Part 2 out of 3
salary of a hundred roubles shall be paid monthly. At the end of the
year I shall get my passport and go."
"I am sure the empress thinks she is doing you a favour in paying you
"Very likely; but she does not remember that I am forgetting how to
act all this time."
"You ought to tell her that."
"I only wish she would give me an audience."
"That is unnecessary. Of course, you have a lover."
"No, I haven't."
"It's incredible to me!"
"They say the incredible often happens."
"I am very glad to hear it myself."
I took her address, and sent her the following note the next day:
"Madam,--I should like to begin an intrigue with you. You have
inspired me with feelings that will make me unhappy unless you
reciprocate them. I beg to take the liberty of asking myself to sup
with you, but please tell me how much it will cost me. I am obliged
to leave for Warsaw in the course of a month, and I shall be happy to
offer you a place in my travelling carriage. I shall be able to get
you a passport. The bearer of this has orders to wait, and I hope
your answer will be as plainly worded as my question."
In two hours I received this reply:
"Sir,--As I have the knack of putting an end to an intrigue when it
has ceased to amuse me, I have no hesitation in accepting your
proposal. As to the sentiments with which you say I have inspired
you, I will do my best to share them, and to make you happy. Your
supper shall be ready, and later on we will settle the price of the
dessert. I shall be delighted to accept the place in your carriage
if you can obtain my expenses to Paris as well as my passport. And
finally, I hope you will find my plain speaking on a match with
yours. Good bye, till the evening."
I found my new friend in a comfortable lodging, and we accosted each
other as if we had been old acquaintances.
"I shall be delighted to travel with you," said she, "but I don't
think you will be able to get my passport."
"I have no doubt as to my success," I replied, "if you will present
to the empress the petition I shall draft for you."
"I will surely do so," said she, giving me writing materials.
I wrote out the following petition,--
"Your Majesty,--I venture to remind your highness that my enforced
idleness is making me forget my art, which I have not yet learnt
thoroughly. Your majesty's generosity is therefore doing me an
injury, and your majesty would do me a great benefit in giving me
permission to leave St. Petersburg."
"Nothing more than that?"
"Not a word."
"You say nothing about the passport, and nothing about the journey-
money. I am not a rich woman."
"Do you only present this petition; and, unless I am very much
mistaken, you will have, not only your journey-money, but also your
"Oh, that would be too much!"
"Not at all. You do not know Catherine, but I do. Have this copied,
and present it in person."
"I will copy it out myself, for I can write a good enough hand.
Indeed, it almost seems as if I had composed it; it is exactly my
style. I believe you are a better actor than I am, and from this
evening I shall call myself your pupil. Come, let us have some
supper, that you may give me my first lesson."
After a delicate supper, seasoned by pleasant and witty talk, Madame
Valville granted me all I could desire. I went downstairs for a
moment to send away my coachman and to instruct him what he was to
say to Zaira, whom I had forewarned that I was going to Cronstadt,
and might not return till the next day. My coachman was a Ukrainian
on whose fidelity I could rely, but I knew that it would be necessary
for me to be off with the old love before I was on with the new.
Madame Valville was like most young Frenchwomen of her class; she had
charms which she wished to turn to account, and a passable education;
her ambition was to be kept by one man, and the title of mistress was
more pleasing in her ears than that of wife.
In the intervals of four amorous combats she told me enough of her
life for me to divine what it had been. Clerval, the actor, had been
gathering together a company of actors at Paris, and making her
acquaintance by chance and finding her to be intelligent, he assured
her that she was a born actress, though she had never suspected it.
The idea had dazzled her, and she had signed the agreement. She
started from Paris with six other actors and actresses, of whom she
was the only one that had never played.
"I thought," she said, "it was like what is done at Paris, where a
girl goes into the chorus or the ballet without having learnt to sing
or dance. What else could I think, after an actor like Clerval had
assured me I had a talent for acting and had offered me a good
engagement? All he required of me was that I should learn by heart
and repeat certain passages which I rehearsed in his presence. He
said I made a capital soubrette, and he certainly could not have been
trying to deceive me, but the fact is he was deceived himself. A
fortnight after my arrival I made my first appearance, and my
reception was not a flattering one."
"Perhaps you were nervous?"
"Nervous? not in the least. Clerval said that if I could have put on
the appearance of nervousness the empress, who is kindness itself,
would certainly have encouraged me."
I left her the next morning after I had seen her copy out the
petition. She wrote a very good hand.
"I shall present it to-day," said she.
I wished her good luck, and arranged to sup with her again on the day
I meant to part with Zaira.
All French girls who sacrifice to Venus are in the same style as the
Valville; they are entirely without passion or love, but they are
pleasant and caressing. They have only one object; and that is their
own profit. They make and unmake an intrigue with a smiling face and
without the slightest difficulty. It is their system, and if it be
not absolutely the best it is certainly the most convenient.
When I got home I found Zaira submissive but sad, which annoyed me
more than anger would have done, for I loved her. However, it was
time to bring the matter to an end, and to make up my mind to endure
the pain of parting.
Rinaldi, the architect, a man of seventy, but still vigorous and
sensual, was in love with her, and he had hinted to me several times
that he would be only too happy to take her over and to pay double
the sum I had given for her. My answer had been that I could only
give her to a man she liked, and that I meant to make her a present
of the hundred roubles I had given for her. Rinaldi did not like
this answer, as he had not very strong hopes of the girl taking a
fancy to him; however, he did not despair.
He happened to call on me on the very morning on which I had
determined to give her up, and as he spoke Russian perfectly he gave
Zaira to understand how much he loved her. Her answer was that he
must apply to me, as my will was law to her, but that she neither
liked nor disliked anyone else. The old man could not obtain any
more positive reply and left us with but feeble hopes, but commending
himself to my good offices.
When he had gone, I asked Zaira whether she would not like me to
leave her to the worthy man, who would treat her as his own daughter.
She was just going to reply when I was handed a note from Madame
Valville, asking me to call on her, as she had a piece of news to
give me. I ordered the carriage immediately, telling Zaira that I
should not be long.
"Very good," she replied, "I will give you a plain answer when you
I found Madame Valville in a high state of delight.
"Long live the petition!" she exclaimed, as soon as she saw me.
"I waited for the empress to come out of her private chapel. I
respectfully presented my petition, which she read as she walked
along, and then told me with a kindly smile to wait a moment. I
waited, and her majesty returned me the petition initialled in her
own hand, and bade me take it to M. Ghelagin. This gentleman gave me
an excellent reception, and told me that the sovereign hand ordered
him to give me my passport, my salary for a year, and a hundred
ducats for the journey. The money will be forwarded in a fortnight,
as my name will have to be sent to the Gazette."
Madame Valville was very grateful, and we fixed the day of our
departure. Three or four days later I sent in my name to the
I had promised Zaira to come back, so telling my new love that I
would come and live with her as soon as I had placed the young
Russian in good hands, I went home, feeling rather curious to hear
After Zaira had supped with me in perfect good humour, she asked if
M. Rinaldi would pay me back the money I had given far her. I said
he would, and she went on,--
"It seems to me that I am worth more than I was, for I have all your
presents, and I know Italian."
"You are right, dear, but I don't want it to be said that I have made
a profit on you; besides, I intend to make you a present of the
"As you are going to make me such a handsome present, why not send me
back to my father's house? That would be still more generous. If M.
Rinaldi really loves me, he can come and talk it over with my father.
You have no objection to his paying me whatever sum I like to
"Not at all. On the contrary, I shall be very glad to serve your
family, and all the more as Rinaldi is a rich man."
"Very good; you will be always dear to me in my memory. You shall
take me to my home to-morrow; and now let us go to bed."
Thus it was that I parted with this charming girl, who made me live
soberly all the time I was at St. Petersburg. Zinowieff told me that
if I had liked to deposit a small sum as security I could have taken
her with me; but I had thought the matter over, and it seemed to me
that as Zaira grew more beautiful and charming I should end by
becoming a perfect slave to her. Possibly, however, I should not
have looked into matters so closely if I had not been in love with
Zaira spent the next morning in gathering together her belongings,
now laughing and now weeping, and every time that she left her
packing to give me a kiss I could not resist weeping myself. When I
restored her to her father, the whole family fell on their knees
around me. Alas for poor human nature! thus it is degraded by the
iron heel of oppression. Zaira looked oddly in the humble cottage,
where one large mattress served for the entire family.
Rinaldi took everything in good part. He told me that since the
daughter would make no objection he had no fear of the father doing
so. He went to the house the next day, but he did not get the girl
till I had left St. Petersburg. He kept her for the remainder of his
days, and behaved very handsomely to her.
After this melancholy separation Madame Valville became my sole
mistress, and we left the Russian capital in the course of a few
weeks. I took an Armenian merchant into my service; he had lent me a
hundred ducats, and cooked very well in the Eastern style. I had a
letter from the Polish resident to Prince Augustus Sulkowski, and
another from the English ambassador for Prince Adam Czartoryski.
The day after we left St. Petersburg we stopped at Koporie to dine;
we had taken with us some choice viands and excellent wines. Two
days later we met the famous chapel-master, Galuppi or Buranelli, who
was on his way to St. Petersburg with two friends and an artiste. He
did not know me, and was astonished to find a Venetian dinner
awaiting him at the inn, as also to hear a greeting in his mother
tongue. As soon as I had pronounced my name he embraced me with
exclamations of surprise and joy.
The roads were heavy with rain, so we were a week in getting to Riga,
and when we arrived I was sorry to hear that Prince Charles was not
there. From Riga, we were four days before getting to Konigsberg,
where Madame Valville, who was expected at Berlin, had to leave me.
