Part 1 out of 3
This etext was produced by David Widger
MEMOIRS OF JACQUES CASANOVA de SEINGALT 1725-1798
IN LONDON AND MOSCOW, Volume 5d--LONDON TO BERLIN
THE MEMOIRS OF JACQUES CASANOVA DE SEINGALT
THE RARE UNABRIDGED LONDON EDITION OF 1894 TRANSLATED BY ARTHUR
MACHEN TO WHICH HAS BEEN ADDED THE CHAPTERS DISCOVERED BY ARTHUR
FLIGHT FROM LONDON TO BERLIN
Bottarelli--A Letter from Pauline--The Avenging Parrot--Pocchini--
Guerra, the Venetian--I Meet Sara Again; My Idea of Marrying Her and
Settling in Switzerland--The Hanoverians
Thus ended the first act of the comedy; the second began the next
morning. I was just getting up, when I heard a noise at the street
door, and on putting my head out of the window I saw Pocchini, the
scoundrel who had robbed me at Stuttgart trying to get into my house.
I cried out wrathfully that I would have nothing to do with him, and
slammed down my window.
A little later Goudar put in an appearance. He had got a copy of the
St. James's Chronicle, containing a brief report of my arrest, and of
my being set a liberty under a bail of eighty guineas. My name and
the lady's were disguised, but Rostaing and Bottarelli were set down
plainly, and the editor praised their conduct. I felt as if I should
like to know Bottarelli, and begged Goudar to take me to him, and
Martinelli, happening to call just then, said he would come with us.
We entered a wretched room on the third floor of a wretched house,
and there we beheld a picture of the greatest misery. A woman and
five children clothed in rags formed the foreground, and in the
background was Bottarelli, in an old dressing-gown, writing at a
table worthy of Philemon and Baucis. He rose as we came in, and the
sight of him moved me to compassion. I said,--
"Do you know me, sir?"
"No, sir, I do not."
"I am Casanova, against whom you bore false witness; whom you tried
to cast into Newgate."
"I am very sorry, but look around you and say what choice have I? I
have no bread to give my children. I will do as much in your favour
another time for nothing."
"Are you not afraid of the gallows?"
"No, for perjury is not punished with death; besides it is very
difficult to prove."
"I have heard you are a poet."
"Yes. I have lengthened the Didone and abridged the Demetrio."
"You are a great poet, indeed!"
I felt more contempt than hatred for the rascal, and gave his wife a
guinea, for which she presented me with a wretched pamphlet by her
husband: "The Secrets of the Freemasons Displayed." Bottarelli had
been a monk in his native city, Pisa, and had fled to England with
his wife, who had been a nun.
About this time M. de Saa surprised me by giving me a letter from my
fair Portuguese, which confirmed the sad fate of poor Clairmont.
Pauline said she was married to Count Al----. I was astonished to
hear M. de Saa observe that he had known all about Pauline from the
moment she arrived in London. That is the hobby of all diplomatists;
they like people to believe that they are omniscient. However, M. de
Saa was a man of worth and talent, and one could excuse this weakness
as an incident inseparable from his profession; while most
diplomatists only make themselves ridiculous by their assumption of
M. de Saa had been almost as badly treated by the Charpillon as
myself, and we might have condoled with one another, but the subject
was not mentioned.
A few days afterwards, as I was walking idly about, I passed a place
called the Parrot Market. As I was amusing myself by looking at
these curious birds, I saw a fine young one in a cage, and asked what
language it spoke. They told me that it was quite young and did not
speak at all yet, so I bought it for ten guineas. I thought I would
teach the bird a pretty speech, so I had the cage hung by my bed, and
repeated dozens of times every day the following sentence: "The
Charpillon is a bigger wh--e than her mother."
The only end I had in view was my private amusement, and in a
fortnight the bird had learnt the phrase with the utmost exactness;
and every time it uttered the words it accompanied them with a shriek
of laughter which I had not taught it, but which made me laugh
One day Gondar heard the bird, and told me that if I sent it to the
Exchange I should certainly get fifty guineas for it. I welcomed the
idea, and resolved to make the parrot the instrument of my vengeance
against the woman who had treated me so badly. I secured myself from
fear of the law, which is severe in such cases, by entrusting the
bird to my negro, to whom such merchandise was very suitable.
For the first two or three days my parrot did not attract much
attention, its observations being in French; but as soon as those who
knew the subject of them had heard it, its audience increased and
bids were made. Fifty guineas seemed rather too much, and my negro
wanted me to lower the price, but I would not agree, having fallen in
love with this odd revenge.
In the course of a week Goudar came to inform me of the effect the
parrot's criticism had produced in the Charpillon family. As the
vendor was my negro, there could be no doubt as to whom it belonged,
and who had been its master of languages. Goudar said that the
Charpillon thought my vengeance very ingenious, but that the mother
and aunts were furious. They had consulted several counsel, who
agreed in saying that a parrot could not be indicted for libel, but
that they could make me pay dearly for my jest if they could prove
that I had been the bird's instructor. Goudar warned me to be
careful of owning to the fact, as two witnesses would suffice to undo
The facility with which false witnesses may be produced in London is
something dreadful. I have myself seen the word evidence written in
large characters in a window; this is as much as to say that false
witnesses may be procured within.
The St. James's Chronicle contained an article on my parrot, in which
the writer remarked that the ladies whom the bird insulted must be
very poor and friendless, or they would have bought it at once, and
have thus prevented the thing from becoming the talk of the town. He
"The teacher of the parrot has no doubt made the bird an instrument
of his vengeance, and has displayed his wit in doing so; he ought to
be an Englishman."
I met my good friend Edgar, and asked him why he had not bought the
"Because it delights all who know anything about the object of the
slander," said he.
At last Jarbe found a purchaser for fifty guineas, and I heard
afterwards that Lord Grosvenor had bought it to please the
Charpillon, with whom he occasionally diverted himself.
Thus my relations with that girl came to an end. I have seen her
since with the greatest indifference, and without any renewal of the
One day, as I was going into St. James's Park, I saw two girls
drinking milk in a room on the ground floor of a house. They called
out to me, but not knowing them I passed on my way. However, a young
officer of my acquaintance came after me and said they were Italians,
and being curious to see them I retracted my steps.
When I entered the room I was accosted by the scoundrelly Pocchini,
dressed in a military uniform, who said he had the honour of
introducing me to his daughters.
"Indeed," said I, "I remember two other daughters of yours robbing me
of a snuff-box and two watches at Stuttgart."
"You lie!" said the impudent rascal.
I gave him no verbal answer, but took up a glass of milk and flung it
in his face, and then left the room without more ado.
I was without my sword. The young officer who had brought me into
the place followed me and told me I must not go without giving his
friend some satisfaction.
"Tell him to come out, and do you escort him to the Green Park, and I
shall have the pleasure of giving him a caning in your presence,
unless you would like to fight for him; if so, you must let me go
home and get my sword. But do you know this man whom you call your
"No, but he is an officer, and it is I that brought him here."
"Very good, I will fight to the last drop of my blood; but I warn you
your friend is a thief. But go; I will await you."
In the course of a quarter of an hour they all came out, but the
Englishman and Pocchini followed me alone. There were a good many
people about, and I went before them till we reached Hyde Park.
Pocchini attempted to speak to me, but I replied, lifting my cane,--
"Scoundrel, draw your sword, unless you want me to give you a
"I will never draw upon a defenceless man."
I gave him a blow with my cane by way of answer, and the coward,
instead of drawing his sword, began to cry out that I wished to draw
him into a fight. The Englishman burst out laughing and begged me to
pardon his interference, and then, taking me by the arm, said,--
"Come along, sir, I see you know the gentleman."
The coward went off in another direction, grumbling as he went.
On the way I informed the officer of the very good reasons I had for
treating Pocchini as a rogue, and he agreed that I had been perfectly
right. "Unfortunately," he added, "I am in love with one of his
When we were in the midst of St. James's Park we saw them, and I
could not help laughing when I noticed Goudar with one of them on
"How did you come to know these ladies?" said I.
"Their father the captain," he answered, "has sold me jewels; he
introduced me to them."
"Where did you leave our father?" asked one.
"In Hyde Park, after giving him a caning."
"You served him quite right."
The young Englishman was indignant to hear them approving my ill-
treatment of their father, and shook my hand and went away, swearing
to me that he would never be seen in their company again.
A whim of Goudar's, to which I was weak enough to consent, made me
dine with these miserable women in a tavern on the borders of London.
The rascally Goudar made them drunk, and in this state they told some
terrible truths about their pretended father. He did not live with
them, but paid them nocturnal visits in which he robbed them of all
the money they had earned. He was their pander, and made them rob
their visitors instructing them to pass it off as a joke if the theft
was discovered. They gave him the stolen articles, but he never said
what he did with them. I could not help laughing at this involuntary
confession, remembering what Goudar had said about Pocchini selling
After this wretched meal I went away leaving the duty of escorting
them back to Goudar. He came and saw me the next day, and informed
me that the girls had been arrested and taken to prison just as they
were entering their house.
"I have just been to Pocchini's," said he, "but the landlord tells me
he has not been in since yesterday."
