Part 1 out of 4
This etext was produced by David Widger
MEMOIRS OF JACQUES CASANOVA de SEINGALT 1725-1798
TO PARIS AND PRISON, Volume 2a--PARIS
THE RARE UNABRIDGED LONDON EDITION OF 1894 TRANSLATED BY ARTHUR
MACHEN TO WHICH HAS BEEN ADDED THE CHAPTERS DISCOVERED
BY ARTHUR SYMONS.
Leave Bologna a Happy Man--The Captain Parts from Us in Reggio, where
I Spend a Delightful Night with Henriette--Our Arrival in Parma--
Henriette Resumes the Costume of a Woman; Our Mutual Felicity--I Meet
Some Relatives of Mine, but Do not Discover Myself
The reader can easily guess that there was a change as sudden as a
transformation in a pantomime, and that the short but magic sentence,
"Come to Parma," proved a very fortunate catastrophe, thanks to which
I rapidly changed, passing from the tragic to the gentle mood, from
the serious to the tender tone. Sooth to say, I fell at her feet,
and lovingly pressing her knees I kissed them repeatedly with
raptures of gratitude. No more 'furore', no more bitter words; they
do not suit the sweetest of all human feelings! Loving, docile,
grateful, I swear never to beg for any favour, not even to kiss her
hand, until I have shewn myself worthy of her precious love! The
heavenly creature, delighted to see me pass so rapidly from despair
to the most lively tenderness, tells me, with a voice the tone of
which breathes of love, to get up from my knees.
"I am sure that you love me," says she, "and be quite certain that I
shall leave nothing undone to secure the constancy of your feelings."
Even if she had said that she loved me as much as I adored her, she
would not have been more eloquent, for her words expressed all that
can be felt. My lips were pressed to her beautiful hands as the
captain entered the room. He complimented us with perfect good
faith, and I told him, my face beaming with happiness, that I was
going to order the carriage. I left them together, and in a short
time we were on our road, cheerful, pleased, and merry.
Before reaching Reggio the honest captain told me that in his opinion
it would be better for him to proceed to Parma alone, as, if we
arrived in that city all together, it might cause some remarks, and
people would talk about us much less if we were without him. We both
thought him quite right, and we immediately made up our minds to pass
the night in Reggio, while the captain would take a post-chaise and
go alone to Parma. According to that arrangement his trunk was
transferred to the vehicle which he hired in Reggio, he bade us
farewell and went away, after having promised to dine with us on the
following day in Parma.
The decision taken by the worthy Hungarian was, doubtless, as
agreeable to my lovely friend as to me, for our delicacy would have
condemned us to a great reserve in his presence. And truly, under
the new circumstances, how were we to arrange for our lodgings in
Reggio? Henriette could not, of course, share the bed of the captain
any more, and she could not have slept with me as long as he was with
us, without being guilty of great immodesty. We should all three
have laughed at that compulsory reserve which we would have felt to
be ridiculous, but we should, for all that, have submitted to it.
Love is the little impudent god, the enemy of bashfulness, although
he may very often enjoy darkness and mystery, but if he gives way to
it he feels disgraced; he loses three-fourths of his dignity and the
greatest portion of his charms.
Evidently there could be no happiness for Henriette or for me unless
we parted with the person and even with the remembrance of the
We supped alone. I was intoxicated with a felicity which seemed too
immense, and yet I felt melancholy, but Henriette, who looked sad
likewise, had no reproach to address to me. Our sadness was in
reality nothing but shyness; we loved each other, but we had had no
time to become acquainted. We exchanged only a few words, there was
nothing witty, nothing interesting in our conversation, which struck
us both as insipid, and we found more pleasure in the thoughts which
filled our minds. We knew that we were going to pass the night
together, but we could not have spoken of it openly. What a night!
what a delightful creature was that Henriette whom I have loved so
deeply, who has made me so supremely happy!
It was only three or four days later that I ventured on asking her
what she would have done, without a groat in her possession, having
not one acquaintance in Parma, if I had been afraid to declare my
love, and if I had gone to Naples. She answered that she would
doubtless have found herself in very great difficulties, but that she
had all along felt certain of my love, and that she had foreseen what
had happened. She added that, being impatient to know what I thought
of her, she had asked me to translate to the captain what she had
expressed respecting her resolution, knowing that he could neither
oppose that resolution nor continue to live with her, and that, as
she had taken care not to include me in the prayer which she had
addressed to him through me, she had thought it impossible that I
should fail to ask whether I could be of some service to her, waiting
to take a decision until she could have ascertained the nature of my
feelings towards her. She concluded by telling me that if she had
fallen it was the fault of her husband and of her father-in-law, both
of whom she characterized as monsters rather than men.
When we reached Parma, I gave the police the name of Farusi, the same
that I had assumed in Cesena; it was the family name of my mother;
while Henriette wrote down, "Anne D'Arci, from France." While we
were answering the questions of the officer, a young Frenchman, smart
and intelligent-looking, offered me his services, and advised me not
to put up at the posting-inn, but to take lodgings at D'Andremorit's.
hotel, where I should find good apartments, French cooking, and the
best French wines.
Seeing that Henriette was pleased with the proposal, I told the young
man to take us there, and we were soon very comfortably lodged. I
engaged the Frenchman by the day, and carefully settled all my
arrangements with D'Andremont. After that I attended to the housing
of my carriage.
Coming in again for a few minutes, I told Henriette that I would
return in time for dinner, and, ordering the servant to remain in the
ante-room, I went out alone.
Parma was then groaning under a new government. I had every reason
to suppose that there were spies everywhere and under every form. I
therefore did not want to have at my heels a valet who might have
injured rather than served me. Though I was in my father's native
city, I had no acquaintances there, but I knew that I should soon
find my way.
When I found myself in the streets, I scarcely could believe that I
was in Italy, for everything had a tramontane appearance. I heard
nothing but French and Spanish, and those who did not speak one of
those languages seemed to be whispering to one another. I was going
about at random, looking for a hosier, yet unwilling to enquire where
I could find one; at last I saw what I wanted.
I entered the shop, and addressing myself to a stout, good-looking
woman seated behind the counter, I said,
"Madam, I wish to make some purchases."
"Sir, shall I send for someone speaking French?"
"You need not do so, I am an Italian."
"God be praised! Italians are scarce in these days."
"Do you not know that Don Philip has arrived, and that his wife,
Madame de France, is on the road?"
"I congratulate you, for it must make trade very good. I suppose
that money is plentiful, and that there is abundance of all
"That is true, but everything is high in price, and we cannot get
reconciled to these new fashions. They are a bad mixture of French
freedom and Spanish haughtiness which addles our brains. But, sir,
what sort of linen do you require?"
"In the first place, I must tell you that I never try to drive a hard
bargain, therefore be careful. If you charge me too much, I shall
not come again. I want some fine linen for twenty-four chemises,
some dimity for stays and petticoats, some muslin, some cambric for
pocket-handkerchiefs, and many other articles which I should be very
glad to find in your shop, for I am a stranger here, and God knows in
what hands I am going to trust myself!"
"You will be in honest ones, if you will give me your confidence."
"I am sure that you deserve it, and I abandon my interests to you.
I want likewise to find some needlewomen willing to work in the
lady's room, because she requires everything to be made very
"Yes, dresses, caps, mantles-in fact, everything, for she is naked."
"With money she will soon have all she wants. Is she young?"
"She is four years younger than I. She is my wife."
"Ah! may God bless you! Any children?"
"Not yet, my good lady; but they will come, for we do all that is
necessary to have them."
"I have no doubt of it. How pleased I am! Well, sir, I shall send
for the very phoenix of all dressmakers. In the mean time, choose
what you require, it will amuse you."
I took the best of everything and paid, and the dressmaker making her
appearance at that moment I gave my address, requesting that various
sorts of stuff might be sent at once. I told the dressmaker and her
daughter, who had come with her, to follow me and to carry the linen.
On my way to the hotel I bought several pairs of silk stockings, and
took with me a bootmaker who lived close by.
Oh, what a delightful moment! Henriette, who had not the slightest
idea of what I had gone out for, looked at everything with great
pleasure, yet without any of those demonstrations which announce a
selfish or interested disposition. She shewed her gratitude only by
the delicate praise which she bestowed upon my taste and upon the
quality of the articles I had purchased. She was not more cheerful
on account of my presents, but the tender affection with which she
looked at me was the best proof of her grateful feelings.
The valet I had hired had entered the room with the shoemaker.
Henriette told him quietly to withdraw, and not to come unless he was
called. The dressmaker set to work, the shoemaker took her measure,
and I told him to bring some slippers. He returned in a short time,
and the valet came in again with him without having been called. The
shoemaker, who spoke French, was talking the usual nonsense of
dealers, when she interrupted him to ask the valet, who was standing
familiarly in the room, what he wanted.
"Nothing, madam, I am only waiting for your orders."
"Have I not told you that you would be called when your services were
"I should like to know who is my master, you or the gentleman?"
"Neither," I replied, laughing. "Here are your day's wages. Be off
The shoemaker, seeing that Henriette spoke only French, begged to
recommend a teacher of languages.
"What country does he belong to?" she enquired.
"To Flanders, madam," answered Crispin, "he is a very learned man,
about fifty years old. He is said to be a good man. He charges
three libbre for each lesson of one hour, and six for two hours, but
he requires to be paid each time."
"My dear," said Henriette to me, "do you wish me to engage that
"Yes, dearest, it will amuse you."
The shoemaker promised to send the Flemish professor the next
The dressmakers were hard at work, the mother cutting and the
daughter sewing, but, as progress could not be too rapid, I told the
mother that she would oblige us if she could procure another
seamstress who spoke French.
"You shall have one this very day, sir," she answered, and she
offered me the services of her own son as a servant, saying that if I
took him I should be certain to have neither a thief nor a spy about
me, and that he spoke French pretty well. Henriette thought we could
not do better than take the young man. Of course that was enough to
make me consent at once, for the slightest wish of the woman we love
is our supreme law. The mother went for him, and she brought back at
the same time the half-French dressmaker. It all amused my goddess,
who looked very happy.
