Part 13 out of 70
At the same moment, a man burst into the room, speaking very loudly,
and asked me to tell the officer that the affair must be settled at
once, because he wanted to leave Cesena immediately.
"Who are you?" I asked the man.
He answered that he was the 'vetturino' whom the captain had engaged.
I saw that it was a regular put-up thing, and begged the captain to
let me attend to the business, assuring him that I would settle it to
his honour and advantage.
"Do exactly as you please," he said.
Then turning towards the 'vetturino', I ordered him to bring up the
captain's luggage, saying that he would be paid at once. When he had
done so, I handed him eight sequins out of my own purse, and made him
give me a receipt in the name of the captain, who could only speak
German, Hungarian, and Latin. The vetturino went away, and the
'sbirri' followed him in the greatest consternation, except two who
"Captain," I said to the Hungarian, "keep your bed until I return. I
am going now to the bishop to give him an account of these
proceedings, and make him understand that he owes you some
reparation. Besides, General Spada is here, and...."
"I know him," interrupted the captain, "and if I had been aware of
his being in Cesena, I would have shot the landlord when he opened my
door to those scoundrels."
I hurried over my toilet, and without waiting for my hair to be
dressed I proceeded to the bishop's palace, and making a great deal
of noise I almost compelled the servants to take me to his room. A
lackey who was at the door informed me that his lordship was still in
"Never mind, I cannot wait."
I pushed him aside and entered the room. I related the whole affair
to the bishop, exaggerating the uproar, making much of the injustice
of such proceedings, and railing at a vexatious police daring to
molest travellers and to insult the sacred rights of individuals and
The bishop without answering me referred me to his chancellor, to
whom I repeated all I had said to the bishop, but with words
calculated to irritate rather than to soften, and certainly not
likely to obtain the release of the captain. I even went so far as
to threaten, and I said that if I were in the place of the officer I
would demand a public reparation. The priest laughed at my threats;
it was just what I wanted, and after asking me whether I had taken
leave of my senses, the chancellor told me to apply to the captain of
"I shall go to somebody else," I said, "reverend sir, besides the
captain of the 'sbirri'."
Delighted at having made matters worse, I left him and proceeded
straight to the house of General Spada, but being told that he could
not be seen before eight o'clock, I returned to the inn.
The state of excitement in which I was, the ardour with which I had
made the affair mine, might have led anyone to suppose that my
indignation had been roused only by disgust at seeing an odious
persecution perpetrated upon a stranger by an unrestrained, immoral,
and vexatious police; but why should I deceive the kind reader, to
whom I have promised to tell the truth; I must therefore say that my
indignation was real, but my ardour was excited by another feeling of
a more personal nature. I fancied that the woman concealed under the
bed-clothes was a beauty. I longed to see her face, which shame,
most likely, had prevented her from shewing. She had heard me speak,
and the good opinion that I had of myself did not leave the shadow of
a doubt in my mind that she would prefer me to her captain.
The door of the room being still open, I went in and related to the
captain all I had done, assuring him that in the course of the day he
would be at liberty to continue his journey at the bishop's expense,
for the general would not fail to obtain complete satisfaction for
him. He thanked me warmly, gave back the eight ducats I had paid for
him, and said that he would not leave the city till the next day.
"From what country," I asked him, "is your travelling companion?"
"From France, and he only speaks his native language."
"Then you speak French?"
"Not one word."
"That is amusing! Then you converse in pantomime?"
"I pity you, for it is a difficult language."
"Yes, to express the various shades of thought, but in the material
part of our intercourse we understand each other quite well."
"May I invite myself to breakfast with you?"
"Ask my friend whether he has any objection."
"Amiable companion of the captain," I said in French, "will you
kindly accept me as a third guest at the breakfast-table?"
At these words I saw coming out of the bed-clothes a lovely head,
with dishevelled hair, and a blooming, laughing face which, although
it was crowned with a man's cap, left no doubt that the captain's
friend belonged to that sex without which man would be the most
miserable animal on earth.
Delighted with the graceful creature, I told her that I had been
happy enough to feel interested in her even before I had seen her,
and that now that I had the pleasure of seeing her, I could but renew
with greater zeal all my efforts to serve her.
She answered me with the grace and the animation which are the
exclusive privilege of her native country, and retorted my argument
in the most witty manner; I was already under the charm. My request
was granted; I went out to order breakfast, and to give them an
opportunity of making themselves comfortable in bed, for they were
determined not to get up until the door of their room was closed
The waiter came, and I went in with him. I found my lovely
Frenchwoman wearing a blue frock-coat, with her hair badly arranged
like a man's, but very charming even in that strange costume. I
longed to see her up. She ate her breakfast without once
interrupting the officer speaking to me, but to whom I was not
listening, or listening with very little attention, for I was in a
sort of ecstatic trance.
Immediately after breakfast, I called on the general, and related the
affair to him, enlarging upon it in such a manner as to pique his
martial pride. I told him that, unless he settled the matter
himself, the Hungarian captain was determined to send an express to
the cardinal immediately. But my eloquence was unnecessary, for the
general liked to see priests attend to the business of Heaven, but he
could not bear them to meddle in temporal affairs.
"I shall," he said, "immediately put a stop to this ridiculous
comedy, and treat it in a very serious manner."
"Go at once to the inn," he said to his aide-de-camp, "invite that
officer and his companion to dine with me to-day, and repair
afterwards to the bishop's palace. Give him notice that the officer
who has been so grossly insulted by his 'sbirri' shall not leave the
city before he has received a complete apology, and whatever sum of
money he may claim as damages. Tell him that the notice comes from
me, and that all the expenses incurred by the officer shall be paid
What pleasure it was for me to listen to these words! In my vanity,
I fancied I had almost prompted them to the general. I accompanied
the aide-de-camp, and introduced him to the captain who received him
with the joy of a soldier meeting a comrade. The adjutant gave him
the general's invitation for him and his companion, and asked him to
write down what satisfaction he wanted, as well as the amount of
damages he claimed. At the sight of the general's adjutant, the
'sbirri' had quickly vanished. I handed to the captain pen, paper
and ink, and he wrote his claim in pretty good Latin for a native of
Hungary. The excellent fellow absolutely refused to ask for more
than thirty sequins, in spite of all I said to make him claim one
hundred. He was likewise a great deal too easy as to the
satisfaction he demanded, for all he asked was to see the landlord
and the 'sbirri' beg his pardon on their knees in the presence of the
general's adjutant. He threatened the bishop to send an express to
Rome to Cardinal Alexander, unless his demands were complied with
within two hours, and to remain in Cesena at the rate of ten sequins
a day at the bishop's expense.
The officer left us, and a moment afterwards the landlord came in
respectfully, to inform the captain that he was free, but the captain
having begged me to tell the scoundrel that he owed him a sound
thrashing, he lost no time in gaining the door.
I left my friends alone to get dressed, and to attend to my own
toilet, as I dined with them at the general's. An hour afterwards I
found them ready in their military costumes. The uniform of the
Frenchwoman was of course a fancy one, but very elegant. The moment
I saw her, I gave up all idea of Naples, and decided upon
accompanying the two friends to Parma. The beauty of the lovely
Frenchwoman had already captivated me. The captain was certainly on
the threshold of sixty, and, as a matter of course, I thought such a
union very badly assorted. I imagined that the affair which I was
already concocting in my brain could be arranged amicably.
The adjutant came back with a priest sent by the bishop, who told the
captain that he should have the satisfaction as well as the damages
he had claimed, but that he must be content with fifteen sequins.
"Thirty or nothing," dryly answered the Hungarian.
They were at last given to him, and thus the matter ended. The
victory was due to my exertions, and I had won the friendship of the
captain and his lovely companion.
In order to guess, even at first sight, that the friend of the worthy
captain was not a man, it was enough to look at the hips. She was
too well made as a woman ever to pass for a man, and the women who
disguise themselves in male attire, and boast of being like men, are
very wrong, for by such a boast they confess themselves deficient in
one of the greatest perfections appertaining to woman.
A little before dinner-time we repaired to General Spada's mansion,
and the general presented the two officers to all the ladies. Not
one of them was deceived in the young officer, but, being already
acquainted with the adventure, they were all delighted to dine with
the hero of the comedy, and treated the handsome officer exactly as
if he had truly been a man, but I am bound to confess that the male
guests offered the Frenchwoman homages more worthy of her sex.
Madame Querini alone did not seem pleased, because the lovely
stranger monopolized the general attention, and it was a blow to her
vanity to see herself neglected. She never spoke to her, except to
shew off her French, which she could speak well. The poor captain
scarcely opened his lips, for no one cared to speak Latin, and the
general had not much to say in German.
An elderly priest, who was one of the guests, tried to justify the
conduct of the bishop by assuring us that the inn-keeper and the
'sbirri' had acted only under the orders of the Holy Office.
"That is the reason," he said, "for which no bolts are allowed in the
rooms of the hotels, so that strangers may not shut themselves up in
their chambers. The Holy Inquisition does not allow a man to sleep
with any woman but his wife."
Twenty years later I found all the doors in Spain with a bolt
outside, so that travellers were, as if they had been in prison,
exposed to the outrageous molestation of nocturnal visits from the
police. That disease is so chronic in Spain that it threatens to
overthrow the monarchy some day, and I should not be astonished if
one fine morning the Grand Inquisitor was to have the king shaved,
and to take his place.
I Purchase a Handsome Carriage, and Proceed to Parma With the Old
Captain and the Young Frenchwoman--I Pay a Visit to Javotte, and
Present Her With a Beautiful Pair of Gold Bracelets--My Perplexities
Respecting My Lovely Travelling Companion--A Monologue--Conversation
with the Captain--Tete-a-Tete with Henriette
The conversation was animated, and the young female officer was
entertaining everybody, even Madame Querini, although she hardly took
the trouble of concealing her spleen.
"It seems strange," she remarked, "that you and the captain should
live together without ever speaking to each other."
"Why, madam? We understand one another perfectly, for speech is of
very little consequence in the kind of business we do together."