The worthy and conscientious Goudar added that he did not care if he
never saw him again, as he owed the fellow ten guineas for a watch,
which his daughters had probably stolen, and which was well worth
Four days later I saw him again, and he informed me that the rascal
had left London with a servant-maid, whom he had engaged at a
registry office where any number of servants are always ready to take
service with the first comer. The keeper of the office answers for
"The girl he has gone with is a pretty one, from what the man tells
me, and they have taken ship from London. I am sorry he went away
before I could pay him for the watch; I am dreading every moment to
meet the individual from whom it was stolen."
I never heard what became of the girls, but Pocchini will re-appear
on the scene in due course.
I led a tranquil and orderly life, which I should have been pleased
to continue for the remainder of my days; but circumstances and my
destiny ordered it otherwise, and against these it is not becoming in
a Christian philosopher to complain. I went several times to see my
daughter at her school, and I also frequented the British Museum,
where I met Dr. Mati. One day I found an Anglican minister with him,
and I asked the clergyman how many different sects there were in
"Sir," he replied in very tolerable Italian, "no one can give a
positive answer to that question, for every week some sect dies and
some new one is brought into being. All that is necessary is for a
man of good faith, or some rogue desirous of money or notoriety, to
stand in some frequented place and begin preaching. He explains some
texts of the Bible in his own fashion, and if he pleases the gapers
around him they invite him to expound next Sunday, often in a tavern.
He keeps the appointment and explains his new doctrines in a spirited
manner. Then people begin to talk of him; he disputes with ministers
of other sects; he and his followers give themselves a name, and the
thing is done. Thus, or almost thus, are all the numerous English
About this time M. Steffano Guerra, a noble Venetian who was
travelling with the leave of his Government, lost a case against an
English painter who had executed a miniature painting of one of the
prettiest ladies in London, Guerra having given a written promise to
pay twenty-five guineas. When it was finished Guerra did not like
it, and would not take it or pay the price. The Englishman, in
accordance with the English custom, began by arresting his debtor;
but Guerra was released on bail, and brought the matter before the
courts, which condemned him to pay the twenty-five guineas. He
appealed, lost again, and was in the end obliged to pay. Guerra
contented that he had ordered a portrait, that a picture bearing no
likeness to the lady in question was not a portrait, and that he had
therefore a right to refuse payment. The painter replied that it was
a portrait as it had been painted from life. The judgment was that
the painter must live by his trade, and that as Guerra had given him
painting to do he must therefore provide him with the wherewithal to
live, seeing that the artist swore he had done his best to catch the
likeness. Everybody thought this sentence just, and so did I; but I
confess it also seemed rather hard, especially to Guerra, who with
costs had to pay a hundred guineas for the miniature.
Malingan's daughter died just as her father received a public box on
the ear from a nobleman who liked piquet, but did not like players
who corrected the caprices of fortune. I gave the poor wretch the
wherewithal to bury his daughter and to leave England. He died soon
after at Liege, and his wife told me of the circumstance, saying that
he had expired regretting his inability to pay his debts.
M. M---- F---- came to London as the representative of the canton of
Berne, and I called, but was not received. I suspected that he had
got wind of the liberties I had taken with pretty Sara, and did not
want me to have an opportunity for renewing them. He was a somewhat
eccentric man, so I did not take offence, and had almost forgotten
all about it when chance led me to the Marylebone Theatre one
evening. The spectators sat at little tables, and the charge for
admittance was only a shilling, but everyone was expected to order
something, were it only a pot of ale.
On going into the theatre I chanced to sit down beside a girl whom I
did not notice at first, but soon after I came in she turned towards
me, and I beheld a ravishing profile which somehow seemed familiar;
but I attributed that to the idea of perfect beauty that was graven
on my soul. The more I looked at her the surer I felt that I had
never seen her before, though a smile of inexpressible slyness had
begun to play about her lips. One of her gloves fell, and I hastened
to restore it to her, whereupon she thanked me in a few well-chosen
"Madam is not English, then?" said I, respectfully.
"No, sir, I am a Swiss, and a friend of yours."
At this I looked round, and on my right hand sat Madame M---- F----,
then her eldest daughter, then her husband. I got up, and after
bowing to the lady, for whom I had a great esteem, I saluted her
husband, who only replied by a slight movement of the head. I asked
Madame M---- F---- what her husband had against me, and she said that
Possano had written to him telling some dreadful stories about me.
There was not time for me to explain and justify myself, so I devoted
all my energies to the task of winning the daughter's good graces.
In three years she had grown into a perfect beauty: she knew it, and
by her blushes as she spoke to me I knew she was thinking of what had
passed between us in the presence of my housekeeper. I was anxious
to find out whether she would acknowledge the fact, or deny it
altogether. If she had done so I should have despised her. When I
had seen her before, the blossom of her beauty was still in the bud,
now it had opened out in all its splendour.
"Charming Sara," I said, "you have so enchanted me that I cannot help
asking you a couple of questions, which if you value my peace of mind
you will answer. Do you remember what happened at Berne?"
"And do you repent of what you did?"
No man of any delicacy could ask the third question, which may be
understood. I felt sure that Sara would make me happy-nay, that she
was even longing for the moment, and gave reins to my passions,
determined to convince her that I was deserving of her love.
The waiter came to enquire if we had any orders, and I begged Madame
M---- F---- to allow me to offer her some oysters. After the usual
polite refusals she gave in, and I profited by her acceptance to
order all the delicacies of the season, including a hare (a great
delicacy in London), champagne, choice liqueurs, larks, ortolans,
truffles, sweetmeats--everything, in fact, that money could buy, and
I was not at all surprised when the bill proved to amount to ten
guineas. But I was very much surprised when M. M---- F----, who had
eaten like a Turk and drunk like a Swiss, said calmly that it was too
I begged him politely not to trouble himself about the cost; and by
way of proving that I did not share his opinion, I gave the waiter
half-a-guinea; the worthy man looked as if he wished that such
customers came more often. The Swiss, who had been pale and gloomy
enough a short while before; was rubicund and affable. Sara glanced
at me and squeezed my hand; I had conquered.
When the play was over, M---- F---- asked me if I would allow him to
call on me. I embraced him in reply. His servant came in, and said
that he could not find a coach; and I, feeling rather surprised that
he had not brought his carriage, offered him the use of mine, telling
my man to get me a sedan-chair.
"I accept your kind offer," said he, "on the condition that you allow
me to occupy the chair."
I consented to this arrangement, and took the mother and the two
daughters with me in the carriage.
On the way, Madame M---- F---- was very polite, gently blaming her
husband for the rudeness of which I had to complain. I said that I
would avenge myself by paying an assiduous court to him in the
future; but she pierced me to the heart by saying that they were on
the point of departing. "We wanted to go on the day after next," she
said, "and to-morrow we shall have to leave our present rooms to
their new occupants. A matter of business which my husband was not
able to conclude will oblige us to stay for another week, and to-
morrow we shall have the double task of moving and finding new
"Then you have not yet got new rooms?"
"No, but my husband says he is certain to find some to-morrow
"Furnished, I suppose, for as you intend to leave you will be
selling, your furniture."
"Yes, and we shall have to pay the expenses of carriage to the
On hearing that M. M---- F---- was sure of finding lodgings, I was
precluded from offering to accommodate them in my own house, as the
lady might think that I only made the offer because I was sure it
would not be accepted.
When we got to the door of their house we alighted, and the mother
begged me to come in. She and her husband slept on the second floor,
and the two girls on the third. Everything was upside down, and as
Madame M---- F---- had something to say to the landlady she asked me
to go up with her daughters. It was cold, and the room we entered
had no fire in it. The sister went into the room adjoining and I
stayed with Sara, and all of a sudden I clasped her to my breast, and
feeling that her desires were as ardent as mine I fell with her on to
a sofa where we mingled our beings in all the delights of voluptuous
ardours. But this happiness was short lived; scarcely was the work
achieved when we heard a footstep on the stair. It was the father.
If M---- F---- had had any eyes he must have found us out, for my
face bore the marks of agitation, the nature of which it was easy to
divine. We exchanged a few brief compliments; I shook his hand and
disappeared. I was in such a state of excitement when I got home
that I made up my mind to leave England and to follow Sara to
Switzerland. In the night I formed my plans, and resolved to offer
the family my house during the time they stayed in England, and if
necessary to force them to accept my offer.
In the morning I hastened to call on M---- F----, and found him on
"I am going to try and get a couple of rooms," said he.
"They are already found," I replied. "My house is at your service,
and you must give me the preference. Let us come upstairs."
"Everybody is in bed."
"Never mind," said I, and we proceeded to go upstairs.
Madame M---- F---- apologized for being in bed. Her husband told her
that I wanted to let them some rooms, but I laughed and said I
desired they would accept my hospitality as that of a friend. After
some polite denials my offer was accepted, and it was agreed that the
whole family should take up their quarters with me in the evening.
I went home, and was giving the necessary orders when I was told that
two young ladies wished to see me. I went down in person, and I was
agreeably surprised to see Sara and her sister. I asked them to come
in, and Sara told me that the landlady would not let their belongings
out of the house before her father paid a debt of forty guineas,
although a city merchant had assured her it should be settled in a
week. The long and snort of it was that Sara's father had sent me a
bill and begged me to discount it.