I left her my Armenian, to whom she gladly paid the hundred ducats I
owed him. I saw her again two years later, and shall speak of the
meeting in due time.
We separated like good friends, without any sadness. We spent the
night at Klein Roop, near Riga, and she offered to give me her
diamonds, her jewels, and all that she possessed. We were staying
with the Countess Lowenwald, to whom I had a letter from the Princess
Dolgorouki. This lady had in her house, in the capacity of
governess, the pretty English woman whom I had known as Campioni's
wife. She told me that her husband was at Warsaw, and that he was
living with Villiers. She gave me a letter for him, and I promised
to make him send her some money, and I kept my word. Little Betty
was as charming as ever, but her mother seemed quite jealous of her
and treated her ill.
When I reached Konigsberg I sold my travelling carriage and took a
place in a coach for Warsaw. We were four in all, and my companions
only spoke German and Polish, so that I had a dreadfully tedious
journey. At Warsaw I went to live with Villiers, where I hoped to
It was not long before I saw him, and found him well in health and in
comfortable quarters. He kept a dancing school, and had a good many
pupils. He was delighted to have news of Fanny and his children. He
sent them some money, but had no thoughts of having them at Warsaw,
as Fanny wished. He assured me she was not his wife.
He told me that Tomatis, the manager of the comic opera, had made a
fortune, and had in his company a Milanese dancer named Catai, who
enchanted all the town by her charms rather than her talent. Games
of chance were permitted, but he warned me that Warsaw was full of
card-sharpers. A Veronese named Giropoldi, who lived with an officer
from Lorrain called Bachelier, held a bank at faro at her house,
where a dancer, who had been the mistress of the famous Afflisio at
Vienna, brought customers.
Major Sadir, whom I have mentioned before, kept another gaming-house,
in company with his mistress, who came from Saxony. The Baron de St.
Heleine was also in Warsaw, but his principal occupation was to
contract debts which he did not mean to pay. He also lived in
Villier's house with his pretty and virtuous young wife, who would
have nothing to say to us. Campioni told me of some other
adventurers, whose names I was very glad to know that I might the
better avoid them.
The day after my arrival I hired a man and a carriage, the latter
being an absolute necessity at Warsaw, where in my time, at all
events, it was impossible to go on foot. I reached the capital of
Poland at the end of October, 1765.
My first call was on Prince Adam Czartoryski, Lieutenant of Podolia,
for whom I had an introduction. I found him before a table covered
with papers, surrounded by forty or fifty persons, in an immense
library which he had made into his bedroom. He was married to a very
pretty woman, but had not yet had a child by her because she was too
thin for his taste.
He read the long letter I gave him, and said in elegant French that
he had a very high opinion of the writer of the letter; but that as
he was very busy just then he hoped I would come to supper with him
if I had nothing better to do.
I drove off to Prince Sulkouski, who had just been appointed
ambassador to the Court of Louis XV. The prince was the elder of
four brothers and a man of great understanding, but a theorist in the
style of the Abbe St. Pierre. He read the letter, and said he wanted
to have a long talk with me; but that being obliged to go out he
would be obliged if I would come and dine with him at four o'clock.
I accepted the invitation.
I then went to a merchant named Schempinski, who was to pay me fifty
ducats a month on Papanelopulo's order. My man told me that there
was a public rehearsal of a new opera at the theatre, and I
accordingly spent three hours there, knowing none and unknown to all.
All the actresses were pretty, but especially the Catai, who did not
know the first elements of dancing. She was greatly applauded, above
all by Prince Repnin, the Russian ambassador, who seemed a person of
the greatest consequence.
Prince Sulkouski kept me at table for four mortal hours, talking on
every subject except those with which I happened to be acquainted.
His strong points were politics and commerce, and as he found my mind
a mere void on these subjects, he shone all the more, and took quite
a fancy to me, as I believe, because he found me such a capital
About nine o'clock, having nothing better to do (a favourite phrase
with the Polish noblemen), I went to Prince Adam, who after
pronouncing my name introduced me to the company. There were present
Monseigneur Krasinski, the Prince-Bishop of Warmia, the Chief
Prothonotary Rzewuski, whom I had known at St. Petersburg, the
Palatin Oginski, General Roniker, and two others whose barbarous
names I have forgotten. The last person to whom he introduced me was
his wife, with whom I was very pleased. A few moments after a fine-
looking gentleman came into the room, and everybody stood up. Prince
Adam pronounced my name, and turning to me said, coolly,--
"That's the king."
This method of introducing a stranger to a sovereign prince was
assuredly not an overwhelming one, but it was nevertheless a
surprise; and I found that an excess of simplicity may be as
confusing as the other extreme. At first I thought the prince might
be making a fool of me; but I quickly put aside the idea, and stepped
forward and was about to kneel, but his majesty gave me his hand to
kiss with exquisite grace, and as he was about to address me, Prince
Adam shewed him the letter of the English ambassador, who was well
known to the king. The king read it, still standing, and began to
ask me questions about the Czarina and the Court, appearing to take
great interest in my replies.
When supper was announced the king continued to talk, and led me into
the supper-room, and made me sit down at his right hand. Everybody
ate heartily except the king, who appeared to have no appetite, and
myself, who had no right to have any appetite, even if I had not
dined well with Prince Sulkouski, for I saw the whole table hushed to
listen to my replies to the king's questions.
After supper the king began to comment very graciously on my answers.
His majesty spoke simply but with great elegance. As he was leaving
he told me he should always be delighted to see me at his Court, and
Prince Adam said that if I liked to be introduced to his father, I
had only to call at eleven o'clock the next morning.
The King of Poland was of a medium height, but well made. His face
was not a handsome one, but it was kindly and intelligent. He was
rather short-sighted, and his features in repose bore a somewhat
melancholy expression; but in speaking, the whole face seemed to
light up. All he said was seasoned by a pleasant wit.
I was well enough pleased with this interview, and returned to my
inn, where I found Campioni seated amongst several guests of either
sex, and after staying with them for half an hour I went to bed.
At eleven o'clock the next day I was presented to the great Russian
Paladin. He was in his dressing-gown, surrounded by his gentlemen in
the national costume. He was standing up and conversing with his
followers in a kindly but grave manner. As soon as his son Adam
mentioned my name, he unbent and gave me a most kindly yet dignified
welcome. His manners were not awful, nor did they inspire one with
familiarity, and I thought him likely to be a good judge of
character. When I told him that I had only gone to Russia to amuse
myself and see good company, he immediately concluded that my aims in
coming to Poland were of the same kind; and he told me that he could
introduce me to a large circle. He added that he should be glad to
see me to dinner and supper whenever I had no other engagements.
He went behind a screen to complete his toilette, and soon appeared
in the uniform of his regiment, with a fair peruke in the style of
the late King Augustus II. He made a collective bow to everyone, and
went to see his wife, who was recovering from a disease which would
have proved fatal if it had not been for the skill of Reimann, a
pupil of the great Boerhaave. The lady came of the now extinct
family of Enoff, whose immense wealth she brought to her husband.
When he married her he abandoned the Maltese Order, of which he had
been a knight. He won his bride by a duel with pistols on horseback.
The lady had promised that her hand should be the conqueror's
guerdon, and the prince was so fortunate as to kill his rival. Of
this marriage there issued Prince Adam and a daughter, now a widow,
and known under the name of Lubomirska, but formerly under that of
Strasnikowa, that being the title of the office her husband held in
the royal army.
It was this prince palatine and his brother, the High Chancellor of
Lithuania, who first brought about the Polish troubles. The two
brothers were discontented with their position at the Court where
Count Bruhl was supreme, and put themselves at the head of the plot
for dethroning the king, and for placing on the throne, under Russian
protection, their young nephew, who had originally gone to St.
Petersburg as an attache at the embassy, and afterwards succeeded in
winning the favour of Catherine, then Grand Duchess, but soon to
This young man was Stanislas Poniatowski, son of Constance
Czartoryski and the celebrated Poniatowski, the friend of Charles
III. As luck would have it, a revolution was unnecessary to place
him on the throne, for the king died in 1763, and gave place to
Prince Poniatowski, who was chosen king on the 6th of September,
1776, under the title of Stanislas Augustus I. He had reigned two
years at the time of my visit; and I found Warsaw in a state of
gaiety, for a diet was to be held and everyone wished to know how it
was that Catherine had given the Poles a native king.
At dinner-time I went to the paladin's and found three tables, at
each of which there were places for thirty, and this was the usual
number entertained by the prince. The luxury of the Court paled
before that of the paladin's house. Prince Adam said to me,
"Chevalier, your place will always be at my father's table."
This was a great honour, and I felt it. The prince introduced me to
his handsome sister, and to several palatins and starosts. I did not
fail to call on all these great personages, so in the course of a
fortnight I found myself a welcome guest in all the best houses.
My purse was too lean to allow of my playing or consoling myself with
a theatrical beauty, so I fell back on the library of Monseigneur
Zalewski, the Bishop of Kiowia, for whom I had taken a great liking.
I spent almost all my mornings with him, and it was from this prelate
that I learnt all the intrigues and complots by which the ancient
Polish constitution, of which the bishop was a great admirer, had
been overturned. Unhappily, his firmness was of no avail, and a few
months after I left Warsaw the Russian tyrants arrested him and he
was exiled to Siberia.
I lived calmly and peaceably, and still look back upon those days
with pleasure. I spent my afternoons with the paladin playing
tressette an Italian game of which he was very fond, and which I
played well enough for the paladin to like to have me as a partner.