That answer, given with graceful liveliness, made everybody laugh,
except Madame Querini-Juliette, who, foolishly assuming the air of a
prude, thought that its meaning was too clearly expressed.
"I do not know any kind of business," she said, "that can be
transacted without the assistance of the voice or the pen."
"Excuse me, madam, there are some: playing at cards, for instance, is
a business of that sort."
"Are you always playing?"
"We do nothing else. We play the game of the Pharaoh (faro), and I
hold the bank."
Everybody, understanding the shrewdness of this evasive answer,
laughed again, and Juliette herself could not help joining in the
"But tell me," said Count Spada, "does the bank receive much?"
"As for the deposits, they are of so little importance, that they are
hardly worth mentioning."
No one ventured upon translating that sentence for the benefit of the
worthy captain. The conversation continued in the same amusing
style, and all the guests were delighted with the graceful wit of the
Late in the evening I took leave of the general, and wished him a
"Adieu," he said, "I wish you a pleasant journey to Naples, and hope
you will enjoy yourself there"
"Well, general, I am not going to Naples immediately; I have changed
my mind and intend to proceed to Parma, where I wish to see the
Infante. I also wish to constitute myself the interpreter of these
two officers who know nothing of Italian:"
"Ah, young man! opportunity makes a thief, does it not? Well, if I
were in your place, I would do the same."
I also bade farewell to Madame Querini, who asked me to write to her
from Bologna. I gave her a promise to do so, but without meaning to
I had felt interested in the young Frenchwoman when she was hiding
under the bed-clothes: she had taken my fancy the moment she had
shewn her features, and still more when I had seen her dressed. She
completed her conquest at the dinner-table by the display of a wit
which I greatly admired. It is rare in Italy, and seems to belong
generally to the daughters of France. I did not think it would be
very difficult to win her love, and I resolved on trying. Putting my
self-esteem on one side, I fancied I would suit her much better than
the old Hungarian, a very pleasant man for his age, but who, after
all, carried his sixty years on his face, while my twenty-three were
blooming on my countenance. It seemed to me that the captain himself
would not raise any great objection, for he seemed one of those men
who, treating love as a matter of pure fancy, accept all
circumstances easily, and give way good-naturedly to all the freaks
of fortune. By becoming the travelling companion of this ill-matched
couple, I should probably succeed in my aims. I never dreamed of
experiencing a refusal at their hands, my company would certainly be
agreeable to them, as they could not exchange a single word by
With this idea I asked the captain, as we reached our inn, whether he
intended to proceed to Parma by the public coach or otherwise.
"As I have no carriage of my own," he answered, "we shall have to
take the coach."
"I have a very comfortable carriage, and I offer you the two back
seats if you have no objection to my society."
"That is a piece of good fortune. Be kind enough to propose it to
"Will you, madam, grant me the favour of accompanying you to Parma?"
"I should be delighted, for we could have some conversation, but take
care, sir, your task will not be an easy one, you will often find
yourself obliged to translate for both of us."
"I shall do so with great pleasure; I am only sorry that the journey
is not longer. We can arrange everything at supper-time; allow me to
leave you now as I have some business to settle."
My business was in reference to a carriage, for the one I had boasted
of existed only in my imagination. I went to the most fashionable
coffee-house, and, as good luck would have it, heard that there was a
travelling carriage for sale, which no one would buy because it was
too expensive. Two hundred sequins were asked for it, although it
had but two seats and a bracket-stool for a third person. It was
just what I wanted. I called at the place where it would be seen. I
found a very fine English carriage which could not have cost less
than two hundred guineas. Its noble proprietor was then at supper,
so I sent him my name, requesting him not to dispose of his carriage
until the next morning, and I went back to the hotel well pleased
with my discovery. At supper I arranged with the captain that we
would not leave Cesena till after dinner on the following day, and
the conversation was almost entirely a dialogue between Henriette and
myself; it was my first talk with a French woman. I thought this
young creature more and more charming, yet I could not suppose her to
be anything else but an adventurers, and I was astonished at
discovering in her those noble and delicate feelings which denote a
good education. However, as such an idea would not have suited the
views I had about her, I rejected it whenever it presented itself to
my mind. Whenever I tried to make her talk about the captain she
would change the subject of conversation, or evade my insinuations
with a tact and a shrewdness which astonished and delighted me at the
same time, for everything she said bore the impress of grace and wit.
Yet she did not elude this question:
"At least tell me, madam, whether the captain is your husband or your
"Neither one nor the other," she answered, with a smile.
That was enough for me, and in reality what more did I want to know?
The worthy captain had fallen asleep. When he awoke I wished them
both good night, and retired to my room with a heart full of love and
a mind full of projects. I saw that everything had taken a good
turn, and I felt certain of success, for I was young, I enjoyed
excellent health, I had money and plenty of daring. I liked the
affair all the better because it must come to a conclusion in a few
Early the next morning I called upon Count Dandini, the owner of the
carriage, and as I passed a jeweller's shop I bought a pair of gold
bracelets in Venetian filigree, each five yards long and of rare
fineness. I intended them as a present for Javotte.
The moment Count Dandini saw me he recognized me. He had seen me in
Padua at the house of his father, who was professor of civil law at
the time I was a student there. I bought his carriage on condition
that he would send it to me in good repair at one o'clock in the
Having completed the purchase, I went to my friend, Franzia, and my
present of the bracelets made Javotte perfectly happy. There was.
not one girl in Cesena who could boast of possessing a finer pair,
and with that present my conscience felt at ease, for it paid the
expense I had occasioned during my stay of ten or twelve days at her
father's house four times over. But this was not the most important
present I offered the family. I made the father take an oath to wait
for me, and never to trust in any pretended magician for the
necessary operation to obtain the treasure, even if I did not return
or give any news of myself for ten years.
"Because," I said to him, "in consequence of the agreement in which I
have entered with the spirits watching the treasure, at the first
attempt made by any other person, the casket containing the treasure
will sink to twice its present depth, that is to say as deep as
thirty-five fathoms, and then I shall have myself ten times more
difficulty in raising it to the surface. I cannot state precisely
the time of my return, for it depends upon certain combinations which
are not under my control, but recollect that the treasure cannot be
obtained by anyone but I."
I accompanied my advice with threats of utter ruin to his family if
he should ever break his oath. And in this manner I atoned for all I
had done, for, far from deceiving the worthy man, I became his
benefactor by guarding against the deceit of some cheat who would
have cared for his money more than for his daughter. I never saw him
again, and most likely he is dead, but knowing the deep impression I
left on his mind I am certain that his descendants are even now
waiting for me, for the name of Farusi must have remained immortal in
Javotte accompanied me as far as the gate of the city, where I kissed
her affectionately, which made me feel that the thunder and lightning
had had but a momentary effect upon me; yet I kept control over my
senses, and I congratulate myself on doing so to this day. I told
her, before bidding her adieu, that, her virginity being no longer
necessary for my magic operations, I advised her to get married as
soon as possible, if I did not return within three months. She shed
a few tears, but promised to follow my advice.
I trust that my readers will approve of the noble manner in which I
concluded my magic business. I hardly dare to boast of it, but I
think I deserve some praise for my behaviour. Perhaps, I might have
ruined poor Franzia with a light heart, had I not possessed a well-
filled purse. I do not wish to enquire whether any young man, having
intelligence, loving pleasure, and placed in the same position, would
not have done the same, but I beg my readers to address that question
As for Capitani, to whom I sold the sheath of St. Peter's knife for
rather more than it was worth, I confess that I have not yet repented
on his account, for Capitani thought he had duped me in accepting it
as security for the amount he gave me, and the count, his father,
valued it until his death as more precious than the finest diamond in
the world. Dying with such a firm belief, he died rich, and I shall
die a poor man. Let the reader judge which of the two made the best
bargain. But I must return now to my future travelling companions.
As soon as I had reached the inn, I prepared everything for our
departure for which I was now longing. Henriette could not open her
lips without my discovering some fresh perfection, for her wit
delighted me even more than her beauty. It struck me that the old
captain was pleased with all the attention I shewed her, and it
seemed evident to me that she would not be sorry to exchange her
elderly lover for me. I had all the better right to think so,
inasmuch as I was perfection from a physical point of view, and I
appeared to be wealthy, although I had no servant. I told Henriette
that, for the sake of having none, I spent twice as much as a servant
would have cost me, that, by my being my own servant, I was certain
of being served according to my taste, and I had the satisfaction of
having no spy at my heels and no privileged thief to fear. She
agreed with everything I said, and it increased my love.
The honest Hungarian insisted upon giving me in advance the amount to
be paid for the post-horses at the different stages as far as Parma.
We left Cesena after dinner, but not without a contest of politeness
respecting the seats. The captain wanted me to occupy the back seat-
near Henriette, but the reader will understand how much better the
seat opposite to her suited me; therefore I insisted upon taking the
bracket-seat, and had the double advantage of shewing my politeness,
and of having constantly and without difficulty before my eyes the
lovely woman whom I adored.
My happiness would have been too great if there had been no drawback
to it. But where can we find roses without thorns? When the
charming Frenchwoman uttered some of those witty sayings which
proceed so naturally from the lips of her countrywomen, I could not
help pitying the sorry face of the poor Hungarian, and, wishing to
make him share my mirth, I would undertake to translate in Latin
Henriette's sallies; but far from making him merry, I often saw his
face bear a look of astonishment, as if what I had said seemed to him
rather flat. I had to acknowledge to myself that I could not speak
Latin as well as she spoke French, and this was indeed the case. The
last thing which we learn in all languages is wit, and wit never
shines so well as in jests. I was thirty years of age before I began
to laugh in reading Terence, Plautus and Martial.
Something being the matter with the carriage, we stopped at Forli to
have it repaired. After a very cheerful supper, I retired to my room
to go to bed, thinking of nothing else but the charming woman by whom
I was so completely captivated. Along the road, Henriette had struck
me as so strange that I would not sleep in the second bed in their
room. I was afraid lest she should leave her old comrade to come to
my bed and sleep with me, and I did not know how far the worthy
captain would have put up with such a joke. I wished, of course, to
possess that lovely creature, but I wanted everything to be settled
amicably, for I felt some respect for the brave officer.