I took the bill and gave her a bank note for fifty pounds in
exchange, telling her that she could give me the change another time.
She thanked me with great simplicity and went her way, leaving me
delighted with the confidence she had placed in me.
The fact of M. M---- F----'s wanting forty guineas did not make me
divine that he was in some straits, for I looked at everything
through rose-coloured glasses, and was only too happy to be of
service to him.
I made a slight dinner in order to have a better appetite for supper,
and spent the afternoon in writing letters. In the evening M. M----
F----'s man came with three great trunks and innumerable card-board
boxes, telling me that the family would soon follow; but I awaited
them in vain till nine o'clock. I began to get alarmed and went to
the house, where I found them all in a state of consternation. Two
ill-looking fellows who were in the room enlightened me; and assuming
a jovial and unconcerned air, I said,--
"I'll wager, now, that this is the work of some fierce creditor."
"You are right," answered the father, "but I am sure of discharging
the debt in five or six days, and that's why I put off my departure."
"Then you were arrested after you had sent on your trunks."
"And what have you done?"
"I have sent for bail."
"Why did you not send to me?"
"Thank you, I am grateful for your kindness, but you are a foreigner,
and sureties have to be householders."
"But you ought to have told me what had happened, for I have got you
an excellent supper, and I am dying of hunger."
It was possible that this debt might exceed my means, so I did not
dare to offer to pay it. I took Sara aside, and on hearing that all
his trouble was on account of a debt of a hundred and fifty pounds, I
asked the bailiff whether we could go away if the debt was paid.
"Certainly," said he, shewing me the bill of exchange.
I took out three bank notes of fifty pounds each, and gave them to
the man, and taking the bill I said to the poor Swiss,--
"You shall pay me the money before you leave England."
The whole family wept with joy, and after embracing them all I
summoned them to come and sup with me and forget the troubles of
We drove off to my house and had a merry supper, though the worthy
mother could not quite forget her sadness. After supper I took them
to the rooms which had been prepared for them, and with which they
were delighted, and so I wished them good night, telling them that
they should be well entertained till their departure, and that I
hoped to follow them into Switzerland.
When I awoke the next day I was in a happy frame of mind. On
examining my desires I found that they had grown too strong to be
overcome, but I did not wish to overcome them. I loved Sara, and I
felt so certain of possessing her that I put all desires out of my
mind; desires are born only of doubt, and doubt torments the soul.
Sara was mine; she had given herself to me out of pure passion,
without any shadow of self-interest.
I went to the father's room, and found him engaged in opening his
trunks. His wife looked sad, so I asked her if she were not well.
She replied that her health was perfect, but that the thought of the
sea voyage troubled her sorely. The father begged me to excuse him
at breakfast as he had business to attend to. The two young ladies
came down, and after we had breakfast I asked the mother why they
were unpacking their trunks so short a time before starting. She
smiled and said that one trunk would be ample for all their
possessions, as they had resolved to sell all superfluities. As I
had seen some beautiful dresses, fine linen, and exquisite lace, I
could not refrain from saying that it would be a great pity to sell
cheaply what would have to be replaced dearly.
"You are right," she said, "but, nevertheless, there is no pleasure
so great as the consciousness of having paid one's debts."
"You must not sell anything," I replied, in a lively manner, "for as
I am going to Switzerland with you I can pay your debts, and you
shall repay me when you can."
At these words astonishment was depicted on her face.
"I did not think you were speaking seriously," said she.
"Perfectly seriously, and here is the object of my vows."
With these words I seized Sara's hand and covered it with kisses.
Sara blushed, said nothing, and the mother looked kindly at us; but
after a moment's silence she spoke at some length, and with the
utmost candour and wisdom. She gave me circumstantial information as
to the position of the family and her husband's restricted means,
saying that under the circumstances he could not have avoided running
into debt, but that he had done wrong to bring them all with him to
"If he had been by himself," she said, "he could have lived here
comfortably enough with only one servant, but with a family to
provide for the two thousand crowns per annum provided by the
Government are quite insufficient. My old father has succeeded in
persuading the State to discharge my husband's debts, but to make up
the extra expense they will not employ a Charge d'affaires; a banker
with the title of agent will collect the interest on their English
She ended by saying that she thought Sara was fortunate to have
pleased me, but that she was not sure whether her husband would
consent to the marriage.
The word "marriage" made Sara blush, and I was pleased, though it was
evident there would be difficulties in the way.
M---- F---- came back and told his wife that two clothes dealers
would come to purchase their superfluous clothes in the afternoon;
but after explaining my ideas I had not much trouble in convincing
him that it would be better not to sell them, and that he could
become my debtor to the amount of two hundred pounds, on which he
could pay interest till he was able to return me my capital. The
agreement was written out the same day, but I did not mention the
marriage question, as his wife had told me she would discuss it with
him in private.
On the third day he came down by himself to talk with me.
"My wife," he began, "has told me of your intentions, and I take it
as a great honour, I assure you; but I cannot give you my Sara, as
she is promised to M. de W----, and family reasons prevent me from
going back from my word. Besides my old father, a strict Calvinist,
would object to the difference in religion. He would never believe
that his dear little grandchild would be happy with a Roman Catholic"
As a matter of fact I was not at all displeased at what he said. I
was certainly very fond of Sara, but the word "marriage" had a
disagreeable sound to me. I answered that circumstances might change
in time, and that in the meanwhile I should be quite content if he
would allow me to be the friend of the family and to take upon myself
all the responsibility of the journey. He promised everything, and
assured me that he was delighted at his daughter having won my
After this explanation I gave Sara as warm marks of my love as
decency would allow in the presence of her father and mother, and I
could see that all the girl thought of was love.
The fifth day I went up to her room, and finding her in bed all the
fires of passion flamed up in my breast, for since my first visit to
their house I had not been alone with her. I threw myself upon her,
covering her with kisses, and she shewed herself affectionate but
reserved. In vain I endeavoured to succeed; she opposed a gentle
resistance to my efforts, and though she caressed me, she would not
let me attain my end.
"Why, divine Sara," said I, "do you oppose my loving ecstasy?"
"Dearest, I entreat of you not to ask for any more than I am willing
"Then you no longer love me?"
"Cruel man, I adore you!"
"Then why do you treat me to a refusal, after having once surrendered
"I have given myself to you, and we have both been happy, and I think
that should be enough for us."
"There must be some reason for this change. If you love me, dearest
Sara, this renunciation must be hard for you to bear."
"I confess it, but nevertheless I feel it is my duty. I have made up
my mind to subdue my passion from no weak motive, but from a sense of
what I owe to myself. I am under obligations to you, and if I were
to repay the debt I have contracted with my body I should be degraded
in my own eyes. When we enjoyed each other before only love was
between us--there was no question of debit and credit. My heart is
now the thrall of what I owe you, and to these debts it will not give
what it gave so readily to love."
"This is a strange philosophy, Sara; believe me it is fallacious, and
the enemy of your happiness as well as mine. These sophisms lead you
astray and wound me to the heart. Give me some credit for delicacy
of feeling, and believe me you owe me nothing."
"You must confess that if you had not loved me you would have done
nothing for my father."
"Certainly I will confess nothing of the kind; I would readily do as
much, and maybe more, out of regard for your worthy mother. It is
quite possible, indeed, that in doing this small service for your
father I had no thoughts of you at all."
"It might be so; but I do not believe it was so. Forgive me,
dearest, but I cannot make up my mind to pay my debts in the way you
"It seems to me that if you are grateful to me your love ought to be
still more ardent."
"It cannot be more ardent than it is already."
"Do you know how grievously you make me suffer?"
"Alas! I suffer too; but do not reproach me; let us love each other
This dialogue is not the hundredth part of what actually passed
between us till dinner-time. The mother came in, and finding me
seated at the foot of the daughter's bed, laughed, and asked me why I
kept her in bed. I answered with perfect coolness that we had been
so interested in our conversation that we had not noticed the flight
I went to dress, and as I thought over the extraordinary change which
had taken place in Sara I resolved that it should not last for long.
We dined together gaily, and Sara and I behaved in all respects like
two lovers. In the evening I took them to the Italian Opera, coming
home to an excellent supper.
The next morning I passed in the city, having accounts to settle with
my bankers. I got some letters of exchange on Geneva, and said
farewell to the worthy Mr. Bosanquet. In the afternoon I got a coach
for Madame M---- F---- to pay some farewells calls, and I went to say
good-bye to my daughter at school. The dear little girl burst into
tears, saying that she would be lost without me, and begging me not
to forget her. I was deeply moved. Sophie begged me to go and see
her mother before I left England, and I decided on doing so.
At supper we talked over our journey, and M. M---- F---- agreed with
me that it would be better to go by Dunkirk than Ostend. He had very
little more business to attend to. His debts were paid, and he said
he thought he would have a matter of fifty guineas in his pocket at
the journey's end, after paying a third share of all the travelling
expenses. I had to agree to this, though I made up my mind at the
same time not to let him see any of the accounts. I hoped to win
Sara, in one way or another, when we got to Berne.