In spite of my sobriety and economy I found myself in debt three
months after my arrival, and I did not know where to turn for help.
The fifty ducats per month, which were sent me from Venice, were
insufficient, for the money I had to spend on my carriage, my
lodging, my servant, and my dress brought me down to the lowest ebb,
and I did not care to appeal to anyone. But fortune had a surprise
in store for me, and hitherto she had never left me.
Madame Schmit, whom the king for good reasons of his own had
accommodated with apartments in the palace, asked me one evening to
sup with her, telling me that the king would be of the party. I
accepted the invitation, and I was delighted to find the delightful
Bishop Kraswiski, the Abbe Guigiotti, and two or three other amateurs
of Italian literature. The king, whose knowledge of literature was
extensive, began to tell anecdotes of classical writers, quoting
manuscript authorities which reduced me to silence, and which were
possibly invented by him. Everyone talked except myself, and as I
had had no dinner I ate like an ogre, only replying by monosyllables
when politeness obliged me to say something. The conversation turned
on Horace, and everyone gave his opinion on the great materialist's
philosophy, and the Abbe Guigiotti obliged me to speak by saying that
unless I agreed with him I should not keep silence.
"If you take my silence for consent to your extravagant eulogium of
Horace," I said, "you are mistaken; for in my opinion the 'nec cum
venari volet poemata panges', of which you think so much, is to my
mind a satire devoid of delicacy."
"Satire and delicacy are hard to combine."
"Not for Horace, who succeeded in pleasing the great Augustus, and
rendering him immortal as the protector of learned men. Indeed other
sovereigns seem to vie with him by taking his name and even by
The king (who had taken the name of Augustus himself) looked grave
"What sovereigns have adopted a disguised form of the name Augustus?"
"The first king of Sweden, who called himself Gustavus, which is only
an anagram of Augustus."
"That is a very amusing idea, and worth more than all the tales we
have told. Where did you find that?"
"In a manuscript at Wolfenbuttel."
The king laughed loudly, though he himself had been citing
manuscripts. But he returned to the charge and said,--
"Can you cite any passage of Horace (not in manuscript) where he
shews his talent for delicacy and satire?"
"Sir, I could quote several passages, but here is one which seems to
me very good: 'Coyam rege', says the poet, 'sua de paupertate
tacentes, plus quan pocentes ferent."
"True indeed," said the king, with a smile.
Madame Schmit, who did not know Latin, and inherited curiosity from
her mother, and eventually from Eve, asked the bishop what it meant,
and he thus translated it:
"They that speak not of their necessities in the presence of a king,
gain more than they that are ever asking."
The lady remarked that she saw nothing satirical in this.
After this it was my turn to be silent again; but the king began to
talk about Ariosto, and expressed a desire to read it with me. I
replied with an inclination of the head, and Horace's words: 'Tempora
Next morning, as I was coming out from mass, the generous and
unfortunate Stanislas Augustus gave me his hand to kiss, and at the
same time slid a roll of money into my hand, saying,--
"Thank no one but Horace, and don't tell anyone about it."
The roll contained two hundred ducats, and I immediately paid off my
debts. Since then I went almost every morning to the king's closet,
where he was always glad to see his courtiers, but there was no more
said about reading Ariosto. He knew Italian, but not enough to speak
it, and still less to appreciate the beauties of the great poet.
When I think of this worthy prince, and of the great qualities he
possessed as a man, I cannot understand how he came to commit so many
errors as a king. Perhaps the least of them all was that he allowed
himself to survive his country. As he could not find a friend to
kill him, I think he should have killed himself. But indeed he had
no need to ask a friend to do him this service; he should have
imitated the great Kosciuszko, and entered into life eternal by the
sword of a Russian.
The carnival was a brilliant one. All Europe seemed to have
assembled at Warsaw to see the happy being whom fortune had so
unexpectedly raised to a throne, but after seeing him all were agreed
that, in his case at all events, the deity had been neither blind nor
foolish. Perhaps, however, he liked shewing himself rather too much.
I have detected him in some distress on his being informed that there
was such a thing as a stranger in Warsaw who had not seen him. No
one had any need of an introduction, for his Court was, as all Courts
should be, open to everyone, and when he noticed a strange face he
was the first to speak.
Here I must set down an event which took place towards the end of
January. It was, in fact, a dream; and, as I think I have confessed
before, superstition had always some hold on me.
I dreamt I was at a banquet, and one of the guests threw a bottle at
my face, that the blood poured forth, that I ran my sword through my
enemy's body, and jumped into a carriage, and rode away.
Prince Charles of Courland came to Warsaw, and asked me to dine with
him at Prince Poninski's, the same that became so notorious, and was
afterwards proscribed and shamefully dishonoured. His was a
hospitable house, and he was surrounded by his agreeable family. I
had never called on him, as he was not a 'persona grata' to the king
or his relations.
In the course of the dinner a bottle of champagne burst, and a piece
of broken glass struck me just below the eye. It cut a vein, and the
blood gushed over my face, over my clothes, and even over the cloth.
Everybody rose, my wound was bound up, the cloth was changed, and the
dinner went on merrily. I was surprised at the likeness between my
dream and this incident, while I congratulated myself on the happy
difference between them. However, it all came true after a few
Madame Binetti, whom I had last seen in London, arrived at Warsaw
with her husband and Pic the dancer. She had a letter of
introduction to the king's brother, who was a general in the Austrian
service, and then resided at Warsaw. I heard that the day they came,
when I was at supper at the palatin's. The king was present, and
said he should like to keep them in Warsaw for a week and see them
dance, if a thousand ducats could do it.
I went to see Madame Binetti and to give her the good news the next
morning. She was very much surprised to meet me in Warsaw, and still
more so at the news I gave her. She called Pic who seemed undecided,
but as we were talking it over, Prince Poniatowski came in to
acquaint them with his majesty's wishes, and the offer was accepted.
In three days Pic arranged a ballet; the costumes, the scenery, the
music, the dancers--all were ready, and Tomatis put it on handsomely
to please his generous master. The couple gave such satisfaction
that they were engaged for a year. The Catai was furious, as Madame
Binetti threw her completely into the shade, and, worse still, drew
away her lovers. Tomatis, who was under the Catai's influence, made
things so unpleasant for Madame Binetti that the two dancers became
In ten or twelve days Madame Binetti was settled it a well-furnished
house; her plate was simple but good, her cellar full of excellent
wine, her cook an artist and her adorers numerous, amongst them being
Moszciuski and Branicki, the king's friends.
The pit was divided into two parties, for the Catai was resolved to
make a stand against the new comer, though her talents were not to be
compared to Madame Binetti's. She danced in the first ballet, and
her rival in the second. Those who applauded the first greeted that
second in dead silence, and vice versa. I had great obligations
towards Madame Binetti, but my duty also drew me towards the Catai,
who numbered in her party all the Czartoryskis and their following,
Prince Lubomirski, and other powerful nobles. It was plain that I
could not desert to Madame Binetti without earning the contempt of
the other party.
Madame Binetti reproached me bitterly, and I laid the case plainly
before her. She agreed that I could not do otherwise, but begged me
to stay away from the theatre in future, telling me that she had got
a rod in pickle for Tomatis which would make him repent of his
impertinence. She called me her oldest friend; and indeed I was very
fond of her, and cared nothing for the Catai despite her prettiness.
Xavier Branicki, the royal Postoli, Knight of the White Eagle,
Colonel of Uhlans, the king's friend, was the chief adorer of Madame
Binetti. The lady probably confided her displeasure to him, and
begged him to take vengeance on the manager, who had committed so
many offences against her. Count Branicki in his turn probably
promised to avenge her quarrel, and, if no opportunity of doing so
arose, to create an opportunity. At least, this is the way in which
affairs of this kind are usually managed, and I can find no better
explanation for what happened. Nevertheless, the way in which the
Pole took vengeance was very original and extraordinary.
On the 20th of February Branicki went to the opera, and, contrary to
his custom, went to the Catai's dressing-room, and began to pay his
court to the actress, Tomatis being present. Both he and the actress
concluded that Branicki had had a quarrel with her rival, and though
she did not much care to place him in the number of her adorers, she
yet gave him a good reception, for she knew it would be dangerous to
despise his suit openly.
When the Catai had completed her toilet, the gallant postoli offered.
her his arm to take her to her carriage, which was at the door.
Tomatis followed, and I too was there, awaiting my carriage. Madame
Catai came down, the carriage-door was opened, she stepped in, and
Branicki got in after her, telling the astonished Tomatis to follow
them in the other carriage. Tomatis replied that he meant to ride in
his own carriage, and begged the colonel to get out. Branicki paid
no attention, and told the coachman to drive on. Tornatis forbade
him to stir, and the man, of course, obeyed his master. The gallant
postcili was therefore obliged to get down, but he bade his hussar
give Tomatis a box on the ear, and this order was so promptly and
vigorously obeyed that the unfortunate man was on the ground before
he had time to recollect that he had a sword. He got up eventually
and drove off, but he could eat no supper, no doubt because he had a
blow to digest. I was to have supped with him, but after this scene
I had really not the face to go. I went home in a melancholy and
reflective mood, wondering whether the whole had been concerted; but
I concluded that this was impossible, as neither Branicki nor Binetti
could have foreseen the impoliteness and cowardice of Tomatis.
In the next chapter the reader will see how tragically the matter
My Duel with Branicki--My Journey to Leopol and Return to Warsaw
--I Receive the Order to Leave--My Departure with the Unknown One
On reflection I concluded that Branicki had not done an ungentlemanly
thing in getting into Tomatis's carriage; he had merely behaved with
impetuosity, as if he were the Catai's lover. It also appeared to me
that, considering the affront he had received from the jealous
Italian, the box on the ear was a very moderate form of vengeance.