Henriette had nothing but the military costume in which she stood,
not any woman's linen, not even one chemise. For a change she took
the captain's shirt. Such a state of things was so new to me that
the situation seemed to me a complete enigma.
In Bologna, excited by an excellent supper and by the amorous passion
which was every hour burning more fiercely in me, I asked her by what
singular adventure she had become the friend of the honest fellow who
looked her father rather than her lover.
"If you wish to know," she answered, with a smile, "ask him to relate
the whole story himself, only you must request him not to omit any of
Of course I applied at once to the captain, and, having first
ascertained by signs that the charming Frenchwoman had no objection,
the good man spoke to me thus:
"A friend of mine, an officer in the army, having occasion to go to
Rome, I solicited a furlough of six months, and accompanied him. I
seized with great delight the opportunity of visiting a city, the
name of which has a powerful influence on the imagination, owing to
the memories of the past attached to it. I did not entertain any
doubt that the Latin language was spoken there in good society, at
least as generally as in Hungary. But I was indeed greatly mistaken,
for nobody can speak it, not even the priests, who only pretend to
write it, and it is true that some of them do so with great purity.
I was therefore rather uncomfortable during my stay in Rome, and with
the exception of my eyes my senses remained perfectly inactive. I
had spent a very tedious month in that city, the ancient queen of the
world, when Cardinal Albani gave my friend dispatches for Naples.
Before leaving Rome, he introduced me to his eminence, and his
recommendation had so much influence that the cardinal promised to
send me very soon with dispatches for the Duke of Parma, Piacenza,
and Guastalla, assuring me that all my travelling expenses would be
defrayed. As I wished to see the harbour called in former times
Centum cellae and now Civita-Vecchia, I gave up the remainder of my
time to that visit, and I proceeded there with a cicerone who spoke
"I was loitering about the harbour when I saw, coming out of a
tartan, an elderly officer and this young woman dressed as she is
now. Her beauty struck me, but I should not have thought any more
about it, if the officer had not put up at my inn, and in an
apartment over which I had a complete view whenever I opened my
window. In the evening I saw the couple taking supper at the same
table, but I remarked that the elderly officer never addressed a word
to the young one. When the supper was over, the disguised girl left
the room, and her companion did not lift his eyes from a letter which
he was reading, as it seemed to me, with the deepest attention. Soon
afterwards the officer closed the windows, the light was put out, and
I suppose my neighbors went to bed. The next morning, being up early
as is my habit, I saw the officer go out, and the girl remained alone
in the room.
"I sent my cicerone, who was also my servant, to tell the girl in the
garb of an officer that I would give her ten sequins for an hour's
conversation. He fulfilled my instructions, and on his return he
informed me that her answer, given in French, had been to the effect
that she would leave for Rome immediately after breakfast, and that,
once in that city, I should easily find some opportunity of speaking
"'I can find out from the vetturino,' said my cicerone, 'where they
put up in Rome, and I promise you to enquire of him.'
"She left Civita-Vecchia with the elderly officer, and I returned
home on the following day.
"Two days afterwards, the cardinal gave me the dispatches, which were
addressed to M. Dutillot, the French minister, with a passport and
the money necessary for the journey. He told me, with great
kindness, that I need not hurry on the road.
"I had almost forgotten the handsome adventuress, when, two days
before my departure, my cicerone gave me the information that he had
found out where she lived, and that she was with the same officer. I
told him to try to see her, and to let her know that my departure was
fixed for the day after the morrow. She sent me word by him that, if
I would inform her of the hour of my departure, she would meet me
outside of the gate, and get into the coach with me to accompany me
on my way. I thought the arrangement very ingenious and during the
day I sent the cicerone to tell her the hour at which I intended to
leave, and where I would wait for her outside of the Porto del
Popolo. She came at the appointed time, and we have remained
together ever since. As soon as she was seated near me, she made me
understand by signs that she wanted to dine with me. You may imagine
what difficulty we had in understanding one another, but we guessed
somehow the meaning expressed by our pantomime, and I accepted the
adventure with delight.
"We dined gaily together, speaking without understanding, but after
the dessert we comprehended each other very well. I fancied that I
had seen the end of it, and you may imagine how surprised I was when,
upon my offering her the ten sequins, she refused most positively to
take any money, making me understand that she would rather go with me
to Parma, because she had some business in that city, and did not
want to return to Rome.
"The proposal was, after all, rather agreeable to me; I consented to
her wishes. I only regretted my inability to make her understand
that, if she was followed by anyone from Rome, and if that person
wanted to take her back, I was not in a position to defend her
against violence. I was also sorry that, with our mutual ignorance
of the language spoken by each of us, we had no opportunity of
conversation, for I should have been greatly pleased to hear her
adventures, which, I think, must be interesting. You can, of course,
guess that I have no idea of who she can be. I only know that she
calls herself Henriette, that she must be a Frenchwoman, that she is
as gentle as a turtledove, that she has evidently received a good
education, and that she enjoys good health. She is witty and
courageous, as we have both seen, I in Rome and you in Cesena at
General Spada's table. If she would tell you her history, and allow
you to translate it for me in Latin she would indeed please me much,
for I am sincerely her friend, and I can assure you that it will
grieve me to part from her in Parma. Please to tell her that I
intend to give her the thirty sequins I received from the Bishop of
Cesena, and that if I were rich I would give her more substantial
proofs of my tender affection. Now, sir, I shall feel obliged to you
if you will explain it all to her in French."
I asked her whether she would feel offended if I gave her an exact
translation. She assured me that, on the contrary, she wished me to
speak openly, and I told her literally what the captain had related
With a noble frankness which a slight shade of-shame rendered more
interesting, Henriette confirmed the truth of her friend's narrative,
but she begged me to tell him that she could not grant his wish
respecting the adventures of her life.
"Be good enough to inform him," she added, "that the same principle
which forbids me to utter a falsehood, does not allow me to tell the
truth. As for the thirty sequins which he intends to give me, I will
not accept even one of them, and he would deeply grieve me by
pressing them upon me. The moment we reach Parma I wish him to allow
me to lodge wherever I may please, to make no enquiries whatever
about me, and, in case he should happen to meet me, to crown his
great kindness to me by not appearing to have ever known me."
As she uttered the last words of this short speech, which she had
delivered very seriously and with a mixture of modesty and
resolution, she kissed her elderly friend in a manner which indicated
esteem and gratitude rather than love. The captain, who did not know
why she was kissing him, was deeply grieved when I translated what
Henriette had said. He begged me to tell her that, if he was to obey
her with an easy conscience, he must know whether she would have
everything she required in Parma.
"You can assure him," she answered, "that he need not entertain any
anxiety about me."
This conversation had made us all very sad; we remained for a long
time thoughtful and silent, until, feeling the situation to be
painful, I rose, wishing them good night, and I saw that Henriette's
face wore a look of great excitement.
As soon as I found myself alone in my room, deeply moved by
conflicting feelings of love, surprise, and uncertainty, I began to
give vent to my feelings in a kind of soliloquy, as I always do when
I am strongly excited by anything; thinking is not, in those cases,
enough for me; I must speak aloud, and I throw so much action, so
much animation into these monologues that I forget I am alone. What
I knew now of Henriette had upset me altogether.
"Who can she be," I said, speaking to the walls; "this girl who seems
to have the most elevated feelings under the veil of the most cynical
libertinism? She says that in Parma she wishes to remain perfectly
unknown, her own mistress, and I cannot, of course, flatter myself
that she will not place me under the same restrictions as the captain
to whom she has already abandoned herself. Goodbye to my
expectations, to my money, and my illusions! But who is she--what is
she? She must have either a lover or a husband in Parma, or she must
belong to a respectable family; or, perhaps, thanks to a boundless
love for debauchery and to her confidence in her own charms, she
intends to set fortune, misery, and degradation at defiance, and to
try to enslave some wealthy nobleman! But that would be the plan of
a mad woman or of a person reduced to utter despair, and it does not
seem to be the case with Henriette. Yet she possesses nothing.
True, but she refused, as if she had been provided with all she
needed, the kind assistance of a man who has the right to offer it,
and from whom, in sooth, she can accept without blushing, since she
has not been ashamed to grant him favours with which love had nothing
to do. Does she think that it is less shameful for a woman to
abandon herself to the desires of a man unknown and unloved than to
receive a present from an esteemed friend, and particularly at the
eve of finding herself in the street, entirely destitute in the
middle of a foreign city, amongst people whose language she cannot
even speak? Perhaps she thinks that such conduct will justify the
'faux pas' of which she has been guilty with the captain, and give
him to understand that she had abandoned herself to him only for the
sake of escaping from the officer with whom she was in Rome. But she
ought to be quite certain that the captain does not entertain any
other idea; he shews himself so reasonable that it is impossible to
suppose that he ever admitted the possibility of having inspired her
with a violent passion, because she had seen him once through a
window in Civita-Vecchia. She might possibly be right, and feel
herself justified in her conduct towards the captain, but it is not
the same with me, for with her intelligence she must be aware that I
would not have travelled with them if she had been indifferent to me,
and she must know that there is but one way in which she can obtain
my pardon. She may be endowed with many virtues, but she has not the
only one which could prevent me from wishing the reward which every
man expects to receive at the hands of the woman he loves. If she
wants to assume prudish manners towards me and to make a dupe of me,
I am bound in honour to shew her how much she is mistaken."
After this monologue, which had made me still more angry, I made up
my mind to have an explanation in the morning before our departure.
"I shall ask her," said I to myself, "to grant me the same favours
which she has so easily granted to her old captain, and if I meet
with a refusal the best revenge will be to shew her a cold and
profound contempt until our arrival in Parma."
I felt sure that she could not refuse me some marks of real or of
pretended affection, unless she wished to make a show of a modesty
which certainly did not belong to her, and, knowing that her modesty
would only be all pretence, I was determined not to be a mere toy in
As for the captain, I felt certain, from what he had told me, that he
would not be angry with me if I risked a declaration, for as a
sensible man he could only assume a neutral position.