The young man was about eighteen, pleasant, gentle and modest. I
enquired his name, and he answered that it was Caudagna.
The reader may very likely recollect that my father's native place
had been Parma, and that one of his sisters had married a Caudagna.
"It would be a curious coincidence," I thought, "if that dressmaker
should be my aunt, and my valet my cousin!" but I did not say it
Henriette asked me if I had any objection to the first dressmaker
dining at our table.
"I entreat you, my darling," I answered, "never, for the future, to
ask my consent in such trifling matters. Be quite certain, my
beloved, that I shall always approve everything you may do."
She smiled and thanked me. I took out my purse, and said to her;
"Take these fifty sequins, dearest, to pay for all your small
expenses, and to buy the many trifles which I should be sure to
She took the money, assuring me that she was vastly obliged to me.
A short time before dinner the worthy captain made his appearance.
Henriette ran to meet him and kissed him, calling him her dear
father, and I followed her example by calling him my friend. My
beloved little wife invited him to dine with us every day. The
excellent fellow, seeing all the women working busily for Henriette,
was highly pleased at having procured such a good position for his
young adventuress, and I crowned his happiness by telling him that I
was indebted to him for my felicity.
Our dinner was delicious, and it proved a cheerful meal. I found out
that Henriette was dainty, and my old friend a lover of good wines.
I was both, and felt that I was a match for them. We tasted several
excellent wines which D'Andremont had recommended, and altogether we
had a very good dinner.
The young valet pleased me in consequence of the respectful manner in
which he served everyone, his mother as well as his masters. His
sister and the other seamstress had dined apart.
We were enjoying our dessert when the hosier was announced,
accompanied by another woman and a milliner who could speak French.
The other woman had brought patterns of all sorts of dresses. I let
Henriette order caps, head-dresses, etc., as she pleased, but I would
interfere in the dress department although I complied with the
excellent taste of my charming friend. I made her choose four
dresses, and I was indeed grateful for her ready acceptance of them,
for my own happiness was increased in proportion to the pleasure I
gave her and the influence I was obtaining over her heart.
Thus did we spend the first day, and we could certainly not have
In the evening, as we were alone at supper, I fancied that her lovely
face looked sad. I told her so.
"My darling," she answered, with a voice which went to my heart, "you
are spending a great deal of money on me, and if you do so in the
hope of my loving you more dearly I must tell you it is money lost,
for I do not love you now more than I did yesterday, but I do love
you with my whole heart. All you may do that is not strictly
necessary pleases me only because I see more and more how worthy you
are of me, but it is not needed to make me feel all the deep love
which you deserve."
"I believe you, dearest, and my happiness is indeed great if you feel
that your love for me cannot be increased. But learn also, delight
of my heart, that I have done it all only to try to love you even
more than I do, if possible. I wish to see you beautiful and
brilliant in the attire of your sex, and if there is one drop of
bitterness in the fragrant cup of my felicity, it is a regret at not
being able to surround you with the halo which you deserve. Can I be
otherwise than delighted, my love, if you are pleased?"
"You cannot for one moment doubt my being pleased, and as you have
called me your wife you are right in one way, but if you are not very
rich I leave it to you to judge how deeply I ought to reproach
"Ah, my beloved angel! let me, I beg of you, believe myself wealthy,
and be quite certain that you cannot possibly be the cause of my
ruin. You were born only for my happiness. All I wish is that you
may never leave me. Tell me whether I can entertain such a hope."
"I wish it myself, dearest, but who can be sure of the future? Are
you free? Are you dependent on anyone?"
"I am free in the broadest meaning of that word, I am dependent on no
one but you, and I love to be so."
"I congratulate you, and I am very glad of it, for no one can tear
you from my arms, but, alas! you know that I cannot say the same as
you. I am certain that some persons are, even now, seeking for me,
and they will not find it very difficult to secure me if they ever
discover where I am. Alas! I feel how miserable I should be if they
ever succeeded in dragging me away from you!"
"You make me tremble. Are you afraid of such a dreadful misfortune
"No, unless I should happen to be seen by someone knowing me."
"Are any such persons likely to be here at present?"
"I think not."
"Then do not let our love take alarm, I trust your fears will never
be verified. Only, my darling one, you must be as cheerful as you
were in Cesena."
"I shall be more truly so now, dear friend. In Cesena I was
miserable; while now I am happy. Do not be afraid of my being sad,
for I am of a naturally cheerful disposition."
"I suppose that in Cesena you were afraid of being caught by the
officer whom you had left in Rome?"
"Not at all; that officer was my father-in-law, and I am quite
certain that he never tried to ascertain where I had gone. He was
only too glad to get rid of me. I felt unhappy because I could not
bear to be a charge on a man whom I could not love, and with whom I
could not even exchange one thought. Recollect also that I could not
find consolation in the idea that I was ministering to his happiness,
for I had only inspired him with a passing fancy which he had himself
valued at ten sequins. I could not help feeling that his fancy, once
gratified, was not likely at his time of life to become a more
lasting sentiment, and I could therefore only be a burden to him, for
he was not wealthy. Besides, there was a miserable consideration
which increased my secret sorrow. I thought myself bound in duty to
carress him, and on his side, as he thought that he ought to pay me
in the same money, I was afraid of his ruining his health for me, and
that idea made me very unhappy. Having no love for each other, we
allowed a foolish feeling of regard to make both of us uncomfortable.
We lavished, for the sake of a well-meaning but false decorum, that
which belongs to love alone. Another thing troubled me greatly. I
was afraid lest people might suppose that I was a source of profit
to him. That idea made me feel the deepest shame, yet, whenever I
thought of it, I could not help admitting that such a supposition,
however false, was not wanting in probability. It is owing to that
feeling that you found me so reserved towards you, for I was afraid
that you might harbour that fearful idea if I allowed, you to read in
my looks the favourable impression which you had made on my heart."
"Then it was not owing to a feeling of self-love?"
"No, I confess it, for you could but judge me as I deserved. I had
been guilty of the folly now known to you because my father-in-law
intended to bury me in a convent, and that did not suit my taste.
But, dearest friend, you must forgive me if, I cannot confide even to
you the history of my life."
"I respect your secret, darling; you need not fear any intrusion from
me on that subject. All we have to do is to love one another, and
not to allow any dread of the future to mar our actual felicity."
The next day, after a night of intense enjoyment, I found myself more
deeply in love than before, and the next three months were spent by
us in an intoxication of delight.
At nine o'clock the next morning the teacher of Italian was
announced. I saw a man of respectable appearance, polite, modest,
speaking little but well, reserved in his answers, and with the
manners of olden times. We conversed, and I could not help laughing
when he said, with an air of perfect good faith, that a Christian
could only admit the system of Copernicus as a clever hypothesis.
I answered that it was the system of God Himself because it was that
of nature, and that it was not in Holy Scripture that the laws of
science could be learned.
The teacher smiled in a manner which betrayed the Tartufe, and if I
had consulted only my own feelings I should have dismissed the poor
man, but I thought that he might amuse Henriette and teach her
Italian; after all it was what I wanted from him. My dear wife told
him that she would give him six libbre for a lesson of two hours: the
libbra of Parma being worth only about threepence, his lessons were
not very expensive. She took her first lesson immediately and gave
him two sequins, asking him to purchase her some good novels.
Whilst my dear Henriette was taking her lesson, I had some
conversation with the dressmaker, in order to ascertain whether she
was a relative of mine.
"What does your husband do?" I asked her.
"He is steward to the Marquis of Sissa."
"Is your father still alive?"
"No, sir, he is dead."
"What was his family name?"
"Are your husband's parents still alive?"
"His father is dead, but his mother is still alive, and resides with
her uncle, Canon Casanova."
That was enough. The good woman was my Welsh cousin, and her
children were my Welsh nephews. My niece Jeanneton was not pretty;
but she appeared to be a good girl. I continued my conversation with
the mother, but I changed the topic.
"Are the Parmesans satisfied with being the subjects of a Spanish
"Satisfied? Well, in that case, we should be easily pleased, for we
are now in a regular maze. Everything is upset, we do not know where
we are. Oh! happy times of the house of Farnese, whither have you
departed? The day before yesterday I went to the theatre, and
Harlequin made everybody roar with laughter. Well, now, fancy, Don
Philipo, our new duke, did all he could to remain serious, and when
he could not manage it, he would hide his face in his hat so that
people should not see that he was laughing, for it is said that
laughter ought never to disturb the grave and stiff countenance of an
Infante of Spain, and that he would be dishonoured in Madrid if he
did not conceal his mirth. What do you think of that? Can such
manners suit us? Here we laugh willingly and heartily! Oh! the good
Duke Antonio (God rest his soul!) was certainly as great a prince as
Duke Philipo, but he did not hide himself from his subjects when he
was pleased, and he would sometimes laugh so heartily that he could
be heard in the streets. Now we are all in the most fearful
confusion, and for the last three months no one in Parma knows what's
"Have all the clocks been destroyed?"
"No, but ever since God created the world, the sun has always gone
down at half-past five, and at six the bells have always been tolled
for the Angelus. All respectable people knew that at that time the
candle had to be lit. Now, it is very strange, the sun has gone mad,
for he sets every day at a different hour. Our peasants do not know
when they are to come to market. All that is called a regulation but
do you know why? Because now everybody knows that dinner is to be
eaten at twelve o'clock. A fine regulation, indeed! Under the
Farnese we used to eat when we were hungry, and that was much
That way of reasoning was certainly singular, but I did not think it
sounded foolish in the mouth of a woman of humble rank. It seems to
me that a government ought never to destroy ancient customs abruptly,
and that innocent errors ought to be corrected only by degrees.
Henriette had no watch. I felt delighted at the idea of offering her
such a present, and I went out to purchase one, but after I had
bought a very fine watch, I thought of ear-rings, of a fan, and of
many other pretty nicknacks. Of course I bought them all at once.