The next day, after breakfast, I took her hand in presence of her
mother, and asked her if she would give me her heart if I could
obtain her father's consent at Berne.
"Your mother," I added, "has promised me that hers shall not be
At this the mother got up, and saying that we had no doubt a good
deal to talk over, she and her eldest daughter went out to pay some
As soon as we were alone Sara said that she could not understand how
I could have the smallest doubt as to whether her consent would be
"I have shewn you how well I love you," said she, tenderly; "and I am
sure I should be very happy as your wife. You may be sure that your
wishes will be mine, and that, however far you lead me, Switzerland
shall claim no thought of mine."
I pressed the amorous Sara to my bosom in a transport of delight,
which was shared by her; but as she saw me grow more ardent she
begged me to be moderate. Clasping me in her arms she adjured me not
to ask her for that which she was determined not to grant till she
was mine by lawful wedlock.
"You will drive me to despair! Have you reflected that this
resistance may cost me my life? Can you love, and yet entertain this
fatal prejudice? And yet I am sure you love me, and pleasure too."
"Yes, dearest one, I do love you, and amorous pleasure with you; but
you must respect my delicacy."
My eyes were wet with tears, and she was so affected that she fell
fainting to the ground. I lifted her up and gently laid her on the
bed. Her pallor alarmed me. I brought smelling-salts, I rubbed her
forehead with Savoy-water, and she soon opened her eyes, and seemed
delighted to find me calm again.
The thought of taking advantage of her helplessness would have
horrified me. She sat up on the bed, and said,--
"You have just given a true proof of the sincerity of your
"Did you think, sweetheart, that I was vile enough to abuse your
weakness? Could I enjoy a pleasure in which you had no share?"
"I did not think you would do such a thing, but I should not have
resisted, though it is possible that I should not have loved you
"Sara, though you do not know, you charm my soul out of my body."
After this I sat down sadly on the bed, and abandoned myself to the
most melancholy reflections, from which Sara did not endeavour to
Her mother came in and asked why she was on the bed, but not at all
suspiciously. Sara told her the truth.
M. M---- F---- came in soon after, and we dined together, but
silently. What I had heard from the girl's lips had completely
overwhelmed me. I saw I had nothing to hope for, and that it was
time for me to look to myself. Six weeks before, God had delivered
me from my bondage to an infamous woman, and now I was in danger of
becoming the slave of an angel. Such were my reflections whilst Sara
was fainting, but it was necessary for me to consider the matter at
There was a sale of valuable articles in the city, the means taken
for disposing of them being a lottery. Sara had read the
announcement, and I asked her with her mother and sister to come with
me and take part in it. I had not much trouble in obtaining their
consent, and we found ourselves in distinguished company, among the
persons present being the Countess of Harrington, Lady Stanhope, and
Emilie and her daughters. Emilie had a strange case before the
courts. She had given information to the police that her husband had
been robbed of six thousand pounds, though everyone said that she
herself was the thief.
Madame M---- F---- did not take a ticket, but she allowed me to take
tickets for her daughters, who were in high glee, since for ten or
twelve guineas they got articles worth sixty.
Every day I was more taken with Sara; but feeling sure that I should
only obtain slight favours from her, I thought it was time to come to
an explanation. So after supper I said that as it was not certain
that Sara could become my wife I had determined not to accompany them
to Berne. The father told me I was very wise, and that I could still
correspond with his daughter, Sara said nothing, but I could see she
was much grieved.
I passed a dreadful night; such an experience was altogether new to
me. I weighed Sara's reasons, and they seemed to me to be merely
frivolous, which drove me to conclude that my caresses had displeased
For the last three days I found myself more than once alone with her;
but I was studiously moderate, and she caressed me in a manner that
would have made my bliss if I had not already obtained the one great
favour. It was at this time I learnt the truth of the maxim that if
abstinence is sometimes the spur of love, it has also the contrary
effect. Sara had brought my feeling to a pitch of gentle friendship,
while an infamous prostitute like the Charpillon, who knew how to
renew hope and yet grant nothing, ended by inspiring me with
contempt, and finally with hatred.
The family sailed for Ostend, and I accompanied them to the mouth of
the Thames. I gave Sara a letter for Madame de W----. This was the
name of the learned Hedvig whom she did not know. They afterwards
became sisters-in-law, as Sara married a brother of M. de W----, and
was happy with him.
Even now I am glad to hear tidings of my old friends and their
doings, but the interest I take in such matters is not to be compared
to my interest in some obscure story of ancient history. For our
contemporaries, the companions, of our youthful follies, we have a
kind of contempt, somewhat similar to that which we entertain for
ourselves. Four years ago I wrote to Madame G---- at Hamburg, and my
"After a silence of twenty-one years . . ."
She did not deign to reply, and I was by no means displeased. We
cared no longer for one another, and it is quite natural that it
should be so.
When I tell my reader who Madame G---- is, he will be amused. Two
years ago I set out for Hamburg, but my good genius made me turn back
to Dux; what had I to do at Hamburg?
After my guests were gone I went to the Italian Opera at Covent
Garden, and met Goudar, who asked me if I would come to the Sartori's
concert. He told me I should see a beautiful young English woman
there who spoke Italian. As I had just lost Sara I did not much care
about making new acquaintances, but still I was curious to see the
young marvel. I indulged my curiosity, and I am glad to say that
instead of being amused I was wearied, though the young English woman
was pretty enough. A young Livonian, who called himself Baron of
Stenau, seemed extremely interested in her. After supper she offered
us tickets for the next concert, and I took one for myself and one
for Gondar, giving her two guineas, but the Livonian baron took fifty
tickets, and gave her a bank note for fifty guineas. I saw by this
that he wanted to take the place by storm, and I liked his way of
doing it. I supposed him to be rich, without caring to enquire into
his means. He made advances to me and we became friends, and the
reader will see in due time what a fatal acquaintance he was.
One day as I was walking with Goudar in Hyde Park he left me to speak
to two ladies who seemed pretty.
He was not long absent, and said, when he rejoined me,--
"A Hanoverian lady, a widow and the mother of five daughters, came to
England two months ago with her whole family. She lives close by,
and is occupied in soliciting compensation from the Government for
any injury that was done her by the passage of the Duke of
Cumberland's army. The mother herself is sick and and never leaves
her bed; she sends her two eldest daughters to petition the
Government, and they are the two young ladies you have just seen.
They have not met with any success. The eldest daughter is twenty-
two, and the youngest fourteen; they are all pretty and can speak
English, French, and German equally well, and are always glad to see
visitors. I had been to visit them myself, but as I gave them
nothing I do not care to go there alone a second time. If you like,
however, I can introduce you."
"You irritate my curiosity. Come along, but if the one that pleases
me is not complaisant she shall have nothing."
"They will not even allow one to take them by the hand."
"They are Charpillons, I suppose."
"It looks like it. But you won't see any men there:"
We were shewn into a large room where I noticed three pretty girls
and an evil-looking man. I began with the usual compliments, to
which the girls replied politely, but with an air of great sadness.
Goudar spoke to the man, and then came to me shrugging his shoulders,
"We have come at a sad time. That man is a bailiff who has come to
take the mother to prison if she can't pay her landlord the twenty
guineas' rent she owes him, and they haven't got a farthing. When
the mother has been sent to prison the landlord will no doubt turn
the girls out of doors."
"They can live with their mother for nothing."
"Not at all. If they have got the money they can have their meals in
prison, but no one is allowed to live in a prison except the
I asked one of them where her sisters were.
"They have gone out, to look for money, for the landlord won't accept
any surety, and we have nothing to sell."
"All this is very sad; what does your mother say?"
"She only weeps, and yet, though she is ill and cannot leave her bed,
they are going to take her to prison. By way of consolation the
landlord says he will have her carried."
"It is very hard. But your looks please me, mademoiselle, and if you
will be kind I may be able to extricate you from the difficulty."
"I do not know what you mean by 'kind.'"
"Your mother will understand; go and ask her."
"Sir, you do not know us; we are honest girls, and ladies of position
With these words the young woman turned her back on me, and began to
weep again. The two others, who were quite as pretty, stood straight
up and said not a word. Goudar whispered to me in Italian that
unless we did something for them we should cut but a sorry figure
there; and I was cruel enough to go away without saying a word.
As we were leaving the house we met the two eldest sisters, who came
home looking very sad. I was struck by their beauty, and extremely
surprised to hear myself greeted by one of them, who said,--
"It is M. the Chevalier de Seingalt."
"Himself, mademoiselle, and sorely grieved at your misfortune."
"Be kind enough to come in again for a moment."
"I am sorry to say that I have an important engagement."
"I will not keep you for longer than a quarter of an hour."
I could not refuse so small a favour, and she employed the time in
telling me how unfortunate they had been in Hanover, how they had
come to London to obtain compensation, of their failure, their debts,
the cruelty of the landlord, their mother's illness, the prison that
awaited her, the likelihood of their being cast into the street, and
the cruelty of all their acquaintances.
"We have nothing to sell, and all our resources consist of two
shillings, which we shall have to spend on bread, on which we live."
"Who are your friends? How can they abandon you at such a time?"