Satisfied with my wise reasoning, and with my mind fully made up, I
fell asleep. My thoughts were too completely absorbed by Henriette
for her not to haunt my dreams, but the dream which I had throughout
the night was so much like reality that, on awaking, I looked for her
in my bed, and my imagination was so deeply struck with the delights
of that night that, if my door had not been fastened with a bolt, I
should have believed that she had left me during my sleep to resume
her place near the worthy Hungarian.
When I was awake I found that the happy dream of the night had turned
my love for the lovely creature into a perfect amorous frenzy, and it
could not be other wise. Let the reader imagine a poor devil going
to bed broken down with fatigue and starvation; he succumbs to sleep,
that most imperative of all human wants, but in his dream he finds
himself before a table covered with every delicacy; what will then
happen? Why, a very natural result. His appetite, much more lively
than on the previous day, does not give him a minute's rest he must
satisfy it or die of sheer hunger.
I dressed myself, resolved on making sure of the possession of the
woman who had inflamed all my senses, even before resuming our
"If I do not succeed," I said to myself, "I will not go one step
But, in order not to offend against propriety, and not to deserve the
reproaches of an honest man, I felt that it was my duty to have an
explanation with the captain in the first place.
I fancy that I hear one of those sensible, calm, passionless readers,
who have had the advantage of what is called a youth without storms,
or one of those whom old age has forced to become virtuous, exclaim,
"Can anyone attach so much importance to such nonsense?"
Age has calmed my passions down by rendering them powerless, but my
heart has not grown old, and my memory has kept all the freshness of
youth; and far from considering that sort of thing a mere trifle, my
only sorrow, dear reader, arises from the fact that I have not the
power to practise, to the day of my death, that which has been the
principal affair of my life!
When I was ready I repaired to the chamber occupied by my two
travelling companions, and after paying each of them the usual
morning compliments I told the officer that I was deeply in love with
Henriette, and I asked him whether he would object to my trying to
obtain her as my mistress.
"The reason for which she begs you," I added, "to leave her in Parma
and not to take any further notice of her, must be that she hopes to
meet some lover of hers there. Let me have half an hour's
conversation with her, and I flatter myself I can persuade her to
sacrifice that lover for me. If she refuses me, I remain here; you
will go with her to Parma, where you will leave my carriage at the
post, only sending me a receipt, so that I can claim it whenever I
"As soon as breakfast is over," said the excellent man, "I shall go
and visit the institute, and leave you alone with Henriette. I hope
you may succeed, for I should be delighted to see her under your
protection when I part with her. Should she persist in her first
resolution, I could easily find a 'vetturino' here, and you could
keep your carriage. I thank you for your proposal, and it will
grieve me to leave you."
Highly pleased at having accomplished half of my task, and at seeing
myself near the denouement, I asked the lovely Frenchwoman whether
she would like to see the sights of Bologna.
"I should like it very much," she said, "if I had some other clothes;
but with such a costume as this I do not care to shew myself about
"Then you do not want to go out?"
"Can I keep you company?"
"That would be delightful:"
The captain went out immediately after breakfast. The moment he had
gone I told Henriette that her friend had left us alone purposely, so
as to give me the opportunity of a private interview with her.
"Tell me now whether you intended the order which you gave him
yesterday to forget you, never to enquire after you; and even not to
know you if he happened to meet you, from the time of our arrival in
Parma, for me as well as for him."
"It is not an order that I gave him; I have no right to do so, and I
could not so far forget myself; it is only a prayer I addressed to
him, a service which circumstances have compelled me to claim at his
hands, and as he has no right to refuse me, I never entertained any
doubt of his granting my command. As far as you are concerned, it is
certain that I should have addressed the same prayer to you, if I had
thought that you had any views about me. You have given me some
marks of your friendship, but you must understand that if, under the
circumstances, I am likely to be injured by the kind attentions of
the captain, yours would injure me much more. If you have any
friendship for me, you would have felt all that."
"As you know that I entertain great friendship for you, you cannot
possibly suppose that I would leave you alone, without money, without
resources in the middle of a city where you cannot even make yourself
understood. Do you think that a man who feels for you the most
tender affection can abandon you when he has been fortunate enough to
make your acquaintance, when he is aware of the sad position in which
you are placed? If you think such a thing possible, you must have a
very false idea of friendship, and should such a man grant your
request, he would only prove that he is not your friend."
"I am certain that the captain is my friend; yet you have heard him,
he will obey me, and forget me."
"I do not know what sort of affection that honest man feels for you,
or how far he can rely upon the control he may have over himself, but
I know that if he can grant you what you have asked from him, his
friendship must be of a nature very different from mine, for I am
bound to tell you it is not only impossible for me to afford you
willingly the strange gratification of abandoning you in your
position, but even that, if I go to Parma, you could not possibly
carry out your wishes, because I love you so passionately that you
must promise to be mine, or I must remain here. In that case you
must go to Parma alone with the captain, for I feel that, if I
accompanied you any further, I should soon be the most wretched of
men. I could not bear to see you with another lover, with a husband,
not even in the midst of your family; in fact, I would fain see you
and live with you forever. Let me tell you, lovely Henriette, that
if it is possible for a Frenchman to forget, an Italian cannot do it,
at least if I judge from my own feelings. I have made up my mind,
you must be good enough to decide now, and to tell me whether I am to
accompany you or to remain here. Answer yes or no; if I remain here
it is all over. I shall leave for Naples to-morrow, and I know I
shall be cured in time of the mad passion I feel for you, but if you
tell me that I can accompany you to Parma, you must promise me that
your heart will forever belong to me alone. I must be the only one
to possess you, but I am ready to accept as a condition, if you like,
that you shall not crown my happiness until you have judged me worthy
of it by my attentions and by my loving care. Now, be kind enough to
decide before the return of the too happy captain. He knows all, for
I have told him what I feel."
"And what did he answer?"
"That he would be happy to see you under my protection. But what is
the meaning of that smile playing on your lips?"
"Pray, allow me to laugh, for I have never in my life realized the
idea of a furious declaration of love. Do you understand what it is
to say to a woman in a declaration which ought to be passionate, but
at the same time tender and gentle, the following terrible words:
"'Madam, make your choice, either one or the other, and decide
instanter!' Ha! ha! ha!"
"Yes, I understand perfectly. It is neither gentle, nor gallant, nor
pathetic, but it is passionate. Remember that this is a serious
matter, and that I have never yet found myself so much pressed by
time. Can you, on your side, realize the painful position of a man,
who, being deeply in love, finds himself compelled to take a decision
which may perhaps decide issues of life and death? Be good enough to
remark that, in spite of the passion raging in me, I do not fail in
the respect I owe you; that the resolution I intend to take, if you
should persist in your original decision, is not a threat, but an
effort worthy of a hero, which ought to call for your esteem. I beg
of you to consider that we cannot afford to lose time. The word
choose must not sound harshly in your ears, since it leaves my fate
as well as yours entirely in your hands. To feel certain of my love,
do you want to see me kneeling before you like a simpleton, crying
and entreating you to take pity on me? No, madam, that would
certainly displease you, and it would not help me. I am conscious of
being worthy of your love, I therefore ask for that feeling and not
for pity. Leave me, if I displease you, but let me go away; for if
you are humane enough to wish that I should forget you, allow me to
go far away from you so as to make my sorrow less immense. Should I
follow you to Parma, I would not answer for myself, for I might give
way to my despair. Consider everything well, I beseech you; you
would indeed be guilty of great cruelty, were you to answer now:
'Come to Parma, although I must beg of you not to see me in that
city.' Confess that you cannot, in all fairness, give me such an
answer; am I not right?"
"Certainly, if you truly love me."
"Good God! if I love you? Oh, yes! believe me, my love is immense,
sincere! Now, decide my fate."
"What! always the same song?"
"But are you aware that you look very angry?"
"No, for it is not so. I am only in a state of uncontrollable
excitement, in one of the decisive hours of my life, a prey to the
most fearful anxiety. I ought to curse my whimsical destiny and the
'sbirri' of Cesena (may God curse them, too!), for, without them, I
should never have known you."
"Are you, then, so very sorry to have made my acquaintance?"
"Have I not some reason to be so?"
"No, for I have not given you my decision yet."
"Now I breathe more freely, for I am sure you will tell me to
accompany you to Parma."
"Yes, come to Parma."
by Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
MEMOIRS OF JACQUES CASANOVA de SEINGALT 1725-1798
TO PARIS AND PRISON, Volume 2a--PARIS
THE RARE UNABRIDGED LONDON EDITION OF 1894 TRANSLATED BY ARTHUR
MACHEN TO WHICH HAS BEEN ADDED THE CHAPTERS DISCOVERED
BY ARTHUR SYMONS.
Leave Bologna a Happy Man--The Captain Parts from Us in Reggio, where
I Spend a Delightful Night with Henriette--Our Arrival in Parma--
Henriette Resumes the Costume of a Woman; Our Mutual Felicity--I Meet
Some Relatives of Mine, but Do not Discover Myself
The reader can easily guess that there was a change as sudden as a
transformation in a pantomime, and that the short but magic sentence,
"Come to Parma," proved a very fortunate catastrophe, thanks to which
I rapidly changed, passing from the tragic to the gentle mood, from
the serious to the tender tone. Sooth to say, I fell at her feet,
and lovingly pressing her knees I kissed them repeatedly with
raptures of gratitude. No more 'furore', no more bitter words; they
do not suit the sweetest of all human feelings! Loving, docile,
grateful, I swear never to beg for any favour, not even to kiss her
hand, until I have shewn myself worthy of her precious love! The
heavenly creature, delighted to see me pass so rapidly from despair
to the most lively tenderness, tells me, with a voice the tone of
which breathes of love, to get up from my knees.
"I am sure that you love me," says she, "and be quite certain that I
shall leave nothing undone to secure the constancy of your feelings."