She received all those gifts offered by love with a tender delicacy
which overjoyed me. She was still with the teacher when I came back.
"I should have been able," he said to me, "to teach your lady
heraldry, geography, history, and the use of the globes, but she
knows that already. She has received an excellent education."
The teacher's name was Valentin de la Haye. He told me that he was
an engineer and professor of mathematics. I shall have to speak of
him very often in these Memoirs, and my readers will make his
acquaintance by his deeds better than by any portrait I could give of
him, so I will merely say that he was a true Tartufe, a worthy pupil
We had a pleasant dinner with our Hungarian friend. Henriette was
still wearing the uniform, and I longed to see her dressed as a
woman. She expected a dress to be ready for the next day, and she
was already supplied with petticoats and chemises.
Henriette was full of wit and a mistress of repartee. The milliner,
who was a native of Lyons, came in one morning, and said in French:
"Madame et Monsieur, j'ai l'honneur de vous souhaiter le bonjour."
"Why," said my friend, "do you not say Monsieur et madame?"
"I have always heard that in society the precedence is given to the
"But from whom do we wish to receive that honour?"
"From gentlemen, of course."
"And do you not see that women would render themselves ridiculous if
they did not grant to men the same that they expect from them. If we
wish them never to fail in politeness towards us, we must shew them
"Madam," answered the shrewd milliner, "you have taught me an
excellent lesson, and I will profit by it. Monsieur et madame, je
suis votre servante."
This feminine controversy greatly amused me.
Those who do not believe that a woman can make a man happy through
the twenty-four hours of the day have never possessed a woman like
Henriette. The happiness which filled me, if I can express it in
that manner, was much greater when I conversed with her even than
when I held her in my arms. She had read much, she had great tact,
and her taste was naturally excellent; her judgment was sane, and,
without being learned, she could argue like a mathematician, easily
and without pretension, and in everything she had that natural grace
which is so charming. She never tried to be witty when she said
something of importance, but accompanied her words with a smile which
imparted to them an appearance of trifling, and brought them within
the understanding of all. In that way she would give intelligence
even to those who had none, and she won every heart. Beauty without
wit offers love nothing but the material enjoyment of its physical
charms, whilst witty ugliness captivates by the charms of the mind,
and at last fulfils all the desires of the man it has captivated.
Then what was my position during all the time that I possessed my
beautiful and witty Henriette? That of a man so supremely happy that
I could scarcely realize my felicity!
Let anyone ask a beautiful woman without wit whether she would be
willing to exchange a small portion of her beauty for a sufficient
dose of wit. If she speaks the truth, she will say, "No, I am
satisfied to be as I am." But why is she satisfied? Because she is
not aware of her own deficiency. Let an ugly but witty woman be
asked if she would change her wit against beauty, and she will not
hestitate in saying no. Why? Because, knowing the value of her wit,
she is well aware that it is sufficient by itself to make her a queen
in any society.
But a learned woman, a blue-stocking, is not the creature to minister
to a man's happiness. Positive knowledge is not a woman's province.
It is antipathetic to the gentleness of her nature, to the amenity,
to the sweet timidity which are the greatest charms of the fair sex,
besides, women never carry their learning beyond certain limits, and
the tittle-tattle of blue-stockings can dazzle no one but fools.
There has never been one great discovery due to a woman. The fair
sex is deficient in that vigorous power which the body lends to the
mind, but women are evidently superior to men in simple reasoning, in
delicacy of feelings, and in that species of merit which appertains
to the heart rather than to the mind.
Hurl some idle sophism at a woman of intelligence. She will not
unravel it, but she will not be deceived by it, and, though she may
not say so, she will let you guess that she does not accept it. A
man, on the contrary, if he cannot unravel the sophism, takes it in a
literal sense, and in that respect the learned woman is exactly the
same as man. What a burden a Madame Dacier must be to a man! May
God save every honest man from such!
When the new dress was brought, Henriette told me that she did not
want me to witness the process of her metamorphosis, and she desired
me to go out for a walk until she had resumed her original form. I
obeyed cheerfully, for the slightest wish of the woman we love is a
law, and our very obedience increases our happiness.
As I had nothing particular to do, I went to a French bookseller in
whose shop I made the acquaintance of a witty hunchback, and I must
say that a hunchback without wit is a raga avis; I have found it so
in all countries. Of course it is not wit which gives the hump, for,
thank God, all witty men are not humpbacked, but we may well say that
as a general rule the hump gives wit, for the very small number of
hunchbacks who have little or no wit only confirms the rule: The one
I was alluding to just now was called Dubois-Chateleraux. He was a
skilful engraver, and director of the Mint of Parma for the Infante,
although that prince could not boast of such an institution.
I spent an hour with the witty hunchback, who shewed me several of
his engravings, and I returned to the hotel where I found the
Hungarian waiting to see Henriette. He did not know that she would
that morning receive us in the attire of her sex. The door was
thrown open, and a beautiful, charming woman met us with a courtesy
full of grace, which no longer reminded us of the stiffness or of the
too great freedom which belong to the military costume. Her sudden
appearance certainly astonished us, and we did not know what to say
or what to do. She invited us to be seated, looked at the captain in
a friendly manner, and pressed my hand with the warmest affection,
but without giving way any more to that outward familiarity which a
young officer can assume, but which does not suit a well-educated
lady. Her noble and modest bearing soon compelled me to put myself
in unison with her, and I did so without difficulty, for she was not
acting a part, and the way in which she had resumed her natural
character made it easy for me to follow her on that ground.
I was gazing at her with admiration, and, urged by a feeling which I
did not take time to analyze, I took her hand to kiss it with
respect, but, without giving me an opportunity of raising it to my
lips, she offered me her lovely mouth. Never did a kiss taste so
"Am I not then always the same?" said she to me, with deep feeling.
"No, heavenly creature, and it is so true that you are no longer the
same in my eyes that I could not now use any familiarity towards you.
You are no longer the witty, free young officer who told Madame
Querini about the game of Pharaoh, end about the deposits made to
your bank by the captain in so niggardly a manner that they were
hardly worth mentioning."
"It is very true that, wearing the costume of my sex, I should never
dare to utter such words. Yet, dearest friend, it does not prevent
my being your Henriette--that Henriette who has in her life been
guilty of three escapades, the last of which would have utterly
ruined me if it had not been for you, but which I call a delightful
error, since it has been the cause of my knowing you."
Those words moved me so deeply that I was on the point of throwing
myself at her feet, to entreat her to forgive me for not having shewn
her more respect, but Henriette, who saw the state in which I was,
and who wanted to put an end to the pathetic scene, began to shake
our poor captain, who sat as motionless as a statue, and as if he had
been petrified. He felt ashamed at having treated such a woman as an
adventuress, for he knew that what he now saw was not an illusion.
He kept looking at her with great confusion, and bowing most
respectfully, as if he wanted to atone for his past conduct towards
her. As for Henriette, she seemed to say to him, but without the
shadow of a reproach;
"I am glad that you think me worth more than ten sequins."
We sat down to dinner, and from that moment she did the honours of
the table with the perfect ease of a person who is accustomed to
fulfil that difficult duty. She treated me like a beloved husband,
and the captain like a respected friend. The poor Hungarian begged
me to tell her that if he had seen her, as she was now, in Civita
Vecchia, when she came out of the tartan, he should never have
dreamed of dispatching his cicerone to her room.
"Oh! tell him that I do not doubt it. But is it not strange that a
poor little female dress should command more respect than the garb of
"Pray do not abuse the officer's costume, for it is to it that I am
indebted for my happiness."
"Yes," she said, with a loving smile, "as I owe mine to the sbirri of
We remained for a long time at the table, and our delightful
conversation turned upon no other topic than our mutual felicity.
If it had not been for the uneasiness of the poor captain, which at
last struck us, we should never have put a stop either to the dinner
or to, our charming prattle.
I Engage a Box at the Opera, in Spite of Henriette's Reluctance--
M. Dubois Pays Us a Visit and Dines with Us; My Darling Plays Him a
Trick--Henriette Argues on Happiness--We Call on Dubois, and My Wife
Displays Her Marvellous Talent--M. Dutillot The Court gives a
Splendid Entertainment in the Ducal Gardens--A Fatal Meeting--I Have
an Interview with M. D'Antoine, the Favourite of the Infante of Spain
The happiness I was enjoying was too complete to last long. I was
fated to lose it, but I must not anticipate events. Madame de
France, wife of the Infante Don Philip, having arrived in Parma, the
opera house was opened, and I engaged a private box, telling
Henriette that I intended to take her to the theatre every night.
She had several times confessed that she had a great passion for
music, and I had no doubt that she would be pleased with my proposal.
She had never yet seen an Italian opera, and I felt certain that she
wished to ascertain whether the Italian music deserved its universal
fame. But I was indeed surprised when she exclaimed,
"What, dearest! You wish to go every evening to the opera?"
"I think, my love, that, if we did not go, we should give some excuse
for scandal-mongers to gossip. Yet, should you not like it, you know
that there is no need for us to go. Do not think of me, for I prefer
our pleasant chat in this room to the heavenly concert of the
"I am passionately fond of music, darling, but I cannot help
trembling at the idea of going out."
"If you tremble, I must shudder, but we ought to go to the opera or
leave Parma. Let us go to London or to any other place. Give your
orders, I am ready to do anything you like."
"Well, take a private box as little exposed as possible."
"How kind you are!"
The box I had engaged was in the second tier, but the theatre being
small it was difficult for a pretty woman to escape observation.
I told her so.
"I do not think there is any danger," she answered; "for I have not
seen the name of any person of my acquaintance in the list of
foreigners which you gave me to read."
Thus did Henriette go to the opera. I had taken care that our box
should not be lighted up. It was an opera-buffa, the music of
Burellano was excellent, and the singers were very good.
Henriette made no use of her opera-glass except to look on the stage,
and nobody paid any attention to us. As she had been greatly pleased
with the finale of the second act, I promised to get it for her, and
I asked Dubois to procure it for me. Thinking that she could play
the harpsichord, I offered to get one, but she told me that she had
never touched that instrument.