She mentioned several names--among others, Lord Baltimore, Marquis
Carracioli, the Neapolitan ambassador, and Lord Pembroke.
"I can't believe it," said I, "for I know the two last noblemen to be
both rich and generous. There must be some good reason for their
conduct, since you are beautiful; and for these gentlemen beauty is a
bill to be honoured on sight."
"Yes, there is a reason. These rich noblemen abandon us with
contempt. They refuse to take pity on us because we refuse to yield
to their guilty passion."
"That is to say, they have taken a fancy to you, and as you will not
have pity on them they refuse to have pity on you. Is it not so?"
"That is exactly the situation."
"Then I think they are in the right."
"In the right?"
"Yes, I am quite of their opinion. We leave you to enjoy your sense
of virtue, and we spend our money in procuring those favours which
you refuse us. Your misfortune really is your prettiness, if you
were ugly you would get twenty guineas fast enough. I would give you
the money myself, and the action would be put down to benevolence;
whereas, as the case stands, if I were to give you anything it would
be thought that I was actuated by the hope of favours to come, and I
should be laughed at, and deservedly, as a dupe."
I felt that this was the proper way to speak to the girl, whose
eloquence in pleading her cause was simply wonderful.
She did not reply to my oration, and I asked her how she came to know
"I saw you at Richmond with the Charpillon."
"She cost me two thousand guineas, and I got nothing for my money;
but I have profited by the lesson, and in future I shall never pay in
Just then her mother called her, and, begging me to wait a moment,
she went into her room, and returned almost directly with the request
that I would come and speak to the invalid.
I found her sitting up in her bed; she looked about forty-five, and
still preserved traces of her former beauty; her countenance bore the
imprint of sadness, but had no marks of sickness whatsoever. Her
brilliant and expressive eyes, her intellectual face, and a
suggestion of craft about her, all bade me be on my guard, and a sort
of false likeness to the Charpillon's mother made me still more
cautious, and fortified me in my resolution to give no heed to the
appeals of pity.
"Madam," I began, "what can I do for you?"
"Sir," she replied, "I have heard the whole of your conversations
with my daughters, and you must confess that you have not talked to
them in a very fatherly manner."
"Quite so, but the only part which I desire to play with them is that
of lover, and a fatherly style would not have been suitable to the
part. If I had the happiness of being their father, the case would
be altered. What I have said to your daughters is what I feel, and
what I think most likely to bring about the end I have in view. I
have not the slightest pretence to virtue, but I adore the fair sex,
and now you and they know the road to my purse. If they wish to
preserve their virtue, why let them; nobody will trouble them, and
they, on their side, must not expect anything from men. Good-bye,
madam; you may reckon on my never addressing your daughters again."
"Wait a moment, sir. My husband was the Count of ----, and you see
that my daughters are of respectable birth."
"Have you not pity for our situation?"
"I pity you extremely, and I would relieve you in an instant if your
daughters were ugly, but as it is they are pretty, and that alters
"What an argument!"
"It is a very strong one with me, and I think I am the best judge of
arguments which apply to myself. You want twenty guineas; well, you
shall have them after one of your five countesses has spent a joyous
night with me."
"What language to a woman of my station! Nobody has ever dared to
speak to me in such a way before."
"Pardon me, but what use is rank without a halfpenny? Allow me to
"To-day we have only bread to eat."
"Well, certainly that is rather hard on countesses."
"You are laughing at the title, apparently."
"Yes, I am; but I don't want to offend you. If you like, I will stop
to dinner, and pay for all, yourself included."
"You are an eccentric individual. My girls are sad, for I am going
to prison. You will find their company wearisome."
"That is my affair."
"You had much better give them the money you would spend on the
"No, madam. I must have at least the pleasures of sight and sound
for my money. I will stay your arrest till to-morrow, and afterwards
Providence may possibly intervene on your behalf."
"The landlord will not wait."
"Leave me to deal with him."
I told Goudar to go and see what the man would take to send the
bailiff away for twenty-four hours. He returned with the message
that he must have a guinea and bail for the twenty guineas, in case
the lodgers might take to flight before the next day.
My wine merchant lived close by. I told Gondar to wait for me, and
the matter was soon settled and the bailiff sent away, and I told the
five girls that they might take their ease for twenty-four hours
I informed Gondar of the steps I had taken, and told him to go out
and get a good dinner for eight people. He went on his errand, and I
summoned the girls to their mother's bedside, and delighted them all
by telling them that for the next twenty-four hours they were to make
good cheer. They could not get over their surprise at the suddenness
of the change I had worked in the house.
"But this is all I can do for you," said I to the mother. "Your
daughters are charming, and I have obtained a day's respite for you
all without asking for anything in return; I shall dine, sup, and
pass the night with them without asking so much as a single kiss, but
if your ideas have not changed by to-morrow you will be in exactly
the same position as you were a few minutes ago, and I shall not
trouble you any more with my attentions."
"What do you mean my 'changing my ideas'?"
"I need not tell you, for you know perfectly well what I mean."
"My daughters shall never become prostitutes."
"I will proclaim their spotless chastity all over London--but I shall
spend my guineas elsewhere."
"You are a cruel man."
"I confess I can be very cruel, but it is only when I don't meet with
Goudar came back and we returned to the ladies' room, as the mother
did not like to shew herself to my friend, telling me that I was the
only man she had permitted to see her in bed during the whole time
she had been in London.
Our English dinner was excellent in its way, but my chief pleasure
was to see the voracity with which the girls devoured the meal. One
would have thought they were savages devouring raw meat after a long
fast. I had got a case of excellent wine and I made each of them
drink a bottle, but not being accustomed to such an indulgence they
became quite drunk. The mother had devoured the whole of the
plentiful helpings I had sent in to her, and she had emptied a bottle
of Burgundy, which she carried very well.
In spite of their intoxication, the girls were perfectly safe; I kept
my word, and Goudar did not take the slightest liberty. We had a
pleasant supper, and after a bowl of punch I left them feeling in
love with the whole bevy, and very uncertain whether I should be able
to shew as brave a front the next day.
As we were going away Goudar said that I was conducting the affair
admirably, but if I made a single slip I should be undone.
I saw the good sense of his advice, and determined to shew that I was
as sharp as he.
The next day, feeling anxious to hear the result of the council which
the mother had doubtless held with the daughters, I called at their
house at ten o'clock. The two eldest sisters were out, endeavouring
to beat up some more friends, and the three youngest rushed up to me
as if they had been spaniels and I their master, but they would not
even allow me to kiss them. I told them they made a mistake, and
knocked at the mother's door. She told me to come in, and thanked me
for the happy day I had given them.
"Am I to withdraw my bail, countess?"
"You can do what you like, but I do not think you capable of such an
"You are mistaken. You have doubtless made a deep study of the human
heart; but you either know little of the human mind, or else you
think you have a larger share than any other person. All your
daughters have inspired me with love, but were it a matter of life
and death I would not do a single thing for them or you before you
have done me the only favour that is in your power. I leave you to
your reflections, and more especially to your virtues."
She begged me to stay, but I did not even listen to her. I passed by
the three charmers, and after telling my wine merchant to withdraw
his security I went in a furious mood to call on Lord Pembroke. As
soon as I mentioned the Hanoverians he burst out laughing, and said
these false innocents must be made to fulfil their occupation in a
"They came whining to me yesterday," he proceeded, "and I not only
would not give them anything, but I laughed them to scorn. They have
got about twelve guineas out of me on false pretences; they are as
cunning sluts as the Charpillon."
I told him what I had done the day before, and what I intended to
offer: twenty guineas for the first, and as much for each of the
others, but nothing to be paid in advance.
"I had the same idea myself, but I cried off, and I don't think
you'll succeed, as Lord Baltimore offered them forty apiece; that is
two hundred guineas in all, and the bargain has fallen through
because they want the money to be paid in advance. They paid him a
visit yesterday, but found him pitiless, for he has been taken in
several times by them."
"We shall see what will happen when the mother is under lock and key;
I'll bet we shall have them cheaply."
I came home for dinner, and Goudar, who had just been at their house,
reported that the bailiff would only wait till four o'clock, that the
two eldest daughters had come back empty-handed, and that they had
been obliged to sell one of their dresses to buy a morsel of bread.
I felt certain that they would have recourse to me again, and I was
right. We were at dessert when they put in an appearance. I made
them sit down, and the eldest sister exhausted her eloquence to
persuade me to give them another three days' grace.
"You will find me insensible," said I, "unless you are willing to
adopt my plan. If you wish to hear it, kindly follow me into the
She did so, leaving her sister with Goudar, and making her sit down
on a sofa beside me, I shewed her twenty guineas, saying,--
"These are yours; but you know on what terms?"
She rejected my offer with disdain, and thinking she might wish to
salve her virtue by being attacked, I set to work; but finding her
resistance serious I let her alone, and begged her to leave my house
immediately. She called to her sister, and they both went out.
In the evening, as I was going to the play, I called on my wine
merchant to hear the news. He told me that the mother had been taken
to prison, and that the youngest daughter had gone with her; but he
did not know what had become of the four others.