Even if she had said that she loved me as much as I adored her, she
would not have been more eloquent, for her words expressed all that
can be felt. My lips were pressed to her beautiful hands as the
captain entered the room. He complimented us with perfect good
faith, and I told him, my face beaming with happiness, that I was
going to order the carriage. I left them together, and in a short
time we were on our road, cheerful, pleased, and merry.
Before reaching Reggio the honest captain told me that in his opinion
it would be better for him to proceed to Parma alone, as, if we
arrived in that city all together, it might cause some remarks, and
people would talk about us much less if we were without him. We both
thought him quite right, and we immediately made up our minds to pass
the night in Reggio, while the captain would take a post-chaise and
go alone to Parma. According to that arrangement his trunk was
transferred to the vehicle which he hired in Reggio, he bade us
farewell and went away, after having promised to dine with us on the
following day in Parma.
The decision taken by the worthy Hungarian was, doubtless, as
agreeable to my lovely friend as to me, for our delicacy would have
condemned us to a great reserve in his presence. And truly, under
the new circumstances, how were we to arrange for our lodgings in
Reggio? Henriette could not, of course, share the bed of the captain
any more, and she could not have slept with me as long as he was with
us, without being guilty of great immodesty. We should all three
have laughed at that compulsory reserve which we would have felt to
be ridiculous, but we should, for all that, have submitted to it.
Love is the little impudent god, the enemy of bashfulness, although
he may very often enjoy darkness and mystery, but if he gives way to
it he feels disgraced; he loses three-fourths of his dignity and the
greatest portion of his charms.
Evidently there could be no happiness for Henriette or for me unless
we parted with the person and even with the remembrance of the
We supped alone. I was intoxicated with a felicity which seemed too
immense, and yet I felt melancholy, but Henriette, who looked sad
likewise, had no reproach to address to me. Our sadness was in
reality nothing but shyness; we loved each other, but we had had no
time to become acquainted. We exchanged only a few words, there was
nothing witty, nothing interesting in our conversation, which struck
us both as insipid, and we found more pleasure in the thoughts which
filled our minds. We knew that we were going to pass the night
together, but we could not have spoken of it openly. What a night!
what a delightful creature was that Henriette whom I have loved so
deeply, who has made me so supremely happy!
It was only three or four days later that I ventured on asking her
what she would have done, without a groat in her possession, having
not one acquaintance in Parma, if I had been afraid to declare my
love, and if I had gone to Naples. She answered that she would
doubtless have found herself in very great difficulties, but that she
had all along felt certain of my love, and that she had foreseen what
had happened. She added that, being impatient to know what I thought
of her, she had asked me to translate to the captain what she had
expressed respecting her resolution, knowing that he could neither
oppose that resolution nor continue to live with her, and that, as
she had taken care not to include me in the prayer which she had
addressed to him through me, she had thought it impossible that I
should fail to ask whether I could be of some service to her, waiting
to take a decision until she could have ascertained the nature of my
feelings towards her. She concluded by telling me that if she had
fallen it was the fault of her husband and of her father-in-law, both
of whom she characterized as monsters rather than men.
When we reached Parma, I gave the police the name of Farusi, the same
that I had assumed in Cesena; it was the family name of my mother;
while Henriette wrote down, "Anne D'Arci, from France." While we
were answering the questions of the officer, a young Frenchman, smart
and intelligent-looking, offered me his services, and advised me not
to put up at the posting-inn, but to take lodgings at D'Andremorit's.
hotel, where I should find good apartments, French cooking, and the
best French wines.
Seeing that Henriette was pleased with the proposal, I told the young
man to take us there, and we were soon very comfortably lodged. I
engaged the Frenchman by the day, and carefully settled all my
arrangements with D'Andremont. After that I attended to the housing
of my carriage.
Coming in again for a few minutes, I told Henriette that I would
return in time for dinner, and, ordering the servant to remain in the
ante-room, I went out alone.
Parma was then groaning under a new government. I had every reason
to suppose that there were spies everywhere and under every form. I
therefore did not want to have at my heels a valet who might have
injured rather than served me. Though I was in my father's native
city, I had no acquaintances there, but I knew that I should soon
find my way.
When I found myself in the streets, I scarcely could believe that I
was in Italy, for everything had a tramontane appearance. I heard
nothing but French and Spanish, and those who did not speak one of
those languages seemed to be whispering to one another. I was going
about at random, looking for a hosier, yet unwilling to enquire where
I could find one; at last I saw what I wanted.
I entered the shop, and addressing myself to a stout, good-looking
woman seated behind the counter, I said,
"Madam, I wish to make some purchases."
"Sir, shall I send for someone speaking French?"
"You need not do so, I am an Italian."
"God be praised! Italians are scarce in these days."
"Do you not know that Don Philip has arrived, and that his wife,
Madame de France, is on the road?"
"I congratulate you, for it must make trade very good. I suppose
that money is plentiful, and that there is abundance of all
"That is true, but everything is high in price, and we cannot get
reconciled to these new fashions. They are a bad mixture of French
freedom and Spanish haughtiness which addles our brains. But, sir,
what sort of linen do you require?"
"In the first place, I must tell you that I never try to drive a hard
bargain, therefore be careful. If you charge me too much, I shall
not come again. I want some fine linen for twenty-four chemises,
some dimity for stays and petticoats, some muslin, some cambric for
pocket-handkerchiefs, and many other articles which I should be very
glad to find in your shop, for I am a stranger here, and God knows in
what hands I am going to trust myself!"
"You will be in honest ones, if you will give me your confidence."
"I am sure that you deserve it, and I abandon my interests to you.
I want likewise to find some needlewomen willing to work in the
lady's room, because she requires everything to be made very
"Yes, dresses, caps, mantles-in fact, everything, for she is naked."
"With money she will soon have all she wants. Is she young?"
"She is four years younger than I. She is my wife."
"Ah! may God bless you! Any children?"
"Not yet, my good lady; but they will come, for we do all that is
necessary to have them."
"I have no doubt of it. How pleased I am! Well, sir, I shall send
for the very phoenix of all dressmakers. In the mean time, choose
what you require, it will amuse you."
I took the best of everything and paid, and the dressmaker making her
appearance at that moment I gave my address, requesting that various
sorts of stuff might be sent at once. I told the dressmaker and her
daughter, who had come with her, to follow me and to carry the linen.
On my way to the hotel I bought several pairs of silk stockings, and
took with me a bootmaker who lived close by.
Oh, what a delightful moment! Henriette, who had not the slightest
idea of what I had gone out for, looked at everything with great
pleasure, yet without any of those demonstrations which announce a
selfish or interested disposition. She shewed her gratitude only by
the delicate praise which she bestowed upon my taste and upon the
quality of the articles I had purchased. She was not more cheerful
on account of my presents, but the tender affection with which she
looked at me was the best proof of her grateful feelings.
The valet I had hired had entered the room with the shoemaker.
Henriette told him quietly to withdraw, and not to come unless he was
called. The dressmaker set to work, the shoemaker took her measure,
and I told him to bring some slippers. He returned in a short time,
and the valet came in again with him without having been called. The
shoemaker, who spoke French, was talking the usual nonsense of
dealers, when she interrupted him to ask the valet, who was standing
familiarly in the room, what he wanted.
"Nothing, madam, I am only waiting for your orders."
"Have I not told you that you would be called when your services were
"I should like to know who is my master, you or the gentleman?"
"Neither," I replied, laughing. "Here are your day's wages. Be off
The shoemaker, seeing that Henriette spoke only French, begged to
recommend a teacher of languages.
"What country does he belong to?" she enquired.
"To Flanders, madam," answered Crispin, "he is a very learned man,
about fifty years old. He is said to be a good man. He charges
three libbre for each lesson of one hour, and six for two hours, but
he requires to be paid each time."
"My dear," said Henriette to me, "do you wish me to engage that
"Yes, dearest, it will amuse you."
The shoemaker promised to send the Flemish professor the next
The dressmakers were hard at work, the mother cutting and the
daughter sewing, but, as progress could not be too rapid, I told the
mother that she would oblige us if she could procure another
seamstress who spoke French.
"You shall have one this very day, sir," she answered, and she
offered me the services of her own son as a servant, saying that if I
took him I should be certain to have neither a thief nor a spy about
me, and that he spoke French pretty well. Henriette thought we could
not do better than take the young man. Of course that was enough to
make me consent at once, for the slightest wish of the woman we love
is our supreme law. The mother went for him, and she brought back at
the same time the half-French dressmaker. It all amused my goddess,
who looked very happy.
The young man was about eighteen, pleasant, gentle and modest. I
enquired his name, and he answered that it was Caudagna.
The reader may very likely recollect that my father's native place
had been Parma, and that one of his sisters had married a Caudagna.
"It would be a curious coincidence," I thought, "if that dressmaker
should be my aunt, and my valet my cousin!" but I did not say it
Henriette asked me if I had any objection to the first dressmaker
dining at our table.
"I entreat you, my darling," I answered, "never, for the future, to
ask my consent in such trifling matters. Be quite certain, my
beloved, that I shall always approve everything you may do."
She smiled and thanked me. I took out my purse, and said to her;
"Take these fifty sequins, dearest, to pay for all your small
expenses, and to buy the many trifles which I should be sure to
She took the money, assuring me that she was vastly obliged to me.
A short time before dinner the worthy captain made his appearance.
Henriette ran to meet him and kissed him, calling him her dear
father, and I followed her example by calling him my friend. My
beloved little wife invited him to dine with us every day. The
excellent fellow, seeing all the women working busily for Henriette,
was highly pleased at having procured such a good position for his
young adventuress, and I crowned his happiness by telling him that I
was indebted to him for my felicity.
Our dinner was delicious, and it proved a cheerful meal. I found out
that Henriette was dainty, and my old friend a lover of good wines.
I was both, and felt that I was a match for them. We tasted several
excellent wines which D'Andremont had recommended, and altogether we
had a very good dinner.
The young valet pleased me in consequence of the respectful manner in
which he served everyone, his mother as well as his masters. His
sister and the other seamstress had dined apart.