On the night of the fourth or fifth performance M. Dubois came to our
box, and as I did not wish to introduce him to my friend, I only
asked what I could do for him. He then handed me the music I had
begged him to purchase for me, and I paid him what it had cost,
offering him my best thanks. As we were just opposite the ducal box,
I asked him, for the sake of saying something, whether he had
engraved the portraits of their highnesses. He answered that he had
already engraved two medals, and I gave him an order for both, in
gold. He promised to let me have them, and left the box. Henriette
had not even looked at him, and that was according to all established
rules, as I had not introduced him, but the next morning he was
announced as we were at dinner. M. de la Haye, who was dining with
us, complimented us upon having made the acquaintance of Dubois, and
introduced him to his pupil the moment he came into the room. It was
then right for Henriette to welcome him, which she did most
After she had thanked him for the 'partizione', she begged he would
get her some other music, and the artist accepted her request as a
favour granted to him.
"Sir," said Dubois to me, "I have taken the liberty of bringing the
medals you wished to have; here they are."
On one were the portraits of the Infante and his wife, on the other
was engraved only the head of Don Philip. They were both beautifully
engraved, and we expressed our just admiration. "The workmanship is
beyond all price," said Henriette, "but the gold can be bartered for
other gold." "Madam," answered the modest artist, "the medals weight
sixteen sequins." She gave him the amount immediately, and invited
him to call again at dinner-time. Coffee was just brought in at that
moment, and she asked him to take it with us. Before sweetening his
cup, she enquired whether he liked his coffee very sweet.
"Your taste, madam," answered the hunchback, gallantly, "is sure to
"Then you have guessed that I always drink coffee without sugar. I
am glad we have that taste in common."
And she gracefully offered him the cup of coffee without sugar. She
then helped De la Haye and me, not forgetting to put plenty of sugar
in our cups, and she poured out one for herself exactly like the one
she handed to Dubois. It was much ado for me not to laugh, for my
mischievous French-woman, who liked her coffee in the Parisian
fashion, that is to say very sweet, was sipping the bitter beverage
with an air of delight which compelled the director of the Mint to
smile under the infliction. But the cunning hunchback was even with
her; accepting the penalty of his foolish compliment, and praising
the good quality of the coffee, he boldly declared that it was the
only way to taste the delicious aroma of the precious berry.
When Dubois and De la Haye had left us, we both laughed at the trick.
"But," said I to Henriette, "you will be the first victim of your
mischief, for whenever he dines with us, you must keep up the joke,
in order not to betray yourself."
"Oh! I can easily contrive to drink my coffee well sweetened, and to
make him drain the bitter cup."
At the end of one month, Henriette could speak Italian fluently, and
it was owing more to the constant practice she had every day with my
cousin Jeanneton, who acted as her maid, than to the lessons of
Professor de la Haye. The lessons only taught her the rules, and
practice is necessary to acquire a language. I have experienced it
myself. I learned more French during the too short period that I
spent so happily with my charming Henriette than in all the lessons I
had taken from Dalacqua.
We had attended the opera twenty times without making any
acquaintance, and our life was indeed supremely happy. I never went
out without Henriette, and always in a carriage; we never received
anyone, and nobody knew us. Dubois was the only person, since the
departure of the good Hungarian, who sometimes dined with us; I do
not reckon De la Haye, who was a daily guest at our table. Dubois
felt great curiosity about us, but he was cunning and did not shew
his curiosity; we were reserved without affectation, and his
inquisitiveness was at fault. One day he mentioned to us that the
court of the Infante of Parma was very brilliant since the arrival of
Madame de France, and that there were many foreigners of both sexes
in the city. Then, turning towards Henriette, he said to her;
"Most of the foreign ladies whom we have here are unknown to us."
"Very likely, many of them would not shew themselves if they were
"Very likely, madam, as you say, but I can assure you that, even if
their beauty and the richness of their toilet made them conspicuous,
our sovereigns wish for freedom. I still hope, madam, that we shall
have the happiness of seeing you at the court of the duke."
"I do not think so, for, in my opinion, it is superlatively
ridiculous for a lady to go to the court without being presented,
particularly if she has a right to be so."
The last words, on which Henriette had laid a little more stress than
upon the first part of her answer, struck our little hunchback dumb,
and my friend, improving her opportunity, changed the subject of
When he had gone we enjoyed the check she had thus given to the
inquisitiveness of our guest, but I told Henriette that, in good
conscience, she ought to forgive all those whom she rendered curious,
because.... she cut my words short by covering me with loving
Thus supremely happy, and finding in one another constant
satisfaction, we would laugh at those morose philosophers who deny
that complete happiness can be found on earth.
"What do they mean, darling--those crazy fools--by saying that
happiness is not lasting, and how do they understand that word? If
they mean everlasting, immortal, unintermitting, of course they are
right, but the life of man not being such, happiness, as a natural
consequence, cannot be such either. Otherwise, every happiness is
lasting for the very reason that it does exist, and to be lasting it
requires only to exist. But if by complete felicity they understand
a series of varied and never-interrupted pleasures, they are wrong,
because, by allowing after each pleasure the calm which ought to
follow the enjoyment of it, we have time to realize happiness in its
reality. In other words those necessary periods of repose are a
source of true enjoyment, because, thanks to them, we enjoy the
delight of recollection which increases twofold the reality of
happiness. Man can be happy only when in his own mind he realizes
his happiness, and calm is necessary to give full play to his mind;
therefore without calm man would truly never be completely happy, and
pleasure, in order to be felt, must cease to be active. Then what do
they mean by that word lasting?
"Every day we reach a moment when we long for sleep, and, although it
be the very likeness of non-existence, can anyone deny that sleep is
a pleasure? No, at least it seems to me that it cannot be denied
with consistency, for, the moment it comes to us, we give it the
preference over all other pleasures, and we are grateful to it only
after it has left us.
"Those who say that no one can be happy throughout life speak
likewise frivolously. Philosophy teaches the secret of securing that
happiness, provided one is free from bodily sufferings. A felicity
which would thus last throughout life could be compared to a nosegay
formed of a thousand flowers so beautifully, so skillfully blended
together, that it would look one single flower. Why should it be
impossible for us to spend here the whole of our life as we have
spent the last month, always in good health, always loving one
another, without ever feeling any other want or any weariness? Then,
to crown that happiness, which would certainly be immense, all that
would be wanted would be to die together, in an advanced age,
speaking to the last moment of our pleasant recollections. Surely
that felicity would have been lasting. Death would not interrupt it,
for death would end it. We could not, even then, suppose ourselves
unhappy unless we dreaded unhappiness after death, and such an idea
strikes me as absurd, for it is a contradiction of the idea of an
almighty and fatherly tenderness."
It was thus that my beloved Henriette would often make me spend
delightful hours, talking philosophic sentiment. Her logic was
better than that of Cicero in his Tusculan Disputations, but she
admitted that such lasting felicity could exist only between two
beings who lived together, and loved each other with constant
affection, healthy in mind and in body, enlightened, sufficiently
rich, similar in tastes, in disposition, and in temperament. Happy
are those lovers who, when their senses require rest, can fall back
upon the intellectual enjoyments afforded by the mind! Sweet sleep
then comes, and lasts until the body has recovered its general
harmony. On awaking, the senses are again active and always ready to
resume their action.
The conditions of existence are exactly the same for man as for the
universe, I might almost say that between them there is perfect
identity, for if we take the universe away, mankind no longer exists,
and if we take mankind away, there is no longer an universe; who
could realize the idea of the existence of inorganic matter? Now,
without that idea, 'nihil est', since the idea is the essence of
everything, and since man alone has ideas. Besides, if we abstract
the species, we can no longer imagine the existence of matter, and
I derived from Henriette as great happiness as that charming woman
derived from me. We loved one another with all the strength of our
faculties, and we were everything to each other. She would often
repeat those pretty lines of the good La, Fontaine:
'Soyez-vous l'un a l'autre un monde toujours beau,
Toujours divers, toujours nouveau;
Tenez-vous lieu de tout; comptez pour rien le reste.'
And we did not fail to put the advice into practice, for never did a
minute of ennui or of weariness, never did the slightest trouble,
disturb our bliss.
The day after the close of the opera, Dubois, who was dining with us,
said that on the following day he was entertaining the two first
artists, 'primo cantatore' and 'prima cantatrice', and added that, if
we liked to come, we would hear some of their best pieces, which they
were to sing in a lofty hall of his country-house particularly
adapted to the display of the human voice. Henriette thanked him
warmly, but she said that, her health being very delicate, she could
not engage herself beforehand, and she spoke of other things.
When we were alone, I asked her why she had refused the pleasure
offered by Dubois.
"I should accept his invitation," she answered, "and with delight, if
I were not afraid of meeting at his house some person who might know
me, and would destroy the happiness I am now enjoying with you."
"If you have any fresh motive for dreading such an occurrence, you
are quite right, but if it is only a vague, groundless fear, my love,
why should you deprive yourself of a real and innocent pleasure? If
you knew how pleased I am when I see you enjoy yourself, and
particularly when I witness your ecstacy in listening to fine music!"
"Well, darling, I do not want to shew myself less brave than you. We
will go immediately after dinner. The artists will not sing before.
Besides, as he does not expect us, he is not likely to have invited
any person curious to speak to me. We will go without giving him
notice of our coming, without being expected, and as if we wanted to
pay him a friendly visit. He told us that he would be at his
country-house, and Caudagna knows where it is."
Her reasons were a mixture of prudence and of love, two feelings
which are seldom blended together. My answer was to kiss her with as
much admiration as tenderness, and the next day at four o'clock in
the afternoon we paid our visit to M. Dubois. We were much
surprised, for we found him alone with a very pretty girl, whom he
presented to us as his niece.
"I am delighted to see you," he said, "but as I did not expect to see
you I altered my arrangements, and instead of the dinner I had
intended to give I have invited my friends to supper. I hope you
will not refuse me the honour of your company. The two virtuosi will
soon be here."