I went home feeling quite sad, and almost reproaching myself for not
having taken compassion on then; however, just as I was sitting down
to supper they appeared before me like four Magdalens. The eldest,
who was the orator of the company, told me that their mother was in
prison, and that they would have to pass the night in the street if I
did not take pity on them.
"You shall have rooms, beds, and good fires," said I, "but first let
me see you eat."
Delight appeared on every countenance, and I had numerous dishes
brought for them. They ate eagerly but sadly, and only drank water.
"Your melancholy and your abstinence displeases me," said I, to the
eldest girl; "go upstairs and you will find everything necessary for
your comfort, but take care to be gone at seven in the morning and
not to let me see your faces again."
They went up to the second floor without a word.
An hour afterwards, just as I was going to bed, the eldest girl came
into my room and said she wished to have a private interview with me.
I told my negro to withdraw, and asked her to explain herself.
"What will you do for us," said she, "if I consent to share your
"I will give you twenty guineas, and I will lodge and board you as
long as you give me satisfaction."
Without saying a word she began to undress, and got into bed. She
was submissive and nothing more, and did not give me so much as a
kiss. At the end of a quarter of an hour I was disgusted with her
and got up, and giving her a bank note for twenty guineas I told her
to put on her clothes and go back to her room.
"You must all leave my house to-morrow," I said, "for I am ill
pleased with you. Instead of giving yourself up for love you have
prostituted yourself. I blush for you."
She obeyed mutely, and I went to sleep in an ill humour.
At about seven o'clock in the morning I was awakened by a hand
shaking me gently. I opened my eyes, and I was surprised to see the
"What do you want?" I said, coldly.
"I want you to take pity on us, and shelter us in your house for a
few days longer. I will be very grateful. My sister has told me
all, you are displeased with her, but you must forgive her, for her
heart is not her own. She is in love with an Italian who is in
prison for debt."
"And I suppose you are in love with someone else?" "No, I am not."
"Could you love me?"
She lowered her eyes, and pressed my hand gently. I drew her towards
me, and embraced her, and as I felt her kisses answer mine,
"You have conquered."
"My name is Victoire."
"I like it, and I will prove the omen a true one."
Victoire, who was tender and passionate, made me spend two delicious
hours, which compensated me for my bad quarter of an hour of the
When our exploits were over, I said,--
"Dearest Victoire, I am wholly throe. Let your mother be brought
here as soon as she is free. Here are twenty guineas for you."
She did not expect anything, and the agreeable surprise made her in
an ecstasy; she could not speak, but her heart was full of happiness.
I too was happy, and I believed that a great part of my happiness was
caused by the knowledge that I had done a good deed. We are queer
creatures all of us, whether we are bad or good. From that moment I
gave my servants orders to lay the table for eight persons every day,
and told them that I was only at home to Goudar. I spent money
madly, and felt that I was within a measurable distance of poverty.
At noon the mother came in a sedan-chair, and went to bed directly.
I went to see her, and did not evince any surprise when she began to
thank me for my noble generosity. She wanted me to suppose that she
thought I had given her daughters forty guineas for nothing, and I
let her enjoy her hypocrisy.
In the evening I took them to Covent Garden, where the castrato
Tenducci surprised me by introducing me to his wife, of whom he had
two children. He laughed at people who said that a castrato could
not procreate. Nature had made him a monster that he might remain a
man; he was born triorchis, and as only two of the seminal glands had
been destroyed the remaining one was sufficient to endow him with
When I got back to my small seraglio I supped merrily with the five
nymphs, and spent a delicious night with Victoire, who was overjoyed
at having made my conquest. She told me that her sister's lover was
a Neapolitan, calling himself Marquis de Petina, and that they were
to get married as soon as he was out of prison. It seemed he was
expecting remittances, and the mother would be delighted to see her
daughter a marchioness.
"How much does the marquis owe?"
"And the Neapolitan ambassador allows him to languish in prison for
such a beggarly sum? I can't believe it."
"The ambassador won't have anything to do with him, because he left
Naples without the leave of the Government."
"Tell your sister that if the ambassador assures me that her lover's
name is really the Marquis de Petina, I will get him out of prison
I went out to ask my daughter, and another boarder of whom I was very
fond, to dinner, and on my way called on the Marquis of Caraccioli,
an agreeable man, whose acquaintance I had made at Turin. I found
the famous Chevalier d'Eon at his house, and I had no need of a
private interview to make my inquiries about Petina.
"The young man is really what he professes to me," said the
ambassador, "but I will neither receive him nor give him any money
till I hear from my Government that he has received leave to travel."
That was enough for me, and I stayed there for an hour listening to
d'Eon's amusing story.
Eon had deserted the embassy on account of ten thousand francs which
the department of foreign affairs at Versailles had refused to allow
him, though the money was his by right. He had placed himself under
the protection of the English laws, and after securing two thousand
subscribers at a guinea apiece, he had sent to press a huge volume in
quarto containing all the letters he had received from the French
Government for the last five or six years.
About the same time a London banker had deposited the sum of twenty
thousand guineas at the Bank of England, being ready to wager that
sum that Eon was a woman. The bet was taken by a number of persons
who had formed themselves into a kind of company for the purpose, and
the only way to decide it was that Eon should be examined in the
presence of witnesses. The chevalier was offered half the wager, but
he laughed them to scorn. He said that such an examination would
dishonour him, were he man or woman. Caraccioli said that it could
only dishonour him if he were a woman, but I could not agree with
this opinion. At the end of a year the bet was declared off; but in
the course of three years he received his pardon from the king, and
appeared at Court in woman's dress, wearing the cross of St. Louis.
Louis XV. had always been aware of the chevalier's sex, but Cardinal
Fleuri had taught him that it became kings to be impenetrable, and
Louis remained so all his life.
When I got home I gave the eldest Hanoverian twenty guineas, telling
her to fetch her marquis out of prison, and bring him to dine with
us, as I wanted to know him. I thought she would have died with joy.
The third sister, having taken counsel with Victoire, and doubtless
with her mother also, determined to earn twenty guineas for herself,
and she had not much trouble in doing so. She it was on whom Lord
Pembroke had cast the eye of desire.
These five girls were like five dishes placed before a gourmand, who
enjoys them one after the other. To my fancy the last was always the
best. The third sister's name was Augusta.
Next Sunday I had a large number of guests. There were my daughter
and her friend, Madame Cornelis, and her son. Sophie was kissed and
caressed by the Hanoverians, while I bestowed a hundred kisses on
Miss Nancy Steyne, who was only thirteen, but whose young beauty
worked sad havoc with my senses. My affection was supposed to be
fatherly in its character, but, alas I it was of a much more fleshly
kind. This Miss Nancy, who seemed to me almost divine, was the
daughter of a rich merchant. I said that I wanted to make her
father's acquaintance, and she replied that her father proposed
coming to call on me that very day. I was delighted to hear of the
coincidence, and gave order that he should be shewn in as soon as he
The poor marquis was the only sad figure in the company. He was
young and well-made, but thin and repulsively ugly. He thanked me
for my kindness, saying that I had done a wise thing, as he felt sure
the time would come when he would repay me a hundredfold.
I had given my daughter six guineas to buy a pelisse, and she took me
to my bedroom to shew it me. Her mother followed her to congratulate
me on my seraglio.
At dinner gaiety reigned supreme. I sat between my daughter and Miss
Nancy Steyne, and felt happy. Mr. Steyne came in as we were at the
oysters. He kissed his daughter with that tender affection which is
more characteristic, I think, of English parents than those of any
Mr. Steyne had dined, but he nevertheless ate a hundred scolloped
oysters, in the preparation of which my cook was wonderfully expert;
he also honoured the champagne with equal attention.
We spent three hours at the table and then proceeded to the third
floor, where Sophie accompanied her mother's singing on the piano,
and young Cornelis displayed his flute-playing talents. Mr. Steyne
swore that he had never been present at such a pleasant party in his
life, adding that pleasure was forbidden fruit in England on Sundays
and holidays. This convinced me that Steyne was an intelligent man,
though his French was execrable. He left at seven, after giving a
beautiful ring to my daughter, whom he escorted back to school with
The Marquis Petina foolishly observed to me that he did not know
where to find a bed. I understood what he wanted, but I told him he
would easily find one with a little money. Taking his sweetheart
aside I gave her a guinea for him, begging her to tell him not to
visit me again till he was invited.
When all the guests were gone, I led the five sisters to the mother's
room. She was wonderfully well, eating, drinking, and sleeping to
admiration, and never doing anything, not even reading or writing.
She enjoyed the 'dolce far niente' in all the force of the term.
However, she told me she was always thinking of her family, and of
the laws which it imposed on her.
I could scarcely help laughing, but I only said that if these laws
were the same as those which her charming daughters followed, I
thought them wiser than Solon's.
I drew Augusta on to my knee, and said,--
"My lady, allow me to kiss your delightful daughter."
Instead of giving me a direct answer, the old hypocrite began a long
sermon on the lawfulness of the parental kiss. All the time Augusta
was lavishing on me secret but delicious endearments.
'O tempora! O mores!'
The next day I was standing at my window, when the Marquis
Caraccioli, who was passing by, greeted me, and asked me if he could
come in. I bade him welcome, and summoning the eldest sister told
the ambassador that this young lady was going to marry the Marquis
Petina as soon as his remittances arrived.