We were enjoying our dessert when the hosier was announced,
accompanied by another woman and a milliner who could speak French.
The other woman had brought patterns of all sorts of dresses. I let
Henriette order caps, head-dresses, etc., as she pleased, but I would
interfere in the dress department although I complied with the
excellent taste of my charming friend. I made her choose four
dresses, and I was indeed grateful for her ready acceptance of them,
for my own happiness was increased in proportion to the pleasure I
gave her and the influence I was obtaining over her heart.
Thus did we spend the first day, and we could certainly not have
In the evening, as we were alone at supper, I fancied that her lovely
face looked sad. I told her so.
"My darling," she answered, with a voice which went to my heart, "you
are spending a great deal of money on me, and if you do so in the
hope of my loving you more dearly I must tell you it is money lost,
for I do not love you now more than I did yesterday, but I do love
you with my whole heart. All you may do that is not strictly
necessary pleases me only because I see more and more how worthy you
are of me, but it is not needed to make me feel all the deep love
which you deserve."
"I believe you, dearest, and my happiness is indeed great if you feel
that your love for me cannot be increased. But learn also, delight
of my heart, that I have done it all only to try to love you even
more than I do, if possible. I wish to see you beautiful and
brilliant in the attire of your sex, and if there is one drop of
bitterness in the fragrant cup of my felicity, it is a regret at not
being able to surround you with the halo which you deserve. Can I be
otherwise than delighted, my love, if you are pleased?"
"You cannot for one moment doubt my being pleased, and as you have
called me your wife you are right in one way, but if you are not very
rich I leave it to you to judge how deeply I ought to reproach
"Ah, my beloved angel! let me, I beg of you, believe myself wealthy,
and be quite certain that you cannot possibly be the cause of my
ruin. You were born only for my happiness. All I wish is that you
may never leave me. Tell me whether I can entertain such a hope."
"I wish it myself, dearest, but who can be sure of the future? Are
you free? Are you dependent on anyone?"
"I am free in the broadest meaning of that word, I am dependent on no
one but you, and I love to be so."
"I congratulate you, and I am very glad of it, for no one can tear
you from my arms, but, alas! you know that I cannot say the same as
you. I am certain that some persons are, even now, seeking for me,
and they will not find it very difficult to secure me if they ever
discover where I am. Alas! I feel how miserable I should be if they
ever succeeded in dragging me away from you!"
"You make me tremble. Are you afraid of such a dreadful misfortune
"No, unless I should happen to be seen by someone knowing me."
"Are any such persons likely to be here at present?"
"I think not."
"Then do not let our love take alarm, I trust your fears will never
be verified. Only, my darling one, you must be as cheerful as you
were in Cesena."
"I shall be more truly so now, dear friend. In Cesena I was
miserable; while now I am happy. Do not be afraid of my being sad,
for I am of a naturally cheerful disposition."
"I suppose that in Cesena you were afraid of being caught by the
officer whom you had left in Rome?"
"Not at all; that officer was my father-in-law, and I am quite
certain that he never tried to ascertain where I had gone. He was
only too glad to get rid of me. I felt unhappy because I could not
bear to be a charge on a man whom I could not love, and with whom I
could not even exchange one thought. Recollect also that I could not
find consolation in the idea that I was ministering to his happiness,
for I had only inspired him with a passing fancy which he had himself
valued at ten sequins. I could not help feeling that his fancy, once
gratified, was not likely at his time of life to become a more
lasting sentiment, and I could therefore only be a burden to him, for
he was not wealthy. Besides, there was a miserable consideration
which increased my secret sorrow. I thought myself bound in duty to
carress him, and on his side, as he thought that he ought to pay me
in the same money, I was afraid of his ruining his health for me, and
that idea made me very unhappy. Having no love for each other, we
allowed a foolish feeling of regard to make both of us uncomfortable.
We lavished, for the sake of a well-meaning but false decorum, that
which belongs to love alone. Another thing troubled me greatly. I
was afraid lest people might suppose that I was a source of profit
to him. That idea made me feel the deepest shame, yet, whenever I
thought of it, I could not help admitting that such a supposition,
however false, was not wanting in probability. It is owing to that
feeling that you found me so reserved towards you, for I was afraid
that you might harbour that fearful idea if I allowed, you to read in
my looks the favourable impression which you had made on my heart."
"Then it was not owing to a feeling of self-love?"
"No, I confess it, for you could but judge me as I deserved. I had
been guilty of the folly now known to you because my father-in-law
intended to bury me in a convent, and that did not suit my taste.
But, dearest friend, you must forgive me if, I cannot confide even to
you the history of my life."
"I respect your secret, darling; you need not fear any intrusion from
me on that subject. All we have to do is to love one another, and
not to allow any dread of the future to mar our actual felicity."
The next day, after a night of intense enjoyment, I found myself more
deeply in love than before, and the next three months were spent by
us in an intoxication of delight.
At nine o'clock the next morning the teacher of Italian was
announced. I saw a man of respectable appearance, polite, modest,
speaking little but well, reserved in his answers, and with the
manners of olden times. We conversed, and I could not help laughing
when he said, with an air of perfect good faith, that a Christian
could only admit the system of Copernicus as a clever hypothesis.
I answered that it was the system of God Himself because it was that
of nature, and that it was not in Holy Scripture that the laws of
science could be learned.
The teacher smiled in a manner which betrayed the Tartufe, and if I
had consulted only my own feelings I should have dismissed the poor
man, but I thought that he might amuse Henriette and teach her
Italian; after all it was what I wanted from him. My dear wife told
him that she would give him six libbre for a lesson of two hours: the
libbra of Parma being worth only about threepence, his lessons were
not very expensive. She took her first lesson immediately and gave
him two sequins, asking him to purchase her some good novels.
Whilst my dear Henriette was taking her lesson, I had some
conversation with the dressmaker, in order to ascertain whether she
was a relative of mine.
"What does your husband do?" I asked her.
"He is steward to the Marquis of Sissa."
"Is your father still alive?"
"No, sir, he is dead."
"What was his family name?"
"Are your husband's parents still alive?"
"His father is dead, but his mother is still alive, and resides with
her uncle, Canon Casanova."
That was enough. The good woman was my Welsh cousin, and her
children were my Welsh nephews. My niece Jeanneton was not pretty;
but she appeared to be a good girl. I continued my conversation with
the mother, but I changed the topic.
"Are the Parmesans satisfied with being the subjects of a Spanish
"Satisfied? Well, in that case, we should be easily pleased, for we
are now in a regular maze. Everything is upset, we do not know where
we are. Oh! happy times of the house of Farnese, whither have you
departed? The day before yesterday I went to the theatre, and
Harlequin made everybody roar with laughter. Well, now, fancy, Don
Philipo, our new duke, did all he could to remain serious, and when
he could not manage it, he would hide his face in his hat so that
people should not see that he was laughing, for it is said that
laughter ought never to disturb the grave and stiff countenance of an
Infante of Spain, and that he would be dishonoured in Madrid if he
did not conceal his mirth. What do you think of that? Can such
manners suit us? Here we laugh willingly and heartily! Oh! the good
Duke Antonio (God rest his soul!) was certainly as great a prince as
Duke Philipo, but he did not hide himself from his subjects when he
was pleased, and he would sometimes laugh so heartily that he could
be heard in the streets. Now we are all in the most fearful
confusion, and for the last three months no one in Parma knows what's
"Have all the clocks been destroyed?"
"No, but ever since God created the world, the sun has always gone
down at half-past five, and at six the bells have always been tolled
for the Angelus. All respectable people knew that at that time the
candle had to be lit. Now, it is very strange, the sun has gone mad,
for he sets every day at a different hour. Our peasants do not know
when they are to come to market. All that is called a regulation but
do you know why? Because now everybody knows that dinner is to be
eaten at twelve o'clock. A fine regulation, indeed! Under the
Farnese we used to eat when we were hungry, and that was much
That way of reasoning was certainly singular, but I did not think it
sounded foolish in the mouth of a woman of humble rank. It seems to
me that a government ought never to destroy ancient customs abruptly,
and that innocent errors ought to be corrected only by degrees.
Henriette had no watch. I felt delighted at the idea of offering her
such a present, and I went out to purchase one, but after I had
bought a very fine watch, I thought of ear-rings, of a fan, and of
many other pretty nicknacks. Of course I bought them all at once.
She received all those gifts offered by love with a tender delicacy
which overjoyed me. She was still with the teacher when I came back.
"I should have been able," he said to me, "to teach your lady
heraldry, geography, history, and the use of the globes, but she
knows that already. She has received an excellent education."
The teacher's name was Valentin de la Haye. He told me that he was
an engineer and professor of mathematics. I shall have to speak of
him very often in these Memoirs, and my readers will make his
acquaintance by his deeds better than by any portrait I could give of
him, so I will merely say that he was a true Tartufe, a worthy pupil
We had a pleasant dinner with our Hungarian friend. Henriette was
still wearing the uniform, and I longed to see her dressed as a
woman. She expected a dress to be ready for the next day, and she
was already supplied with petticoats and chemises.
Henriette was full of wit and a mistress of repartee. The milliner,
who was a native of Lyons, came in one morning, and said in French:
"Madame et Monsieur, j'ai l'honneur de vous souhaiter le bonjour."
"Why," said my friend, "do you not say Monsieur et madame?"
"I have always heard that in society the precedence is given to the
"But from whom do we wish to receive that honour?"
"From gentlemen, of course."
"And do you not see that women would render themselves ridiculous if
they did not grant to men the same that they expect from them. If we
wish them never to fail in politeness towards us, we must shew them
"Madam," answered the shrewd milliner, "you have taught me an
excellent lesson, and I will profit by it. Monsieur et madame, je
suis votre servante."
This feminine controversy greatly amused me.