We were compelled to accept his invitation.
"Will there be many guests?" I enquired.
"You will find yourselves in the midst of people worthy of you," he
answered, triumphantly. "I am only sorry that I have not invited any
This polite remark, which was intended for Henriette, made her drop
him a curtsy, which she accompanied with a smile. I was pleased to
read contentment on her countenance, but, alas! she was concealing
the painful anxiety which she felt acutely. Her noble mind refused
to shew any uneasiness, and I could not guess her inmost thoughts
because I had no idea that she had anything to fear.
I should have thought and acted differently if I had known all her
history. Instead of remaining in Parma I should have gone with her
to London, and I know now that she would have been delighted to go
The two artists arrived soon afterwards; they were the 'primo
cantatore' Laschi, and the 'prima donna' Baglioni, then a very pretty
woman. The other guests soon followed; all of them were Frenchmen
and Spaniards of a certain age. No introductions took place, and I
read the tact of the witty hunchback in the omission, but as all the
guests were men used to the manners of the court, that neglect of
etiquette did not prevent them from paying every honour to my lovely
friend, who received their compliments with that ease and good
breeding which are known only in France, and even there only in the
highest society, with the exception, however, of a few French
provinces in which the nobility, wrongly called good society, shew
rather too openly the haughtiness which is characteristic of that
The concert began by a magnificent symphony, after which Laschi and
Baglioni sang a duet with great talent and much taste. They were
followed by a pupil of the celebrated Vandini, who played a concerto
on the violoncello, and was warmly applauded.
The applause had not yet ceased when Henriette, leaving her seat,
went up to the young artist, and told him, with modest confidence, as
she took the violoncello from him, that she could bring out the
beautiful tone of the instrument still better. I was struck with
amazement. She took the young man's seat, placed the violoncello
between her knees, and begged the leader of the orchestra to begin
the concerto again. The deepest silence prevailed. I was trembling
all over, and almost fainting. Fortunately every look was fixed upon
Henriette, and nobody thought of me. Nor was she looking towards me,
she would not have then ventured even one glance, for she would have
lost courage, if she had raised her beautiful eyes to my face.
However, not seeing her disposing herself to play, I was beginning to
imagine that she had only been indulging in a jest, when she suddenly
made the strings resound. My heart was beating with such force that
I thought I should drop down dead.
But let the reader imagine my situation when, the concerto being
over, well-merited applause burst from every part of the room! The
rapid change from extreme fear to excessive pleasure brought on an
excitement which was like a violent fever. The applause did not seem
to have any effect upon Henriette, who, without raising her eyes from
the notes which she saw for the first time, played six pieces with
the greatest perfection. As she rose from her seat, she did not
thank the guests for their applause, but, addressing the young artist
with affability, she told him, with a sweet smile, that she had never
played on a finer instrument. Then, curtsying to the audience, she
"I entreat your forgiveness for a movement of vanity which has made
me encroach on your patience for half an hour."
The nobility and grace of this remark completely upset me, and I ran
out to weep like a child, in the garden where no one could see me.
"Who is she, this Henriette?" I said to myself, my heart beating, and
my eyes swimming with tears of emotion, "what is this treasure I have
in my possession?"
My happiness was so immense that I felt myself unworthy of it.
Lost in these thoughts which enhanced the pleasure of any tears, I
should have stayed for a long tune in the garden if Dubois had not
come out to look for me. He felt anxious about me, owing to my
sudden disappearance, and I quieted him by saying that a slight
giddiness had compelled me to come out to breathe the fresh air.
Before re-entering the room, I had time to dry my tears, but my
eyelids were still red. Henriette, however, was the only one to take
notice of it, and she said to me,
"I know, my darling, why you went into the garden"
She knew me so well that she could easily guess the impression made
on my heart by the evening's occurrence.
Dubois had invited the most amiable noblemen of the court, and his
supper was dainty and well arranged. I was seated opposite Henriette
who was, as a matter of course, monopolizing the general attention,
but she would have met with the same success if she had been
surrounded by a circle of ladies whom she would certainly have thrown
into the shade by her beauty, her wit, and the distinction of her
manners. She was the charm of that supper by the animation she
imparted to the conversation. M. Dubois said nothing, but he was
proud to have such a lovely guest in his house. She contrived to say
a few gracious words to everyone, and was shrewd enough never to
utter something witty without making me take a share in it. On my
side, I openly shewed my submissiveness, my deference, and my respect
for that divinity, but it was all in vain. She wanted everybody to
know that I was her lord and master. She might have been taken for
my wife, but my behaviour to her rendered such a supposition
The conversation having fallen on the respective merits of the French
and Spanish nations, Dubois was foolish enough to ask Henriette to
which she gave preference.
It would have been difficult to ask a more indiscreet question,
considering that the company was composed almost entirely of
Frenchmen and Spaniards in about equal proportion. Yet my Henriette
turned the difficulty so cleverly that the Frenchmen would have liked
to be Spaniards, and 'vice versa'. Dubois, nothing daunted, begged
her to say what she thought of the Italians. The question made me
tremble. A certain M. de la Combe, who was seated near me, shook his
head in token of disapprobation, but Henriette did not try to elude
"What can I say about the Italians," she answered, "I know only one?
If I am to judge them all from that one my judgment must certainly be
most favourable to them, but one single example is not sufficient to
establish the rule."
It was impossible to give a better answer, but as my readers may well
imagine, I did not appear to have heard it, and being anxious to
prevent any more indiscreet questions from Dubois I turned the
conversation into a different channel.
The subject of music was discussed, and a Spaniard asked Henriette
whether she could play any other instrument besides the violoncello.
"No," she answered, "I never felt any inclination for any other. I
learned the violoncello at the convent to please my mother, who can
play it pretty well, and without an order from my father, sanctioned
by the bishop, the abbess would never have given me permission to
"What objection could the abbess make?"
"That devout spouse of our Lord pretended that I could not play that
instrument without assuming an indecent position."
At this the Spanish guests bit their lips, but the Frenchmen laughed
heartily, and did not spare their epigrams against the over-
After a short silence, Henriette rose, and we all followed her
example. It was the signal for breaking up the party, and we soon
took our leave.
I longed to find myself alone with the idol of my soul. I asked her
a hundred questions without waiting for the answers.
"Ah! you were right, my own Henriette, when you refused to go to
that concert, for you knew that you would raise many enemies against
me. I am certain that all those men hate me, but what do I care?
You are my universe! Cruel darling, you almost killed me with your
violoncello, because, having no idea of your being a musician, I
thought you had gone mad, and when I heard you I was compelled to
leave the room in order to weep undisturbed. My tears relieved my
fearful oppression. Oh! I entreat you to tell me what other talents
you possess. Tell me candidly, for you might kill me if you brought
them out unexpectedly, as you have done this evening."
"I have no other accomplishments, my best beloved. I have emptied my
bag all at once. Now you know your Henriette entirely. Had you not
chanced to tell me about a month ago that you had no taste for music,
I would have told you that I could play the violoncello remarkably
well, but if I had mentioned such a thing, I know you well enough to
be certain that you would have bought an instrument immediately, and
I could not, dearest, find pleasure in anything that would weary
The very next morning she had an excellent violoncello, and, far from
wearying me, each time she played she caused me a new and greater
pleasure. I believe that it would be impossible even to a man
disliking music not to become passionately fond of it, if that art
were practised to perfection by the woman he adores.
The 'vox humana' of the violoncello; the king of instruments, went to
my heart every time that my beloved Henriette performed upon it. She
knew I loved to hear her play, and every day she afforded me that
pleasure. Her talent delighted me so much that I proposed to her to
give some concerts, but she was prudent enough to refuse my proposal.
But in spite of all her prudence we had no power to hinder the
decrees of fate.
The fatal hunchback came the day after his fine supper to thank us
and to receive our well-merited praises of his concert, his supper,
and the distinction of his guests.
"I foresee, madam," he said to Henriette, "all the difficulty I shall
have in defending myself against the prayers of all my friends, who
will beg of me to introduce them to you."
"You need not have much trouble on that score: you know that I never,
Dubois did not again venture upon speaking of introducing any friend.
On the same day I received a letter from young Capitani, in which he
informed me that, being the owner of St. Peter's knife and sheath, he
had called on Franzia with two learned magicians who had promised to
raise the treasure out of the earth, and that to his great surprise
Franzia had refused to receive him: He entreated me to write to the
worthy fellow, and to go to him myself if I wanted to have my share
of the treasure. I need not say that I did not comply with his
wishes, but I can vouch for the real pleasure I felt in finding that
I had succeeded in saving that honest and simple farmer from the
impostors who would have ruined him.
One month was gone since the great supper given by Dubois. We had
passed it in all the enjoyment which can be derived both from the
senses and the mind, and never had one single instant of weariness
caused either of us to be guilty of that sad symptom of misery which
is called a yawn. The only pleasure we took out of doors was a drive
outside of the city when the weather was fine. As we never walked in
the streets, and never frequented any public place, no one had sought
to make our acquaintance, or at least no one had found an opportunity
of doing so, in spite of all the curiosity excited by Henriette
amongst the persons whom we had chanced to meet, particularly at the
house of Dubois. Henriette had become more courageous, and I more
confident, when we found that she had not been recognized by any one
either at that supper or at the theatre. She only dreaded persons
belonging to the high nobility.
One day as we were driving outside the Gate of Colorno, we met the
duke and duchess who were returning to Parma. Immediately after
their carriage another vehicle drove along, in which was Dubois with
a nobleman unknown to us. Our carriage had only gone a few yards
from theirs when one of our horses broke down. The companion of
Dubois immediately ordered his coachman to stop in order to send to
our assistance. Whilst the horse was raised again, he came politely
to our carriage, and paid some civil compliment to Henriette.