He addressed himself to her, and spoke as follows:
"Mademoiselle, it is true that your lover is really a marquis, but he
is very poor and will never have any money; and if he goes back to
Naples he will be imprisoned, and if he is released from the State
prison his creditors will put him in the Vittoria."
However this salutary warning had no effect.
After the ambassador had taken his leave I was dressing to take a
ride when Augusta told me that, if I liked, Hippolyta her sister
would come with me, as she could ride beautifully.
"That's amusing," said I, "make her come down."
Hippolyta came down and begged me to let her ride with me, saying
that she would do me credit.
"Certainly;" said I, "but have you a man's riding suit or a woman's
"Then we must put off the excursion till to-morrow."
I spent the day in seeing that a suit was made for her, and I felt
quite amorous when Pegu, the tailor, measured her for the breeches.
Everything was done in time and we had a charming ride, for she
managed her horse with wonderful skill.
After an excellent supper, to which wine had not been lacking, the
happy Hippolyta accompanied Victoire into my room and helped her to
undress. When she kissed her sister I asked if she would not give me
a kiss too, and after some jesting Augusta changed the joke into
earnest by bidding her come to bed beside me, without taking the
trouble to ask my leave, so sure did she feel of my consent. The
night was well spent, and I had no reason to complain of want of
material, but Augusta wisely let the newcomer have the lion's share
of my attentions.
Next day we rode out again in the afternoon, followed by my negro,
who was a skilful horseman himself. In Richmond Park Hippolyta's
dexterity astonished me; she drew all eyes on her. In the evening we
came home well pleased with our day's ride, and had a good supper.
As the meal proceeded I noticed that Gabrielle, the youngest of all,
looked sad and a little sulky. I asked her the reason, and with a
little pout that became her childish face admirably, she replied,--
"Because I can ride on horseback as well as my sister."
"Very good," said I, "then you shall ride the day after to-morrow."
This put her into a good temper again.
Speaking of Hippolyta's skill, I asked her where she had learnt to
ride. She simply burst out laughing. I asked her why she laughed,
and she said,--
"Why, because I never learnt anywhere; my only masters were courage
and some natural skill."
"And has your sister learnt?"
"No," said Gabrielle, "but I can ride just as well."
I could scarcely believe it, for Hippolyta had seemed to float on her
horse, and her riding skewed the utmost skill and experience. Hoping
that her sister would vie with her, I said that I would take them out
together, and the very idea made them both jump with joy.
Gabrielle was only fifteen, and her shape, though not fully
developed, was well marked, and promised a perfect beauty by the time
she was in her maturity. Full of grace and simplicity, she said she
would like to come with me to my room, and I readily accepted her
offer, not caring whether the scheme had been concerted between her
and her other sisters.
As soon as we were alone, she told me that she had never had a lover,
and she allowed me to assure myself of the fact with the same child-
like simplicity. Gabrielle was like all the others; I would have
chosen her if I had been obliged to make the choice. She made me
feel sorry for her sake, to hear that the mother had made up her mind
to leave. In the morning I gave her her fee of twenty guineas and a
handsome ring as a mark of my peculiar friendship, and we spent the
day in getting ready our habits for the ride of the day following.
Gabrielle got on horseback as if she had had two years in the riding
school. We went along the streets at a walking pace, but as soon as
we were in the open country we broke into a furious gallop, and kept
it up till we got to Barnet, where we stopped to breakfast. We had
done the journey in twenty-five minutes, although the distance is
nearly ten miles. This may seem incredible, but the English horses
are wonderfully swift, and we were all of us well mounted. My two
nymphs looked ravishing. I adored them, and I adored myself for
making them so happy.
Just as we were remounting, who should arrive but Lord Pembroke. He
was on his way to St. Alban's. He stopped his horse, and admired the
graceful riding of my two companions; and not recognizing them
immediately, he begged leave to pay his court to them. How I laughed
to myself! At last he recognized them, and congratulated me on my
conquest, asking if I loved Hippolyta. I guessed his meaning, and
said I only loved Gabrielle.
"Very good," said he; "may I come and see you?"
"Certainly," I replied.
After a friendly hand-shake we set out once more, and were soon back
Gabrielle was done up and went to bed directly; she slept on till the
next morning without my disturbing her peaceful sleep, and when she
awoke and found herself in my arms, she began to philosophise.
"How easy it is," said she, "to be happy when one is rich, and how
sad it is to see happiness out of one's reach for lack of a little
money. Yesterday I was the happiest of beings, and why should I not
be as happy all my days? I would gladly agree that my life should be
short provided that it should be a happy one."
I, too, philosophised, but my reflections were sombre. I saw my
resources all but exhausted, and I began to meditate a journey to
Lisbon. If my fortune had been inexhaustible, the Hanoverians might
have held me in their silken fetters to the end of my days. It
seemed to me as if I loved them more like a father than a lover, and
the fact that I slept with them only added to the tenderness of the
tie. I looked into Gabrielle's eyes, and there I saw but love. How
could such a love exist in her unless she were naturally virtuous,
and yet devoid of those prejudices which are instilled into us in our
The next day Pembroke called and asked me to give him a dinner.
Augusta delighted him. He made proposals to her which excited her
laughter as he did not want to pay till after the event, and she
would not admit this condition. However, he gave her a bank note for
ten guineas before he left, and she accepted it with much grace. The
day after he wrote her a letter, of which I shall speak presently.
A few minutes after the nobleman had gone the mother sent for me to
come to her, and after paying an eloquent tribute to my virtues, my
generosity, and my unceasing kindness towards her family, she made
the following proposal:
"As I feel sure that you have all the love of a father for my
daughters, I wish you to become their father in reality! I offer you
my hand and heart; become my husband, you will be their father, their
lord and mine. What do you say to this?"
I bit my lips hard and had great difficulty in restraining my
inclination to laughter. Nevertheless, the amazement, the contempt,
and the indignation which this unparalleled piece of impudence
aroused in me soon brought me to myself. I perceived that this
consummate hypocrite had counted on an abrupt refusal, and had only
made this ridiculous offer with the idea of convincing me that she
was under the impression that I had left her daughters as I had found
them, and that the money I had spent on them was merely a sign of my
tender and fatherly affection. Of course she knew perfectly well how
the land lay, but she thought to justify herself by taking this step.
She was aware that I could only look upon such a proposal as an
insult, but she did not care for that.
I resolved to keep on the mask, and replied that her proposition was
undoubtedly a very great honour for me, but it was also a very
important question, and so I begged her to allow me some time for
When I got back to my room I found there the mistress of the wretched
Marquis Petina, who told me that her happiness depended on a
certificate from the Neapolitan ambassador that her lover was really
the person he professed to be. With this document he would be able
to claim a sum of two hundred guineas, and then they could both go to
Naples, and he would marry her there. "He will easily obtain the
royal pardon," said she. "You, and you alone, can help us in the
matter, and I commend myself to your kindness."
I promised to do all I could for her. In fact, I called on the
ambassador, who made no difficulty about giving the required
certificate. For the moment my chilly conquest was perfectly happy,
but though I saw she was very grateful to me I did not ask her to
prove her gratitude.
Augusta Becomes Lord Pembroke's Titular Mistress The King of
Corsica's Son--M. du Claude, or the Jesuit Lavalette--Departure of
the Hanoverians I Balance My Accounts--The Baron Stenau--The English
Girl, and What She Gave Me--Daturi--My Flight from London--Comte St.
Lord Pembroke wrote to Augusta offering her fifty guineas a month for
three years, with lodging, board, servants, and carriage at St.
Albans, without reckoning what she might expect from his grateful
affection if it were returned.
Augusta translated the letter for me, and asked for my advice.
"I can't give you any counsel," said I, "in a matter which only
concerns your own heart and your own interests."
She went up to her mother, who would come to no conclusion without
first consulting me, because, as she said, I was the wisest and most
virtuous of men. I am afraid the reader will differ from her here,
but I comfort myself by the thought that I, too, think like the
reader. At last it was agreed that Augusta should accept the offer
if Lord Pembroke would find a surety in the person of some reputable
London merchant, for with her beauty and numerous graces she was sure
to, become Lady Pembroke before long. Indeed, the mother said she
was perfectly certain of it, as otherwise she could not have given
her consent, as her daughters were countesses, and too good to be any
The consequence was that Augusta wrote my lord a letter, and in three
days it was all settled. The merchant duly signed the contract, at
the foot of which I had the honour of inscribing my name as a
witness, and then I took the merchant to the mother, and he witnessed
her cession of her daughter. She would not see Pembroke, but she
kissed her daughter, and held a private colloquy with her.
The day on which Augusta left my house was signalized by an event
which I must set down.
The day after I had given the Marquis Petina's future bride the
required certificate, I had taken out Gabrielle and Hippolyta for a
ride. When I got home I found waiting for me a person calling
himself Sir Frederick, who was said to be the son of Theodore, King
of Corsica, who had died in London. This gentleman said he wished to
speak to me in private, and when we were alone he said he was aware
of my acquaintance with the Marquis Petina, and being on the eve of
discounting a bill of two hundred guineas for him he wished to be
informed whether it was likely that he could meet the bill when it
"It is important that I should be informed on that point," he added,
"for the persons who are going to discount the bill want me to put my
signature to it."