A blow is bad, of course, but not so bad as death; and Branicki might
very well have run his sword through the manager's body. Certainly,
if Branicki had killed him he would have been stigmatised as an
assassin, for though Tomatis had a sword the Polish officer's
servants would never have allowed him to draw it, nevertheless I
could not help thinking that Tomatis should have tried to take the
servant's life, even at the risk of his own. He wanted no more
courage for that than in ordering the king's favourite to come out of
the carriage. He might have foreseen that the Polish noble would be
stung to the quick, and would surely attempt to take speedy
The next day the encounter was the subject of all conversations.
Tomatis remained indoors for a week, calling for vengeance in vain.
The king told him he could do nothing for him, as Branicki maintained
he had only given insult for insult. I saw Tomatis, who told me in
confidence that he could easily take vengeance, but that it would
cost him too dear. He had spent forty thousand ducats on the two
ballets, and if he had avenged himself he would have lost it nearly
all, as he would be obliged to leave the kingdom. The only
consolation he had was that his great friends were kinder to him than
ever, and the king himself honoured him with peculiar attention.
Madame Binetti was triumphant. When I saw her she condoled with me
ironically on the mishap that had befallen my friend. She wearied
me; but I could not guess that Branicki had only acted at her
instigation, and still less that she had a grudge against me.
Indeed, if I had known it, I should only have laughed at her, for I
had nothing to dread from her bravo's dagger. I had never seen him
nor spoken to him; he could have no opportunity for attacking me. He
was never with the king in the morning and never went to the
palatin's to supper, being an unpopular character with the Polish
nobility. This Branicki was said to have been originally a Cossack,
Branecki by name. He became the king's favorite and assumed the name
of Branicki, pretending to be of the same family as the illustrious
marshal of that name who was still alive; but he, far from
recognizing the pretender, ordered his shield to be broken up and
buried with him as the last of the race. However that may be,
Branicki was the tool of the Russian party, the determined enemy of
those who withstood Catherine's design of Russianising the ancient
Polish constitution. The king liked him out of habit, and because he
had peculiar obligations to him.
The life I lived was really exemplary. I indulged neither in love
affairs nor gaming. I worked for the king, hoping to become his
secretary. I paid my court to the princess-palatine, who liked my
company, and I played tressette with the palatin himself.
On the 4th of March, St. Casimir's Eve, there was a banquet at Court
to which I had the honour to be invited. Casimir was the name of the
king's eldest brother, who held the office of grand chamberlain.
After dinner the king asked me if I intended going to the theatre,
where a Polish play was to be given for the first time. Everybody
was interested in this novelty, but it was a matter of indifference
to me as I did not understand the language, and I told the king as
"Never mind," said he, "come in my box."
This was too flattering an invitation to be refused, so I obeyed the
royal command and stood behind the king's chair. After the second
act a ballet was given, and the dancing of Madame Caracci, a
Piedmontese, so pleased his majesty that he went to the unusual pains
of clapping her.
I only knew the dancer by sight, for I had never spoken to her. She
had some talents. Her principal admirer was Count Poninski, who was
always reproaching me when I dined with him for visiting the other
dancers to the exclusion of Madame Caracci. I thought of his
reproach at the time, and determined to pay her a visit after the
ballet to congratulate her on her performance and the king's
applause. On my way I passed by Madame Binetti's dressing-room, and
seeing the door open I stayed a moment. Count Branicki came up, and
I left with a bow and passed on to Madame Caracci's dressing-room.
She was astonished to see me, and began with kindly reproaches for my
neglect; to which I replied with compliments, and then giving her a
kiss I promised to come and see her.
Just as I embraced her who should enter but Branicki, whom I had left
a moment before with Madame Binetti. He had clearly followed me in
the hopes of picking a quarrel. He was accompanied by Bininski, his
lieutenant-colonel. As soon as he appeared, politeness made me stand
up and turn to go, but he stopped me.
"It seems to me I have come at a bad time; it looks as if you loved
"Certainly, my lord; does not your excellency consider her as worthy
"Quite so; but as it happens I love her too, and I am not the man to
bear any rivals."
"As I know that, I shall love her no more."
"Then you give her up?"
"With all my heart; for everyone must yield to such a noble as you
"Very good; but I call a man that yields a coward."
"Isn't that rather a strong expression?"
As I uttered these words I looked proudly at him and touched the hilt
of my sword. Three or four officers were present and witnessed what
I had hardly gone four paces from the dressing-room when I heard
myself called "Venetian coward." In spite of my rage I restrained
myself, and turned back saying, coolly and firmly, that perhaps a
Venetian coward might kill a brave Pole outside the theatre; and
without awaiting a reply I left the building by the chief staircase.
I waited vainly outside the theatre for a quarter of an hour with my
sword in my hand, for I was not afraid of losing forty thousand
ducats like Tomatis. At last, half perishing with cold, I called my
carriage and drove to the palatin's, where the king was to sup.
The cold and loneliness began to cool my brain, and I congratulated
myself on my self-restraint in not drawing my sword in the actress's
dressing-room; and I felt glad that Branicki had not followed me down
the stairs, for his friend Bininski had a sabre, and I should probably
have been assassinated.
Although the Poles are polite enough, there is still a good deal of
the old leaven in them. They are still Dacians and Samaritans at
dinner, in war, and in friendship, as they call it, but which is
often a burden hardly to be borne. They can never understand that a
man may be sufficient company for himself, and that it is not right
to descend on him in a troop and ask him to give them dinner.
I made up my mind that Madame Binetti had excited Branicki to follow
me, and possibly to treat me as he had treated Tomatis. I had not
received a blow certainly, but I had been called a coward. I had no
choice but to demand satisfaction, but I also determined to be
studiously moderate throughout. In this frame of mind I got down at
the palatin's, resolved to tell the whole story to the king, leaving
to his majesty the task of compelling his favourite to give me
As soon as the palatin saw me, he reproached me in a friendly manner
for keeping him waiting, and we sat down to tressette. I was his
partner, and committed several blunders. When it came to losing a
second game he said,--
"Where is your head to-night?"
"My lord, it is four leagues away."
"A respectable man ought to have his head in the game, and not at a
distance of four leagues."
With these words the prince threw down his cards and began to walk up
and down the room. I was rather startled, but I got up and stood by
the fire, waiting for the king. But after I had waited thus for half
an hour a chamberlain came from the palace, and announced that his
majesty could not do himself the honour of supping with my lord that
This was a blow for me, but I concealed my disappointment. Supper
was served, and I sat down as usual at the left hand of the palatin,
who was annoyed with me, and chewed it. We were eighteen at table,
and for once I had no appetite. About the middle of the supper
Prince Gaspard Lubomirski came in, and chanced to sit down opposite
me. As soon as he saw me he condoled with me in a loud voice for
what had happened.
"I am sorry for you," said he, "but Branicki was drunk, and you
really shouldn't count what he said as an insult."
"What has happened?" became at once the general question. I held my
tongue, and when they asked Lubomirski he replied that as I kept
silence it was his duty to do the same.
Thereupon the palatin, speaking in his friendliest manner, said to
"What has taken place between you and Branicki?"
"I will tell you the whole story, my lord, in private after supper."
The conversation became indifferent, and after the meal was over the
palatin took up his stand by the small door by which he was
accustomed to leave the room, and there I told him the whole story.
He sighed, condoled with me, and added,--
"You had good reasons for being absent-minded at cards."
"May I presume to ask your excellency's advice?"
"I never give advice in these affairs, in which you must do every-
thing or nothing."
The palatin shook me by the hand, and I went home and slept for six
hours. As soon as I awoke I sat up in bed, and my first thought was
everything or nothing. I soon rejected the latter alternative, and I
saw that I must demand a duel to the death. If Branicki refused to
fight I should be compelled to kill him, even if I were to lose my
head for it.
Such was my determination; to write to him proposing a duel at four
leagues from Warsaw, this being the limit of the starostia, in which
duelling was forbidden on pain of death. I Wrote as follows, for I
have kept the rough draft of the letter to this day:
"March 5th, 1766. 5 A.M.
"My Lord,--Yesterday evening your excellency insulted me with a light
heart, without my having given you any cause or reason for doing so.
This seems to indicate that you hate me, and would gladly efface me
from the land of the living. I both can and will oblige you in this
matter. Be kind enough, therefore, to drive me in your carriage to a
place where my death will not subject your lordship to the vengeance
of the law, in case you obtain the victory, and where I shall enjoy
the same advantage if God give me grace to kill your lordship. I
should not make this proposal unless I believe your lordship to be of
a noble disposition.
"I have the honour to be, etc."
I sent this letter an hour before day-break to Branicki's lodging in
the palace. My messenger had orders to give the letter into the
count's own hands, to wait for him to rise, and also for an answer.
In half an hour I received the following answer:
"Sir,--I accept your proposal, and shall be glad if you will have the
kindness to inform me when I shall have the honour of seeing you.
"I remain, sir, etc."
I answered this immediately, informing him I would call on him the
next day, at six o'clock in the morning.
Shortly after, I received a second letter, in which he said that I
might choose the arms and place, but that our differences must be
settled in the course of the day.
I sent him the measure of my sword, which was thirty-two inches long,
telling him he might choose any place beyond the ban. In reply, I
had the following:
"Sir,--You will greatly oblige me by coming now. I have sent my
"I have the honour to be, etc."