M. Dubois, always a shrewd courtier and anxious to shew off at the
expense of others, lost no time in introducing him as M. Dutillot,
the French ambassador. My sweetheart gave the conventional bow. The
horse being all right again, we proceeded on our road after thanking
the gentlemen for their courtesy. Such an every-day occurrence could
not be expected to have any serious consequences, but alas! the most
important events are often the result of very trifling circumstances!
The next day, Dubois breakfasted with us. He told us frankly that
M. Dutillot had been delighted at the fortunate chance which had
afforded him an opportunity of making our acquaintance, and that he
had entreated him to ask our permission to call on us.
"On madam or on me?" I asked at once.
"Very well, but one at a time. Madam, as you know, has her own room
and I have mine."
"Yes, but they are so near each other!"
"Granted, yet I must tell you that, as far as I am concerned, I
should have much pleasure in waiting upon his excellency if he should
ever wish to communicate with me, and you will oblige me by letting
him know it. As for madam, she is here, speak to her, my dear M.
Dubois, for I am only her very humble servant."
Henriette assumed an air of cheerful politeness, and said to him,
"Sir, I beg you will offer my thanks to M. Dutillot, and enquire from
him whether he knows me."
"I am certain, madam," said the hunchback, "that he does not."
"You see he does not know me, and yet he wishes to call on me. You
must agree with me that if I accepted his visits I should give him a
singular opinion of my character. Be good enough to tell him that,
although known to no one and knowing no one, I am not an adventuress,
and therefore I must decline the honour of his visits."
Dubois felt that he had taken a false step, and remained silent. We
never asked him how the ambassador had received our refusal.
Three weeks after the last occurrence, the ducal court residing then
at Colorno, a great entertainment was given in the gardens which were
to be illuminated all night. Everybody had permission to walk about
the gardens. Dubois, the fatal hunchback appointed by destiny, spoke
so much of that festival, that we took a fancy to see it. Always the
same story of Adam's apple. Dubois accompanied us. We went to
Colorno the day before the entertainment, and put up at an inn.
In the evening we walked through the gardens, in which we happened to
meet the ducal family and suite. According to the etiquette of the
French court, Madame de France was the first to curtsy to Henriette,
without stopping. My eyes fell upon a gentleman walking by the side
of Don Louis, who was looking at my friend very attentively. A few
minutes after, as we were retracing our steps, we came across the
same gentleman who, after bowing respectfully to us, took Dubois
aside. They conversed together for a quarter of an hour, following
us all the time, and we were passing out of the gardens, when the
gentleman, coming forward, and politely apologizing to me, asked
Henriette whether he had the honour to be known to her.
"I do not recollect having ever had the honour of seeing you before."
"That is enough, madam, and I entreat you to forgive me."
Dubois informed us that the gentleman was the intimate friend of the
Infante Don Louis, and that, believing he knew madam, he had begged
to be introduced. Dubois had answered that her name was D'Arci, and
that, if he was known to the lady, he required no introduction.
M. d'Antoine said that the name of D'Arci was unknown to him, and
that he was afraid of making a mistake. "In that state of doubt,"
added Dubois, "and wishing to clear it, he introduced himself, but
now he must see that he was mistaken."
After supper, Henriette appeared anxious. I asked her whether she
had only pretended not to know M. d'Antoine.
"No, dearest, I can assure you. I know his name which belongs to an
illustrious family of Provence, but I have never seen him before."
"Perhaps he may know you?"
"He might have seen me, but I am certain that he never spoke to me,
or I would have recollected him."
"That meeting causes me great anxiety, and it seems to have troubled
"I confess it has disturbed my mind."
"Let us leave Parma at once and proceed to Genoa. We will go to
Venice as soon as my affairs there are settled."
"Yes, my dear friend, we shall then feel more comfortable. But I do
not think we need be in any hurry."
We returned to Parma, and two days afterwards my servant handed me a
letter, saying that the footman who had brought it was waiting in the
"This letter," I said to Henriette, "troubles me."
She took it, and after she had read it--she gave it back to me,
"I think M. d'Antoine is a man of honour, and I hope that we may have
nothing to fear."
The letter ran as, follows:
"Either at your hotel or at my residence, or at any other place you
may wish to appoint, I entreat you, sir, to give me an opportunity of
conversing with you on a subject which must be of the greatest
importance to you.
"I have the honour to be, etc.
It was addressed M. Farusi.
"I think I must see him," I said, "but where?"
"Neither here nor at his residence, but in the ducal gardens. Your
answer must name only the place and the hour of the meeting."
I wrote to M. d'Antoine that I would see him at half-past eleven in
the ducal gardens, only requesting him to appoint another hour in
case mine was not convenient to him.
I dressed myself at once in order to be in good time, and meanwhile
we both endeavoured, Henriette and I, to keep a cheerful countenance,
but we could not silence our sad forebodings. I was exact to my
appointment and found M. d'Antoine waiting for me. As soon as we
were together, he said to me,
"I have been compelled, sir, to beg from you the favour of an
interview, because I could not imagine any surer way to get this
letter to Madame d'Arci's hands. I entreat you to deliver it to her,
and to excuse me if I give it you sealed. Should I be mistaken, my
letter will not even require an answer, but should I be right, Madame
d'Arci alone can judge whether she ought to communicate it to you.
That is my reason for giving it to you sealed. If you are truly her
friend, the contents of that letter must be as interesting to you as
to her. May I hope, sir, that you will be good enough to deliver it
"Sir, on my honour I will do it."
We bowed respectfully to each other, and parted company. I hurried
back to the hotel.
Henriette Receives the Visit of M. d'Antoine I Accompany Her as Far
as Geneva and Then I Lose Her--I Cross the St. Bernard, and Return
to Parma--A Letter from Hensiette--My Despair De La Haye Becomes
Attached to Me--Unpleasant Adventure with an Actress and Its
Consequences--I Turn a Thorough Bigot--Bavois--I Mystify a Bragging
As soon as I had reached our apartment, my heart bursting with
anxiety, I repeated to Henriette every word spoken by M. d'Antoine,
and delivered his letter which contained four pages of writing. She
read it attentively with visible emotion, and then she said,
"Dearest friend, do not be offended, but the honour of two families
does not allow of my imparting to you the contents of this letter. I
am compelled to receive M. d'Antoine, who represents himself as being
one of my relatives."
"Ah!" I exclaimed, "this is the beginning of the end! What a
dreadful thought! I am near the end of a felicity which was too
great to last! Wretch that I have been! Why did I tarry so long in
Parma? What fatal blindness! Of all the cities in the whole world,
except France, Parma was the only one I had to fear, and it is here
that I have brought you, when I could have taken you anywhere else,
for you had no will but mine! I am all the more guilty that you
never concealed your fears from me. Why did I introduce that fatal
Dubois here? Ought I not to have guessed that his curiosity would
sooner or later prove injurious to us? And yet I cannot condemn that
curiosity, for it is, alas! a natural feeling. I can only accuse all
the perfections which Heaven has bestowed upon you!--perfections
which have caused my happiness, and which will plunge me in an abyss
of despair, for, alas! I foresee a future of fearful misery."
"I entreat you, dearest, to foresee nothing, and to calm yourself.
Let us avail ourselves of all our reason in order to prove ourselves
superior to circumstances, whatever they may be. I cannot answer
this letter, but you must write to M. d'Antoine to call here tomorrow
and to send up his name."
"Alas! you compel me to perform a painful task."
"You are my best, my only friend; I demand nothing, I impose no task
upon you, but can you refuse me?"
"No, never, no matter what you ask. Dispose of me, I am yours in
life and death."
"I knew what you would answer. You must be with me when M.
d'Antoine calls, but after a few minutes given to etiquette, will
you find some pretext to go to your room, and leave us alone?
M. d'Antoine knows all my history; he knows in what I have done
wrong, in what I have been right; as a man of honour, as my relative,
he must shelter me from all affront. He shall not do anything
against my will, and if he attempts to deviate from the conditions I
will dictate to him, I will refuse to go to France, I will follow you
anywhere, and devote to you the remainder of my life. Yet, my
darling, recollect that some fatal circumstances may compel us to
consider our separation as the wisest course to adopt, that we must
husband all our courage to adopt it, if necessary, and to endeavour
not to be too unhappy.
"Have confidence in me, and be quite certain that I shall take care to
reserve for myself the small portion of happiness which I can be
allowed to enjoy without the man who alone has won all my devoted
love. You will have, I trust, and I expect it from your generous
soul, the same care of your future, and I feel certain that you must
succeed. In the mean time, let us drive away all the sad forebodings
which might darken the hours we have yet before us."
"Ah! why did we not go away immediately after we had met that
accursed favourite of the Infante!"
"We might have made matters much worse; for in that case
M. d'Antoine might have made up his mind to give my family a proof of
his zeal by instituting a search to discover our place of residence,
and I should then have been exposed to violent proceedings which you
would not have endured. It would have been fatal to both of us."
I did everything she asked me. From that moment our love became sad,
and sadness is a disease which gives the death-blow to affection. We
would often remain a whole hour opposite each other without
exchanging a single word, and our sighs would be heard whatever we
did to hush them.
The next day, when M. d'Antoine called, I followed exactly the
instructions she had given me, and for six mortal hours I remained
alone, pretending to write.
The door of my room was open, and a large looking-glass allowed us to
see each other. They spent those six hours in writing, occasionally
stopping to talk of I do not know what, but their conversation was
evidently a decisive one. The reader can easily realize how much I
suffered during that long torture, for I could expect nothing but the
total wreck of my happiness.
As soon as the terrible M. d'Antoine had taken leave of her,
Henriette came to me, and observing that her eyes were red I heaved a
deep sigh, but she tried to smile.
"Shall we go away to-morrow, dearest?"
"Oh! yes, I am ready. Where do you wish me to take you?"
"Anywhere you like, but we must be here in a fortnight."
"Here! Oh, fatal illusion!"
"Alas! it is so. I have promised to be here to receive the answer to
a letter I have just written. We have no violent proceedings to
fear, but I cannot bear to remain in Parma."
