenigo had disgraced me.
I do not know whether these gentlemen shewed my letters to Querini, but I
do know that the secretary Oliviera sent me my passport.
Thereupon the Count Aranda furnished me with a passport signed by the
On the last day of the year I left Barcelona with a servant who sat
behind my chaise, and I agreed with my driver to take me to Perpignan by
January 3rd, 1769.
The driver was a Piedmontese and a worthy man: The next day he came into
the room of the wayside inn where I was dining, and in the presence of my
man asked me whether I had any suspicion that I was being followed.
"Well, I may be," I said, "but what makes you ask that question?"
"As you were leaving Barcelona yesterday, I noticed three ill-looking
fellows watching us, armed to the teeth. Last night they slept in the
stable with my mules. They dined here to-day, and they went on three
quarters of an hour ago. They don't speak to anyone, and I don't like
the looks of them."
"What shall we do to avoid assassination, or the dread of it?"
"We must start late, and stop at an inn I know of, a league this side of
the ordinary stage where they will be awaiting us. If they turn back,
and sleep at the same inn as ourselves, we shall be certain."
I thought the idea a sensible one, and we started, I going on foot nearly
the whole way; and at five o'clock we halted at a wretched inn, but we
saw no signs of the sinister trio.
At eight o'clock I was at supper, when my man came in and told me that
the three fellows had come back, and were drinking with our driver in the
My hair stood on end. There could be no more doubt about the matter.
At present, it was true, I had nothing to fear; but it would be getting
dark when we arrived at the frontier, and then my peril would come.
I told my servant to shew no sign, but to ask the driver to come and
speak with me when the assassins were asleep.
He came at ten o'clock, and told me plainly that we should be all
murdered as we approached the French frontier.
"Then you have been drinking with them?"
"Yes, and after we had dispatched a bottle at my expense, one of them
asked me why I had not gone on to the end of the stage, where you would
be better lodged. I replied that it was late, and you were cold. I
might have asked in my turn, why they had not stayed at the stage
themselves, and where they were going, but I took care to do nothing of
the kind. All I asked was whether the road to Perpignan was a good one,
and they told me it was excellent all the way."
"What are they doing now?"
"They are sleeping by my mules, covered with their cloaks."
"What shall we do?"
"We will start at day-break after them, of course, and we shall dine at
the usual stage; but after dinner, trust me, we will take a different
road, and at midnight we shall be in France safe and sound."
If I could have procured a good armed escort I would not have taken his
advice, but in the situation I was in I had no choice.
We found the three scoundrels in the place where the driver had told me
we should see them. I gave them a searching glance, and thought they
looked like true Sicarii, ready to kill anyone for a little money.
They started in a quarter of an hour, and half an hour later we set out,
with a peasant to guide us, and so struck into a cross road. The mules
went at a sharp pace, and in seven hours we had done eleven leagues. At
ten o'clock we stopped at an inn in a French village, and we had no more
to fear. I gave our guide a doubloon, with which he was well pleased,
and I enjoyed once more a peaceful night in a French bed, for nowhere
will you find such soft beds or such delicious wines as in the good land
The next day I arrived at the posting-inn at Perpignan in time for
dinner. I endeavoured in vain to think who could have paid my assassins,
but the reader will see the explanation when we get twenty days farther.
At Perpignan I dismissed my driver and my servant, rewarding them
according to my ability. I wrote to my brother at Paris, telling him I
had had a fortunate escape from the dagger of the assassin. I begged him
to direct his answer to Aix, where I intended to spend a fortnight, in
the hope of seeing the Marquis d'Argens. I left Perpignan the day after
my arrival, and slept at Narbonne, and the day after at Beziers.
The distance from Narbonne to Beziers is only five leagues, and I had not
intended to stop; but the good cheer which the kindest of landladies gave
me at dinner made me stop with her to supper.
Beziers is a town which looks pleasant even at the worst time of the
year. A philosopher who wished to renounce all the vanities of the
world, and an Epicurean who would enjoy good cheer cheaply, could find no
better retreat than Beziers.
Everybody at Beziers is intelligent, all the women are pretty, and the
cooks are all artists; the wines are exquisite--what more could one
desire! May its riches never prove its ruin!
When I reached Montpellier, I got down at the "White Horse," with the
intention of spending a week there. In the evening I supped at the table
d'hote, where I found a numerous company, and I saw to my amusement that
for every guest there was a separate dish brought to table.
Nowhere is there better fare than at Montpellier. 'Tis a veritable land
The next day I breakfasted at the cafe (an institution peculiar to
France, the only country where the science of living is really
understood), and addressed the first gentleman I met, telling him that I
was a stranger and that I would like to know some of the professors. He
immediately offered to take me to one of the professors who enjoyed a
Herein may be seen another of the good qualities of the French, who rank
above other nations by so many titles. To a Frenchman a foreigner is a
sacred being; he receives the best of hospitality, not merely in form,
but in deed; and his welcome is given with that easy grace which so soon
sets a stranger at his ease.
My new friend introduced me to the professor, who received me with all
the polished courtesy of the French man of letters. He that loves
letters should love all other lovers of letters, and in France that is
the case, even more so than Italy. In Germany the literary man has an