I replied that I had business all the day, and that as I had made up
my mind not to call upon him, except for the purpose of fighting, I
begged him not to be offended if I took the liberty of sending back
An hour later Branicki called in person, leaving his suite at the
door. He came into the room, requested some gentlemen who were
talking with me to leave us alone, locked the door after them, and
then sat down on my bed. I did not understand what all this meant so
I took up my pistols.
"Don't be afraid," said he, "I am not come to assassinate you, but
merely to say that I accept your proposal, on condition only that the
duel shall take place to-day. If not, never!"
"It is out of the question. I have letters to write, and some
business to do for the king."
"That will do afterwards. In all probability you will not fall, and
if you do I am sure the king will forgive you. Besides, a dead man
need fear no reproaches."
"I want to make my will."
"Come, come, you needn't be afraid of dying; it will be time enough
for you to make your will in fifty years."
"But why should your excellency not wait till tomorrow?"
"I don't want to be caught."
"You have nothing of the kind to fear from me."
"I daresay, but unless we make haste the king will have us both
"How can he, unless you have told him about our quarrel?"
"Ah, you don't understand! Well, I am quite willing to give you
satisfaction, but it must be to-day or never."
"Very good. This duel is too dear to my heart for me to leave you
any pretext for avoiding it. Call for me after dinner, for I shall
want all my strength."
"Certainly. For my part I like a good supper after, better than a
good dinner before."
"Everyone to his taste."
"True. By the way, why did you send me the length of your sword? I
intend to fight with pistols, for I never use swords with unknown
"What do you mean? I beg of you to refrain from insulting me in my
own house. I do not intend to fight with pistols, and you cannot
compel me to do so, for I have your letter giving me the choice of
"Strictly speaking, no doubt you are in the right; but I am sure you
are too polite not to give way, when I assure you that you will lay
me under a great obligation by doing so. Very often the first shot
is a miss, and if that is the case with both of us, I promise to
fight with swords as long as you like. Will you oblige me in the
"Yes, for I like your way of asking, though, in my opinion, a pistol
duel is a barbarous affair. I accept, but on the following
conditions: You must bring two pistols, charge them in my presence,
and give me the choice. If the first shot is a miss, we will fight
with swords till the first blood or to the death, whichever you
prefer. Call for me at three o'clock, and choose some place where we
shall be secure from the law."
"Very good. You are a good fellow, allow me to embrace you. Give me
your word of honour not to say a word about it to anyone, for if you
did we should be arrested immediately."
"You need not be afraid of my talking; the project is too dear to
"Good. Farewell till three o'clock."
As soon as the brave braggart had left me, I placed the papers I was
doing for the king apart, and went to Campioni, in whom I had great
"Take this packet to the king," I said, "if I happen to be killed.
You may guess, perhaps, what is going to happen, but do not say a
word to anyone, or you will have me for your bitterest enemy, as it
would mean loss of honour to me."
"I understand. You may reckon on my discretion, and I hope the
affair may be ended honourably and prosperously for you. But take a
piece of friendly advice--don't spare your opponent, were it the king
himself, for it might cost you your life. I know that by experience."
"I will not forget. Farewell."
We kissed each other, and I ordered an excellent dinner, for I had no
mind to be sent to Pluto fasting. Campioni came in to dinner at one
o'clock, and at dessert I had a visit from two young counts, with
their tutor, Bertrand, a kindly Swiss. They were witnesses to my
cheerfulness and the excellent appetite with which I ate. At half-
past two I dismissed my company, and stood at the window to be ready
to go down directly Branicki's carriage appeared. He drove up in a
travelling carriage and six; two grooms, leading saddle-horses, went
in front, followed by his two aide-de-camps and two hussars. Behind
his carriage stood four servants. I hastened to descend, and found
my enemy was accompanied by a lieutenant-general and an armed
footman. The door was opened, the general gave me his place, and I
ordered my servants not to follow me but to await my orders at the
"You might want them," said Branicki; "they had better come along."
"If I had as many as you, I would certainly agree to your
proposition; but as it is I shall do still better without any at all.
If need be, your excellency will see that I am tended by your own
He gave me his hand, and assured me they should wait on me before
I sat down, and we went off.
It would have been absurd if I had asked where we were going, so I
held my tongue, for at such moments a man should take heed to his
words. Branicki was silent, and I thought the best thing I could do
would be to engage him in a trivial conversation.
"Does your excellency intend spending the spring at Warsaw?"
"I had thought of doing so, but you may possibly send me to pass the
spring somewhere else."
"Oh, I hope not!"
"Have you seen any military service?"
"Yes; but may I ask why your excellency asks me the question, for--"
"I had no particular reason; it was only for the sake of saying
We had driven about half an hour when the carriage stopped at the
door of a large garden. We got down and, following the postoli,
reached a green arbour which, by the way, was not at all green on
that 5th of March. In it was a stone table on which the footman
placed two pistols, a foot and half long, with a powder flask and
scales. He weighed the powder, loaded them equally, and laid them
down crosswise on the table.
This done, Branicki said boldly,
"Choose your weapon, sir."
At this the general called out,
"Is this a duel, sir?"
"You cannot fight here; you are within the ban."
"It does matter; and I, at all events, refuse to be a witness. I am
on guard at the castle, and you have taken me by surprise."
"Be quiet; I will answer for everything. I owe this gentleman
satisfaction, and I mean to give it him here."
"M. Casanova," said the general, "you cannot fight here."
"Then why have I been brought here? I shall defend myself wherever I
"Lay the whole matter before the king, and you shall have my voice in
"I am quite willing to do so, general, if his excellency will say
that he regrets what passed between us last night."
Branicki looked fiercely at me, and said wrathfully that he had come
to fight and not to parley.
"General," said I, "you can bear witness that I have done all in my
power to avoid this duel."
The general went away with his head between his hands, and throwing
off my cloak I took the first pistol that came to my hand. Branicki
took the other, and said that he would guarantee upon his honour that
my weapon was a good one.
"I am going to try its goodness on your head," I answered.
He turned pale at this, threw his sword to one of his servants, and
bared his throat, and I was obliged, to my sorrow, to follow his
example, for my sword was the only weapon I had, with the exception
of the pistol. I bared my chest also, and stepped back five or six
paces, and he did the same.
As soon as we had taken up our positions I took off my hat with my
left hand, and begged him to fire first.
Instead of doing so immediately he lost two or three seconds in
sighting, aiming, and covering his head by raising the weapon before
it. I was not in a position to let him kill me at his ease, so I
suddenly aimed and fired on him just as he fired on me. That I did
so is evident, as all the witnesses were unanimous in saying that
they only heard one report. I felt I was wounded in my left hand,
and so put it into my pocket, and I ran towards my enemy who had
fallen. All of a sudden, as I knelt beside him, three bare swords
were flourished over my head, and three noble assassins prepared to
cut me down beside their master. Fortunately, Branicki had not lost
consciousness or the power of speaking, and he cried out in a voice
"Scoundrels! have some respect for a man of honour."
This seemed to petrify them. I put my right hand under the pistoli's
armpit, while the general helped him on the other side, and thus we
took him to the inn, which happened to be near at hand.
Branicki stooped as he walked, and gazed at me curiously, apparently
wondering where all the blood on my clothes came from.
When we got to the inn, Branicki laid himself down in an arm-chair.
We unbuttoned his clothes and lifted up his shirt, and he could see
himself that he was dangerously wounded. My ball had entered his
body by the seventh rib on the right hand, and had gone out by the
second false rib on the left. The two wounds were ten inches apart,
and the case was of an alarming nature, as the intestines must have
been pierced. Branicki spoke to me in a weak voice,--
"You have killed me, so make haste away, as you are in danger of the
gibbet. The duel was fought in the ban, and I am a high court
officer, and a Knight of the White Eagle. So lose no time, and if
you have not enough money take my purse."
I picked up the purse which had fallen out, and put it back in his
pocket, thanking him, and saying it would be useless to me, for if I
were guilty I was content to lose my head. "I hope," I added, "that
your wound will not be mortal, and I am deeply grieved at your
obliging me to fight."
With these words I kissed him on his brow and left the inn, seeing
neither horses nor carriage, nor servant. They had all gone off for
doctor, surgeon, priest, and the friends and relatives of the wounded
I was alone and without any weapon, in the midst of a snow-covered
country, my hand was wounded, and I had not the slightest idea which
was the way to Warsaw.
I took the road which seemed most likely, and after I had gone some
distance I met a peasant with an empty sleigh.
"Warszawa?" I cried, shewing him a ducat.
He understood me, and lifted a coarse mat, with which he covered me
when I got into the sleigh, and then set off at a gallop.
All at once Biniski, Branicki's bosom-friend, came galloping
furiously along the road with his bare sword in his hand. He was
evidently running after me. Happily he did not glance at the
wretched sleigh in which I was, or else he would undoubtedly have
murdered me. I got at last to Warsaw, and went to the house of
Prince Adam Czartoryski to beg him to shelter me, but there was
nobody there. Without delay I determined to seek refuge in the
Convent of the Recollets, which was handy.
I rang at the door of the monastery, and the porter seeing me covered
with blood hastened to shut the door, guessing the object of my
visit. But I did not give him the time to do so, but honouring him
with a hearty kick forced my way in. His cries attracted a troop of
frightened monks. I demanded sanctuary, and threatened them with
vengeance if they refused to grant it. One of their number spoke to
me, and I was taken to a little den which looked more like a dungeon
than anything else. I offered no resistance, feeling sure that they
would change their tune before very long. I asked them to send for
my servants, and when they came I sent for a doctor and Campioni.
Before the surgeon could come the Palatin of Polduchia was announced.