"Ah! I curse the hour which brought us to this city. Would you like
to go to Milan?"
"As we are unfortunately compelled to come back, we may as well take
with us Caudagna and his sister."
"As you please."
"Let me arrange everything. I will order a carriage for them, and
they will take charge of your violoncello. Do you not think that you
ought to let M. d'Antoine know where we are going?"
"No, it seems to me, on the contrary, that I need not account to him
for any of my proceedings. So much the worse for him if he should,
even for one moment, doubt my word."
The next morning, we left Parma, taking only what we wanted for an
absence of a fortnight. We arrived in Milan without accident, but
both very sad, and we spent the following fifteen days in constant
tete-a-tete, without speaking to anyone, except the landlord of the
hotel and to a dressmaker. I presented my beloved Henriette with a
magnificent pelisse made of lynx fur--a present which she prized
Out of delicacy, she had never enquired about my means, and I felt
grateful to her for that reserve. I was very careful to conceal from
her the fact that my purse was getting very light. When we came back
to Parma I had only three or four hundred sequins.
The day after our return M. d'Antoine invited himself to dine with
us, and after we had drunk coffee, I left him alone with Henriette.
Their interview was as long as the first, and our separation was
decided. She informed me of it, immediately after the departure of
M. d'Antoine, and for a long time we remained folded in each other's
arms, silent, and blending our bitter tears.
"When shall I have to part from you, my beloved, alas! too much
"Be calm, dearest, only when we reach Geneva, whither you are going
to accompany me. Will you try to find me a respectable maid by
to-morrow? She will accompany me from Geneva to the place where I am
bound to go."
"Oh! then, we shall spend a few days more together! I know no one
but Dubois whom I could trust to procure a good femme-de-chambre;
only I do not want him to learn from her what you might not wish him
"That will not be the case, for I will take another maid as soon as I
am in France."
Three days afterwards, Dubois, who had gladly undertaken the
commission, presented to Henriette a woman already somewhat advanced
in years, pretty well dressed and respectable-looking, who, being
poor, was glad of an opportunity of going back to France, her native
country. Her husband, an old military officer, had died a few months
before, leaving her totally unprovided for. Henriette engaged her,
and told her to keep herself ready to start whenever M. Dubois should
give her notice. The day before the one fixed for our departure, M.
d'Antoine dined with us, and, before taking leave of us, he gave
Henriette a sealed letter for Geneva.
We left Parma late in the evening, and stopped only two hours in
Turin, in order to engage a manservant whose services we required as
far as Geneva. The next day we ascended Mont Cenis in sedan-chairs,
and we descended to the Novalaise in mountain-sledges. On the fifth
day we reached Geneva, and we put up at the Hotel des Balances. The
next morning, Henriette gave me a letter for the banker Tronchin,
who, when he had read it, told me that he would call himself at the
hotel, and bring me one thousand louis d'or.
I came back and we sat down to dinner. We had not finished our meal
when the banker was announced. He had brought the thousand louis
d'or, and told Henriette that he would give her two men whom he could
recommend in every way.
She answered that she would leave Geneva as soon as she had the
carriage which he was to provide for her, according to the letter I
had delivered to him. He promised that everything would be ready for
the following day, and he left us. It was indeed a terrible moment!
Grief almost benumbed us both. We remained motionless, speechless,
wrapped up in the most profound despair.
I broke that sad silence to tell her that the carriage which M.
Tronchin would provide could not possibly be as comfortable and as
safe as mine, and I entreated her to take it, assuring her that by
accepting it she would give me a last proof of her affection.
"I will take in exchange, my dearest love, the carriage sent by the
"I accept the change, darling," she answered, "it will be a great
consolation to possess something which has belonged to you."
As she said these words, she slipped in my pocket five rolls
containing each one hundred louis d'or--a slight consolation for my
heart, which was almost broken by our cruel separation! During the
last twenty-four hours we could boast of no other eloquence but that
which finds expression in tears, in sobs, and in those hackneyed but
energetic exclamations, which two happy lovers are sure to address to
reason, when in its sternness it compels them to part from one
another in the very height of their felicity. Henriette did not
endeavour to lure me with any hope for the future, in order to allay
my sorrow! Far from that, she said to me,
"Once we are parted by fate, my best and only friend, never enquire
after me, and, should chance throw you in my way, do not appear to
She gave me a letter for M. d'Antoine, without asking me whether I
intended to go back to Parma, but, even if such had not been my
intention, I should have determined at once upon returning to that
city. She likewise entreated me not to leave Geneva until I had
received a letter which she promised to, write to me from the first
stage on her journey. She started at day-break, having with her a
maid, a footman on the box of the carriage, and being preceded by a
courier on horseback. I followed her with my eyes as long as I
could, see her carriage, and I was still standing on the same spot
long after my eyes had lost sight of it. All my thoughts were
wrapped up in the beloved object I had lost for ever. The world was
I went back to my room, ordered the waiter not to disturb me until
the return of the horses which had drawn Henriette's carriage, and I
lay down on my bed in the hope that sleep would for a time silence a
grief which tears could not drown.
The postillion who had driven Henriette did not return till the next
day; he had gone as far as Chatillon. He brought me a letter in
which I found one single word: Adieu! He told me that they had
reached Chatillon without accident, and that the lady had immediately
continued her journey towards Lyons. As I could not leave Geneva
until the following day, I spent alone in my room some of the most
melancholy hours of my life. I saw on one of the panes of glass of a
window these words which she had traced with the point of a diamond I
had given her: "You will forget Henriette." That prophecy was not
likely to afford me any consolation. But had she attached its full
meaning to the word "forget?" No; she could only mean that time
would at last heal the deep wounds of my heart, and she ought not to
have made it deeper by leaving behind her those words which sounded
like a reproach. No, I have not forgotten her, for even now, when my
head is covered with white hair, the recollection of her is still a
source of happiness for my heart! When I think that in my old age I
derive happiness only from my recollections of the past, I find that
my long life must have counted more bright than dark days, and
offering my thanks to God, the Giver of all, I congratulate myself,
and confess that life is a great blessing.
The next day I set off again for Italy with a servant recommended by
M. Tronchin, and although the season was not favourable I took the
road over Mont St. Bernard, which I crossed in three days, with seven
mules carrying me, my servant, my luggage, and the carriage sent by
the banker to the beloved woman now for ever lost to me. One of the
advantages of a great sorrow is that nothing else seems painful. It
is a sort of despair which is not without some sweetness. During
that journey I never felt either hunger or thirst, or the cold which
is so intense in that part of the Alps that the whole of nature seems
to turn to ice, or the fatigue inseparable from such a difficult and
I arrived in Parma in pretty good health, and took up my quarters at
a small inn, in the hope that in such a place I should not meet any
acquaintance of mine. But I was much disappointed, for I found in
that inn M. de la Haye, who had a room next to mine. Surprised at
seeing me, he paid me a long compliment, trying to make me speak, but
I eluded his curiosity by telling him that I was tired, and that we
would see each other again.
On the following day I called upon M. d'Antoine, and delivered the
letter which Henriette had written to him. He opened it in my
presence, and finding another to my address enclosed in his, he
handed it to me without reading it, although it was not sealed.
Thinking, however, that it might have been Henriette's intention that
he should read it because it was open, he asked my permission to do
so, which I granted with pleasure as soon as I had myself perused it.
He handed it back to me after he had read it, telling me very
feelingly that I could in everything rely upon him and upon his
influence and credit.
Here is Henriette's letter
"It is I, dearest and best friend, who have been compelled to abandon
you, but do not let your grief be increased by any thought of my
sorrow. Let us be wise enough to suppose that we have had a happy
dream, and not to complain of destiny, for never did so beautiful a
dream last so long! Let us be proud of the consciousness that for
three months we gave one another the most perfect felicity. Few
human beings can boast of so much! Let us swear never to forget one
another, and to often remember the happy hours of our love, in order
to renew them in our souls, which, although divided, will enjoy them
as acutely as if our hearts were beating one against the other. Do
not make any enquiries about me, and if chance should let you know
who I am, forget it for ever. I feel certain that you will be glad
to hear that I have arranged my affairs so well that I shall, for the
remainder of my life, be as happy as I can possibly be without you,
dear friend, by my side. I do not know who you are, but I am certain
that no one in the world knows you better than I do. I shall not
have another lover as long as I live, but I do not wish you to
imitate me. On the contrary I hope that you will love again, and I
trust that a good fairy will bring along your path another Henriette.
Farewell . . . farewell."
I met that adorable woman fifteen years later; the reader will see
where and how, when we come to that period of my life.
I went back to my room, careless of the future, broken down by the
deepest of sorrows, I locked myself in, and went to bed. I felt so
low in spirits that I was stunned. Life was not a burden, but only
because I did not give a thought to life. In fact I was in a state
of complete apathy, moral and physical. Six years later I found
myself in a similar predicament, but that time love was not the cause
of my sorrow; it was the horrible and too famous prison of The Leads,
I was not much better either in 1768, when I was lodged in the prison
of Buen Retiro, in Madrid, but I must not anticipate events.
At the end of twenty-four hours, my exhaustion was very great, but I
did not find the sensation disagreeable, and, in the state of mind in
which I was then, I was pleased with the idea that, by increasing,
that weakness would at last kill me. I was delighted to see that no
one disturbed me to offer me some food, and I congratulated myself
upon having dismissed my servant. Twenty-four more hours passed by,
and my weakness became complete inanition.
I was in that state when De la Haye knocked at my door. I would not
have answered if he had not said that someone insisted upon seeing
me. I got out of bed, and, scarcely able to stand, I opened my door,
after which I got into bed again.
"There is a stranger here," he said, "who, being in want of a
carriage, offers to buy yours"
"I do not want to sell it."
"Excuse me if I have disturbed you, but you look ill."
"Yes, I wish to be left alone."
"What is the matter with you?"
Coming nearer my bed, he took my hand, and found my pulse extremely
low and weak.
"What did you eat yesterday?"
"I have eaten nothing, thank God I for two days."