Those who do not believe that a woman can make a man happy through
the twenty-four hours of the day have never possessed a woman like
Henriette. The happiness which filled me, if I can express it in
that manner, was much greater when I conversed with her even than
when I held her in my arms. She had read much, she had great tact,
and her taste was naturally excellent; her judgment was sane, and,
without being learned, she could argue like a mathematician, easily
and without pretension, and in everything she had that natural grace
which is so charming. She never tried to be witty when she said
something of importance, but accompanied her words with a smile which
imparted to them an appearance of trifling, and brought them within
the understanding of all. In that way she would give intelligence
even to those who had none, and she won every heart. Beauty without
wit offers love nothing but the material enjoyment of its physical
charms, whilst witty ugliness captivates by the charms of the mind,
and at last fulfils all the desires of the man it has captivated.
Then what was my position during all the time that I possessed my
beautiful and witty Henriette? That of a man so supremely happy that
I could scarcely realize my felicity!
Let anyone ask a beautiful woman without wit whether she would be
willing to exchange a small portion of her beauty for a sufficient
dose of wit. If she speaks the truth, she will say, "No, I am
satisfied to be as I am." But why is she satisfied? Because she is
not aware of her own deficiency. Let an ugly but witty woman be
asked if she would change her wit against beauty, and she will not
hestitate in saying no. Why? Because, knowing the value of her wit,
she is well aware that it is sufficient by itself to make her a queen
in any society.
But a learned woman, a blue-stocking, is not the creature to minister
to a man's happiness. Positive knowledge is not a woman's province.
It is antipathetic to the gentleness of her nature, to the amenity,
to the sweet timidity which are the greatest charms of the fair sex,
besides, women never carry their learning beyond certain limits, and
the tittle-tattle of blue-stockings can dazzle no one but fools.
There has never been one great discovery due to a woman. The fair
sex is deficient in that vigorous power which the body lends to the
mind, but women are evidently superior to men in simple reasoning, in
delicacy of feelings, and in that species of merit which appertains
to the heart rather than to the mind.
Hurl some idle sophism at a woman of intelligence. She will not
unravel it, but she will not be deceived by it, and, though she may
not say so, she will let you guess that she does not accept it. A
man, on the contrary, if he cannot unravel the sophism, takes it in a
literal sense, and in that respect the learned woman is exactly the
same as man. What a burden a Madame Dacier must be to a man! May
God save every honest man from such!
When the new dress was brought, Henriette told me that she did not
want me to witness the process of her metamorphosis, and she desired
me to go out for a walk until she had resumed her original form. I
obeyed cheerfully, for the slightest wish of the woman we love is a
law, and our very obedience increases our happiness.
As I had nothing particular to do, I went to a French bookseller in
whose shop I made the acquaintance of a witty hunchback, and I must
say that a hunchback without wit is a raga avis; I have found it so
in all countries. Of course it is not wit which gives the hump, for,
thank God, all witty men are not humpbacked, but we may well say that
as a general rule the hump gives wit, for the very small number of
hunchbacks who have little or no wit only confirms the rule: The one
I was alluding to just now was called Dubois-Chateleraux. He was a
skilful engraver, and director of the Mint of Parma for the Infante,
although that prince could not boast of such an institution.
I spent an hour with the witty hunchback, who shewed me several of
his engravings, and I returned to the hotel where I found the
Hungarian waiting to see Henriette. He did not know that she would
that morning receive us in the attire of her sex. The door was
thrown open, and a beautiful, charming woman met us with a courtesy
full of grace, which no longer reminded us of the stiffness or of the
too great freedom which belong to the military costume. Her sudden
appearance certainly astonished us, and we did not know what to say
or what to do. She invited us to be seated, looked at the captain in
a friendly manner, and pressed my hand with the warmest affection,
but without giving way any more to that outward familiarity which a
young officer can assume, but which does not suit a well-educated
lady. Her noble and modest bearing soon compelled me to put myself
in unison with her, and I did so without difficulty, for she was not
acting a part, and the way in which she had resumed her natural
character made it easy for me to follow her on that ground.
I was gazing at her with admiration, and, urged by a feeling which I
did not take time to analyze, I took her hand to kiss it with
respect, but, without giving me an opportunity of raising it to my
lips, she offered me her lovely mouth. Never did a kiss taste so
"Am I not then always the same?" said she to me, with deep feeling.
"No, heavenly creature, and it is so true that you are no longer the
same in my eyes that I could not now use any familiarity towards you.
You are no longer the witty, free young officer who told Madame
Querini about the game of Pharaoh, end about the deposits made to
your bank by the captain in so niggardly a manner that they were
hardly worth mentioning."
"It is very true that, wearing the costume of my sex, I should never
dare to utter such words. Yet, dearest friend, it does not prevent
my being your Henriette--that Henriette who has in her life been
guilty of three escapades, the last of which would have utterly
ruined me if it had not been for you, but which I call a delightful
error, since it has been the cause of my knowing you."
Those words moved me so deeply that I was on the point of throwing
myself at her feet, to entreat her to forgive me for not having shewn
her more respect, but Henriette, who saw the state in which I was,
and who wanted to put an end to the pathetic scene, began to shake
our poor captain, who sat as motionless as a statue, and as if he had
been petrified. He felt ashamed at having treated such a woman as an
adventuress, for he knew that what he now saw was not an illusion.
He kept looking at her with great confusion, and bowing most
respectfully, as if he wanted to atone for his past conduct towards
her. As for Henriette, she seemed to say to him, but without the
shadow of a reproach;
"I am glad that you think me worth more than ten sequins."
We sat down to dinner, and from that moment she did the honours of
the table with the perfect ease of a person who is accustomed to
fulfil that difficult duty. She treated me like a beloved husband,
and the captain like a respected friend. The poor Hungarian begged
me to tell her that if he had seen her, as she was now, in Civita
Vecchia, when she came out of the tartan, he should never have
dreamed of dispatching his cicerone to her room.
"Oh! tell him that I do not doubt it. But is it not strange that a
poor little female dress should command more respect than the garb of
"Pray do not abuse the officer's costume, for it is to it that I am
indebted for my happiness."
"Yes," she said, with a loving smile, "as I owe mine to the sbirri of
We remained for a long time at the table, and our delightful
conversation turned upon no other topic than our mutual felicity.
If it had not been for the uneasiness of the poor captain, which at
last struck us, we should never have put a stop either to the dinner
or to, our charming prattle.
I Engage a Box at the Opera, in Spite of Henriette's Reluctance--
M. Dubois Pays Us a Visit and Dines with Us; My Darling Plays Him a
Trick--Henriette Argues on Happiness--We Call on Dubois, and My Wife
Displays Her Marvellous Talent--M. Dutillot The Court gives a
Splendid Entertainment in the Ducal Gardens--A Fatal Meeting--I Have
an Interview with M. D'Antoine, the Favourite of the Infante of Spain
The happiness I was enjoying was too complete to last long. I was
fated to lose it, but I must not anticipate events. Madame de
France, wife of the Infante Don Philip, having arrived in Parma, the
opera house was opened, and I engaged a private box, telling
Henriette that I intended to take her to the theatre every night.
She had several times confessed that she had a great passion for
music, and I had no doubt that she would be pleased with my proposal.
She had never yet seen an Italian opera, and I felt certain that she
wished to ascertain whether the Italian music deserved its universal
fame. But I was indeed surprised when she exclaimed,
"What, dearest! You wish to go every evening to the opera?"
"I think, my love, that, if we did not go, we should give some excuse
for scandal-mongers to gossip. Yet, should you not like it, you know
that there is no need for us to go. Do not think of me, for I prefer
our pleasant chat in this room to the heavenly concert of the
"I am passionately fond of music, darling, but I cannot help
trembling at the idea of going out."
"If you tremble, I must shudder, but we ought to go to the opera or
leave Parma. Let us go to London or to any other place. Give your
orders, I am ready to do anything you like."
"Well, take a private box as little exposed as possible."
"How kind you are!"
The box I had engaged was in the second tier, but the theatre being
small it was difficult for a pretty woman to escape observation.
I told her so.
"I do not think there is any danger," she answered; "for I have not
seen the name of any person of my acquaintance in the list of
foreigners which you gave me to read."
Thus did Henriette go to the opera. I had taken care that our box
should not be lighted up. It was an opera-buffa, the music of
Burellano was excellent, and the singers were very good.
Henriette made no use of her opera-glass except to look on the stage,
and nobody paid any attention to us. As she had been greatly pleased
with the finale of the second act, I promised to get it for her, and
I asked Dubois to procure it for me. Thinking that she could play
the harpsichord, I offered to get one, but she told me that she had
never touched that instrument.
On the night of the fourth or fifth performance M. Dubois came to our
box, and as I did not wish to introduce him to my friend, I only
asked what I could do for him. He then handed me the music I had
begged him to purchase for me, and I paid him what it had cost,
offering him my best thanks. As we were just opposite the ducal box,
I asked him, for the sake of saying something, whether he had
engraved the portraits of their highnesses. He answered that he had
already engraved two medals, and I gave him an order for both, in
gold. He promised to let me have them, and left the box. Henriette
had not even looked at him, and that was according to all established
rules, as I had not introduced him, but the next morning he was
announced as we were at dinner. M. de la Haye, who was dining with
us, complimented us upon having made the acquaintance of Dubois, and
introduced him to his pupil the moment he came into the room. It was
then right for Henriette to welcome him, which she did most
After she had thanked him for the 'partizione', she begged he would
get her some other music, and the artist accepted her request as a
favour granted to him.
"Sir," said Dubois to me, "I have taken the liberty of bringing the
medals you wished to have; here they are."
On one were the portraits of the Infante and his wife, on the other
was engraved only the head of Don Philip. They were both beautifully
engraved, and we expressed our just admiration. "The workmanship is
beyond all price," said Henriette, "but the gold can be bartered for
other gold." "Madam," answered the modest artist, "the medals weight
sixteen sequins." She gave him the amount immediately, and invited
him to call again at dinner-time. Coffee was just brought in at that
moment, and she asked him to take it with us. Before sweetening his
cup, she enquired whether he liked his coffee very sweet.
"Your taste, madam," answered the hunchback, gallantly, "is sure to
"Then you have guessed that I always drink coffee without sugar. I
am glad we have that taste in common."