I had never had the honour of speaking to him, but after hearing the
history of my duel he was so kind as to give me all the particulars
of a duel he had fought in his youthful days. Soon after came the
Palatin of Kalisch, Prince Jablenowski. Prince Sanguska, and the
Palatin of Wilna, who all joined in a chorus of abuse of the monks
who had lodged me so scurvily. The poor religious excused themselves
by saying that I had ill-treated their porter, which made my noble
friends laugh; but I did not laugh, for my wound was very painful.
However I was immediately moved into two of their best guest-rooms.
The ball had pierced my hand by the metacarpus under the index
finger, and had broken the first phalanges. Its force had been
arrested by a metal button on my waistcoat, and it had only inflicted
a slight wound on my stomach close to the navel. However, there it
was and it had to be extracted, for it pained me extremely. An
empiric named Gendron, the first surgeon my servants had found, made
an opening on the opposite side of my hand which doubled the wound.
While he was performing this painful operation I told the story of
the duel to the company, concealing the anguish I was enduring. What
a power vanity exercises on the moral and physical forces! If I had
been alone I should probably have fainted.
As soon as the empiric Gendron was gone, the palatin's surgeon came
in and took charge of the case, calling Gendron a low fellow. At the
same time Prince Lubomirski, the husband of the palatin's daughter,
arrived, and gave us all a surprise by recounting the strange
occurrences which had happened after the duel. Bininski came to
where Branicki was lying, and seeing his wound rode off furiously on
horseback, swearing to strike me dead wherever he found me. He
fancied I would be with Tomatis, and went to his house. He found
Tomatis with his mistress, Prince Lubomirski, and Count Moszczinski,
but no Casanova was visible. He asked where I was, and on Tomatis
replying that he did not know he discharged a pistol at his head. At
this dastardly action Count Moszczincki seized him and tried to throw
him out of the window, but the madman got loose with three cuts of
his sabre, one of which slashed the count on the face and knocked out
three of his teeth.
"After this exploit," Prince Lubomirski continued, "he seized me by
the throat and held a pistol to my head, threatening to blow out my
brains if I did not take him in safety to the court where his horse
was, so that he might get away from the house without any attack
being made on him by Tomatis's servants; and I did so immediately.
Moszczinski is in the doctor's hands, and will be laid up for some
"As soon as it was reported that Branicki was killed, his Uhlans
began to ride about the town swearing to avenge their colonel, and to
slaughter you. It is very fortunate that you took refuge here.
"The chief marshal has had the monastery surrounded by two hundred
dragoons, ostensibly to prevent your escape, but in reality to defend
you from Branicki's soldiers.
"The doctors say that the postoli is in great danger if the ball has
wounded the intestines, but if not they answer for his recovery. His
fate will be known tomorrow. He now lies at the lord chamberlain's,
not daring to have himself carried to his apartments at the palace.
The king has been to see him, and the general who was present told
his majesty that the only thing that saved your life was your threat
to aim at Branicki's head. This frightened him, and to keep your
ball from his head he stood in such an awkward position that he
missed your vital parts. Otherwise he would undoubtedly have shot
you through the heart, for he can split a bullet into two halves by
firing against the blade of a knife. It was also a lucky thing for
you that you escaped Bininski, who never thought of looking for you
in the wretched sleigh."
"My lord, the most fortunate thing for me is that I did not kill my
man outright. Otherwise I should have been cut to pieces just as I
went to his help by three of his servants, who stood over me with
drawn swords. However, the postoli ordered them to leave me alone.
"I am sorry for what has happened to your highness and Count
Moszczinski; and if Tomatis was not killed by the madman it is only
because the pistol was only charged with powder."
"That's what I think, for no one heard the bullet; but it was a mere
Just then an officer of the palatin's came to me with a note from his
master, which ran as follows:
"Read what the king says to me, and sleep well."
The king's note was thus conceived:
"Branicki, my dear uncle, is dangerous wounded. My surgeons are
doing all they can for him, but I have not forgotten Casanova. You
may assure him that he is pardoned, even if Branicki should die."
I kissed the letter gratefully, and shewed it to my visitors, who
lauded this generous man truly worthy of being a king.
After this pleasant news I felt in need of rest, and my lords left
me. As soon as they were gone, Campioni, who had come in before and
had stood in the background, came up to me and gave me back the
packet of papers, and with tears of joy congratulated me on the happy
issue of the duel.
Next day I had shoals of visitors, and many of the chiefs of the
party opposed to Branicki sent me purses full of gold. The persons
who brought the money on behalf of such a lord or lady, said that
being a foreigner I might be in need of money, and that was their
excuse for the liberty they had taken. I thanked and refused them
all, and sent back at least four thousand ducats, and was very proud
of having done so. Campioni thought it was absurd, and he was right,
for I repented afterwards of what I had done. The only present I
accepted was a dinner for four persons, which Prince Adam Czartoryski
sent me in every day, though the doctor would not let me enjoy it, he
being a great believer in diet.
The wound in my stomach was progressing favourably, but on the fourth
day the surgeons said my hand was becoming gangrened, and they agreed
that the only remedy was amputation. I saw this announced in the
Court Gazette the next morning, but as I had other views on the
matter I laughed heartily at the paragraph. The sheet was printed at
night, after the king had placed his initials to the copy. In the
morning several persons came to condole with me, but I received their
sympathy with great irreverence. I merely laughed at Count Clary,
who said I would surely submit to the operation; and just as he
uttered the words the three surgeons came in together.
"Well, gentlemen," said I, "you have mustered in great strength; why
My ordinary surgeon replied that he wished to have the opinion of the
other two before proceeding to amputation, and they would require to
look at the wound.
The dressing was lifted and gangrene was declared to be undoubtedly
present, and execution was ordered that evening. The butchers gave
me the news with radiant faces, and assured me I need not be afraid
as the operation would certainly prove efficacious.
"Gentlemen," I replied, "you seem to have a great many solid
scientific reasons for cutting off my hand; but one thing you have
not got, and that is my consent. My hand is my own, and I am going
to keep it."
"Sir, it is certainly gangrened; by to-morrow the arm will begin to
mortify, and then you will have to lose your arm."
"Very good; if that prove so you shall cut off my arm, but I happen
to know something of gangrene, and there is none about me."
"You cannot know as much about it as we do."
"Possibly; but as far as I can make out, you know nothing at all."
"That's rather a strong expression."
"I don't care whether it be strong or weak; you can go now."
In a couple of hours everyone whom the surgeons had told of my
obstinacy came pestering me. Even the prince-palatin wrote to me
that the king was extremely surprised at my lack of courage. This
stung me to the quick, and I wrote the king a long letter, half in
earnest and half in jest, in which I laughed at the ignorance of the
surgeons, and at the simplicity of those who took whatever they said
for gospel truth. I added that as an arm without a hand would be
quite as useless as no arm at all, I meant to wait till it was
necessary to cut off the arm.
My letter was read at Court, and people wondered how a man with
gangrene could write a long letter of four pages. Lubomirski told me
kindly that I was mistaken in laughing at my friends, for the three
best surgeons in Warsaw could not be mistaken in such a simple case.
"My lord, they are not deceived themselves, but they want to deceive
"Why should they?"
"To make themselves agreeable to Branicki, who is in a dangerous
state, and might possibly get better if he heard that my hand had
been taken off."
"Really that seems an incredible idea to me!"
"What will your highness say on the day when I am proved to be
"I shall say you are deserving of the highest praise, but the day
must first come."
"We shall see this evening, and I give you my word that if any
gangrene has attacked the arm, I will have it cut off to-morrow
Four surgeons came to see me. My arm was pronounced to be highly
aedematous, and of a livid colour up to the elbow; but when the lint
was taken off the wound I could see for myself that it was
progressing admirably. However, I concealed my delight. Prince
Augustus Sulkowski and the Abbe Gouvel were present; the latter being
attached to the palatin's court. The judgment of the surgeons was
that the arm was gangrened, and must be amputated by the next morning
I was tired of arguing with these rascals, so I told them to bring
their instruments, and that I would submit to the operation. At this
they went way in high glee, to tell the news at the Court, to
Branicki, to the palatin, and so forth. I merely gave my servants
orders to send them away when they came.
I can dwell no more on this matter, though it is interesting enough
to me. However, the reader will no doubt be obliged to me by my
simply saying that a French surgeon in Prince Sulkowski's household
took charge of the case in defiance of professional etiquette, and
cured me perfectly, so I have my hand and my arm to this day.
On Easter Day I went to mass with my arm in a sling. My cure had
only lasted three weeks, but I was not able to put the hand to any
active employment for eighteen months afterwards. Everyone was
obliged to congratulate me on having held out against the amputation,
and the general consent declared the surgeons grossly ignorant, while
I was satisfied with thinking them very great knaves.
I must here set down an incident which happened three days after the
I was told that a Jesuit father from the bishop of the diocese wanted
to speak to me in private, and I had him shewn in, and asked him what
"I have come from my lord-bishop," said he, "to absolve you from the
ecclesiastical censure, which you have incurred by duelling."
"I am always delighted to receive absolution, father, but only after
I have confessed my guilt. In the present case I have nothing to
confess; I was attacked, and I defended myself. Pray thank my lord
for his kindness. If you like to absolve me without confession, I
shall be much obliged."
"If you do not confess, I cannot give you absolution, but you can do
this: ask me to absolve you, supposing you have fought a duel."
"Certainly; I shall be glad if you will absolve me, supposing I have
fought a duel."