Guessing the real state of things, De la Haye became anxious, and
entreated me to take some broth. He threw so much kindness, so much
unction, into his entreaties that, through weakness and weariness, I
allowed myself to be persuaded. Then, without ever mentioning the
name of Henriette, he treated me to a sermon upon the life to come,
upon the vanity of the things of this life which we are foolish
enough to prefer, and upon the necessity of respecting our existence,
which does not belong to us.
I was listening without answering one word, but, after all, I was
listening, and De la Haye, perceiving his advantage, would not leave
me, and ordered dinner. I had neither the will nor the strength to
resist, and when the dinner was served, I ate something. Then De la
Have saw that he had conquered, and for the remainder of the day
devoted himself to amusing me by his cheerful conversation.
The next day the tables were turned, for it was I who invited him to
keep me company and to dine with me. It seemed to me that I had not
lost a particle of my sadness, but life appeared to me once more
preferable to death, and, thinking that I was indebted to him for the
preservation of my life, I made a great friend of him. My readers
will see presently that my affection for him went very far, and they
will, like me, marvel at the cause of that friendship, and at the
means through which it was brought about.
Three or four days afterwards, Dubois, who had been informed of
everything by De la Haye, called on me, and persuaded me to go out.
I went to the theatre, where I made the acquaintance of several
Corsican officers, who had served in France, in the Royal Italian
regiment. I also met a young man from Sicily, named Paterno, the
wildest and most heedless fellow it was possible to see. He was in
love with an actress who made a fool of him. He amused me with the
enumeration of all her adorable qualities, and of all the cruelties
she was practising upon him, for, although she received him at all
hours, she repulsed him harshly whenever he tried to steal the
slightest favour. In the mean time, she ruined him by making him pay
constantly for excellent dinners and suppers, which were eaten by her
family, but which did not advance him one inch towards the fulfilment
of his wishes.
He succeeded at last in exciting my curiosity. I examined the
actress on the stage, and finding that she was not without beauty I
expressed a wish to know her. Paterno was delighted to introduce me
I found that she was of tolerably easy virtue, and, knowing that she
was very far from rolling in riches, I had no doubt that fifteen or
twenty sequins would be quite sufficient to make her compliant. I
communicated my thoughts to Paterno, but he laughed and told me that,
if I dared to make such a proposition to her, she would certainly
shut her door against me. He named several officers whom she had
refused to receive again, because they had made similar offers.
"Yet," added the young man, "I wish you would make the attempt, and
tell me the result candidly."
I felt piqued, and promised to do it.
I paid her a visit in her dressing-room at the theatre, and as she
happened during our conversation to praise the beauty of my watch, I
told her that she could easily obtain possession of it, and I said at
what price. She answered, according to the catechism of her
profession, that an honourable man had no right to make such an offer
to a respectable girl.
"I offer only one ducat," said I, "to those who are not respectable."
And I left her.
When I told Paterno what had occurred, he fairly jumped for joy, but
I knew what to think of it all, for 'cosi sono tutte', and in spite
of all his entreaties, I declined to be present at his suppers, which
were far from amusing, and gave the family of the actress an
opportunity of laughing at the poor fool who was paying for them.
Seven or eight days afterwards, Paterno told me that the actress had
related the affair to him exactly in the same words which I had used,
and she had added that, if I had ceased my visits, it was only
because I was afraid of her taking me at my word in case I should
renew my proposal. I commissioned him to tell her that I would pay
her another visit, not to renew my offer, but to shew my contempt for
any proposal she might make me herself.
The heedless fellow fulfilled his commission so well that the
actress, feeling insulted, told him that she dared me to call on her.
Perfectly determined to shew that I despised her, I went to her
dressing-room the same evening, after the second act of a play in
which she had not to appear again. She dismissed those who were with
her, saying that she wanted to speak with me, and, after she had
bolted the door, she sat down gracefully on my knees, asking me
whether it was true that I despised her so much.
In such a position a man has not the courage to insult a woman, and,
instead of answering, I set to work at once, without meeting even
with that show of resistance which sharpens the appetite. In spite
of that, dupe as I always was of a feeling truly absurd when an
intelligent man has to deal with such creatures, I gave her twenty
sequins, and I confess that it was paying dearly for very smarting
regrets. We both laughed at the stupidity of Paterno, who did not
seem to know how such challenges generally end.
I saw the unlucky son of Sicily the next morning, and I told him
that, having found the actress very dull, I would not see her again.
Such was truly my intention, but a very important reason, which
nature took care to explain to me three days afterwards, compelled me
to keep my word through a much more serious motive than a simple
dislike for the woman.
However, although I was deeply grieved to find myself in such a
disgraceful position, I did not think I had any right to complain.
On the contrary, I considered that my misfortune to be a just and
well-deserved punishment for having abandoned myself to a Lais, after
I had enjoyed the felicity of possessing a woman like Henriette.
My disease was not a case within the province of empirics, and I
bethought myself of confiding in M. de is Haye who was then dining
every day with me, and made no mystery of his poverty. He placed me
in the hands of a skilful surgeon, who was at the same time a
dentist. He recognized certain symptoms which made it a necessity to
sacrifice me to the god Mercury, and that treatment, owing to the
season of the year, compelled me to keep my room for six weeks. It
was during the winter of 1749.
While I was thus curing myself of an ugly disease, De la Haye
inoculated me with another as bad, perhaps even worse, which I should
never have thought myself susceptible of catching. This Fleming, who
left me only for one hour in the morning, to go--at least he said so-
-to church to perform his devotions, made a bigot of me! And to such
an extent, that I agreed with him that I was indeed fortunate to have
caught a disease which was the origin of the faith now taking
possession of my soul. I would thank God fervently and with the most
complete conviction for having employed Mercury to lead my mind,
until then wrapped in darkness, to the pure light of holy truth!
There is no doubt that such an extraordinary change in my reasoning
system was the result of the exhaustion brought on by the mercury.
That impure and always injurious metal had weakened my mind to such
an extent that I had become almost besotted, and I fancied that until
then my judgment had been insane. The result was that, in my newly
acquired wisdom, I took the resolution of leading a totally different
sort of life in future. De la Haye would often cry for joy when he
saw me shedding tears caused by the contrition which he had had the
wonderful cleverness to sow in my poor sickly soul. He would talk to
me of paradise and the other world, just as if he had visited them in
person, and I never laughed at him! He had accustomed me to renounce
my reason; now to renounce that divine faculty a man must no longer
be conscious of its value, he must have become an idiot. The reader
may judge of the state to which I was reduced by the following
specimen. One day, De la Haye said to me:
"It is not known whether God created the world during the vernal
equinox or during the autumnal one."
"Creation being granted," I replied, in spite of the mercury, "such a
question is childish, for the seasons are relative, and differ in the
different quarters of the globe."
De la Haye reproached me with the heathenism of my ideas, told me
that I must abandon such impious reasonings.... and I gave way!
That man had been a Jesuit. He not only, however, refused to admit
it, but he would not even suffer anyone to mention it to him. This
is how he completed his work of seduction by telling me the history
of his life.
"After I had been educated in a good school," he said, "and had
devoted myself with some success to the arts and sciences, I was for
twenty years employed at the University of Paris. Afterwards I
served as an engineer in the army, and since that time I have
published several works anonymously, which are now in use in every
boys' school. Having given up the military service, and being poor,
I undertook and completed the education of several young men, some of
whom shine now in the world even more by their excellent conduct than
by their talents. My last pupil was the Marquis Botta. Now being
without employment I live, as you see, trusting in God's providence.
Four years ago, I made the acquaintance of Baron Bavois, from
Lausanne, son of General Bavois who commanded a regiment in the
service of the Duke of Modem, and afterwards was unfortunate enough
to make himself too conspicuous. The young baron, a Calvinist like
his father, did not like the idle life he was leading at home, and he
solicited me to undertake his education in order to fit him for a
military career. Delighted at the opportunity of cultivating his
fine natural disposition, I gave up everything to devote myself
entirely to my task. I soon discovered that, in the question of
faith, he knew himself to be in error, and that he remained a
Calvinist only out of respect to his family. When I had found out
his secret feelings on that head, I had no difficulty in proving to
him that his most important interests were involved in that question,
as his eternal salvation was at stake. Struck by the truth of my
words, he abandoned himself to my affection, and I took him to Rome,
where I presented him to the Pope, Benedict XIV., who, immediately
after the abjuration of my pupil got him a lieutenancy in the army of
the Duke of Modena. But the dear proselyte, who is only twenty-five
years of age, cannot live upon his pay of seven sequins a month, and
since his abjuration he has received nothing from his parents, who
are highly incensed at what they call his apostacy. He would find
himself compelled to go back to Lausanne, if I did not assist him.
But, alas! I am poor, and without employment, so I can only send him
the trifling sums which I can obtain from the few good Christians
with whom I am acquainted.
"My pupil, whose heart is full of gratitude, would be very glad to
know his benefactors, but they refuse to acquaint him with their
names, and they are right, because charity, in order to be
meritorious, must not partake of any feeling of vanity. Thank God,
I have no cause for such a feeling! I am but too happy to act as a
father towards a young saint, and to have had a share, as the humble
instrument of the Almighty, in the salvation of his soul. That
handsome and good young man trusts no one but me, and writes to me
regularly twice a week. I am too discreet to communicate his letters
to you, but, if you were to read them, they would make you weep for
sympathy. It is to him that I have sent the three gold pieces which
you gave me yesterday."
As he said the last words my converter rose, and went to the window
to dry his tears, I felt deeply moved, anal full of admiration for
the virtue of De la Haye and of his pupil, who, to save his soul, had
placed himself under the hard necessity of accepting alms. I cried
as well as the apostle, and in my dawning piety I told him that I
insisted not only upon remaining unknown to his pupil, but also upon
ignoring the amount of the sums he might take out of my purse to
forward to him, and I therefore begged that he would help himself
without rendering me any account. De la Haye embraced me warmly,
saying that, by following the precepts of the Gospel so well, I