And she gracefully offered him the cup of coffee without sugar. She
then helped De la Haye and me, not forgetting to put plenty of sugar
in our cups, and she poured out one for herself exactly like the one
she handed to Dubois. It was much ado for me not to laugh, for my
mischievous French-woman, who liked her coffee in the Parisian
fashion, that is to say very sweet, was sipping the bitter beverage
with an air of delight which compelled the director of the Mint to
smile under the infliction. But the cunning hunchback was even with
her; accepting the penalty of his foolish compliment, and praising
the good quality of the coffee, he boldly declared that it was the
only way to taste the delicious aroma of the precious berry.
When Dubois and De la Haye had left us, we both laughed at the trick.
"But," said I to Henriette, "you will be the first victim of your
mischief, for whenever he dines with us, you must keep up the joke,
in order not to betray yourself."
"Oh! I can easily contrive to drink my coffee well sweetened, and to
make him drain the bitter cup."
At the end of one month, Henriette could speak Italian fluently, and
it was owing more to the constant practice she had every day with my
cousin Jeanneton, who acted as her maid, than to the lessons of
Professor de la Haye. The lessons only taught her the rules, and
practice is necessary to acquire a language. I have experienced it
myself. I learned more French during the too short period that I
spent so happily with my charming Henriette than in all the lessons I
had taken from Dalacqua.
We had attended the opera twenty times without making any
acquaintance, and our life was indeed supremely happy. I never went
out without Henriette, and always in a carriage; we never received
anyone, and nobody knew us. Dubois was the only person, since the
departure of the good Hungarian, who sometimes dined with us; I do
not reckon De la Haye, who was a daily guest at our table. Dubois
felt great curiosity about us, but he was cunning and did not shew
his curiosity; we were reserved without affectation, and his
inquisitiveness was at fault. One day he mentioned to us that the
court of the Infante of Parma was very brilliant since the arrival of
Madame de France, and that there were many foreigners of both sexes
in the city. Then, turning towards Henriette, he said to her;
"Most of the foreign ladies whom we have here are unknown to us."
"Very likely, many of them would not shew themselves if they were
"Very likely, madam, as you say, but I can assure you that, even if
their beauty and the richness of their toilet made them conspicuous,
our sovereigns wish for freedom. I still hope, madam, that we shall
have the happiness of seeing you at the court of the duke."
"I do not think so, for, in my opinion, it is superlatively
ridiculous for a lady to go to the court without being presented,
particularly if she has a right to be so."
The last words, on which Henriette had laid a little more stress than
upon the first part of her answer, struck our little hunchback dumb,
and my friend, improving her opportunity, changed the subject of
When he had gone we enjoyed the check she had thus given to the
inquisitiveness of our guest, but I told Henriette that, in good
conscience, she ought to forgive all those whom she rendered curious,
because.... she cut my words short by covering me with loving
Thus supremely happy, and finding in one another constant
satisfaction, we would laugh at those morose philosophers who deny
that complete happiness can be found on earth.
"What do they mean, darling--those crazy fools--by saying that
happiness is not lasting, and how do they understand that word? If
they mean everlasting, immortal, unintermitting, of course they are
right, but the life of man not being such, happiness, as a natural
consequence, cannot be such either. Otherwise, every happiness is
lasting for the very reason that it does exist, and to be lasting it
requires only to exist. But if by complete felicity they understand
a series of varied and never-interrupted pleasures, they are wrong,
because, by allowing after each pleasure the calm which ought to
follow the enjoyment of it, we have time to realize happiness in its
reality. In other words those necessary periods of repose are a
source of true enjoyment, because, thanks to them, we enjoy the
delight of recollection which increases twofold the reality of
happiness. Man can be happy only when in his own mind he realizes
his happiness, and calm is necessary to give full play to his mind;
therefore without calm man would truly never be completely happy, and
pleasure, in order to be felt, must cease to be active. Then what do
they mean by that word lasting?
"Every day we reach a moment when we long for sleep, and, although it
be the very likeness of non-existence, can anyone deny that sleep is
a pleasure? No, at least it seems to me that it cannot be denied
with consistency, for, the moment it comes to us, we give it the
preference over all other pleasures, and we are grateful to it only
after it has left us.
"Those who say that no one can be happy throughout life speak
likewise frivolously. Philosophy teaches the secret of securing that
happiness, provided one is free from bodily sufferings. A felicity
which would thus last throughout life could be compared to a nosegay
formed of a thousand flowers so beautifully, so skillfully blended
together, that it would look one single flower. Why should it be
impossible for us to spend here the whole of our life as we have
spent the last month, always in good health, always loving one
another, without ever feeling any other want or any weariness? Then,
to crown that happiness, which would certainly be immense, all that
would be wanted would be to die together, in an advanced age,
speaking to the last moment of our pleasant recollections. Surely
that felicity would have been lasting. Death would not interrupt it,
for death would end it. We could not, even then, suppose ourselves
unhappy unless we dreaded unhappiness after death, and such an idea
strikes me as absurd, for it is a contradiction of the idea of an
almighty and fatherly tenderness."
It was thus that my beloved Henriette would often make me spend
delightful hours, talking philosophic sentiment. Her logic was
better than that of Cicero in his Tusculan Disputations, but she
admitted that such lasting felicity could exist only between two
beings who lived together, and loved each other with constant
affection, healthy in mind and in body, enlightened, sufficiently
rich, similar in tastes, in disposition, and in temperament. Happy
are those lovers who, when their senses require rest, can fall back
upon the intellectual enjoyments afforded by the mind! Sweet sleep
then comes, and lasts until the body has recovered its general
harmony. On awaking, the senses are again active and always ready to
resume their action.
The conditions of existence are exactly the same for man as for the
universe, I might almost say that between them there is perfect
identity, for if we take the universe away, mankind no longer exists,
and if we take mankind away, there is no longer an universe; who
could realize the idea of the existence of inorganic matter? Now,
without that idea, 'nihil est', since the idea is the essence of
everything, and since man alone has ideas. Besides, if we abstract
the species, we can no longer imagine the existence of matter, and
I derived from Henriette as great happiness as that charming woman
derived from me. We loved one another with all the strength of our
faculties, and we were everything to each other. She would often
repeat those pretty lines of the good La, Fontaine:
'Soyez-vous l'un a l'autre un monde toujours beau,
Toujours divers, toujours nouveau;
Tenez-vous lieu de tout; comptez pour rien le reste.'
And we did not fail to put the advice into practice, for never did a
minute of ennui or of weariness, never did the slightest trouble,
disturb our bliss.
The day after the close of the opera, Dubois, who was dining with us,
said that on the following day he was entertaining the two first
artists, 'primo cantatore' and 'prima cantatrice', and added that, if
we liked to come, we would hear some of their best pieces, which they
were to sing in a lofty hall of his country-house particularly
adapted to the display of the human voice. Henriette thanked him
warmly, but she said that, her health being very delicate, she could
not engage herself beforehand, and she spoke of other things.
When we were alone, I asked her why she had refused the pleasure
offered by Dubois.
"I should accept his invitation," she answered, "and with delight, if
I were not afraid of meeting at his house some person who might know
me, and would destroy the happiness I am now enjoying with you."
"If you have any fresh motive for dreading such an occurrence, you
are quite right, but if it is only a vague, groundless fear, my love,
why should you deprive yourself of a real and innocent pleasure? If
you knew how pleased I am when I see you enjoy yourself, and
particularly when I witness your ecstacy in listening to fine music!"
"Well, darling, I do not want to shew myself less brave than you. We
will go immediately after dinner. The artists will not sing before.
Besides, as he does not expect us, he is not likely to have invited
any person curious to speak to me. We will go without giving him
notice of our coming, without being expected, and as if we wanted to
pay him a friendly visit. He told us that he would be at his
country-house, and Caudagna knows where it is."
Her reasons were a mixture of prudence and of love, two feelings
which are seldom blended together. My answer was to kiss her with as
much admiration as tenderness, and the next day at four o'clock in
the afternoon we paid our visit to M. Dubois. We were much
surprised, for we found him alone with a very pretty girl, whom he
presented to us as his niece.
"I am delighted to see you," he said, "but as I did not expect to see
you I altered my arrangements, and instead of the dinner I had
intended to give I have invited my friends to supper. I hope you
will not refuse me the honour of your company. The two virtuosi will
soon be here."
We were compelled to accept his invitation.
"Will there be many guests?" I enquired.
"You will find yourselves in the midst of people worthy of you," he
answered, triumphantly. "I am only sorry that I have not invited any
This polite remark, which was intended for Henriette, made her drop
him a curtsy, which she accompanied with a smile. I was pleased to
read contentment on her countenance, but, alas! she was concealing
the painful anxiety which she felt acutely. Her noble mind refused
to shew any uneasiness, and I could not guess her inmost thoughts
because I had no idea that she had anything to fear.
I should have thought and acted differently if I had known all her
history. Instead of remaining in Parma I should have gone with her
to London, and I know now that she would have been delighted to go
The two artists arrived soon afterwards; they were the 'primo
cantatore' Laschi, and the 'prima donna' Baglioni, then a very pretty
woman. The other guests soon followed; all of them were Frenchmen
and Spaniards of a certain age. No introductions took place, and I
read the tact of the witty hunchback in the omission, but as all the
guests were men used to the manners of the court, that neglect of
etiquette did not prevent them from paying every honour to my lovely
friend, who received their compliments with that ease and good
breeding which are known only in France, and even there only in the
highest society, with the exception, however, of a few French
provinces in which the nobility, wrongly called good society, shew
rather too openly the haughtiness which is characteristic of that
The concert began by a magnificent symphony, after which Laschi and
Baglioni sang a duet with great talent and much taste. They were
followed by a pupil of the celebrated Vandini, who played a concerto
on the violoncello, and was warmly applauded.
The applause had not yet ceased when Henriette, leaving her seat,
went up to the young artist, and told him, with modest confidence, as
she took the violoncello from him, that she could bring out the
beautiful tone of the instrument still better. I was struck with
amazement. She took the young man's seat, placed the violoncello