The delightful Jesuit gave me absolution in similar terms. He was
like his brethren--never at a loss when a loophole of any kind is
Three days before I left the monastery, that is on Holy Thursday, the
marshal withdrew my guard. After I had been to mass on Easter Day, I
went to Court, and as I kissed the king's hand, he asked me (as had
been arranged) why I wore my arm in a sling. I said I had been
suffering from a rheum, and he replied, with a meaning smile,--
"Take care not to catch another."
After my visit to the king, I called on Branicki, who had made daily
enquiries afer my health, and had sent me back my sword, He was
condemned to stay in bed for six weeks longer at least, for the wad
of my pistol had got into the wound, and in extracting it the opening
had to be enlarged, which retarded his recovery. The king had just
appointed him chief huntsman, not so exalted an office as
chamberlain, but a more lucrative one. It was said he had got the
place because he was such a good shot; but if that were the reason I
had a better claim to it, for I had proved the better shot--for one
day at all events.
I entered an enormous ante-room in which stood officers, footmen,
pages, and lacqueys, all gazing at me with the greatest astonishment.
I asked if my lord was to be seen, and begged the door-keeper to send
in my name. He did not answer, but sighed, and went into his
master's room. Directly after, he came out and begged me, with a
profound bow, to step in.
Branicki, who was dressed in a magnificent gown and supported by
pillows and cushions, greeted me by taking off his nightcap. He was
as pale as death.
"I have come here, my lord," I began, "to offer you my service, and
to assure you how I regret that I did not pass over a few trifling
words of yours."
"You have no reason to reproach yourself, M. Casanova."
"Your excellency is very kind. I am also come to say that by
fighting with me you have done me an honour which completely swallows
up all offence, and I trust that you will give me your protection for
"I confess I insulted you, but you will allow that I have paid for
it. As to my friends, I openly say that they are my enemies unless
they treat you with respect. Bininski has been cashiered, and his
nobility taken from him; he is well served. As to my protection you
have no need of it, the king esteems you highly, like myself, and all
men of honour. Sit down; we will be friends. A cup of chocolate for
this gentleman. You seem to have got over your wound completely."
"Quite so, my lord, except as to the use of my fingers, and that will
take some time."
"You were quite right to withstand those rascally surgeons, and you
had good reason for your opinion that the fools thought to please me
by rendering you one-handed. They judged my heart by their own. I
congratulate you on the preservation of your hand, but I have not
been able to make out how my ball could have wounded you in the hand
after striking your stomach."
Just then the chocolate was brought, and the chamberlain came in and
looked at me with a smile. In five minutes the room was full of
lords and ladies who had heard I was with Branicki, and wanted to
know how we were getting on. I could see that they did not expect to
find us on such good terms, and were agreeably surprised. Branicki
asked the question which had been interrupted by the chocolate and
the visitors over again.
"Your excellency will allow me to assume the position I was in as I
received your fire."
"Pray do so."
I rose and placed myself in the position, and he said he understood
how it was.
A lady said,--
"You should have put your hand behind your body."
"Excuse me, madam, but I thought it better to put my body behind my
This sally made Branicki laugh, but his sister said to me,--
"You wanted to kill my brother, for you aimed at his head."
"God forbid, madam! my interest lay in keeping him alive to defend
me from his friends."
"But you said you were going to fire at his head."
"That's a mere figure of speech, just as one says, 'I'll blow your
brains out.' The skilled duellist, however, always aims at the middle
of the body; the head does not offer a large enough surface."
"Yes," said Branicki, "your tactics were superior to mine, and I am
obliged to you for the lesson you gave me."
"Your excellency gave me a lesson in heroism of far greater value."
"You must have had a great deal of practice with the pistol,"
continued his sister.
"Not at all, madam, I regard the weapon with detestation. This
unlucky shot was my first; but I have always known a straight line,
and my hand has always been steady."
"That's all one wants," said Branicki. "I have those advantages
myself, and I am only too well pleased that I did not aim so well as
"Your ball broke my first phalanges. Here it is you see, flattened
by my bone. Allow me to return it to you."
"I am sorry to say I can't return yours, which I suppose remains on
the field of battle."
"You seem to be getting better, thank God!"
"The wound is healing painfully. If I had imitated you I should no
longer be in the land of the living; I am told you made an excellent
"Yes, my lord, I was afraid I might never have another chance of
"If I had dined, your ball would have pierced my intestines; but
being empty it yielded to the bullet, and let it pass by harmlessly."
I heard afterwards that on the day of the duel Branicki had gone to
confession and mass, and had communicated. The priest could not
refuse him absolution, if he said that honour obliged him to fight;
for this was in accordance with the ancient laws of chivalry. As for
me I only addressed these words to God:
"Lord, if my enemy kill me, I shall be damned; deign, therefore, to
preserve me from death. Amen."
After a long and pleasant conversation I took leave of the hero to
visit the high constable, Count Bielinski, brother of Countess
Salmor. He was a very old man, but the sovereign administrator of
justice in Poland. I had never spoken to him, but he had defended me
from Branicki's Uhlans, and had made out my pardon, so I felt bound
to go and thank him.
I sent in my name, and the worthy old man greeted me with:
"What can I do for you?"
"I have come to kiss the hand of the kindly man that signed my
pardon, and to promise your excellency to be more discreet in
"I advise you to be more discreet indeed. As for your pardon, thank
the king; for if he had not requested me especially to grant it you,
I should have had you beheaded."
"In spite of the extenuating circumstances, my lord?"
"What circumstances? Did you or did you not fight a duel."
"That is not a proper way of putting it; I was obliged to defend
myself. You might have charged me with fighting a duel if Branicki
had taken me outside the ban, as I requested, but as it was he took
me where he willed and made me fight. Under these circumstances I am
sure your excellency would have spared my head."
"I really can't say. The king requested that you should be pardoned,
and that shews he believes you to be deserving of pardon; I
congratulate you on his good will. I shall be pleased if you will
dine with me tomorrow."
"My lord, I am delighted to accept your invitation."
The illustrious old constable was a man of great intelligence. He
had been a bosom-friend of the celebrated Poniatowski, the king's
father. We had a good deal of conversation together at dinner the
"What a comfort it would have been to your excellency's friend," said
I, "if he could have lived to see his son crowned King of Poland."
"He would never have consented."
The vehemence with which he pronounced these words gave me a deep
insight into his feelings. He was of the Saxon party. The same day,
that is on Easter Day, I dined at the palatin's.
"Political reasons," said he, "prevented me from visiting you at the
monastery; but you must not think I had forgotten you, for you were
constantly in my thoughts. I am going to lodge you here, for my wife
is very fond of your society; but the rooms will not be ready for
another six weeks."
"I shall take the opportunity, my lord, of paying a visit to the
Palatin of Kiowia, who has honoured me with an invitation to come and
"Who gave you the invitation?"
"Count Bruhl, who is at Dresden; his wife is daughter of the
"This journey is an excellent idea, for this duel of yours has made
you innumerable enemies, and I only hope you will have to fight no
more duels. I give you fair warning; be on your guard, and never go
on foot, especially at night."
I spent a fortnight in going out to dinner and supper every day. I
had become the fashion, and wherever I went I had to tell the duel
story over again. I was rather tired of it myself, but the wish to
please and my own self-love were too strong to be resisted. The king
was nearly always present, but feigned not to hear me. However, he
once asked me if I had been insulted by a patrician in Venice,
whether I should have called him out immediately.
"No, sire, for his patrician pride would have prevented his
complying, and I should have had my pains for my trouble."
"Then what would you have done?"
"Sire, I should have contained myself, though if a noble Venetian
were to insult me in a foreign country he would have to give me
I called on Prince Moszczinski, and Madame Binetti happened to be
there; the moment she saw me she made her escape.
"What has she against me?" I asked the count.
"She is afraid of you, because she was the cause of the duel, and now
Branicki who was her lover will have nothing more to say to her. She
hoped he would serve you as he served Tomatis, and instead of that
you almost killed her bravo. She lays the fault on him for having
accepted your challenge, but he has resolved to have done with her."
This Count Moszczinski was both good-hearted and quick-witted, and
so, generous that he ruined himself by making presents. His wounds
were beginning to heal, but though I was the indirect cause of his
mishap, far from bearing malice against me he had become my friend.
The person whom I should have expected to be most grateful to me for
the duel was Tomatis, but on the contrary he hated the sight of me
and hardly concealed his feelings. I was the living reproach of his
cowardice; my wounded hand seemed to shew him that he had loved his
money more than his honour. I am sure he would have preferred
Branicki to have killed me, for then he would have become an object
of general execration, and Tomatis would have been received with less
contempt in the great houses he still frequented.
I resolved to pay a visit to the discontented party who had only
recognized the new king on compulsion, and some of whom had not
recognized him at all; so I set out with my true friend Campioni and
Prince Charles of Courland had started for Venice, where I had given
him letters for my illustrious friends who would make his visit a
pleasant one. The English ambassador who had given me an
introduction to Prince Adam had just arrived at Warsaw. I dined with
him at the prince's house, and the king signified his wish to be of
the party. I heard a good deal of conversation about Madame de
Geoffrin, an old sweetheart of the king's whom he had just summoned
to Warsaw. The Polish monarch, of whom I cannot speak in too
favourable terms, was yet weak enough to listen to the slanderous
reports against me, and refused to make my fortune. I had the
pleasure of convincing him that he was mistaken, but I will speak of
this later on.
I arrived at Leopol the sixth day after I had left Warsaw, having
stopped a couple of days at Prince Zamoiski's; he had forty thousand
ducats a-year, but also the falling sickness.
"I would give all my goods," said he, "to be cured."