"Sir," I replied, "I certainly am acquainted with the marquis, but I
know nothing about his fortune. However, the Neapolitan ambassador
assured me that he was the Marquis Petina."
"If the persons who have the matter in hand should drop it, would you
discount the bill? You shall have it cheap."
"I never meddle with these speculations. Good day, Sir Frederick."
The next day Goudar came and said that a M. du Claude wanted to speak
"Who is M. du Claude?"
"The famous Jesuit Lavalette, who was concerned in the great
bankruptcy case which ruined the Society in France. He fled to
England under a false name. I advise you to listen to him, for he
must have plenty of money."
"A Jesuit and a bankrupt; that does not sound very well."
"Well, I have met him in good houses, and knowing that I was
acquainted with you he addressed himself to me. After all, you run
no risk in listening to what he has to say."
"Well, well, you can take me to him; it will be easier to avoid any
entanglement than if he came to see me."
Goudar went to Lavalette to prepare the way, and in the afternoon he
took me to see him. I was well enough pleased to see the man, whose
rascality had destroyed the infamous work of many years. He welcomed
me with great politeness, and as soon as we were alone he shewed me a
bill of Petina's, saying,--
"The young man wants me to discount it, and says you can give me the
I gave the reverend father the same answer as I had given the King of
Corsica's son, and left him angry with this Marquis of Misery who had
given me so much needless trouble. I was minded to have done with
him, and resolved to let him know through his mistress that I would
not be his reference, but I could not find an opportunity that day.
The next day I took my two nymphs for a ride, and asked Pembroke to
dinner. In vain we waited for Petina's mistress; she was nowhere to
be found. At nine o'clock I got a letter from her, with a German
letter enclosed for her mother. She said that feeling certain that
her mother would not give her consent to her marriage, she had eloped
with her lover, who had got together enough money to go to Naples,
and when they reached that town he would marry her. She begged me to
console her mother and make her listen to reason, as she had not gone
off with an adventurer but with a man of rank, her equal. My lips
curled into a smile of pity and contempt, which made the three
sisters curious. I shewed them the letter I had just received, and
asked them to come with me to their mother.
"Not to-night," said Victoire, "this terrible news would keep her
I took her advice and we supped together, sadly enough.
I thought the poor wretch was ruined for life, and I reproached
myself with being the cause of her misfortune; for if I had not
released the marquis from prison this could never have happened. The
Marquis Caraccioli had been right in saying that I had done a good
deed, but a foolish one. I consoled myself in the arms of my dear
I had a painful scene with the mother the next morning. She cursed
her daughter and her seducer, and even blamed me. She wept and
It is never of any use to try and convince people in distress that
they are wrong, for one may only do harm, while if they are left to
themselves they soon feel that they have been unjust, and are
grateful to the person who let them exhaust their grief without any
After this event I spent a happy fortnight in the society of
Gabrielle, whom Hippolyta and Victoire looked on as my wife. She
made my happiness and I made hers in all sorts of ways, but
especially by my fidelity; for I treated her sisters as if they had
been my sisters, shewing no recollection of the favours I had
obtained from them, and never taking the slightest liberty, for I
knew that friendship between women will hardly brook amorous rivalry.
I had bought them dresses and linen in abundance, they were well
lodged and well fed, I took them to the theatre and to the country,
and the consequence was they all adored me, and seemed to think that
this manner of living would go on for ever. Nevertheless, I was
every day nearer and nearer to moral and physical bankruptcy. I had
no more money, and I had sold all my diamonds and precious stones. I
still possessed my snuff-boxes, my watches, and numerous trifles,
which I loved and had not the heart to sell; and, indeed, I should
not have got the fifth part of what I gave for them. For a whole
month I had not paid my cook, or my wine merchant, but I liked to
feel that they trusted me. All I thought of was Gabrielle's love,
and of this I assured myself by a thousand delicacies and attentions.
This was my condition when one day Victoire came to me with sadness
on her face, and said that her mother had made up her mind to return
to Hanover, as she had lost all hope of getting anything from the
"When does she intend to leave?"
"In three or four days."
"And is she going without telling me, as if she were leaving an inn
after paying her bill?"
"On the contrary, she wishes to have a private talk with you."
I paid her a visit, and she began by reproaching me tenderly for not
coming to see her more often. She said that as I had refused her
hand she would not run the risk of incurring censure or slander of
any kind. "I thank you from my heart," she added, "for all the
kindness you have shewn my girls, and I am going to take the three I
have left away, lest I lose them as I have lost the two eldest. If
you like, you may come too and stay with us as long as you like in my
pretty country house near the capital."
Of course I had to thank her and reply that my engagements did not
allow me to accept her kind offer.
Three days after, Victoire told me, as I was getting up, that they
were going on board ship at three o'clock. Hippolyta and Gabrielle
made me come for a ride, according to a promise I had given them the
night before. The poor things amused themselves, while I grieved
bitterly, as was my habit when I had to separate from anyone that I
When we came home I lay down on my bed, not taking any dinner, and
seeing nothing of the three sisters till they had made everything
ready for the journey. I got up directly before they left, so as not
to see the mother in my own room, and I saw her in hers just as she
was about to be taken down into my carriage, which was in readiness
at the door. The impudent creature expected me to give her some
money for the journey, but perceiving that I was not likely to bleed,
she observed, with involuntary sincerity, that her purse contained
the sum of a hundred and fifty guineas, which I had given to her
daughters; and these daughters of hers were present, and sobbed
When they were gone I closed my doors to everyone, and spent three
days in the melancholy occupation of making up my accounts. In the
month I had spent with the Hanoverians I had dissipated the whole of
the sum resulting from the sale of the precious stones, and I found
that I was in debt to the amount of four hundred guineas. I resolved
to go to Lisbon by sea, and sold my diamond cross, six or seven gold
snuff-boxes (after removing the portraits), all my watches except
one, and two great trunks full of clothes. I then discharged my
debts and found I was eighty guineas to the good, this being what
remained of the fine fortune I had squandered away like a fool or a
philosopher, or, perhaps, a little like both. I left my fine house
where I had lived so pleasantly, and took a little room at a guinea a
week. I still kept my negro, as I had every reason to believe him to
be a faithful servant.
After taking these measures I wrote to M. de Bragadin, begging him to
send me two hundred sequins.
Thus having made up my mind to leave London without owing a penny to
anyone, and under obligations to no man's purse, I waited for the
bill of exchange from Venice. When it came I resolved to bid
farewell to all my friends and to try my fortune in Lisbon, but such
was not the fate which the fickle goddess had assigned to me.
A fortnight after the departure of the Hanoverians (it was the end of
February in the year 1764), my evil genius made me go to the "Canon
Tavern," where I usually dined in a room by myself. The table was
laid and I was just going to sit down, when Baron Stenau came in and
begged me to have my dinner brought into the next room, where he and
his mistress were dining.
"I thank you," said I, "for the solitary man grows weary of his
I saw the English woman I had met at Sartori's, the same to whom the
baron had been so generous. She spoke Italian, and was attractive in
many ways, so I was well pleased to find myself opposite to her, and
we had a pleasant dinner.
After a fortnight's abstinence it was not surprising that she
inspired me with desires, but I concealed them nevertheless, for her
lover seemed to respect her. I only allowed myself to tell the baron
that I thought him the happiest of men.
Towards the close of the dinner the girl noticed three dice on the
mantel and took them up, saying,--
"Let us have a wager of a guinea, and spend it on oysters and
We could not refuse, and the baron having lost called the waiter and
gave him his orders.
While we were eating the oysters she suggested that we should throw
again to see which should pay for the dinner.
We did so and she lost.
I did not like my luck, and wishing to lose a couple of guineas I
offered to throw against the baron. He accepted, and to my annoyance
I won. He asked for his revenge and lost again.
"I don't want to win your money," said I, "and I will give you your
revenge up to a hundred guineas."
He seemed grateful and we went on playing, and in less than half an
hour he owed me a hundred guineas.
"Let us go on," said he.
"My dear baron, the luck's against you; you might lose a large sum of
money. I really think we have had enough."
Without heeding my politeness, he swore against fortune and against
the favour I seemed to be shewing him. Finally he got up, and taking
his hat and cane, went out, saying,--
"I will pay you when I come back."
As soon as he had gone the girl said:
"I am sure you have been regarding me as your partner at play."
"If you have guessed that, you will also have guessed that I think
"Yes, I think I have."
"Are you angry with me?"
"Not in the least."
"You shall have the fifty guineas as soon as he has paid me."
"Very good, but the baron must know nothing about it."
"Of course not."
The bargain was scarcely struck before I began to shew her how much I
loved her. I had every reason to congratulate myself on her
complaisance, and I thought this meeting a welcome gleam of light
when all looked dark around me. We had to make haste, however, as
the door was only shut with a catch. I had barely time to ascertain
her address and the hour at which she could see me, and whether I
should have to be careful with her lover. She replied that the
baron's fidelity was not of a character to make him very exacting. I