I pitied his young wife. She was very fond of him, and yet had to
deny him, for his disease always came on him in moments of amorous
excitement. She had the bitter task of constantly refusing him, and
even of running away if he pressed her hard. This great nobleman,
who died soon after, lodged me in a splendid room utterly devoid of
furniture. This is the Polish custom; one is supposed to bring one's
furniture with one.
At Leopol I put up, at an hotel, but I soon had to move from thence
to take up my abode with the famous Kaminska, the deadly foe of
Branicki, the king, and all that party. She was very rich, but she
has since been ruined by conspiracies. She entertained me
sumptuously for a week, but the visit was agreeable to neither side,
as she could only speak Polish and German. From Leopol I proceeded
to a small town, the name of which I forget (the Polish names are
very crabbed) to take an introduction from Prince Lubomirski to
Joseph Rzewuski, a little old man who wore a long beard as a sign of
mourning for the innovations that were being introduced into his
country. He was rich, learned, superstitiously religious, and polite
exceedingly. I stayed with him for three days. He was the commander
of a stronghold containing a garrison of five hundred men.
On the first day, as I was in his room with some other officers,
about eleven o'clock in the morning, another officer came in,
whispered to Rzewuski, and then came up to me and whispered in my
ear, "Venice and St. Mark."
"St. Mark," I answered aloud, "is the patron saint and protector of
Venice," and everybody began to laugh.
It dawned upon me that "Venice and St. Mark" was the watchword, and I
began to apologize profusely, and the word was changed.
The old commander spoke to me with great politeness. He never went
to Court, but he had resolved on going to the Diet to oppose the
Russian party with all his might. The poor man, a Pole of the true
old leaven, was one of the four whom Repnin arrested and sent to
After taking leave of this brave patriot, I went to Christianpol,
where lived the famous palatin Potocki, who had been one of the
lovers of the empress Anna Ivanovna. He had founded the town in
which he lived and called it after his own name. This nobleman,
still a fine man, kept a splendid court. He honoured Count Bruhl by
keeping me at his house for a fortnight, and sending me out every day
with his doctor, the famous Styrneus, the sworn foe of Van Swieten, a
still more famous physician. Although Styrneus was undoubtedly a
learned man, I thought him somewhat extravagant and empirical. His
system was that of Asclepiades, considered as exploded since the time
of the great Boerhaave; nevertheless, he effected wonderful cures.
In the evenings I was always with the palatin and his court. Play
was not heavy, and I always won, which was fortunate and indeed
necessary for me. After an extremely agreeable visit to the palatin
I returned to Leopol, where I amused myself for a week with a pretty
girl who afterwards so captivated Count Potocki, starost of Sniatin,
that he married her. This is purity of blood with a vengeance in
your noble families!
Leaving Leopol I went to Palavia, a splendid palace on the Vistula,
eighteen leagues distant from Warsaw. It belonged to the prince
palatin, who had built it himself.
Howsoever magnificent an abode may be, a lonely man will weary of it
unless he has the solace of books or of some great idea. I had
neither, and boredom soon made itself felt.
A pretty peasant girl came into my room, and finding her to my taste
I tried to make her understand me without the use of speech, but she
resisted and shouted so loudly that the door-keeper came up, and
asked me, coolly,--
"If you like the girl, why don't you go the proper way to work?"
"What way is that?"
"Speak to her father, who is at hand, and arrange the matter
"I don't know Polish. Will you carry the thing through?"
"Certainly. I suppose you will give fifty florins?"
"You are laughing at me. I will give a hundred willingly, provided
she is a maid and is as submissive as a lamb."
No doubt the arrangement was made without difficulty, for our hymen
took place the same evening, but no sooner was the operation
completed than the poor lamb fled away in hot haste, which made me
suspect that her father had used rather forcible persuasion with her.
I would not have allowed this had I been aware of it.
The next morning several girls were offered to me, but the faces of
all of them were covered.
"Where is the girl?" said I. "I want to see her face."
"Never mind about the face, if the rest is all right."
"The face is the essential part for me," I replied, "and the rest I
look upon as an accessory."
He did not understand this. However, they were uncovered, but none
of their faces excited my desires.
As a rule, the Polish women are ugly; a beauty is a miracle, and a
pretty woman a rare exception. At the end of a week of feasting and
weariness, I returned to Warsaw.
In this manner I saw Podolia and Volkynia, which were rebaptized a
few years later by the names of Galicia and Lodomeria, for they are
now part of the Austrian Empire. It is said, however, that they are
more prosperous than they ever were before.
At Warsaw I found Madame Geoffrin the object of universal admiration;
and everybody was remarking with what simplicity she was dressed. As
for myself, I was received not coldly, but positively rudely. People
said to my face,--
"We did not expect to see you here again. Why did you come back?"
"To pay my debts."
This behaviour astonished and disgusted me. The prince-palatin even
seemed quite changed towards me. I was still invited to dinner, but
no one spoke to me. However, Prince Adam's sister asked me very
kindly to come and sup with her, and I accepted the invitation with
delight. I found myself seated opposite the king, who did not speak
one word to me the whole time. He had never behaved to me thus
The next day I dined with the Countess Oginski, and in the course of
dinner the countess asked where the king had supper the night before;
nobody seemed to know, and I did not answer. Just as we were rising,
General Roniker came in, and the question was repeated.
"At Princess Strasnikowa's," said the general, "and M. Casanova was
"Then why did you not answer my question?" said the countess to me.
"Because I am very sorry to have been there. His majesty neither
spoke to me nor looked at me. I see I am in disgrace, but for the
life of me I know not why."
On leaving the house I went to call on Prince Augustus Sulkowski, who
welcomed me as of old, but told me that I had made a mistake in
returning to Warsaw as public opinion was against me.
"What have I done?"
"Nothing; but the Poles are always inconstant and changeable.
'Sarmatarum virtus veluti extra ipsos'. This inconstancy will cost
us dear sooner or later. Your fortune was made, but you missed the
turn of the tide, and I advise you to go."
"I will certainly do so, but it seems to me rather hard."
When I got home my servant gave me a letter which some unknown person
had left at my door. I opened it and found it to be anonymous, but I
could see it came from a well-wisher. The writer said that the
slanderers had got the ears of the king, and that I was no longer a
persona grata at Court, as he had been assured that the Parisians had
burnt me in effigy for my absconding with the lottery money, and that
I had been a strolling player in Italy and little better than a
Such calumnies are easy to utter but hard to refute in a foreign
country. At all Courts hatred, born of envy, is ever at work. I
might have despised the slanders and left the country, but I had
contracted debts and had not sufficient money to pay them and my
expenses to Portugal, where I thought I might do something.
I no longer saw any company, with the exception of Campioni, who
seemed more distressed than myself. I wrote to Venice and everywhere
else, where there was a chance of my getting funds; but one day the
general, who had been present at the duel, called on me, and told me
(though he seemed ashamed of his task) that the king requested me to
leave the ban in the course of a week.
Such a piece of insolence made my blood boil, and I informed the
general that he might tell the king that I did not feel inclined to
obey such an unjust order, and that if I left I would let all the
world know that I had been compelled to do so by brute force.
"I cannot take such a message as that," said the general, kindly.
"I shall simply tell the king that I have executed his orders, and no
more; but of course you must follow your own judgment."
In the excess of my indignation I wrote to the king that I could not
obey his orders and keep my honour. I said in my letter,--
"My creditors, sire, will forgive me for leaving Poland without
paying my debts, when they learn that I have only done so because
your majesty gave me no choice."
I was thinking how I could ensure this letter reaching the king, when
who should arrive but Count Moszczinski. I told him what had
happened, and asked if he could suggest any means of delivering tire
letter. "Give it to me," said he; "I will place it in the king's
As soon as he had gone I went out to take the air, and called on
Prince Sulkowski, who was not at all astonished at my news. As if to
sweeten the bitter pill I had to swallow, he told me how the Empress
of Austria had ordered him to leave Vienna in twenty-four hours,
merely because he had complimented the Archduchess Christina on
behalf of Prince Louis of Wurtemberg.
The next day Count Moszczinski brought me a present of a thousand
ducats from the king, who said that my leaving Warsaw would probably
be the means of preserving my life, as in that city I was exposed to
danger which I could not expect to escape eventually.
This referred to five or six challenges I had received, and to which
I had not even taken the trouble to reply. My enemies might possibly
assassinate me, and the king did not care to be constantly anxious on
my account. Count Moszczinski added that the order to leave carried
no dishonour with it, considering by whom it had been delivered, and
the delay it gave me to make my preparations.
The consequence of all this was that I not only gave my word to go,
but that I begged the count to thank his majesty for his kindness,
and the interest he had been pleased to take in me.
When I gave in, the generous Moszczinski embraced me, begged me to
write to him, and accept a present of a travelling carriage as a
token of his friendship. He informed me that Madame Binetti's
husband had gone off with his wife's maid, taking with him her
diamonds, jewels, linen, and even her silver plate, leaving her to
the tender mercies of the dancer, Pic. Her admirers had clubbed
together to make up to her for what her husband had stolen. I also
heard that the king's sister had arrived at Warsaw from Bialistock,
and it was hoped that her husband would follow her. This husband was
the real Count Branicki, and the Branicki, or rather Branecki, or
Bragnecki, who had fought with me, was no relation to him whatever.
The following day I paid my debts, which amounted to about two
hundred ducats, and I made preparations for starting for Breslau, the
day after, with Count Clary, each of us having his own carriage.
Clary was one of those men to whom lying has become a sort of second
nature; whenever such an one opens his mouth, you may safely say to
him, "You have lied, or you are going to lie." If they could feel
their own degradation, they would be much to be pitied, for by their
own fault at last no one will believe them even when by chance they